Sunday, August 1, 2021

Editor's Corner

 

By Mary E. Adair

August 2021

"The month of August had turned into a griddle
where the days just lay there and sizzled."

– Sue Monk Kidd


August is when kids begin to either dread or welcome the beginning of school days again, depending upon their own level of desired participation. For adults the month brings an emphasis on professional Sports, also depending upon personal likes and dislikes. For your editor, it is Hurray! Football!


Bud Lemire's poems for this issue are "Don't Get Caught Up in The Fog," "I'm A Private Man," and "One Journey Ends." Walt Perryman, who does 'Cowboy Poetry' at Luckenbach, sent these poems "Marley," "Not Just Cowboys," and "More Thought about Clotheslines."


John I. Blair submitted "Life Cycle" for August, and yours truly also showed one poem, "My Own Boss." Bruce Clifford, added these two poems "It's About Time" and "Anywhere I Go."


Our columnnists Include a rare and highly appreciated visit by Dayvid Clarkson (Reflections of the Day) for this issue. Others include Mattie Lennon (Irish Eyes) with some literary updates despite Listowel's closure because of Covid this year, and adds a link to one of his compositions. Marilyn Carnell (Sifoddling Along) discloses some stories about Jail and shows an example of what was once considered a very modern such structure in Missouri. Thomas O'Neill (Introspective) admits that his life in China has been a personally rewarding experience and speaks of how the people are keeping traditions respected while embracing new knowledge.


Rod Cohenour (Cooking with Rod) whets our appetite with the recipe originally concocted by his wife for Italian Stuffed Peppers. Judith Kroll (On Trek) shares a personal brush with death titled "You Have 2 Months to Live." Melinda Cohenour (Armchair Genealogy) delights in giving technical info in using Ancestry's new tools to locate long lost cousins.


Pauline Evanosky (Woo Woo) now un-masked, discusses thoughts that have surfaced while writing her book on Channeling. John I. Blair (View from My Back Yard) sent along some gorgeous pics of the subject of his column -- the Turks Cap.


Mike Craner, bless him, both he and wife Susie are dear friends, and he is the key to this eZine being online. Thanks, Mike!

We will see you in September!

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

Using Ancestry to Meet Your Long Lost Cousins

Last month's column was a tutorial for my readers explaining how to utilize Ancestry's new tools designed to pinpoint the relationship of DNA matches where you do not recognize the name. I've spent a couple of months now exploring that tool and actually making contact with my long-lost cousins.


What a delightful Journey this has been! I've actually identified several cousins by utilizing the Learn More application that permits you to seek out the DNA matches that show a common ancestor.


Rather than repeat the step-by-step instructions given in last month's column, kindly refer to the original column for your tutorial. Your author has also made numerous suggestions recommending you use all the computerized tools available to flesh out your knowledge of the relatives in your tree. For instance, after adding my DNA matches, working from closest to most distant, I've utilized the internet search engines to locate those relatives on social media and any other information I can find to verify their identity.


My now deceased, but very beloved, cousin Joyce Schumacher would have loved these tools made available to us today. Joyce was all about making contact with living relatives, while my interest was devoted to seeking my ancestors. Joyce and I would go to the library genealogical section or to the closest National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility and spend hours and hours looking at indices, jotting down notes, standing in line to get a microfiche record, waiting for an available machine, stressing our eyes and patience looking for the record we sought, jotting down the cross reference for that record, standing in another line to get a printout, and feeling Victorious if we managed to capture one or two pieces of information on that full day trip!


Today, the advantages of armchair genealogy are clearly obvious. I can zip through dozens of Records for one family line, sorting out vital facts using name, date, and location to zero in on the proper record. I can then use those facts and the internet search engines to locate living relatives and perhaps, make contact through social media.


This past two months I have done exactly that. I now have as friends on Facebook several cousins whose names as DNA matches held no clue as to how we were related.


But using the tool on Ancestry to Learn More and combining that with the incredible reach of internet search engines, my newfound, once long-lost, cousins are now friends! And to make life richer and more enjoyable, I now have photographs, stories, and a sense of family that reaches back in time.


