Mary Blyth Jones
Bio: I grew up in San Diego where I attended various public schools until SDUSD "invited" me to leave their school system and I found myself enrolled in San Diego Christian High School for my last two years of basic education. Engaged at the ripe old age of 17, as a junior in high school, I was hit by a truck while I was running cross country and experienced my first of what would be nearly countless spinal fractures. As a sophomore in SDSU, I found myself newly "single" after having returned my fancy pants diamond engagement ring to my fiancé. I had returned home from one of my many "mission" trips - that time it was Mexico City at Christmas break. I wanted to wait for my older brother to return home so he could be in the wedding and ... just BE there. But my fiancé at the time said, "It's either God or me." Not a chance! It was an easy choice to make, although it was very difficult to let him go. As things turned out, my brother got married and after that wonderful event, my best friend and I went down to the gaslight part of San Diego and brought home a runaway boy named Charles who actually belonged in Quebec. Long story short, I got a job application for Charles but ended up filling it out for myself and actually got the job! This is where I met my one true love, Martin Jones. I worked as a janitor and LOVED the job! I took advantage of my boss and married him. It’s actually a little more dramatic than that. I was driving to pick up Martin, who was my boyfriend at the time. On my way to the school where he was teaching, I had a head-on car accident. The rescue guys who came had just been trained on their new piece of equipment the day before: The Jaws of Life. They extracted me from the car and took along the steering wheel which had impaled my chest. The doctors at the hospital told me and my family that I was going to die, and that there was nothing they could do for me. After three days of this, they finally decided that I might not die after all (at least not then) but they didn’t know how to fix my body. One of the pioneering thoracic surgeons of the time worked at the hospital and invented a surgery just for me. I was the first person ever to survive a torn trachea. Indeed, it was a lengthy recovery, and in many ways, I was never the same. But I was alive, and that was pretty cool. No more motorcycles and thrill-seeking though. Not for me. I had peered into the edge of certain death and felt all that pain, and I just didn’t want to do that again. We have two wonderful 'children' which I put in quotes because at ages 35 and 33, they are hardly "kids". We moved to Coalinga California where we planned to stay for a couple of years then return to a town on the coast. We got stuck here in Coalinga but use our summers for travel. I traveled to Nigeria to visit my brother and his family one summer, taking my then 13-year old daughter with me. It was an amazing trip with much eye opening. I fell in love with the country and the people of Nigeria. I returned to Nigeria, this time with my husband. I painted murals on the walls of the pediatric ward for six weeks and Martin did a lot of maintenance and repair on the hospital grounds where my brother was the director of pediatrics. My husband, Martin, and I have seven grandchildren: four boys and three girls. It is an amazing gift to have them all in our lives. It used to be a very balanced count with my daughter having two girls and my son having two boys. Then they both went nuts and after a big gap, both decided to have MORE children, and we are thrilled with all of them. In my professional life, I taught music and drama for decades. From kindergarten through classes at West Hills College, I enjoyed interacting with students and teaching them all sorts of cool stuff about music. I had the privilege of being music director for several shows at WHC and also being choreographer for a couple and performed in several as well. After years of this, I retired to begin a new career as the owner of imaginarium: Institute of Fine Arts, a non-profit organization whose mission it is to provide exploration of the arts for all people in our community. I was also led to resign from my position as Music Director at our local church. While I was running imaginarium, the publisher of our small weekly newspaper kept asking me to become a writer/editor for it and work for him. It didn’t seem like a good idea. I was already writing a weekly column. He kept upping the ante until I caved in and said yes. The following year or so, he called me one morning to say the newspaper was closing after the issue that was coming out “tomorrow” and I would be out of a job. I was shocked. But after about half an hour, I decided to open my own newspaper. The transition was seamless. The next week, our first edition of Coalinga Press hit the stands to a grand welcome from our locals. We are still hoping to expand our readership and advertising base to be able to better support our business. My challenges are mostly health related. I was diagnosed with a very aggressive osteoporosis when I was in my thirty’s. By the time I’d reached my forty’s, I was having spontaneous fractures; mostly spinal. I also developed gastroparesis which is a digestive order making it difficult to ingest very much ‘normal’ food. Once I was diagnosed with the disease, my health became better managed as I understood what was going on in my guts and tummy. No more fresh veggies, fruit, no salad, no whole grains. I call it my “anti-health-food” diet. It’s very counter-intuitive. But I’ve managed to stay away from the ER and hospital in general since learning how to feed my tummy effectively. I know. More than you need to know, right? I love so many things: the ocean, God, my husband, taking photos, telling jokes, writing, painting, drawing, playing my piano, guitar, singing, acting, taking long walks on the beach, traveling, swimming, camping, laughing, my grandchildren, eating good food - or cooking it! I love it all! I love learning. I love creating. I love traveling. I love teaching.