Big Bully Boys

“You’re always at work!” a hateful soon-to-be X said to me.  He attempted to imprison me in one of rooms in my home — the one that was set up as the new income producing “guest room.”  It was OK if he was on call 24/7.  I worked 7/24, but my work never received respect. If he built something – it was an engineering feat.  When I painted walls and wood, it made everything come to life.  What did I hear?  “You just painted it . . .”

So cunning (con-ing) it was for me to pay rent in my own home – to work there.   Slowly, steadily my income was drained as I deposited my salary the  “joint account.”    I inquired about work outside the businesses to get additional income so I could have money.  Nope. “Just work your business more.”  So I did.  I worked and worked — and built and nurtured more amazing businesses.

It was just a few months earlier he said, “Get a job!”  Then came “You can’t afford this place” followed by “You don’t want to share the profits.”  — and those were the less ugly comments. The abuser used sever bullying and fear tactics to destroy everything I built for over 20 years.

The next-door un-neighborly lawyer joined in the stalking and harassment every Sunday afternoon that fateful summer of 2011.  4.5 years later, the knot is not officially untied.  Starting over has been the biggest challenge in my life to point. Yet, I always remember how precious it is to be free from attack. Freedom is a crucial element for living.

Stop Bullying in Schools Bullying stops here.

Strange and Stunning

TriangleHead PredatorPrayingMantis

The Praying Mantis is a protected insect and it is illegal to kill one.   TRUE or FALSE *

Some facts about the Praying Mantis:

The praying mantis is sometimes called the dragon because it is a fierce hunter.

There are about 1,700 varieties of praying mantis.

The two forward legs of the mantis have sharp spines like a jack knife.

The mantis uses its two front legs to attack it’s prey.

The mantis females are the among biggest insects.

The Latin name of the praying mantis is Tenodera Sinensis.

The female mantis lays up to 300 eggs.

Most mantis live in warm climates.

The mantis will attack butterflies, bees, beetles, frogs, spiders, mice, lizards, and small birds.

The female sometimes eats the male after mating.

The mantis has very good eyesight.

The female mantis can not fly due to all of the eggs in her abdomen.

Mantis nymphs march single file.

When nymphs hunt they eat leafhoppers, aphids, and very small flies.

The mantis sheds its skin twelve times before it is full grown.

The female mantis lays her eggs in the fall.

The mantis nymph is tiny like a mosquito.

The front legs of the nymph have claws for holding their prey.

Praying mantises bite the back of their victim’s neck to paralyze it.

IMG_4573 IMG_4576

*FALSE.  The praying mantis is not protected by any type of law.  It’s an insect as easily captured as any if you are fortunate to see them.  Most people don’t bother with them unless trying to make a grand statement for an insect collection for science class.

I find the praying mantis fascinating and creepy.

The Mantis vs Mouse — This video shows some disturbing pictures of nature in action.

Office of One

Each day brings a new challenge for me as I determine where I will locate my portable office.

1. Will I work in my transitional space in which I was forced to take refuge after my multiple businesses were destroyed?

2. Should I locate a new eating establishment with WIFI and a suitable table for my laptop and papers?

3. Is the weather such that I can explore an outdoor space with a canopy of trees or gazebo?


Of course this is not the typical issues a regular office worker has to deal with.  Many TV shows portray an exaggerated work environment of friendships and personality conflicts.

Lately, I find the best office space for me is OUTSIDE with the unknown ceiling height of the sky.  Research has shown that work spaces and areas with high ceilings are more conducive to creative thinking, productivity and problem solving — yet most companies confine workers to cubicles for fear an employee or student will get distracted.

Today I couldn’t set up in one of my standard locations due to a towering oak tree propelling acorns at rapid intervals — boing, bounce, plop, plunk — either on my papers or head. What I did find was and enchanting surrounding — nicer than the previous location.


I update inventory for my website, write articles for the blog and plan for upcoming music programs and a potential replacement brick & mortar business.  I spend rainy/inclement days inside completing oboe repairs and sketching out new ideas.  Sunny/temperate days give me the greatest joy for work — outside with nature to accomplish the goals of the week.

My only concerns when working outside are rapidly changing temperature (too hot/cold), invasion of spiders, flies, mosquitoes AND rain, wind, darkness, too much light.   (hey, those sound like the same concerns during an outdoor music performance…)

Today, I had two visitors pass through my “office”:   a lady on her afternoon stroll and a stray calico cat on her afternoon prowl.  I sometimes have the pleasure of a ladybug, caterpillar, katydid and squirrels to check on my progress at work.


