October is Season for Spiders

 

In October around Halloween time, pumpkins and scarecrows appear on people’s doorsteps. Along with these welcome and festive decorations, another prospect of something appearing on your doorstep is something many have a phobia about. Arachnoids, commonly called ’spiders’. Since I, myself, have a horror of these eight-legged arthropods — it is said there are 40,000 different species — isn’t that enough to make a night terror?

Why am I writing about them while I have goose bumps on my arm just thinking about them?  Because I believe in ‘knowing thy enemy’. If you don’t know their habits, you may unexpectedly bump into them with unwanted results.

When we moved to South Carolina, everyone told us that there were a lot of bugs here. This is true. There are bugs here that not only have I never seen before, I still don’t know what some of them are. They are avoided at all costs. Don’t know what it is? — my motto — Don’t go near it and Go away from it.

But the spiders down here grow BIG. Super-size! Nightmare size. We had spiders up north where we lived all our lives, but they were the garden variety, and were seen mostly in the fall when it got cold and they wanted a winter retreat inside. Since the weather is warmer down south longer, the spiders have ample time and choice to pick where they will vacation for the winter. But there’s no room at THIS inn.

I researched spiders before we moved here. Especially southern ones. I wanted to know what was here and what to expect. There is such a thing as having too much knowledge. or too much information {TMI}. Sometimes, what you don’t know won’t hurt you. But there were some very interesting things I learned about spiders and how to live with them {goose bumps again and now I’m scratching}.

As much as I have trouble writing about them, spiders are actually good for the ecological balance – and especially as part of the garden. They help reduce the amount of caterpillars, moths who do damage to trees, and especially those pesty mosquitoes. All spiders are venomous, but most of them lack the fangs to inflict damaging venom to those who have the misfortune to be bitten. Those with fangs and venom are: Brown Recluse, Black Widow {BW} and the fairly new, Brown Widow.

The other thing about the south is that in the morning, you can clean off a porch, veranda or patio or anywhere – and go to the store. When you return, the zealous little octagon-fingered nightmare will have a new home all webbed out in its place. So, at some point, you have to know who are the enemies and whom you allow to be neighbors.

Recently, I almost went face-first into an enormous web in my flower garden. It was an orb web, similar to the web in ‘Charlotte’s Web’. Before my nose touched it, my heart started to pound, realizing that some mega Gigantra Spiderosis –my made-up name — probably made this giant web which was not there the day before. It was like the sci-fi movie kind of spider web. Lo and behold, my fear turned to reality and I was inches away from a ‘banana’ spider– more formally known as nephila clavipes, banana spider of North America. They possess venom similar in nature to the venom of the black widow, but far less potent, making it quite harmless to humans. A bite from a North American banana spider will not result in much more than a welt that will pass within 24 hours. Of course, I did not know this info that before the encounter. Here is a picture and the size compared to a human hand, which definitely and positively is not my hand.

 

banana spider

Needless to say, my heart pounded much more violently and I stood entranced in shock for a several seconds and then beat it into the house yelling and screaming — my M.O. for when I see a spider and everyone gets on red alert. Someone responded and was ready to kill it, and I said to catch it instead – I was totally, morbidly fascinated that something so scary lived right in my back yard. It was caught and put in a Tupperware bowl with lid and put in the garage so I could peruse it when my blood pressure resumed it’s normalcy.

The internet can be a wonderful thing or it can open doors where you’ve never been and I learned all about the banana spider. They are harmless, they are very helpful in gardens, they like to build their webs close to the house. {Great}. For those of you who prefer the book info: “N. clavipes banana spiders have elongated bodies that resemble a banana in shape and coloring, beautifully bright yellow and black. The males are about half the size of females, and dark colored. Females grow quite large with a body length of about 1.1 inches {33 cm}. North American banana spiders prefer sunny areas and tend to like tall plants or trees. They will often spin a web across a walkway or trail, spanning several feet. The web of the North American banana spider is orb-shaped, golden, and is stronger than most spiders’ webs. In fact its silk is stronger than comparable threads of Kevlar or steel.” They are unlikely to find themselves indoors either as adults or as hatchlings. 🙂

And then I read that they are so NOT aggressive; that you could even lean into them and press against them and they may not bite even then. Furthermore, if they do bite, it is very rare and quite harmless, and I relaxed. A little. Well, somewhat. Enough so, that I went into the garage to see the monster and this was about 5 hours later. She was still alive and sitting there so I told the spider-catcher to let her go back into the garden. He did just that. I was in the house behind locked doors, of course, and he said that when he let it go – the spider scurried away as fast as she could scamper, probably to tell the Banana Family that she just saw the biggest bugs ever and they captured her in a Tupperware bowl. She is still out there making more orb webs, which are quite spectacular if you don’t think about what’s on them.

