CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

November 30, 2014

December 2014 Welcome Message

Carolyn’s Compositions

DECEMBER 2014 WELCOME MESSAGE

Welcome to another triple holiday season, with all its joys and stressors. Thanksgiving has come and gone, along with a visit by my son Nolan, his wife Tammy, and grandsons Vince and Marcus. I’m looking forward to their next visit, when they plan to go skiing and snowboarding.

November was a catch-up month following our constant absences through the summer and early autumn. Within the catch up I broke a couple records. My Christmas boxes were addressed and taped by November 23rd and mailed two days later. My dining room table was cleared and appropriately dressed for Thanksgiving—and remained clear for 5 weeks. And, for the first time, I didn’t have to throw things behind my couch just as Nolan was pulling into the driveway.

Our apartment is rented so time has freed up. My husband Monte and I were able to enjoy several speakers in November: Ralph Bennett, a local writer and former Reader’s Digest employee, spoke on a local World War I hero, Alvin Carey; well-known artist Charles Fagan spoke on his art projects, and Cyril Wecht presented evidence on John F. Kennedy’s assassination. We also attended the county’s woman shelter (Blackburn Center) open house. It’s nice to be part of the community again.

Although I completed the first draft of a short story my novel writing stalled due to lack of quiet time to concentrate on its detailed plot. However, while completing the Ligonier Valley Library challenge to both read and walk a thousand minutes over a period of 10 weeks, I kept my finger on the novel by reading background material for my novel.

I also filled our freezer with soup mixes—I won’t have to cook much for the next couple of months, which will free me to return to my writing.

One thing I didn’t do this summer was maintain contact with my family and friends. Hopefully I will be able to reconnect this month. After all, one of the great blessings of the holiday season is sharing with family and friends.

I want to welcome my new subscribers and thank those who have been with me for a while.

May the blessings and joys of the holiday season surpass the stressors. Remember, the reason for the season is the birth of Jesus. Set a place at your table for him, the guest of honor.

Merry Christmas. and Happy New Year.

Carolyn Cornell Holland

November 29, 2014

WordPress Photo Challenge 11/28/2014: Things That Converge

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

PHOTOS OF THINGS THAT CONVERGE

 Photos are visual spaces where shapes and lines, objects, and people come together. The November 28, 2014, WordPress photo challenge asked us to explore the ways lines and shapes can converge in interesting ways through photography.

My first photo, taken in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, aptly speaks to art—which here is converged with an unlikely object, a parking meter:

141027 IMG_2998E

My second photos converge in more than one way. They represent a convergence of two towns, which were for a time sister cities—Ligonier, Pennsylvania and Ligonier, Indiana. A second convergence is of art and structures.

110301 DSC03178E

110301 DSC03209E

The third convergence is of the lights and walls in the Squirrel Hill Tunnel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo taken from our moving car.

141129 IMG_0153E

My next photo was taken at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. It shows water converging with the sand

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November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving is Every Day: Transformation Through Gratitude

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THANKSGIVING IS EVERY DAY:

TRANSFORMATION THROUGH GRATITUDE

…the problem is, we celebrate Thanksgiving on this one day, but it’s something we should be celebrating every day.

Dr. Gary Welton

Turkeys in a garden in East Weymouth, Mass.

Turkeys in a garden in East Weymouth, Mass.

What is this new sub-discipline of psychology called positive psychology?

Positive psychology was developed as recently as 1998 to seek understanding of the fulfilling aspects of the human experience. It counteracts psychology’s historic focus on mental illness and dysfunction.*

Psychologists Robert Emmons and Robert Stern, upon reviewing the research on the benefits of gratitude, concluded that gratitude has …dramatic and lasting benefits in both the physical and psychological realms.*

Physically (an attitude of gratitude) can

  • lower blood pressure
  • improve immune functioning
  • increase energy

Psychologically (an attitude of gratitude) can

  • reduce depression, anxiety, and substance abuse
  • provide protection from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, and bitterness
  • may offer some protection against psychiatric disorders

(An attitude of gratitude) is larger than the effects of optimism, hope, (more…)

November 25, 2014

Give Thanks for the Ordinary

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

GIVE THANKS FOR THE ORDINARY

When the extraordinary becomes ordinary and the ordinary evolves into entitlement the need for giving thanks dissipates.

