Visiting China’s Historical Sites

The China of yesterday is one of the oldest civilizations known to man. In this land once ruled by Emperors, architectural remains tell the story of how people lived and worked. Located on the eastern part of Asia, the land covers 3.7 million square miles and one-fifth of the world’s population.

In the cities, family apartments and office buildings compete for land space and high-rise structures often reach 50 floors.

With more people owning cars, city streets are congested and filled with bicycles, taxis and tour buses. Yet, in the older areas of the cities and especially on the small rural farms, life continues as it has for generations.

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In Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The cover of "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister."

The cover of “The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister.”

With Jan. 27 being set aside for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to share my 2015 Chester County Independent piece on the the importance of the holiday and what we can learn from the tragedy it memorializes.

Jan. 27 has been observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It’s a day when the world pauses and reflects on one of the most horrific times in history. The Holocaust was the annihilation of not only six million European Jews, but untold millions of eastern Europeans –including those with mental or physical handicaps, religious groups and others by the Nazi regime.

In reading memoirs and biographies of survivors and children of survivors, each person, basically offer this advice: “Always remember the Holocaust: Never forget. Tell children and young people to never forget this horrible time in history.” This day is set aside to urge every nation of the U.N. to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and to encourage the development of educational programs about Holocaust history to help prevent future acts of genocide. This day, Jan. 27, 1945, was when Auschwitz-Birkerau, was liberated by Soviet troops.

As Germany’s Hitler conquered country after country, conditions became unbearable. Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, whose memoir The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister, represents one family’s plight. Continue reading

Storytelling With Photography

The cover of "Bootcamp for Christian Writers 8: More Secrets to Getting Published -- Again and Again and Again! "

The cover of “Bootcamp for Christian Writers 8: More Secrets to Getting Published — Again and Again and Again! “

In this article I wrote for the Chester County Independent, I discuss using photography to tell stories:

While writers use words to inform, entertain, educate, and encourage readers; photographers depend on cameras. When these two mediums are combined, you create a winning combination. For writers, photos can sell your story. For speakers, photos connect with your audience. Both can make a difference in your success for either. Continue reading

Aruba: Land of white sand beaches and emerald waters

Aruba Sunset (Susan Renee / Flickr)

Aruba Sunset (Susan Renee / Flickr)

Looking for tropical destination for you next vacation? Here’s my article on Aruba for the Chester County Independent:

Covering approximately 74-square-miles, Aruba is a contrast between the beautiful white sandy beaches, emerald waters – and scrubby undergrowth. Sand, that feels like fine granulated sugar meets the coast. Turquoise, blue-green water reaches as far as the eye can see. Footprints fade quickly as the wind swept terrain blows constantly. A generally flat, river-less land, this is part of the island group making up the southern part of the Caribbean.

In addition to the beauty of this Caribbean land, Aruba has a fascinating history. Alonso de Ojeda claimed the area for the Spanish Crown in 1499 and after the end of the 80-year war with Spain; the Dutch took possession of the island around 1634. Dutch is the primary language spoken, but Papiamento is a blend of several languages spoken on a few islands. Aruba has a population of around 100,000 inhabitants with no major cities. Oranjested, the capital has only about 30,000 residents.

Once known for its gold mining until the minerals played out in 1913, the country sought other resources. With only 15 to 20 inches of annual rainfall, aloe, cacti and the windswept divi-divi – the national tree – prosper in this hot, dry climate. Fortunately, the aloe plant that thrives in this climate has become the island’s primary agricultural crop making Aruba a leading producer of skin care products. Also, plantations provide local employment and supply cosmetics around the world. Farmers tend these plants like locals raise cotton, corn, and soybeans in our area.

On visiting an aloe factory, we were told the outer leaves of the aloe plant are the ones to remove. The plant puts up new shoots from the center and will continue to multiply. One of the best natural medicines for a burn, the leaves of the aloe are broken and the sticky residue provides healing qualities.

Huge boulders, the size of small houses, line the coast. Strong waves crash against the rocks. This makes docking a small boat in the area treacherous.

Like a child’s building blocks, visitors notice small rocks stacked one on top of the other. Years ago tourists started this custom which means, “I was not alone. The rocks were here too.” Viewing this practice, one is aware of the land’s handiwork as the surf and wind demonstrate the forces of nature.

Carolyn Tomlin is a Jackson, Tennessee-based author that has been writing and publishing since 1988. She has authored 19 books and more than 4,000 articles in magazines such as Entrepreneur, Kansas City Star, American Profile, Tennessee Home & Farm, Home Life, Mature Living, ParentLife and many others.  You can purchase her full-length works here.

Cuba’s Orchid Garden

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Here’s my piece on the Orchid Gardens of Soroa in Cuba, as it appeared in the Chester County Independent :

On a summer afternoon with temperatures in the high 90s and extreme humidity our group of 13 educators climbed approximately 206 meters (1 meter equals 3.28 feet) to Cuba’s Orchid Park in Soroa. Orchids and other tropical plants thrive in this micro-climate that includes abundant rains and an average annual temperature of 74 degrees.

The Orchid Gardens of Soroa were developed due to a great sadness of the owner. In 1942 Tomás Felipe Camacho, a successful lawyer and native of the Canary Islands, purchased a tract of land in an area of Soroa. Filled with lush native vegetation, he wanted to share this beautiful site with others. At first, he thought of building a resort on the land, but a turn of events changed his plans. His beloved daughter died while giving birth. Shortly after, his grieving wife passed away. From that day forward, Don Tomás devoted himself totally to honoring his deceased loved ones. Thus, he developed a captivating interest in growing orchids.  Continue reading

Honoring the Spirit of Christmas

poinsetta

The poinsettia plant is symbolic with the spirit of Christmas.

My latest yuletide piece for the Chester County Independent:

There is something about the holiday season that brings out the best in people. When we bump into shoppers in crowded stores, we smile, say “excuse me” and allow them to move ahead. Our thoughts turn to helping the homeless and collecting food boxes for those who are in need. Perhaps an organization or church adopts a child for Christmas that otherwise would never receive gifts. Yes, Christmas is a time of year when we think of sharing material possessions as well as our time.

That baby named Jesus, born in a manger in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago is as real today as when the shepherds saw the star and came to worship him.

This Christmas think of ways your family can put joy into making this holiday season one of your best. Would it not be wonderful if your family could look back and say, “You know, Christmas 2015 was one I’ll always remember?” Could these ideas make that happen?

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Simplifying Thanksgiving Traditions

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner (Photo by Ian Freimuth)

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner (Photo by Ian Freimuth)

In this article for the Chester County Independent, I give some tips on how to change up your Thanksgiving plans:

As we grow older, we want to continue holiday traditions we have honored in the past. But with down-sizing to a smaller home or apartment, there is not space to feed or seat several generations of family or friends. However, that does not mean seniors should cancel celebrations or delete holiday events.

Here are some suggestions for keeping Thanksgiving customs while simplifying the usual rituals.

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