Saturday, October 1, 2016

Editor's Corner

October 2016

The article "Deep Sea Diver Shares Some Expertise" was first published in "Hobbie$, Etc., June 1995; reprinted for the "Pencil Stubs Online" issue of May 2000, and again this month because "The Abyss" movie is being reshown on HDNET Movie Channel and others on network TV. This article is an interview by your editor with James Smith, owner (at that time) of a deep-water exploration and salvage company--Oceaneering, International, who explained that the submarine called Deep Rover in the movie, is the "CalSub" his company owns. As far as the movie goes, HDNET's intro states "The Abyss is regarded as the toughest shoot in Movie History. The actors worked underwater several hours a day, resulting in physical and emotional troubles during the entire six-month shoot."

If you didn't catch any of the scheduled replays of this highly interesting movie, check for it On Demand or Netflix, etc. Watch for the sub mentioned in the interview with the Oceaneering owner.

The other article by Melinda Cohenour, "My Daddy," expresses many sentiments shared by your editor who happens to be her sister. This month our Dad would have been 103 years old.

John Blair, also thinking of family, added "Things My Father Touched" to his other six poems this month. They are: "My Name Is Ival," "Full Moon Tonight," "Moment By Moment," "Tonight," "Piano at 75," and "Repeatedly."

Phillip Hennessy's poem "Strangers" along with Bud Lemire's "Be You" and "Mollie" by Bruce Clifford round out the October poetry content. The latter poem is very much also a 'family' remembrance.

Judith Kroll's "On Trek" titles her piece about her father, "Old Folks" highlighting his longevity. LC Van Savage's column "Consider This" is also about family, and features Noel and his interests which began at an early age.

Thomas F. O'Neill, "Introspective," tells of a field trip with his students to Shanghai's science symposium while Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" takes us along with him to hear Percy French once again.

"Reflections of the Day" by Dayvid Clarkson adds a blessing to your own day. He has a calming and soothing way of sharing his thoughts.

Rod Cohenour's "Cooking With Rod," helps you ladle up a healthy version of chili, and Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" discusses the interesting research aspects the new DNA testings can bring to your own genealogical family tree.

Story by LC Van Savage is about a child who finds a different kind of friend, a bee. Beth and the Bee is a good read aloud child's tale. The Bear tales featuring Ollie-Dare by Rebecca Morris, concluded with the September issue.

Thanks again to Mike Craner for his expertise and patience that allows this little ezine to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading.

Watch for us 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.

On Trek

 Old Folks

      One of the biggest regrets we can make in this life, is not getting to know the older folks in our lives. Their experience in life is invaluable. I often thought if I would listen to my elders, and take heed to what they say, I could save myself a lot of heartaches.

      However, like most youth, I knew it all. :) So I had to find out the hard way on may aspects of growing up.

      My dad is 93 and he is going strong. He was in WW11, raised three children, buried his wife of 53 years, and continues to make his life exciting.

      Watching him has taught me that life does have it's ups and downs, but attitude is the key. The pic at bottom of page is Dad and me, last summer. He is still going strong, and he plans a trip out late august and or later. Daddy always sees the positive side of everything. He will be 94 in July. He plays pool, he keeps up his home, he is going to do a speed dating event in July. He came with me to my 50th class reunion, and had a ball. His motto is, Keep moving. Love ya pop!!

      My daddy's attitude is something to be admired. He finds the good in everything. Recently he and his girl friend took a trip on a train, and they got a sleeping room. They didn't realize how small that room would be, but they made the best of it. My dad didn't complain and moan over it, he laughed, and his companion laughed as well. He said, we were close before, but now we understand what really close means!! To laugh thru a seemingly unpleasant experience made it bearable, and they managed to find it fun.

      I have, for the most part, grown to emulate my dad's way of viewing life. We have a choice when we wake enjoy the day, or look for fault. We need to look at the world as a big play pen, taking the good with the bad, remembering all we have learned, and remembering those that have walked by our side.

