Thursday, February 1, 2018

Editor's Corner


February 2018


"“Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart, and the senses.” -– Lao Tzu
Love. February is that shortest month made special by centering itself with that time to celebrate Love, to celebrate being loved, to celebrate loves you know and have known: Valentines Day. Remember who you love, why, when, how, and realize that time of loving can never be diminished by whomever or whenever you love again. Use the good that came of it to enrich your memories and do not let anything that was not good cloud your memories. You loved and were loved. Cherish that. You can even use the good memories to help yourself recognize beloved choices in life now and in the future. Love.

Some of our authors addressed love in various forms and fashions, for instance, Bud Lemire's poem "Running Bird" relates the simple love of caring and nurturing is showered upon humans, animals, fish or fowl. His "Chop Suey" recalls the way his mother showed her love on his birthdays. Other poems by Bud this issue are "Jigsaw Puzzle," "Hummingbird Moth," "Michael," "Paper Fortune Teller," and "Copy & Paste." The last one is about something Bud doesn't love.

Bruce Clifford's two poems are "Secrets in The Mist" and "The Fighting," both addressing difficulties in maintaining a loving relationship. John I. Blair sent us poems filled with "Memories," which is the title for one of them. "Anniversary," "Coping," "Primal Scream," "The Strip Pits," and "The Twohee and The Mockingbird." The latter is obviously about birds but not as obviously about how we as humans can be found acting the same.

Dayvid Clarkson's talents include photography, and one of his recent photo's can be found with the pleasant, thoughtful content of his column "Reflections of the Day." Thomas F. O'Neill's column "Introspective" mentions how people, no matter where they live, tend to form their beliefs and fears from those same opinions being a part of their 'growing up' process, expressed by figures of authority they accepted as children.

Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" updates us about the current 'mystery' in Ireland which is actually about incidents in the past. All's well that ends well, but this tragedy seems to be ongoing.

Armchair Genealogy by Melinda Cohenour, sister of your editor, is using her column to point out that one of the benefits of checking your family tree is finding out the genetic health factors that pre-knowledge may allow one to avoid. As an example she has a tribute to our mother who lived such an exciting and active life, but had Alzheimers in her later years. This is another example of love for this issue's theme: love of family.

Rod Cohenour in"Cooking With Rod," romantic that he is, offers the recipe that he wants his wife to fix to celebrate their anniversary on Valentine's Day.

LC Van Savage's column "Consider This," confesses to a personal failing, which she cannot bring herself to quit. Her article "Aunt Jeannette" enumerates the reasons love is not a big part of the tale.

See you in March !!!

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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.

Armchair Genealogy

A Tribute to a Remarkable Woman,
my Mother Lena May Joslin Carroll

Born: 7 May 1918, Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri
Died: 03 March, 2010, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma

      In the month in which the day of my birth is celebrated, it is often that my thoughts turn to the woman who brought me into the world, my sweet and wonderful mother, Lena May Joslin Carroll. As this is a column devoted to genealogy, it seems fitting that mention should be made of the incredible advances made in both tracking our family histories but also in locating new members of our “cousin-ship” – that broad plane that comprises the largest number of leaves on each of our trees. For every parent, grandparent and great grandparent back into the mists of time that we list on our tree, there are siblings and their offspring down through the ages that carry the imprint of the familial DNA. Having submitted my DNA to Ancestry a year or so ago, my cousin-ship has grown into the thousands of living cousins who are identified through the matching process of their DNA to my DNA. Much can be learned, discerned, or confirmed by the branch of science that explores the mysteries of DNA, including a controversial subject: the genetic predisposition for inherited diseases. One of those most discussed today is the horrific thief known as Alzheimers.

      My precious mother, Lena May Carroll, was stricken with Alzheimers and her loss of memory was first noticed about 1999 or so. Prior to that, we thought she had experienced a series of strokes that would leave her a bit confused for a day or a few minutes or so. Gradually, over the next couple of years it became painfully apparent that more than that was taking place. I cannot begin to tell you how agonizing it was to have my best friend, my confidante, my adviser, my adored mother retreat from us in her mind. She often did not recognize me, saying, "You cannot be my daughter. Melinda is not fat!" She would remember things from many, many years before - a poem, a conversation, a person she did not remember as having died years before. She never, NEVER ceased to mourn the loss of my father, who passed away in 1996. That was the one constant throughout all her days. She would ask, however, "When is Jack supposed to get home?" and bring about painful remembrances for me - and a concern as to how I should respond. I always chose NOT to remind her and bring forth a new and fresh bit of agony for her.

