July 3, 2014

July 2014 Welcome Message

Carolyn’s Compositions


July 2014…A hearty welcome to new subscribers and new readers of CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS, an online magazine publishing articles on a wide variety of topics. Views of its 1,225 posts (articles) reached 294,000 early on July 1. I thank my regular readers for helping and encouraging me to reach these landmarks.

Congratulations, Merry. You have won the comment competition all but one month since last August.

I challenge to my other readers to post the number of comments needed to knock Merry off the winning pedestal—to do this you will need to post at least a dozen comments in one month. Merry has set the bar high, but I know you can comment often enough to take her on.

During June I continued photographically documenting the restoration of a historic building, the Ziders Store in Laughlintown, Pennsylvania. The work of the Progress Fund is almost completed, and a tenant, The Country Cupboard and Nature Run Wood Work will open July 4 (ribbon cutting—July 17). My assignment is to write an article on the restoration for a local magazine.

In mid-June my husband Monte and I visited Slippery Rock (PA) for a week, which ended with a visit to the historic Old Stone House, an early 1800s inn. We each placed a brick on an outdoor oven they are constructing.

I finally completed an article on Flight of Valor, amusic piece commissioned by the Somerset County Community Band in honor of Flight 93. I won’t tell you how long it took to finish the article, but it, like my historic romance novel, moved at the speed of a century plant blooming (which takes 10 years). I’m working on the novel, researching and writing, well, slowly…

July is here…hot, humid…welcoming us with booms of brilliant colors. Have a happy Fourth of July and a safe, productive, month.

Carolyn Cornell Holland, producer of CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

July 29, 2014

Krista Blake: Teenage HIV Victim



No one can be left behind if the AIDS epidemic is to come to an end by 2030. This was one of the main messages of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which closed in Melbourne, Australia, on 25 July (2014).*

The publicity for the conference was increased, unfortunately, by an airline crash that killed 6 participants. Organizers of the conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, determined not to cancel the event because they felt continuing would be what the victims would have wanted.

Reading about the conference brought back memories of a young woman with AIDS. The Family Support Group (FSP) of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, invited her to speak to community members on September 30, 1992. In light of the Melbourne conference I thought it appropriate to retell her story, which is still relevant today.


Krista, who contracted the AIDS virus at age 16, learned she was HIV positive at age 18. In January 1992 Krista spoke at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania. Margaret Young, an FSP board member, and I attended the event, at which a vibrant, capable speaker presided. In April, when speaking at Edinboro State College (PA), she was described as “gutsy, independent, funny…and she’s been given a virtual death sentence.”**

When the Ohio woman arrived in Jamestown September 30th Margaret noted “how downhill Krista had gone.” We saw that her health had deteriorated to the point that, as head of the FSP, I debated whether to even allow her to speak. She had trouble breathing and she had to struggle to get every word out.

It was difficult to stop Krista from speaking, even though her sister was present and knew what she wanted to say. However, I felt that Krista was due the respect of making the decision on what she could handle, even if she was tired and had a headache.

Krista was so unable to sit still during the presentation that she “unnerved” Margaret. She not only struggled with her words, at times she struggled with her thoughts. As she spoke, her sister had to answer many questions for her.

world_aids_day_special_poster-rf5f9f38e9e654de38cc1b2da8dc2586c_wjc_8byvr_324“I do pretty much the same things anyone else does. Maybe slower, maybe different,” she began. “But a couple of things have changed. I can’t


July 27, 2014

Do All Families Talk Perversely?


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A Devotion

Theatrical release poster by John Alvin

Theatrical release poster by John Alvin

After seeing the movie ET my friend Paul and I had a lively discussion.

“Did they really have to include the kids smoking and the off-color jokes?” I asked. “This ruined the movie for me because it role-modeled negative behavior for kids.”

“This is how all families talk,” said Paul, a youthful manager of a local pizza business, implying I was being too critical.

His statement troubled me. All families talk perversely? The style of joking and pattern of smoking didn’t exist in our household! Was our family different? Was I too critical of “normal” behavior?

I began an unscientific mental survey of our friends. Merle and Naomi, Tom and Diane, Shirl and Wayne, Phyllis and Gene. Did any of them talk that way? I didn’t believe so. Apparently not all families talk perversely and in a manner debasing God’s creation.

Perhaps these families, modeling their behavior on Scriptural imperatives, are not the present day norm. Perhaps these families who show (them)selves guileless and above reproach, faultless children of God in a warped and crooked generation, shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the word of life. (Philippians 2:15, NEB)

Perhaps if today’s perverse and crooked generation whose faults have proved them no children of his(Deuteronomy 32:5-6, NEB)

were to review their behavior they would be convinced to become more Christ-like.

