All posts by Marie Coppola

Marie Coppola A long-time human resources administrator and paralegal (B.S. in Business Administration/ Psychology, Certified Paralegal), Marie writes to aid employees with positive career options and resources, and to assist in career development solutions for students and employees; counsels on resumes, securing employment, and being successful with promotable possibilities. Marie finds inspiration in her faith, which she enjoys passing on to others, and finds gratification in helping others wherever she can. Got a question, need advice? Marie can be reached at mcopp@ymail.com

Gombah Meets Feral, His New Friend…Chapter 7

Although Gombah is happiest when he is settled at bedtime between his ‘parents’, he sometimes gets excited when another cat is outside. The porch that Gombah inhabits most of the time is completely enclosed with window panels that can be opened upward so that you can have the effect of a screened-in porch. This is the scenario that the cat enjoys the most. When the windows are all up, Gombah goes out there and breathes in the fresh air and monitors the whole side and backyards almost like he is outside. He especially likes to sleep out there at night so he can hear the crickets at night and the birds early in the morning. We suspect it gives him memories of his early life.   We have plants out there and sometimes he can’t be seen for napping among them.

Can you find Gombah straight ahead on his chair in the porch?

Occasionally a cat will wander by and Gombah will be sociable and meow to them. His meow is different when he hails hello to his feline friends. And one day, Feral came into his life.

We don’t know how she came to be a homeless kitty, but Feral was just that. She may have been a kitten of a feral mother, or maybe someone dropped her off in our neighborhood. She wasn’t socialized.

She was striking looking – a tuxedo cat – with yellow eyes. She was all black with a white ring around her chest and white-tipped paws. She was small; I’m guessing about 5 months old when she first peered into the porch where Gombah was sitting. She was small in body as compared to Buddha-shaped Gombah. She took to him instantly and rubbed against the screening while he was just looking her over.   I started calling her “Feral” so I wouldn’t get attached to her.

She had a tiny helium- balloon meow. Gombah acted nonchalantly, but in truth, he went out there looking around all the time which he never did before.  He would always nap on  the chair before but he then started sitting by each of the windows and she always showed up.  Before long, she was an every-day visitor to the patio beside the porch.   She would rub against the screens and then flop over on the patio and sun bathe on her back,   Occasionally, we would see her chase a salamander, catch it, and eat it live.   I don’t know what Gombah made of all this, but she definitely had his attention.

Feral brought back music to Gombah’s life.

Marie Coppola © September 2012 

TBContinued Chapter 8 ~ Feral Becomes Our Outdoor Cat

div id=”counter24″>

Gombah On the Mend & Meets a New Friend ~ Chapter 6

Like human diabetics, pets food choices need to be changed. Gombah was prescribed a high-protein diet (not less than 40%) and limited (once-a-week) wet canned food as it contained too many carbs that would turn to sugar.   No more food grazing all day. He is allowed one cup of dry food a day which was later reduced to 3/4 cup a day because he is so sedentary.

The cost for blood work done every 6 months – about $75; insulin for month – about $150 a month, including disposal needles. Gombah slowly stabilized and now weighs 14 pounds again.

You would think the hardest part for us would be giving him the needles. We thought it would be. The vet trained us how to do that without pain for the cat and it is easy and simple to do. It does not hurt him and Gompah actually purrs while he is being injected. He is such a routine cat that when it is time to give him his shot, he sits and waits by the place where we administer it.

The hardest part was rationing his food. The vet told us he wouldn’t be happy with his lowered amount and he sure wasn’t. He meowed more and sat over his bowl and stared at it.  Often.  For long periods of time.  It is difficult not to feed your pet when you think he is hungry. The vet reduced his food intake to 3/4 of a cup but eventually he did get use to the lower amount and is not as adamant about nibbling constantly. There are times when he will find one of us, meow and put his paw on our leg and we know that he is hungry. We give him a rationed amount of treats to tide him over, but we know that in order to keep him healthy, we can’t keep feeding him like we did before. Besides, the vet admonishes us if he goes over 14 pounds.  We do indulge in wet food once a week because he gets so excited when he hears the ‘snap’ opening.

