Creating new markets

My staff and I have begun to promote a new app – it’s called Milton Insider.
It can be found in both the Apple app store and Google Play.
Why would anyone over 70 be interested in an app, someone asked me.
Hmm, maybe for the local residential phone book feature.
The phonebook itself opens slowly on the app, but the developer who partnered with me says that will change later in the fall when his servers are expanded. Right now opening the full phonebook takes one full minute.
But the key to looking up a number is to put the last name in the search bar – the search takes seconds. And of course it is possible to click through and dial the number from a smartphone.
The real answer to why I worked on this app is I’m still alive. I still have ideas. I still want to make a difference.

Life moves quickly

I remember being a young woman – it seems as if I were young yesterday.

Since my last post, my nonagenarian mother died, after a lengthy illness that affected her body and mind. I think she died of cancer but it may have been the drugs they gave her for the pain that ended her days.

She lived in Milton MA her entire life. My sister Kathy was her prime caregiver in her last days. Of course we all did what we could but Kathy, who has been retired for more than 10 years, was the source of my mother’s strength in her last months.

But much more has happened. My daughter-in-law, a woman of incredible kindness, wisdom and generosity is living with cancer. Her cancer is being bombarded by doses of chemotherapy and other treatments coordinated by a medical team from Dana Farber. Annie, my son’s wife of five years, should be enjoying the best years of her life.

Before her diagnosis, Annie was a fulltime mother whose precocious two-year-old had never gone to bed for the night without his mother.  Two operations later my grandson, Finnegan, is still advanced beyond his years. I’ve tried to fill in for his mother. He loves me and everyone else in the world. I just don’t cut it as a 37-year-old these days.

Being a young mother was a joy. I only had two years off work during my days of intense motherhood. I didn’t appreciate them enough when I lived through it.

But I finally realize today is the only day I have.  Finnegan already knows that. I think that’s why he loves everyone.


Thinking about my future

Time passes all too quickly for those of us who have passed the middle years.

Most of the time I love my life. Today I realized it is time to create a succession plan for my newspaper.

It’s something I’ve known I needed to do for about 10 years. And there were times in those 10 years when I thought I had a plan in place.

Over the years one of the plans I’ve toyed with is the creation of a non-profit group to take control when I retire. There are two newspapers in the United States that use this model. One is The Day in Connecticut. That paper, a daily, has succeeded with the model for more than 100 years.

It’s something to think about.

Another possibility is for me to search out a buyer who would want to take control of the paper. Over the years I’ve had a few offers but they were from major chains. I hope the paper can remain independent and totally local.



Back on Track

So it has been months since my last post.

The regular business of running the Milton Times has taken some time and I wish I could blame my distraction on the paper.

Truth is I have been spending more time with my three grandchildren who live in New Hampshire. If only it were as simple as a trip or two.

My youngest grandchild is a year and a half. He is amazing and filled with love. His energy is over the top. This week Finn and his parents are visiting his other grandparents in California.  Finn’s favorite word is Up. He uses it to explain who it is he wants to hold him.

My granddaughter Hayley is a senior in high school. She lives about three hours away from Finn. Like all young women in her age range, she wants to enjoy time with her friends.

My other grandson, whose name is Desmond, is just beginning high school. Like most young men in his age range, he keeps his thoughts to himself.

Being a grandmother is much more fun than being a mother. But just like parenting, the time is brief.



Tiny Baby Desmond Emerges


So it happens I have taken some time away from the office lately.

My son became a father earlier today.

Such a miracle. Life is very good some days and this happens to be one of those very good days.

The baby, who has yet to be named, was born to Annie and Ambrose Desmond with lots of love and support from family and friends.

Ambrose, my son, is actually Timothy Ambrose Desmond. He was named for my two grandfathers. I never met my grandfather Timothy. He died when my own father was a child. My grandfather Ambrose was a special man in my life.  But truthfully I thought the name Ambrose sounded a bit stilted so I chose it for my son’s middle name.

He feels differently and uses Ambrose these days.

My point is he is holding his son, his first child, a small person who is yet to be named.

After 65 hours of labor and delivery Annie and Ambrose are tired tonight.

But Tiny Baby Desmond is healthy and sleeping with his parents in a hospital room in New Hampshire.


Out of the Darkness

Two years ago I was handed a cancer diagnosis. And it changed my life.

I stopped blogging on a regular basis because I had more I needed to say to people in person. Oh, from time to time I would write something about my daughter’s wedding or my company’s move from one space to another. But my life slowed down.

Of course the plus side is my personal life has improved – my son and his wife are building a house only two hours from where I live.

The world is good.

I tell this snippet today as the TV news continues to go over the craziness of the school shootings in Connecticutt because I know that after the darkness, there can be light.

Moving Ahead

For the past 13 years, the Milton Times has made its home on the second floor of 480 Adams St.

When the paper moved to this location at the edge of East Milton Square, there were three people working in the office. (Of course, that was because our writers worked from their homes.)

For three years before moving to Adams Street, we were tucked in a small office on High Street in Milton Village. At that time our circulation manager sat in a closet with used PC.

Much has changed in the course of the years.

