Birthdays, Babies

My sister’s birthday was this week, so it I planned to go across the my state of PA to visit her. My mom made a pumpkin pie for her traditional “birthday pie” — a good choice for the fall season.


I placed my cat in his travel carrier and off we went. My mom and I stopped for lunch. I listened to my Spanish learning cds. We observed the autumn leaves. Then we had the opportunity to watch my 15 month old grand-niece. She is so ready to discover the world of adventure. Everything is a new experience and of interest for a “little one.” She revels in the joy of washing the dishes from our pretend meal.

Then we explore Carmel the Cat — trying to learn to be gentle when petting him — and not chase after him. Carmel isn’t too receptive to the experience, but tolerates the toddler.

A weekend at my sister house is always a nice change of scenery.

Comfort in Comedy

Without a decent sense of humor, I never would have survived the last couple years, as it was an unbelievably bizarre tragedy. Fortunately, since miles of separation and safety, my innate sense of humor has been able to emerge again. I began to see the tragic comedy or a comedic tragedy of the  whole situation and began to picture cartoons to ease the pain of reality.

I just came across some cool site about creating cartoons and comics for various settings.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter
and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

Life Line

Living on the edge does not mean you have to be a rock climber, sky diver, deep sea explorer or work with explosive chemicals.   We can “live on the edge” is like taking the road less traveled.

A Yahoo Answers guest wrote: “It means to live in the moment with no ability to plan for the future or live responsibly.  If you are maturing you do not ‘live life on the edge’.  That’s a very big part of growing up.”

Plants and Peace

The benefits of tending house plants is multi-level.  I have always enjoyed indoor plants.  I’ve tried many times to keep them as part of my environment — but there are a few challenges for me.

I’d purchase a beautiful basket filled with succulent plants and within 3 months, they’d expire.
The trouble I had with plants is very basic — water.  I’d forget to water them!

The second trouble I’ve had with plants — is my Talented Tabby, Leo would chose to sleep right in the middle of the potted plant.   My plants couldn’t survive his body or his teeth chewing on their leaves.

Then there’s the third, largest issue — NO place to call home to house a plant inside.  I did purchase several of my favorite plants this summer just to put on the back porch.    Thank goodness Carmel (my cat) doesn’t like eating or sleeping in plants, because their is hope for me getting greenery someday to house in my new residence.

Parks and Peace

Find your peace and get healthy in one of our countries fabulous state parks.  With the wonders of nature all around us, there is always a way to bring peace and tranquility into your daily thought.  Relax at the river.  Gaze at the clouds.  Sniff a leaf.  Touch a tree.  The Shikellamy State Park has been a standard location for area residents in the center of PA.  Amazing new improvements were just completed this last summer.

Autumn at the Park

Read how parks improve your health and well-being – as researched through Cornell University, NY.

Pets and Peace

Carmel, the Comfort Cat

For anyone who has a pet, we know the joy and comfort our pets provide us in our every day lives.

Research reveals that the power of a pet can reward us with a sense of peace throughout the time we have them living in our homes.   An artical by NPR gives a broad range of ways that hosting a pet (I’m not fond of the term “owning” a pet)

I wrote briefly about my cat, Carmel a few posts back in “Comfort Chimes.”

When I finally made my decision to end a long-term, ever on-going abusive relationship, I was unfortunately NOT left alone or abandoned.   That would have made my life more manageable.  Instead I endured an extended level of absurd events through LOCKS, LIES and LAWYERS.   The end of April 2011, I filed a PFA, but since “AA” (abusive adulterer) didn’t beat me, stab me, throw me down the no-railing attic staircase, the lady at the courthouse just typed in my account of events and handed me information for the DV center in the city.  You wouldn’t want to see all the scars from the mental/emotional wounds — they’re really ugly.

I can cover that in another blog — so back to Carmel . . . sorry, some of the scabs from my emotional wounds aren’t healed, yet.

“Your mother-in-law” as she was referred to in 3rd person, died Nov 2007.  In 2007, my furry friend Leo was showing signs of sickness for a year, but the “AAA” (abusive assaulting adversary) wouldn’t take him to the Vet. He just purchased over-the-internet meds to shove down the Talented Tabby’s throat.   When that didn’t work, no surprise, the 14 year old companion was driven to a vet for the first time in 14 years.  I called an employee to cover the coffeeshop and prepared for the appoinment with spouse (?) and veterinarian.  Leo, artist model, took his last breath in my arms!  That was 2008.