 

The diet part was easier to help bring him ‘back’ to his prior self than it was to bring back his personality.  He was traumatized by our absence and the fire.  t was a long haul to win his trust again that everything would be all right. He slept in corners with his back protected for 6 months. It took him that long, too, to finally jump on the bed and cuddle us again. We were joyful when he came in one night and jumped up like he had never stopped. We gave him a big welcome and Nello reached out for him first. That started a new precedent that Gombah seeks out Nello first when he joins us in the pride’s den. He switches sometime during the night and is always on my side in the morning. He was finally back!

The best part is he is healthy again – we have his sugar levels checked every six months. He no longer sleeps in corner and he grooms again and he snuggles with us. He is even more his affectionate and playful self again. Maybe that’s what attracted him to a female feral cat who befriended him.

TBC…..Chapter 7…Gombah Makes Friends with Feral http://expertistas.com/2012/09/23/gombah-meets-feral-his-new-friend-chapter-7/aboutme

Marie Coppola  ©  September 2012

div id=”counter24″>

Gombah Becomes Traumatized…..Chapter 5


At some point in time in every pet’s life, he or she may need medical attention either at a veterinarian’s office or at an animal hospital. In addition , since the average life expectancy for indoor cats is 14 to 15years {although the oldest known cat, Creme Puff, lived to age 38 and some cats live to age 20} the costs for their care is increasing along with their age. And like humans, cats’ health issues can increase with their age, too.

Statistically, cats are prone to diabetes at age 9, and our cat was no exception. Since we had suspected, diagnosed and now corrected his affliction, the following might be helpful for those of you who will experience a similar situation.

Like humans, it is not good for cats to be overweight.  A survey of the National Pet Pharmacy informs us that 40 percent of cats are considered to be obese! Only 5 to 10 percent of all cats can be classified as only slightly overweight. In recent years Feline Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes) has become almost a daily diagnosis in animal hospitals all across America. U.S. cats are at risk for a number of obesity related disorders. Documented research indicates obese cats are far more prone than cats of normal body weight to Diabetes, arthritis and a very serious disorder called Hepatic Lipidosis.

And the 40 percent obesity figure seems to be growing.

 A picture of a fat cat — but it is not Gombah, although the markings are similar.

Along with the above, a cat’s history may have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, along with a sedentary life style. Yup, Gombah most definitely changed his habits from an active, outdoor cat to an indoor cat, who LOVES to be sedentary; he was also overweight. He was a prime candidate for diabetes.

One year we traveled for a month and at the vet’s suggestion, we always left him in our home since he is familiar with his surroundings and not farmed out where he may become disoriented and/or feel abandoned. We always left someone in charge that he knew ~~ to cat-sit overnight, to feed and pet him. This time was no exception.

But, an ‘exception’ did occur the very next day after we departed for our trip and were a continent away. Our area had a forest wildfire, a devastating forest fire that destroyed 72 nearby homes and continued to char 31 square miles near our home. Damage estimates rose to $16 million for the three-day blaze. The fire came within 5 miles of our development and neighbors tell us that ash and smoke were heavy on our street.

I’m mentioning this tragedy because the caretakers for our cat also live near us and were understandably anxious, under stress and preparing to evacuate if necessary. Although Gombah was being taken care of, we’re assuming that anxiety was high for both humans and animals. Gombah, just adjusting from his ‘parents’ not being there, aware of surrounding smoke, different feeding times and anxiety — were factors, we feel, in contributing to his onset of diabetes. Our vet concurs it probably did.

When we returned some weeks later, Gombah greeted us weakly – he was three pounds lighter – a lot of weight for a cat to lose in a few weeks’ time. He was thin and his gait was different; he weaved when he walked and his legs were wobbly.

He was constantly hungry and thirsty and we thought as long as he was eating, he would be OK. But, his routine had changed, too. He no longer slept curled up with us; he would find a corner in the house to sleep curled up in a fetal position with his back hugging the wall. Something definitely was not right. He wasn’t gaining weight and he was eating and thirsty all the time. He didn’t play much anymore, had stopped grooming himself and was lethargic.

