Friday, October 1, 2021

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

October 2021

“October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve
my smile into a thousand pumpkins....
Merry October!"”
— Rainbow Rowell

October arrives on a weekend which almost shouts "Time to Party!" Time for planning ahead so pumpkins can be found and Jack o'lanterns created. Halloween costumes can be a big decision because creativity must meet budget requirements, but must be worthy of providing satisfaction or a startling surprise. A holiday not just for kids, but one to exercise one's imagination.

Only one author sent something that could make one think of that annual Scary Day, with Pauline Evanosky's column "Woo Woo" relating her one Ghost Busting job. John Blair's "View from My Back Steps" presents an informative treatise for identifying North Texas trees. Melinda Cohenour delivers details on how one can use the internet, specifically to fill out a person's genealogy tree using info with DNA and Shared Matches.

Dayvid Bruce Clarkson's "Reflections of the Day" flows right off the page and into one's heart. He has such a charmiing way of making a point or sharing his thoughts. Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" is thought provoking as she tells how some people when grieving feel guilty not knowing what their loved one expects of them now.

Mattie Lennon (Irish Eyes) reviews two books by Michael Gerard Kenny, telling about the author's life and occupation (other than writing) and adds facts about Kenny's father who inspired him. Marilyn Carnell (Sifoddling Along) subtitles her column this issue as The Original Pineville which she says was once rather rough and woolly.

Thomas O'Neill (Introspective) was recently interviewed on the Sam Lasante TV show about his teaching in China. He shares the link to hear the YouTube interview. Rod Cohenour (Cooking with Rod) Brings to the table his innovative recipe for Rod's Tamale Pie which will bring you to the table to enjoy.

Dayvid Bruce Clarkson also has a poem this month, "Time to Head for The Dreamscape." Marie Stringile consented to share her poem "Good Morning" Her first appearance in this eZine. Check out her bio. Yours truly adds "Pain" to the poetry segment, an extract from the 2003 article "Tribute of a Patient."

"Bud Lemire's poems for this issue are "Don't Change the Name," "Behind The Old Jailhouse," and "A Country Song." John I. Blair sent one poem, "Unwelcome Immigrants" that will make you consider your feelings. Bruce Clifford shares two of his titled: "I Can't Imagine" and "Make Some Sense." Walt Perryman's three poems are "A Woman's Hands," "Tom Murray," and "Rambling On about God, You, and Me."

Saying again, Mike Craner and wife Susie, dear friends, support and assist in our efforts to keep this informational and entertaining publication viable despite the many demands, business, family, and personal in their lives. I admire and bless them every day. Thanks, Mike, for keeping our pencilstubs perking along.

We will see you in November!

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

By Melinda Cohenour

This has been a month of exhilaration and frustration. Early in the month my daughter received her latest DNA matches.

My first husband, the father of both my children, was adopted. He never knew his origins. In the past two years, through DNA miracles, we have been able to identify his birth father.

Through that identification, we have connected the dots for a number of his biological father's relatives. My daughter and her nephew, my son's first born, both tested through Ancestry.

Our search then became directed toward the identification of the biological mother. My ex-husband is now deceased, and he never knew anything other than the fact his earliest memories belied the story his adoptive mother continued to repeat. She absolutely refused to acknowledge she had never given birth to a child but had adopted him and his younger sister.

Imagine our excitement when a new close DNA match came up for my daughter and this DNA match had even offered a prospective biological Mother's identity!

I immediately began attempting to document the line from the woman whose name appeared on Cousin Saylor's tree. We are going to call her Mystery Mom.

My plan of action was to complete a shadow tree inserting Mystery Mom as my ex-husband's bio mother. I then searched for DNA matches to Mystery Mom's maiden name. It was then necesary to review those matches for one with an attached tree or that showed a common ancestor.

