Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Editor's Corner

October 2014

“The best creative inspiration is something that's commonly become known as 'the deadline.' This necessary intimidation is sponsored by the powers that be, prompted by their insatiable urge to get things done on time. Like it or not, you've got one -- and resistance is futile."...Unknown.

Summer is gone, People. Cooler temps, wetter weather, higher caloric cooking - hey, come onnnn, Winter! Could do without the dangerous fires and flooding and the accidents and damage they cause, but if you want to watch something dramatic, tune into the weather channels.

Mattie Lennon, (Irish Eyes) gets a ride in one of the new Ecars and gives the lowdown on what to expect as the courts and lawyers get into the act. Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) writing from Suzhou, China, discusses Space exploration and the seeming contest between USA and China.

Judith Kroll aka Featherwing does an essay on Trees in her column, "On Trek." Peg Jones (Angel Whispers) brings an explanation of Michaelmas Day and some messages from the arch angels whose day it is. (September 30.) "Merlin's Insights" by Merlin whose discussions are usually totally about love, addresses hate. Yes, hate.  But see for yourself.

John I. Blair's column "Always Looking - People Who Made A Difference XXII introduces the composer - performer Malvina Reynolds. You may know some of her songs. Blair also brings us four poems: "Making A New Garden," "Dreams of You," "This Heart," and "Keratosis Neurosis."

Bruce Clifford sings his submissions "Nothing Seems Right Anymore" and "It's Taking Too Long." Bud Lemire, whose hobby is photography sends "Success of The Soul," with a pic of his camera and himself. He also submitted "The Shadow of the Butterfly."

Phillip Hennessy aka Philipo has six poems this month: "If Only I Had Said," "Prayer - You're in My Heart," "Your Demons Stick with You," "Love is...," "Absolutely Nothing," and "MindWalk." Your editor is unable to choose a favorite among these.

Melinda (Carroll) Cohenour, sister of your editor and family genealogist, writes enthusiastically about following genealogy. Her article is about how surprising it can be to follow family connections through the activities they were in during their lives.

Thank you again, Mike Craner! You are always appreciated and often prayed for.

Look for the November issue of Pencil Stubs Online. Compositions are accepted throughout the period from publication through October 26th.

Click on Mary E. Adair 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.

Merlin Insights

   Be not afraid to look upon hate within you, for without it you could have no understanding of the meaning of your love. Without the understanding of hate, love can only be meaningless. Your relationship with love, within which the meaning of all love is hidden, is given to you to offset the hate that you may see.

This understanding, and your relationship with the Universe that you are part of, will rise before you as your understanding grows. For not to see and acknowledge the hate within, you cannot negate its effect upon you, it merely drives it underground and out of your sight.

   It is essential that you bring it into sight and acknowledge it and so give love its true meaning for you. Until you do, love can have no meaning and therefore your hate will remain unhealed.

   We all have the capacity to hate. But by denying that capacity we are creating an illusion. True love is no illusion and until we can acknowledge our capacity to see hate, we render its opposite, similarly, an illusion. Until we can see ourselves in our entirety we cannot see beyond that illusion and see the True Love that we are all part of.

   In this context love can only be but an illusion and if that illusion is removed, your relationship with true love must also be removed. Any relationship based upon an illusion is no relationship at all and must become unsatisfying on the grounds of disillusionment..

   Love is not an illusion. It is a fact. Where disillusionment is possible you can find no peace and where peace can be found, there can be no illusion.

Click on Merlin Energy for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Clay County, Missouri – A Strange Confluence of Historical Elements

Or, Abraham Creek, Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War

   Genealogical research never ceases to provide a glimpse into the past and the quixotic nature of chance. Researching my pioneering families in Clay County, Missouri, provided just such an intriguing look at how fate, nature, luck, choice may result in unexpected alliances and unfortunate severing of those same relationships.