A checkup at the vet’s revealed his sugar count was very high and after two overnight stays, he was diagnosed as diabetic and would need insulin twice a day.   It would take 6 months before he returned to normal.                                                    

TBContinued……Chapter 6

Marie Coppola (C) September 2012

 

div id=”counter24″>

Gombah Becomes an Indoor Cat……….Chapter 4

Approaching his 13th year of living indoors, Gombah is very content, somewhat too plump, extremely affectionate and thinks we are his parents and we share a 'pride'.  Nello actually pats the bed and invites him to join us when we get ready to retire. He probably doesn't remember his "he can't come inside the house" remark.   Gombah is one of us; he watches TV with us, dines whenever we do and sleeps when we do.   He has his own room (the guest room) because it is sunny and when the sun moves around the sky to another room, so does he with it.

 

 

Gombah sleeping in his favorite room….

 

He has more toys than we do, and a wonderful contraption the size of a Frisbee, with a changeable cork board which he attacks with a vengeance to keep his claws sharp.    Sometimes he sits on it and whacks the ball attached to it or sometimes lays down and naps on it  He loves when we occasionally put catnip on it.   It is his favorite possession.

Although he is aggressive with his toy,  he is the most gentle of cats, and wraps his body around yours to cuddle. He especially likes to cuddle with Nello and still sleeps on his stomach. I suspect sometimes he is brown-nosing Nello (to let him stay in the house) although his nose is pink.

Yes, we let him keep his claws.   It’s for protection if he ever finds himself outside by accident. He has never scratched or clawed our leather furniture. I think that Nello probably sat him down and gave him the rules of the house. I also suspect that Nello speaks Italian to him and the cat understands it. The cat never jumps on tables or counters and turns his nose up at table food. He is the best behaved cat I have ever had and don’t all cat lovers say the same thing?

We had a pet door installed to our adjoining screened-closed in porch, complete with many plants, and Gombah spends many hours in this room, his favorite room, most likely reliving his experiences of once having been an outdoor cat.   This pet door is one of the best things we purchased for the cat.  He spends 50% of his time on the porch where the windows slide up so he has the full effect of being outside – only separated by screens.

He watches Nello garden from his chair on the porch, and Nello brings him fresh grass from outside to chew on.  We even grew seeded cat grass in pot so that Gombah would have his own stash.

Like humans, who take in more calories than they burn, Gombah, whom we spoiled and doted on, put on added weight more than he should have ~ having had the luxury of a feeding contraption where he could graze during the day. He was a nibbler and visited the feeding station more than he should have and was approaching about 15 pounds when he first showed signs of diabetes. Coupled with his obesity (the vet’s word, not mine, I loved him round) and his lack of exercise, his disease became apparent while we were on vacation one tragic year.  TBContinued…..Chaper 5.

© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved. div id=”counter24″>

Gombah the Cat is Attacked ~ Twice………Chapter 3

Gombah2

We had received warnings that coyotes were in our area; how could this be? We lived in a built-up suburban area 13 miles from New York City and there were coyotes in our sparse woods?   Yes, they were, and one day, Gombah was injured by one.  It wasn’t a large injury, but it involved a trip to the vet, x-rays, antibiotics and follow-up visits to the tune of $500. When he recovered, he was anxious to get outside again, but having become over-protective and nurturing caregivers, we very reluctantly let him go.

Not long afterwards, he was attacked again, this time more seriously. He became infectious, and involved another trip to the vet, more x-rays, antibiotics and follow-ups, and another $500. The vet suggested that if we wanted to keep him as a pet, that we should consider making him a full-time indoor cat.

The vet had explained about the dangers of outdoor cats. He could suffer another wild-life attack or disabling cat fights, fleas, and/or ticks. Cat collars which do not provide stretch releases have killed many cats who literally get hung up on them. There was always the danger of him getting hit by a car crossing the road. There are diseases they can carry indoors, like ringworm or ticks that may transmit Lyme’s Disease.

