Friday, March 1, 2019

Editor's Corner

March 2019

"Being Irish, I always had this love of words." 
-- Kenneth Branagh.

Here it is again - the month almost everyone celebrates being or pretends they are Irish because the 17th is for Saint Patrick's Day. We proudly recall an Encore "Cookin' with Leo" column from 2008, with his remarks on said day plus a great recipe for Lent whether you require abstinence or not. Here is a 2009 link to another tasty Saint Patrick's Day recipe from the late Leo Helmer Making Good Irish Cream.

Mattie Lennon, "Irish Eyes" - talks about the March 12th celebration of the World Day Against Cyber Censorship; a neat invention or adaptation by a charming entrepreneur Sharon Doyle; and announces the official launch of Team Ireland to participate in the 2019 Word Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.  Judith Kroll, "On Trek" - features two poems from turning points in her life , "Destiny" and "Dad."

LC VanSavage's column "Consider This" talks games but her article is about "Houses and Their Ghosts." Marilyn Carnell, whose column "Sifoddling Along" defines her as "The Ultimate Pet Lady," tells why that title.

Thomas F. O'Neill, "Introspective" tells a touching and hopeful tale while Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" takes a break to go to the lake areas around Oklahoma City and blesses us with photos and information about the waterfowl she found.

The poems we are sharing for March are:
    Carrie E. Joslin's "To Virginia;"
    two poems by Linnie Jane Joslin Burks- "In "Dugbe," and "Marriage - Sacred;"
    Bruce Clifford sends "Missing the Point"
    John I. Blair sent in "Dandelions" and "The Conversation."
    Bud Lemire's three poems are "Journey Within A Book," "I Love Your Blue Vest," and along with his photo - "Me, in A Nutshell;"  while Mary E. Adair, your editor, has composed "Through the Alphabet." 
    Mike Craner, without whom this ezine would have never made the web, deserves many bouquets for his expertise and patience. He has added some of his poems and stories, though none recently with his demanding occupation, but to access his bio and a clickable list of his work here is the link.

    See you in April 2019 !!!

    Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
    This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy

A Departure From Genealogy

This past month plus has been a very trying time for your author. In bed with lobar pneumonia and Type A influenza, feeling more miserable than one could imagine, racked with side splitting coughs, headaches, no appetite, and debilitating muscle soreness, my only respite - brief trips to Lake Hefner! My sweet husband treated me to brief tours around that lovely lake to see the waterfowl.

Lake Hefner is one of five Oklahoma City lakes originally planned to help retain rain, snow, and ice melts in an area often hit with drought. This particular lake is the locale of one of the nation's finest public golf courses as well.

Oklahoma City advertises Lake Hefner, providing the following information:
"Lake Hefner was built in 1947 and is considered the premier location for sailboating in OKC. In addition to fishing, picnicking, and golfing, Lake Hefner is well-known for outdoor recreation. Trails trace the entire lake and stretch just over nine miles in total. They are 12 feet wide and covered asphalt, and the east side of the lake also contains some six-foot-wide trails specifically for pedestrians. The area features numerous well-kept parks for the kids, and you'll often find families walking, lounging, or flying a kite. The lighthouse is a photo destination, and the ​​​East Wharf restaurants offer some of the best views in the metro. "It sits in Northwest Oklahoma City, west of the Lake Hefner Parkway, as far north as Hefner Road, and south past Wilshire. It's also accessible from Northwest Expressway.
"You can fish, sail (it's home to the Oklahoma City Boat Club), enjoy outdoor recreation trails, use picnic areas, go on playgrounds, use the enclosed and heated fishing dock, and play on the public golf course."

In addition to Lake Hefner, Oklahoma City boasts four other metro lakes. Our second most favorite is Lake Overholser:
"Originally constructed in 1919, Oklahoma City's Lake Overholser is the metro's oldest reservoir. It was built as a water supply to a still-operating water treatment plant at NW 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue. Named after the city's 16th mayor, it has several boat ramps, a covered fishing pier, and picnic areas. OKC Riversport operates its ​Adventures program at Overholser​ and offers kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and pedal boats. "It's in Northwest Oklahoma City, just southwest of Lake Hefner, south of Route 66, and north of I-40 between Council and Morgan Roads.
"You can enjoy boating, water sports, fishing (there's a covered fishing pier), picnic areas with a covered pavilion, soccer fields, and tennis courts."