Oh — office hours are ending shortly — the battery on the laptop is 20% power !    I still have time for pad and paper till “lights” dim for the evening shift.



10-1-2013 007

The Road Not Taken — or Found

Many of my blog readers are familiar with the poem by Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken“.

Now with GPS, it would seem all roads would be discovered AND traveled.    Not so when it comes to the road leading to a monument memorializing the victims of Sept 11, 2001.  

The location of the former World Trade Center was easy to locate.  All trains, subways have it as a destination.  It has been a point of interest since it was first built.    The new construction being erected in place of the destroyed/demolished Trade Center Towers is incredibly stunning — by day and night.  Security was located everywhere and barricades were placed on each street for most city blocks surrounding the WTC.

Why is the extraordinary monument constructed by the Russian government and its citizens not mentioned in a prominent flier or tour guide for NYC?   I was fortunate to be introduced to the artwork through a friend and an online video.


It took much determination and alternate directional skill to located the monument.  NO road matches the one listed online. There is NO sign or marker pointing the way to the monument.  The towering reminder is on a desolate space that looks across the water with a view of the Statue of Liberty AND the newly constructed WTC memorial tower. 



While snapping several photos of the Tear Drop, a young gentleman approached and asked if I wanted him to take a photo with the monument in the background.   He shared that his uncle was killed in the Towers. He travels from California each year to see the Russian monument. He added that there is a new item added on the grounds each year — the latest being a sample of the steel beam from the WTC.

I took the road less traveled and discovered a monumental display of art that expressed without words, the grief of loss to our country AND the world.


Tear Drop Monument
Former Military Ocean Terminal 
Bayonne, NJ

Photo Phace Phriends

How do I, a creative spirit, find folks in a town where there are no past connections?

I spent the early part of the day looking at architecture in another area.  I drove back to my temporary town and stopped off for supper in the local pizza shop. My somewhat new assertive courage actually worked out fine today.

(broccoli, ham, tomato, cheese pizza)

I was doing work on my laptop when I looked out into the room where seven young folks congregated after school. They sat around a double table with their beverages (and sandwich) while all proceeded to peer intently into their cell phones.  They were involved in a typical social gathering with comments, jokes, belching, laughing, etc.  A group photo shoot was a predictable event for the gathering with friends.  There doesn’t seem to be enough photos of themselves and/or their friends . . .

I assumed they just took self-portraits, which would be posted on Facebook instantly, or later that evening.  The teens were certainly startled when I popped up from my seat and asked if I could also take a photo of them – but rather – if they’d be willing to be part of a creative photo shoot.     I envisioned a photo of their camera face-photos instead of their actual faces.

My animated energy was spent explaining “my vision.”  At least two in the group seemed to understood what I wanted to do for a photo.  Then one by one — light bulbs began to illuminate in their heads.   “Oh, I get it” one girl was pleased with her sudden insight.
Next, someone would project the image in their head with words to the head next to them until all 7 were “getting it.”  They even began to see the tongue-in-cheek humor in the concept.

The gang gathered around me in the same way my students did when I teach group art lessons.  This time, however, they had to help me with my technology.   First I had to get them to disconnect from the WiFi. There was a huge drain on the connection with all those “smart phones.”

I think our meeting was a magical moment — well, to me, it was.  Will I ever see the goofy gang again?  Not sure.  But if our paths do cross again, we can compare creative tech talk.


Here are my new phound phriends and their photo phaces.

Hey gals/guys, see if you can elaborate on this photo concept and send another version to me.   Most of you in the gang participate in sports.
One of you can contribute to this blog with a creative sports shoot — and hopefully have a “ball” with it.

Thanks for providing a phamiliar pheeling of phamily.


You’re on iCygnet Blog.

To Name or Not to Name?

It puzzled me for some time why boats throughout history were given names.  Roads are named.  Businesses have names.  I taught a private student who named her oboe.   I have often been asked if I named my instrument.  I don’t name my oboe because without me it has no life of it’s own.  I give the instrument life through my breath.  We are not separate. My oboe and I exist as one.  We are ME.