We are still the newspaper of record for the community. We have added a new technology to bag of communication tools we use.

In 2010 the Milton Times began posting on its own Facebook page. Soon after a Twitter account was set up for the Times.

This year we added an e-edition which is an online version of the paper that sits behind a pay wall. Last week we had a chance to update our e-edition, adding a new page when the Selectmen decided in a closed session they would not renew the contract of Town Administrator Kevin Mearn.

We are working on an email database to let people know when we add to the e-edition due to breaking news that happens outside our regular cycle.

So we are on the move in many ways.

The latest move for the paper is coming up some time in August.

The new home of the Milton Times is 3 Boulevard St. We’ll be on the ground floor.

We are still working out the details of the move but we know we will be in the new space before Sept. 1.

The item that is up in the air is the telephone system.

We are still looking into the possibility the new space may be wired for broadband already.

We will be able to access our telephone messages during the move so please leave information in voice mail.

We know the move will be disruptive. We expect we will be closed for one to two days.

As we prepare for the move, we are ruthlessly tossing out old files and old papers.

We need anyone who has left a photo in our office to pick it up before Aug. 1. That’s our deadline for recycling unneeded materials.

We are hoping to reduce our use of paper as we make this move. We plan to sift through old materials.

Watching the New England Newspaper & Press Association Continue to Develop New Ideas

News people from all over New England gathered in Boston last week to talk about the state of the industry and assess the future.

It was the annual New England Newspaper & Press Association convention and I enjoyed the chance to catch up new technology and old friends.

Our readers know the Milton Times has an e-edition that sits behind a paywall.

Obviously we aren’t the first paper to add digital to the menu. Did you know the Boston Globe has 16,000 paid subscribers? We are still learning the backside of our e-edition. And soon we will have our APP on the market.

A very knowledgeable vendor at the convention thinks we should add more content to the free first page of our web site. He was surprised that our web numbers haven’t declined now that little can be read without an e-subscription.

I’m not sure we’ll make any more changes online until we sort through what is working for our readers and find out whether our e-edition has the ability to be financially stable.

Anyway the workshops on advertising sales were sober reflections of the slow economy. Newspapers are seeing a slight uptick that appears to have begun in the fourth quarter of last year.

The convention themes were not new – an emphasis on tight writing, photos that tell a story, and more of the basics of good journalism.

I (Heart) Vacation

I spent the last eight nights (nine days)  in Aruba.

Tonight I am feeling fat and happy. The fat part isn’t a metaphor. Aruba is a land of many fantastic restaurants.

But of course, the best part of the One Happy Island is the weather. It’s warm and windy.

I used some of the time in the sun to work on planning business strategy for the coming year. I can’t plan the real news but I can plot out the projects the Milton Times will execute in 2012. I used other time to improve my vitamin D absorption.

My brain turned to mush during the week. One of the major projects the Milton Times is planning in 2012 is The 350th – A Celebration. The project has two parts. The first is a supplement that will focus on Milton history. The second part will concentrate on photos of the celebration.

Moving Back into Life

My blog posts have been less frequent in 2011.

It was this time a year ago when I began to cope with a diagnosis of cancer.

They tell me I’m cancer free right now. But every morning I swallow a small white pill that my oncologist prescribed to block estrogen from being absorbed in my body.

I have been led to believe the small white pill protects me from ill health.

Yet I don’t seem to find comfort in the tiny pill. And every day it reminds me that my body made a space for cancer. It did that without my permission.

When I began coping with the diagnosis, I floated in denial for quite some time.

I thought about what I needed to do to rid myself of the evil cells. And I moved through each of the steps to eradicate the disease.

My cancer was discovered through my regular mammogram. At first I was sure nothing was wrong except the radiologist’s eyes. And so I scheduled a second opinion.

Moving through those nights and days, I tried not to think about worse case scenarios. And yet I contacted a newspaper broker as I thought about what might happen.

The reason I chose a bilateral mastectomy is that I never wanted to experience this sense of helplessness again.

It was a good choice. The pathologists at Faulkner Hospital found tiny cancer cells in the breast was hadn’t shown problems.

As my oncologist said, the second cancer was so small, it might not have ever become what he called a “real cancer.” One of those was enough for me.

Breast cancer affected my grandmother and aunt. It’s shadow has always touched my memories.

And now I have my own experience and I’ve moved from denial, anger and compromise into acceptance. I know I skipped the depression stage. Perhaps I am just starting to experience that part.

I haven’t wanted to think about my cancer. And yet there it is every day as  I look in the mirror and notice that my body is shaped like a plump pear. I think about escaping cancer as I swallow the estrogen-blocking pill. I haven’t had any trouble remembering to take the pill, unlike my cholestrol drug.

I think about cancer as I move through the food market, purchasing only organic foods, avoiding water in plastic bottles.

My cancer, which has been cut out of my body, defines much of what I do these days.

I sit and watch the water flow by the windows of my life. I smile with friends. I sleep more. I plan to continue flooding my life with joy and beauty.

It seems to be time to move beyond thinking about cancer. It is time to move back into life. I want to erase the dis-ease. But the truth is I am grateful cancer came and brought me the realization I am a time-limited being. I need to make the most of all the minutes.