Now, my family tells me that black widow spiders, too, are helpful in keeping bugs in your yard under control, but guess what? I would wipe one of those BW’s out as fast as I could. The banana spider {who now makes her orb web far enough from the house but still in view} is big enough that she will undoubtedly keep my yard and the yards on either side of our street free of pesty bugs.   And probably to the next street.

Marie Coppola © Revised October 2018

Still Smoking? Will Smoking Affect Your Health Insurance?

CDC Statistics

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths.

Nearly 23 percent of high school students use tobacco products, and more than 90 percent of those teens smoke cigarettes, cigars, hookahs or pipes, according to the report from the U.S. CDC.

More than 15 of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (15.5%) currently smoke cigarettes. This means an estimated 37.8 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes.  More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.

Current smoking has declined from 20.9% (nearly 21 of every 100 adults) in 2005 to 15.5% (more than 15 of every 100 adults) today. The proportion of ever smokers who had quit increased; however, current smoking prevalence did not change significantly today.

COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without even knowing it.

Most smokers will ask “Will smoking tobacco increase my health insurance rates?”

Yes. Smoking will certainly raise your insurance rates. There are certainly numerous data available that proves that smokers are costing insurance companies more money than their non-smoking counterparts. Health insurance companies use studies and data to determine an individual’s health insurance rate. The risks presented by a client decide their premiums or rates. Those with lifestyle, health, or other issues that may cause them to need more expensive health care procedures at a later point in life will be charged with higher premiums to balance this risk.

Insurance companies do not charge smokers with a higher rate simply because they will cost them more throughout their lives. There are also a lot of studies which suggest that smokers cost the nation a great amount of money annually. With every pack of cigarettes smoked, the country pays more than $7 in the form of health care costs, lowered work productivity, and more. This cost does not include the 500,000 premature deaths caused by cigarette smoking annually. Generally, smokers cost the nation an estimated $160 billion each year.”  Ref:   From Vista Health Insurances Blog

Although many smokers have quit, there are many more who find it hard to do so. Smoker statistics encompass less-educated, rural, and lower-income Americans. Historically and today, many teenagers smoke to look cool to their peers, and control their weight. And like many ex-smokers, teens engage in a long-standing habit that is difficult to break.

Down south, where tobacco is a staple product, smoking is being curtailed but it is more prevalent in public  than by our northern neighbors. But it’s slowly changing. New bans in restaurants, bars, inside and outside of city offices and institutions, non-smoking areas are popping up all over.

If you still smoke, have you tried or wanted to quit? If so, if you are like most folks, you have probably tried more than once to end your smoking habit. Maybe even twice, three times or even more. Smoking is one of the hardest habits to break. It is an addiction both psychologically and physically. If you are smoker and desire to quit, you have to be the one who wants to. You can’t quit for your wife or mother, or husband, or girlfriend, or boss. You have to really want to quit.

Here’s one way to break the habit if you don’t want to quit cold turkey. It works for a lot of people. What is it? You purposely decrease the amount you smoke and the times (habit) when you smoke.

Here’s how that works. You pick a day when you are ready to start your quitting. Count how many cigarettes you habitually smoke a day and when and keep a journal of the amount and habit-time situations.

Say you smoke 20 cigarettes or one pack a day. The day you are ready to start your quit program, take 10 cigarettes out of a pack and ration yourself through the day to smoke only those 10. To non-smokers, this seems like a lot. To a smoker – it is hard work to cut their supply in half. Cut out the early morning one and the ones in your car. When you do feel like having a cigarette, don’t light up right away — tell yourself you’ll have it in 5 minutes. Keep decreasing and delaying. It helps break your ‘smoke habit times’ as well as decreasing the nicotine addiction in your body.

When you are smoking ten cigarettes a day and not wigging out, reduce that down to 5 or 3 cigarettes a day. These will be ones you will crave the most. Cut out the after meal smokes or the ‘habit’ of smoking after meals will be stronger when you do quit for good. You’re trying to break the psychological ‘when’ as well as the numbers. You will eventually quit.

