Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair


September 2020

"Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soil."-- Peggy Toney Horton.

Yes the quote says soil not soul, although you will find a poem by Bud Lemire that addresses the soul this mohth, and Mattie Lennon certainly covers the subject of "soil" in his column.

September is the harvest month in many areas, but it also means School is upon us, and Football (Yea! Football!) School is a challenge as never before with the pandemic shutdowns and social distancing creating situations like parents having to become the teachers if home school is the decision. In some places, even if actual school can be attended a couple days a week, the home lessons are mandatory on the other week days. Parents are having to brush up on the required lessons along with their children. At the very least, it should give them a new appreciation for a teacher's occupation.

Bud Lemire's poetry this issue commemorates the recent loss of a brother "My Brother, Rich" and makes an effort to see both sides of mask-wearing "Believers and Unbelievers," plus the aforementioned "Perception of The Soul." John Blair sent two very different types with "Longwood," and "Midnight Bathers." Mike Craner's free verse especially touched yours truly with his descriptive "Campfire."

Bruce Clifford, still at home from his Carnival Cruise chores, offers "It Happens All The Time," "Long Lost Days," and "All The Noise." Your editor penned the brief whimsey, "Since."

Our columnists' submissions include the tasty recipes in Rod Cohenour's "Cooking with Rod;" a poetic memory by LC Van Savage in her column "Consider This;" Marilyn Carnell, "Sifoddling Along," shares the thoughts that Fall brings; Mattie Lennon, in "Irish Eyes" has a diversified discussion from home burials to digital traveling and includes a link to uTube recording by an Irish lass, "Bury me in the Garden." He has a request for help finding a certain app.

Judy Kroll's column "On Trek" gives her a chance to remind us of some 'Our Home" facts. Thomas F. O'Neill expands a discussion on gratitude in practical matters in his column, "Introspective." John Blaie shares his personal damage from a stormy night in Texas in his column "View from My Back Steps." Melinda Cohenour, our resident Genealogist, moves into an importan area where DNA has been found extremely useful in solving crimes. Her "Armchair Genealogy" includes a way that you can help if you wish, so check it out.

Nice to have a poem from you, Mike, and it touched this heart deeply. Once again I must declare how grateful I am for your expertise as well as your friendship and support in this endeavor.

See you in October.

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This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy


By Melinda Cohenour

Thoughts on DNA in the News

This past month, Joseph DeAngelo, known most commonly as the Golden State Killer, plead Guilty to13 murders and 13 rape/ kidnappings. His DNA was matched to more than 175 crimes where samples were preserved by law enforcement officials prior to advances that made replication of minute traces capable of being used to provide a full genetic profile of the person depositing that DNA. We now know that DNA profile was uploaded under a fictitious user name to the Gedmatch website and close matches were utilized to build a family tree that, ultimately led to identification of DeAngelo as the perpetrator of these heinous crimes. (A number of his double murders involved the bludgeoning of couples who had been bound and rendered helpless to his sick rage.)

"DeAngelo pleaded guilty in Sacramento County Superior Court last week to the 26 crimes he was formally charged with. He also admitted to 161 offenses he was never formally accused of because the deadline to prosecute them had long since passed, Temple said."
SOURCE: Ventura's County Star, 4 July 2020.

The plea agreement was negotiated to serve two purposes: to avoid a public trial that would expose his still-living victims to reliving the agony and terrors he had forced upon them, and to ensure a punishment that would prevent DeAngelo from ever leaving prison for the balance of his natural life.

The crimes now proven to have been committed by this one former police officer took place in the 1970s and '80's with many of the victims who survived his attacks having died since. The monikers attributed to this prolific madman were initially associated with, first, the common locations of the crimes and, second, a descriptive term of the crimes in which he engaged.


Over a hundred break-ins were his first known criminal activity where homeowners would return to their homes to find them in complete disarray - drawers and closets open, their contents strewn throughout, items of jewelry missing having been selected, apparently, not for their marketable value but for their intrinsic nostalgic value. This series of crimes earned DeAngelo the nick of the Visalia Ransacker. A clue to his perversions, however, was evident in his tendency to paw through, select, and maliciously smear and display feminine lingerie.