It has been most rewarding to rediscover a couple of cousins who once lived in the next County from us in Texas. Their ancestral link just happens to have been my mother's best friend who also was her first cousin. It has been decades since I had any contact with that close family. Now I have recent photographs of my cousin and his daughter and nieces and grandchildren. I've learned what fabulous lives a couple of those cousins have managed to create. I am rewarded with New-found Joy in my contact with each of them.


So, use the tools and scientific advances available to you to fit those DNA matches into your tree and more importantly, into your life. Get into that armchair and explore your genealogy. You may find treasures to enrich your life.


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View from My Back Steps

 


By John I. Blair

Turk’s Cap

I first planted Turk’s Cap in my then-new garden in April 1992. At the time the area where I planted it was only partially shady, being near to a couple of volunteer “fenceline” hackberries and a young red oak I had recently put in the ground.


When I planted the Turk’s Cap I had no knowledge of it at all except from books and just took a stab at where to plant it. The name intrigued me, plus the plant’s reputation for attracting hummingbirds. And at the time a house on the end of our block had a big patch of Turk’s Cap that bloomed every year and looked beautiful. So that was encouraging.



Turk's Cap or Scotchman's Purse (Malvaviscus_arboreus)


I had just built a rough path of old bricks through that corner of the yard, connecting a new concrete garden bench to a clump of overgrown holly bushes where I contrived a “tunnel” through the holly that formed a feature on the path. And the Turk’s Cap would be the only other flowers in that area, once they got established.


That was 30 years ago. The holly clump is gone (victim of root rot); the brick path is gone (recycled to widen another garden path so it would allow my wife’s wheelchair to pass); the garden bench is still there, but overgrown by a wisteria vine and now used only by a couple of feral cats as a shady place to nap. But the Turk’s Cap is still there, spread out over several square yards of ground and thoroughly shaded by the red oak I had planted not long before them, which is now at least 90 feet tall. The oak and the Turk’s Cap are virtually the only survivors of all the things I had planted in that corner of the yard. Yes, Turk’s Cap is durable!



Large Clump of Turks Cap at the Church, 9/06/18


Let me introduce you more formally. This spreading shrub, often as broad as it is high, grows 2-3 ft., sometimes taller. The bright-red, pendant, hibiscus-like flowers never fully open, their petals overlapping to form a loose tube with the staminal column protruding, said to resemble a Turkish turban, hence its most common name, Turk's Cap. It is a member of the hibiscus family. A good ornamental for shady sites and sunny sites alike, it is popular in cultivation and goes by many English names including Turkcap, Turk's turban, wax mallow, ladies teardrop and Scotchman's purse. It is native to Central America, Mexico, and the Gulf Coast of the United States, particularly as an understory shrub in coastal Texas and Louisiana. It is an important food source for female and juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Each individual flower lasts two days but contains more nectar on the first day. The fruit can be used to make jelly or syrup. Both the fruit and flowers are used to make herbal teas.



A landscaping treasure


It can be a wonderful plant for any wild garden, but also fits in well in a “civilized” garden. The flowers are uniquely shaped. Their color is truly brilliant, especially in the shady areas where they usually grow. And hummingbirds are attracted to them as soon as the flowers appear. So if you plant them, be sure to put them where you can see them – not like mine, which have gotten so hidden away in the back corner of the garden I have just gone more than a year without actually seeing the flowers, until I had the path to the bench cleared recently and carefully made my way back to a vantage point. They’re just coming into flower and should bloom the rest of the summer if I keep them watered. Calling all hummingbirds! And maybe the cats will make room on the bench for me to sit there once in a while.


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Cooking with Rod

 


By Rod Cohenour

Ms Italian Stuffed Peppers

Bell peppers bellissima. Melinda and I love sharing our cooking expertise with one another and with all of you.


This is one of her best recipes. It looks complicated but really is not. And the taste is worth any effort it requires.


Bon appetit~!