Try not to mingle with your ‘smoking buddies’ while you are doing this way of quitting. Temptations of social smoking increase with a glass of wine in your hands. Eventually the 3 to 5 cigarettes will sustain you. The day will come, depending on your will and readiness, when you’re down to 3, 2 or 1 cigarette a day – and it’s easier now and only you can decide what day that is – to give them up completely with little withdrawal.

Don’t rationalize that you are ‘smoking much less’ — it’s still smoking. You can do this. Others have quit this way and have never gone back.  Join them.

Make this the year you can say, “I gave up smoking”.

 

© Marie Coppola, Revised July 2018

 

A Penny for your Thoughts ~ A Breast Cancer Survivor


This past summer my husband and I attended a funeral for the mother of a business friend of ours. We had never met his mother, but enjoyed her son’s business expertise through many years.

We are no strangers to funerals and although we’ve been to many of them, I was not prepared for the inspirational eulogy given by her son and his sister.

The church was crowded with many members of their deceased mother’s family and many of her friends and neighbors. And it turned out to be a memorable one for them, too, with the thoughts that were loving shared by her children.

Their mother was known as Penny, but there was history about her that very few people in the church ever knew even though they had known her and befriended her for many years.

Penny’s legacy of instilling the importance of Faith, Family and Friends and dedicating oneself to them, showed through her children’s loving reflection of her. Although, she was “never in the best of health”, she was very private about her health issues, and many visitors to the church that day, were surprised to learn of her story.

At age 25, Penny was not only pregnant with her second child, but she also had cancer. After she gave birth, the cancer spread throughout her chest and she had surgery with a 2% survival chance. She did survive; doctors then predicted the best she could hope for with one lung, and a heart doing double time and massive radiation therapy (62 primitive radiation treatments) was to see her children make their first communions – maybe 6 years. Penny vowed she would live to see them married and a testament to her faith is that she made a wonderful life for her family for the next 52 years.

A true caregiver for serving others, Penny chose to be a Registered Nurse because she felt the calling to help others and her illness strengthened that calling. She never wanted anyone to know she was sick herself, because she never wanted to receive compassion, but only to give it. By helping others, she did not have to think about her own health and gave her the freedom from her own issues that supported her Faith.

Her favorite and most fulfilling activity was administering Holy Communion to the sick at the hospital. She had a special sense and comfort for those that were in pain ~ for those in the hospital and also with family, friends and neighbors. A friend mentioned after the service that Penny would show up after she had surgery and stay overnight sleeping on the couch to make sure she was okay through the night.

Penny raised two children and worked as a nurse to pay off her medical bills, took care of her husband and her parents during their illness. She survived malignant breast cancer another 3 times. She never said, “Why me?”

When Penny left this world at age 77, she requested no visitors at the hospital and no viewing of her casket; she only wanted survivors to remember the good times. She loved her friends dearly, but never wanted anyone to see her sick lest they feel sorry for her. She felt she was blessed with more time on earth than she ever expected. Her retirement to the Myrtle Beach area – a retirement she never expected to have, was ‘the best time of her life.’ She enjoyed every day like it was a ‘free pass’. She felt she was ‘blessed beyond measure’.

Penny’s life walk of Faith, Family and Friends certainly shone through her son and her daughter’s memories of her. She walked the walk and talked the talk of never taking life for granted and her children will ‘forever be richer because of it’. They learned greatly about effort and high standards, commitment, and especially her wish for the mass we all attended — a beginning of her new journey.

I never met Penny, but I am profoundly affected by her walk in life, the love she shared with her husband, the lessons she taught her children, the unselfish commitment to her friends and patients. And especially that she never said, “Why me”.

Marie Coppola © Revised October 2012

the view from the womb


 A short while ago, our area had several dogs that were found dead floating in a water area. Their legs were bound with duct tape. A short time later, another one was discovered in the same way, but was fished out while still alive and brought to the shelter.

The dog is expected to make a full recovery, although she is being monitored for brain swelling as well as more damage from abuse. When the dog was initially brought in, the body swelling led shelter officials to believe she was pregnant. Her spleen was removed during surgery and significant bruising indicated severe kicking or beating.

Eventually, leads led to an arrest ~ they were family dogs and not wanted anymore. The community was shocked and outraged; the shelter experienced a high increase in adoptions soon afterwards.