His crimes quickly escalated to rapes where the lone female victims were awakened by a bright flashlight shown in their face by an intruder wearing a variety of face coverings (ski masks, typically) and gloves. The trademark knot used to bind these victims earned him the Diamond Knot Rapist nickname. He later chose to remove his unused, pre-tied bindings (often heavy shoelaces brought with him.)


Later, his propensity for targeting victims on the Eastern suburbs of Sacramento brought on the published alias of the East Area Rapist.


As his crimes further escalated to violent murders in connection with his rapes, he was given the name of the Original Night Stalker in a move to distinguish his killings from those of Richard Ramirez who carried out his serial killings in Los Angeles and San Francisco for about a year 1974 - 1975 and was called the Night Stalker.


It was not until homicide and major crime detectives began to suspect a lone perpetrator of all these crimes and began to share case files, evidence, and - most importantly - DNA results, that Michelle McNamara coined the term the Golden State Killer.

The last horrific bludgeoning death post-rape carried out by this monster took place in 1986. The victim, Janelle Cruz, was a gorgeous eighteen-year-old, his last known victim, but certainly not his youngest. That was a girl only a few weeks beyond her thirteenth birthday when she was raped, her life spared.


Two prominent names arise when discussing use of DNA results combined with genealogical research savvy: Paul Holes, whose long law enforcement career began as a CSI (crime scene investigation) specialist and morphed into classic criminal investigation as a detective. Paul Holes was the man who managed to use his combination of skills to identify John Joseph DeAngelo and arrange his capture.

The other name most commonly associated with this skillset is CeCe Moore whose interest in genealogy and the emerging science of DNA led to her changing careers from model, spokesperson, actress to Genetic Detective. Ms. Moore's expertise began as a researcher and consultant for such shows as Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. where her focus was on reuniting splintered families due to abandonment or adoption. More recently, she worked with Parabon NanoLabs to solve more than 150 cold case crimes of murder and rape-murder in one year. This led to a television series, Genetic Detective, which aired six shows in its first season.

Controversy surrounding the use of publicly shared DNA to identify, capture, try, and imprison these cold, violent rapists and murderers has caused Gedmatch to change their policy concerning release of results. Since many, many of these heinous crimes are committed by persons who have eluded identification through CODIS (*), this change in policy has had an extreme detrimental effect on its use to bring these criminals to justice.

Thus, we arrive at my reason for including young six-year-old victim JonBenet Ramsey in this discussion.

This high profile mystery sexual assault murder caused by instrumental suffocation (asphyxiation by employment of a garrote) has never been solved. Tens of thousands of man-hours have been expended in the attempt.

From Wikipedia we find this:
"In 2002, the DA's successor took over investigation of the case from the police and primarily pursued the theory that an intruder had committed the killing. In 2003, trace DNA that was taken from the victim's clothes was found to belong to an unknown male; each of the family's DNA had been excluded from this match. The DA sent the Ramseys a letter of apology in 2008, declaring the family "completely cleared" by the DNA results."

This finding seems to SCREAM for a Genetic Detective to solve this case!! In spite of my typical leaning toward a more liberal outlook, in this regard, my years as a paralegal in both criminal (prosecutorial) and corporate fields of law demand this roadblock to justice be removed.

Even though Gedmatch has made it far more difficult to utilize DNA results, perhaps either Paul Holes or CeCe Moore or another specialist in this emerging field of investigation will choose to take on this challenge.