Ms Italian Stuffed Peppers


Ingredients:

For the stuffed peppers:

  • 8 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 lbs lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, old fashioned
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Italian Medley Seasoning Blend OR SEE NEXT
  • OR a dash or two each Garlic Powder or granulated Garlic, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Cumin, marjoram, rosemary, sage, thyme, coriander, (pick your favorite Italian seasonings to taste)
  • 2 cups Spaghetti sauce (pick your favorite)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)


For the Italian flavor rice:

  • 3 cups Basmati Rice
  • 1 can (15 oz) Italian Style tomato sauce plus water to make 6 cups liquid (or per package directions)
  • 1 Tbsp. Parsley flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. Sweet Basil
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced (save half the green tops for garnish)


Instructions:

    1. Prepare bell peppers. (Select peppers with flat bases if possible.) Wash thoroughly. Cut a thin slice from the top. Do not discard. Clean out seeds and membrane.
    2. Select casserole dish large enough to set all eight peppers upright. If necessary, trim a very fine bit from the bottom of any pepper that tends to tip over, being careful not to cut a hole into the cavity.
    3. Heat oven to 350° F.
    4. In a large bowl, mix lean ground beef, oats, chopped onion, and spice mixture. Blend well using clean hands. Add half the spaghetti sauce. Blend again.
    5. Fill bell peppers with meat mixture. Replace the tops Any remaining meat mixture should be pressed around the peppers.

(See below for preparation of Italian Rice, prepare while peppers bake.)

    6. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven to spoon out any grease. After getting as much as possible with the cooking spoon, use a paper towel to soak up the remaining grease.


At this time, test the center pepper or two to see how well done the meat mixture is.

    7. Set pepper tops onto the surrounding meat, unless they are too well done. If so, set aside for serving the stuffed peppers.
    8. Use remaining cup of Spaghetti sauce to drizzle over all peppers and surrounding meat mixture.
    9. Return to the oven to finish cooking. Check again in 10-15 minutes. Let the fragrance of the dish help you determine how long to finish cooking.


When cooked through, top with Mozzarella cheese and return to oven to let it melt and brown VERY SLIGHTLY.


Instructions for Italian Rice:

    1. Use a large stew pot. Add dry uncooked rice.
    2. Measure Italian Style Tomato Sauce. Add enough water to equal 6 cups. Add to dry rice in the stew pot.
    3. Add the white part of diced green onion. Reserve green tops, diced, for later
    4. Follow rice package directions, however, be aware typical directions call for you to bring rice to a boil over medium-high heat. Once at a full boil, turn off the heat and, leaving COVERED, allow the rice to finish cooking while soaking up all liquid for about 30 minutes.
    5. When rice is fully done, tender and fluffy, add most of the basil and parsley and about 1/3rd of the green onion tops, reserving a bit of each for garnish. Stir rice mixture to blend gently.


TO SERVE:


For each dinner plate prepare a bed of rice. Nestle two peppers per serving in a bed of rice. Garnish with green onion tops and parsley, setting pepper tops against the peppers.


Delicious paired with a chilled salad, crusty Italian bread, creamery butter, and a cold iced tea or lemonade.


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Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

A Playwright, A Poet, A Song, and Hitler's Plan


      I’ve just received an invitation to a public reading of Tom O’ Brien’s stage play Gilmartin in London on August 03rd. I can’t make it but I have read the script. This two-act drama tells the story in detail of the greed and corruption at the heart of Irish politics. The list of characters will give you a clue:

Tom Gilmartin (businessman)
Liam Lawlor (politician)
Owen O’Callaghan (businessman)
Padraig Flynn (politician)
Bertie Ahern (politician)
Maire Ann Howard (tribunal solicitor)
Nondescript man or woman
George Redmond (Dublin C Council)
Maguire (counsel for Ahern/O’Callaghan etc)


      The Gilmartin of the title was Tom. A man who left rural Sligo in the fifties and made it good in construction and engineering, in England. When his own country was on its knees Tom returned, as a wealthy businessman, in the late eighties, with the intention of embarking on projects which would create employment and stem another tide of emigration. Instead, he was confronted by corruption in high places at every turn.


