July 31, 2014

August 2014 Welcome Message (CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS)

Carolyn’s Compositions

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August 1, 2014 1:05 p. m.

August 2014…Entering a new month…which continues the whirlwind of July activity. The first weekend in August I’m attending the Mechling family reunion in New Stanton, PA., where I’ll acquaint myself with this family which became my ancestors back in the late 1770s.

July was a whirlwind of activity as my husband Monte and I attended a 50th wedding anniversary of Alice and Dwight King, friends I haven’t seen in 50 years, before attending Monte’s family reunion—traveling from Lakeside (Ohio) to DeKalb junction (NY). Between these two points we stayed a night in Cleveland Heights (Ohio), Slippery Rock (PA), and Buffalo (NY). Toss in two more visits to Buffalo (NY) after the Holland family reunion, and more time in Slippery Rock (PA). It’s obvious we spent much of the month rolling over highways and byways in our tin home on wheels—which broke down on our second stay in Buffalo, necessitating the third shuffling off to the city later in the month.

We enjoyed very much hosting friends from Singapore in mid-month—challenging their patience while they were stranded in a suburban Buffalo hotel room because our car broke down. Thank heaven for special friends and relatives! We made it past that crisis and continued home—en route visiting the Grove City Outlet Mall and touring the Amish country (Revisiting an Amish Wheelmaker). More of their visit in future articles.

It’s strange how Australia entered our lives in July: Alice and Dwight live in Melbourne; one of our Singapore guests is a student at a Melbourne university, and the 2014 AIDS  conference, which made the news when six participants died in a plane crash, was held in Melbourne the week of July 20th. .

The month ended with a community Christmas in July party at the pool. The water I waded in felt so good!

Perhaps August will be more restful—perhaps not. I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, enjoy August’s “dog days,” which we had few of in July. Grab a good book and sit by the pool, pond, lake, or ocean and enjoy a good read. Cool down in the water. Take some time off to enjoy nature’s blessings. Enjoy reading CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS (and if you haven’t subscribed, please do—go to the upper right and type your email address in—it will not be made public) as the evening bugs send you indoors. But most of all, enjoy life.

Carolyn Cornell Holland, founder of CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

August 19, 2014

11 Facts About the “Dog Days” of August



 As I sit here in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, on August 12, 2014, preparing this post it doesn’t seem like the Dog Days have arrived yet—one night this week the high is to be 49 degrees. On Saturday morning, August 16,  the temperature was 48 degrees.  Here are some questions on the month’s reputation:


  1.  Why did the ancient Egyptians refer to the star Sirius as the “Dog Star?”
  2. Name a notable characteristic of Sirius, the Dog Star.
  3. What did the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Romans blame Sirius’s conjunction with the Sun in the summer (ie. rising up in the sky at the same time as the Sun) for?
  4. Why is Sirius, the Dog Star, connected to the sultry days of August?
  5. What did the Romans call the Dog Days?
  6. Why did the Greeks refer to the star Sirius as the Dog Star?
  7. How did the Greeks and Romans describe the Dog Days, generally talking about the sultry month of August?****
  8. When did the term “Dog Days” come into use in the English language?
  9. The downtown Salem Dog Days of Summer event scheduled August 6, 2014, were objected to by some persons for what reason?
  10. What event coincides with the Dog Days of August?


Historically, why were the Dog Days considered bad?


August 17, 2014

The PA Senate Hearing on HB 162: Open Records for Adult Adoptees





Through the years I’ve seen how adoption has affected all members of the adoption triad—the adoptee, the birth mother, and the adoptive parent.

Adoptees struggle with belonging issues, with identification issues. They lack a biological tie to their cultural and medical histories. They struggle involves, for some, feeling worthless because “someone didn’t want them, someone threw them away.”

The birth mother struggles with her inability to raise her birth child, for whatever reason. I’ve seen birth mothers sob soul deep at releasing their newborns. Statistics are overwhelmingly high for these women, who wonder what happened to their child, if they made the right decision, and hold a desire to find them.

The adoptive parents struggle with helping their child understand, with not knowing their child’s cultural and medical histories, with others who consider the adoptive child as a second choice.

I was fortunate when my husband Monte and I adopted our daughter. I landed a job doing adoption home studies in a neighboring county. I didn’t know anyone else going through the adoption process, but I could make appointments and interview prospective adoptive parents.

The job ended after nine months, when Catholic Charities placed our daughter with us.

In later years my husband and I became foster parents for women planning on releasing their infants for adoption. We also provided support for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents.


