January 15, 2012

Such Balmy January 2012 Weather—Enjoyable and Frustrating




     January 15th, 2012…is the first month of the year almost history? Like the twelve months in 2011, 2012 is zipping past almost without notice. Until January 11th the weather was wonderfully temperate here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Then it dipped down to ten degrees. On Friday we woke to snow—you might know, that day I had to travel to Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where I facilitate the Beanery Writers Group. I didn’t want to cancel since we hadn’t met since December 9th—we cancel the second meeting in December due to Christmas celebrations.

     That said, the temperate climate somewhat irritated me. I know—I should have enjoyed it—and so I did. However, my annual January (more…)

December 30, 2011

The WordPress postaday2011 Challenge


The WordPress postaday2011 Challenge

     2011 is over. During the year I accepted a challenge made by this blog’s host site, WordPress: to post once a day. Note: the challenge wasn’t to write once a day. It was to post once a day.

     I accomplished this goal by creating a sub-blog, Carolyn’s Daily Posts: 2011.

     WordPress emailed participants a list of questions about their blogging experience. Below are the questions and my answers:

Well, you made it to the end — congratulations! Now is the perfect time to reflect on your 2011 in blogging, and your goals for 2012.

Here are eleven questions to help you determine your blogging strategy for the new year: (which I will follow for my final post)

  • Why did you start the Post a Day/Week Challenge?

I began the challenge because I was already posting almost once a day on the four blogs I facilitate (listed at the end of this post), and I believed (and still do) that a post a day is not impossible.

  • Describe the state of your blog at the time you started the challenge.

Actually, I began (more…)

September 5, 2011

Annual Labor Day Picnic is a Dog’s Delight



     Today, September 4, 2011, my husband Monte walked the path through the woods to my son-in-law’s Annual day-before-Labor-Day Picnic. 


     It was hot and humid as Michael prepared barbecued ribs (using three different barbeque sauces) on the grill. Unfortunately, by the time he grilled the hamburgers and hot dogs, the ribs had been gobbled down by the guests and he didn’t get any. 


     Michael and Sandy’s dog, Cocoa (a chocolate Labrador retriever), couldn’t get enough water so granddaughter Jordan tried to quench his thirst:

     By mid-afternoon picnickers were forced into the garage by a (more…)

July 31, 2011

Dog Stories I Told at the Café



While at a local cafe’ my friend and another patron were exchanging dog stories. The following is my contribution to the conversation. The first part of the conversation can be read by clicking on Dog Stories I Heard at the Café

     My friend whom I’ll call Vivian turned to me and said “If you had a pet, you could tell a story too.”

     “I had a Border collie at one time,” I said. “I have stories too.”


     “We acquired Tagalong when her owners needed a place for her while they took an extended trip to Europe,” I said. “Shortly, we were presented with three puppies. We weren’t certain whether she came to us pregnant, or whether she had had an immediate tryst with one of our neighbor’s dogs.

     One of the pups was gorgeous He was adopted by my mother, who loved him dearly.


     “For some reason we didn’t know she didn’t like delivery men, especially the UPS drivers. We had to protect them from her.

     “One time I had to stop her from attacking the mother (I’ll call her Amy) of one of my child care home children. On a bitter, cold winter morning three-year-old Christine decided to (more…)

March 19, 2011

Returning to life in the past lane



     January 18, 2011. The holiday season is ended, cleaned up after, recuperated from. Winter is here wearing its glorious, pure, white coat. It’s my time of year.

     My plan: write a chapter a week in my novel, Intertwined Love, set in the 1790s. Parts of many chapters are written. Now is the time to work in consecutive order. The day bodes well as the letters hit on my keyboard form words on the current chapter—three. By the end of the day my accomplishment has energized me. I retire, looking forward to completing this chapter in perhaps less than a week.


     January 19, 2011. After my morning coffee and my meds (I am a CAD, cardiac artery disease patient), I dress for work, and after spending a half-hour picking up the house, I sit down at the computer.