Oct 2009 — my kind, thoughtful, generous father died unexpectedly in the hospital.  Though I rushed to the hospital every time “your mother-in-law” was hospitalized, not ONCE did the conX visit my mother while hospitalized in mid 2007 and not ONCE while my dear dad was housed in a hospital.   Nope, he just showed up for any holiday where he could get hospitality and cash or check in his pocket.   2010 — off the charts E, M, S abuse including the unbelieveable “get a job” remark.  Those that know me understood I was working about 6 “jobs.”  2011 — psychotic episodes, cruel comments about my father, family and me — all  to bash down my spirits during a vulnerable time — for his premeditated hostile takeover of my home, businesses.

It was the beginning of May when I decided I NEEDED a new companion — one that would’t bark at me or potentially bite me.


Carmel was a scaredy cat when I brought him “home” in a box and was released into the basement pottery studio.   He needed a place to hide.  I needed a place to hide.  There were enough boxes and cubby holes for him to hide.  There were NOT enough doors with locks for me to be safe, but he was my new buddy, the comfort cat — his designated role in our new life together.   We had plans:  a cat cave, cat cove — but our “castle” was overtaken by Bully Boys.

People oddly voiced more concern about my 3 year-old cat being locked out of access to his litter box than about my 82 year old mother being locked out of a household bathroom.   “That’s animal cruelty”, a student showed concern.   I had to haul and install a portopot for my mother, and no one said “That’s elder abuse.”   Not customers, employees, lawyers, police.  Carmel had to be shoved and swooshed out in a tiny bag for his safety.

Now that we are 100 miles away from any direct impact, Carmel and I are learning to trust — all over again.   Carmel has such an incredible purr, a gentle touch of paw.   His eyes do not show anger or evil.   He waits for me longingly at the back door to enter.   He follows me from room to room.  He rests for hours in my father’s chair in the dining room.  We play, we sleep, we comfort each other.

I’m not sure, but he may be a soul from my past — I’m thinking perhaps it’s that of Curtis whose life was shortened at 28 from a car accident.  Whatever the reason Carmel (original name Amarillo)  out of all the tabby cats at the humane society came home with me, he has been an amazing comfort for my mom and me.

Carmel the Comfort Cat has an important place in my life.

If any of my blogger fans have some stories or photos to share of your comfort critter, send them my way.

Bully Pulpit and Paper

A notice was in my in box from Facebook was waiting for me today. I don’t always have time to click and open all the notices, but this came from a long-time family member. There has been quite a lot of press for the last couple years about bullying. I contend that bullying is the precursor to abuse — so we need to keep working to train all ages to recognize and reduce bullying before all our lightly funded Domestic Violence Centers are even more overloaded with victims. My title’s history comes from an expression by Theodore Roosevelt from the early 1900s.  (He had trouble with his BULLYing wildlife — many were mounted on his walls.)

“A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it up, but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now… even though they said………… they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home. Copy and paste this if you are against bullying.”

As a survivor of DV, education is only a step in providing important information. No matter how much we know and understand, there are ways a “bully” or full fledge abuser can be slow and cunning in their effect to slowly take over and work against another person. The signs are there, however they can be masked through “classic” techniques and many modern means.

Click here for instructions to make an origami swan.

The “crumpled paper” analogy provides a visual and physical teaching tool and will reach those who make the choice to apply it to their life long learning. Sadly, there will be some crumpled papers that will be tossed in a trash can, burned in a barrel, passed over by police — and lost to the legal system.

For those of us who stay true to a higher “CIVILized” character, the behavior of bullies has to be stopped before it becomes CRIMINAL. The line of demarcation is not very wide.

I experienced clever, slick long-term bullying within the walls of a former “marriage” and “home.” I also experienced first hand the bullying through insensitive funded institutions, community counsel and predatory placement of proprietors.

My final solution to the bulling I’ve had to bear?   Turn the crumpled paper in to an Origami swan!

Fishy Feelings

Here is information about maintaining an aquarium for your health and well-being.    Written by Shirlie Sharpe


Health Benefits of Aquarium Fish
Do you have a stressful life, high blood pressure, insomnia?   Keeping an aquarium may be good therapy for you. Studies going back as far as the late 80’s have shown that gazing at aquarium fish reduces stress and subsequently lowers blood pressure.