When I first visited Kentuck Knob I wondered why Frank Lloyd Wright located the structure a distance back from the knob, denying residents the opportunity to view the knob’s spectacular sunrises over the rolling Laurel Highlands hills, the Youghiogheny River gorge and nearby farmland.w of the .

I learned that Wright chose the location away from the peak to enable the house to become part of the landscape. It’s also my understanding that he also chose that location so that persons who wanted to experience the view had to make an effort, had to walk from the house to the knob—because he understood that a scene of beauty readily available would soon become commonplace, making it ordinary, and therefore less miraculous, less profound.

When we first visited our community of Laurel Mountain Borough it was magical. The one-lane gravel roads, the forested atmosphere, the almost eccentric aura contrasted with the cookie-cutter world we were accustomed to. We felt like we were being transported back in time to an era reputed to be less stressful, to a back-to-earth time. It was magical.

Gradually this profound, magical, feeling dissipated. The sense of uniqueness and magic evolved into the commonplace, the ordinary.

This evolution from the miraculous, the profound, to the commonplace, the ordinary, is a part of the human condition. Once a situation becomes ordinary it evolves into entitlement.

Which brings me to a statement I read in the November 23, 2014, newspaper column, Giving thanks can be a challenge. The quote is somewhat altered: That which was a pleasant and gracious (experience) year quickly becomes an expected entitlement. That for which I was thankful in the past, I now assume to be my right.

The author, Gary Welton, professor of psychology at Grove City College (Pennsylvania), noted that he’s been blessed with incredible health, yet I have never appreciated it. I have only taken it for granted. Only when I am ill do I recognize the incredible gift I have been given.

That for which we feel entitled we don’t feel thankful for. It it belongs to us so there is no need to give thanks.

 

Perhaps we need to step back from the commonplace, the ordinary, in our lives and revisit it with new eyes. So today (and every day) I will be thankful for (in no particular order):

  • my morning coffee, and the persons who planted the seeds, grew it to maturity, picked the beans, prepared them for market, and transported them, all so I can enjoy my morning wake-up time
  • my morning newspaper, and the journalists (who sometimes risk their lives) to research, interview subjects, and write the copy; and for the delivery person who brings it to my newspaper box in the wee hours of the morning so I can relax reading it while partaking of my morning coffee
  • my gray cat King and his former owner, who abandoned two cats in our community, one of which adopted our family. King offers us companionship, adulation, and conversation
  • my family, without whom I would not be who I am today
  • the dishes that clutter my kitchen counter, waiting to be washed and put away. I am no more entitled to this luxury than is the person living in a hut eating out of pie tin
  • water that flows freely from  my household taps, water I am no more entitled to than the woman who must walk a mile to find water to fill the jugs she carries back to her home.

I could continue, but I think you have the idea.

Do you agree with the items on this list? For what do you feel entitled, so thoughtlessly leave off your list of things to be thankful for? I invite you to share your thoughts in the comment box below.

May you and your yours have a blessed Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2014

Reports from Storm “Knife” in Buffalo, New York

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

REPORTS FROM STORM “KNIFE” IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK

November 17 to November 21, 2014

Photo by Kirsten

Photo by Kirsten

In 1977 my sister Lee was driving in Alden, New York, when the Blizzard of 1977 began. When she could drive no longer she parked her car on what she hoped was the side of the road. She, her 5-year-old son Todd and her 10-year-old daughter Deb exited the car and proceeded to the distant lights of a farmhouse.

Almost immediately she lost Todd in a snow drift. She frantically dug into the snow and finally managed to uncover him. Frightened, the three headed towards lights in the distance, never realizing they passed another closer house on the way. The owners let them in and cared for them while the blizzard blew wild outside.

Fast forward to Monday, November 17, 2014.

Sunday and early Monday, Nov. 17, 2014 Contributed photo.

Sunday and early Monday, Nov. 17, 2014
Contributed photo.

Lee is now a senior citizen experiencing health problems. Her daughter lives in a trailer with her husband, Tom, and 3 children: 7-year old, 5-year old, and a 6-week old baby. Kirsten could only open her door slightly open. The snow is falling. Fast.

Photo by Pat

Photo by Pat

Below are conversations I had with her, Kirsten, my long-time friend Pat, my sister Sally and sister-in-law Marge.

Snow blocking Kirsten's door --- photo by Kirsten

Snow blocking Kirsten’s door — photo by Kirsten

Kirsten's girls, photo by Kirsten

Kirsten’s girls, photo by Kirsten

Tuesday. November 18.

