Carolyn’s Online Magazine  (#COMe)




June 12, 2016, dawned exactly—-well, almost exactly—a perfect early summer day. The rain remained distant, the sun shone in a white-clouded blue sky, the breezes cooled the high temperature (I never did look at the thermometer, but the sun, when the breezes stopped, felt hot enough to cause a deep sunburn.

I say almost perfect because strong gusts wafted and made the newspapers my husband and I were reading fold over, hiding the content (perhaps a good thing). Newspapers read or waiting to be read had to be chased across the patio when the breeze was especially strong.

This day is special. My husband is observing a birthday not everyone has the opportunity or cause to celebrate.

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When he returned home from church we settled on the patio to enjoy the Sunday newspaper. The day went peacefully before 2:15 p. m. I did some much needed weeding—the sun, breeze, and moist soil made it easy to pull many foot-long roots. Monte watched some sports game while enjoying a midday snooze.

Sandy posted a Happy Birthday wish to Monte on FaceBook. I posted pictures of his original birth day, several other childhood photos, and a shot I’d taken just yesterday.

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At 2:15 p.m. I went to the nearby Pie Shop in Laughlintown. I chose a white cake with white icing. We’d planned a Continue reading

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Quotes by Writers on Writing #25-36

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)


In my general reading I mark meaningful quotes. Below are Quotes #25-36 gleaned from magazine articles or other sources, quotes which might otherwise not be found in other lists of writing quotes.

Previous quotes @

Quotes by Writers on Writing #1-12

Quotes by Writers on Writing #13-24

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25.  Do we really need to explain why poetry, art, philosophy and theater matter? Really, at what point did we have to start defending the value of knowing ourselves? Of human complexity? Of analysis? Communication? Meaning? —Laura Skandera Trombley, president of Pitzer College and presidency of Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA

26.  One major idea of what the book about is resisting single truths or apparent truths. Human lives and humans themselves are so complicated. What we see on the surface is not what’s happening. Theres no one story that’s happening. Everything’s constantly shifting. You just never know what’s happening inside another human being. —Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies

27.  Privacy is for your diary. Essays are for readers. —Rachel Scheller

28.  I spend a lot of time reading every sentence over and over again, focusing on details. I mean small details, like word choices. Very often, that’s what is going to determine what is going to Continue reading

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Pres. George Washington Lays the Capitol Building Cornerstone


Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)




I didn’t really set out to learn something new.

Well, maybe I did. I was curious. I’d read in a 100 Year History of Louis des Isles that a French woman gave her farm to one of my ancestors. All I really wanted to know was why she’d do that.

In time I learned Louis des Isles wasn’t really given the farm. He actually purchased it. But from finding the answer to my question I discovered a unique woman, Rosalie de Leval. Her story intrigued me. I set out to learn more, and ended up with my novel-under-construction, She Saw Her Promised Land.

Again, I didn’t set out to write a novel. It just evolved, then took over my life.

Unfortunately, it took me on a learning journey. Virtually every chapter, virtually every event, was unknown to me. I’ve spent time learning about the Scioto Associates, Gen. Henry Knox and William Duer’s post Revolutionary War exploits in land speculation, stock market crash effects, religious freedom in the Maine Territory of Massachusetts, Braddock’s Road…well, you get my learning picture.

This week I’m learning about and writing about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, and the September 18, 1793, laying of the cornerstone for the Capitol Building in Washington, D. C.

President George Washington (or General Washington, as he preferred to be called) braved the contagion of the epidemic to lay the cornerstone. What I learned was that the ceremony was a Free Mason event.

Rosalie didn’t attend the ceremony because she was at her farm, Fontaine de Leval, in Trenton (now Lamoine), Maine. Her friend Franco van Berckel, the second Dutch ambassador to the United States, related the story to Rosalie and a neighbor girl, Mary, during a visit to her farm.

Below is the chapter’s first draft.


“Did you attend the ceremony?” Mary asked.