   To begin our look at the forces at work in this little tale, I must first permit you to explore with me the establishment of this northwestern corner of Missouri. French trappers first settled, temporarily, in this area of the state about 1800 on Randolph Bluff. This part of Missouri is perhaps one of the most desirable land masses in the United States, lush with forested land, originally comprised of oak, hickory, ash, walnut, hackberry and cottonwood trees replete with waterways made up of creeks and tributaries deriving from the Missouri River. Clay County fronts nearly fifty miles of this grand river, providing more than adequate water and fertile river bottom soil for farming. Early in its history, Clay County’s water aquifers could be attained by merely sinking a well to some thirty feet. The land is typically rolling meadows, interrupted here and there by precipitous and rocky bluffs. The weather is, for the most part, fully affected by all four seasons of the year: cool, breezy Springs, warm and rainy Summers, gloriously painted in the Fall with the many hues afforded by its rich forests, and Winters that bring necessary snow in most years to kill off undesired pests and provide additional melt to enrich the essential life-flow of water.

   The first permanent settlers built their cabins and broke ground for their farms in the year of 1819. Its official organizational documents are dated 2 January 1822. Named in honor of United States Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky who also served as a member of the United States Senate and, ultimately, as United States Secretary of State. The majority of pioneers in Clay County came from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, states deeply entrenched in the practice of slaveholding and many of those pioneers brought their slaves and traditions with them.

   The first orders of business in creating a new county includes the establishment of a manner in which it may be governed and its citizens protected, taxed and afforded a proper infrastructure for the conduct of personal and commercial business. Thus, early in 1822 a county court was established with appropriate judicial, clerical and policing appointments made. This brings us to the entry of our first element of fate, the appointment of Mr. David Todd as judge to the First Circuit Court in Clay County.

   To quote from History of Clay and Platte Counties, Missouri, “Judge David Todd was born in Fayette county, Ky., in 1790. He came to Missouri at an early day and located at Old Franklin, Howard county. He was well known and long remembered as an able and upright judge and a pure man. Judge Todd died at Columbia, Boone county, in 1859.”

   One anecdotal story concerning Judge Todd’s administration of his duties in this History has to do with the last recorded “affront” to the citizens of Clay County by native Indians. In May of 1823 a “roving band of Iowa Indians” on their way to the Grand River country took a liking to some horses “owned by Ezekiel Huffman and other citizens” and drove them along with them to the encampment on Grand River, “just above where Brunswick now stands.”

   Judge Todd issued a warrant directing the sheriff of Chariton county, where information from the chiefs of the tribe determined the culprits to be then located, to arrest the three horse thieves. The names of the Indians were: “given as O'ha-pa-bar-lar, or Buffalo Nose; Mon-to-kar, or White Briar, and T on-tar-ru-r/cue-clze, or Where he is Crossing. Subpoenas were also issued for War-sen-nee, or The End of Medicine; War-hu-kea, or Moccasin Awl; Monk-she-Icon-nah, a Valiant Man, Won-chee-mon-nee, “chiefs of the said Ioway nation of Indians.”

   As luck would have it, the Indians were apprehended, handed over to Judge Todd for arraignment at Fayette on the 5th of July. Brought again before Judge Todd on the 7th of July, they were remanded to the custody of the Clay County sheriff to await trial. Unfortunately, the 'slippery devils' managed to escape on the 8th of July, and although not again apprehended the stolen horses were recovered and returned to their rightful owners.

   An interesting anecdote, but not the central focus of this little story about the assimilation of bodies corporeal that have, by their familial relationships, the ingredients for the old adage: “history makes for strange bedfellows.”

   From the History of Clay County, Missouri (Author: William H. Woodson, published by Historical Publishing Company, Topeka - Indianapolis, 1920.) we find:

   “The first circuit court was held in Clay County at the house of John Owens, in Liberty, March 4, 1822. David Todd, an uncle of the wife of Abraham Lincoln, who was Mary Todd, was judge; William L. Smith, clerk; Hamilton R. Gamble, circuit attorney, and John Harris, sheriff.”

   And later:

   “John Harris was a lineal descendant of Mary Jefferson, sister of Thomas Jefferson; Mary Jefferson married Col. John Turpin and her daughter, Obedience, married Col. John Harris.”