The three other OKC metro lakes (reservoirs) are Lake Thunderbird, Arcadia Lake, and Lake Stanley Draper.

One of our frequent outings is a birding tour of Lake Hefner. One is treated to a manicured expanse of lush green lawn over much of the park area, due to the professional maintenance of the two golf courses. Spanning the areas between are a lushly wooded expanse, parts of which are dense woodland and home to a wide variety of wildlife: fox, deer, skunk, and squirrel, to name the most common. Birds of many types are attracted to the lake, meadowland, pasture, and woodland areas. We see the greatest variety in the resident and migrating waterfowl.

One of our annual treats is the arrival of the white pelican flocks as they make their way south for the winter. They are usually seen here starting in December and disappear about March. The dates are inexact, dependent upon the weather and the flocks' instincts. Often, there are a few who stay the full time, while the larger numbers complete their travel further south. Occasionally, the largest flocks are accompanied by Anahingas or Cormorants, or both.

Here is a picture from my phone of a large mixed migrating flock of white pelicans and either Anahinga or Cormorants. I believe, Cormorants, because of the shorter, squared off tail. It is also possible all three species are represented. They were perched on the breakwater concrete which both absorbs and reflects sun heat. The entire length of the breakwater was covered, top, and both sides with the mixed flock.

On the same day, a cove near the eastern edge of Lake Hefner provided comfortable feeding for Canadian geese, Mallard ducks, a Crested Duck, mudhens, and on shore a large number of gulls, grackle, pigeons, starlings, and even a handful of Robins.

Here (left pic) is a Cormorant, drying his wings. And here (right pic) a sentinel Pelican on Lake Overholser. On the most recent trip from the doctor's, we found no pelicans or their Cormorant or Anahinga companions. We decided to drive to Lake Overholser. That lake was dotted over its entire length and breadth with our missing flock! The bill color (quite orange on the Cormorant, black or blackish on the Anahinga) and tail shapes help to distinguish the two "cousins".

Different flocks are present at Lake Hefner at different times of the year. In September of 2014, we were treated to a real surprise! It was my first view of these really odd looking ducks. They were large, with varied colors of feathers. Their one distinguishing characteristic even differed from one to another - the red "growths" that mottled their faces.

After some quick Google research, I was able to identify these Halloweenish birds as the exotic Muscovy Ducks.

A small group of the large flock of Muscovy Ducks at Lake Hefner September 14, 2014. 

Second picture shows the disparity in size between the Mallard and Wood ducks and the migrant Muscovy ducks.

 Third picture shows the Domestic Goose, the American Pekin duck (popularized as the icon Aflac Duck by the insurance company's ad genius), and a variety of Muscovy, Wood, and Mallard ducks.

And, as my special photo offering, we were treated to a sighting of Swedish Ducks in 2015. They were present for several visits but I've not noted them since. Here are two of the Swedish Ducks, with their varied plumage, grazing among a flock of gulls.

These three Pelican pics were taken at the boat docks of Lake Hefner late last year in December 2018. Included here because they show how their gracefulness enhances them, turning the bird often thought homely to a creature of beauty. All many people know about the Pelican is the verse --
 What a strange bird is the Pelican/ His beak can hold more than his belly can.


 These motor tours offer so much joy for the avid birder or aged outdoorsperson (both descriptors fit your author) as every trip to the lake or a wooded area provides a new look. Changing scenery blesses this lake with bright Fall colors, neon and lacy Spring greens, Summer lush cover, and Winter ice on bare branches spotted with the plethora of evergreens. The lake water sparkles or simmers under bright sun or grey clouds.

This month's column has been a treat for your author and, I hope, for you readers as well. Next month I plan to return in earnest to Armchair Genealogy and divulge the results of my research into another Patriot ancestor, this time on my Hempleman line (paternal).

See you next month!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

On Trek


When you look at me what do you see?
I remember when it was just WE
No one else was in the world...
we were a world of our own.
Eyes for you,
eyes for me,
life was ours,

Then you found someone new..
younger, cuter,
full of life,
as I was once upon a time.
I was yours
you were mine.
Eyes for you,
eyes for me,
life was ours,
My only “fault”
was growing old,
where love should prosper
not grow cold.