Meanwhile, don’t be fooled. Not all families accept the standards put out in today’s media frenzy.



A 6-Part Study of The Lord’s Prayer: Part 1

Jesus Refuses to Drink the Wine Mixed With Myrrh

Is Your Table Big Enough? If not, add a leaf…

July 24, 2014

Cat Tales: Two



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Cats have demonstrated many talents through time. Recently a cat’s talent was blamed for a man criminal acts —stealing a car, robbing a bank, and ramming a police car.

When the Fayette County, Pennsylvania, man was caught, he told state troopers that a “cat told him to take the car and get the money with the plastic gun.” He stole the mid-size car when the same cat “jumped up on the car and told him to steal it.” He wasn’t as successful getting the money. As he exited through the bank’s front door he dropped a plastic bag filled with cash, scattering $582 in 50s, 20s, 10s and other denominations. He next backed the car into the front of a pursuing state police vehicle, stating that the “cat was telling him to hit the cops.” He fled. Troopers took him into custody when he lost control of his car, causing the pursuing police car to hit him.

Chalk up one for a cat in control. Perhaps a cat needs to get his tongue. Maybe he would talk less.

In ancient times, a criminal’s punishment sometimes including have his tongue cut out; the tongue was fed to the King’s pets. Hence, there is some     historical truth to the phrase “cat got your tongue?”

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Oscar, a Rhode Island cat, has a different talent. He can predict when someone is going to die. Because of his gift he is portrayed as a furry grim reaper or four-legged angel of death.

Oscar was raised as a therapy cat in a nursing and rehabilitation center after being adopted from an animal shelter when he was a kitten. Patients at the center suffer severe dementia and/or are in the final stages of various illnesses.

From the time Oscar was about six months old the staff noticed that he curled up to sleep with patients who were about to die. He has accurately predicted about 50 deaths.

There is no scientific evidence to explain Oscar’s abilities, but the thought is that the cat might be responding to a pheromone or smell that humans simply don’t recognize.

Or perhaps he knows something that scientists are still studying—that a death fluorescence, observed as a glowing blue color within worms, spreads predictably from cell to cell until the entire creature is dead.

Apparently this isn’t science fiction, as the strongest colors perceived by cats are purple, green, and blue.

Whatever the root, Oscar exhibits a special gift that has been acknowledged by families who thank him, in obituaries, for providing some comfort to persons in their final hours of life.

At one time, people believed that fur and blood drawn from various parts of the cat’s anatomy cured all ailments.

Early American colonists believed that a broth made from boiling a black cat would cure tuberculosis, but no one wanted to risk the bad luck that would befall them if they killed the cat.

DSC02737E  090728Cat owners are generally fiercely protective of their feline friends, which may be why a new website, “Cats to Go,” calling for the eradication of New Zealand’s domestic cat population is gaining attention. It states that we must overcome our denial and acknowledge that we are harboring a natural born killer, a serial killer.

The premise behind the eradication of the cat population is conservation: protecting and enhancing New Zealand’s native fauna, even supporting a predator-free country. The web site claims that New Zealand’s domestic cats have helped drive nine native bird species into extinction and that the remaining 33 endangered native bird species are endangered.

The request isn’t that pet owners kill their cats, but that once these pets have died they not be replaced.

Fierce cat lovers are giving the website backlash demanding  it not deprive them of the beautiful companionship that a cat can provide individually and as a family. Scientists say eradicating cats is a too simplistic solution for revitalizing the bird population: cats kill rats, which also kill birds.

Some people who wanted to get rid of a cat but were afraid of the consequences went so far as to hire professional feline “hit men.”



Stay tuned for more cat tales in the future.



Honey’s Coming Home! Our cat must recuperate

Honey went home—She’s romping in animal heaven

It’s Been an Animal Day

July 22, 2014

Cat Tales: One

Filed under: Cats — carolyncholland @ 3:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,


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Monopoly fans voted. The iron is history.

But don’t throw away your iron token. Save it—I suspect will soon become a collector’s item, since it will no longer be a player’s choice to march around the playing board. The sometimes-detested home appliance received the least amount of clicks in a “save this token’ online vote held between January 9 and February 5, 2014.

The iron will be replaced by a shiny shorthaired cat wearing an “M” on her collar.

cat-monopoly-600In an earlier competition determining what token would compete with the iron, the cat token was chosen over a new guitar, a helicopter, a diamond ring, and a robot—claiming 31`% of that vote.

In the future I expect the cat to give the Scottie dog a run for the money—and, of course, out-beat the dog a good percent of the time.

Which is as it should be. Cats are “the man,” as they say.