Marti, Oboe & Jazz

Marti, Oboe & Jazz

Then there are cars.  The first car I ever named was a 1984 Chrysler Laser.  The name was “Alfred” (Alf).  A computer system inside the vehicle commented about his condition and informed me  “Your headlamps are on”, “Your door is ajar”, and other sayings that resembled a British butler. Alfred was given to, and subsequently wrecked by “your mother-in-law.”  (See older post… No Grasp of Grief)

Sample of a Chrysler Laser XE

My next vehicle was a 1986 cherry red 2.2-liter, turbo, T-top, hatchback, 2 door, Shelby Z Daytona.   I didn’t name her. My art students from my public school teaching position did.   They named her “Lauren.”   I drove “Lauren” from 1992 – 2005. She was stored in a garage till she needed to be brought back to life Summer 2011.  Lauren needed new tires.  Her passenger side window didn’t open/close properly. The cruise control was broken. The trunk wouldn’t stay up without a prop. Rubber seals were brittle.  A new battery was required. Sometimes the smell of fuel required me to hang my head out the window to breath while driving.

Daytona T-top Turbo

But “Lauren” was mine. I earned the money from teaching and two part-time jobs. I paid for her.  She was purchased before an abusive spouse slowly conned his way into my life, surreptitiously robbed me of my earnings then destroyed my 30-year self-made career.  I had emotional attachments to Lauren, but she had to go for some of the same reasons – mental reminders. One of the last mental pictures was a cynical sneer from the abuser as I drove past in the broken down car (he in a 2004 Crossfire – not YET paid off!)

I wanted a small hatchback that was “fun.” There it was – a Mini Cooper S in my price range and in my preferred color for my “new” car.  Soon after I acquired my Mini, people asked if I named it. A personality must have been emitting from my mechanical, electronic machine so I started brainstorming names. I have Spanish language CDs queued each time I start the engine so I new she was learning Spanish along with me. But instead of “Maria”, I wanted a name that resembled an Oreo cookie with a vanilla wafer, cookies ‘n cream or something relating to a musician in concert attire.   I finally settled on a simple, descriptive name. “’Nilla”  is my 2004 Mini Cooper’s name.

My Mini

Send a note and let me know if you have a car, instrument, boat, chair, hairbrush, coat – or any non-living thing that you named.

Locating Lunch

A university town seems like a logical place to look for a lunch location. The main street had plenty of on-street parking, with meters. I made a drive-around to determine the most likely section of town to park. All situated, feeding the meter first with quarters, I proceeded to walk into a deli that was easily accessible. I stood at the counter, looked at the menu for about 5 minutes to make a decision. There was one customer ahead of me picking up pastries. The girl at the counter asked if I was waiting for lunch. When I answered yes, she informed me that lunch (the grill) closed at 3:00.

I turned around, headed out the door, turned left and scouted for another location. The buildings are jutted next to each other, intermixed with restaurant, retail, office, and apartments. The next location I spotted was a deli with hours posted on the window and door. I double-checked the door to clarify that indeed, lunch ended at 2:00. Hmm, am I seeing a pattern here?

I moved up the street another half block, saw a known sub-shop and a pizza shop a few buildings farther away. But before I could get within three buildings, I began to cough . . . cigarette smoke coming downwind my direction attacked my nose and lungs. I halted. The “smoking section” was fully operational (3 people). That’s what I call the outside of buildings now that there’s no smoking allowed inside (finally) — so — I made an about face, doubled back to B&N where I knew I’d get in and get served.

It was 3:30 pm. My standard lunch meal has been at 3 pm for probably 15+ years. For 20 years my private teaching schedule was from 4 – 10 pm, 4 evenings a week. Then, as a musician, 95% of my concert work has been evenings, weekends, holidays.

I suppose I will always be on the edge of time for work, eat, sleep. I have a similar issue with my end of workday. If I want to go out to eat after work — 90% of any restaurant, diner, cafe, deli, pantry, and coffeehouse — is CLOSED by 9:00. You may be thinking, “There’s got to be a pub open somewhere.” Yeah — but — I don’t smoke OR “drink”. I’d be happy to have a cappuccino at 10 pm except were “supposed to” drink coffee in the AM. Oh, how I dislike conformity.

Now, this is more like it — a midnight cafe.

Discovering Danny

There are so many possibilities and so much amazing information to be discovered online.   The vastness and clearness of images makes me feel as if I met this person.   I haven’t met Danny Gregory, but I’m already in awe of his abilities and creativity.   I’m impressed with how organized he keeps his kitchen and art supplies . . . I’m certain that gives him more time to work on his craft.  Perhaps he has a personal organizer or cleaning company to help him.

