Saturday, October 30, 2010


OOOOoooooo it's Halloween. Liz has taken over the driver's seat and has given us this scary challenge:

1) Write a Triolet Halloween poem(either light-hearted or scary). The triolet is a French poetic form. It consists of:

*8 lines (often in iambic tetrameter--daDum daDum daDum daDum)
*The rhyme scheme is ABaAabAB
*Lines 1, 4, and 7 are the same
*Lines 2 and 8 are also alike

There is often a change of viewpoint in the second half, and the refrain (last two lines)is frequently a play on words or a pun.

My first thought was to run for it. This is not something I've ever attempted. Instead, I wrote this semblance of a Triolet:


What is that shambling in the wood?
Will it get to me by and by?
I'd run far from it if I could
What is that shambling in the wood?
I only eat lactose free food
But if I don't feed now I'll die
What is that shambling in the wood?
Will it get to me by and by?

Cynthia Ann Conciatu

More Triolet's can be found HERE! Hop on the Poetry Bus!

Sepia Saturday - Halloween

Vasili Conciatu c. 1919

This little guy is all decked out in a very detailed and well made Halloween costume of "buckskin" and eagle - make that duck - feathers. The feathered head dress appears to go all the way down his back. He's wearing moccasins! He looks quite happy with himself and with the thought of having his picture taken.

It's appropriate that he dress as a native American - after all, he is the first "native" American in the Conciatu family

I don't know for sure that this is a Halloween costume, but it's a bit over done for your average school pageant where construction paper, glitter and crayon are the main ingredients . Another clue is that Vasili was born on October 31st. It's quite fitting that he should have a really great Birthday suit!

Happy Birthday Vasili!

Update: I asked my husband about the costume. It may have been made for Vasili by his Aunt Teta. She made garments and robes for Romanian Orthodox priests. That would explain the intricacy and the embroidery on the shirt - it looks like a Romanian motif.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - Pen(sive) Thoughts

The Scheaffer Pen Factory Fort Madison Iowa

Today in History: On October 29, 1945, the first ball point pens went on sale at Gimbels Department store. All 10,000 pens, priced at $12.50 each were sold. That's about $158.00 per pen in 2010 dollars.

Folks had been working on the idea of ball point pens since the early 1800's, but were faced with a myriad of problems, including - and especially - getting the ink at the proper viscosity. Too thin and it leaked out, too thick and it wouldn't write at all. Lazlo and George Biro perfected the flow of ink and the action of the tiny ball for smooth writing. They designed the "The Biro Bullet" used by the RAF in the early 1940's. It was this style that was sold to the public for the first time in 1945. In 1950 the brothers sold their patent to Baron Marcel Bich (pronounced BIC - sound familiar?) who formed the Society BIC Group. Which is where we get BIC (TM) pens razors, lighters, etc.

A mere 1 1/2 years later, Marie purchased a Scheaffer postcard while on Easter vacation in Fort Madison, Iowa. Perhaps she used a new-fangled ball point pen to write this note to her friend Joan.

The Biro Bullet

The word pen comes from the Latin penna, meaning feather.

The word pencil is from the Latin, penicillum, meaning paint brush. Penicillum chrysogenum is the blue green mold that is used to make penicillin, and it is so named because the microscopic fungus resembles a brush. There are many species of penicillum, including roquforti which is used in making Roquefort and Stilton cheese.

The pen knife retains the name of it's original use - to sharpen pen quills.

Down town Ft. Madison Iowa

Gimbels Department Store enjoyed several firsts: The sale of the first ball point pens, the first Department Store sponsored Thanksgiving Day Parade, and their Pittsburgh store was chosen, in 1975, to be the exclusive seller of

Used by Steeler Fans

To cheer on their team, swat at opposing fans, and wipe away their tears in times of loss and sorrow.

But I digress. As usual.