During our adoption process the Catholic Charities caseworker assured us of confidentiality—that is, we would not know the birth mother, nor would she know us. That’s the way it was done in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s—it was something one didn’t question.

While doing home studies, I too assured the potential adoptive parents of confidentiality, as well as the occasional birth mother I had contact with. Again, that’s the way it was done at the time.


Neither agency informed me that, at that time, and what would become a period of 60 years, Pennsylvania born adult adoptees could access their original birth certificate (OBC). It wasn’t until 1984 that adult adoptees were blocked from accessing their OBCs.  Thus, confidentiality promises made to the members of the adoption triad during this time were…seemingly…a (more…)

August 16, 2014

Quonset Air Museum in Rhode Island




Blue Angel and Tomcat Navy Planes

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September 7, 2013, was An adventurous day as my husband Monte and I visited the Quonset Air Museum in North Kingston, Rhode Island.

My father, Chief Navy Photographer Robert W. Cornell, was stationed out of Quonset Naval Station in December 1943, when I was born in Providence. In August 1963 I visited up to the gate of the Navy Station while visiting a friend, the late Carol Cargill, who lived nearby in Warwick, Rhode Island.

The museum website states

  • The mission of the Rhode Island Quonset Air Museum (QAM) is to preserve, interpret and present Rhode Island’s aviation history through collections, research, education and exhibits…Founded in 1992 with the assistance of then Governor Bruce Sundlun, the air museum educates the public in the state’s rich aviation legacy and displays collections that document the contributions of Rhode Island to the growth and development of aviation and space exploration…QAM is housed on three acres in an original Naval Air Station Quonset Point (NASQP) hangar built in 1945, as the point building for the Overhaul and Repair (O&R) facility.

The museum has a large and valuable collection of aircraft, aircraft parts and other historical artifacts. The 28 aircraft currently on display or under restoration include civilian, military and prototype aircraft dating from 1944 (Hellcat under restoration) to 1983 (F-14 Tomcat), including the last aircraft to fly from Quonset NAS, a C-1A COD BU#136792, a one-of-a-kind TWIN TAIL Navy transport.

I'm sitting in a model demonstrating what it is like to be in an airplane cockpit

I’m sitting in a model demonstrating what it is like to be in an airplane cockpit

I was surprised to see a Navy Blue Angel, an A-4 Skyhawk, a small and simple tailed delta jet…the concept behind the Douglas A-4 was to keep the design simple and the weight as light as possible. It was the first operational A-4 Squadron was VA-72, stationed at the Naval Air Station Quonset Point. This aircraft is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict having served with U. S. Navy Attack Squadron VA-1645 ‘Ghostriders,” while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Hancock.

In 1974 the A-4 Skyhawk became part of the Navy flight demonstration aircraft. It was a smaller and lighter aircraft with a tighter turning radius allowing for a more dynamic flight demonstration.

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August 14, 2014

A Bookish Choice: Authoring for Obscurity or for Popularity




A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

It seems my choice was made when I read one sentence in my maternal genealogy: Madame Rosalie de Leval gave her land to Louis des Isles. I set out to discover who Madame Rosalie was and why she would give my ancestor her land. In the process, I discovered a unique French woman whose story had never been told. Such a strong woman deserved to be recognized.

And so I set out on a journey of discovery.

Had I known then the paths where this journey would take me, its twists and turns, I might have flapped my wings and flown in a different direction, not unlike a bird does when it senses a cat nearby. By the time I realized I was in over my head I was too (more…)

August 12, 2014

Supermoon: August 10, 2014



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In February 2002, while writing a story about moon rocks, I was privileged to hold some samples, which were embedded in plastic. They were in the care of  Tony Henderson, who then headed the Geibel Aerospace Program and was a member of the US Air Force Auxiliary, CAP.

“I even have to take them to the bathroom with me,” she joked.

On Sunday evening, August 10, 2014, there was a super moon— which occurs when a full moon or new moon coincides with the closest approach the moon makes to Earth, the result is an exceptionally large appearance.* The special cosmological treat is unmatched by the year’s previous three moons, which were unofficially granted the title of supermoon, whose sizes are a mere 10% smaller.


I attempted to photograph a super moon under adverse conditions. I was without tripod, and thus could only hand hold my camera. Not only that, I’d been neglectful in charging my spare battery, and the one in my camera went kaput after several shots. Talk about a photographer’s nightmare! However, I did the best I could.

