July 31, 2012

Turkey Ranch Restaurant on Steam Valley Mountain in Pa.





While driving from our Southwestern Pennsylvania home to Heuvelton, New York, Monte and I stopped at a restaurant we’d eaten at in the past (after all, we are creatures of habit).

We sat in a booth in the far end of The Turkey Ranch Restaurant, located on top of Steam Valley Mountain in Trout Run, Pennsylvania—near the New York State border.

We ate our lunch joined by two turkeys: one turkey in flight and another watching us enjoy our rations. They were mounted on a wall within my vision (Monte’s back was toward this view).

I asked a waitress for permission to photograph these  turkeys, and with her positive answer I went to the car to procure my camera, notebook, and business cards. On the way out I noticed a Mennonite family seated at a table near the entrance.

When I reentered the restaurant one of the women (A) looked at me suspiciously, as if she thought I’d retrieved the camera to take their pictures. I stopped at their table to reassure them.

“I’m taking a picture of the turkeys because my granddaughter was born on Thanksgiving Day,” I said.

The women couldn’t see the turkeys from where they were seated.


The family consisted of two sisters (A & B) and their eighty-year-old aunt. The aunt and A wore full Mennonite attire. B wore English clothes; she worked for the government.

A lives outside of Philadelphia, not too far from Lehigh Valley, where she owns a turkey farm.

After shooting the turkeys I returned to the Mennonite’s table and (more…)

July 29, 2012

Two Chairs…



“I see you’re into antiques,” my visitor said, glancing at two chairs prominently placed in the foyer of the parsonage where my husband Monte and I were living.

“Not really,” I told him. 

I am reminded of this conversation whenever I sit in one of these two chairs.


In the many places my husband Monte and I’ve lived the captain’s chair is usually in the living room. Although it sat in the foyer in the parsonage I mentioned, In our current home it sits at a desk in my living room.

It was a wedding gift from my grandfather, Albert C. A. Briskay (Borinsky). We visited him and his second wife, Blanche, while traveling to New England on our honeymoon. Before we left their Kittery, Maine, home he presented the chair to us.

“It was a wedding gift to your grandmother (May Isabelle Walker) and me,” he said. He’d been married in 1920. “It came from a professor who had used it at his home.”

At the time, my husband was a physics professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

“I think it’s appropriate for the chair to go from one professor’s home to another professor’s home,” my grandfather said.

I didn’t think to ask who the professor was who gave the chair to my grandparents, but I believe I’ve narrowed it down. My great grandfather Allen Walker, had a summer house in East Lamoine, Maine, where his grandfather and great-grandfather lived. In that community are two possibilities: Rev. John Winterbotham or Professor Young. I haven’t finished researching the details yet.

Someday, this chair will pass on to our son, Nolan. In so doing, it will follow the tradition of being passed on from a professor’s home to a professor’s home to a (more…)

July 26, 2012

Get Well Cards Requested for Samantha, a Burn Victim



On December 6, Samantha, a 20-year-old new mother, was boiling oil to fry something. Suddenly the oil began to smoke and a small fire emerged on the surface of the pan. Samantha grabbed the pan and turned in an effort to get it to the sink.

She was unaware that her husband Jordan had entered the kitchen and was standing behind her. When she turned the pan bumped against him, spilling its contents onto his back. The oil splashed back over her hand and arm, causing her to drop the pan. Some of the oil splashed onto her face and the remainder flowed down her legs and onto her feet. (to continue reading her story click on Get Well Cards Requested for Burn Victim

( )

Sam was not healing while in the care of the medical system in Puerto Rico. Her family was able, with great difficulty, to bring her back to the United States in mid-July. After seven months the burns were almost as fresh as they were when she was first hospitalized.

