Friday, September 1, 2017

Editor's Corner


September 2017

““After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.” ― Oscar Wilde, (A Woman of No Importance)
Relationships, family, concerns, ideals--all of these and more will be found in this month's issue. From the columns and articles and poems arise a source of inspiration, perhaps a few laughs, more than a few tears if you are feeling sentimental. Sometimes one must just bury their worries and simply read for the pleasure of it. So here is where you can start.

Thomas F. O'Neill's column "Introspective" tells of the excitement abounding in China as they anticipate the new Spiderman: Homecoming film. Their own posters heighten these expectations though the scenes depicted will not, says O'Neill, actually appear in the movie.

Dayvid Clarkson ("Reflections of the Day") has three reflections included that speak of dreams, aspirations, bedtime stories and practicing kindness and being compassionate. His prose reads like poetry. Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" adjures readers to have a care concerning the bee's so threatened by the use of pesticides. She also closes her column with a dreamy visit.

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda Cohenour is shown with links to previous columns as a major household move has occupied both mind and body to accomplish. The same move of course has affected husband Rod Cohenour ("Cooking With Rod") so the same convenient links are shown in lieu of his recipe. Looking forward to both of them having spiffy columns for October. "Theatre, Taphophbia and Green Coffins" adds up to some interesting info and a few laughs in Mattie Lennon's column "Irish Eyes."

LC Van Savage ("Consider This") discusses "Fabrics and Cliches" for September. She has seen the poem "Cliche Detective" by your editor. She also has an article "A Girl Named Queenie" this month. The other article is "The Work That Keeps Me Going" by Barbara Irvin.

Two more poems written by Linnie Jane Burks--"Visitors to Louisville" and "To Mother at Stella Bullard's Death," carry the themes of friendships and family prevalent this month. Her mother, your editor's maternal grandmother, Carrie E. Joslin's poem "Our Herbert Boy" also has the response written by that Herbert.

Another sweet family poem by Lena May Joslin Carroll is titled "Just A'Bragging!" She authored many articles, mostly Bible studies -- she admired the apostle Paul -- and composed many poems, but this is understandably a favorite by your editor's mother.

Bud Lemire's three poems are "A World of Fantasy," "Captured Moments," and "I Love Asparagus." Bruce Clifford's poem "Bold" expresses the varied emotions many people feel occasionally but can't say it as well as he does. Phillip Hennessy submitted the just penned verse "It Ain't" via image of the page with it. Thanks, Phillipo.

John I. Blair sent these two: "Sunny Mornings" and "New Year." The latter made your editor think of the recent lunar eclipse which once over seemed to suddenly have renewed the world.

See you in October !!!

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

Reflections on the Day

      I was reflecting on dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Most youngsters are taught they can be anything they want to be. Lawyer, Doctor, Actor, Scientist, Athlete, etc. would be on the list.

      We then inundate them with the best of the best. The richest, the biggest, the brightest, the beautiful are paraded before them in endless media streams as examples of what awaits them. These are, in most cases, unrealistic goals they will never attain. And as they grow we watch them die a slow death realizing they will never achieve these so called dreams.

       I pray to the four directions that we stop teaching our children these misconceptions, as these are but vain attempts to control the outcomes of our journey. We must unlearn everything we have been taught. We need to come to the understanding that an authentic life lived with mindful intent is all that is worthy of our path.

      I ask our Elders to ensure that all sentient beings have just enough. For I am satisfied with just enough, no more, no less. And if you have more build a larger table.
       Humble bow, Dayvid

* * * * *

      In our childhood most enjoyed bedtime stories. Often now when I retire to bed I reflect on stories I have heard. This one will be tonight’s reflection:

      A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.

      The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

      "I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Share with me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

      Sleep well, dream deep my Friends,
      Humble bow, Dayvid.

* * * * *

      Sitting on the front steps watching the clouds roll by in the reflections on the lake. The trees stand in the shadows wearing their forest green cloaks and the night is still. I start to laugh and I laugh so hard tears stream down my cheeks. Who am I to figure out this great mystery?

       It is absurd. We read, we search, we listen, and we seek the answers. We chase dreams and aspirations as we mistakenly think we can control the outcomes. Like a dog chasing its tail.

