December 31, 2013

January 2014 Welcome Message



NOTE: February 1, 2014, is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first #1 hit, “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Enjoy the day by reading Submarines, the Beatles, Sloops, and Apples.

I’d like to thank all my readers for helping make this online magazine a success in 2013. Subscribers doubled; one post, Groundhog Day—Children’s Stories & Poems , received 2072 visits in one day, and the 1000th post was published.

When visiting beaches along the New England coast I often build a sand castle. I like to think that all the negativities of the past are held within the walls of the castle, and when the incoming tide washes my work away it carries with it the negativities, allowing me to rise anew, cleansed and fresh, filled with positivities.

This is how I envision each New Year. And so today is the first day of a new year…the first day of 2014…the first day of the rest of my life. My 2013 sand castle is being washed away by the tide and the gentle rain falling as I write this. Tomorrow a gentle snow will cover the gloomy browns with a sparkling white blanket.

The following quote is applicable: I probably shouldn’t be making any new resolutions for 2014…because I’m still working on last year’s resolutions.

I’m not making any resolutions this year because they don’t stick. Instead, I am setting major goals for my writing, clearing out “stuff,” and a special craft project. By breaking down these projects into mini-bite sized short-term goals I hope to reach the ultimate goal—completion of the first draft of my novel, cutting the “stuff” down by half, and completing the dolls—before the passing of 2014.

Farewell, 2013, I’m sorry to see parts of you go—especially the 32-day travel experience along the New England coast. But fade out you must…as I must welcome the New Year.

NOTE: As I write this I think about Russell and Shirley Livengood, who I met them at the Diamond Café just before Christmas. Russell had just retired from a job in the Midwest, and the couple was closing on a home in Ligonier. We planned on meeting for coffee after the New Year. Then, on Dec. 28 Russell died.

We just don’t know what life is going to serve us in 2014. Our prayers are with Shirley this day.

May you all have a blessed New Year.    Carolyn Cornell Holland

December 29, 2013

Snow Tubing Part 2: Carolyn’s 1st Ride

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONSMovicons2-hugsandkisses(3)

Hug for Marcus.

Part 2

Members of the Monte Holland family went snow tubing at Hidden Valley (Southwestern Pennsylvania on the Laurel Ridge) on December 27. My grandson Marcus, 7, helped me document that visit: click on Snow Tubing
Part 1: The Holland Family
. The following relates my first and last snow tube ride.

A snow tube ride became a part of my bucket list, and was accomplished before I ever had a chance to write it down.
I decided I should try one ride if I was going to write this piece. Of course I had to be color coordinated, so chose the yellow tube. As I stepped onto the conveyor belt I almost lost my footing, and I was approaching the top of the hill I wondered what kind of a nut I was.
10 IMG_5497

However, it was too late to change my mind—the only way down was via snow tube.

At the top I quickly snapped a couple of photos before sitting down.

11 IMG_5508E

Then the worker gave my tube a gentle shove.

The ride was (more…)

December 28, 2013

Snow Tubing Part 1: The Holland Family



Hug for all those who snow tube.

Part 1

Marcus with Grandma Holland

Snow tubing provided Marcus and the rest of the family with a day of joy , as the photos in the accompanying post demonstrate. Part 1 is the family’s experience from Marcus’ point of view. Snow Tubing Part 2: Carolyn’s 1st Ride relates my first and last experience riding a snow tube down a steep hill.   Carolyn

It was cold and windy this morning when I awoke. I was excited about going snow tubing, but my brother Vince was less excited because he really wanted to go skiing.

“I don’t want to go skiing,” I said. “I want to go snow tubing.”

Because my cousin Jordan wanted to go snow tubing and she could only go today, my Daddy and Grandpa Holland decided we would go to the Hidden Valley Resort snow tubing hills, tucked in the Laurel Ridge off Rt. 31.

Vince and I went snow tubing during the Cleveland Snow Days when I was 5 and Vince was 7, two years ago. While we were there we also watched the Ohio State versus Michigan hockey game. Unfortunately, Michigan won although we were cheering for Ohio. And we also went ice skating.

The hills (at Hidden Valley) looked big, In Cleveland, the hills were just slanted, in a straight line. Here there was a big slope and a hump, then another straight slope and a second smaller hump.

I wanted to pick the orange tube to ride, but Vince got to it first. I picked a red one because there were only red ones left.
1 A IMG_5410E

Then we went on the conveyor belt, also known as the moving carpet. I liked this because you didn’t have to walk uphill, but I didn’t like it because it moved slow. Everyone but Vince took the conveyor belt to the top of the hill. Vince had run ahead and was almost at the top of the hill when Daddy, Mommy, Jordan and I stepped onto the conveyor belt.