      There were moments, sometimes a whole day, when she was completely lucid. Blessed moments when I would greedily grab time with her to share love and conversation, times when her sparkling wit and massive knowledge of things both everyday and normal and complex would make my heart sing. Love, alone, however, did not bring about full communication. Yes, I always, always, tried to show her love. She had always been the most dear person to me, memories of her sweet attention and loving way of making my most hurtful wounds stop hurting, make my happy moments even more blessedly happy with her to share - but those times were increasingly fewer and fewer between. I lost my mother many years before her death. So sorry for that. I would give anything for science to find the cure that no one else should ever have to suffer the pain of that horrible, slow, losing.

        In closing, and as a further tribute to her, I offer the text of Mother’s obituary as published by the Fort Worth Star Telegram, March 11, 2010. (In 1952, our Daddy wanted a portrait of Mother before she became a grandmother the first time. This is the portrait chosen for the obituary.)

Lena Carroll (1918 - 2010)

   Lena May Joslin Carroll passed away peacefully at an Oklahoma City, Okla., hospital, Wednesday, March 3, 2010.

   Funeral: 3 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at Bluebonnet Hills, where she will be interred beside her beloved husband. Visitation: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday.

   Lena May was born May 7, 1918, in Pineville, Mo., to James Arthur and Carrie Edith Bullard Joslin and lived an extraordinary life. She was a poet, rockhound and lapidarist, coin and stamp collector, Sunday school teacher, leader of a number of benevolent organizations, gardener, artist, sculptress and essayist. She served her country as a journeyman electrician in the shipyards of Oregon during World War II. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Monahans, and later the First Baptist Church of Guthrie, Okla., and was a 50-year member of both the O.E.S. and S.O.O.B.

   She was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, John Edward Carroll; her daughters, Noralee Edith Crowson and Jacquelyn Earlene MacGibbon; four grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and her brother, Jack Oakley Joslin.

   Survivors: Her brother, Rex Edward Joslin; sister, Linnie Jane Burks; daughters, Mary Elizabeth Adair and Melinda Ellen Cohenour; eight grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; 13 great-great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews; and many beloved friends.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

      No amount of narrative could possibly convey the many facets of my mother. She was a force to be reckoned with, both strong and tender, firm in her faith, giving and loving in her humanity, fascinated by knowledge and dedicated to learning, a brilliant mind and a compassionate and benevolent person who never seemed to tire of the pursuit of beauty in nature. Her memory brings forth tender regard from all her many descendants. Instead, your author offers some photographs that help to portray her personality.

      The month of February is most noted for Valentine’s Day, the usual commemoration of devoted love. MomMay and DaddyJack became engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1934 and were married 10 June of that year. Their love was an everlasting love, they shared 62 years of marriage before DaddyJack’s passing in July of 1996. Even though Mother lost memories of so many other people and events, she never lost the memory of her lifetime love. She was blessed in many ways by the effects of Alzheimers, for she was always cheerfully “…just expecting Daddy to come home any time now.”

      Lena May Joslin's engagement portrait - taken after becoming engaged Valentine's Day 1934 and before her marriage 10 June of that year.

      River Lady. A young and vibrant Lena May, a newlywed of 16, DaddyJack took her photo as she waded the waters of the Pecos River. Summer of 1934.

      Mom thru Van Window as she left with her two oldest daughters and their daughters for a trip to Canada in 2001.

      In 2006, Mother traveled with me to a job assignment in Sarasota, FL. Hurricane Wanda forced our evacuation from Sarasota to Orlando. Then Wanda became fickle and hit Orlando instead. This photo was taken on our return trip. Wanda's flood waters are evident in the background.

      On the weekend of 7 May 2007, Mother shared her birthday at our home in Phoenix, with her first-born, Mary who was born the morning after Mother was 17.

      An exuberant Mother amongst the bougainvillea and oleander in our backyard in Phoenix in 2008.

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

Cooking with Rod


Chicken a la Russkie

      February – the month for LOVE. And this month is very special to me and my sweet wife, for we recited our vows on Valentine’s Day in 1989 before her father, a lay minister, before traveling to Dallas to re-tie the knot before our pastor, Steve Leatherwood. On that particular Valentine’s Day, snow lay on the ground in Guthrie, Oklahoma, and since my sweet second Mom and Dad were engaged on Valentine’s Day in 1934, it sort of fit to make it a tradition. And this Valentine’s Day, I hope to entice that wife of mine to prepare a dish she introduced me to years ago.

      The story goes, this dish grew out of a recipe that was popular way back in the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s – the Russian Glazed Chicken. As usual, my Miss Melinda adapted that recipe to suit her tastes and in so doing managed to come up with a really tasty twist on the original. She has prepared this dish with a few other adaptations through the years and those suggestions are included as well.

