Monday, April 1, 2019

Editor's Corner


April 2019

"Our wisdom comes from our experience,
and our experience comes from our foolishness."
-- Sacha Guitry

April this year is bringing many people consternation about weather, health, what food is really healthy, and the answers only bring more questions. But a very wise woman, Lena May Joslin Carroll, your editor's mother said when I apologized for asking so many questions, "Questions are the pathway to wisdom." And then with that quirky smile of pure orneriness added, "And they can help us find our new path when we run away from home." She was always planning the next camping trip, the next rock hunting quest, the next journey to a place not seen before. She made getting wherever an adventure every step of the way. And yet she had time to notice and share beauty in microscopic glimpses, like calling me over beside her as we were weeding the flowerbeds early one morning, having me place my cheek next to her own so we had the very same view, revealing to me her discovery of dozens of minute rainbows reflecting as the morning sun hit the dew trapped on the fluff of a dandelion ready to be dispersed in every direction yet for the moment holding heaven in its own space. Just as such memories help us hold love within our hearts.

Her baby girl, Melinda, that Cohenour one who does the Armchair Genealogy column dwells in memories as she researches carefully various sources to prepare the sometimes amazing histories of family members, capturing those revealing documents that bring the tales into focus, as though we knew that ancestor personally. A different direction on a pathway, but trailing those elusive answers documented here there and everywhere.

Marilyn Carnell, whose column "Sifoddling Along" sifoddles to many places, and this month goes back to "Eden" and why she left there. LC Van Savage wends her way back through famous faces and seeks to determine if certain physical features set one's way throughout their life. Judith Kroll launches herself and seeks others to accompany her as she finds a way to make life and living more joyous through kindness and good deeds.

Mattie Lennon has been digging into the books of acquaintances and others in his ongoing treasure hunt for unforgettable Irish incidents and events. Thomas F. O'Neill, who recently returned from his occupation in China of being an ESL Teacher, discusses cultural differences between students in America and China on the television show of Sam Lesante in Pennsylvania. He returns there in June.

Rod Cohenour, our cooking columnist and author of Cooking with Rod, prepares an Easter meal that may have you hopping in your vehicle to find some of the tasty ingredients he combines so magically you wonder where he keeps that traveling carpet that helps him chase down his ideas.

Our poets have a variety of subjects to intrigue the reader, Bruce Clifford wonders if that certain someone can "Remember When," and shares his perspective of "Dawn of Day." Bud Lemire is still dancing along a shamrock sprinkled glade, basking in the afterglow of "St. Patrick's Day."

John I Blair swings back with a full slate for April, tracing life and its abrupt conclusions while reminiscing about his father, and the strangely poignant consideration of a squirrel's demise. He lets his thought stream on to unsolvable mysteries, to unexpected and joy filled sights, as well as insomnia and a warming concept of a tree. His April poems are: Earthen House, Crossing Over, White, Surprise Poppies, Four A.M. and March Cypress.

We have a poem this issue from Beverly F. Walker, long time chat friend, well known for her many stories in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. Her poem involves a short trip she wants her pet to make, but that pet has "Catitude." Hope to see more of your creativity here, Beverly.

We always save this for last, when in reality if it didn't come first we wouldn't be here again, pressing onward with our dreams now in our 22d year online. A position we cherish, that's maintained by the diligence of our webmaster and beloved friend, Mike Craner.

See you in May!

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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


George F Hempleman, an American Patriot

      Each American should be able to locate a number of Revolutionary heroes in their family tree so long as their Immigrant Ancestor arrived in the New World before 1770. For many the first ancestor to reach America’s virgin shore arrived in the early 1630’s (as did many of your author’s own ancestors). However, this month we celebrate the heroism of an ancestor whose long trip to America presented him with many hardships; yet, he so loved his new country that he still volunteered to take part in the battle to gain independence. George F. Hempleman, the son of a Baron in Hesse Castle, Germany, chose to make the arduous journey to America in the company of his brother, Adam, and the love of his life, Marguerite Duffy. This is his story.

      The story of George Hempleman and his beloved Marguerite has been told by your author in a prior column. ( ) That column related the love story for which George and Marguerite are best known. Their love story has inspired poetry, been made the subject of more than one book, and served as the basis for a movie. This story, however, has been much more difficult to research – the story of George Hempleman’s love for his new country – a love so great he chose to risk everything to help achieve America’s independence from England, the foreign sovereignty that had chosen to impose horrendous taxes, laws, and punitive measures against the colonies. In another prior column, mention was made in a brief biographic sketch of the military service documented by others for both George and his brother, Adam Hempleman, during the Revolutionary War. (

      It has been far more difficult to research the service of George Hempleman in depth due to the loss or absence of so many documents pertaining to the Pennsylvania militia. Many buildings and other receptacles of historic documents were subjected to destruction by fire by British soldiers, leaving a paucity of information detailing actual military maneuvers. In spite of this, dear 5th Great-Grandfather George F. Hempleman’s service to his country HAS been documented and your author shall attempt to paste together the story from the available sources.