I'm a novice to some extent with DNA research although I have attempted to read and absorb as much information as possible. There are a number of applications, a few websites, and tools or methods described on the internet for cross referencing the information that accompanies the DNA match. For instance, Ancestry provides a suggested relationship based upon the number of centiMorgans and the projected lengths of the combined matching segments.

Unfortunately, the possible relationships are directly inverse to the number of matching centiMorgans. In other words, the higher the number of cMs, the fewer possible relationships exist. The fewer cMs, the more distant the relationship and an almost bewildering plethora of potential kinships. For instance, if Ancestry suggests the match to be a fourth cousin, there are about 25 possible relationships to choose from. Such as fourth cousin, third cousin, third cousin once removed, fourth cousin twice removed, so forth.

In order to identify the actual relationship, it is necessary therefore to build the shadow tree up from or down to the new DNA match. This entails extensive research, relying only upon verifiable documentation to link from one generation to the next. The more children for each profile and that process, the greater amount of time and luck is required for a completely successful effort.

Identification of other DNA matches with the same surname, might lead to a compact and verifiable tree, where the branches match up to the persons identified as Shared Matches and meet the requirements for the projected relationship. In other words, Joe Blow with 197 cMs over 12 segments, would neatly dovetail on the tree as the son or daughter of a half sibling whose DNA also fits the parameters for that relationship.

In the real world, however, not every generation can be clearly verified. It has been my experience this past month that too many of the names are very common. Just think of Joe Smith, times 25 individuals born at approximately the same time in the same locale even. Every single Joe Smith would need to have his life documented with birth records, marriage records, wives with unique maiden names that help to identify the children of that union clearly. And then, ideally, to be able to locate Census records or an obituary that provides biographical information and names of survivors, that will tie to the next generation.

Going back to Cousin Saylor's tree, I prepared a slot for Mystery Mom. I was able to use her name, the geographical location, and the birth date to identify her parents. As I filled in her vital information, I also sought to flesh out her parents, her marriages, and her known children. My reasoning was that a documented birth within her marriage, could preclude the possibility of her having also given birth to my ex husband at that time. My ex, Johnny, did have a birth certificate provided by his adoptive mother with a birth date of 15 February 1939. She readily acknowledged she had signed for him to go into the Air Force early. Unfortunately, the birth certificate must have been one typically provided in an adoption, where the date of birth and parental slots are those that match the adoption facts, but fail to name the biological parentage.

As it turns out, our prospective bio mom was in the correct geographical area at the correct age in the time frame that would permit her to conceive and deliver my ex-husband. It was also interesting to note that her husband worked for the railroad, thus conveniently out of the hometown for long stretches of time but still returning home often enough to cloud the paternal issue of any child born to her. Further, they divorced only a few years after my husband's birth, suggesting their marriage was rocky, leading one to suspect she might have been seeking a relationship outside her marriage.

Having built the shadow tree assuming Mystery Mom as the mother-in-law I never got to meet, it was now necessary to begin exploring the DNA matches that either used Mystery Mom's maiden name or that were Shared Matches for that surname. Each of these bonafide relatives would need to have their part in the tree extended to ancestors, peers, and descendants in order to test the possible relationships that met both requirements: the proper number of cMs for the relationship and a documented connection to the ancestral lineage.

I wish I could tell my readers I have proven Mystery Mom to be my ex-husband's biological mother; however, the process is ongoing. In the meantime, I can report the methodology of building the tree to encompass other DNA matches and their core families has permitted us to verify a number of those relationships to my daughter.

Stay tuned!

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


Cooking with Rod

By Rod Cohenour 


As we transition from Summer into Fall we turn to things like stews, casseroles, and other tummy-filling, warming meals. One of the easiest (and also one of my favorites) was one that I learned from my mom growing up in New Mexico. It's called Rodrigo's Tamale Pie.

You need a large pan, probably a 9" x 13" casserole dish, or a disposable aluminum roaster type pan to make the pie. Another essential? You MUST buy at least a dozen delicious homemade tamales! My personal favorites are beef or pork tamales but any good tamales - even chicken or green chile will do.

