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.

(View more of my photographs at:

View more of my WordPress prompts at:


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…)

August 2, 2014

Photos Portraying Zigzag Lines



View more of my photographs at:

I didn’t like the August 1, 2014, WordPress weekly photo challenge, zigzag: forgo the straightforward in favor of the twisting and winding (angles).

What photos do I have that would fulfill this request? Then I recalled the following photo I took on August 1 in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania:

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Briefly scanning the photos I took during July I found three more photos that suit the request for zigzag:

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 A bridge under repair between Erie, PA and Buffalo, NY

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A building under construction between Buffalo and Rochester, NY


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