      George F. Hempleman was a remarkable character on the family tree for a number of reasons, not the least of which was his extraordinary length of life – he was born 24th June 1732 in Swabia, Germany, and gave up his hold on immortality on 7 April 1842 in South Charleston, Clark County, Ohio, an incredible span of 109 years, 9 months, and 14 days! Towards the end of his life, George experienced the usual ravages of old age: nearly blind, good hearing, completely rational and sane although confined to his home due to physical infirmities, a bad memory by his reckoning (although his Declaration in support of a pension due him for his Revolutionary War service reflects a rather excellent memory of names, places, and approximate dates – not perfect but found to be reliable upon research by your author).

      In the final year of his life, George Hempleman, Sr., aided by his son George Hempleman, Jr., filed a Declaration for Pension for his service in the Revolutionary War. In that application, we find clues to document his service. In that application, he states:

      That he entered the service of the United States at the time the British occupied the City of Philadelphia. He was drafted into the Militia of Pennsylvania. He then lived at Sunbury upon the Susquehanna. His Captain’s name was Clingman. The Col (2-1) Schaeffer and he believes his General’s name was Bull. He marched to the neighborhood of Philadelphia and remained three months within which time there was a skirmish between Bull’s men and the British at Guilford Hall in which two of our men was killed.

      In support of this declaration, we find the following concerning General Bull:
John Bull was born on June 1st, 1731 in Montgomery, Pennsylvania and held the rank of Colonel in Pennsylvania's 2nd Regiment during the American Revolution. He is the son of Thomas Bull and Elizabeth Rossiter. He was appointed Colonel on May 2nd, 1777. On June 17th, 1777, he was promoted to Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania Militia by the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council.

      It was not until late in 1777 that Pennsylvania complied with the urgent request of General George Washington that the state begin a formal draft of eligible men between the ages of 17 and 53 to serve in a State Militia. The citizens of Pennsylvania were largely opposed to any form of compulsory military service, an attitude in line with the beliefs of the Quaker religion: pacifist and strictly opposed to military actions.

      At the behest of General George Washington (1732-99), the “Act to Regulate the Militia of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” in March 1777 required all able-bodied men ages 18 to 53 to serve tours of two months, established strict draft conditions, and levied heavy fines and penalties against those unwilling to participate. Battalions elected their own officers for three-year terms, and County Lieutenants (not a military rank) enforced the regulations within their communities. Under these conditions, eight militia battalions of roughly one hundred soldiers per battalion formed in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. (SOURCE:

      In addition to his requisite two months’ service in the Pennsylvania militia as referenced above, George Hempleman was also called upon to provide protection from the Indians who continued to oppose the frontiersmen who deigned to settle upon their traditional lands. In his own words, as documented in his Pension application, George provides the following information:

      Some time after this service, but he cannot state how long, he was again drafted to go against the Indians. He does not remember the names of any of his officers upon this tour but he served three months and went to Wyoming. The years following he was again drafted to go against the Indians and served three months. He marched upon this town upon the North Branch of the Susquehanna, but he does not remember the names of any of the officers. His residence was at Sunbury and he was upon each occasion drafted from there. He was a weaver by occupation and followed that business when drafted and he served in the army as a private. He was upon each occasion of his service discharged by his Captain and as he believes verbally. He believes that he never received a written discharge.

      The list of illustrious personages dear George Hempleman listed among those who knew him well included the Honorable Samson Mason, a member of Congress from Ohio, Ira Paige, Esq. a former associate judge for Clark County, Ohio, James Wallace one of the foremost merchants whose business helped to build the town, Charles Anthony, a United States attorney (who later championed George Hempleman’s efforts to obtain this pension); and a number of respected merchants, large farm owners, doctors and others within his community: Gilbert Pearce, George Buffenbarger, James Sprague, George Lott, Charles Paist, Dr. Robert Houston, John Holmes, and others. His pension application was witnessed by both a Baptist clergyman and another noted member of the Clark County, Ohio, community:

      We, Joseph Morris, a clergyman of the Baptist denomination and Thomas Anderson, a farmer, both residing in Madison Township, Clark County, Ohio, hereby certify that we are well acquainted with George Hempleman Sen. who has subscribed and sworn to the foregoing declaration. That we have been acquainted with him for twenty-six years. That we believe him to be of the age which he represents himself to be, that is to say, 110 years old next June. That he is respected and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the Revolution and that we concur in that opinion.

      One must marvel at the memories of this humble man, now nearing 110 years of age, reaching back into the mists of his own long decades to bring forth the names and dates and locations of his service. This is not the first ancestor whose application for remuneration due him for his tours of duty that resulted in the birth of our great nation was denied that rightful pension. In this case, having waited a long decade after the United States finally offered these heroes a monetary pension, his advanced age and deteriorated memory cost George Hempleman any form of monetary reward. He simply could not provide documentation of his discharge, or draft documents, nor correctly recall the names of all those with whom he fought. In spite of this, his service was finally documented in later years and his remains granted the honors due to him because “he could not document a full six months’ service” in the Revolutionary War after some 60 plus years!

