Secure Safe Shelter

Throughout my life, I learned of people who were homeless.  One person was an employee from a public school in which I taught for 10 years.  She and her children considered the car a home for several weeks.

  • There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the US. There are 3,800 animal shelters. (Schneider, 1990) Numbers have increased in the same proportion since then.

A woman is seen in a shelter built by California artist Gregory Kloen.

Then, a young adult student whose father couldn’t pay the rent for an apartment they occupied entered the studio looking agitated.  I asked “Are you living in your car?”  He, reluctantly replied, “uhmhm, yes, I am”. My poignant and persistent question led him to ask if I knew of a place for him to stay.  Well, there was space . . . in the basement of my studios.  He stayed till he found an affordable apartment.

After opening a coffeehouse, another young person came for help.  He (an avid reader) had frequented the public library. The government-funded entity added a coffee shop (8 months after mine!) in the space this fellow took refuge. He crashed on sofas in friend’s homes.  I could only offer a bar of soap and towel to freshen up in the not-yet-opened pottery painting place.  He eventually moved 35 miles away to live with an aunt/uncle.

Empathy has always been part of my nature.   My kindness however was used to provide identity and income for illicit indigents.  I housed a family-in-law for 18 years in property I owned.  They needed assistance.   It seemed like the right thing to do . . .

Then — I finally woke up from the controlled cash captivity. The harm and hurt had to stop.   I couldn’t live in fear anymore, nor be a slave-tenant in my home.  MANipulated to pay to live and work in my own home, I was able to support myself, business, employees.  The fact that my family was covertly robbed and my community company was embezzled to support a con-X and HIS family — that was inconceivable.

The basement that once provided refuge to a former student became my only option.  The x-CON who I graciously agreed to house after his release — was fired from his job — replaced me in my own basement refuge.  I am shocked and dumbfounded that I was forced to leave my home and self-sustaining career.  MANeuvered by a Con, his Counsel and the Court.

Even Safety and Security take precedence over Shelter.

  •  The costs of intimate partner violence in the US exceeds $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.

California artist Gregory Kloen, who builds small portable homes using salvaged materials, says an inexpensive structure is a way to keep someone safe and out of jail.

How many of these shelters fit in one Pro-athlete, Politician, Lawyer or Hollywood home?

Leave it to a creative entrepreneur to solve a serious concern over shelter.   Government can’t do it — they’re too CONcerned about their own paychecks and trips to paradise island.

We Experienced the Extraordinary

It was my honor to educate and empower a dozen young people in my art/music studio coffeehouse over a 10-year time span. We all grew in knowledge and understanding of how to relate to the public — and each other. Our work gang was truly a delight — full of energy — creative and dedicated to accomplishing any task.

AngelaMatt_S Cheesecake

My all-time favorite energetic creative volunteer extraordinaire worked around the customer created murals.
She helped transform the space into a tearoom.

DianaSignatureWall TeaTime6

One of the best part of any independent shop is the empowerment an employee experiences because he/she is given the chance to add their creative spirit to the establishment.

The next higher level is the connection with the customer. We had a unique bond of spontaneous energy unable to be duplicated anywhere else.



These Junior High School students loved the opportunity to decorate the windows on their Half-Days.


Two precocious children grew up in the studio/coffeehouse from age four/six for 5 years.
We had art, music and baking adventures.


Betty and I met years earlier with her purchase of tubes of paint from Cygnet Studios.  Her first gallery exhibit featuring 70 years of artwork  was a grand event.  My father passed away October 2009, Betty was comforted through his violin the next year.  We lost Betty to Cancer, January 2011.  Her family requested my community coffeehouse for the life celebration — an honor.


The community coffee connection is memorable. These ladies decorated their own “Java Journal” and didn’t even make the mistake of dipping their markers in a coffee cup. Way to go, gals.


