CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

November 13, 2014

My Sister & I: Like Oil and Water

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is now located at Carolyn’s Online Magazine.

After reading about the sisters I invite you to visit the new site.

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

MY SISTER AND I:

LIKE OIL AND WATER

Lee

Lee

 Carolyn

Carolyn

If we had met as teenagers or later in life I doubt we’d have the strong relationship we have today. After all, my older sister Lee and I are very different—we’re like oil meeting water. Perhaps it can be said we are polar opposites.

The few outsiders who have been guests in our respective homes observe one polar difference between us. You enter her home and it is so neat and orderly. You enter my home and…well, I must remove the clutter from the chairs so you have a place to sit…I have to pile up the papers etc. on my table in order to serve you tea. You can read a more detailed comparison between a near neatnik and an almost hoarder by clicking on My Sister and I: Cluttered Versus Neat Home .

Then there is our workplace demeanor. My sister would never walk into her workplace office wearing a fuzzy maroon bathrobe, matching fuzzy maroon sneakers, no makeup, and unkempt hair—looking for all the world like she just rolled out of bed. And yes, I did just that. It was justified, if I say so myself. It was in retaliation for my boss challenging me to (more…)

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November 9, 2014

“The Other Day…Welcoming an Adopted Child”

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

“THE OTHER DAY…WELCOMING AN ADOPTED CHILD”

THE REV. MONTE W. HOLLAND, COLLABORATIVE WRITER

1300th POST ON CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

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NOTE: It’s a New Day was a daily (Monday-Friday) radio show broadcast in Connellsville, Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. My husband Monte, a local pastor, and I presented the following program on July 23, 1997. Names have been changed in this piece.

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Monte: Good morning. Welcome to It’s a New Day. This is Reverend Monte Holland of Wesley United Methodist Church on South Pittsburgh Street in Connellsville. My wife, Carolyn, is joining me in  sharing something that happened “the other day” when we were privileged to be part of a group of folks who gathered at the Pittsburgh International Airport to greet the arrival of a Chinese toddler and her first meeting her adoptive father.

Carolyn: We have known Grace for a number of years. She’s always known how to throw a celebration, but in this airport party she, her husband, and their new daughter were the guests. It was a celebration of the transformation of their family.

Monte: Grace and Mike have been dealing with the fairly common problem of infertility. This day was the culmination of the long wait to become parents. Grace and her mother were arriving from China with their new daughter.

Carolyn: On the way home you mentioned to me that while we were sharing in this 7:00 a. m. party you were observing several areas of caring. You indicated that there were at least four Scriptural imperatives being responded to. The most obvious Scripture applicable is that we are to care for the orphan.

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Monte: Grace’s mom shared that this child had been abandoned on a park bench so that the police would find her and see that she was cared for. This apparently is quite common in China where boy children are highly valued, but girl children are not.

Carolyn: That is why Grace and Mike were almost certain they would be adopting a daughter. We waited while all the passengers  disembarked the plane, then we waited a few minutes more until we saw Grace disembark with Marie in her arms.

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Monte: After Grace introduced the child to her new father and grandparents she sat on the floor and allowed the child to play with some familiar things. She did not subject her to more than casual interaction with those of us there. She allowed the child to be a person coming to a new place instead of (more…)

November 6, 2014

The Owl

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THE OWL

 Bo Brocious, guest poet

The January 5, 2015, WordPress prompt is Daring DoTell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. How did you prevail?

As I groggily aroused myself from my mid-afternoon siesta my husband Monte rushed into the family room, retrieved his garden-soiled sneakers, and quickly slipped them on his feet.

 “There’s a bird caught in the deer netting (around our garden),” he said, grabbing a pair of scissors. The grogginess disappeared with my adrenalin rush. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my camera, and raced to the garden. Sure enough, there was a bird in the netting. A big bird.

“It’s an owl,” Monte said, hesitatingly moving towards it to examine the situation. The black netting was wrapped around the bird’s feet tightly enough that Monte might need a surgeon’s skill to cut it without injuring the bird. He poked it gently with the handle of the umbrella he’d grabbed on the way to the garden.

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Still, he had to try. While using an umbrella handle to stabilize the owl he gingerly began snipping at the netting with pink-handled scissors. The owl, equally intimidated by us as we were of it, kept trying to reach its beak to where it could nip Monte’s hands.

My task was easier. Since I wasn’t going to risk the bird’s beak I stood back, waiting to offer Monte medical attention if it were necessary. And I studied the owl, wondering if it was one of the screech owls I kept hearing in the wee hours of the night—a noise that, when I initially heard it, made me want to call 911 to rescue whatever woman was being beaten. Then my trigger finger took hold as I attempted to shoot a prize winning photograph, which was difficult as I was repeatedly startled by the owl’s wildly flapping wings.

