Saturday, June 1, 2019

Editor's Corner


June 2019

"It is the month of June,
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes
and pleasant scents the noses."
--Nathaniel Parker Willis .

Long heralded as the month for brides, your editor's first jump across the marital broomstick was in the direct center of the month - June 15 - but the legality didn't last as many years as the days counted down from the first of the month to the wedding sunrise. It should have been perfect! Parents had married in June and sailed a steady matrimonial vessel as did many other couples too numerous to recount. So, what rocked our boat? Another thing June is known for - remorse, recriminations, roses that have lost their petals, reading. And that's where Pencil Stubs Online saves the day.

Our authors have done their part to cheer you up if you have the June jitters. Sixteen poems have been composed to set your mind into other pathways. There is a story by Barbara Irvin ("Marital Mishap"), and columns from around the world to bring new perspectives to peruse.

Both Bud Lemire and John I. Blair submitted six poems. Bud Lemire's are "Things We Need to Let Go" "The Free Items Table," "Journey in A Song," "The Island," "Polish Poker," and "Cribbage." Those last two are illustrated.

John I Blair's half dozen are: "Blackie", "Ants," "Dreams," "Drive By," "Primroses in The Grass," and "Waiting for Tornadoes."

Phillip Hennessey said this poem jumped into his mind and had to be shared: "It May As Well Be Me." Bruce Clifford penned a couple: "The Land" and "Time Flash." Barbara Irvin's poem for June is "About to Go On." Also in this issue, as mentioned above, her short story "Marital Mishap."  

Marilyn Carnell (Sifoddling Along) discloses the history and celebration of Pineville's Earthquake Day. LC Van Savage (Consider This) confesses how and just how much board games leave her boredl Judith Kroll (On Trek) comments on Free Will and gaining serenity from relaxing in a lovely setting.

Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) shares the info from the newspaper concerning his getting his Bachelor's Degree. When clicking the link he shared, the newspaper pops up a survey which requires one answer as the key to seeing the article about O'Neill and a great photo of him with some of his Chinese students. Mattie Lennon sends his column (Irish Eyes) from the annual Writer's Week in Listowel, while mingling among fellow playrights and authors. Rod Cohenour's at it again with some suggestions for one of his cherished recipes - M's Polynesian Beef Tips with Cilantro Lime Rice.

Melinda Cohenour (Armchair Genealogy) devotes her column this month to doing a tutorial to help our readers struggling on not only what does all the DNA info mean, but how to employ the data into their own genealogy Family Trees.

We appreciate Michael Craner, our co-founder and the webmaster who keeps us in our place in order to bring you the eZine each month. Thanks again, Mike!

See you in July!

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


DNA: Advances in Aid of Research

      In continuance of the search for the adoptive parents of my first husband (found the father, need the bio mother’s identity confirmed now) and the mystery grandfather of my firstborn grandson, Adam, your author has discovered some new aids in that quest.

      Hip! Hip! Hooray! Ancestry has added some new features to its DNA application. So far these features are useful only in the organization of the matches to a DNA test. However, given that my own DNA test has now resulted in literally thousands and thousands of matches (mostly, of course, cousins), any improvement in organizing those bits of data will help turn the data into information. (In case you are not a statistician or analyst who has been tasked with absorbing tons of DATA and trying to make sense of it in such a manner that it INFORMS your management group, organization and analysis is the key. Mere collection of bits and pieces of facts and statistics does not help to form cohesive understanding of WHAT IT ALL MEANS. One must find a way to massage the data, make comparisons, draw conclusions, confirm suspicions, and emerge successfully with INFORMATION!)

      To that end, Ancestry has just revealed the new applications that should help make sense of all those DNA matches! Where did they come from? How are we related? How does this data help me make sense of my ultimate goal – WHO AM I?

      First of all, FINALLY, a way to sort the useless matches from those destined to provide clues: [Straight from Ancestry’s introduction to the new applications:]

      Filter and sort your matches
• Common ancestors - see matches who may share a common ancestor with you based on Ancestry trees (formerly Shared Ancestor Hints).
• New - people that have been matched to you in the last 14 days.
• Tree status - sort your matches by just those with public, private or unlinked trees.
• Messaged - see matches who you've sent messages to.
• Notes - see matches you've written notes about.