This dish is yummy for the tummy without setting the tongue on fire. Give it a try. You'll be glad you did.

Bon Appetit~!

Rodrigo's Tamale Pie


* 1 to 1-1/2 dozen homemade tamales
* 2 cans Hatch mild red Chile enchilada sauce (10.5 oz cans)
* 1 sweet red onion, diced
* 1 can whole kernel corn , drained well
* 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
* 24 oz Mexican or Fiesta Blend grated cheese
* 1 large bag Fritos type corn chips, lightly crushed
* Non-stick butter flavored spray


1. Lightly spray bottom of the casserole pan.

2. Using about 1/2 can of enchilada sauce, spread evenly over the bottom of the casserole pan.

3. Cut tamales into 1" chunks. Use half tamales in one layer.

4. Top with one-third of the crushed corn chips.

5. Now layer half the onion, drained whole kernel corn and half the black beans over the chips.

6. Layer one-third of the grated cheese over the veggies.

7. Repeat these layers, starting by drizzling the second half of the first can of enchilada sauce over the cheese layer.

8. Use another THIRD of the corn chips in this layer and one-third of the grated cheese.

9. Spread the second can of enchilada sauce over all the layers.

10. Top with the last third of the cheese and the remaining one-third lightly crushed corn chips.

11. Bake casserole in 350° oven until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.

Serve hot, accompanied by warm tortillas, icy cold creamery butter, fresh guacamole, a crisp salad, crisp veggies like radishes and bell pepper strips, green onions, celery with a queso dip.

One of my favorite drinks with this dish is Mexican hot chocolate and of course, for those who prefer a cold drink, iced tea or lemonade.

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



View from My Back Steps

By John I. Blair

North Texas Basic Tree ID

For about 35 years I’ve been the proprietor of a quarter acre of sandy loam in a portion of north Texas known as the Cross Timbers. For the first 20 years I was still in good enough shape I could take care of this land myself, doing all the digging and hoeing and weeding and trimming and sawing and general grubbing required to keep a tiny patch of land looking however I, at that moment in time, visualized it. And I learned a lot of garden lore in addition to what I had already picked up in the previous 45 years of my life.

But then I got to the point where I had to pay others to do much of that work for me, as my back and other bodily parts just wouldn’t take the strain any more. As I type this, in fact, my lower back is aching already and my hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, arms . . . everything is complaining merely about not being flat on a soft bed.

Hiring someone else to garden for you works fine if you can locate a skilled worker who can also read your mind. But that rarely happens.

Instead, on the good days, I have to work with well-meaning, hard-working people who can’t tell an elm tree from a chinaberry. Or Asiatic jasmine from honeysuckle for that matter.

In case this should ever become a problem in your life, here’s my “Blair’s Quick Guide to North Texas Tree Identification for some of the more common trees in my own yard.

Pecan: Pecan leaves are “pinnate” and composed of around a dozen or more leaflets. Overall the leaf may be 12 to 18 inches long while each leaflet will be sickle-shaped (hooked), 4-7 inches long and 1-3 inches wide. The leaflets are alternate (opposite one another on each side of the center stem) in arrangement. The leaf, composed of these leaflets, is pinnate or feather-like in appearance. Also of note is the edges of the leaflets. They are jagged or toothed around their edges.

American Elm: The leaves of American elm have serrated edges, a distinct pointy tip, and an uneven (oblique) base. One side of the leaf base is always longer than the other. Also, feel the upper surface of the leaf. Most elm leaves have a rough surface that feels like sandpaper.

Hackberry: The leaves of Common hackberry are glossy green, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate and the base is rounded and asymmetric. They are 6 - 10 cm (2.5 – 3.9 in) long and 2,5 – 5 cm (1 – 2 in) broad. The leaf margin is serrated. ... The flower is greenish and comes shortly after the leaf shoots.