Although this is a hideous and unacceptable account of ending life this way for these animals, IF it happened every day, eventually, we would become desensitized to it. We may even get to the point where we might remark that there were thousands and millions of these animals experiencing this kind of end of life every week all over the world. We may even get to the point where we may consider ridding of our own pets in this way if we did not want our pets any more.

You are surprised at that?   Hasn’t it happened with abortions?

Aren’t we getting desensitized about how many people have abortions and why they do? Don’t we all know people who had abortions? Some have them because they ‘didn’t want a girl’ or ‘I can only handle twins, but not triplets’. Some have multiple abortions and use it as a form of birth control.

Where is our shock and outrage over that way to end life? Although they have not pinpointed at what month the fetus feels pain from an abortion, it was uncertain whether a fetus experiences pain during the first trimester of development, when most abortions occur, Recent studies have shown that the fetus most certainly does feel pain by the end the second trimester, when late-term and partial birth abortions are performed. Since general anesthesia is not used in most of these procedures, the fetus most likely feels pain during the procedure …..and I won’t go into the procedure; it is horrendous.

The fact that fetuses can feel pain is really quite obvious. Since newborn babies can feel pain, fetuses can feel pain. There is no pain switch which suddenly switches to “on” during the journey through the birth canal. The only question is when do fetuses feel pain? The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act places a fetus’ ability to feel pain at 20 weeks from fertilization, about half way through pregnancy. Twenty weeks is a conservative enough estimate that even some prominent abortion supporters have conceded its reliability. By the way, at 20 weeks, the unborn recognizes its mother’s voice.

Many pro-life doctors maintain that fetuses can feel pain by 8 weeks after fertilization (about the time most surgical abortions take place). Pro-abortion doctors tend to argue that fetuses don’t experience pain until the very end of pregnancy. Whose testimony is more reliable ~~~ those who have a financial in the availability of abortion or those who don’t? Ethically speaking, who is going to be less likely to lie, those who believe dismembering living human beings is a legitimate medical practice or those who don’t?

A national statistic: 1,600,000 babies are aborted in these United States every year. Per day, that’s 4,383; per hour, that’s 183; per minute, there are 3.

Are we becoming desensitized to ending life in the womb?  Where is our shock and outrage?

© Marie Coppola August 2012 – some rights reserved

Ref: Newsmax.com

The Wonderful Italian Wedding


 L’amore e per sempre – Love is Forever  

And parents of the happy couple hope it is forever – it can be a costly, extravagant affair and is expected to last forever. Happily, there are fewer Italian divorces.

Usually preceded by an engagement party, the bridal shower, and the rehearsal dinner, the wedding can be affair of 100 to 300 guests. Italian families are large and may be why the bridal parties are, too. it is not unusual to have 8 to 12 attendants, plus 2 flower girls and a ring bearer.

After the stretch limo, Mercedes or horse-driven carriages to the place of reception, the guests are greeted for cocktails in a Monaco-hall type setting resendent with enormous crystal chandeleirs, marble columns and floor to ceiling mirrors. Finger Hors deoveres are served along with cocktails.

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The formal dinner is served shortly thereafter, a 5 or 6 course meal, starting with a room filled with appetizers. The appetizers range from fresh fruit, shrimp, assorted tuna, shrimp, crabmeat, egg and varied salads, along with the familiar italian delicacies; ricotta stuffed eggplant, meatballs and sausages, pasta dishes, and varied fish dishes, mussels, crab legs, lobster tails, scallops, calamari and many more. There is a bar set up with different mixed drinks, champagne, wines,and liquers.

When dinner is announced, the guests move to the formal dinner room. Dinner usually begins with soup, a minestrone or wedding soup, followed by a salad. The next course is always a pasta course. The main course comes next, your entree choice usually of chicken, salmon, or prime rib.

The band or DJ is already playing when you come into the hall, and continue playing while dinner is eaten. Danciing is popular and everyone dances.

After socializing, dancing and the traditional first dances, cake cutting and garter removal and boquet throwing, the hour is near midnight when the dessert room double doors, also know as the Venetian Room or Viennese Table are opened. The same large room that carried all the appetizers are gone and in their place are tables and stations of every fresh fruit – fruit is a favorite Italian dessert along with fancy cakes, tortes, sherbets, cannoli, cream puffs, puddings, ice cream bars, Italian cookies, tira misui, cream and fruit pies, including the sliced wedding cake. There are coffee urns and an expresso bar both caffineated and decafeffatee. Lattes, capaccinos and Irish coffees are served here also.