      My grandmother use to butter bread very slowly and methodically making sure she covered every corner, nook and cranny. It was an act of beauty., In those seconds while each of us watched her in anticpation for that tasty, lovingly prepared buttered bread. I failed to realize at that moment the importance of that moment. But later on, it was etched in my heart forever. I learned that no matter what I do in life, do it with purpose, do it with meaning, do it with love. If we are going to spend the time to do something, then do it right!!. The white hair, the wrinkles, the slow moving body was all attained thru years of learning, trial and error, and tons of love. Why, they still send me love as a spirit.

      Bless our white haired souls, and listen and learn from them while you can!!!

      Featherwind (Judith)

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Cooking with Rod

I love chili just about any way it can possibly be prepared. The problem most of us have is that chili, as typically prepared, utilizes a lot of salt and is usually prepared with the cheaper cut, therefore fatty, meat that can be tenderized by stewing. This is wonderful for the purpose of taste, but for most of us today with a focus on health conscious diets this does not fit the bill. 

In an effort to satisify our cravings for chili and meet the dietary requirements of heart healthy living, I have made a directed effort to carve out fat and sodium while maintaining that distinctive deliciousness of CHILI! Here is my take on heart-friendly chili - a recipe that has proven to provide all the pizzazz expected from a bowl of tasty Fall perfect chili. 

Bon App├ętit!!
Rod's Heart Healthy Homemade Chili
Meat mixture:
  • 4.5 lbs ground sirloin, 90% lean, 10% fat
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
Sauce mixture:
  • 2 lg. cans crushed tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2 cans tomatoes with diced green chile (like Rotel), no salt added
  • 1 lg. red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 lg. Vidalia onion, diced
  • 20 oz. water
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 green onions (white and green) diced for garnish
Step by Step
    1. Prepare meat over medium heat, after adding spices, thoroughly brown the meat, scumbling to ensure even browning and no burning. Drain if necessary, in my case there was no fat.
    2. Add all canned goods into a large stew pot, add peppers and onions. Add additional cumin and chili powder. Stir well.
    3. Add meat mixture and water and let simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or scorching.
Serve hot and add green onion garnish to each bowl. I took advantage of low sodium woven wheat crackers (6 to a serving, with only 120 calories, 35 from fat, and only 160 mg sodium) to serve with each bowl.
For cheese, I bought cheddar sticks which are merely 85 calories and 15 mgs sodium per stick.
A crisp, simple tomato and iceberg lettuce salad with a Tbsp. of tomato salsa as a dressing or even a squeeze of lemon adds a nice counterpoint.
Enjoy the heart healthy chili! (See pic below.)

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Consider This

Noel, Rocks And Big Green Lizards

       When I was a kid---wait! Don’t turn the page---I’ll really try not to bore--- I was goofy over bugs and creepy crawlers, dinosaurs and fossils. I’ll admit I never found a dinosaur I could sneak home although now everyone in the scientific community recognizes that all birds are descendants of dinosaurs, so I might have gotten away with a feathered creature or two.

      But anyway, when I went foraging for those things in the surrounding woods I’d haul lots of them home but never found anyone who’d chat with me about them. My sister would scream, my parents would bellow to “get those dirty @#$!#% things out of this house instantly!!” and my girlfriends would do what my sister did, only louder. Oh the loneliness! I had to find out about those things from books. Think of it! Books! No one in my immediate family had the slightest interest in those “disgusting, useless----things!”

       Mongo and I had sons who were very interested and I was happy about that and we had some lively hunts for “those things” over the years, but they grew up and found that girls, parties and cars were far more fascinating than wondrous fossils, so again, I was sad and alone with my weird passions.