     A second good day. This week will lead me to chapter four next week. I have a feeling of accomplishment, a satisfied feeling of being on track.

     About seven o’clock in the evening I open my e-mail. There are three comments, one on each of three posts:

          I’m not sure HOW I found you and not sure where to write this, but PLEASE CONTACT ME. My mother is adopted, and I recently helped her get her REAL birth certificate (she was denied in earlier ears) and we JUST got her REAL birth certificate

     “Someone is spamming me,” I said to my husband, Monte, who was sitting working at his desk. I expect the next lines to read and my mother is stranded (in some remote country) and needs money to get home. Her wallet and all ids have been stolen. Send money.

     I continue reading. The message is different from what I expect. It includes (more…)

March 10, 2011

I am Frustrated with Writing!!



Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

     I’m convinced that writing is a way of working things out, achieving growth and communication in ways that cannot be accomplished otherwise. I believe that ultimately, more knowledge is humbling, in that the more we know the more we recognize how little we know. Carolyn 

     The following writing was created by my late mother. She graduated from the University of Maine/Presque Isle in 1992, at the age of 70, with a B. A. degree in behavioral science/psychology degree. She spent one semester at Bangor Theological Seminary trying to earn her Master’s, but decided she was getting too old to spend all her time in school and left the Seminary to do volunteer work.


     Why can’t I write anything that comes out of ME?

      I feel as though I don’t have any knowledge about ANYTHING. At least not enough to write more than a page or two. And even that seems (more…)

March 7, 2011

Memorable Job Interviews



The postaday prompt was: Describe a memorable job interview. I immediately thought of two jobs I successfully applied for, one as a photo/journalism freelancer, the other with a youth shelter.


     How many articles will you give me a week?

     The interview question startled me. I was new to the community and not yet ready to jump into a full schedule. However, I was about to attend a workshop on youth violence, and had called the editor of the local paper about the possibility of writing it up for a feature story.

     In my previous community I’d worn many hats. I headed a child abuse prevention project on a Children’s Trust Fund grant; I wrote for the local newspaper, and I was a pastor’s spouse. The time and energy crunch emanating from these stressful “hats” often had me multi-tasking. If I attended a human service workshop, church program, or oversaw a program within the Family Support Program, I’d write up a news story—which would also prove that I’d attended continuing education events.

     When I called the newspaper, I spoke with Paul Heyworth, who asked me to come for an interview with some clips of previous newspaper articles with my byline.

     I sat across the desk from Paul while he reviewed at the articles. It only took a minute.

     “I speed read,” he informed me. “And I don’t care what your educational qualifications are. All I want to know is can you write?”

     Then he looked at me hard.

     “How many articles can you give me a week? Two? Three?”

     I was taken aback. All I wanted to know was could I cover the meeting for the paper, which he ultimately agreed I could do.

     “But I want you to bring your work in and sit with an editor during the editing process,” said Paul as the interview ended, to be substituted by a very positive working relationship that lasted until Paul’s retirement.

     I don’t know what Paul saw in me or what he saw in my writing, but what he offered me was not only a job but (more…)

January 24, 2011

Moving Day

Filed under: JOURNAL — carolyncholland @ 1:30 am
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I’m sitting in a corner of an empty room, on a piano stool I found amongst the stack of items on the patio. A wall serves as my back support. I’m waiting for the moving truck—oh, there it is: it had recovered from its problems driving to this house, problems caused by snow-covered, narrow roads.

     Joanne arrived before the truck, bringing her dog and cat to the house. The cat was scared shitless by the move. Joanne put both animals in main bathroom, removed the cat from the cage, and shut the door.

She searched for her car keys, which were finally located in her purse, set on the floor against a dark wall, camouflaged well. She spoke briefly to the movers and shot off a few instructions to me before she left so she could clean the house she was abandoning for this new-to-her house.

     I was left in charge of the movers. For a few minutes while they were working, the sun actually shone, casting shadows across the snow in Joanne’s yard. It was cold, but because the doors had to be kept wide open I turned the heat down as low as I dared.