When the guests return to their tables, there are highly anticipated mounds of fancy home-made Italian cookies, decorated with tulle and fancy papers – they are the most popular and quickly consumed or carried home for the next day.

One Italian tradition is for the newlyweds to give a wrapped favor gift to the guests as they present the couple with their money gift. Almost 100% of wedding gifts are money gifts. When the guests presents the envelope which is placed in a money bag on the bride’s wrist and usually matches the wedding dress, they get a gift in return. These are lovely gifts, sometimes figurines from Italy, many in crystal. Sometimes it could be a bowl or vase, wine glasses or even an expresso serving gift of 6.

One wedding we attended was a Cinderella-inspired wedding. The gift to the guests was a Svardoniski crystal coach in sterling silver. Before the couple left the reception, two white doves were carried in and all the guests were invited to the outside veranda to let the doves go – if they left together, it was a good sign for the couple. They did.

Some weddings have cigar bars with someone from the islands rolling fresh cigars. Others have sushi bars in addition to all the above menus. Many have artists roaming around drawing caricatures for the guests.

Some of these weddings may cost what a grand down payment on a house would be or a high-priced new car. In addition, the parents may also present a honeymoon trip as a gift.

Italian weddings reflect not only the generosity of the families towards the newest ‘family’, but also the closeness of all the relatives who partake. For all the grandiosity and splendor they project, the family love in toasts, remembrances, hugs affection and multiple toasts of good wishes are extremely high. Auguri!!

Marie Coppola October 2012

 

What You Need to Know About Eye Floaters

 

Just when you think you know everything about health happenings, something else ‘floats’ by. What you need to know about floaters in your eyes may save your eyesight…..

What are floaters? Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous which is a clear gel-like fluid on the inside of your eye. They are more noticeable in a bright light or sunlight and look like little dots darting about when you roll your eyes around.

Although they appear to be in front of you, they are actually shadows from inside your eye recast from the retina. They appear as small dots, circles, lines or even cloudy cobwebs. Sometimes you get a perception that a bug or a movement is in front of you, when actually, it is a floater.

Who gets floaters? Many floaters are harmless and you can get use to them over time. They require no treatment or surgery. If you have floaters, and suddenly get new ones, you need to have an eye examination.

Do floaters ever cause problems? Yes, they can. In middle age, the vitreous gel starts to thicken and shrink. As the vitreous pulls away from the back wall of the eye, it causes what is called ‘a posterior vitreous detachment. In doing so, it cases floaters to appear in your eyes.

This vitreous detachment is common in persons who:

are nearsighted;

have undergone cataract operations;

have had YAG laser eye surgery;

have had eye inflammation.

When are floaters a serious indication of possible eye problems?

When the vitreous detaches, it may cause floaters or flashes that may be symptoms of a tear in your retina. If it is not treated as soon as possible, the retina may detach from the back of your eye. The only treatment for a detached retina is surgery (laser).

Flashes that look like flashing lights or lightning streaks (stars) can be experienced as we grown older. If they suddenly appear, contact your ophthalmologist immediately to make sure your retina has not been torn.

Always contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible to be checked if: one new floater suddenly appears; you see sudden flashes of light; you notice loss of side vision.

If a torn retina goes unchecked or untreated, it could result in a loss of vision.

This article is informational only, and not intended for self-diagnosis in lieu of medical advice and treatment. If you are having symptoms that are urgent in nature, please call 911 or your local medical emergency line. If you have symptoms that are not urgent but are of concern, please seek qualified medical advice.

© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved.

Gombah today! He’s a Happy Cat …Chapter 10

 

Like most pet owners, our family has settled in to be good housekeepers for our cat, Gombah. He lives quite nicely and enjoys a pampered life. He is fed first in the morning, after his dishes have been cleaned. Nello, who didn’t want him in the house, cleans out the litter box every day which is kept on the adjoining porch. That area is called ‘Gombah’s apartment’, since he lounges in there most of the time. He has 24/7 access to this room, through the special cat door we bought for him. The porch abounds in many plants and warm throw rugs. (There are dual fans for hot days).   He has pet cushions on all the chairs and a stash of ‘cat grass’ for snacks.

