April 18, 2011

“All My Children:” Susan Lucci & Erica Kane



     Erica has been “the other woman” in my husband’s life for almost forty years.

     In spite of the fact that he does no more than occasionally glance at her soap opera episodes—especially now that she is entering her eleventh valid marriage—I’m sure he will miss her beauty and pizzazz.

     He’s unaware that Erica Kane will disappear from our television set after September 2011. I only caught the news as I was about to put our computer to sleep for the night: ABC network is canceling both All My Children (and One Life to Live).

     Lest you conclude that I lounge on my couch all day in my comfortable ‘jammies with my hair up in rollers, nibbling on Reese’s peanut butter cups and indulging in an array of chocolate candies while I watch soap operas, I want to tell you that neither Monte nor I are fans of these programs.


     My memories of soaps goes back to my childhood, when my grandmother listened to Stella Dallas on the radio soap. As I grew up, graduated from high school and college, held jobs, and married, I never expected to be an avid fan of a soap opera.

     Both All My Children and my daughter, Sandy, celebrated their (more…)

February 3, 2011

Women, the Super Bowl, and Heart Attacks




Dinasaur in Ligonier Valley Library, Ligonier PA

February 4, 2011, is National Wear Red Day, a day set aside to raise awareness for women’s heart health and the effect of heart disease on women.


Super Bowl fans, watch out: If you’re a Packers or Steelers fan and your team begins to lose, the resulting stress could trigger a heart attack. “It is known that stressors such as intense sporting events may increase cardiac event rates in fans…” researchers report.

A recent study by a Los Angeles researcher at the Heart Institute of Good Samaritan Hospital and a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California has found that not only men but women can be susceptible to a heart attack while or after watching the Super Bowl.

  • A 1980 study of cardiac events and Super Bowl suggests that cardiac deaths in both women and men increased for fans of the losing side.
  • A 1984 study suggested that cardiac deaths decrease for fans of the winning team.

     The studies, based on the 1980 Los Angeles Super Bowl loss and the 1984 Super Bowl win showed that the loss “triggered more (more…)

January 14, 2011

Children of courage: May They Rest in Peace




I read about two courageous children this week. One was on the other end of the world in Toowoomba, Australia. One was in Tucson, Arizona—on this country’s soil.


A thirteen year old boy who chose life for his ten year brother Blake rather than life for himself.

     On January 11, 2011,flash flooding struck without warning in Toowoomba, a city of about 90,000 people nestled in mountains of Australia,  2,300 above sea level. The deluge fell over a concentrated area, sending a 26-foot, fast-moving torrent crashing through Toowoomba and smaller towns farther down the valley.

     Jordan and Blake were in the car with their mother when a torrent of floodwater trapped the family in their car. Two men reached the car in spite of the pummeling water, which knocked one of the men away from rescue attempts. When the second man managed to reach the car, Jordan insisted (more…)

January 10, 2011

When Children’s Service Agencies Won’t Respond to Complaints



     It happened again. Another child, fifteen months old, dead, their parents in jail, accused of the infant’s murder.

     While Madison lay on a floor in a filthy home, dying, her mother was smoking crack cocaine and sleeping it off at a friend’s house…she said she didn’t plan on being gone long…Madison was been left with seven of her siblings, ages 3 to 16…the father told police he came home that evening, rigged up a replacement for Madison’s feeding tube, placed her on the living room floor, and went to bed.**

     It happened in Fayette County, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, where I lived for eight years.

  • State police at Uniontown charged Robert David Dodson, 55, and Tammy Jo Bohon, 35, of 601 Morgantown St., Point Marion, with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of children in the death of Madison Violet Dodson…Trooper Scott Kroftcheck said the child was found dead at home. District Attorney Jack Heneks Jr. said he supported filing of charges based on preliminary autopsy findings and preliminary state police investigations… Heneks said preliminary findings indicate Madison died from a combination of dehydration and malnutrition, with secondary causes that he did not explain…Heneks said homicide charges can include intentional, knowingly reckless or an unintentional cause of death. “We believe their conduct led to the death of Madison,” Heneks said.*
  • Lead investigator Trooper Timothy Kirsch said police found the residence “unkempt, with clothing throughout and cats coming in and out of the kitchen cabinets. There were animal and human feces and dirty diapers in the residence. There were no trash cans, only trash bags. Some of them had burst open. One room was full of dirty clothes. The beds were only box springs and mattresses, no linens. The toilets and showers were unclean.”*

     Is this the lifestyle of residents of Fayette County? I wonder…

     Looking back, I remember a woman (I’ll call her Alice) with an eight year old daughter I’ll call Bonnie. The two often visited us—Alice sought counsel and education. She was ill, and often had to leave Bonnie in someone’s care while she was in the hospital. Most of the time, the Bonnie stayed with us.