      As we go toward this day of celebration of LOVE, and détente, it’s important to note that even though many things tend to divide or discourage folks, one of the two things that we all can agree upon and enjoy with one another are music and – of course – FOOD!

  Bon appetit!~

Chicken a la Russkie

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Ground pepper
  • 2 bottles Kraft Russian dressing
  • 1 Packet Onion Soup mix
  • 1 sweet yellow or white onion, sliced thick
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. corn or vegetable or olive oil
    1. Preheat oven to 350º.
    2. In small bowl, add hot water to packet of onion soup mix and whisk together. Let this begin to reconstitute as you prepare the chicken.
    3. In a skillet, heat cooking oil to sizzling. Wash and rinse chicken pieces, sprinkle with ground pepper and brown quickly on all sides in hot oil. Remove to plate with paper towels to drain off excess oil.
    4. Place chicken breasts in deep ovenproof casserole dish or stainless steel pot.
    5. Cover each chicken breast with thick slices of onion.
    6. Top the onion with drained and rinsed water chestnuts.
    7. In bowl with soup mix, add bottles of Russian dressing. Rinse each bottle with a small amount of water and add that as well.
    8. Top chicken breasts with the soup and dressing mixture.
    9. Bake, covered, for about 1-1/2 hours. At one hour mark, check to make sure chicken breasts are fully cooked (this may vary depending upon the thickness of the pieces). Increase cooking time by 15 minutes. Don’t let the dish get too dry.
    10. Plate chicken pieces over rice or noodles.
    11. Stir the onions, water chestnuts and pan juices to even out the mixture, then top chicken with the delicious sauce.
Excellent served with a crisp salad, a nice green vegetable and hot bread.

For the classic Russian Chicken: Only 1 bottle Russian dressing, 1 jar apricot jam, 1 package Onion soup mix and ½ cup water. Stir together, then pour over chicken pieces and bake – 350 for 1.5 to 2 hours. (Original recipe did not call for the chicken to be browned first.)

For Hawaiian Russian Chicken: Add pineapple chunks or rings to the recipe. If you wish, you can also add red, yellow and/or green Bell Pepper pieces. Make sure the peppers are submerged in the sauce to ensure they cook tender. Use the 2 bottles dressing and extra water to ensure you have plenty of sauce for your presentation.

For Holiday Russian Cranberry Chicken: Mix the Russian Dressing with cranberry sauce, toss in reconstituted dried craisins (dried cranberries). To this, if you wish to make it very festive, toss in pecan pieces.

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Reflections on the Day


      January 29 at 10:00pm: Reflecting this eve on a dream I had last night. I was following a myriad of forest trails looking for a destination that I could not find. I kept finding the next signpost but not the destination. It slowly dawned on me. The fact I knew which direction to follow was in and of itself wondrous.

      Mayhaps, like this journey, we do not know or fully understand the destination, but we do know the way.

      It is time we were content with the paths that we follow fully trusting we are on the right road. The old cliché came to mind; It is not the destination but the journey. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid.

      Another evening of reflection: I live on a lake directly across from an airport, not close enough for the sound to be disturbing, but present when the few planes fly over. I enjoy watching the jets ascend into the sky against the evergreen covered mountains then head east.

      This evening at dusk, in a crisp clear sky, what I thought was another plane, was a formation of white Trumpeter Swans mimicking the jet’s silhouette. I was amazed. How my perception was so easily altered and how an enjoyable and favored moment was suddenly transformed into an amazing ‘aha’ moment.

      There are times when our journeys are difficult, sometimes these challenges seem insurmountable. Yet if we stay the course these wonderful ‘aha’ moments will soothe the soul, renew our hope, and give us the strength to continue on.

      Regardless of the burdens you carry lay them down this eve and rest. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

      A tidal pool at Roberts Memorial Park in Cedar BC. As above, so below. I have caught the moon during the day but rarely a full moon or almost full moon... (See Photo Below)