Nearby is his grooming table, and yes, Nello does most of the brushing each morning before we ALL breakfast. The grooming is essential as cats do not groom like they did when they were younger and it keeps his soft rabbit-feel fur clean, soft, free of tangles and dander.   And less hair all over the house.

After grooming and a few petting marathons, we ALL breakfast in the breakfast nook.  Gombah eats only 40% protein food due to his diabetes, with a few catnip treat bites thrown in.  He looks forward to Saturdays when he gets ‘beef with gravy’.

After breakfast, Gombah retires to the porch to meditate looking through the panorama windows, ‘his’ backyard to make sure no creatures are evading his territory. Not that he would or could do anything about it. Birds and nearby ducks from the pond sometimes wander by and Gombah practices his ‘do not walk on my lawn’ meow to them.

Once a salamander evaded his porch space, and Gombah – out of practice with predator skills, ‘pawed’ it, and the salamander latched onto the cat’s paw and his dragon spikes appeared on his back.  Gombah’s blood pressure which normally is about 2 over 1 shot up considerably if the size of his enlarged eyes was an indicator.  He tried to shake the ‘monster’ off to no avail, and I had to intervene.   That was his last stand against the ‘jungle out there on the porch’.

After some romps on his toy contraption, and batting the ball a little, he ‘naps’ on it for awhile before he takes turns in the guest rooms following the sun around the house.

He snacks during the day but stays within his 14 pounds quota and is quite healthy from the 2 shots a day insulin Nello gives him. He and Nello still take their afternoon nap together.

When we first made him an indoor cat, he would fly away whenever anyone visited and not be seen again until they left. Now, he hovers and purrs when anyone ~ even the pest treatment person ~ comes in and Gombah begs to be petted. We suspect he has a Petting Addiction.

Gombah is not without his 15 minutes of fame.   He was shown on a TV news short about indoor/outdoor cats pros and cons and  he was featured on the front page of a local paper’s “neighbor’s pets”.  Of course, he is always, ‘our star’.

He is our joy, companion and housemate. One of the family, he is treated accordingly with respect and good manners and he has rewarded us with the same in return. All pet owners ‘know’ their pets understand everything they say and are humans in disguise. And we are no exception. He is our child in retirement; our kids are jealous and tell us how spoiled he is. They say this while they are petting and cuddling with him. He also has a Cuddling Addiction.