(*) CODIS is the acronym for the Combined DNA Index System and is the generic term used to describe the FBI's program of support for criminal justice DNA databases as well as the software used to run these databases.
(SOURCE: FBI.gov website)


A public plea has been issued August 31, 2020, by CeCe Moore, the lady who does the reality TV series, The Genetic Detective, to participate in an effort to assist Parabon Nano Labs in augmenting their DNA base. Here is the announcement:
Do you want to help Parabon fight crime and advance science? If so, please consider joining the Snapshot DNA Phenotypic Trait and Ancestry Study. All you need is (1) an iPhone and (2) a little bit of uninterrupted time to complete the in-app instructions. If you have an existing genotype file from a consumer testing site (e.g., 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, etc.), you can donate it to the study too and elect to receive a free Snapshot DNA Ancestry Analysis report. To learn more visit: https://parabon-nanolabs.com/volunteer/. If you have any questions or don’t have an iPhone, please check out the FAQs. For questions not answered in the FAQ's please email: snapshot-research@parabon.com

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

The Night The Tree Fell

When we bought our house in the mid-1980s it came with a rather bare yard as the previous owners obviously weren’t gardeners. However, there was a pair of mature ash trees in front that even 30 years ago provided a lot of welcome shade in hot Texas summers. These had been part of what was once a continuous double row of ash trees on both sides of the street on this block, evidently planted when the houses were built 60 years ago. Ash trees, like American elms, were once a prominent part of the urban landscape in America – attractive trees everyone planted for quick shade. But as with elms (wiped out by the millions in the 20th century by Dutch Elm Disease), with ash trees it turned out there were problems. Despite ash wood being known for its strength (used to make baseball bats) older ash trees are very prone to heartwood rot and in recent years to attacks by borers. Even when we first moved here, many of the original trees were gone and many more were dying.

The loss of these ash trees in the neighborhood was obvious – every year another would bite the dust and have to be removed. Most recently a big specimen just a few feet west of my driveway finished slowly expiring and was carefully (and expensively) removed down to a low stump.

The Ash Tree Before Storm

Then, just four years ago, the ash tree near the house and next to my driveway dropped a huge limb onto my parked car while I was standing with a friend just inside my open-door garage, seeking shelter from a sudden squall line. Amazingly, the car only received a tiny dent. When I paid a tree service company to remove the fallen limb they warned me that both my ash trees had rotten cores and should be removed ASAP before something worse happened. As the cost was high, and because I loved their green foliage and deep shade, I decided to risk it and let them stand.

And then came the call in the night.

About a month ago my phone rang at 4:15 a.m. It was my neighbor from across the street. And he told me that my other ash tree had lost a huge section in a freak wind storm just a few minutes earlier. He didn’t want me dropping of heart failure after walking out the door in the morning and seeing that. So we investigated the situation as well as possible with flashlights, couldn’t really tell what if any damage had been done to my parked car, and returned to bed to await the dawn.

This shows my 2007 Caliber with one limb across its roof;looked bad; nodamage to car.

In the clear light of day I could see that this time the car had suffered real damage. And sure enough, the insurance inspector declared it totaled. That was followed by a day of skilled work removing the portions of tree across the car, then another day removing both ash trees to low stumps.

My 2011 Caliber with massive multiple limbs across the car.

Any major change in the environment such as this has repercussions for years afterward. And they started immediately. My previous areas of shade garden and part-shade garden are now in full, blasting sunshine most of the day. Horse herb and ajuga wilt fast; the verdict isn’t in yet on the other plants. My poor dogwood tree – the gem of my front yard – was badly injured by the falling limb and now is no longer sheltered under a tall shade tree – the natural environment for dogwoods. Only time will tell whether it recovers or even survives.

Another view of limbs across the car that did enough damage to total it.

On the bright side, I had heeded the warning four years ago to one degree – although I hadn’t removed the ash trees, I had encouraged several volunteer red oaks to grow in spots where they might eventually take over as the “climax” trees that oaks have evolved to be – the trees that are still there when a forest has fully matured. And now their turn has come. A healthy red oak in good soil with sufficient water can grow two feet a year – sometimes even faster. Some of these are already more than eight feet tall and they got almost no damage from the falling ash tree sections. So rather than mourning my ash trees, I have chosen to celebrate the futures of my oak trees – a natural succession of species that has just been speeded up a bit by this arboreal catastrophe. I’ll remember my ash trees; I’ll water my oak trees.