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Consider This


The Untouchables

         I did the unthinkable this past weekend, a thing I would not tolerate anyone else’s doing, even though I did (and do) it too.
         The thing I did (and I shamefully confess I’ve done before,) was to touch something that had a very clear, very prominent “Do Not Touch” sign on it. As a matter of fact, those same signs were all over the place. As a matter of fact, I didn’t care.
         Mongo and I (he’s truly innocent in all of this and, by the way, knows nothing of my flawed character---at least this flaw, although I’m pretty sure he’s reading this-- uh oh--) anyway, we went on a mini vacation this past weekend. On our way we stopped to visit a museum with an enormous collection of very old motor vehicles and planes, and it was there I again broke the rules.
         But before I broke them I looked carefully around to make sure no one was about, and to my relief, no one was. It was then put my hand out and touched the handle of a magnificent old car, an elegant Rolls Royce built in the early 1900s. And if I were to be truly honest, I guess it could be said I didn’t actually touch, I grasped. I wanted to touch a car that had been touched by maybe Jay Gatsby. (Yes of course, I know he was fictional, but not to me.) Or touched by perhaps Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Or any one of their crowd. I wanted to touch the handle of that remarkable machine so I could connect with all those dead folks who’d ridden in it, who’d had incredible lives, who’d lived through great, glorious swaths of American history, who’d lived a life I never could, but often wished in my fantasies, I had.
         I shouldn’t have touched that car. Sorry, but I’m not sorry. Because I touched the handle of that remarkable antique automobile, I know I touched a tangible piece of history, a thing “they” had touched. Now happily, “they” are part of me, and I of they.
         And there’s more. I once reached out and touched a ragged, collapsing one-horse buggy in a museum’s attic I’d been told Abraham Lincoln had ridden in, and I wondered if some of the atoms of this great man could still be clinging to it and would they now be intermixed with mine, and I decided the answer was yes. I once touched a painting by Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell, and hoped some of their artistic atoms were quickly stirred into mine and again, decided the answer was yes. I’ve put my hand on the sides of buildings built hundreds of years ago, knowing people who built them had touched them there also, and therefore were now connected forever with me. I touched a chair in which the great Thomas Jefferson had sat, a blanket George Washington had allegedly slept under, a table at which Benjamin Franklin had worked, and while I am not proud of these improprieties, when the temptation presented itself, I could not resist. If there is a twelve-step program for Touchers-of-the-Forbidden-Anonymous, (TOTFA) I will not join, so don’t suggest it. After all, I can quit whenever I want to. Oh yes, I can.
         I also have touch goals, too. I dearly want to touch a sphinx and the Great Wall of China and the piano Ira Gerschwinn played on and the wooden staff Margaret Mead walked with in the Museum of Natural History in New York City, and a covered wagon in which a pioneer family had traveled, and the sill of the window from which Ann Frank looked up at the stars and dreamed of a better world. I want to touch a tree that was a seedling around the time of Jesus’ birth. So many things to touch, so little time.
         I once touched the side of a very old stagecoach and felt bonded with the people who’d built or ridden in it, people traveling in the old west, who had dreams about young, wild America and how they’d fit into it or it to them. I’ve put my palm on the impossibly enormous legbone of a dinasaur and felt weirdly connected to her, too, and once I touched a necklace that had graced the neck of Marie Antoinette. Yes. It is beyond bad that I do this and truly I am ashamed. (Well, perhaps not altogether truly. Well, perhaps not altogether ashamed.)
         I had the great honor of meeting and interviewing a very, very old Senator Margaret Chase Smith just before she died, and got to shake her frail hand twice. And when I did that I knew I’d connected with more of this world’s movers and shakers than I could ever possibly know. Gandhi. FDR. JFK. Truman. Queens. Kings. Picasso. The peacemakers and warmakers. The world’s leaders and losers. Those who built the world and those who sought to destroy it. Inventors. Creators. Everyone famous in the world’s politics. In show business. Science. Literature. The arts. In space programs. Everyone everywhere. Imagine—Senator Smith’s touch connected me to the greats and famous of this world. I’m not at all sure she would agree with this fantasy of mine, but that’s my story, and you know how that cliché goes. So you see in my skewed world, some touching is good. For me, I mean. I know I should not do this, and I’m really trying to quit, but I am an incurable, hopeless addict. Pray for me.
          “What if everyone did what you did?” I’m scolded. “Who entitled you? How dare you? How utterly reprehensible! If everyone did this, pretty soon those things would vanish because you take away a microscopic piece when you touch them, to say nothing of the oils from your skin getting into those precious items, things that belong to the world, and not just to you, you self-centered @#$@%&! You have some nerve. What gall! I shall never speak to you again!”
          I know, I agree, and I seriously deserve this vituperation, this ostracization. I am a hopeless touchaholic and I know of no cure. I’m certain one day I shall be punished. There is quite likely a special place in hell for people like me where we are chained to the floor, surrounded by mountains of priceless, historic items with Do Not Touch signs hanging everywhere. And each time we reach to touch the objects of our desires, they move just a few inches out of reach, while a huge, prehistoric eagle tears at our livers.

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