He is 14 now and not only did he we let him come into the house ~ he now owns it.

~~~~~~~The End~~~~~~~

Marie Coppola © Revised February 2014 div id=”counter24″>

Stop Complaining – A Smile is the Lighting System of the Face.


Paul of Tarsus said: “Do you do all things without murmuring and disputing?”

Do you habitually complain, whine, argue and grumble? Do you know anyone who does not? It seems to have become a habit for many of us. By the way, the word “murmurings” refers to the complaints of the Israelites during their wanderings. You may know murmurings as being critical of others, bitterness, bickering, protesting or being unsociable. Pessimism. Negativity. In the New Testament, Paul said: “Do you do all things without murmuring (complaining) and disputing?” 

Have you noticed that people get caught up in heated and unending political discussions? — lots of murmurings going on there. Our change in government has caused new policies and procedures being enacted or offered – big time murmurings at home and the office. Don’t forget the economy or loss of jobs — just mention the price of gas — oh, big time grumble – every time they gas up. Many prices have gone up – layoffs are increasing – homes are foreclosed; there are countless things to whine and be bitter about and protest against. It hasn’t been easy for anyone.

St. Paul in his ministry while traveling and visiting many countries, cities in one of his directives, a Letter to the Philippians (2:14) — “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”.

If you are not a Christian, you may not be aware of Paul of Tarsus, also called Paul the Apostle, who really was a Hellenistic Jew who called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. Along with Peter, the Rock of the Catholic Church and the first ‘Pope’, they were among the most notable of early Christian missionaries.

Paul’s conversion to a follower of Christ is a profound story of faith. He spread Christanity by accounts of his travels which are found as Letters in the New Testament of the Bible and are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live.

What do we do in answer to Paul’s instruction – not to complain in all things. Sometimes it’s hard not to vent. Sometimes it feels good to get it off your chest. It’s hard to comply with the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” How can we tweak that?

We could say, “If you can only say something negative, don’t say anything at all”. Negative begets negative. Positive begets positive. It’s difficult to be positive when things are looking bleak, but does it help to heap more negativity on the pile?

It can become a habit to view everything with a sour outlook which becomes a bitterness and creates more murmurings. There’s little worse than facing each day with doom and gloom. Becoming embittered won’t change the price of gasoline or bring the prices down. It won’t change the politics of the day or create a new healthcare plan.

Listen to yourself and see how you approach these subjects. Do you always say things, “I’m afraid that….” or “I know that things are going to get worse before they get better”…..or “I hate this or I hate that or I hate them or I hate him ….” or “That’s BS” or “they’re stupid” or “they are such a bunch of #&%$’s. And the beat goes on and the words become more heated and your murmurings may keep you from sleeping well at night. Your fear and hate will become self-fulfilling. You are what you think.

We can offset these complaints by offering words of kindness and compassion and hope. Change your heart and you will change your attitude. Kind thoughts and acts will replace your habits of negative thoughts. Negative and Positive thoughts cannot share the same space in your mind. Crowd out those negative ones. God is still in control and local, national and world events are not as hopeless as we make them. Many others before us have lived through challenging times; bad times seem to be cyclical and eventually change from bad to good.

Be an agent for change. They say if you force yourself to smile, you will feel uplifted. ‘A smile is the lighting system of the face’…it sure beats the frowns and growls. Smiles beget smiles. Maybe your co-worker or spouse or friend is tired of ‘murmuring’ or listening to yours, too, and you can make the difference to change that.

Don’t get bogged down by the signs of the times. If you are spiritual, try to maintain a cheerful, willing mind, as we do what God has instructed. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil. 2:14-16a).

In a small village in a lovely setting in Sicily where we visited recently, there is a remembrance of Paul’s traveling through there and sharing his ministry. The church in the village is called Sao Paolo (St. Paul) and there is a marking along the road where it is said he slept. His spirit is still felt there.

Fill your spirit with Paul’s teaching: “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”. It can work and all you have to lose are your frown lines.

Marie Coppola © 2012   TBContinued…..Gombah’s Life Today ~ Chapter 10

Gombah & Feral Get Together – Chapter 9

Living in a tourist, beach area that provides fun and entertainment for visitors, I have been told by more than one vet, that families come to our area and 'adopt' a kitten for a short duration. There's always 'free kittens' signs that may lure the kids in their families to beg, borrow and steal that it's 'only for a short while'. The parents may say OK, knowing it's for a 'short while'.

After everyone is tanned, relaxed and fun-filled, it’s time to load the suitcases and the car and head home. Uh, oh, what do we do with the kitten that we have petted, loved, fed and made a family member for 2 weeks? It was only for a short while, and we can’t take it home. So they, and many like them, go for a drive and drop it off in a ‘nice’ development because ‘people there will probably feed it and take care of it’.

Wrong. People in most developments have one or two dogs and even one, two or three cats themselves. So the disoriented kitten, who was pleasantly socialized and fed and cared for now lives in an unknown area where its hunger and survival mode pushes it into the ‘feral cat’ category. A feral cat is defined as an unowned and untamed cat separated from domestication. Feral cats are born in the wild and may take a long time to socialize or may be abandoned or lost pets that have become wild. They should not be confused with the wildcats which are not descended from domestic cats.