Sitting in the art gallery was inspirational, a huge reason many youth frequented my establishment.  Conewago Coffeehouse was more than just fun and games . . .


Spontaneity emerged and manifested itself instantaneously with this post-it project and became a new in-house activity.
We celebrated the joys of life and the sadness of death — together.


Go ahead, ask “what happened to your amazing establishment?”

Evil does exist.   I found out first hand — I looked it in the eyes . . .

Predatory placed and promoted establishments didn’t kill OUR community coffeehouse — though a few DID try with “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” (Charles Caleb Colton) My community connection was calculatedly destroyed by a duo of “bully-boys” (names omitted for anonymity) then veiled through a twisted legal system.

I bet YOU and I are counting on justice to prevail.   Anyone for a family reunion?

Stuck at the top of your Ferris Wheel?

The journey of loss in life is universal — spinning like a Ferris wheel.  Sometimes you get stuck at the top!   My grief began with a terminally ill relationship and ended in the loss of my 30 year career.  A friend told me to “pull the plug”.  I did. The funeral was this winter.   I was alone at the funeral.

Bertram's Blog

I haven’t been writing much about grief lately. It’s been thirty-two months — 977 days — since my life mate/soul mate died. In that time, many others have suffered grievous losses, and to continue mentioning my grief seems like all I’m doing is whining. Still, this is my loss, and what other people experience, no matter how horrific, doesn’t lessen my sorrow. I don’t have the same sort of raw pain that I did at the beginning, of course, nor do I have the gut-wrenching angst that so often bedeviled me during those first months, but I do experience bouts of sadness and yearning.

My emotions are on a slow Ferris wheel ride, usually sliding down into sadness on Saturdays, the day he died — a day that apparently is etched in my very psyche — and then a gradual climb to hope and possibility on Monday and Tuesday.

Even when…

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No Grasp of Grief

3:00 am strikes with a sudden response I couldn’t have expected.  As I sit in the den of my childhood home, I look to the date on the computer monitor with the realization that is was just 3 short years since my fine father suddenly parted from this world and my life.    Earlier that evening in 2009, I was assured by my oldest brother that dad was doing better.  I trusted him and postposned my planned evening visit.  6 hours later, my brother called to inform me the nurse said “your father is not responsive.”    Though I had made sure to see dad 3 times during the time of his hospitalization, there is no way I was prepared for this moment.   I had a bag already packed for an overnight stay.


My “unresponsive” spouse barely made a reaction to the call that obviously had me in fear of the outcome.   I picture the dark, unfinished attic room where I was being housed in the marital home for 5 years.   The isolation from my family was certainly beginning to become more distinct in this moment of decision.   I left the home alone — as was often the case — if I wanted to see my family other than on major holidays.    It was nothing like the weekly or monthly visits I bestowed upon the mother of the selfish spouse each time his mother was taken to the hospital.  Year after year — no less than ten years of continual comfort to “your mother-in-law” as he referred to his mother.


Supporting, caring, calming — this is what I needed.  Comfort for ME, this time.  And there was NOTHING.  This pretend spouse, was treated  like a son.   My father chatted with him freely.   Shared with him consistently.  Asked about him regularly.   My kind, thoughtful, ever considerate father had parted this world — and the person I married abandoned me emotionally.   He didn’t show ONE time to the hospital – the first time my father was ever hospitalized his entire 82 years.   The louse-a-spouse went through the motions of attending the funeral services.  Then never asked me once “Are you OK?”  “How are you feeling?”  — NO — instead he began treating me with disdain, saying “get a job” (I worked 7 days a week), critiscizing, me, my family and worse of all — questioning the character of my impeccibly pure and honest father!

Unleashed: battering of me emotionally, mentally, sexually — even worse after the death of my father.  I regularly aided with the care of “your mother-in-law” for 15 years till her death in 2007.   When I needed to be supportive of my mother (82) who was widowed after 58 years with her husband — 62 total years — she was locked out of my household bathroom!