     Don enjoyed conversing more than the moving tasks, although he did fulfill his share of the moving duties. He was a wild and woolly character who lives in the country during the winter, and the city of Hazelwood (part of the greater area of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) during the summer. He said it is a bad area.

     “I like living in the city,” he said with a drawl. “When I was young I lived up north where it was uncivilized. Now it’s getting civilized. I don’t like civilization. But I like living where I can go to Starbucks for coffee. I like making them nervous by asking for goat’s milk, which they don’t have.”

     He has seven chickens, but had hundreds at one time in his life. He protects his land with “do not” signs—do not swim, hunt, smoke, etc.

     Jitterbug, his friend, was on a television program.

     “He is bearded and wild-eyed. He didn’t own the mineral rights on his land, and the Marcellus shale gas people came onto his property and poisoned his water. His cows are dying. They attribute it to the poisoned water.”

     Don is bearded and almost wide eyed.

     “On Earth Day in April, when I get my beard shaved off, I will dye my hair blonde, I’m graying up too much. It’ll be like a new me. I’ll wear (more…)

January 7, 2011

Skidding on Thin Ice Camouflaged by New-Fallen Snow




     Last night—January 5, 2011—enroute home from Greensburg (Pennsylvania) shortly after 7:00 p.m., the car skidded off the road onto an embankment.

     The road was covered with thin ice camouflaged by a thin shell of the newly fallen snow. We were at a hillcrest in about thirty feet west of the entrance to Wimmerton (a housing development in Unity Township, Pennsylvania).


     The evening started well. I finally had the opportunity to fulfill the gift certificate I’d given my granddaughter, Jordan, for her Thanksgiving time 13th birthday: dinner out at a restaurant of her choice. It had taken a while: illness, a freezing-snowy weather streak in December, and the holidays delayed this celebration. Jordan chose the Red Lobster in Greensburg.

     We planned on going to the mall after dinner—Jordan was itching to spend her holiday money. I had told her we’d head home if the predicted snow began. All during dinner, she kept watch of the weather: Snowing (lightly). Not snowing. The weather held enough that at 6:00 I felt we could risk some mall time.

     We were there less than forty-five minutes. There was no snowing when we entered. When we exited, our car was covered with the fresh-falling snow. Our hands became cold while we were wiping the windows clear.

     As I drove down the road, Jordan noted that I was driving slightly to the right of the road.

     “You’re not driving on the road,” she informed me.

     I explained that the roads were somewhat slick, and there was more tire traction in the off-center snow. Just before the rise taking us to Wimmerton I noted that the roads looked better.

     Suddenly (more…)

January 4, 2011

Shoplifting in Munich, Germany?



    As the Munich, Germany, shopkeeper looked at me with suspicion, I knew he was about to call the police to accuse me of shoplifting.

     We spent two weeks in Munich, Germany, visiting my son when he held a post-doctorate position at the Max Planck Institute. While there, I was almost arrested for shoplifting another local newspaper.

     Early one day my husband and I stopped at the newspaper office, located off the main square. It was a site I wanted to visit, since I’d written for numerous local newspapers—all in rural towns.

     The lobby was akin to those found in large city newspaper offices. There was a manned desk, with a gate preventing entry to the offices to all but those with authorization. 

     “Can I purchase a newspaper?” I asked the woman at the desk, hoping she would understand me, since my grasp of the German language goes no further than “Sprechen die Deutsch?”   

     The woman, in broken English, communicated to us that they didn’t sell newspapers in the lobby.

     “You have to go to the kiosk in the square,” she instructed.

     We left the lobby and stopped at the ticker tape outside the office. I casually leaned against the stand, and held up a copy of the Greensburg (Pennsylvania) Tribune Review (Fay-West section), acting like I was “reading” it. Monte had the camera to take the picture.

     Suddenly, three people ran out of the newspaper office, yelling at us. It stunned me—what were we doing wrong? (more…)

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