“Yes, and it was a magnificent ceremony. Here’s the report from the Alexandria Gazette. It has a comprehensive report about Gen. Washington laying the cornerstone on September 18. This was the first large public event staged in the federal city, and if future public events are as spectacular Washington will be a star capitol.”

Rosalie pushed the newspaper aside.

“I’ll read this later. II want to hear your rendition of the event.”

“At 10:00 am Gen. Washington and his entourage appeared on the south bank of the Potomac River. A volunteer artillery from Alexandria escorted him across the river, where they were joined by Masonic lodges from Maryland and Virginia.

“Music played, drums beat, colors flew, and spectators cheered as the groups marched, two abreast, the one and a half miles to the site of the Capitol.

“Once they arrived the procession reformed. Gen. Washington, flanked by Joseph Clark (the Grand Master) and Dr. E. C. Dick (the master of the Virginia lodge), stood to the east of a huge stone while the others formed a circle west of it.

“Soon an engraved plate was delivered. Contemporary Masonic practice includes the laying of an inscribed metal Continue reading

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My Face as Depicted by an Illustrator

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)



American Post Pop Artist

160310 IMG_3053EPOn May 28th I entered Conte Design Lifestyle Gallery hesitantly, not certain what I would see when I entered the art gallery on the second floor.

On March 10th I’d also climbed these same steps into the gallery. That part of my adventure is related in a previous article, John Ritter Featured Illustrator at Ligonier Art Walk 2016. Here is an excerpt:

  • It took some kind of personal bravado for me to accept an invitation to participate in an art project, Ligonier in Person…a portrait series commissioned to American Post Pop Artist by the Conte Design Lifestyle Gallery, which would feature the work at the gallery during the Ligonier Art Walk scheduled for May 28, 2016, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania. The artwork involved being up to 20 persons being photographed by John Ritter, an American Post Pop Artist currently living and working out of Ligonier.

Elizabeth Fuchs, daughter of the gallery owners who works there, explained in an e-mail:

  •  We were interested in displaying some of his (John Ritter, an American Post Pop Artist) pieces for the (Ligonier) Art Walk…he presented an idea…He would like to feature people of Ligonier by creating a wall of 20 portraits of people involved in the Ligonier community… Next to the portrait would be a short bio about the person. I checked John’s website ( to see some examples of his work. Hmmm…
  • When I spoke with Elizabeth she convinced me to attend the March 10 photo-shoot. As reluctant and un-photogenic as I am—photographers usually detest being in front of a camera while they love being behind it— and as curious and hesitant as I was about what John might do with my photograph, I fearlessly stepped up to a seat and faced his camera, allowing him to shoot me under the Conte Gallery lights. Then I boldly asked if I could resume my role as writographer, taking pictures and notes as John continued photographing others.

The day of reckoning was here. Was I going to like what I saw? If not, how would I face John?

I needn’t have worried. The end result of his work looked like a painting.

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The face he presented showed someone who takes joy in her work, her writography— writing and photography. In a corner he used my high school journalism press card. For background he incorporated a page from my online blog of my novel-under-construction on the left, and a lighthouse picture on the right, both emphasizing my New England heritage. The colors favored each other—he balanced my purple outfit with a blue-hued background.

Continue reading

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John Ritter Featured Illustrator at Ligonier Art Walk 2016

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)

Between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p. m. on May 28, 2016, the Ligonier Art Walk will feature Conte Design Lifestyle Gallery, SAMA, Allegory Gallery, G Squared Gallery, Lifestyle Gallery, Dovecote Ligonier, Jamie Cooper Gallery, & Studio and Maine Exhibit Gallery. An artist’s reception is scheduled 5-7 p. m. at Conte Gallery.


It took some kind of personal bravado for me to accept an invitation to participate in an art project, Ligonier in Person…a portrait series commissioned to American Post Pop Artist by the Conte Design Lifestyle Gallery, which would feature the work at the gallery during the Ligonier Art Walk scheduled for May 28, 2016, in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.
The artwork involved being up to 20 persons being photographed by John Ritter, an American Post Pop Artist currently living and working out of Ligonier.