   Now, enters my 4th Great Grandfather Abraham Creek, son of a German architect and brick mason, Killian Creek (original Guilliam Grieg, with the Germanic name anglicized) whose fame includes both Killian Kreek’s Mill, built in Barren County, Kentucky in 1799 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the first Gibson County (Indiana) courthouse built in Princeton, Indiana in 1815. Abraham Creek was one of the earliest pioneers in Clay County, Missouri, whose name appears a couple of times in conjunct with both David Todd (as aforesaid, Mary Todd Lincoln’s uncle) where he served as one of the twelve jurors in the earliest court case in the county:

   “The next term of the circuit court was in July following (1823), and only one jury trial, that of the State vs. Jonathan Camron, who had been indicted for affray. A jury of twelve good and true men were selected to try the defendant; they were Abijah Means, Richard Chaney, Abraham Creek, John Bartleson, James Gladden, Francis T. Slaughter, Enos Vaughn, Andrew Copelin, John Carrell, Matthew Averett, Eppa Tillery and Samuel Magill, who after hearing the evidence, instructions of the court, and arguments of counsel, retired, but soon returned with a verdict, “We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty”. (Also from the History of Clay County, Missouri, by Woodson.)

   …and later we find that Abraham Creek was a neighbor to another Abraham,

   “Court Proceedings in 1826. In May the first steps were taken to build a court house; Wm. Averett was allowed $30 per year for the support of his insane son; and Abraham Lincoln (uncle of the "martyr President"), Reuben Tillery and Abraham Creek were appointed reviewers of a road from Liberty to Estes' mill, on Fishing river.

   Abraham Creek was the father of Jacob Haudenscheldt (or Howdeshell) Creek who married Virginia Lee Younger, the daughter of Colonel Charles Lee Younger and sister to Henry Washington Younger. Henry Washington Younger was a businessman with varied commercial enterprises: a mercantile business, a livery stable and extensive farmlands worked by family slaves. His grandfather, Joshua Logan Younger, was with George Washington during the exhaustive ordeal at Valley Forge and later critically wounded serving under Washington at the Battle of Brandywine. His grandmother was related to the famous Lee family of Virginia, reputed by many to be the daughter of Richard Henry Lee and Anne Aydelott. (She was not named in the Will of Richard Henry Lee, as she predeceased him by some seven years, a fact that causes some members of the Lee family to dispute her heritage.) But, more germane to this article, Henry Washington Younger was the father of Thomas Coleman, James Hardin, John Harrison and Robert Ewing Younger, better known as Cole, Jim, John and Bob Younger or, simply, as the Younger Gang. Henry Washington Younger’s slaughter at the hands of a Union thug, Capt. Irvin Walley and his gang of unscrupulous “soldiers” was the impetus that drove Cole Younger to determine it necessary to join sides in the Civil War.

   Most know of the history of the Younger Gang both during the War as Cole rode with William Clarke Quantrill along with Creek cousins, a couple of brothers-in-law and various friends including Frank and Jesse James and afterwards as the former “bushwhackers” became “civilly disobedient” in their outrage against the scourge of carpetbaggers that swarmed the South following the end of the War.

   Thus, the relatives of Abraham Creek, Abraham Lincoln (the uncle to Honest Abe), and David Todd (uncle to Mary Todd Lincoln) would find themselves embroiled in the bloodiest war in the history of the United States with much of the action centering in and around Clay County, Missouri. The juxtaposition of friendly neighbors, busy at work doing what must be done to establish a thriving community became a hotbed of hatred, revenge, and outrage that mystifies us even today.

   A quirk of fate, a chance encounter….

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

Always Looking – People Who Made a Difference XXII

Meet Malvina Reynolds

   Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978) was an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, best known for writing songs like “Little Boxes,” “What Have They Done to the Rain,” and “Magic Penny.” Often recorded by other artists (such as Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, and Pete Seeger), her songs were very famous during the 60s and 70s of the past century.

   Born Malvina Milder in San Francisco to Jewish immigrant parents, Reynolds was raised a socialist and atheist, and married William Reynolds, a carpenter and socialist organizer. She earned a BA and MA in English, and later a doctorate, from UC Berkeley.

   Jobs were scarce during the Depression, even for women with PhDs. Reynolds wrote a column for the People’s World and eventually took a job on a bomb factory assembly line during WW II while her husband worked as a carpenter in a shipyard.

   She began her songwriting career in the late 1940s after meeting folk singers and songwriters. Ultimately she recorded six albums for adults and three for children. Later in life Reynolds attended Unitarian Universalist churches and was a member of the Berkeley UU Church, where she often sang at services.