       But then came Noel, rhymes with “bowl,” last name Ouellette that doesn’t rhyme with anything. He is my sister’s grandson and a good pal of mine for a lot of reasons but mainly because he just loves all those things I loved as a youngster, with heavy emphasis on the dinosaurs and fossils, and best of all his interest just continues to grow. And I get to learn more and more about the Big Green Lizards and the lowly, fascinating, history-laden fossils he finds.

      Noel, it can be said, is a savant. A dino-savant. At 11 years old, he met with Professor of Earth Sciences William Clyde at UNH, to show him what he had collected on his various adventures. A few months later Clyde recommended Noel to the director of the SEE Science Center (a children's museum) in Manchester NH to add to their exhibition on dinosaurs and paleontology. Imagine! Job security at 11!

      When Noel was around 3, I took him to a toy store and told him he could pick out whatever he wanted as long as it was no more than $1.50. He moved off to a huge bin beneath some shelves filled with a gigantic tangled mess of plastic dinosaurs, all species, all colors. And who knows? Dinosaurs could have been any color at all, not just green and brown. But whatever, Noel began to empty out that bin and one at a time tossed those toy reptiles onto empty shelves above. With each grab-and-toss he announced the “official” name of the beasts, where they were born, if they were born live or from eggs, what they ate, who were their worst enemies, how big they grew and how many years ago were they stomping about on the earth’s surface. By the way, to the uninitiated, MYA means Million Years Ago. For example, old T-Rex lived 65 MYA, give or take.

      Back to the bin. Noel finally emptied it, defining all of the BGLs, I said something like, “good job, Noel! Let’s put ‘em all back now” and I glanced up to see this large crowd of customers surrounding us, spellbound that this little kid was giving a fascinating speech and that he knew all those facts, and there were just so many facts. I said something stupid like, “Yes folks, he gets all his brains from me.” I was ignored.

      Noel is a well-rounded young man; good grades, he’s a musician and an athlete. He is also so much fun for me to be around. He arrives at my home with boxes of sorted fossils and we spread them all out on a table and he explains where they were from, how old they are---it’s amazing. I am never bored, I ask thousands of questions and Noel knows the answers to all of them. It’s also thrilling for me to hold in my hand a big scary tooth from a prehistoric crocodile he found on a dig in Maryland or any of his plethora of other fossils from New Jersey, Montana, Wyoming, or wherever he’s gone with his father. They travel to different fossil hunting sites each chance they get and Noel can spot a shark’s tooth as small as a comma that has as much significance to him as a Megalodon’s tooth would, and he is completely confident he’ll find one of those someday.

      Noel is always excited for any chance to display his fossils wherever help would be needed in a dinosaur and fossil exhibit, so email me and I'll put you in touch with him. I am certain one day Noel will be trudging around somewhere and he’ll see what looks to others like a big dusty rock, but he will know immediately it’s an undiscovered full-boned dinosaur. He’ll photo and claim it, get it shipped to a museum and in the world of bone worshipers, he will be famous forever. “Noelasaurus” has a nice ring to it, don’t you agree?

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Irish Eyes

Tones That Are Tender

Could I find again the woodland
Where I loved to lie and dream,
While Dragon flies were dancing
To the rippling of the stream.

(“Retrospection” by Percy French.)

         In the 1960s when my contemporaries were listening to Radio Luxemburg and singing (and talking about) “a Whiter Shade of Pale”, “You Keep Me Hangin’ on” and such numbers I had my ear glued to the steam-radio in anticipation of a Percy French song sung by Brendan O’ Dowda.

          Much has been written about William Percy French and now Berrie O’ Neill has written the definitive biography of the great man. Percy French’s grand- nephew Courtney Kenny puts it in a nutshell when he says, “For a very long time there has been a distinct need for a proper biography of Percy French. And here it is, at last”.