The ‘chosen for dropping-off development’ frowns on these cat-trusions. Their dogs want to chase them; the cats are viewed as disease carriers – many never received rabies shots. The once-loved animal soon learns that he or she is not welcome here. They get a ragged look and are usually very hungry and thirsty.

When our dropped off kitty, Feral, appeared on our patio, there was a risk of fleas. Gombah was liberally protected frequently.  Eventually, we did the same by petting Feral with flea ointment.  We watched her grow from a small kitten to an adult cat and she remained an outdoor cat.  Although she did allow us to pet her when we fed her, she never got beyond the few strokes stage – she was independent and feisty. She slept on the patio and communicated in some way with our cat and they were friends.

Only once did Gombah and Feral occupy the same space. She was on the patio as usual and someone inadvertently let Gombah out. We feared they would sojourn into the woods never to be seen from again. Instead, they quietly walked side by side to the shade of a peach tree, and lay down side by side. His big body next to her smaller body. They just lay there for about a half hour (talking?) and then he came back into the porch and she took her post next to him on the other side of the screen.

They spent a lot of time just sitting or laying together between the screens on the porch. When she would appear, Gombah would ‘yowl’ his “She’s here”, and Feral would helium balloon meow back. Once she ventured into the porch when the door was open, but preferred to hang around outside. It worked for both of them.

She was his friend for one and a half years – the space of time the vet told is the average life of an outdoor cat. One day a large raccoon was on our patio. After he left, we never saw Feral again.

Gombah continued to look for her – he would survey the patio and especially the barbecue – but to no avail. Occasionally, he would yowl very loudly and mournfully, but she never returned.   TBContinued:   Gombah Today…Chapter 10

Marie Coppola © September 2012 div id=”counter24″>

YOLO vs. Saving for a Rainy Day ~ by Guest, Sharon Cece*

 Raleigh Frugal Family Examiner

Sharon Cece is a writer and columnist with a background in administrative management. Promoting thrift as an alternative to consumption, Sharon uses simple, common sense approaches to family budgeting and economizing. Her one-income saving solutions have appeared in a number of print and internet…

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Outside this fine morning, the sun was shining brightly in a blue sky. There was no evidence whatsoever of clouds, rain or rumble. I deduced, therefore, that I did not need to drag along an umbrella or jacket, that I could spend the day – based on the information I was given sensorily – dry, warm and safe.

Thus, I left the house without aforementioned umbrella or coat, and planned my day with confidence that things would go according to plan.

Five hours later, as blue changed to gray then black, I – drenched and cold, shaking my fist at the sudden foul turn of events, plans ruined – couldn’t help but wonder how I could have prepared better for this bitter, unexpected atmospheric shake-up. Even the weatherman let me down!

Our financial skies tend to be as fickle – one day, you’re confident that you can pay all your bills into the unseen future, eat at restaurants comfortably a few times a week, buy the latest upgrade in technology (hey I work hard, I deserve it, and I need to keep up with my friends; after all, what will they think?), plan for retirement, put money away for the kids college, pay off my debt, savings…well, if I have money left over, sure, savings.

But life – often stormy and unpredictable – can take a sudden shift: a reduction in income, an equally unexpected increase in expenses, credit card debt, household repairs, childcare issues and medical expenses. Financial climates, like the weather, can change quickly and with little forewarning.

Metaphorically speaking, saving for a rainy day is always a good idea, but one the average American pushes to the back of the equally metaphoric closet. It’s the last thing on our growing list. The reason for this is what teens today refer to as “YOLO“, You Only Live Once. Most people agree that bills need to be paid, but the consensus gets a bit sketchy when it comes to what and how much. People want to live richly; the thought of being frugal and careful with spending is more frightening than saving for…well, what may not happen. What probably won’t happen. Live for today, don’t worry about tomorrow. We’ll worry about hard times if and when they hit…

Saving for a rainy day. No, not as much fun as living in the moment. Not as much fun, granted, as up-to-the-minute technology and nice cars and new furniture, and Starbucks coffee, loaded, with whipped cream (remember, I deserve it!).

Yet, saving for a rainy day provides a lot more relief when the rain starts to fall and you know you’re covered. Just like when you’re dragging that umbrella around – inconveniently, no doubt – until the moment you need it, and the drenched are standing there looking at a dry you, relief etched on your smiling face.

At some point, we all have to make tough financial decisions. By saying “No” to expensive items and frivolous purchases, we say “Yes” to our peace of mind and our security. We can’t stop rough times from coming, but by preparing financially, we can make those tougher times less stressful and still have good lives. What makes a good life anyway: is it “things”? Living just for today with little thought for tomorrow? Or is it living smart, prepared, comfortable but not excessively, content in the little things, joyful in those moments that don’t cost a single penny.

For frugal families, “YOLO” has a much different meaning. It doesn’t pertain to a day, a week or even a year. It’s a lifelong attitude. It means living within your means so you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to make mortgage payments (low payments, since you bought a small house with an equally small mortgage). How you’re going to get from point A to point B (you own all your cars and have no payments). How you’re going to eat (you eat at home, with inexpensive ingredients, learn to cook and bake, buy on sale, freeze, and don’t waste). How you’re going to make it during a stormy financial climate (you’ve put away money continuously, kept your debts and purchasing low, lived frugally, and you know you’ll be okay). YOLO = You Only Live One (Life), not One (Day)…

…for where will living it up for one day leave you in an unprepared tomorrow?

Sharon L. Cece © 2012

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