A stand-in for Idgie

A stand-in for Idgie

The Scottie dog token could take lessons from a real life Florida dog named Idgie—the Scottie could befriend the cat token, becoming the friend that everyone, even a feline, needs.

Idgie, a two-year-old Dachshund, was found by the Seminole County Animal Services by a gated driveway, where he was protecting a 7-month-old (more…)

July 20, 2014

7/20/1969 Singapore Guest Revisits 7/19/2014





 On July 20, 1969, my husband Monte and I hosted a back-yard picnic at our then home at 69 Clarence Avenue in Buffalo, New York. Our black and white television was outside on a table across from the food.

During the evening, while the late evening temperature descended from the day’s high of 84.9F to a low of 62.1F*, all eyes were on the primitive pictures—made as good as could be by rabbit ears. We were waiting for the pivotal moments of the evening:

  • 4:17 pm EDT – The (lunar module) Eagle lands (on the moon).
  • 4:18 pm EDT – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong reports as the lunar module lands on the moon’s surface at the Sea of Tranquility. The module has only enough fuel to run for 40 more seconds.
  • 10:56 pm EDT – Armstrong says, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he becomes the first human to set foot on the moon.
  • 11:15 pm EDT (approx.) – Buzz Aldrin joins Armstrong on the moon. The men read from a plaque signed by the three crew members and the president, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”**

We were reminded of that evening 45 years ago by our recent house guest, Singapore resident Hung Pheng. He, his wife Bee Oon, and their son CZ, visited us in Laurel Mountain Borough between July 15 and July 19, 2014.


In 1968 Monte taught physics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. That same year we became Hung Pheng’s university host family. The math department graduate student didn’t live with us, but we opened our home to him for visits, meals, and events.

Although Monte and I moved to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, (he accepted a job there as physics department chairman) in August, 1969, our relationship with Hung Pheng continued. The student visited us numerous times during the remaining time of his five-year stay.

While acting as his host family we took Hung Pheng and a friend of his to New England. While camping at a York, Maine, beach,  the two Asian students went to the shoreline and dug clams, which they cooked for their breakfast. I’m certain they were amused that they had to share car space with the two pet cats we took with us.


We again hosted Hung Pheng in 1988 while living in New Castle, Pennsylvania, where Monte was pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church. This time we met Bee Oon. One day we visited Slippery Rock. There they found a pine seedling deep in the woods, and they planted the tiny seedling beside the pond near the house we were planning to retire to.

The tree grew large through the years, and we tried to send pictures so they could see its growth.

Pine tree blends in with other greenery,,,

Pine tree blends in with other greenery,,,

Fast forward to 2014. Hung Pheng and Bee Oon were back in the United States, this time accompanied by their college age son, CZ.  We met them in Buffalo, New York, on our way back to Laurel Mountain Borough after attending Monte’s family reunion in DeKalb Junction, New York. En route we stopped at a wharf (on Rt. 20) on Lake Erie in Erie, visited an Amish quilt store and an Amish wheelmaker shop (and were shown a century old wagon being restored); shopped at the outlet stores in (more…)

July 19, 2014

Photos of A Deer in a Fenced Garden

Filed under: CREATURES,PHOTOGRAPHY,WordPress prompt or post — carolyncholland @ 9:00 am



First thing this morning, before I even poured my cup of coffee, my husband Monte called to me. “There’s a deer in the garden.”

I grabbed my camera. Below are a few of the shots I captured of the deer who stood feasting on weeds at least three feet away from me—the least he could do since previously he’d feasted on my snow peas, beans, potted plants and tiger lilies.

The photos fit the July 18, 2014, WordPress photo prompt, containers: show us something that contains something else.

The deer fencing (netting) was somewhat contained the deer in the garden. However, he somehow figured out how to bypass the deer netting to enter and leave the garden.

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July 17, 2014

Ancient Bathing Techniques



 …(bath)tubs are “in” right now… A tub is about a rest, not a bath…Buyers want a deep, soaking tub that can provide a lot of relief after a long day of work…Yes, you need one … (However)Bathroom designers and installers insist it is better to concentrate on a dramatic shower in the master bath and move the tub to a secondary location. The shower has dramatic power for resale, but a tub has a role in reality…But not in the master bath.


One of the first known bathtubs comes from Minoan Crete that was found in the palace at Knossos and is dated about 1700 B.C.

The palace plumbing system had terra-cotta pipes that were jointed and cemented together and were tapered at one end to give water a shooting action to prevent the buildup of clogging sediment. Their technology put Minoans in the hydrological vanguard.