If it weren’t that I am so busy developing and posting on my blogs, I’d be painting, composing, performing — oh, alas, I’m WRITING and healing.

Coffee and Curiosity

There is ALLOT to miss about my exceptional coffeehouse! (my blog followers know of CC’s premeditated destruction) I’m here in a place that I discovered when traveling north to a small city 45 minutes away. I’m drawn to the culture it appears to promote though I question the need for young people to pierce so many parts of their bodies thinking they are “being unique”.

The establishment ( has all the typical features that I’d expect from a coffee bar in a city — certainly better than any sterile franchise where predictability is promoted. The cafe table wiggles, the music is too loud, it’s a tad rustic — but who cares — people are here socializing, listening to live music (vocal, guitar, drums) and drinking a beverage that will not likely alter their mind adversely as they get in their vehicles to travel home afterward.

I’m curious about the young lad who is preparing cups of coffee one at a time with filters. He has been going non-stop since I arrived. It’s 8:00 and the room cleared out while the musicians (Maitland) are on break… No problem though, the musicians playing on the street are powerful enough to be heard inside here as well as around the streets!

Hey, the musicians are back — time for a break in writing. They seem to be holding their own with a variety of selections.

Time to head to the street for more discovery.

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.

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.”

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.

99 – sublime

Nothing can overshadow the joy of listening to someone who has survived decades of life. Too many times we hear of famed singers, actors, sports stars who have reached the age of 19 and feel compelled to write their memoirs.   How could someone barely in their 20s have anything as significant to say about their life as someone who has lived 8 or 9 decades.

This weekend, I had the honor of meeting with, and listening to, a family friend of my deceased grandfather. Johnny Bloise (Bloisi).  My grandfather, Frank, and Johnny worked together at the Corning glass factory decades earlier. On occassional weekends they were hunting buddies.  The absolute joy in this nearly centarian’s eyes, in his smile, in his gaite — were like a flash of light to my heart.   The hug, the kiss on the cheek, were the seal to the anticipation this elderly gentleman exhuded on the phone the day I called him.    He said, “I’ll be waiting for your call all afternoon!”

Johnny called all his children, most lived near him, to meet my mother and me for the evening.  All but 2 (twins) of his 7 children were there to greet us.  They were as thrilled to see us as we were to put the past in the present.  “I loved your parents,” Johnny exclaimed to my mother who had lost both her parents 20 + years earlier.   I remember hearing the stories of the adventures with Johnny during my childhood.   My grandfather would sit on the front porch at night — sometimes during a thunderstorm — and look across to the mountains in the distance that separated PA from NY.   “My hunting buddy, Johnny lives in NY,” grandpa informed me.

My grandfather introduced me to shooting a “22”.  I shot paper targets of crows, metal cans or ceramic pots placed on a brick wall.  Grandpa raised 3 girls in the 1930s and 40s, so he didn’t have any trouble letting his granddaughter experience some of his same joys.  We went fishing on a lake, but I mostly loved observing all his woodworking tools in the unfinished basement.   So here I am sitting in the living room with one of my grandparents favorite friends and Corning co-workers.    Johnny lived in Corning most of his life.  My grandparents traveled the 30 – 40 minute drive into NY to work at one of the finest glassmakers.

My mother remembered staying with her older sister, Barb at Johnny’s home when she was a child. Johnny even discovered photos of my mother with my sister (age 1).   The evening was wonderful. We agreed to meet the next morning for breakfast and then went back to Johnny’s home for a few more hours of history.  I was in my element — listening to the great stories of family trials and tribulations — and sitting in awe of a man who had so much fine quality character to be able to have faced diversity in his life and treasure the time he still has with remaining family and friends.

Johnny is already planning his 100th birthday party,”God willing” he notes, with the aide of all his children.   We’re invited.  I have the date on the calender.   Considering Johnny has siblings /aunts who are age 105 — let’s consider this party a sure thing.

Character and a Car

I was filling my fuel tank when I glanced over at the customer in the next aisle. The man said “nice car!”.   My reply, “thanks, it’s old, but it has a good engine”.   “That’s all that matters,”  “You can always fix the outside.”, he replies.    I agreed. I stated that when the engine needs work, it is indeed more difficult work to fix.    We had our “moment” of insight relating to people and the similarity to a classic car.   The man concluded, “Enjoy the rest of your day.” And, indeed, that did make my day at least — knowing that, no matter what, my “character” is the inside engine that keeps me going — and my appearance can be altered — yet the exterior is never as important as the “engine.”