     Alice and Bonnie lived in a small one-bedroom apartment. Her shower was filled with plastic bags of clothes and trash. Dirty dishes were strewn all over. Cat feces was never cleaned up. Cigarette butts were spread all over. I could continue, but I suspect you get the idea…

     Alice invited another woman to stay in the apartment with her and Bonnie, which meant Bonnie was displaced to the couch in the living room while their “guest” used the bedroom.

     Bonnie and Alice always smelled so bad I wanted to shove them into the shower before we visited. Their “perfume” was powerful—combined cigarette smoke and animal feces smelled so strong it covered (more…)

August 2, 2010

Jellyfish Sting Wallis Sands Beach Visitors

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

After reading about JELLYFISH STING… I invite you to visit the new site.



      In July, 2010, one hundred visitors to Wallis Sands Beach, New Hampshire, were stung by a large, dead, jellyfish.

     The jellyfish, identified as a Lion’s Mane jellyfish, fell apart when State Park staff attempted to remove it from the beach. Its stingers remained active though it was dead.*

The Lion’s Mane jellyfish, rare as far south as the New Hampshire coastline, isn’t normally seen in such shallow waters. Lifeguards spotted the creature described by the Park Manager, Ken Loughlin, as the size of a “turkey platter,” and weighing nearly fifty pounds. The state’s chief of marine fisheries, Doug Grout, said this jellyfish species jellyfish, usually found in northern New England, averages eight feet in diameter and can have tentacles up to fifty feet.

All the action transpired in about 20 minutes, when Warburton and his colleagues administered first aid (vinegar treatment). “There wasn’t time to sit and measure this thing. We just got rid of it,” Warburton told LiveScience. “Think about a glob of Jell-O you’re trying to pick up with two hands,” he said, explaining the need for a pitchfork to pick it up.**


Jellyfish at Lamoine Beach, Maine

Wallis Sands Beach was my family’s beach of choice when my sister (Nancy) Lee and I lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. When we children went there with our grandparents, we rode in my grandfather’s Chevy. My grandmother sat on the rocks at the end of the beach, beside the road, reading, visiting, or just relaxing. When we went with my mother, we took (more…)

May 11, 2010

Immigration is Positive for the USA



I observe with regret that the law for the admission of foreigners was not passed during this session, as it is an important moment to press the sale and settlement of our lands. From a letter written by William Bingham to Gen Henry Jackson, April 9, 1793*


     From the birth of the United States into the present time, immigration has had advocates. In the 1790s, immigration was supported by land speculators, who hoped to make it rich by settling their lands with immigrants.


     My interest in immigration issues was piqued during my research for a historic journal paper and a historic romance novel, both set in the 1790s. Many of the characters in my novel—including Gen. Henry Knox, Col. William Duer, Gen. Henry Jackson, Madame Rosalie de Leval, even Pres. George Washington—were land speculators. Except for Washington, they favored immigration to supply the settlers to fulfill their land purchase contracts.

     In Roy L. Garis’s book on immigration** I discovered the “great immigration” controversy that existed in the decades immediately following the American Revolution.

     My intention is not to indicate any personal preference or bias in the immigration issue. It is to present both sides of the issue as found in early United States documents. This post offers immigration pros. To read the negative views of immigration click on Immigration is Negative for the USA.