   She was quoted as saying “I don’t think of myself primarily as a writer of children’s songs. . . . I’m not your nice old grandma. However . . . I have this sharp cutting edge . . . because I do care for people. I care about children, and I think the world is ripping them off, taking away their natural environment and much more than that . . . and leaving them stripped, uneasy, uncomfortable, and in deep trouble, and it’s because of that that I’m so sharp.”
    Adapted from: and
Author's Note: I remember Clara and me, back in the 1970s when we were both Sunday School teachers at our church, learning to sing “Magic Penny” at a religious education training workshop in Dallas, from a teacher who had learned it directly from Malvina.

Magic Penny

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

It's just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won't have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you'll have so many
They'll roll all over the floor.

For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

Money's dandy and we like to use it,
But love is better if you don't refuse it.
It's a treasure and you'll never lose it
Unless you lock up your door.

For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

So let's go dancing till the break of day,
And if there's a piper, we can pay.
For love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

© Malvina Reynolds
Pictures Above are of Malvina Reynolds; Picture Below is of her copyrighted sheet music for Magic Penny.
Researched and compiled by John I. Blair

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Irish Eyes


I remember, I remember
The house where I was born.
The little window where the sun,
Came peeping in at morn.

    I can’t identify with that sentiment of Thomas Hood.

    The house that I was born and grew up in backed on to the “Lodge Lane.” My father, a master of over simplification and sometime wit, used to say that we lived “in the shelter of the road ditch.” Our house had no windows facing the road. My forebears didn’t pay any attention to Thomas Fuller’s assertion that, “Light, God’s eldest daughter is the principal beauty in a building.”

   In Kerry such a dwelling would be described as Tig a’doicheall (the house of no welcome.) But the design of our house had nothing to do with inhospitality but with climatic foresight.

   I don’t know if lack of adequate diurnal illumination from one side had any sort of serious detrimental effect on me psychologically but not being able to see the owner of a footfall could be somewhat frustrating for a small child, especially one with an enquiring and restless mind, although I could eventually identify those with a peculiar or unique step or other audible characteristic. One neighbour had a distinctive throat clearing exercise followed by an audible discharge of the result on to the road. Another hummed a particular tune. (I presume it was a tune it was a consistent “rowdedly dowdedly dom.”)

   In the days when the horse and cart dominated, my ancestors could tell who the owner was from “the clout of his axle” but I found it more difficult to identify vehicular traffic. A Thames van sounded different to a Ferguson tractor but that was about it.

   Whenever I am awoken from my slumber by the sound of an engine, be it in Ballybunion or Belgrade, Lifford or Lisbon, I am no longer an OAP with free travel. For the first few of my awaking moments it is no longer the twenty-first century. It is once again the early fifties. And my auricular faculty is receiving the sound of an engine labouring up the Lodge Lane .

   However there is now a new phenomenon in vehicular traffic that will puzzle even the most sensitive auricular sense. ESB launched The Great Electric Drive for the second year running in February 2014. This included an invitation to members of the public and business organisations to join a new team of Ecar ambassadors to trial an electric vehicle.

   There were 20,000 applications and 32 ambassadors were selected. Each will trial an Ecar for a period of four months. I interviewed one of those Stephen O Brien, from Celbridge, County Kildare. Stephen took me as a passenger in the electric Nissan Leaf.. I would, however, be concerned about one safety factor. When travelling at under 30KPH it emits a barely high frequency whine which is only discernible in the absence of all other surrounding sounds. I have contacted several main dealers about this feature but got a very poor response; but Colm Mooney from Linders Renault in Chapelizod, told me that as far as ‘Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems’ (AVAS) are concerned the most audible is the new Renault Zoe.

   Questions about the issue which I sent to the relevant people in ESB drew a blank. The Nissan Ireland Team replied with the following,
“This sound (not a whine, more a woosh) has been designed to be distinguishable in the hearing threshold of children and anyone with hearing devices. It's above the frequency threshold of sounds produced by Diesel engines. Inside the car the noise is projected ahead of the car so the driver is not distracted.
   Noise in a vehicle does not necessarily stop accidents. We unfortunately have bus, motorcycle, car accidents with pedestrians everyday. An S Class Mercedes turns over at an almost inaudible level- this is not cited as a safety risk. Pedestrians have a responsibility of safe road use.”