Red Oak: Red oak leaves are simple and arranged alternately on the twig. ... They are 7 to 11 lobed, and 5 to 9 inches long with slender petioles 1 to 2 inches long. The lobes are usually no longer than one third the total leaf width; the sinuses of the lobes are u-shaped and the tips of the lobes are bristle tipped.

White Oak:White oak leaves are simple and arranged alternately on twigs. They are 7 to 9 lobed, 5 to 9 inches long with short petioles. The lobes are rounded without bristle tips and vary in length from leaf to leaf but are rather uniform on the same leaf. Surface color is dull green and paler below.

Live Oak: Quercus virginiana leaves stay green year round. It is a semi-deciduous evergreen tree. Depending on the live oak tree age the leaves are normally from 2" to 4" long . Their leaves are very simple and may stay on the tree throughout the winter until new leaves grow in the spring. The leaves are usually narrow to a long oval and are stiff. The upper leaf is shiny and dark green and the underside is normally a light green. Leaves are slightly rolled on the underside.

Chinaberry (Melia azedarach): The leaves are alternate and compound and usually bipinnately but sometimes tripinnately with lengths of 1-2 feet land width of 9-16 inches. The leaves emit a musky odor when crushed. The leaflets are lance shaped and taper towards the tip with a dark green upper surface a lighter green under surface.

Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana): Leaves are firm, smooth, evergreen, narrowly elliptic, tapered to a pointed tip and equally tapered to the base. Margins are smooth on reproductive trees, with narrow, pointed teeth on saplings and root sprouts. Upper surface is dark green and shiny, the lower surface lighter and duller.

Mexican Plum (Prunus Mexicana): a single-trunked, non-suckering tree, 15-35 ft. tall, with fragrant, showy, white flowers displayed before the leaves appear. ... Leaves up to 5 inches long and 2 inches wide, ovate to narrower with serrate margins; minute glands on the petiole near the base of the blade.

This is just a partial list (and can only be partial), as theoretically just about any tree that can grow in north Texas may try to grow in my yard, although ones like bald cypresses are very unlikely to volunteer. Happy hunting!

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



Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

From Kilkelly to South Carolina
and from East Clare to The World

Michael Gerard Kenny was born and raised in Kilkelly Co Mayo. He now owns a successful machinery business in South Carolina. He got there via Galway, Limerick, Cork, and Dublin. He Left Ireland in 1980 to work overseas for a mining machinery company. He worked in the U.K. then briefly in the USA before spending 4 yrs in Southern Africa and then moving to the USA again in 1985 with Powerscreen Intl. He then set up his own company which he still runs today along with his two American- born sons Adam and Eoin.

Amid all the hard work and success he had a burning desire to write a book. Not just any book.

Ireland’s Final Rebellion and an American Dream’ is based in this book on his father’s life and his involvement in the Tan War of 1919-1921. Kenny senior was an unassuming tailor, tall and straight tailor, who always wore a shirt and tie and smoked Carroll’s cigarettes and made suits for the males of the district, and did alterations. He was fifty-seven when Gerard was born. He had been an active fighter during the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence, and he received a small state pension for that. He did not like to talk much about the war and deflected Gerard’s questions about The Tan War, saying he would tell him more when he was older.

Michael Gerard says, “I did hear enough in family-circle conversation and from listening in on the regular get-togethers of his Old IRA comrades at our tailor shop to form my own picture of his life.“ Michael Gerard’s father was born in 1897 and grew up in a turbulent period of Irish history.

MrKenny-Freedom Fighter

He was very close with his Grandmother who lived to be almost 100. She filled his head with the feats of the mystic warrior heroes of Irish Legend. He became active in various resistance movements (the IRB, Irish Volunteers and Sinn Fein) perhaps, partly, as a result of his grandmother’s influence. After the 1916 executions he became a full-time IRA fighter on the run during the1919-1921 campaign and fought without capture up to the declaration of the Truce.