He also told us that the average life span of a totally outdoor cat is about a year and a half, while a totally indoor cat is expected to live upwards of 15 years. And there are diseases  for which there are not effective vaccines for such as Feline Leukemia and Feline Infectious Peritonitis. We also knew and had read that cats are subject to mean persons who can poison them or abuse them. We went home and thought about all these things.

This second time when we brought him home from the vet, Gombah was “allowed”  to come upstairs from his apartment where we could watch him better; and we referred to his home-care as ‘intensive care”. We had spent some weary days watching Gombah cuddled in the corner shivering from his infection and sleeping almost all the time. One day, I went in to check on him and saw Nello covering him with a blanket.   Another day, I was surprised to see Gombah napping and covered nicely on a bed in the guest room.  Nello had been sold on pets in the house.  We decided together that we were quite attached to this pet and Gombah officially became an indoor cat.

I was surprised to see him in the guest room swaddled in blankets.

Once he mended, Gombah was not very happy at first that we would not let him go outside. He would sit by the deck sliding door which was the most used door to the outside. It was also the door where in the past Gombah liked to display his hostages before he let them go.

He would look outside and then turn just his head with the most pitiful of looks and then meow so sorrowfully, I swear he had tear-filled eyes. This went on for about 2 or 3 weeks and then he tried the resentment treatment. He would act cool and aloof, but he is so lovable, he couldn’t keep it up for long.  And he would look outside less and less.

For awhile, he did get lost sometimes on our bay window which was filled with plants; it was probably like being outside for him 🙂

Now he was settled in and Nello never again said, “He can’t come in the house.” He and Nello resumed their afternoon naps on the couch and do so to this day.  TBContinued….Chapter 4

© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved. div id=”counter24″>

 

 

Gombah Becomes a Traveler………Chapter 2

 

Gombah thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors and Nello’s company. He loved prancing around outside and monitoring the garden, chasing chipmunks, squirrels and anything that moved. I would watch him from the deck running a marathon around the yard and dashing up a tree and down again – so high, I would imagine having to call the fire department. Occasionally, he would bring us a mouse dangling from his mouth or a bird flapping it’s wings but then he would meow and in doing so, would drop his prey which would run or fly away in much haste. Gombah was on the chase again.

 Gombah dropped & saved this poor bird when he meowed.

By the time that first winter approached, I was retired, too, from a downsizing and we decided to spend it in our condo in North Carolina by the beach. Gombah experienced his first travel venture which was 12 hours in the car. And he was a trooper.  It was in December and cooler that year than we expected.  We decided that instead of the expensive ‘house’ we bought for him to sleep on the screened porch, Gombah would be allowed in the condo.   “Temporarily”, added Nello. “And only when we are down here”.

At first, Gombah, was hesitant to do anything in the condo. He obviously knew that Nello was not comfortable having him inside. He didn’t know where to sit or lie down. Nello liked to take afternoon naps on the couch, so he patted his chest for the cat to join him – since he didn’t want him on the furniture. (Nello was still not sure if the condo was the same as our home and if the cat should be in it). The cat did not hesitate and so began the afternoon naps of the cat sleeping on Nello’s chest. And a strong bond was formed.

The ‘boys’ taking their afternoon siesta.  They became buddies that winter. I would remind Nello that although it was not our home, it was a home dwelling for us and the cat was in it. Nello said that we had no choice – “It is cold on the screened porch” and another milestone was reached.  He cared about the cat.   But, when we went home, I was reminded once again, “The cat goes back outside.”

After that, once we were home again, when the weather was bad, Gombah was allowed to come in through the breeze-way’s side door to sleep in the warm basement which we referred to as his ‘apartment.’ At first, Gombah was wary of going down in the basement, but became accustomed to his bed down there, and the nice warmness, but still avoided coming up into the house.  I’m suspicious that Nello reminded him from time to time in no uncertain terms that this was temporary. The cat was OK with this but as soon as it turned warm, he slept outside again at night. This cycle continued for a couple of years.  Summers in New Jersey and winters at the condo in North Carolina.

