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 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