A poem about the magic of the pen:

The Joy of Writing

by Wislawa Szymborska

Where through the written forest runs that written doe?
Is it to drink from the written water,
which will copy her gentle mouth like carbon paper?
Why does she raise her head, is it something she hears?
Poised on four fragile legs borrowed from truth
she pricks her ears under my fingers
Stillness-this word also rustles across the paper
and parts
the branches brought forth by the word "forest."

Above the blank page lurking set to spring
are letters that may compose themselves all wrong,
besieging sentences
from which there is no rescue.

In a drop of ink there's a goodly reserve
of huntsmen with eyes squinting to take aim,
ready to dash down the steep pen,
surround the doe and level their guns.

They forget this is not real life.
Other laws, black and white, here hold sway.
The twinkling of an eye will last as long as I wish,
will consent to be divided into small eternities
full of bullets stopped in flight.
Forever, if I command it, nothing will happen here.
Against my will no leaf will fall
nor blade of grass bend under the full stop of a hoof.

Is there then such a world
over which I rule sole and absolute?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence perpetuated by my command?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
The revenge of the mortal hand.


A parting word: thanks to Monty Python and his Flying Circus, my mind has been completely clouded. Parrots, boxes of chocolates, cheese, the Inquisition, lumberjacks and hunters have all taken on new meaning and vision. As I read this lovely poem, for example, I snickered loudly at the thought of the hunters surrounding the deer. Click HERE to see what Monty Python has done to my brain stem.

See Beth, at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy (I'm not even going to suggest frogs or larks here, Python fans) for more Postcard Friendship Friday Fun!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Poetry Bus - Meeting of the Mindless

Yer Late, Conciatu!

The Poetry Bus is having a meeting today. At least that is the subject of our poem. Our Bus Driver, Argento, has no idea of the post traumatic stress this request brought to the surface.

So, that's why I'm late. Had to hide under my pillow. Turn my calendar to the wall. Stay in my pajamas as I recalled the endless assault of crammed conference rooms, droning overhead machines, simpering bosses toadies, boastful do-nothings. And limp lettuce lunches. Kabuki Theater at its best. But I did it. Now I just need a hot bath and a cold beverage. Straight up.

I wanna be here!

But I'm here:

The Meeting

I am held captive

into Conference Room B

by "suitcoat" temperatures

between pinstriped arms

to the internet

with flow charts

Filled to overflowing
with pie charts

by endless over-heads

The only minutes that seem to pass
are those kept by the admin

Cynthia Ann Conciatu

Meeting Minutes of the Third Kind

Friday, October 22, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - Autumn Leaves


by C. Klein

This beautiful still life of autumn caught my eye. I love the colors, the structure of the scene and those wonderful luminous blackberries. I tossed aside all thoughts of other possible posts when I came upon this lovely picture that has captured the essence of autumn. Catherine Klein was a German-born artist, born in 1861, who is well known for her gouche (opaque watercolor) paintings of flowers. She became known as the "Rose Lady" although she also painted birds and fruits in a very naturalistic way.

The word, Autumn, comes from the Old French and refers to advanced maturity followed by a decline. This is why older folks are often described as being in the autumn of their years.

Eva Cassidy should not have been -but was- in the autumn of her years when - at age 33 - she sang this sweet and clear rendition of Autumn Leaves.

In the autumn of 1909, Frances sent this lovely postcard to her friend Phoebe. Phoebe had recently moved to Moston Lane, Moston which is a district of Manchester in NW England.

Colorful Autumn Leaves

Sweet Autumn Leaves

After Autumn Leaves

For more Postcard Friendship Friday stop by Beth's The Best Hearts Are Crunchy

Monday, October 18, 2010

Poetry Bus Strikes Twice In One Day

Post #two for today. Another poem - written from where I sit - on the edge. Written today and not recycled. Lemme back on the bus.