1 b IMG_4953When we reached the top we had to pick one of the four slopes where we climbed into our snow tubes and then a worker, with my Daddy’s help, tied our snow tubes together.

2 IMG_4997EThe worker waited until the coast below was clear, then pushed us down the hill.

3 A  IMG_4958E

Workers keep an eye out for safety.

It was fun that I got to go downhill fast, and got to scream and put my arms up. It was like a roller coaster ride. On the ride snow was blowing in our face. I was cold before the ride, but after the first ride I warmed up a whole lot. After a while I got sweaty under my clothes. I had too many of them on.

“My Daddy had to wave his cap to let my Grandma (Holland) it was us coming down the hill. She was trying to get pictures.”
3 B IMG_5006E

The ride could be as a train (also known as a snake), which is tubes in a line; a bundle, which is a group of tubes, or an individual.

A train (or snake)

A train (or snake)


December 26, 2013

11 Facts About New Year’s Eve & Day



Hugs for Fred Wells and Father Time


The birth of a New Year is celebrated in most of the world’s countries, making the celebration of the eve and the day an occasion of global celebration.
What do you know about the New Year?

  1. The oldest of holidays, it was first celebrated when?
  2. Where was the first celebration of the New Year?
  3. Do all countries celebrate New Year’s on January 1?
  4. Where in the world do the first celebrations of the New Year occur?
  5. Where in the world do the last celebrations of the New Year occur?
  6. Traditionally, it was thought that people could alter the luck they would have throughout the coming year. How could they do this?
  7. Why is New Year’s celebrated with noisemaking and fireworks?
  8. What feast does the Catholic Church observe on New Year’s Day?
  9. Why are ring-shaped foods favored on New Year’s Eve and day?
  10. When did the very first Times Square ball lowering occur?

The traditional New Year Eve midnight song, Auld Lang Syne, is a ( nationality) song written by (author) in the (era), and its words literally mean (meaning).
It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year’s Day


Click to locate the answers. (more…)

December 24, 2013

Santa Claus Christmas

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS Movicons2-hugsandkisses(3)

Hug for Jesus


Snowflakes fell gently and lazily while we rang the Salvation Army bell. Occasionally the breeze would pick up, offering us a wind chill factor. One breeze was sufficiently strong to knock over the kettle support, which we caught before it fell.

Ringing the Salvation Army bell for Heritage United Methodist Church was just one of our Santa Claus gigs this 2013 Christmas season.


Up to two inches of rainfall, causing some flooding. High winds toppling trees and power lines. Temperature varying between 72o and 60o Fahrenheit.

Typical, if not perfect, spring weather.

Except this was December 22, 2013, the day after the Winter Solstice, in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

For a complex combination of reasons the Salvation Army kettle campaign wasn’t reaching its goals this year, making their work challenging. But an additional challenge was met by the Salvation Army Mon Valley Citadel in Monessen, Pennsylvania, the rains brought added complications. In the midst of a Saturday afternoon downpour their basement experienced a flood that destroyed $3,000 worth of toys stored there, toys collected for needy children.

Lt. Joel Thwaite  and Lt. Susan Thwaite, husband-and-wife team leaders of the Citadel, were amazed when they arrived at the Citadel was again filled with toys donated, overnight, by community members, including three truckloads from the Mon Valley Leathernecks (sponsors of the Toys for Tots campaign).

“Everyone else is being Santa today. We’re just (more…)

December 22, 2013

Turtle Doves (2nd Day of Christmas)



Hugs for Fran and Jim


  On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree
Two turtle doves…


A couple of years ago I was in Buffalo, New York, during the Christmas season. While at the home of my (Kensington) high school friend, Pat, I examined the ornaments on her tree. I was taken aback when I recognized that numerous ornaments were familiar—they were ones I’d sent her through the years.

This often happens, as our family Christmas card has, for 42 years, been a tree ornament. My sister Sally has a tree set aside to display our ornaments.

One goal on my “bucket list” is to complete one ornament representing each of the gifts listed in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Because the ornaments are interspersed with other timely themes, I have many to do.

Couldn't use photo of baby doves

Couldn’t use flash…nighttime…best photo of baby doves

In June my friend watched doves nesting in a planter hung on her porch. I was fortunate to see the baby birds shortly after they hatched and the day before they left the nest. It was even more fortunate that I photographed the latter.