      COMMON ANCESTORS: These matches will typically provide a quick, down and dirty “look-see” to aid in building the tree. These folks have done their own research (usually – unless they blindly add every “Hint” or copy others’ trees without discretion) and Ancestry has been able to identify the MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor). This helps in determining relationships. I frequently add the match’s tree data in. That, of course, expands my tree, but why bother with DNA testing if you don’t?

      NEW: These are the ones you will want to check first. There may be a real pearl among these matches – the very match that confirms a relative you suspected was in your line but had no proof. What better proof than DNA, SO LONG as the other person’s tree is well-documented. Otherwise, they may have simply added a (famous?) person’s name into their tree in hopes of that being true. Can’t say it enough – do your own research, regardless.

      PUBLIC, PRIVATE, UNLINKED TREES: For those new to the process, folks who take a DNA test do serve a highly valuable purpose: their DNA helps to further the science of discovering how ALL humans relate to one another. It helps with building profiles of our earliest ancestors, who they lived near, how they interacted even to the merging of their “tribes” and so forth. However, for the researcher seeking to locate a missing link by confirmation of “known” facts from suspected facts, those who fail to link their DNA to a specific tree, or to a Private tree, are defeating the purpose. There simply is NO information to be gained from the research into that person’s documented (paper trails, folks, Bibles, Census records, local, state, and federal documents that are tirelessly scanned and then made available via the Internet) family history. This new sort key permits a researcher to quickly eliminate those matches with little to no chance of providing new INFORMATION. Thus, the serious researcher will want to check those PUBLIC trees linked to Matches first to glean the most data to INFORM their search.

      MESSAGED: Unless a response has been cordially provided, those we’ve spent time messaging in the past are highly unlikely to now help. Forget them.

      NOTES: I am a firm believer in Notating the matches after I investigate them. Why bother to do the work and then have no reminder of what that search turned up?

      Updated relationship likelihood chart Click on the 'i' icon next to the amount of DNA you share with a match (cM) to see the possible relationships and the percentage of time they appear between people who share that amount of DNA.

      This is a helpful little tool. The greater the cMs shared, the closer the relationship; however, the length of the segments, number of segments matched, and cMs shared can be confusing because the relationships indicated could be Cousins OR Nieces/Nephews or Aunts/Uncles. Just another hint to help you figure it all out. (Might be time to make a NOTE)

      Custom groups Click 'add to group' to add any of your matches to a custom group. You can create up to 24 groups, which can each be assigned a color. This is a great way to organize your matches by family line.

      All righty now! Here is where your author got excited. The old Starred match tool was helpful – to a degree – until one had more than one line of curiosity. Then, the Stars sort of lost their significance. NOW you can color code the known lines. I believe I shall code closest Maternal line (Joslin here) with PINK and the closest Paternal line (Carroll) BLUE. Then next will be the grandparents and greats: Bullard, Hopper, Godwin, Alexander, Anderson – divided into diluted color matches to the Maternal and Paternal lines. That, at least, is my initial plan. This may take some playing around to best utilize those 24 custom groups – but WOW! So happy to see this new tool!

      Mother's side and father's side labels Maternal or paternal labels for matches you share with your mother or father (if your parents have taken an AncestryDNA test).

      Unfortunately, DNA testing did not come about early enough to permit my parents to be tested. This still MIGHT provide a bit of help – if I can figure a wise way to fake the data. For instance, having been given some really excellent family histories upon which to build my initial tree, I have a really sound idea of which MRCAs go to which parental line. Stay tuned.

      Updated compare features Click on a match to preview the public trees, surnames and birth locations for your matches. You can also see how your ethnicity estimate compares and which other DNA matches you share.

      Now, this is publicized as though it is a new app; however, your author has been checking these clues when no other info is available. It is marginally helpful and totally dependent upon how well you confirm what you suspect by hard, classic research methods.

      Hide a match Click 'tools' in the upper right corner of the match compare page to hide a match.