I still thank the stars that we had met,
still many memories linger..yet.
They make me smile,
I learned from you,
you learned from me
Life was ours.
For those moments
©3/2012 Judith Kroll


I miss that smile on your face--it's true.
I listen for a joke to come out of the blue.
The stories you told to teach lessons of life;
Your after shave smell-- that good Old Spice;
The knowledge you shared to help lessons be learned;
Your hard work ethics that we all have earned.
Memories pile up when I focus on you.
Yes, 69 years each other we knew.
I thank you for your visits since the day you gently passed.
I am happy you are happy with last.
Thinking of you, Pop.
Love, Judy

©1/26/'19 Judith Kroll

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Sifoddling Along

Ultimate Pet Lady

I haven’t always been a “cat lady”. In my youth, I had dogs as pets. The first one was Pete a beagle puppy who didn’t last long as a neighbor ran over and killed him. (Not of purpose, but it didn’t leave me eager for another pet.) Then, in my teens Lady, the collie showed up and adopted me. She was my constant guardian until I went away to college. Petless again, my next was a cat named Pusser. He and I did not get off to a good start as sometime before I had been attacked by a sensitive new mother cat defending her young. She was so intent on killing me she chased me across a bed and I ended up on top of a dresser trying to escape her wrath. I wasn’t totally successful and ended up in the emergency room with my shins scratched to ribbons.

Because my husband and son liked the cat, I made every effort to find peace. Pusser was a lovely marmalade with a sweet disposition, but I found my eyes swelling shut and gasping for air if I spent too much time around him. I took allergy shots and we eventually arrived at a place that was amenable for both of us.

After a wrenching divorce, I ended up in possession of Pusser and my son and I moved to Missouri so I could go to graduate school at the University of Arkansas. We lived across the street from my parents who strongly disapproved of any pets being inside the house. After finishing school, I got a job in Illinois and could not have a pet in my new apartment.

My parents agreed to adopt Pusser under the condition that he be strictly an outdoor cat. I moved to Illinois in September. When I came home for Thanksgiving, the cat was being fed in the kitchen as “other animals were stealing his food.” When I returned to visit at Christmas, Pusser was sitting on the arm of my Dad’s chair looking very smug.

My moves for jobs prevented any more pets until retirement. I announced that I wanted a dog. I had a toy poodle in mind, but my husband saw a West Highland Terrier at a shop in Branson and so we decided to find one. It took some doing as the nearest hobby breeder was in Oklahoma. We had to be interviewed and obtain the approval for the seller before we could come and pick up Brutus of McDonald and bring him home. He was a loveable terror of a terrier who would run away at the drop of a hat. At least he was good for our fitness. One night we were chasing him when I heard from the darkness “I’ve got your dog.” In a very deep voice. It sounded like the voice of God speaking to me. Slowly advancing, I came up on a young couple who were out for a walk and he had scooped up Brutus as he hurtled past.

Thinking that Brutus was lonely, we decided to adopt another Westie. At this interview, we took along Brutus’ baby book stuffed with photos of his idyllic life with us. Soon after, Bubba of McDonald joined our family. We had many happy years before the escape artists got out one cold February afternoon and Bubba was killed and Brutus seriously hurt by a pack of feral dogs. I waded Big Sugar creek for three days looking for Bubba or his body to no avail. Brutus survived.

Meanwhile, we had acquired our “Six hundred dollar” cat. To my amazement, my severe allergies had gone away and I no longer had itchy swollen eyes when around him. It is a long convoluted story about our acquisition of KatManDoo, but we took him to the vet for shots and neutering and he joined our family. Kat was not healthy and after treatments for cancer, had to be put down.

Again thinking Brutus needed company, we adopted a rescue dog we named Lucky. He was a coal black schnauzer and mysterious mix and quickly charmed his way into our hearts.

Brutus, Lucky and three cats we had acquired along the way (thanks to people dumping animals beside the road) moved with us to Minnesota in 2011. The past 7 years have seen much sorrow for pets. We first lost C.C. the cat, later at intervals, we lost Brutus, Little Yellow (officially named Oliver Saffron) and then Lucky passed of old age. I have wept buckets of tears at their passing.

Now I am a cat lady with only one cat. Busted (he had stripes as a baby, but lost them) is my one remaining pet. He is 15 years old not well now and I am sad at the thought of losing him, too. But once a cat lady, always a cat lady. I will soon find another boon companion to cuddle and pamper duties of an ultimate Cat Lady.