“Calm down,” I said—as if the owl could understand. However, it looked at me as if to say “what’s happening?” and calmed down somewhat.

After a harrowing ten minutes Monte freed the owl’s feet, but its beak-hold on the netting kept him trapped. It took a few minutes before it realized that if it loosened its grip it could free itself to leave. Standing back we watched it fly few feet. Its lift wasn’t high enough so it flew into the netting on the opposite side of the garden. We thought we would have to free it again, but this time, with a little trouble, it cleared the netting and flew into a tree and rested for a moment.

“It’s probably pretty exhausted,” Monte said as it opened its wings, gathered steam, and rose to become hidden by the trees.

When Bo Brocius read about this owl experience in the article It’s Been an Animal Day she responded by (more…)

November 4, 2014

Defy Gravity: Descend Gravity Hill Road in New Paris, PA

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

DEFY GRAVITY: DESCEND GRAVITY HILL ROAD

IN NEW PARIS, PENNSYLVANIA

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 Sometimes (no, most of the time) I arrive at places when I’m unprepared. Sometimes it’s my mental condition, sometimes it’s that I arrive at a place unexpectedly.

This happened on October 28, 2014. The latter, that is—arriving at a place unexpectedly.  I had no water in the car (I usually do) and no exercise ball (I usually don’t). Nonetheless, my husband Monte and I had an extraordinary experience on Gravity Hill Road in New Paris (Bedford County), Pennsylvania.

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The publicity flier I picked up at the motel we stayed at asked Have you ever wanted to defy gravity? Being married to a former physicist this sounded like an unmanageable challenge. I showed the flier to Monte, telling him it might be interesting to take a detour deep into the Bedford County mountains en route home. After all, it was a delightful Indian summer day with miles of (more…)

November 2, 2014

November 2014 Welcome Message

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

NOVEMBER 2014 WELCOME MESSAGE

We knew it was October 1st when we watched my son-in-law Michael  decorate his yard for his favorite holiday, Halloween. His décor was photographed by many viewers (mine: Ghoulish Halloween Photographs) of his creative work.  The beginning of October is also marked by the last Ligonier, Pennsylvania, farmer’s market, noted for selling only locally grown or made items. It was only the second farmer’s market I’d been able to attend this year.  Mid-October is the time for Ligonier Days, reputed to be among the country’s largest autumn festivals. The entire town is given over to the festivities, and the parade is its highlight.

I was delighted when the Westmoreland County Historical Society magazine came in our mail days later. It included my article on Flight of Valor, a music composition on Flight 93 commissioned by the Somerset County Community Band. It took me at least 3 ½ years to complete the article. I wrote a simpler article, Flight of Valor: Honoring United Airlines Flight 93 Victims , a while back but the print copy focuses on Westmoreland County (Pennsylvania) and includes much more information.

October 2014 will be remembered as the year my husband Monte and our neighbor Dan used a special deck paint on our large deck. Touted for its thickness, ability to fill cracks and crevices, and textured finish, it can also be very toxic to anyone sensitive to it. I know this because when Dan came into our computer room after they were done painting for the day his clothes emitted strong fumes, which caused my throat to immediately become sore and swell. The next morning my blood pressure reading was frighteningly high. Then, for 2 ½ weeks I experienced phantom smell and taste hallucinations. Watch for my post on the subject.

We ended October with a delightful two-night visit my brother Dave and his wife Kim in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. Kim is a great cook who served scrumptious meals. Dave drove us on a tour of the area during which I took pictures of an old springhouse and a water wheel. After saying our goodbyes we drove to Schuylkill County where, in Minersville, we remet my cousin Bob Borinsky and met his son Michael, a delightful young man. We also visited the Pottsville Library, where we learned the death date of my great-grandfather’s brother Lawrence, a miner killed in the Lytle Mines in 1914.

En route home we stopped at Centralia, where a mine fire burns continually and collapsed a road so badly it cannot be used. It’s covered with graffiti now. At a nearby location we spotted steam spouting from the mine, showing the fire is still burning.

After that we stopped at Gravity Hill in New Paris, where even my (former) physicist husband became mystified as our car, while in neutral, rolled uphill.

We ended our short vacation by Descending Laurel Mountain in Ligonier, PA (we live at the foot of this sometime scary hill).

The bonus of our four days of travel was the beautifully warm weather and the spectacularly dressed autumn trees. Who needs to travel far and wide to experience the best leaf-peeping in the country?

November has arrived. Time to prepare for a triple-holiday season. Enjoy the first, Thanksgiving . and the inevitable first snow and cold.