Out of the Ordinary

At my late age I'm sitting on the edge

A place where muses shy away

Times are lean for pens

But not for reaching out

To touch mortality

And test its wrinkles

Read the Obits

Average out the ages

Of the dearly departed

Sound worried don't I

Truth is I am not

I have silk enough for parachutes and

A very large box of band-aides

Standing by

Cynthia Ann Conciatu

The Poetry Bus Is Experiencing Life in the Fast Lane

Nanu is driving the Poetry Bus today! The challange is to write a poem in a place that is outside of where we normally are inspired to write. The comments thus far are bravely upbeat, and I can picture poets climbing to the top of crows nests and hanging off of sky scrapers and slogging through swamps to find this week's muse.

I know that the object is to write a new poem - not drag out something already written. However:

1) try as I may, I have not been inspired to write another poem on any subject since our children's book challenge.

And, 2) most of my poems are inspired and written in odd places. I have rarely written a poem while sitting at my desk.

So, uninspired again, I look for a seat on the bus anyway as I present this poem - previously written in a place where the poetry muse would not be expected to hang out under any circumstances:

Life in the Fast Lane

I've been standing here for hours now

with milk and whole wheat bread

as I glance again quite dolefully

at the sign above my head

The clearly written words imply

I should not be in distress



And yet I stand impatiently

in a glazed eyed cob webbed funk

while Black-Tee-Shirt in front of me

paws through impulse-buyer's junk

Straw-Purse-Lady moves in queue

and empties out her cart

the rest of us -with moving lips-

count from eggs to key lime tart

She's unaware of piercing glares

as we count to twenty-five

oh where's my tar and feather kit!

Let's string her up alive!

Then Black-Tee-Shirt -with impulse buys

sets down his case of beer

we all decide he drinks too much

his wife should leave him here

Diamond-Rings gets set to move

lines up her wine and brie

smoked oyster dip and cheese puff shells

that's food for thought for me

A smokin' date most likely sits

or paces by her door

while she's caught in the fast lane

stuck here for evermore

A checkbook flashes in the hand

of Baseball-Cap-Askew

All heads turn 'round and stare at him

CASH ONLY sir means YOU

We move at snail-like slowness

'til I finally forge ahead

and set my meager purchase down

tepid milk and stale wheat bread

Just then the check-out light blinks OFF

I can only stand and gape

"One moment please" says Misty Sue

I have to change the tape

Cynthia Conciatu

Check out the other poetry bus riders here!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Postcard Friday and Sepia Saturday - Romanian Castle in the Sky

Carta Postala - Castlelu Huniadestilor
Hunedoara, Transylvania, Romania

The beautiful castle featured on today's postcard is nestled in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania.

It was given to the father of John Hunyadi by the King of Hungary, Sigismund, in 1409. John Hunyadi is thought to be the illegitimate son of Sigismund, and the castle was given as severance.

The castle was modified and enlarged over the years and the once Gothic facade took on the look of the Renaissance. One of the last additions was the castle keep. This tower shown in the far right on the post card is meant to be the last defense of the castle. It is called "Neboisa" which is Serbian for "Not afraid!"

A modern view

Many myths and legends surround this castle, and it is said to be one of the most haunted. Tourists are told that Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned here for seven years. I recall seeing a documentary about his imprisonment - perhaps on Discovery Channel.

John Hunyadi (Romanian: Ioan Hunedoara) is celebrated in the history of Hungary and Romania for his military genius and for uniting many of the Christian countries of Europe to fight the onslaught of the Muslim forces.

Hunyadi Coat of Arms

The family coat of arms includes a raven holding a ring in his mouth. An interesting family legend based on fact that can be found here.

The family seal also shows the legendary raven on a windowsill.

I found this - the one and only postcard - among pictures of my husband's family. His father purchased the card around 1925. and wrote "remembrance of Huneadora castle Hunyadi on the back. You will notice that the name V. Koncsat is crossed out. This is - according to Conciatu family myth legend and fact - the Hungarian spelling of the name Conciatu. It means - approximately - "handsome man on horseback". I'll go with that!