Gombah was getting to be a seasoned traveler. Every spring when we returned home from North Carolina , Gombah was happy to be in his outside element honing up on his predator skills and terrifying the smaller population. He was especially fond of chipmunks and we frequently spied him dangling one from his mouth in mother-cat fashion. The chipmunk’s heart could be seen pounding from his chest and we would say, “Let him go, Gombah.” Gombah would meow in return (probably in protest) and the chipmunk would escape with Gombah on his tail. He knew every chipmunk hole in the yard and would sit by them for hours waiting for them to come out to chase them. Gompah had a good two years in his beloved yard and woods. At heart, he loved being an outside cat.     (TBContinued.. Gombah the Cat is Attacked ~ Twice ~ Chapter 3)

© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved.

/a>

Gombah, Our Cat……….Chapter One


We all have special people in our lives who affect us in some way – emotionally, or memorably. Their specialness brings us joy at remembrance of the memory, experiences or any impact they bring to our lives. We’re lucky if we have more than one such person and blessed if there are many.

If we add pets to the statistics of memorable joys, a recent National Pet Owners Survey reveals there are over 90 million pet cats in the United States purring in 69 million households. I’m sure you all know people who love their pets and treat them like family members. Lots of love, joy and remembrances abound here. And we all announce that we have the ‘smartest cat.”

I had pets all my life. Many stray cats and discarded dogs all found their way to our home coaxed along by my siblings or me. Not everyone has had pets in their life. My husband is Sicilian, and his culture is quite different in that it frowns on “bringing animals into the home”. Many Sicilians believe animals are best left outside ~ animals are a helpful aid out in the countryside, but not welcome within the home walls.

Fully understanding this concept when my husband retired, I nevertheless wondered if he would enjoy the company of an outdoor cat while he worked outside in his garden which is his passion. He spends a lot of time in his gardens.   Since I was still working, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have a pet to keep him company. It so happened that right after his retirement, there was a post on the company bulletin board that a one-year old male cat was up for adoption. He was an ‘outdoor cat’, who was also used to people and affectionate.  Perfect.

He could keep my husband company while I was at work all day. My husband, Nello, was surprised when I came home, pet carrier in hand, with a beautiful tabby cat with black and white markings. His eyes were deep emerald green outlined by black markings. A very handsome cat, indeed.

Nello, was less than thrilled when I told him the cat would be his garden companion. His first welcoming remark to the cat and me was, “He can’t come into the house”. I assured him that this was an outdoor cat, used to the outdoors, and happy to be so and would not be invited inside.

Nello scowled, reluctantly put him in the garage and said, “Leave him in here or he’ll run away”. This was a good sign. He didn’t want the cat to run away. The cat immediately flew to the beams in the garage and we did not really see him again for a week or so, but knew he was in there. The food was eaten, the water dish was emptied and the kitty litter was used every day. There was no sign of affection or people-oriented traits. There was no sign of the cat, period.

After the week went by, Nello said, “Now he can go outside”. It had taken a long time to convince the cat to go into the garage – but it wasn’t hard to convince the cat he could go outside. He didn’t hesitate and flew out the door. We did not see him for days. But the food we left outside was always eaten and the water disappeared. Just like in the garage time.

I almost forgot that we had the cat because we never saw him. Life went on and the food and water always disappeared. Nello would occasionally mention that the ‘dog followed him around in the garden’ and of course, he meant the cat.

About a month later, I received a chatty phone call. It was such a beautiful spring day, I went outside on the patio and sat down on the bottom step. While I was chatting, the cat appeared. I was sitting down and on his level about 10 feet away. He started to eat, but instead, stared at me and moved away from his food. He meowed at me. It was so startling to actually see him and then hear him meow for the first time, that at first thought he had to be hurt or had contracted rabies and was rabid.    Why else would he approach me?

He started to prance and dance around – coming two steps toward me and then retreating two steps. He continued ‘dancing’ and I thought that there was something very wrong with him. I hung up the phone and went to the front of the house and he followed me. I went to the front steps and sat down, again on his level. He kept up his ‘dance’ and meowed. Did he have rabies? I had copies of all his papers and he was given all his shots. A little afraid myself of what he would do, I hesitantly put out my hand to him and he came closer.