Ready...set...not yet...

Ready…set…not yet…

The picture of two now-adult (or late adolescent?) doves provided the theme for this year’s ornament—On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves… In the musical piece the doves represent (more…)

December 21, 2013

Zider Store (Laughlintown, PA) Reroofed



This autumn the Progress Fund purchased the Laughlintown, Pennsylvania, structure known as the Old Zider Store.


The first major task they accomplished was replacing the roof, gutters, and downspouts. Zider’s Store is located on the Lincoln Highway (Rt. 30) east of Ligonier in the Ligonier Valley.

Below are photos of the reroofing in progress.

Oct. 28, 2013

Oct. 28, 2013

Oct. 28, 2013

Oct. 28, 2013


December 19, 2013

Selfies: A Not-So-New Concept


Movicons2-hugsandkisses(3) Hug for Ben


I once daringly drove alone all the way from southeast of Pittsburgh to the distant New England town of Presque Isle, Maine. Being 1996 it was before cell phones took pictures which could instantaneously placed on the Internet.

Someone came along to snap this photo at Wallis Sands Beach in Rye, New Hampshire

Someone came along to snap this photo at Wallis Sands Beach in Rye, New Hampshire

Fast forward to Munich, Germany, in November, 2000. My husband Monte and I were visiting my son Nolan, who was in Germany doing post-doctorate work at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. While there Monte and Nolan traveled to Prague. I opted to remain in Munich so I could investigate the city deeper than I could while railing through Europe.

Palace view near Munich, Germany

Palace view near Munich, Germany

In both cases, I was by myself. Being a paraprofessional photographer I always carried my camera with me and I always exercised my trigger finger, documenting sites and experiences wherever I was.


Because I wanted to document that I was present in the New England and Munich sites and experiences I became creative. I not only watched for persons (having a camera equal to or better than mine) to shoot photographs in which I was a subject, I discovered how to take pictures of myself by me.

Mirror reflection at a German castle

Mirror reflection at a German castle

The pictures I took of myself would, today, be referred to as selfies.


On December 12, 2013, I read an opinion piece on selfies by Nafari Vanaski: Obama not alone in our love of selfies — even at funerals:

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a picture with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt next to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama during the memorial service of South African former president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013.

Leaving the issue of taking selfies at funerals to another post I want to address the opinions of both Bowling Green State University pop culture lecturer Matthew Donahue’s and the author, as expressed in the op-ed, on selfies.

  • Donohue: It (selfies) speaks to the 21st-century, technological-dominated society we live in…It’s another way for people to document their lives.
  • Vanaski: Photographs have been used to record historic events for a long time…Why do we have to insert ourselves into every event?…how is it not self-absorbed to (more…)

December 17, 2013

Christmas—Children’s Stories, Poems, & More







For children (of all ages) I surfed the Internet and found the following sites with stories, poems, and finger plays that provide CHRISTMAS entertainment.

NOTE: To access a companion Christmas post click on Santa Claus—Children’s Stories, Poems, & More

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Why was the turkey the drummer in the pop group?
Because he was the only one with drumsticks!

What’s a sheep’s favorite Christmas carol?
We wish ewe a merry Christmas.


Q: What is Count Dracula’s Christmas story? (more…)

December 15, 2013

Santa Claus—Children’s Stories, Poems, & More




 For children (of all ages) I surfed the Internet and found the following sites with stories, poems, and finger plays that provide Santa Claus entertainment.

NOTE: Also visit Christmas—Children’s Stories, Poems, & More is devoted to the meaning of the season, celebrating Christ’s birthday, as opposed to Santa Claus, a secular approach to Christmas. Together with this post the Christmas season is covered for children.

Subscribe to this site to receive an email of current posts. Type your email address in the subscribe to box at the top right of this page. You will receive an email asking you to confirm the subscription. (Your email will not be made public). christmas-28


Who delivers Christmas presents for cats?

Santa Paws!


What do you get if you cross Father Christmas with a duck?
A Christmas Quacker!

Why does Santa like to work in his garden?
Because he likes to hoe, hoe, hoe!

What is invisible but smells like milk and cookies?
Kris Kringle burps!

What do you call Santa when he has no money?
Saint “Nickel”-less!


Q: How do you know Santa Claus is good at karate?

A: He has a black belt!

Q:  What’s black, white and red all over?

A: Santa Claus after he comes down the chimney!


What comes at the end of Christmas Day?

A: A Y!

More: christmas-coloring-pages


Seven Santas sang silly songs.

Comet cuddles cute Christmas (more…)

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