Later Note: I am actually watering the oak trees this afternoon in fact. And the largest of them are 12 feet tall already. A similar tree on the opposite side of the yard grew from an acorn 30 years ago to a beautiful, well-proportioned tree at least 60 feet tall at present. It’s on the line between my yard and my neighbor’s yard and I think we both claim it – half to each of us! I don’t know how much space you can allow for photos, but I could certainly provide a couple of the fallen tree and a couple of the new oaks.

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Cooking with Rod


By Rod Cohenour


Triple Onion Infused Beef Rump Roast

      Again this month, my sweet wife is sharing one of her original recipes. This recipe was created years before we met but has stood the test of time. It has a kinship to sauerbraten but is much less complicated to prepare. Try it, you'll find your dinner guests raving.

      Bon appetit~!



  • 5 to 8 lb. Beef Rump Roast
  • 1 package Green Onion dip mix (for use in a container of sour cream for a party dip)
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup mix
  • 1 or 2 large white onions, ½” slices
  • 1 8 oz container sour cream
  • 1 8 oz container small curd cottage cheese
  • ¼ cup corn or vegetable oil (for browning the roast)
  • 2 Tbsp Black pepper (to taste, use fresh peppercorns or prepared ground pepper, your choice)
  • 1 can beer (or substitute water or beef broth)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup flour (reserve half for gravy)
  • 1/2 cup water (reserve half for gravy)


    1)Prepare rump roast by rinsing, patting dry, and removing any excess fat sheath.

   2)Heat oil in heavy skillet. When it sizzles when a drop of water is added, it's ready. Carefully brown roast on all sides.

   3)Remove roast to large stewpot. Cover to keep it warm.

   4)Carefully add a small amount of liquid to the skillet and stir to loosen the browned bits.

   5)Whisk water into flour to make a slurry, add to skillet and stir until slightly thickened. Add to the stewpot, making sure to get all the tasty brown bits.

   6)Use a blender or food processor to reduce the cottage cheese to a creamy consistency. Add to mixing bowl and whisk in Lipton dry Onion Soup mix packet. Add to stewpot, carefully lathering to cover all surfaces of the roast.

   7)Blend together Green Onion Dip and sour cream. Cover beef roast with this as well.

   8)Add sliced onions to the stewpot along with your choice of beer, or broth, or water and apple cider vinegar.

   9)Roast covered in 375° oven until roast is cooked to your desired doneness. We like ours well done.

      The liquids remaining after the roast is cooked should be thickened with a slurry of seasoned flour and water to make a delicious gravy.

      Serve with mashed or baked potatoes (can bake along with the roast), rice, or egg noodles. Add a crisp salad and hot, crusty bread and enjoy!

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Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

Gardens, Writers, and Sundry

The following is a link to Samara Jade singing Bury me in the Garden. Bury me in the Garden

You can listen to it at your leisure later. In the meantime do you want to be buried in your garden? Or do you want to conduct a funeral service in someone else's garden?

It’s possible and basically all you need is planning permission from your friendly local authority but make sure you apply well before your demise. And the good news that you probably won’t need a coffin. This concession is thanks to, of all people, “Big” Phil Hogan (before he got so seriously into golf). The following was given on 29th April 2013, in the Burial Ground (Amendment) Regulations, 2013, under Phil’s official seal when he was Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, “ Uncoffined burials may be permitted, unless a direction has been issued not to do so by the relevant sanitary authority or medical officer of health of the sanitary authority, in an area of a burial ground designated exclusively for that purpose. Where an uncoffined burial is permitted, any reference in these provisions to a coffin includes a reference to the wrappings of the uncoffined body.”

There are precedents. When Hugh Sacker’s wife Alma died in 1992, a doctor travelled from Dublin and issued a death certificate. Hugh and a friend dug the grave under two yew trees in the secluded garden, in Donard County Wicklow, a few feet from the door of the house. “We dug a hole and reverently laid her in it,” he said.