      It is possible, I suppose, for a match to be a mistake. Without having encountered a need to do so, I cannot fathom another reason for choosing to hide a match. ??

      Last logged in Click on a match's name from the match compare page to see when they last logged in to Ancestry.

      The most obvious use of this tool is to gauge how “into it” your match might be and, therefore, how likely they might be useful in providing additional insights.

      Interesting how this works in my own family. The tests that match most closely to my own are my sister (Unlinked tree), my daughter (Unlinked tree), my niece (Unlinked tree) and a 1st cousin (Unlinked tree).

      Ah, well. It is a good thing I KNOW those folks. It is NOT a good thing that any DNA secrets their own tests might reveal will be much, much harder to zero in on.

      And that, dear readers, is the DNA tutorial for this month. Keep seeking the leaves and roots to your own trees via Armchair Genealogy!

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

Cooking with Rod


June – Springing into Summer

      Oh, all right. I know. A bit cheesy “ SPRINGing into Summer”, but it appears that is what is about to happen. Oklahoma and surrounding states have been faced with horrific weather challenges this Spring: floods, tornadoes, high winds, HUGE hailstones resulting in lots and lots of damage. We need something to brighten our outlook even if that means more Oklahoma HEAT. 

      This great recipe created by my sweet M should do the trick. It will put a smile on your face while it fills the tummy! And, it has just enough heat to make you reach for that icy sweet tea or tangy lemonade.

      Bon appetit~!

Melinda Cohenour
April 9, 2009

• 5 lbs. lean stew meat
• ½ cup Non-fat chicken broth
• 1 large red bell pepper, cubed
• 1 large green bell pepper, cubed
• 1 medium-large Bermuda onion, diced
• 2 cans Pineapple cubes and juice (about 20 oz)
• 2 cans diced tomatoes (about 16 oz.)
• 1 tomato can of water (use to rinse out both cans)
• Garlic powder
• Onion powder
• Black pepper
• Parsley flakes
• Chile pepper, ground fine (New Mexico style, preferred)
• ½ bottle Ken’s Asian Ginger-Soy dressing

    1. Rinse stew meat. Heat electric skillet to 350ยบ. Add stew meat. Season with garlic and onion powders, pepper and chile powder. Pour chicken broth into skillet. Close steam vent completely. Permit meat to slowly steam and brown. Stir to break into separate cubed pieces. Continue to cook with steam vent closed for about 30 minutes, until meat is evenly cooked.
    2. Open steam vent and continue to cook, permitting gathered liquids to cook down and tenderize meat pieces. After about another 15-20 minutes, add juice from one can of pineapple chunks to meat. Stir well, remove skillet lid and permit meat to continue to simmer in liquids, letting liquids evaporate and meat to begin to brown.
    3. When properly browned on one side, stir well. Add diced fresh peppers and onions. Add both cans of diced tomatoes. Fill one can with water and use that 1 can to rinse out both tomato cans to use all the juice. DO NOT ADD PINEAPPLE YET. Bring to a good steam again with skillet lid back on and steam vent closed. When vegetables have steamed and onions are almost translucent, add pineapple cubes and sprinkle liberally with parsley flakes. Let cook with steam vent only partially open for about 5-10 minutes. Add ½ bottle Ken’s Asian Ginger-Soy dressing. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes. Stir well, turn off skillet heat and cover with lid.
    4. Serve over prepared Cilantro-Lime Rice. Serves 10. 

• 8 cups chicken broth (add water, if necessary, to broth to make an even 8 cups)
• 4 cups white long-grain rice
• Lime juice (best to use the little lime filled with juice found in the Produce Department
• Cilantro, washed, dried, bulk of stems cut off and leaves and top stems chopped roughly.

Prepare rice per manufacturer’s instructions (usually heat broth/water to boiling, add rice, stir, lower heat, cook about 5 minutes.) Turn heat off and permit to sit for 30 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked tender. Add lime juice and a goodly amount of the cilantro (to taste).
Serve rice topped with Polynesian Beef Tips, hot.
Delicious with a simple tossed salad and a baguette of fresh French or Sourdough bread.