On July 19 her grandmother posted an update: She is in Illinois, arriving there with the help of family and the kindness of Delta Airlines pilots and stewardess’s. She has many months of surgeries, therapy, and healing ahead but she is now where she can receive the best we can get. The goal is to hope someday she can walk again, and perhaps regain some use of her right arm. Thanks to all who have kept her in your prayers, sent cards, and thought of her… Thanks to all who have kept her in your prayers, sent cards, and thought of her. Fran – Sam’s grandmother

Treatment with the hyperbaric chamber and Jacuzzi baths are bringing Sam more healing than predicted, but she will be healing for a long time.


There’s little you or I can do for Samantha except to continue sending her cards and messages that show we care and are thinking of her. Send messages and cards as follows:

By e-mail:

Or by snail-mail:

In care of

Fran Welts

P. O. Box 45

Forbes Road, PA 15633

Or give cards to

Carolyn C. Holland

     Might I suggest you e-mail your friends and relatives with the  link to this post ( ) so that they can also have the opportunity to send Samantha a card.



Christmas…Time for Food, Fun, Gifts, and…Fires:

Christmas…A Time When Safety is Overlooked:

Your Goal and Purpose in Writing



How do you view your writing? As a hobby? A career? A job requirement? As writing because someone said you are a good writer?

To accomplish a writing task you must have goals—a major long-term goal, and bite-sized goals.

In this, my eighth life, I consider writing my career. Currently, my major writing goal is to write a credible historic romance novel. Currently my bite-size goal is to work on my novel two hours five days a week, preferably Monday through Friday.

However, are goals sufficient for you, a writer? Do you set goals for your writing but rarely fulfill these goals? Do you sense something missing that makes the task unfulfilling? Do you have to push yourself to write? Do you wonder if your writing can be more meaningful, more appreciated? Do you wonder if or when you can make money writing? Are you writing just to write?

The So what? question seeks out the most important aspect of your writing: (more…)

July 24, 2012

Surprise 50th Birthday Party Aborted



Paulette’s fiftieth birthday was coming in two weeks, on a Sunday.

She expressed a desire to have a surprise birthday party based on five-year-old activities—creatively reversing the number 50 to 05. I’d asked her if she liked the local Chinese buffet, which she did.

I called a couple of people I believed were willing to come, and arranged a time to meet at the Chinese restaurant. Then I called Paulette and told her I would drive across the county, pick her up, take her to church, and then take her out to lunch afterwards.

Paulette was excited about the invitation. However, there was a caveat: a relative might invite her to visit.

“OK,” I said. “I understand that. Just let me know if you are leaving town.”

A few days later she told me she didn’t want to go to church on her birthday. She would go, as usual, on Saturday evening. Then she stated that a day of church and lunch was boring.

“What would you like to do?”

“I want to (more…)

July 22, 2012

Twenty-four Native American Facts Learned from “Ghost in the Head”




  1. Huron comes from French pronunciation of Wyandot.
  2. Bear claws are a symbol of strength, and power
  3. The standard ball war club was made from tree roots.
  4. The later standard ball war club was made from gun stocks retrieved from damaged guns.
  5. The larger end of the standard ball war club was used for hitting the skull; the smaller end was used for splitting the skull.
  6. The standard ball war club was called an effigy club. It was left as a calling card after a killing, property burning.

Native American Todd Johnson, whose Huron name is Ghost in the Head, was dressed in traditional Huron garb during his interactive presentation at (more…)

July 19, 2012

How to Find Story Ideas



As a freelance writer I’m often asked Where do you get your story ideas? I must say I have no problem, which is why I avoid any workshop or group that examines sources of story ideas.

I’ll skip past the boring answer—that the newspaper editor suggests them—my editors rarely assign me stories, as I submit sufficient story ideas to avoid that.

Below is a list of story sources and the story they yielded.