      The quiet voice of an Elder comfortably enters my thoughts. “All that is expected and all that is required is to simply live a kind and compassionate life. Do not waste time coveting something that you have been taught to yearn for. Stop trying to be someone the world taught you to be. Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, and have few desires.” I am grateful for the Elder’s words. This eve I will take the lessons of the day to my resting there to absorb and cherish them.

      Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
      Humble bow, Dayvid.

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Spiderman: Homecoming

      Ever since I was very young I was a huge Spiderman fan. I used to watch Spiderman cartoons on TV after school and like millions of others I too enjoy watching the Spiderman movies online.

      Superhero movies are immensely popular in America and like many of the superhero franchises - Spiderman has an even bigger draw at the movie theaters in China.

      I’m not a big movie goer but I do enjoy watching films online via Amazon instant videos and that includes the Spiderman movies.

      In China, sometimes a scene will be added to an American film such as adding a China location to make the film more appealing for a Chinese audience. The movie studios do this to increase the draw at China’s box-offices.

      There have been delays in China for the Marvel's blockbuster Spiderman: Homecoming and China’s webslinger fans are waiting with great anticipation for the film’s release. New slated posters have been released in China’s movie theaters featuring the webslinger in familiar Chinese locations as teasers for the ever-growing Spiderman fans.

      There are various posters in China that show Peter Parker in his Spiderman regalia swinging from a hammock above the Great Wall of China. (See Bottom of Column) Another poster shows the webslinger posing for a selfie in front of Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower and yet another shows him riding a horse in his spidey-costume across a picturesque mountain-scape.

      Other posters showcase Spidey posing near various other Chinese landmarks. Including, a poster of spidey visiting a group of cute Pandas.

      None of the poster images will showcase in the actual film but that won’t stop the Spiderman fans from flocking to the theaters on its Chinese release date of September 8th and maybe I will be one of those attending the screening of the film due to being a huge Spiderman fan myself.

      Hollywood understands the huge profit potential of marketing their films for the Chinese audience due to how popular American films are in Asia. The New Spiderman movie is an example of how Hollywood is using the Chinese culture and their landmarks to enhance an even greater interest in the film. Hollywood’s marketing strategy certainly works and it shows in the movie studios overall profits from Asia.

      Spiderman: Homecoming is estimated to finish in the $780M range when all is said and done, with China serving as the final market for the film to sizably increase its box office haul. Next Friday, the movie will open in China and attempt to match other recent blockbuster successes in the region. Enjoy the posters I included with this column while I patiently wait for the new Spiderman film’s release date …….
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
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Irish Eyes


Theatre, Taphophbiaand Green Coffins

       I told you in August about the theatre company, dressing Room 1, bringing the musical, "And all his Songs Were Sad" from page to stage. well the Irish premier was staged, to a capacity audience in saint John's Theatre, Listowel, on August 26th.

       I had a fairly quiet august myself. Recently I was beside an intellectual at a funeral. You’ll always know an intellectual in a pub, because he won’t have the price of a drink but is not as easy to identify one in a graveyard. (I believe that all funeral undertakers should be obliged to give an undertaking that they would inform mourners of the likelihood of one or more intellectuals being in the cemetery.) As this being of superior intellect gazed into the open grave he asked my opinion on taphophbia. Since I didn’t know the meaning of the word I didn’t have any opinion on it. I wasn’t left in ignorance for long. I soon learned that it is a fear of being placed in a grave while still alive as a result of being incorrectly pronounced dead. I was then promptly informed that the word is from Greek τάφος - taphos, "grave, tomb” and φόβος - phobos, "fear” , which is translated as "fear of graves". He increased my meagre store of knowledge further with the revelation that "Saved by the bell" and "Dead ringer" are both derived from the notion of having a rope attached to a bell outside the coffin that could alert people that the recently buried person is not yet deceased. Of course you, dear reader probably knew that already.

       He next turned to how the coffin is so often used in classical allusions etc. He gave me a few examples. The only one I can think of is how Byron (according to my intellectual superior) referred to a gondola as being like, “.. . A coffin clapt in a canoe.” He then informed me that John Philpot Curran once described Robert Peel’s smile as, “Like the silver plate on a coffin.” And how it was quoted by Daniel O Connell in the House of Commons on 26th February 1835. ( He said it was on a Thursday.)