Fish Make a Difference
Researchers have compared the effects of hypnosis vs. an aquarium, fishless vs. fish filled aquariums, and no aquarium vs. having an aquarium. In all cases, having some sort of aquarium reduced blood pressure.  Interestingly enough, greater reduction in blood pressure occurred when there were fish in the tank, vs pleasingly decorated, but fishless, tanks.  Even watching a video tape of fish has been proven to have therapeutic effects.

Multitude of Benefits
Seniors who were provided with an aquarium filled with fish had significant blood pressure reduction.  Watching fish has been shown to calm children who suffer from hyperactivity disorder. Dental patients who were subjected to hypnosis vs. an aquarium experienced the same or greater benefit from the aquarium.  Other studies have shown that dental patients required less pain medication after having watched fish in the office. It’s little wonder that physician offices, dental clinics, and even waiting rooms for counselors have traditionally kept an aquarium in the waiting room.

Aquarium Effect on Alzheimer’s
Studies have shown that seniors who have Alzheimer’s experience a variety of health benefits from watching an aquarium.  Alzheimer patients ate more, and required fewer supplements after an aquarium was placed in the dining room.  They also exhibited less physically aggressive behaviors.

Fish Fish Anywhere
Virtually any aquarium, from large to small, will have a benefit.  A large aquarium is great, but if space is limited, a mini-aquarium will do.  Seniors and students can usually find a place for an Eclipse style system.  If it’s not possible to keep an aquarium, consider a video or DVD of aquarium fish.  DVD players have reached rock bottom prices, and a video requires zero maintenance.  Remember that many computers have DVD players these days. What better way to spend your lunch break than gazing at fish?  Take advantage of the stress-relieving benefits of aquarium fish whenever, and wherever you can!

Comfort Chimes

My chimes were just one of the multitude of items that were removed from my long-term residence when packing for evacuation last year.  And they have proved to be one of the most comforting things I’ve been able to implement for healing my head and heart.    Filing for a “divorce” is a standard solution for ending an abusive marriage, but an unforseen end to a long-term relationship turned into destruction of everything I built and worked for well over 20 years.

I had chosen these particular chimes for their  finely tuned and clear ringing tones. I researched for hours to get just the right quality of sounds.  Purchased for a backyard of my awesome art studio/coffeehouse, they have now been relocated to the indoors in my new space. It was a spontaneous idea that sprung out of the need for my mind and spirit to heal while trying to work my way out of the senselessness of being forced out of my home/work through financial, mental abuse and calculated fear tactics.

I suggest the use of the low-tone wind chimes for anyone who needs to find comfort from grief and loss.    How do I activate the chimes inside?   A suitably situated air filter with fan makes just enough air to gently move the weight and activated the clapper inside.  The air filter works on the wellness of my asthmatic lungs – so it’s a win wind situation.

Feng Shui Use of Chimes in Your Home or Garden

When wicked words would whirl around in my head from the previous two years of household horror, my chimes console me to calm and contentment.  In addition to adopting my comfort cat, Carmel, my melodious chimes have worked their way through my ears to provide  PURRfect comfort for my well-being.

My next posts will explore way to create soothing surroundings in your home or place of work.     Stay tuned.   Posts will be intermittant since I am studying and rebuilding my online income producing website eCygnet.  What do you think about me adding windchimes to my sales site?  Or do you have another suggestion of useful products for me to sell.   Let me know, if you would, please.    Thanks to my flock of friends!

Coffee Conversation

Here at the big “….bucks” cafe, youth are in and out at a steady pace. I’m positioned in a corner spot to be unobtrusive and so I can study, write and observe. The music is a bit loud for my taste but a nice mix of tunes condusive to study. The air is refreshingly cool (a little chilly). The round faux-marble table with antique style base is the right height for me to type. The bench seat is surprisingly comfortable.

Three of my former employees who were forced out of our coffeehouse along with me last September, remarked this past July that they couldn’t go to any other coffee places. They couldn’t accept the formal presentation, almost sterile environment and mediocre drinks with no customization.   They were also trying to heal from what transpired only months earlier to their beloved place of employment.  I, however, don’t have a problem sitting in a different coffeeshop anymore. I know, without a doubt, that my establishment was truely the best ever — unique to the max. My “shop” was comfortable, charming, intriguing, powerful, expressive, spontaneous – – it absolutely radiated life.