  • Talking with my doctor during an appointment: a New Year’s Day story on his marriage proposal
  • Walking about the neighborhood: a story about a semi-annual trash day from the viewpoints of trash gatherers and trash providers
  • Observation of neighborhood activities: Watching  the Armory from my upstairs study window peaked my curiousity about the history of the Armory (more…)

July 17, 2012

The Humming Bird Said: I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up



Co-written With Monte W. Holland

My husband Monte and I sit on our patio on summer mornings, enjoying coffee, breakfast, the newspaper—and the birds. The other day Monte was impressed to see a red-breasted hummingbird at the red-liquid filled bird feeder. We know they are there when we hear the hum from their rapidly beating wings.

Tennesseean Gary Dowdy and his wife also enjoy watching humming birds at their bird feeders, watching them flutter and circle, feed on the nectar, and chase each other. We marvel at their beauty, their tiny wings, and their ability to hover in midair, Dowdy said, leading into the following story he shared on the Upperroom online devotion site1:

One day after I heard a thud against the patio door, I saw a hummingbird on the ground. I picked it up and discovered that the small creature was stunned but still alive. For the next 15 minutes I held the little hummingbird in the palm of my hand. I stroked its feathers and talked gently to it until it regained its ability to fly. When I told my wife of my experience, she said it was like having the power of God in my hands.1

Monte decided to respond to Dowdy’s experience by turning the story around:

Thanks Gary for a great devotional. I want to speak for the hummingbird, from the hummingbird’s perspective:

What just happened? I was (more…)

July 15, 2012

Should You Write What You Know About or What You Don’t Know About?




 Write what you know about.

“Find that specialized knowledge that you have already inside yourself, even if it seems totally boring to you, and delve into it and find the thriller in there. … Bring that knowledge to the reader.”

Although I don’t always write that way, I concede that Zachary Petit’s point in his article One Simple Question All Writers Should Ask Themselves1 is appealing.

Much of my writing has been in subjects outside my specialized knowledge. The historic romance novel I’m writing, for example, has taken me into the realms of post-Revolutionary land speculation in Ohio and Maine; 1790s history of the cities of Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Alexandria Virginia, and Gallipolis Ohio; Generals Henry Knox and Henry Jackson; the Le Procope Café in Paris; and plantations in British Guiana. The writing has entailed exhaustive research that has taken me into new worlds. It’s been much more difficult than writing about something with which I’m familiar. And it’s taking me years to complete.

To work outside your areas of specialized knowledge requires that you develop (more…)

July 12, 2012

British Guiana/Guyana Woven into My Life





is now located at

Carolyn’s Online Magazine.

QUESTION: What do the following things have in common?

College paper

Jim Jones

Madame Rosalie de Leval

Tikwis Begbie

C. J.

Pittsburgh woman

USA Today, June 22, 2012, pp 4D

Silver Green Turtle Soup Ladle

ANSWER: They are all part of a continuous Chinese red thread that is woven through the tapestry of my life. You know—that red thread of Asian myth that has been reinterpreted to mean that relationships between people are meant to be, and if thwarted, the proverbial thread would not, could not, be broken. The persons would eventually come together.

Each event and/or person is connected to me by an invisible thread that I never could have foreseen when I began my journey of writing a historic romance novel and a paper for a historical magazine competition (which someone else won).

I posted the full article on Intertwined Love, my novel site, Intertwined Love (link is at the end of this post). For CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS I selected two of the stories.

Go into the wild in undiscovered Guyana

On June 22, 2012, the red thread appeared again, this time in the newspaper USA Today, a freebie with the hotel room we rented enroute home from an Ohio visit with our son, Nolan. While relaxing over my breakfast coffee a headline caught my attention: Go into the wild in undiscovered Guyana

I read that tourism is relatively new to Guyana. Its only north-south road between Georgetown and the Brazilian border, 320 miles unpaved, is a fourteen hour bus ride. Wildlife provides the entertainment for visitors. To read the rest of the story, click on link 1 in the source list following additional reading.


Just yesterday, July 11, 2012, British Guiana again became a focus of my attention. My researcher friend Fran called to tell me that she’d mailed me a link to an auction site that listed a very interesting item: (more…)

Next Page »

Blog at