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Consider This

Board or Bored, I Hate Those Games

Were you a good parent to your children? Did you play with them when they asked? Were you a good and attentive buddy? I hope I was.I mean if our boys have been in therapy all their adult lives because they were stuck with a whackbird mother, they at least have had the decency to not tell us. I believe in the no-news-is-good-news apothegm, and I don’t exactly know what that word means either nor how to pronounce it.

What I wish to discuss today is the board game issue.I simply cannot endure them. I know what you’re thinking; “Well LC is just too stupid to learn how to play board games so she announces she hates them to cover the fact that she’s too dumb to learn them.”

Could be. I think it’s safe to say that barring maybe two games of checkers, I have never ever won a single board game in my entire 81 years. Honestly, I just don’t remember anyone ever congratulating me on a smashing board game victory. I know our young sons granted me the occasional mercy win at Tic Tac Toe, but they don’t count.

Checkers is a bit daunting.I have one of those gigantic cloth checker boards with checkers the size of mayonnaise jar tops, so my never winning can’t be blamed on poor eyesight. One of my perpetually bored grandchildren will sigh and ask me if I’d like to play, I sigh and agree, we set up this table sized checkerboard and after a while my opponent wanders off, tired of waiting for me to make my second move. They hate playing board games with me and I hate playing bored games with anyone.

I can pretty much rock at Go-Fish but it’s so juvenile for my smart-aleck grandchildren; they just throw the cards on the table and walk away leaving me holding the – well, the cards. I hate that game. It’s just too competitive.

Monopoly? I know why it was invented; to distract the people suffering in the middle of the Great Depression. Did those sufferers think the Monopoly money was real or something? Or was it just a case of transference? And what is transference anyway?

I did get to almost win sometimes at Monopoly because I learned that if I tricked someone by distracting him or her, say by throwing one of their shoes out of the window, I could cheat a little while they ran out to find it. Hey, cheaters can be smart too, you know. Sometimes even smarter than honest people. And another thing; have you ever stepped on one of those horrid little Monopoly tokens in your bare feet? Especially the little pointy-roofed houses? Smarts, right?T hat’s enough to keep me away from that game unless I wear boots.

We had Parcheesi and even Chinese Checkers too but I was always nervous about saying those 2 words fearing I’d be accused of being politically incorrect. I could have called them Asian Checkers I guess. Regardless, it’s a boring, tedious game and our boys always ended up winging the marbles at light bulbs or at each other’s heads.

I tried to get the boys to play Hang Man with me (I learned it from a book) but they unreasonably became infuriated just because I’d always pick “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,” as my first word. It’s just not possible to please some people.

When I was a teenager, my parents decided it was “time” for my younger brother Stuart and me to learn how to play Bridge. So they put up the card table, got out the cards, and we all sat down to learn the famous old game. They then proceeded to get into one of the most vicious brawls I’d ever witnessed, and believe me, I’d witnessed more than a few. They fought, argued, shouted and cursed and came close to exchanging blows over the rules of Bridge. Stu and I eventually slunk away and the ‘rents never noticed. Because of that experience, I stayed with the very difficult Go Fish and Old Maid card games, refused to ever try to learn another and I have kept firmly to that personal vow. Once burned, knowhatImean?

I’ve got an overflowing Bucket List as many of us have and I know I’ll never get to do most of the things in its interior. But one long wish of mine has been to learn how to play Dominoes. It looked so easy when I was young, always played in the movies by kindly old drowsy Italians sitting in the sun in front of their grape arbors hunched over an ancient splintery table covered with their abstract Dominoes patterns. For the great sum of one dollar, I recently purchased a full set of Dominoes at the GoodWill and brought them home. They are white with black spots and they look so good! Thick, heavy, wonderful!! I thought “oh yes, at last I’m going to learn this game.” I’m not Italian, not a man and we don’t have a grape arbor although we have plenty of ratty old tables. The Dominoes came with no instructions so I thought I’d just download them from the Internet. After three pages of single-spaced directives I pretty much knew learning this ancient game was not going to happen. I mean it takes at least 2 PhDs to understand all the playing rules of Dominoes. I made it through half a page and gave up. There’s math involved I think. This is a game for mega-brainiacs and that quickly disincludes moi. But it’s not a total loss. An enterprising granddaughter made one of those “domino effect” things where she lined them up on end in designs all over the kitchen floor and then pushed the first one down. That was fun. And the delicious, magical clacking sounds they make when they bump together remind me of my beloved grandmother’s weekly mahjong games with her old lady player pals. Apparently, none of her bored game DNA passed on to me.

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