Lee. 10:00 a. m. While Monte and I drove to a doctor’s appointment I called Lee. She was snowed in.

“It’s sunny here, blue (more…)

November 22, 2014

Photographing Angular: wp photo challenge 11/21/2014

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

PHOTOGRAPHING ANGULAR

The November 21, 2014, WordPress photo challenge is angular:  show us what “angular” means to you.

Unfortunately, the best photograph I found is an archive photo taken of, not by, me. Still, I share it because it strikes me as the best photograph representing angular.

Jamestown (PA) Fair 1995

Jamestown (PA) Fair 1995

The following photographs were shot by me.

Volant, PA

Volant, PA

 Ligonier Township, PA

Ligonier Township, PA

(more…)

November 20, 2014

11 Facts About Loyalhanna Creek in Southwestern PA

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

11 FACTS ABOUT LOYALHANNA CREEK IN SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA

Bridge spans Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe, PA

Bridge spans Loyalhanna Creek in Latrobe, PA

Loyalhanna Creek is nominated for 2015 River of the Year.

You can make it happen by voting before December 15, 2014.

Vote here.

Help Loyalhanna Creek beat out the Ohio River, the Neshaminy Creek and Watershed,

Conewango Creek, and the Lackawanna River.

Winner receives a $10,000 grant to promote the creek

through various programs and events throughout the coming year.

For more information contact Angela Vitkoski at avitkoski@pecpa.org

Westmoreland County’s Loyalhanna Creek isn’t the nearest trout stream to metropolitan Pittsburgh, but the volume, breadth, minimal overhang, variety of water types and abundance of stocked trout through the Loyalhanna Gorge has made it a invaluable classroom for countless Southwestern Pennsylvania anglers. The natural beauty of Westmoreland County and the water flowing gracefully down Loyalhanna Creek attract people from near and far.^^^^

As one would expect, the Loyalhanna Creek does hold some secrets. There’s one particular boulder — I won’t tell you where — that for decades has remained undercut by the current. Even in the summer when Loyalhanna Creek is low and the water warms, big trout find comfort at the edge of the current a yard or more under the protection of the rock, picking off any Wooly Bugger that passes.^

Below is a quiz to test your knowledge of the Loyalhanna Creek.

Sam Sherry of Wilpen, PA with Bigfeet

Sam Sherry of Wilpen, PA with Bigfeet

QUESTIONS

  1. What was the original 18th century name of Loyalhanna Creek and what did it mean?
  2. What is the Loyalhanna Creek?
  3. Where is the Loyalhanna Creek located and where does it originate?
  4. The Kiskiminetas River results from the confluence of the Loyalhanna creek and what other waterway? Where does this confluence occur?
  5. What unique siting was made along Loyalhanna Creek on May 17, 1987, and who made it?
  6. What part of the Loyalhanna Creek is stocked with fish each spring?
  7. What is the elevation of the mouth of the Loyalhanna Creek?
  8. When is the Loyalhanna Creek classified as a river?
  9. The Loyalhanna Creek Watershed encompasses how many square miles and how many miles of miles of stream?
  10. Why was the Conemaugh River green, and the Loyalhanna Creek usually orange?

BONUS QUESTION

Name the 6 sections of the Loyalhanna Creek, and the mileage of each.

To check (or learn) the answers click on MORE

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November 18, 2014

International Friends Share Our Life Journey — Part 1

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS SHARE OUR LIFE JOURNEY

Part 1

The following piece was written between July 1985 and summer 1988. It has been updated from then to include relationships to the present date.

During our children’s growing up years they met special people from foreign countries, people who joined their life journey to ours. Below are some of their stories.

singapore_sm_2014

One such person was Hung Pheng Tan, a graduate student at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where my husband Monte taught. We were his American host family, and when we relocated from SUNY@Buffalo to Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania, he visited our new community. He was the first international person our daughter Sandy met—although I’m certain she doesn’t recall knowing him back then, as she was only a few months old. Hung Pheng was present at her baptism. She remet him (and his wife) when the couple visited us in 1988, and my son Nolan met him for the first time.

Whether from Singapore or America, we all feel joy

Whether from Singapore or America, we all feel joy

When they visited us in July 2014 Sandy could introduce him, his wife, and his college-age son to her daughter, a sweet sixteen.

map-of-cameroon

Joseph, a Cameroon (Africa) native, lodged with us for a short time while studying at Slippery Rock University. He needed work and we needed help in our country-style life—especially with planting trees. When he moved on he left behind a young boy—our son—who, for almost two years, rejected the use of silverware in favor of fingers.  This was the result of the effects of an African dish meant to be eaten with the fingers, a technique Nolan applied to almost all foods.