160310 IMG_3053EP I received the e-mail invitation to participate from a friend and Laurel Mountain Borough neighbor Elizabeth Fuchs. Her parents, George and Olive Conte, own the gallery, a family business.
Elizabeth explained: We were interested in displaying some of his pieces for the Art Walk and in the process of talking with him he presented an idea for a show. He would like to feature people of Ligonier by creating a wall of 20 portraits of people involved in the Ligonier community… Next to the portrait would be a short bio about the person.
I responded, asking if I was an appropriate person to be chosen. After all, I certainly don’t consider myself influential in this community.
Elizabeth corrected my reading of her e-mail, telling me she wasn’t looking for influential people. She wanted people who are involved in the community—which, when I checked, was exactly what the e-mail stated. My, what words we insert in communications when just skimming them! Or maybe it was wishful thinking on my part…
Yes, I’m connected to and involved in the Laurel Highlands/Ligonier Valley community through my writography—my writing and my photography. I Continue reading

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Highest Priced Coffee Made from Elephant Excrement

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)




How’s that coffee you’re enjoying this morning? Would you like a cup of brew with a much better flavor? One that allegedly has an earthy flavor said to be smooth on the palate?

How far would you travel for that specialty coffee?


This week I wrote an article, What About Those Circus Elephants?, on Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which officially ended elephant acts in its circus May 1, 2016. As of two days ago, according to what was announced on WQED radio, the beasts enjoyed their first vegetarian meal at Ringling’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.

I informed you in the article the 300 pounds of elephant dung excreted by the elephants daily is a nutrient-rich manure helping gardeners produce bumper crops. Thus, the retired elephants have a means of continuing to contribute to society.


It’s what I didn’t include in the article that I’m pondering as I sit in my comfy chair, warmed by two curled up cats—one claiming my lap, the other beside me—and sipping a warm cup of java.

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I didn’t write more about elephant dung.

Don’t yield to your desire to quit reading. You’ll miss what makes that thar’ elephant dung pure magic, pure gold. There’s an extraordinary use for Number 2 elephant excrement.


 Would you travel to a luxury hotel in a remote corner of the world and pay $50 for a dainty demitasse-cup-size of cuppa? Would you travel to northern Thailand, the Maldives, or Abu Dhabi to sip Black Ivory Coffee, the world’s most expensive, exclusive, and oddest specialty coffee which made its debut in April 2016?

Some people would.

The coffee, produced in the Golden Triangle in Thailand, has a price tag of $1,100 per kilogram ($500 per pound). Yet, truth be told, this coffee is brewed from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked from their dung the next day.

Photo credit: Jordan Taylor Smith

Photo credit: Jordan Taylor Smith

As I ponder this I consider working 8, 10, 12 hours a day plucking coffee beans out of elephant excrement.

Don’t quit reading now.

What happens between the time the elephant ingests the coffee beans and when they are excreted? What happens to them while Continue reading

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Do Bio-moms Abandon Children Released for Adoption?

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)





Adoption has been part of my life since my husband and I first applied to an adoption agency in 1967.

No, I err. It’s actually been a part of my life since December 1948, when a memory of my mother having a ‘big belly’ became etched in my mind.


It’s mother’s day again. I’ve been pondering the question whether bio-moms releasing their newborns for adoption abandoned their infants.


I have 2 sisters my mother released for adoption. I’ve also worked as an adoption caseworker and have foster-parented four pregnant women planning to release their babies for adoption. I also have an adopted a daughter, an adopted nephew and an adopted surrogate daughter. Each situation involves a bio-mom.


While my older sister and I lived with our grandparents we visited our mother. During the visit I recall standing on a toilet seat while my mother braided my hair. At just 5 years old I didn’t know what a big belly meant. However, it must have made a big impression on my childish mind, because I held onto it for more than 60 years.

I’ve been contacted by two siblings my mother released for adoption. In January 2011 I heard from a sister 10 years younger than myself. The February 2012 contact was a sister whose birth date, Continue reading

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