       Bertie Ahern resigned on May 6th 2008 after 11 years as Irish Taoiseach and more than three decades in the corridors of power. His resignation was as a direct result of the fall-out from the treatment meted out to Tom Gilmartin. The full story only emerged at the conclusion of the Mahon Tribunal. It had sat for almost 15 years only reaching its conclusions in 2012.


      Tom had ambitious plans for several major retail developments in Dublin city. Little did he know that in order to do business in Dublin, senior politicians and public officials would want a slice of the action – in large amounts of cash. He finally blew the whistle on the corruption at the heart of government and the city’s planning system. His complaints resulted in the setting up in 1997, by order of the Oireachtas, of the Mahon Tribunal to look into ‘certain planning matters and payments’. Ironically, it was championed by none other than one Bertie Ahern.


Tom O'Brien


      I would strongly recommend that any Theatre company looking for a gripping 95 minute drama should contact playwright Tom O ‘Brien at: tomobrien2004@yahoo.co.uk

* * * * *


      World War 11 was known in Ireland as The Emergency. Efforts by the state to prepare for a possible German invasion became somewhat of a joke. Building block-houses on the coast and setting sharpened lengths of railway in concrete to stop German tanks was welcome fodder for many a comedian. But was it the thing of comedy?


      A COPY of Adolf Hitler's secret plan to invade Ireland during World War 11 has now been sold at auction for €1,100.


      The intelligence handbook, which outlines plans of a Nazi offensive against Ireland, sold at an auction hosted by Purcell Auctioneers - who noted that the secret documents were "of the utmost rarity".


      It features a detailed military study of the geographical landscape of the west of Ireland - where Hitler planned to land his army.


       It includes thousands of illustrations, photos, and maps of Ireland, concentrating on bridges, landmarks, industrial centres, and transport links. It also noted the vegetation, climate, and weather of the island. The estuary of the River Shannon was targeted as the ideal place for the Nazis to land an amphibious invasion, and Ireland's excellent road links were considered a massive boost.


       The invasion of Ireland was codenamed Operation Green (Unternehmen Grün), and was completed by an unknown German officer known by the alias "Hadel" in 1941. It was designed to support Operation Sea Lion, the Nazi's planned invasion of the United Kingdom, which never came to fruition. Some have speculated that Germany never actually intended to invade Ireland and that Operation Green was simply a diversionary tactic used to draw British troops into Northern Ireland who might otherwise be sent to aid the defense of mainland Britain had Operation Sea Lion gone ahead.


       Others believed it was a serious invasion plan, intended to give the Luftwaffe direct access to both Britain and the Atlantic Ocean where it could intercept and destroy American ships bringing supplies to the Allies. Which was the case? Will we ever know?

* * * * *


       Because of Covid 19 I haven’t been able to visit Listowel, the culture capital of Ireland, for two years. But I do keep in touch with the works of its literati. The following is a poem by John McGrath.

Ar Scáth a Chéile a Mhaireann na Daoine

We live within the shadow of each other (Irish Proverb)

By John McGrath

Bang!

A finch against my window.

I felt the shudder as its world met mine,

Rushed to where it fell.

Sapped of sense and movement,

Eyes glazed, grey, lifeless,

Wings splayed, stone still.

I saw its small beak quiver,

Move as if to speak.

A tiny pulse throbbed in its downy throat.

Cupping it in my palm,

I felt the soft, warm beat within,

Willed life into stillness.

Restored by simple touch

It stirred, fluttered, faltered, flew

And healed the poet too.

* * * * *

       About 20 years ago I wrote the Lyrics of There's a Brightness at the Butt of the Wind. It didn't make much sense at the time but John Hoban composed music for it and sang it. I thought that, during the pandemic, it might be relevant and now poet Polly Hughes has put it on youtube. Here’s the link:
YouTube Video "Brightness" Link

See you in September.

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