In William Penn’s time (starting 1682), all immigrants, regardless of their religious or ethnic background were welcomed. (In Philadelphia) Quaker immigrants arriving in need of financial assistance were given or lent money interest free, but the others (who were not Quakers) became the responsibility of the city. The Friends established the first alms house in the city in 1713…Poor of all faiths lived there in cottages and were encouraged to work. In 1717 the Assembly ordered that a “workhouse” for the colony be built in Philadelphia within three years. With the Friends’ alms house meeting much of the need, public officials continuously delayed construction. The first public alms house finally opened in 1732…it had separate facilities for the indigent and the insane, and also an infirmary…#


     As early the 1730s, Samuel Waldo encouraged immigration: (due to) certain difficulties having arisen in regard to the Muscongus Patent (Maine)…thirty miles square—about a million acres…between the Penobscot and Muscongus Rivers…one-half the patent…set off in 1762…was bestowed on (Samuel Waldo)…he subsequently became proprietor of five-sixths of the entire patent…thereafter known as the Waldo Patent…he planned and executed measures for peopling (this land)…(he) invited immigration

(to continue reading, click on )


Intertwined Love: Novel Synopsis—

Immigration is Negative for the USA

Doing Historical Research in Philadelphia

Eyes in shades of purple

Dog Fighting & Cock Fighting: Cultural Phenomenon?

From the Bastille to Cinderella

April 25, 2010

Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Children



About Carolyn: I wrote, received, and administered a Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund grant, which was designed to heal adults of their childhood abuse, enabling them to break the chain of abuse with their children. Within the grant I taught community members how to be first-responders to domestic violence/child abuse, ran a family support program and counseled adults to aid them in the healing process.


What do the following statements have in common?

 “I got real angry and flipped out… I started to freak out.

“I blew up.”
“I have a short temper. I just lost it.”

     They all include an uncontrollable rage resulting in (more…)

March 28, 2010

Animal Cruelty? What’s behind the Truth?



     What is true?

     The Almost Heaven Kennel, owned by Lehigh County resident Derbe “Skip” Eckhart, was closed down in 2008 by Pennsylvania dog Warden Kristen Donmoyer (a kennel-compliance specialist with the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement). He is on trial for animal cruelty and other counts following a 2008 raid.

     Donmoyer, who closed the kennel due to deplorable conditions, testified that she’d “never forget the (sickening) smell” of ammonia produced by animal urine. On cross-examination, she acknowledged that the kennel passed inspection earlier in 2008, less than two months before she closed it. She testified that there was no “notation of dogs in wretched, deplorable conditions” After Jeff Conrad, defense lawyer, stated that wardens could be arbitrary and capricious if they chose to be, Donmoyer agreed that even a “nasty old weed” on the premises could be in violation of the finer points of the Pennsylvania kennel regulations.

     Some of the scores of dogs and cats seized from Derbe ”Skip” Eckhart’s Almost Heaven kennel are already up for adoption through the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Philadelphia, and many more are expected to be available after they receive medical treatment and behavioral rehabilitation.* On June 25, 2009, Chris Ryder, a Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced that 211 dogs were healthy enough for adoption.**

     Larger issues are raised by this case. How was the Animal Heaven kennel initially approved, considering Eckhart had a long history of run-ins with state and local authorities, and was convicted at least twice of animal cruelty.*

      I’m not examining this case to decide whether Eckhart is guilty or innocent. I do want to examine whether it is possible (more…)

March 14, 2010

Earthquakes in (Southwestern) Pennsylvania



     Pennsylvania: the Quaker state.

     Earthquakes shaking Southwestern Pennsylvania? Is this the source of its second most common nickname, the Quaker State?

     One of the above statements is true: earthquakes do occur in Southwestern Pennsylvania. However, the nickname “Quaker State” originates from the fact that the state’s founder, William Penn, belonged to a religious sect known as Quakers.

     Although earthquakes occur far less frequently in Southwestern Pennsylvania than they do in California, they do occur. Forty-five earthquakes have been recorded in Pennsylvania since 1900,*** some originating in the east, others in the west.

     Eastern originating earthquakes include (more…)

February 6, 2010

The snow came softly and gently: Feb. 5, 2010



February 5, 2010

       Today will be a great day to sit at my laptop on my porch, looking out at a winter wonderland, working on a short story and my novel.

     Thursday, February 4, wasn’t like this. It was a beautiful day that invited me to be outdoors. The snows of the earlier series of precipitation had virtually disappeared in the Ligonier valley area of Pennsylvania, but in my little corner of the world remnants remained. The sun that sparkled off these remnants cast s (more…)

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