I want to thank you, my many visitors to CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS, and I especially want to welcome my new subscribers. You are what makes this online magazine successful.

October 30, 2014

Sears Employees Demonstrate Kindness

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SEARS EMPLOYEES DEMONSTRATE KINDNESS

Making a Difference in a Customer’s Life

Even though the wet spot under the car could be a remnant of the rain that fell the previous night, my suspicions were raised: Was there something wrong with the car? As a sensible human being I don’t trust mechanical contraptions.

I’d driven 40 minutes that morning, from home to the 2014 Health & Education Expo, a senior health expo supported by the Westmoreland County Board of Commissioners, the Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging and other county agencies. I met Kim Ward, Pennsylvania State Senator, whom I’d previously contacted on legislation on open adoption records for adult adoptees. I’d taken advantage of several offerings—a hand massage, a back massage, a hearing test, a blood pressure reading, lots of candy samples, a snack.

And I’d enjoyed a presentation by KDKA-TV news anchor and caregiver advocate Jennifer Antkowiak titled Don’t Stress! Coping with Caregiver Stress.

It came time to leave, so I went to my car and saw the suspicious almost-puddle under the hooded part of my car. I pulled out my camera (of course, very low battery) and snapped a couple of shots of the wet spot

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141029 DSC03905Ebefore I drove to the mall across the 4-lane highway and parked behind Sears, where I had to make an exchange. I accomplished my mission and, not having to rush home I wandered around the mall stores for a couple of hours.

Wanting to drive home in daylight I went to the car just before sunset. As I approached the car I noticed an almost-puddle under the front of the car.

141029 DSC03907EOops. My suspicions had confirmation. I again pulled out my camera and snapped a picture.

The car had a problem, and I had about 7 miles of wooded highway to drive through, a drive that would make a lone woman vulnerable if the car was disabled, particularly at dusk or later.

My cell phone had experienced problems and wasn’t working, and I hadn’t picked up my husband’s cell phone. I’d been enjoyable incommunicado all day, but now I was concerned.

I went into Sears and stopped at the service desk closest to (more…)

October 21, 2014

Finite Creatures We Are

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

FINITE CREATURES WE ARE

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Cemetery in East Lamoine, Maine

I’m eyeing the stone of Louis and Mary Googins des Isles, circa 1794-1825

Interesting this WordPress prompt, finite creatures, appeared the day I after I did research on deaths and funerals in Downeast Maine in the 1790s-1800s. Lest you think I’m strange for picking this topic I’d better inform you that I was researching it for my novel, in which one character, Mary, must deal with having her husband Louis sail for France in 1812 and never being heard from again (oops—there is a surprise in this true life story that mimics the later well-known epoch written by Tennyson, Enoch Ardon).

Thus, mortality has been on my mind these days.

The prompt asks At what age did you realize you were a finite creature, that you not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

Two of my earliest memories are of death.

Our family dog, a cocker spaniel named Buffy, died after being hit by a car.

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The man whose car hit him made a pine box for his burial. Buffy was buried under what is now an addition to 29 Spring Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I don’t recall my age but I might have been 5 or 6 years old. During a burial “service” I ran about the yard laughing. Was this an apartness from death or a (more…)

October 19, 2014

Angel Rescues Traveler in Massachusetts

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

ANGEL RESCUES TRAVELER IN MASSACHUSETTS

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A Night Time Ride to Safety

Along a Circuitous Path as

Angel Rescues Traveler in Massachusetts

(A Devotion)

SCRIPTURE: Genesis 40:23, 41:9    23. But (even after all that) the chief butler gave no thought to Joseph, but forgot (all about) him. 9. Then the chief butler said to Pharoah, I remember my faults today. (AMP)

Luke 17:18   Was there no one found to return and to recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien? (Amp)

Related Scripture:   Luke 17:12-19

REFLECTION:  Gratitude. For major events. And most commonly rudely forgotten.

For Joseph, who interpreted the dream for the chief butler and whose request to be recognized to the Pharaoh was “forgotten.” For Jesus, nine healed lepers neglected to thank him.

I, too, can be ungrateful. I don’t express gratitude often enough.

Sometimes, though, verbal thanks seems insufficient.

I traveled to New England by myself in the spring of 1996, and left Brocton, Massachusetts after 7 p. m., unconcerned about finding a hotel. I would be on a main road. No problem. I’d drive towards Merrimack, New Hampshire and stop along the way.

Wrong! I was traveling through a “bedroom community.” No motels!

At 8:45 p. m. I stopped at a drugstore in a strange town not too far from Framingham. “Are there any motels around?” I asked the pharmacist. Neither he nor the customers knew of any.