Mr Sacker said he successfully dealt with the enquiries of officials, gardai and churchmen about the unorthodox burial and eventually received a letter from Wicklow County Council granting retrospective permission for the grave. Yet a representative of Wicklow County Council told a newspaper, that it, “ . . . does not consent to any burials” in the gardens of properties.

However an over ground tomb erected by a Listowel family in 1995 to house the remains of their daughter had to be removed as part of settlement terms agreed between Listowel UDC and the family. The dispute, centred on a tomb built by the Barrett family at the time of the death of their daughter Elizabeth (31), in 1994. Elizabeth who was a model in New York, had asked her family to bury her above ground on the banks of the River Feale. Listowel UDC had objected to the tomb on the grounds that the site was not a designated burial ground and planning permission was refused . A High Court Order in October 1994 prevented the family burying Ms Barrett's body in the tomb and she was later cremated. Under the settlement terms agreed, Listowel UDC conveyed the freehold interest in the site to the Barrett family who were then entitled to erect a shrine where the tomb had been located.

If you are interested in a “home burial” It's highly recommended to organise all the details in advance with your local authority, as it's practically impossible to get approval following a person's death.

And speaking of such things; I have absolutely no interest in any sport. Pertaining to the game of golf in particular I don’t care if it was Mark Twain of Harry Leon Wilson who described it as “a good walk spoiled, I agree with the sentiment. I also ask myself ask where did the game start. I got a little insight into the addictive nature of the pastime the day that there was a Doctor and a barrister playing at Tulfarris. As a funeral cortege passed on its way to Baltyboys cemetery, the doctor doffed is cap, bowed his head and remained inn silent prayer for some minutes. “You have great respect for the departed Doctor,” says the barrister. The doctor replaced his cap straightened up and replied, “It’s the least I can do. I was married to her for thirty five years.”

* * * * *

Three Kerry writers, Billy, Sean and Joe, who were attending a writing convention in New York, booked a room on the 75th floor of a hotel. When they arrived back at the hotel from the convention, the receptionist told them, "I'm terribly sorry, but the elevator is broken. In the meantime, you will have to take the stairs." Now, Billy was a writer of funny stories, Sean was a writer of scary stories, and Joe was a writer of sad stories. The three of them agreed that, to make it less boring, Billy would tell the other two his funniest stories while they climbed from floors 1 to 25, Sean would tell his scariest stories from floors 26 to 50, and Joe would tell his saddest stories from floors 51 to 75. They started to climb the stairs, and Billy started to tell funny stories. By the time they reached the 25th floor, Sean and Joe were laughing hysterically. Then Sean started to tell scary stories. By the time they reached the 50th floor, Billy and Joe were hugging each other in fear. Then Joe started to tell sad stories. He stuck his hands in his pockets, thinking. "Ah, I'll tell my saddest story of all first." he said. He coughed nervously. "There once was a man named Joe, who left the hotel room key in the car..."

At the time of writing County Kildare is on lockdown. The Blessington lake borders Kildare and now they are slagging me. Look at the picture I received today.

* * * * *

In 1998 a company called RMS Titanic Inc. managed to raise a 20 ton piece of the Titanic. 98 year old Sam, in Belfast, watched every subsequent news bulletin with bated breath hoping to hear that they had raised the rest of the great ship. On the day she sailed out on her maiden voyage he was aged twelve. He remembered his father, a boiler-maker, coming home that evening and saying that he had forgotten his lunch box and left it in one of the engine rooms. Sam now hoped to retrieve it.

* * * * *

Calling on the Lacken diaspora once again. Councillor Gerry O ‘Neill has bequeathed a large collection of “Lacken-related” data to the Lacken Community Centre. Unfortunately it’s on ZIP 100 discs and they have no way of accessing it. If anyone would be kind enough to donate a USB external ZIP 100 drive please contact lackencomdev@gmail.com


Wicklow News said there are still places available for the Saturday guided walk a journey to 1870's Lacken. 

Guided Walk a journey to 1870's Lacken

See you in October.

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