One year ago, I had to evacuate my home, business, town . . . My grief became darker as I experienced the death of no less than 6 businesses I founded and sucessfully operated with the help of 4 part-time employees.

Cancer Awareness Month (Oct) recognizes the disease and the loss felt by patients. Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Oct) barely makes mention the multitudes of victims who have lived with and survived the in-house bullying that causes scars not able to be seen on an X-ray or cell sampling.

I will go visit my father’s gravesite  — with my mom.    Here she stands behind her husband’s headstone — my dear, departed dad.

Paint it Purple

This month is promoted with much ferver and funding as Cancer Awareness Month.  My local newspaper arrived on Monday — every page in PINK.   October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.    I doubt there will not be any purple pages printed providing information about “DV.”  It is still a taboo topic.  Victims are afraid to step forward.  It took 14 years after sexual abuse was perpetrated upon boys on a prominant state college campus for victims  to speak out.    Justice was finally served — and the healing could begin for the victims.


The same consideration is not given to a DV victim in a marriage — a wife. There is a legal loophole that the abuser has calculated to his advantage.  Police will not be worth the 911 call. The abuser will cover his tracks immediately, and no-one, including legal counsel will bother to address the seriousness of the crimes.  A wife becomes “marital property.” The cops and lawyers don’t want to admit that they won’t, can’t, don’t care to address the seriousness of the abuse.

For a majority of the population, it seems to be easier to address a physical illness than it is a mental or behavioral epidemic — abuse.  “Bullying” is the new catch phrase used to describe the problem rampant in schools.    I’ve even heard the dismissive comment “he knows how to push your buttons” — all in denial that vebal attacks as well as financial, sexual — all fit under the term ABUSE.   

“Unfortunately, rather than being a safe haven, the home remains one of the most dangerous places for many of our citizens,” says Attorney General Jim Hood from Mississippi.   

I’ve experienced the CONtrol from an abusive relationship first hand.  It was classic abuse — cooercive, conning, cunning.   In my case, I wasn’t even safe at work.

Love has no list.

1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Humane vs Human Society

May 2011, I adopted an orange tabby cat from the Humane Society.  My new tabby was chosen for his circumstance, name (eventually changed), color and researched disposition.  I  needed a new companion that wouldn’t “bark at me” morning, afternoon, night! Or pounce me . . . and hurt me.  When I brought my new companion home in a cardboard box, I already had his safe place chosen.   There were lots of boxes to explore, things to jump on, but more importantly, there were places he could hide and feel safe.    My new furry friend was gaining freedom. He needed to learn to trust again.   We had allot in common.


I had been trying to find respite out of town from the DV spouse. Upon returning, my employee noticed two weeks in a row, that the cat had relieved himself week #1  carpet, week #2 the couch.  “Someone” closed the basement door.  We quickly put 2+2 together to realize that he was purposely kept from using the litter box.  Of course, I left it open for him to access his food, drink, and litter box.

Always receiving concern and compassion from patrons at work, one lesson night I mentioned to a 15 year old student that my cat had been denied access to his litter box.  In a split second, he remarked “that’s animal cruelty!” .   I agreed, but mentioned that my elderly mother had been locked out of the household bathroom for months, and — NO ONE — seemed to question that action. Concern for a cat overshadowed the bizarre treatment of an 82 year old woman.

The emotional, mental, financial and physical abuse I endured for years — severely in the last two years — was minimized, overlooked.     Even all the provable and documented offenses have been dismissed by legal counsel — some of which were perpetrated by the neighboring, vindictive defendant’s counsel.  I was able to evacuate my home physically unharmed, cat in bag, employee got in his father’s car.   But such extreme dichotomy of response is incomprehensible.

When I made my final evacuation, I removed the brass headstone that marked the burial plot for my beloved buddy Leo, artist model.   I can anticipate many years with my new companion, Carmel, the comfort cat.