When Joseph’s wife Susanne came to the United States to join him and to study here, she left their son in their native country. While here she also became a special friend. Susanne became pregnant just before we left for Atlanta, Georgia, where my husband Monte studied for the ministry. Understandably they lacked many needed items. Our family prepared a pond-side baby shower for Susanne, complete with a warm-weather swim to cool off. In attendance were several elderly neighbors as well as younger folk, all of whom were exposed to her Cameroon culture. Her son arrived a month later while we were in Atlanta.

untitled

During our three-year sojourn in Atlanta Samir and Farial, from Egypt, joined our life journey. We met through a program that connected foreign visitors with (more…)

November 16, 2014

11 Unique Facts About Thanksgiving

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

11 UNIQUE FACTS ABOUT THANKSGIVING

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.

No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless,

set aside a day of Thanksgiving.”

– H. U. Westermayer^^^^^

Many historians believe that only five women were present at the first Thanksgiving, as many women settlers didn’t survive that difficult first year in the U.S.* Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts

Thanksgiving is an amalgam of different traditions, including ancient harvest festivals, the religious New England Puritan Thanksgiving, the traditional harvest celebrations of England and New England, and changing political and ideological assumptions of Native Americans. Thanksgiving is often considered the site of the first cultural war because it contains both a narrative of the birth of freedom and democracy as well as an account of racism, mistreatment of Native Americans, and conflict.**

Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.**** Thanksgiving can occur as early as November 22 and as late as November 28. **

Below is a quiz to entertain and puzzle you. Something to share with your friends and family following your Thanksgiving feast.

Turkeys in a garden in East Weymouth, Mass.

Turkeys in a garden in East Weymouth, Mass.

QUESTIONS

  1. Was the autumn 1621 Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts the first thanksgiving celebration on North American soil in the New World?
  2. Who is considered the Mother of Thanksgiving?
  3. What utensils were used at the first Thanksgiving?
  4. What popular product did Thanksgiving spawn in 1953?
  5. Who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land?
  6. How did the early settlers plan on celebrating the first Thanksgiving?
  7. What was on the menu at the Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving dinner?
  8. What is the average long-distance mileage of Thanksgiving travel?
  9. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is not the original holiday parade. Which parade was the first?
  10.  What is the National Day of Mourning?

BONUS QUESTION

Who wrote the two accounts of the first Thanksgiving?

 To learn the answers click on MORE:

(more…)

November 15, 2014

My Writing Achievement Photographed

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

MY WRITING ACHIEVEMENT:

FLIGHT OF VALOR—

PHOTOGRAPHED

The November 14, 2014, WordPress photo challenge is challenge/achievement: show us a photo that says “achievement” to you.

My writing is where I’ve recently achieved much. So how do you show writing in photographs?

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m constantly asked when I will complete my novel. It’s coming. Slowly. Because this historical romance uses real names (from the post-American Revolution)—General Henry Knox, General Henry Jackson, William Duer among them—I must use caution in my historical detail. This takes time and concentration.

It was likewise with my magazine article that was published just last month. It took me almost four years to write.

The article, about a musical piece, Flight of Valor, which was commissioned by the Somerset County Community Band and honors Flight 93. I’m certain you recall that the September 11, 2001, Flight 93 crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

I took the music, which follows the events of the day, and interspersed stories of Westmoreland County persons involved in the after-crash activities. I interviewed many persons, and verified their statements with documents. The article is just under 4,000 words. This is my latest writing challenge/achievement, published in Westmoreland History, a publication of the Westmoreland County Historical Society in Pennsylvania.

Back to the photography. I turned to my art workshop editing and made collages of the article against a backdrop of the original Flight 93 memorial site. This is the result: FLIGHT OF VALOR 02BE

FLIGHT OF VALOR 04E

Read about the music  Flight of Valor: Honoring United Airlines Flight 93 Victims . To purchase the expanded article in Westmoreland History contact the Westmoreland County Historical Society, (724) 532-1935, history@westmorelandhistory.org  or stop in at their location at 362 Sand Hill Road – Suite 1,  Greensburg, PA 15601

On a smaller scale, I achieved writing a story about (more…)

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