I lost my opportunity to take quality photos of the year’s most magnificent supermoon, the biggest and brightest full moon of the year.  But as the cliches directs, when life hands you lemons, you can make lemonade.

While snapping away I noticed I was getting not your every day good moon photos, but surprisingly artistic results. Here is one of my “lemons:”

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Being on an artistic roll, I decided to play with some of the simple special effects found in my art workshop. Below are some of my results:

140810 IMG_9904e mir (more…)

August 10, 2014

Nine Hundred Years Old



SCRIPTURE: Genesis 6:3   Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years. (NI)

REFLECTION:  I’m awed with the longevity of Old Testament life spans. What a great deal they could accomplish with that life expectancy!

Then I reflect on the question What would I do with those many years?

Certainly I could have a larger family. I could raise several families in that time..

Eight-hundred and eighty anniversaries with the same man? What a wild thought! Maybe we would have time to get it right! Yet, evidence from our day’s limited increase in life expectancy proves different. It shows there is just more time for repeated divorce and remarriage rather than time for moving on to perfection. However, three score and seven doesn’t seem enough time to perfect the marital relationship.

I would have time to develop the six different (more…)

August 9, 2014

Life’s Textures Photographed



 The WordPress photo challenge for August 8, 2014, is texture: share a texture found in an unexpected place. It could be made of natural materials, as in these images, or with man-made objects.


Golden waves of grain...

Golden waves of grain…

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Satiny clouds

Satiny clouds


August 7, 2014

Revisiting an Amish Wheelmaker



Article on my first visit to the Amish wainwright: An Amish Wainwright (Wheel-making) Shop

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“Do you remember me?” I asked the man whose scraggly beard matched his yellowing white hair.

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As my husband Monte drove up a quarter-mile lane lined on one side with lush offerings of almost-ripe corn I instructed him and our guests from Singapore—Hung Pheng, his wife Bee Oon and their son CZ—to follow my instructions: when we reach the end of the driveway, stay in the car while I speak with whomever shows up. Monte stopped the car when we reached a plain white farmhouse, its white curtains drawn back, and a large white-washed shed.

“Don’t know as I do,” answered the old-fashioned clad gentleman.

“We met about 1995. Do you remember someone (more…)

August 5, 2014

An Amish Wainwright (Wheel-making) Shop



 (wainwright: maker of wagons and wheels)

The following article is based on notes I kept, notes gathered to write a news article in January 1995. Therefore, the information is almost 20 years old. For an update read


Nestled in the rolling hills of central Western Pennsylvania is a unique shop set at the end of a quarter-mile lane guarded by stalks of corn in mid-summer. It has no sign. Nor can you reach the owner by phone.

It is Jonathan’s wainwright (wagonmaker, wheelmaker) shop, the only wheel-making shop in Western Pennsylvania.

FF2“We have more in Eastern Pennsylvania and Ohio” said Jonathan, whose special skill is in demand by Amish and “English” folk alike.

He began his life farming, considered “putting up a shop to do something.” When a Westchester Pennsylvania, wheelmaking shop closed, making it difficult for the Amish to get wheels for their buggies, he said to himself: “I’m going to try to make a wheel.”

Starting the business was hard work. “Many years I spent more than I made,” stated Jonathan,whose business identity is J-J. “The farm supported the money.”

The wainwright shop follows Amish tradition—Jonathan uses tools without the assistance of electricity. The shop machinery is hitched up to a diesel motor by one shaft. Individual machines operate when a belt is attached.


For his wheels “Everything is hickory, or occasionally ash (wood),” Jonathan shares, noting “It is a (more…)

August 3, 2014

Names Are Important: Genesis 2:19



IMG_4896E  131226Genesis 2:19     Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  20.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. (NI)

REFLECTION:     Noah’s task was to name all the animals in the Garden of Eden. There was no stigma to names then. Life in the garden was perfection.

Names today are important. They not only create a sense of relationship with the namer, they have relationship to history and personal experience.

Jane and John are so common they are used to refer to the Does, a nameless couple. If you pick a name for the unknown choose the most common one.

Plain Jane implies a basic, steady person, with little personality.

Desiree, a name I like, images a too-lively but sophisticated, sexy person.

We’re stuck with the names our parents give us. Or so we think.

Gary decided he could do better with a name other than his given one. He went to court to court as Gary—he left as Noah.

Growing up as a Cornell I felt I should have been named Katherine. That was what many people called me, anyway. Combine my first name, Carolyn, which sounds like Katherine, with Cornell. It was an understandable mistake. Katherine Cornell was the elegant name of a (more…)

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