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…)

September 27, 2010




     I recall a time when I received a gift.

     We lived in Atlanta, Georgia.  On a marvelous late-summer evening I was driving to Roswell to visit my cousin. The car windows were open, and mixed with the wind sounds was a favorite classical symphony playing on the car radio.

     A black van pulled up behind me, following too close. The driver was waved at me, almost flirtatiously, invading my “space.” When I attempted to maneuver away from him, he stuck close to my tailgate. I was getting very nervous.

     I knew a gas station was about a mile down the road. I pulled into the right lane.  Even in the heavy traffic, the man kept (more…)

May 20, 2010

Beyond Prejudice



     The clerk approaching me took a second look, ogled me for a moment, turned on her heal, and scurried in the opposite direction as quickly as possible.

     Fair enough, I thought, viewing myself in a nearby mirror. The image was of a woman wearing a faded, wrinkled skirt; a  stained blouse, and  saggy, runny hosiery, all topped by unkempt hair—an intentional style meant to discourage sociability, even from store clerks. What business could this “bag lady” have in this department store? Must be she needed to get warm or to use the rest room!

     Her prejudgment was expected. My life was too full of people, many with deep-rooted problems that created extreme tension. I needed relief from the stress. Roving around the mall was relaxing only without clerks constantly asking me if I needed help. My attempt at manipulating others to leave me alone was (more…)

April 28, 2010

Lead Me to My Rocking Chair



SCRIPTURE: John 5:36     “I (Jesus) have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.” (NIV)

REFLECTION: The late Mrs. Grim was 94 years old when I interviewed her for a newspaper article. Her claim to fame was 57 years of service to the Salvation Army, a record in Uniontown if not in the Western Pennsylvania Division of the organization.

     She couldn’t understand why I was interviewing her. She had done nothing special, and she felt like she was bragging when I had her talking about her life. Yet, the work she was finishing testified to the fact that the Father had “sent” her.

     Through the years, she had played (more…)

October 13, 2009

Living with OCD


As told to Carolyn C. Holland by Dmitri Beljan

     I was initially going to talk to you at a local café. However when you invited me to sit down, the place I was seated was not cleaned up from the previous guest. Although tolerable to sit there, I found myself uncomfortable and distracted by concerns about the dirty table. It took away from giving you my full attention.

     Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to worry about germs. For example, how many times have you ordered a baked potato at a particular fast food place and the waitress  who handled your money then squished the potatoes with her fingers and handed it to you? I found myself several times reminding food service personnel that you don’t handle food and money both. I don’t think that’s so bad.

     However if this behavior is carried to an extreme—e. g., asking her to clean the table twice—it could be considered a symptom of OCD.

     Thus began my interview with Dmitri.

     October 12-18, 2009, is National OCD Awareness Week. Dmitri is willing to share his story of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly called OCD. Below he tells of live with OCD.

     My genetic makeup predisposed me to OCD. This condition was aggravated by my very religious family and the paranoia of the 1950s Cold War.

     When I was a little boy the thoughts that are now called obsessive thoughts were not recognized by me as such, and with the influence of religion, I interpreted it to be that I was possessed by demons.

     This scared the hell out of me. I became more concerned about (to continue reading this story, click on: Living with OCD or

Website for the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation:


Online Sites for Caretakers & Families of Brain Injury Victims



Can You Write Your Memoir in Six Words?

Her Gift


September 8, 2009

Decades: An Autobiographical Sketch


DECADES: An Autobiographical Sketch

Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

 This is the second of two autobiographical sketches done by my mother. To read the first sketch, done in a different style, click on: MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius  

 Ten was a lovely age. It was preoccupation with swimming in the ocean, fishing for frogs and pollywogs in the creek, lying for hours on the beach painstakingly writing initials on our skin with sand and letting the sun tan around the sand. It was following the glamour of the movies and movie stars. It was the (more…)

August 20, 2009

Vicious dog or man’s best friend?



      Often dog owners often have a less-than-realistic opinion of their pet’s personalities. An owner’s loyalty to their dog precludes any insight into its degree of viciousness.

     Bob Petrillo, a Jeanette (PA) dog owner, believes authorities “overreacted” when they shot and killed his pet. Rocky was a one hundred fifty pound Rottweiler. Police justified the shooting because, they claim, Rocky (more…)

August 5, 2009

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius



Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius

With the permission of Nancy Briskay Cornell Lipsius’s children, my siblings, I am adding a category to my weblog:, My mother wrote most of the pieces I will post while she attended the University of Maine—graduating when she was in her seventh decade of life.

I am honored to have you come to know my mother through her writings. I am also honored to have my mother introduce herself in the first three posts, MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY, DECADES, and ASSESSMENT. Following these posts, I will begin posting her other writings, including her poetry.

In my once-upon-a-time life I danced to the music of gentle lapping of the waves on the shore (photo at ), raucous cries of seagulls, (photo at ) lonely blasts of the fog horn, wind caressing the crown of tall pines, the whistle of the Yankee Flyer train.

Happiness was a warm slice of fresh-baked bread slathered with creamy butter, sometimes liberally sprinkled with brown sugar. It was “digging to China,” making snow forts, swimming under water, throwing jelly fish at each other, climbing and exploring rocks, nestling down in Dad’s big chair with a book and a large red apple. It was lessons in charcoal drawing.

Love was my (more…)

May 22, 2009

The “Meow” Chorus: A cat symphony on a Greyhound Bus



A Cat Symphony on a Greyhound Bus

     The bus passenger carried a suitcase—an ordinary enough looking valise, dark brown with stains and stickers identifying places its age and destinations. It was one of several unmatched pieces she was traveling with.

     She was returning to her hometown after a years sojourn in a strange city. All her worldly goods were in these bags. Ordinary items. Clothes, a few books, financial records, photos and a favorite glass from the state fair.

     But another bag held one thing that was not ordinary. She held it tight to her side as she stood in the bus line, waiting to board.

     As the line shortened, she grew nervous. Could, she, would she, be successful? After all, there were rules. And she was intentionally and uncharacteristically breaking one of them. (more…)

April 29, 2009

Characteristics of and lures used by child molesters





     April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. (to view photo click on: I will be continuing my posts on child abuse and domestic violence throughout the month. Please be there for children whom you suspect are being abused. Sometimes, all you can do is hold out a loving hand and pray for them.

     This post is part of a continuing series about child abuse and parenting. At the end of this article are links to the other posts on this subject. If the links do not work, go to , click on the folder CHILD ABUSE or the folder DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, and scroll down the posts to find answers to your questions.


     It is essential for a parent to know the characteristics of a child sexual abuser in order to protect their child. It is equally important to understand how perpetrators lure children into their web of harm, and to teach their child how to identify danger and respond to it, and most importantly, to report it to a safe person.

     However, if adults can be fooled, how much easier is it to fool a child. Parents need to be knowledgeable and continually alert to the dangers around their children.


     An abuser/perpetrator may not view their behavior as harmful. They may be unclear of (more…)

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