      The dear departed was one of my fellow mis-fits who was a bit “different”, a man who marched to a different drummer. And when I described him as a “square peg in a round hole” my new found human enclopedia promised to email me a relevant picture. Which, fair play to him, he did.

       I already told you about the opening of Clarkes Funeral Home, In Blessington. It was a specular event attended by clergy of many denominations and several dignitaries. There was much to see, riveting speeches and copious refreshments. But my eyes were glued to a six foot four Donegal man, Martin, of Green Coffins, Shanagh, Fanad, County Donegal, who was making a willow coffin. In this game of skill the only tools he had were what looked like large secateurs and a piece of flat iron. By evening he had completed the body of the coffin. He answered all questions in lay-man’s language and, unusual on this island, he spoke in glowing terms of his boss, Colin McAteer, who took me through a step-by-step explanation of the process.

      Colin told me that the willow tree has over 600 varieties. “We use a number of these varieties (different colours and thicknesses) to make our coffins. Our coppice willow stools which can have up to 30 shoots – these are harvested every year. Each rod grows between 3-9 ft each year and when cut grows back the following year without the need to replant. The willow is harvested each spring, graded, seasoned and stored for use later in the year.”

      The dried out willow in their bundles (bolts) are soaked to make them less brittle before use. The length of soaking time varies from 1 hour to 8 days depending on variety and thickness of the willow. All their coffins have a timber base – not necessarily for strength but to travel on the rollers of the hearse and crematoriums. The rods are staked and turned up to provide the uprights.

      Rods are added around the uprights to form the sides using a variety of techniques including randing and plating. Keeping willow sides this size straight takes experience and patience. When the sides are at the appropriate height you “turn down” the uprights. This must be done before the rods are dried or the rods will be too brittle.

       When I commented on Martin’s dexterity at weaving , Colin agreed and said, “ The lid is where all your skills are tested – especially when applying the rounded circular design we use on this coffin. “ He showed me a picture of a Green and White willow coffin with a flower which was a work of art. “ We have been making this design for about the last year and a half but it has never been in our brochures or on our website. It was produced at our work shop in Donegal and dispatched once dried to a funeral director. People want Irish made – they are comparable in price to imported willow coffins.”

                                                       Martin Boyle with finished coffin

      Colin also has a “Green graveyard”. The Green Graveyard Company was established in 2009 with a view to developing "Natural Burial Grounds" in Ireland. In October 2010 we opened Ireland's first and only Natural Burial Ground, Woodbrook Natural Burial Ground, in Killane Co. Wexford

      On the 22nd July 2017 they took the unusual step of holding an information day. This was a "drop by event" where people went look at the grounds and meet the team. In its most simplistic form a natural burial ground is a graveyard where the land has a second use, as a living, developing native Irish woodland and wildflower meadow. Gone are the marble headstones and concrete surrounds that are common place in other Irish burial grounds, replaced instead by a small simple grave marker and the planting of a native Irish tree. More information at;

* * * * *

Fake news ...

    An employee of the Jefferson County morgue died this morning, after being accidentally cremated by one of his coworkers.

    According to the Beaumont Police Department, 48-year old Henri Paul Johnson decided to take a nap one a stretcher after working for sixteen hours straight.

    While he was sleeping, another employee mistook him for the corpse of a 52-year old car accident victim and carried him to the crematory.

    Before anyone could notice the mistake, he had already been exposed to temperatures ranging between 1400 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and reduced to ashes.

* * * * *

      A woman in west Wicklow was on her third husband. One night the latest addition to the marriage bed came in, full of porter, and started laying down the law. For emphasis he was hammering the kitchen table with his fist. Calmly, but sternly, the wife said, "Don't break that table. There was two good men wake'd on that an' it'll be wanted agin."

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Armchair Genealogy

      Due to month long preparation and accomplishing a major household move by the Cohenours, the next part of the tale of Sidney Washington Creek will be in the October issue.

      For the convenience of regular readers of this column, remember you can click the byline above and access a clickable list of prior columns.  To make this simpler, here is thelink: Clickable List of Articles and Columns by Melinda Cohenour

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