He was as hesitant as I, but ventured closer and closer. I left my arm and hand extended and he came closer and jumped up into my hand with his head; I petted him.

He stayed awhile while I kept petting him. He apparently had been socialized in his former surroundings and was use to being petted. When Nello appeared, I said, “Look who’s getting friendly” and Nello, not surprisingly said, “He can’t come into the house.”

The days turned into fall and Nello was in the yard a lot digging up his dahlia bulbs and the cat was right behind him. When he wasn’t following Nello, he was leaping in the air – literally – and running up trees and enjoying his freedom or tormenting the smaller residents of the garden.    He would even venture up to the deck and indulge us in playing with some ‘toys’ from his former life.

I heard Nello call out to him one day – he called him Compare. Compare is Italian, means Godfather and with the Sicilian dialect, it sounds like Goom bah’.

The cat was named. This was another good sign.     (TBContinued  ~ Chapter 2)

© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved.

 

Give a Little Love from your Heart

 

Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them,and they bless you, the giver.” Barbara De Angelis

How do YOU communicate kindness and love?

No, we’re not talking about greeting cards here. Although, Hallmark makes a good profit on all those cards most of us send to loved ones. Just for the greeting card record, here is a list of the top 5 holidays, excluding Christmas, for sending greeting cards:

#1: Valentine’s Day -144 million greeting cards (It’s also the 2nd most celebrated holiday in the U.S. after Christmas)

#2: Mother’s Day – 133 million cards

#3: Father’s Day – 94  million cards

#4; Easter – 54 million cards

#5: Halloween – 20 million cards

Sending greeting cards can express the card’s sentiments for you – but you can communicate love and kindness in other ways. Here are some ways to give the best you have because you care.

1) Visit a friend in need, who could really use a visit and LISTEN to what he or she is telling you. Just listening, without interrupting, is one of the best ways to care about someone. Don’t offer advice or opinions. Just listen.

2) If someone tells you a juicy tidbit of gossip, don’t repeat it. Let it die with you. Gossip is hurtful and serves no purpose to repeat it. The old adage, ‘Don’t believe anything you hear and half of what you see’ is a good one.

3) Make a phone call to an ill, homebound person and just say hello. It will mean much to them and willl uplift them. Better yet, stop in and see them – and bring them a treat; a flower or a sweet. Or bring along some home-made chicken soup. The real treat is seeing you and having company.

4) Help out a frazzled mom and offer to take her kids to the library or some other function. It’s an hour or two out of your time; it will mean the world to her.

5) Visit one of the nursing homes and bring some travel toiletries or small gifts. Some of the live-ins there may not have had a visitor like you for years.

6) Listen patiently when your next-door senior neighbor complains yet again about barking dogs. It may be the only communication he has had all day.

7) Give the woman in church who is celebrating her 80th birthday – a hug. She may not have been hugged in a long time. It’s a gift she will remember. Elderly seniors who live alone are usually in need of affection and hugs.

8) Write a heartfelt letter to someone who has done a kindness for you. Don’t email or call your thank you. Write him or her a note or letter – hand-written messages are becoming a rarity – and are special to the receivers.

9) Invite a recent widow or widower over for dinner. They are not used to eating alone and will welcome the invitation.

10) Check your pantry for extra cans that may be expiring in the next months. Donate them to a Helping Hand or Outreach program. These organizations pass foodstuffs quicker than they will expire. You may end up throwing them away — and someone will be extremely grateful for them.

11) Surprise a special child or your own or grandchild and plan a drop-in lunch visit at their school. Watch their eyes light up when they see you walk in. Small children thrive when you show them special attention.

12) Valentines come in packages and contain just a happy greeting – no mushiness. Buy a couple of packs and send them to everyone you know who is alone, divorced or widowed. Valentine’s Day can be a lonely one for singles and unattached folks. It will uplift them. And you, too.

Small acts of kindness may be the best that you can give.  – it costs very little when you care and share your love.