In Ancient Rome part of the bathing and personal hygiene routine in involved cleaning the body with oil. Having rubbed the oil in, a strigil was used to scrape away any excess as well as any dead skin and dirt. A small bronze bottle was used for the oil. The loop, known as an annulus, was moulded into the shape of a (more…)

July 15, 2014

Minimalist Photography



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In April 2014 I finally attended a meeting of the Westmoreland Photography Society, which meets the second Monday of the month at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. New members are welcome.

The topic for the night’s photo critique was minimalism in photography. Wanting to know what photographs to take or cull from my archives I looked up minimalism in photography on the Internet.

  • The word minimalism describes a concept that refers to a work of art that is stripped down to its most fundamental features… In photography minimalism is somehow more open to creativity. But, it is also based on the general rules of minimalism in the other forms of arts. Generally speaking, minimalistic photography can be described as the art of “less is more”. Although in this type of photography, the composition is basic, with the right framing the subject in the photograph can be emphasized very nicely. Using fewer details in the picture can actually draw the attention to the subject more easily and it can appear to be more intense to the viewer…
  • In minimalistic photography, you should choose the elements carefully, as their number should be kept to a minimum and they should also reflect something interesting and beautiful… That subject will be your main point of focus and also the essence of your image…

Lest I be convicted of plagiarism I will refer a continued discussion to my website source, Understanding Minimalism in Photography.

IMG_8678E 130914As I read this article and viewed the illustrations I realized I’ve been taking minimalist pictures already. That elusive osprey in the sky near Ogdensburg, New York; the surfers in the post storm surf at Hampton beach, New Hampshire; the Naval Blue Angels and a low-flying plane at the Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the child on a New England beach —all these were, by default, minimalist due to their distance away from the camera.

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July 13, 2014

Marketing Your Book: 4 Things Writers Can Learn from Business



Hug for Jan




Writers more than frequently than not tell me they are stymied when it comes to marketing their book. They prefer sitting at their desk writing. They would love to hide in their little corner of the world and let the book sell itself.

However, the book won’t sell itself.

There are multi-million dollar deals for some authors. For all but very few authors. However, they have a proven track record or have had a unique life experience. For example

  • Simon & Schuster signed Mary Higgins Clark, the mystery writer, to a $10.1 million, five-book contract.
  • Dell Publishing’s agreement less than two weeks ago to pay $5.2 million for hardcover and paperback rights to two books by Thomas Harris, the author of three best sellers, including the current ”Silence of the Lambs.”
  • Malala Yousafzai, 15, will get a chance to tell her story with the publication of a book I Am Malala. The deal: 3 million dollars.
  • Amanda Knox agreed to a nearly $4 million book deal with HarperCollins about her trial and imprisonment in Italy for the murder of her British roommate.

Yes, the multimillion dollar book deals are out there for those persons with name recognition or with bizarre experiences. However, they aren’t out there for you or for me. For us marketing is viewed as a struggle and a challenge. We must work diligently to sell our books.

Business persons offers some marketing hints for authors. I’ve collected a four to share. NOTE: I’ve changed some of the material to reflect writing and readers rather than businesses and customers.


As I read articles and columns about being successful in business I see hints which might help us market our books. After all, our book is a product and a product must be marketed if it is to be sold. And marketing requires us to develop an outgoing side to our personality. Sitting in a corner mouse-like doesn’t cut it.

In this article I’ll share four business-model lessons I’ve gleaned from reading different columns: developing an opening line, sell yourself first, developing empathy, and developing self-confidence.


When selling your book (product) what you really sell first is yourself. The ultimate product is (more…)

July 12, 2014

Photos of Cherished Relics



The WordPress photo challenge for July 11, 2014 asks What images does “relic” conjure for you?  My husband Monte asked what a relic was, so I looked up the definition:

Relic (noun):

  1.  Something that has survived the passage of time, especially an object or custom whose original culture has disappeared: “Corporal punishment was a relic of barbarism”(Cyril Connolly).
  2. Something cherished for its age or historic interest.
  3. An object kept for its association with the past; a memento.
  4. An object of religious veneration, especially a piece of the body or a personal item of a saint.
  5. or relics A corpse; remain

The third definition of relic hit a chord—I have numerous objects I keep for their association with the past. However, these items also have historic interest, so the second definition also suits the following photographs.


This post card of a boat named Arabella was given to me by a collector in East Lamoine, Maine. It was built by my great grandfather, Allan Walker, who had a second home in East Lamoine:

The 39-foot boat the Arabella was built in the barn behind Woodward School, Quincy MA, in 1921

The 39-foot boat the Arabella was built in the barn behind Woodward School, Quincy MA, in 1921

I also have in my memorabilia collection copies of the old funeral cards of Allan’s father, Charles F. Walker, and Allan’s brother, Charles E. Walker:



The following picture is of a


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