         Percy French who is largely remembered for his songs was a multi-talented person. In a period when Irish songwriters were penning ballads about widows daughters dying from TB and coffins being carried down bog roads Percy French introduced a lot of humour to the art. While he wrote some sad songs (the words of Gortnamona written when his first wife died is one example) most of his songs were comedic and consequently have stood the test of time. He could be inspired by a simple sight of phrase (what modern writers call a “gaddick”.) while entertaining on a cruise-ship he hear a passenger say, “They’ll be cutting the corn in Creeslough today” and “An Emigrants Letter “ was born.

          William Percy French born in County Roscommon in 1854 was a singer, poet, painter and parodist. He was, at times accused by the upmarket media of the day of being, “Demeaning to the Irish people.” One of his best known songs, “Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff” has been often parodies. After the Equality Marriage Referendum here a native bard came up with” Come Back Paddy Reilly to Marry James Duff.”

          The author, Berrie O’ Neill, told me,

          “My interest in Percy French was not at all a planned one I was born on a farm near Eyrecourt, Co. Galway a long time ago. As the farming life did not appeal to me I joined the Bank of Ireland and by 1982 through a mixture of good fortune and having kept my nose clean I found myself manager of the city office of the Bank in central Belfast.

         Amongst my customers at the Bank was the late Oscar Rollins, successful business man and a councillor in the Borough of North Down. On a golfing trip to Southport in Lancashire he had serendipitously come across the grave of Percy French in Formby. Stricken by a sense of pathos he had become devoted to bringing about a much greater appreciation of the songwriter, poet and entertainer, particularly back in French’s homeland.

          With characteristic determination and strategic thoroughness Oscar enlisted to the cause no less a person than the famous Irish tenor, Brendan O’Dowda who was at that time seen as the personification of Percy French, He also found ready support from Ettie and Joan French, nonagenarian daughters of the great songwriter and entertainer.”

         Octogenarian Berrie went on, "When the Percy French Society decided that it would be appropriate to publish a biography of Percy French the search for a suitable author eventually and unexpectedly focused on me and I was entrusted with the task. With a little help from family and friends ‘Tones That Are Tender ­ Percy French 1854­1920’ was published by Lilliput Press on behalf of the Percy French Society in 2016. This, labour of love, was launched at Belfast’s historic Linenhall Library on 4th May, my eighty sixth birthday.”

         And they couldn’t have made a better choice. Ronny Maxwell of the Percy French Society told me, “ The author provides us with a most comprehensive study of French's ancestry and family background and we gain much insight into the social history of his time and an in depth knowledge of a charismatic, unselfish, rather eccentric, family-loving individual. The well-chosen title reflects French’s kind, inoffensive personality and the gentleness of his watercolours with their generally gentle shades. I have just finished “Tones That are Tender” and it’s many years since I read such an informative work. This biography brings out the many talents of Percy. The beautifully presented hardback includes thirty of his watercolours as well as snippets of information not in the public domain which the author ferreted out. For instance Dublin music publishers Piggott’s rejected his song “The Mountains of Mourned on the grounds that it wasn’t, “. . . serious enough for a ballad, not funny enough for a comic song.” What was the “gaddick” for this work which has stood the test of time?

         In the words of the great songwriter himself, “Looking at the range of the Mourne Mountains from Skerries one clear afternoon I found myself repeating, ‘the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’. This line kept recurring to me till one day it wedded itself to an old Irish air, and the combination seemed so happy that I set to work, or rather shut myself in my top room with pen, ink and paper, and waited.” Wasn’t it well worth the wait! When he composed “The Mountains of Mourne” he was living at 21 Clifton Hill, Skerries and I’m sure that now , from his celestial “Top room” he is pleased the know that, as I write, his beloved Skerries has been selected as the tidiest town in Ireland.

         Written as twenty nine cameos this book (having given a brief ancestral history of the Frenches ) is a comprehensive account of the life and times of the genius who was born in Cloonyquinn, County Roscommon in 1854 up the his death in 1920.

         Tones That are Tender is a not-to-be-missed publication.

         Details at; or from Ronnie.maxwell@btinternet at the Percy French Society.

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