   Stephen put up over 1000 km in the first week and he says that the best road for chargers seems to be the M1, with quick charge points at Lusk, Castlebellingham. “The car itself is quick to move off and has enough in the tank to do the average daily commute” according to Stephen. He shares my concern about the lack of sound describing it as “deafeningly quiet.” He spoke of one incident in particular, “As I was on my way home yesterday I was heading into my estate and a young schoolchild on a bike cycled into the path of my car. It was only when I hit the horn that he swerved back into his lane with a face of fright on him.”

   Would Stephen buy an electric car? “I have to say as a second car it would be perfect. At the moment, all on street chargers are free to use and the cost for home charging is under €12 for approximately 900kms. There is no engine and no oil. A service is required every 30,000 km. At first the thought of "going dry" is a real fear, but once some quick planning is done as you would plan for a long trip with a map, the anxiety goes. The bible is the ESB ecar connect app on the phone which displays all current operating chargers in the country, it calculates where you are and how close you are to the closest charger.”

   When Alfred de Vigney wrote, “Seul le silence est grand” (Only silence is great) he couldn’t have foreseen the invention of the Ecar. The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, proposed by NHTSA, required the U.S. Transportation Department to write a rule addressing this issue by Jan. 4, 2014. Automakers would individually decide what the car sounds like when going less than 18 mph while meeting certain minimum requirements. According to a 2011 U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, electric vehicles are twice as likely to cause accidents while backing up, slowing or stopping, starting in traffic, or entering or leaving a parking space or driveway. The agency said a so-called “quiet car rule” could potentially save 35 lives and prevent 2,800 injuries each year, approximately costing an additional $35 per car.

   And in European Parliament MEPs voted to introduce mandatory ‘acoustic vehicle alerting systems’ (AVAS) – sounding like a conventional engine - to all new electric and hybrid cars to protect vulnerable road users. Electric cars and plug-in hybrid cars such as the all-electric BMWi3 or the Toyota Prius currently emit very little sound when running on electric power only. Earlier proposals from the European Commission called for the installation of an artificial sound system to be done on a voluntary basis only but Liberal Democrat MEPs successfully introduced an amendment making this a mandatory requirement for all electric and hybrid vehicles. Following the vote manufacturers in the EU will have five years to comply with the new rules.

   John Kilroy, Vehicle Standards Engineer with the Road Safety Authority told me;

   “During Ireland’s term as Presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2013, the Road Safety Authority chaired the Working Group meetings at which this proposal was progressed. Early in the discussions, Ireland made a submission that hybrid and electric vehicles would require the mandatory fitment of AVAS (it had been optional on behalf of manufacturers in the original proposal). Other Member States became supportive of these proposals and by the end of the Irish Presidency, a consensus was achieved requiring manufacturers to install AVAS in all new vehicles. The EU proposal for a regulation on vehicle noise was formally adopted as a regulation on 16 April 2014 (Regulation (EU) No 540/2014). There was some concern that this might not be done during the term of the outgoing European Parliament but thankfully there was a positive vote in Strasburg in probably one of their last sittings. The regulation takes effect from 1 July 2016 and includes provisions with regard to the mandatory fitment of Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS). It is optional for manufacturers to fit AVAS prior to the dates specified in Article 8 of the regulation, but where fitted it must comply with the harmonised requirements prescribed. Ireland has currently no plans to introduce the mandatory fitment of AVAS (or similar such devices) at dates earlier than those set out in the EU legislation.”

   The following information was given to me by Philippe JEAN, Head of Unit European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry Sustainable Mobility and Automotive Industry.

   “ Research shows a higher risk of crash between vulnerable road users (bicycles, pedestrians) and hybrid electric vehicles than with vehicles with internal combustion. All pedestrians are at risk but blind and partially sighted people are in those groups most at risk of experiencing collisions with quiet vehicles because they cannot see and hear the vehicles coming. . . All electric and hybrid vehicles will have to be fitted with an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) to compensate for the lack of audible signal in hybrid electric and pure electric vehicles and alert vulnerable road users that such a vehicle is coming in their direction. . . . the requirements on AVAS are based on an international work carried out under the auspices of the United Nations which set up a special working group to work on this issue. The group is currently discussing more precise requirements on AVAS (2nd phase).

   So, it appears that we may have adequate audio warning systems in the future but what will happen in the meantime?

Pic Below: Stephen O'Brien in his trial ECAR

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