His son says,” He was vehemently Anti-Treaty but chose neutrality during the Civil War rather than take up arms against his former comrades.” He went back to his tailoring until he was arrested and imprisoned by the (Free State Army). During his incarceration, he went on hunger strike and was close to death when the prisoner’s hunger strike was finally called off.

He died suddenly in April 1969, and Michael Gerard says, “I was left with only memories and unanswered questions. One of those memories was that of his expressed regret at not having emigrated to America like many of his war comrades did. At his funeral I decided that I would make good on his missed opportunity – I would someday emigrate to America.”

Michael did indeed keep that promise. Despite being a busy businessman he has left us two well-written and informative books. In ‘Just one of the Boys’ the author uses the fictional Kane family to portray events in an Irish history that propelled ordinary Irish men and women to take up arms in 1919 and fight the oppressor. In Book 2 ‘An American Dream’. The fictitious Sean Kane shows the author’s own journey from Kilkelly to where he is today. In it, the reader finds that Michael Gerard Kenny has really realized the American Dream.

Michael Gerard Kenny

I spoke to some of his fellow- Mayo men and amid the excitement of the All Ireland Final and Tyrone winning they made time to discuss it with me. John McGrath was impressed by the accuracy of the detail on growing up in rural Ireland in the 50s and 60s. John was also overwhelmed by the writing style which he described as being “somewhere between American and Irish.“

Des Garvin from north Mayo went through the book(s) with a fine-tooth comb. He is not bothered by the absence of any real identity as to where the battles took place as he knows the place like the back of his hand.

Ireland’s Final Rebellion and An American Dream was published through Amazon KDP in early March 2021 and is available as both an e-book and paperback on: or the author’s website: where a link to Amazon will be available. Readers' comments are always welcome. Details at:

* * * * *

“I first experienced Marie's expertise on the physio table while playing for the Clare football team in the late '80s and I remember excruciating pain followed later by magical relief.” This comment and a bit of additional information on Marie O’ Sullivan prompted me to seek out "Song to Ireland.”

February 2021 saw Marie O ‘Sullivan and her sister Siobhán release their maiden CD of much loved Irish songs accompanied by a trio of great east Clare musicians, John Canny, Mark Donnellan, and Michael Landers (who is described as “an immigrant to East Clare” But we’re not told from where.).

The history of each of the eleven tracks is given in the sleeve notes. And in a wonderfully informative Foreword Tomás MacConmara says, “Marie and Siobhán must have had considerable difficulty as a result of the endless fountain before them.” I agree and with whatever difficulties they encountered along they turned their stumbling blocks into stepping stones to produce a work of art. This album is not to be missed and it is ideal for broadcasting as every track is less than four minutes. The sisters along with their talent on accordion, fiddle, and guitar have produced a collector’s piece.

Siobhán told me, “The genesis of this CD was to commemorate 1920 which was the year our grandmother's house and shop was burnt by the Tans as she was a member of Cumann na mBan. I am a history and English teacher of 30 years, so this is a labour of love documenting the history of our past as presented through song and music. Marie and I have been singing from a young age, as we were brought on guard to neighbor's homes and one had to perform. The response to our CD has been immensely positive as it has evoked memories for people of loved one's long gone or for those away from home.”

I, for one, am looking forward to their next one. Details from: €1 from the sale of each CD is donated to Milford Care Centre.

* * * * *

A visiting Professor was addressing a large audience in Trinity College, Dublin on the subject of modern nutrition. "The rubbish we put into our stomachs should have killed most of us sitting here, years ago. Red meat is full of steroids and dye. Soft drinks corrode your stomach lining. Chinese food is loaded with MSG. High trans-fat diets can be disastrous, and none of us realize the long-term harm caused by the germs in our drinking water. But, there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all and most of us have, or will eat it. Can anyone here tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?" After several seconds of quiet a 70-year-old mountainy man from Kylebeg in the front row raised his hand, and softly said, "Wedding Cake?"

I’ll see you in November.

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