One customer said she felt bad. She had a spare room, but she also had company. She knew a place in Framingham but the dark night, the late hour and the heavy construction would create travel difficulties, particularly to a stranger. But she knew of a Bed & Breakfast out in the country. She’d call from her car phone.

A room was available! She drew me a land-marked map, then said (more…)

October 7, 2014

Traveling on a Greyhound Bus with Children

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

TRAVELING CROSS COUNTRY ON A GREYHOUND BUS

(WITH TWO SMALL CHILDREN)

Our trip of a lifetime almost didn’t happen. You’ll understand after reading about its first two laps.

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In 1974 my husband Monte received a grant to attend an energy conference in Berkeley, California. Our children, Sandy 4 and Nolan 2, stayed in Slippery Rock with me for the first five weeks. In the sixth week we traveled to California, from where the four of us would travel back to Slippery Rock.

Our mode of transportation — Greyhound bus, which offered a 30-day Ameripass ticket for $50, entitling purchasers to unlimited riding to any destination served by the company.

Shirl, Diane, Nolan & Sandy (l-r)

Shirl, Diane, Nolan & Sandy (l-r)

Our good friend Shirl Murray drove us from our Slippery Rock home to the bus station , which was an hour away in Youngstown, Ohio. We made it with time to spare. The kids waited anxiously for “their” bus to arrive, then waited in line to board. A youngish man wearing the Greyhound uniform punched our ticket.

It was a cross country bus, so we settled in for our long journey. The passengers were a mix of humanity. A young couple and an elderly man seated themselves up front. Several teenagers seated themselves in the back of the bus. A frail woman sat in the middle. Most of the seats were filled with passengers boarding in towns the bus drove through en route from New York City to Youngstown.

The driver boarded, set his briefcase on the floor, situated himself in the driver’s seat, and shut the door. Suddenly the bus engine purred and he skillfully backed out of the parking place. All was well in the small community encased in what only can be described as an oversized tuna can.

The kids occupied themselves watching the Ohio country speed by while I arranged their things so they could entertain themselves when they tired of the scenery.

I sat back in my seat and pulled out a magazine, hoping I could finish an article before the kids needed me. The animated conversation interspersed with laughter coming from the young girls provided a pleasant backdrop.

At first I didn’t notice the frail woman, several rows down, but gradually her under-breath muttering pierced (more…)

October 2, 2014

Remembering Ellsworth & Lamoine, Maine

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

REMEMBERING ELLSWORTH AND LAMOINE, MAINE

I’ve said this in previous writings: the most common question my husband Monte and I are asked about our autumn trips to New England is: Are you going to leaf peep? Certainly New England puts on a great display of brilliant fall leaves, but I can vouch that the hills of Southwestern Pennsylvania matches their splendor. No, we don’t go to leaf peep. We much prefer ocean viewing.

We were completing our 2013 travel to New England as September rolled over into October. On our return home—driving across New England into New York and south to Pennsylvania—some trees gave us a sneak peak of grandiose leaves, but we were traveling before they peaked. Thus, we enjoyed being inadvertent leaf peepers, viewing what many tourists drive to New England to do: enjoy autumn’s march from summer into winter.

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Last year my husband Monte and I were visiting the towns of Ellsworth and Lamoine in Downeast Maine on September 30 and October 1. We stayed several days at SeaCat’s Rest, on the banks of the Jordan River, where our hosts were Bruce Gillett and Kathleen Rybarz and their Maine Coon cat.

131001 IMG_7556EA wall of windows gave us a view of the Jordan River, but wandering to the river’s edge provided great photo opportunities throughout the day and into the evening.

131001 IMG_7519EAs wonderfully calming SeaCat’s Rest was we couldn’t laze around all day.

On Monday, the 30th, we headed to the Ellsworth Public Library, where I had the opportunity to meet with Mark E. Honey. He’s a Maine history buff who has done much writing about Hancock County, which is the setting of my historic romance novel—and some of my ancestors. We’d had occasional contact through the years but had never met. I was amazed at what he had accomplished in spite of the fact that he has a disabling illness chaining him to a wheelchair. We both agreed that Downeast history is fascinating, and that this library has always been helpful and encouraging to those of us interested in researching the area.

Upon our return to SeaCat’s Rest the Jordan River reflected the hues of orange, pink, and gray from a sunset exploding from behind several mountains located on Mt. Desert Island, across the water. Patches of bright blue peeked through the cloud-like sunset. This breathtaking scene is perfect as September rolls into October and my time in Downeast Maine is coming to an end.  130930 IMG_7419 Jordan RiverE

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On Tuesday we headed to the deeds office at the Hancock County Courthouse. It’s enjoyable to have the freedom to (more…)

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