Emilia and Vasile Conciatu (c. 1911) in traditional Romanian dress

My Sepia Saturday photo shows Vasile at about age two. He was born in the USA and is the step brother of the young men, Evrin and John Jovin, featured in last week's post. I determined that the pictures posted last week are of John Jovin and found 2 additional and previously unidentified pictures of John. While solving mysteries I uncovered even more questions....stay tuned.

For more Postcard Friendship Friday fun click here

For more shades of Sepia Saturday click here

Friday, October 8, 2010

Postcard Friendship Friday - Not to be Confused With...

Today's Postcard: Aeroplane View of Charleston W. Va.

Charleston, WV, is about 125 miles NW of Alderson, WV as the crow flies. But I'll get to that in a minute.

This week in history marks the first transcontinental airplane flight by a woman. The pilot's name is Laura Ingalls, and she flew from North America to South America on October 9, 1930. Yep, I thought so too. Quite a feat for that beloved American author! Go Laura! Wrong. It wasn't Laura Ingalls Wilder, but rather Laura Ingalls, an American Aviator who also piloted her planes to several other firsts in aviation history including the women's solo record of 17,000. That was for distance, not height.

Aviator (not author) Laura Ingalls

Coincidentally, this week in history also marks her release from what was then called the Woman's Federal Reformatory, Alderson West Va. on October 5, 1943. Laura's crime was her violation of the Foreign Agent's Registration Act of 1938 - specifically for not registering as a German Agent. Which she was.

Federal Prison Camp, Alderson W. Va.

The prison camp was first opened in the 1920's as a reformatory for women, but it has since been renamed, and has hosted several well known inmates.

Martha's Stay Coined the AKA "Camp Cupcake"

Tokyo Rose

Several woman accused of crimes against the US stayed there during and after WWII including "Tokyo Rose" Iva Toguri. Iva was later pardoned. It seems the government built up the case against Iva which included several false witnesses. Hard to believe that could happen, isn't it....
"Axis Sally", Mildred Gillars, spent time there as did another of several "Tokyo Roses", including Velvalee Dickinson. Sarah Good, of the Manson Family stopped by as did the would-be President Ford assassins, Lynn "Squeaky" Fromm, and Sara Jane Moore. Billie Holliday was also held there.

But wait! That's not all! I have one more! - A very timely addition to this week in history! Fresh off the presses!

Monica Conyers

Monica Conyers, former and very notorious, Detroit City Council member, and wife of U. S. Congressman, John Conyers popped in today for a short stay of about 37 months. Her crime, among other things, accepting bribes. Enjoy your stay Monica. Don't look so surprised.

Stop by The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday Fun!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sepia Saturday - Your Opinion Please?

John Jovin 1896 -1921

I've been sorting though hundreds of unmarked pictures while attempting to add faces to the many names in our family tree. It took quite a bit of detective work, including a call to a cemetery, to add the correct first and last names and birth/death dates to picture A above.

It appears his tie is painted on, and it's of an earlier era - like Abe Lincoln. Why would they have a tie painted on the photo??

I could use some help with these next three pictures. They look a bit like John at different ages, and I thought perhaps you would take a good look at them and let me know what your thoughts are:


Picture B seems to resemble picture A - at least I see it in the eyes, But I don't see the cleft in his chin and his hair appears to be parted on the left here. What do you think? Does he look to be about 15 years old ?


John's brother, Evrin Jovin (my husband's namesake), is the young man standing at the window in this picture. I was able to identify Evrin because the face is identical to that in his memorial photograph. It makes sense that the seated fellow would be John. He looks quite different than picture A, but there's that cleft in his chin. He appears to be about 16 or 17 - what do you think?


I think this photo resembles A enough to add it to the tree. That chin cleft is showing. He looks about 22 here. What do you think?

Please feel free to comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts on these pictures -B,C and D: John or not John, and did I get his age about right for each?

For more Sepia Saturdays just click on the Got Sepia? link on my sidebar.