My five lively businesses were  “put down” — verbally, spiritually, mentally and financially as had been going on behind the scenes for years.
My multiple life careers (all involving people, not machines) were killed – a pre-meditated act.  When the abusive spouse set out to destroy everything I created, worked to build, and successfully managed (personally AND financially), he was effective in terrorizing us out of OUR coffeeHOUSE with the aid of a vindictive “lawyer” neighbor.   Wow, Mr vO is really enjoying the parking lot my parents paid to pave for MY customers.

Be right back — have to open a space for another customer . . .

Swan and Cygnet Cappuccino

OK — got in my car and drove to another location — secluded for my serenity . . .

Check out this beautiful swan and cygnet cappuccino — a reminder of the artistic, creative preparation of drinks we prepared.

There I was in the *coffeeshop* with two college girls next to me chatting as if in a schoolyard playground about guys and their observations of them on campus.  It was certainly a much more open discussion than what transpired 30 years ago when I was a Co-ed.  Back then, we had our space — our sensibility — our subtle scrutiny.    We were in a public venue.

Now, we have pods for coffee — little packs of liquid and energy.      So many people want everything quick, easy, convienient.    The young ladies left in 20 minutes – probably the maximum level of concentration for an above average young adult.     Where are the filters — coffee or otherwise — that formally defined our conversations?

My Mini and Me

When I shift into gear in my car, it is a pleasure all its own. I thoughouly enjoy driving a manual transmission vehicle. I find I’m fully “engaged” when I have the need to use my left foot, right foot, left hand, right hand (sounds a bit like Twister) Driving manual transmission activates the entire brain – right/left hemisphere. Perhaps driving manual transmission is similar to playing a woodwind instrument.

With oboe, I need to use both hands, tongue, lips, air, eyes, ears as well as both hemispheres of my brain. Sometimes I get to tap my feet and sing, too.

I’m sure that’s another reason I didn’t find playing violin interesting enough when I was 8 years old (besides the shrill of the bow across the strings). The violin just didn’t provide enough opportunity for a full body experience. Ok, I may have gained more respect and gigs much sooner (the world caters to strings). I would have sustained more income through tough economic times, but what’s the point if I couldn’t reach the heart enough and soul of others as I have with my oboe playing. At age 9, I chose to play the dynamic, all-inclusive double reed instrument — the OBOE.

My jokes — it’s a 4 letter word! So is “reed” and “solo” — both are crucial to the formulation of sound and the importance of the player. Why be one of many in a big section of musicians? As an oboist I’m almost always a soloist. That doesn’t mean I can’t play well with others. I enjoy the comoradery of chamber musicians, but I sure enjoy the challenge of showing up alone for a gig with an entire chorus — and ME, the oboist.

I enjoy hearing and sensing the shifting of gears with my “new” Mini. It’s Me. I’m somewhat of a loaner — not alone — but not common like a miniVAN, SUV, Ford F10, Honda Accord, Chevy Camaro.

So I’ve added another family member to the “four”some words: Mini.

Late Night Lamp Light

By now the keyboard is feeling damp and dewy as I type. The soft snugly blanket around my shoulders is cozy. I write, read, and listen to my online studies. Carmel has positioned himself in the center pane at the bottom of the porch door to watch my every move. Or perhaps tonight he is more enthralled with the moths that have flown in from the yard to land on the lamp to my left. It’s a great night for blogging.

This evening, I “tried my feet” at a slow steady walk around the nearby blocks. Starting at 8pm eliminated the heat, bright light and excess morning or afternoon street traffic. What brought on this sudden non-mental movement? Well, my mom mentioned that she walked around the block last week while I was vising friends.  Considering my recent displacement from everything that defined my life for the last 20 years, how could I miss an opportunity to explore yet another new “avenue” in my abruptly redesigned life. Going for a walk seemed like a reasonable idea for something to do.

It felt odd walking around the town that I hadn’t been part of for 30 years. The houses were essentially the same. My school seemed vaguely familiar. All buildings for each level of my education were only 3 blocks away. My memory fails me for how I got to and from school everyday during the early years. Did I walk each day? Did my father take me in the mornings? I remember how I went every day with him in high school before/after school, but Elem/JR high — that’s a blur. Maybe my memories will return someday.