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

Irish Eyes


Writers week 2019

       It’s that time of year again, I’m writing from Listowel Writers’ Week. Listowel is this year’s tidiest town. The festival began on Wednesday 29th with this year’s festival officially opened by award winning author Joseph O’Connor, one of our most prominent authors in Ireland today. In 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. His nine novels include Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls and Ghost Light. His new novel Shadowplay will be published in June. Amongst his very successful novels is Star of the Sea which was a choice of Richard and Judy and was the highest selling literary novel in the UK in 2002, selling more than a million copies has now been published in almost 40 languages.

       His novels have won many prizes and accolades around the world. Joseph received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin in 2011 and he received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. Joseph gave a funny and uplifting reading of his own work and opened the festival to thunderous applause. President Colm Toibin brought the house down with his eloquent contribution and additional entertainment was provided by “the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion” Liam O’ Connor and songwriter Emma Langford from Limerick. That Listowel legend Danny Hannon affectionately known as “the old pro” was presented with the “John B. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award 2019.” At 86 years of age the great champion of new writing for theatre hasn’t lost any of his wit or drive.

President Higgins at Listowel

      (Michael D. Higgins visited Listowel ahead of Writers’ Week. The President praised Listowel’s sense of community in winning the National Tidy Towns Competition. President Higgins and his wife Sabina were welcomed in The Square, Listowel on May 25th by the Presentation School Band and received a guard of honour from the Girl Guides, Brownies and Ladybirds.)

* * * * *

      Thursday started with a Yoga session, in which I didn’t participate. But the river walk narrated by Owen McMahon covered every aspect of Listowel past and present. The day included book launches too numerous to mention and two dramas The Curse of the Button Accordion and Inisfallen Fare Thee Well were not to be missed. Both were one-person performances; Comedian, Sharon Mannion gave a brilliant performance in “The Curse . . .” and veteran actor Ronan Wilmot was his usual star self in "In Inisfallen Fare Thee Well."

      The Michael Harthett Memorial Poetry Event was a wonderful session. The night finished (late!) with  Poets’ Corner , and open mic session in Christy’s Bar.

* * * * *

      Today, Friday, I once again skipped the yoga in the morning. But the Town Walk with local historian, Vincent Carboy wasn’t something to be missed. Vincent is a walking library on all matters past and present pertaining to Listowel . He brought us in the footsteps of bell-ringers, blacksmiths, painters and shoemakers. Stories of weavers and harness-makers were woven seamlessly into tales of great writers like John B. Keane and Bryan McMahon.
      Two dramas, Red Noise with Owen O ‘Neill, and Life Sucks were both flawless productions. The former is a mixture of storytelling and poetry. The true stories from his own life include an account of how he was struck by lightening at the age of nine. And how he was interrogated by an IRA man with a stammer, (“It was the longest two hours of my life.” )

      Author Christine Dwyer Hickey, as usual, gave a great account of herself, in her interview with Niall Macmonagle. Her latest novel, The Narrow Land, was published to great acclaim earlier this year.

       At the time of writing the festival (one of the greatest literary events in the world) is only halfway through. ( Apart from workshops and fringe proceedings I have counted eighty one events .)

      But before I close the laptop let me tell you about the launch of Farewell to Poetry; Selected Poems and Translations, by prolific poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice. I won’t tell you Gabriel’s age but let me say that I believe he has a portrait in his attic. He pretends that he doesn’t know how many books of poetry he has written but I lost count at sixty. “The poems picked themselves,” Gabriel says of the 164 poems that make up what he threatens to be this final poetry collection.

       “These are the poems that speak to me,” he says and in his introduction, explains how he came to the conclusion that “the job is done”. I hope he changes his mind about saying “Goodbye.”

      I’ll fill you in on other aspects of the festival in next month.. Billy Keane once described Writers’ Week, the first literary festival in Ireland, as, “ . . . a kind of modern day version of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1960s, where everybody is chilled and into peace on earth and the flourishing of the arts and of writing.”

      Which reminds me; “The annual “ Healing Session”, the greatest open-mic session in Europe, if not the world, will be held again in John B. Keane’s on Sunday.

      See you in July with a full account.

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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?That’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.

Contact LC at

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