© Marie Coppola,  January  2017 revised  

 


Come See For Yourself ~ The Good Life in Southport, NC

 

Nestled on the coast of North Carolina, between the bustling city of Wilmington and the golf oasis and cultural center of Myrtle Beach, is a small fishing village called Southport.

This lovely, historic town located on Cape Fear River, blends small-town charm with a tourist’s delight. The center of this picturesque town with its centuries-old live oak trees, with hanging moss, looks down upon the River, giving you a panoramic view not only of the River but also of Bald Head Island and its famous lighthouse as you shop or dine or stroll.

There is a large variety of boutiques, antiques and one-of-a-kind stores, and memorable lunches or dinners where culinary delights are offered. The Atlantic Ocean is minutes away on Caswell Beach and Oak Island and there are numerous attractions with which you can fill a day or week or more.    .

Southport is a great getaway from the winter doldrums or wintry weather; the average temperature in January and February ranges from the 40s to 60s requiring a light jacket or sweater. It is usually sunny. In all the time we’ve been coming here, there were snow flurries twice in 10 years. One time, it covered the lawns and by the time I grabbed my camera and drove to the beach to capture the beach covered with snow – it’s a 3 minute drive – it was all gone and the sun was out.

Having been a winter resident of Southport the past ten years and loving every minute of it, we have visited and dined in most of the local establishments. We love this area so much that we bought a house and moved close by. We’re 40 minutes south ~ the weather is the best thing ~ winter or summer.  Along with low taxes.

Southport offers many state-of-the-art golf facilities -4 top notch courses at St. James Plantation http://www.stjamesplantation.com/ – 2 miles away from Southport. There’s also golfing on Bald Head Island, a unique island lifestyle.

 can only reach Bald Head island by a 20-minute Ferry ride. Daytrip: Cost is $16 per person round trip. Children 12-under $8.00. Once there, since there are no automobiles allowed, you can rent a golf cart, which is the main means of transportation on the island. You can spend a lovely day discovering the island, which has many attractions, including North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, Old Baldy, at the Smith Island Museum of History and climb to the top for a breathtaking view of the surrounding area’s outstanding natural environment. Best restaurants here: River Pilot Cafe (best salmon) http://www.southporttimes.com/riverpilotcafe.html or the Bald Head Island Club ~  http://www.bhiclub.net/Club/Scripts/Home/home.asp

A short ride from Southport is the Orton Plantation, an azalea delight in the spring; an old plantation where you can discover the grounds and marshlands – there may be alligators around, so do this in groups! I did see a baby alligator sunning one day.

Right outside of Wilmington – about a 20-25 minute ride from Southport, are the famous Battleships. The USS North Carolina, a WW2-era US Navy battleship, now rests near the mouth of the Cape Fear River where she serves as a floating museum and war memorial.

Also in Wilmington – you can tour the active EUE Screen Gems film studio where movies are made – many films are made here, including television’s Dawson’s Creek series. On November 12, 2009, Gov. Perdue signed an Executive Order that will help maintain North Carolina’s competitive edge in the global film industry. This Order reestablished the North Carolina Film Council, at a ceremony at EUE Screen Gems studios in Wilmington, home to the largest studio lot east of California. We’ve been to tour there several times and met actors and producers who show you around the sets. If you have film-acting or producer/director ambitions, or want to sign up for bit parts ~ or just tour the facilities, it is a fascinating place to be.

Recent major motion pictures filmed in the state include “Nights in Rodanthe,” (author Nicholas Sparks is from NC) “Leatherheads” and “The Secret Life of Bees.” The NC film industry is also home to the CW Network’s One Tree Hill TV series, as well as hundreds of commercial and industrial productions each year throughout the state.   http://euescreengems.com/

You can also take another ferry ride – Southport Ferry – to Fort Fisher (a great Civil War Museum and NC Aquarium are there) – the ferry departs from a dock located off Moore Street in Southport. Rates for the ferry are: Pedestrians – $1; motorcycles – $3; bicycles – $2; Vehicles depending on size – $5 to $15.

Back in Southport, along the Cape Fear River, there are many fresh seafood restaurants – fresh from the catch – which are picturesque and charming along the winding road of the marina. You can dine outside on the decks while pelicans are perched nearby.   Very close by.   Among our favorites  ~~~~

This restaurant was written up as the best restaurant in Southport.  It looks like an old warehouse on the water and it is called The Provision Company http://www.provisioncompany.com/ . Best shrimp just netted – (25 to a plate) and the best hamburgers. This place is casual and humming – the atmosphere is great and friendly. Don’t let the building fool you.  Pelicans like this place.

We like the Live Oak Cafe – intimate, quaint, separate candle-lit rooms, the food is delicious – not casual. Picture & Info: http://liveoakcafenc.com/

If you like New York style restaurants, this next place is for you – Joseph’s. The owners are from New York ,and Frank Sinatra sings lots of tunes here.  Make reservations, but if you have to wait, you will have a friendly time at the bar meeting all the people from NY, NJ, PA and Michigan – because that’s who all move down here!  This restaurant is on the water, great view inside and dining outside and the Italian food is New York style and delicious.   I recommend this place and it is moderately priced.   Picture & info: (put your sound on for this one. – Frankie’s singing) http://www.josephsitalianbistro.com/

Some more places:    http://www.insiderpages.com/s/NC/Southport/Restaurants

Can you tell we love it down here?   Come on down!   We’ll do lunch or dinner on the water.

© Marie Coppola,  Updated November 2011; some rights reserved.

 

Richard and Me

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You  by Fran Signorino

The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again.  ~  Erma Bombeck

When I tell people that I’ve been “doing Richard” for more than 10 years, they look at me funny. My affair with Richard started the way many relationships begin — I was troubled and depressed. My parents had passed away within six months of each other. After that most stressful time, my blood pressure rose from normal to high. My doctor, believing that the condition was temporary, did not feel that I was a candidate for medication. He suggested instead that I exercise — preferably an aerobic exercise — of the low impact variety.

At that time, the last thing I felt like doing was jumping around. But because I am a lover of dance, I purchased a “swing along” with Richard Simmons tape and so began my daily encounters with him.

Richard’s screaming and carrying-on irritated me somewhat on bad days, but his movements and “c’mon, get up — you can do it — I know you can” soon had me infatuated. Hey, you can’t have everything in a relationship. On the plus side, I didn’t have to travel back and forth to a gym; I didn’t have to force myself to get up early to walk. I could meet him on both our terms. And in my own home. I quickly learned his routines as if I were appearing in a Broadway show. He was a steady and driving teacher.

I even got a perm during this period to save me time not fussing with my hair. Alas, it came out a little too curly, and lo and behold, now we looked alike. I had Richard Simmons’ hair. Not by choice, but there he was looking back at me in the mirror.

The exercise outfits I bought brought me closer to his “look.” My kids started calling me “Richard.”

Within a month, my blood pressure stabilized, although my life did not. My daily workout with Richard helped me vent the stresses piling up each day. It was during one of these “workout” hours, intense on my part, that someone called me on the phone. I answered it, breathing heavily. “I can’t talk now, I’m doing Richard.”

“Scandalous,” the caller replied.

Whenever I answered the phone totally out of breath, my callers would say, “I’ll call you back — you’re doing Richard.” My son gave me a new workout tape for my birthday. He said, “New positions for you and Richard.”

So now Richard and I could move while Sweatin’ to the Oldies, and Dance Your Pants Off! while we were Groovin’ in the House.  And we got down with Tonin’ Downtown.  Richard and I went on company trips and vacations together.  I brought Richard to the shore.  He always wore the same clothes.  We still had matching hairdos.  Richard and I have been together longer than some of my past relationships.

I anticipate his every move and we mutually experience heavy breathing and sweating.  This also beats some of my former relationships. Yes, I admit after all these years, I still “do Richard” and I’m now a grandmother.  He’s always there for me, he’s always in a great mood, he always smiles and boy can he make the moves.

And judging from the assortment of tapes in the stores, it’s been as good for him as it’s been for me.

© Marie Coppola May 28, 2012