      From the earlier column memorializing the military service of our various ancestors, we find the following concerning George F. Hempleman:

      Revolutionary service: George was a private, 1781, in Capt. William Johnson's company, 10th battalion, Lancaster Co., PA [p.173] militia. He was born in Germany; died in Charlestown, Ohio. Profession: Weaver, owned 342 acres in Vance twp in 1814, which was later Mad River twp of Clarke Co., Ohio.
      (Sources: Robinson's History of Greene Co., OH, Broadstone's History of Greene Co., Vol. I, p. 203, Early Clark Co. Families, Vol. I, p.149, D.A.R. Patriot Index, p. 321, History of the Hempleman Family in America, By Geo. Whitely, 1912, Northumberland County Muster list of 1776)

      George’s brother, Adam Hempleman, also served during the Revolutionary War. They chose to migrate to America together in the early 1750’s, but were separated by their servitude as indentured immigrants, and it was many years before they reunited by chance. As related in my earlier story about George, here is that tale:

      Adam Hempleman, the elder brother, was indentured to a plantation owner in Pennsylvania. After his term of indenture was paid, he first settled in Kentucky where he married and ultimately moved to Adams County, Ohio. George and Marguerite after their reunion and marriage had settled in Clark County, Ohio, by a complete quirk of fate (if you believe all such coincidences to be merely coincidental.) The brothers, who had each served their new country (*) during the Revolutionary War, had not seen one another since their arrival in the New World. Many decades had passed with no word being exchanged between them. George and his love, Marguerite had made plans to meet at the church but Adam and George had not made any such plans leaving their future to fate. ( In another tale related by descendant George Whitley, in his book, A History of the Hempleman Family in America, 1912, Higginson, authored by George Whiteley):
      “…by chance a neighbor of Adam Hempleman was traveling north and stopped with George Hempleman Jr., overnight, remarked that there was a man in his county by the same name of Hempleman that resembled him very much and later George Hempleman, Sr., in the company with his son George, visited Adam Hempleman at his home in Adams County. What a reunion that must have been....... “

      Thus, we give tribute to George F. Hempleman, our 5th Great-Grandfather on my father’s side of the family. Rest in Peace, sweet Patriot!

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Sifoddling Along


Eden Exit

         On a sultry summer day in the early 1990’s, we were perched high above Penitentiary Bend, an ox-bow curve in Big Sugar Creek, named for the many sugar maples that once clung to its banks. The narrow stream then meandered to the southwest in its serpentine track to join Little Sugar Creek and thus form Elk River at Pineville, Missouri, my home town. We had retired there the year before. Beginning several miles to the south, Big Sugar wended its way west toward Oklahoma. Most Missouri streams flow directly southeast to the Mississippi. It was one of the many odd things about McDonald County and that wasn’t counting some of the people.
         The origin of bend’s ominous name was lost in time. Perhaps it was the site of a POW camp during the Civil War, but no one was sure. I had grown up in a culture of hill folk. My ancestors had lived in the mid-south mountains since the 1700’s. There was a strong oral tradition where stories were told for entertainment and to preserve history and family lore. Unfortunately, in modern times, weekly “visiting” and the frequent repetition of favorite tales had died out and the culture was dying as well. To a small extent that day my husband Al and I were acting out a rite from the past – visiting with a relative and catching up.
         The deck was cantilevered beyond the edge of a limestone bluff at eagle-eye level. The deck was what made my Cousin Paul’s cabin perfect. We could see the bass flicking through pristine water far below. Paul said he could hang a fishing line over the rail and catch dinner without leaving the house. For eons it had been the only highway through the region – first to ease movement of Indians who came to hunt and fish, then explorers and settlers. Over time, it had become simply a recreational stream - popular because it was slow moving, relatively shallow and crystal clear with a gravel bottom. It was ideal for floating, swimming, fishing or idling away a pleasant day. Other than the many camp ground owners who made a tidy profit from a cash-only business, the locals merely tolerated visitors. They did refrain from bumper stickers that read “If there is a tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?” They probably thought about it, but lack of availability of stickers or inertia prevented any action. There is a lot of inertia in the Ozarks. Scarlett O’Hara might have had some relatives who lived there.
         We enjoyed the warm summer afternoon; watching an occasional flotilla of canoes glide past. In the distance we saw buzzards slowly circling. They had caught a whiff of dinner. During the warm months, the bald eagles sub-let the sky to the buzzards that tidied up after speeding tourists. Apparently they found road kill tasty. A soft breeze soughed through the steep wooded hills that were lush with the heavy greenery of summer. Below a grove of sycamores hid their bony white fingers beneath a verdant canopy.
         That was the moment I had an inspiration. “I don’t think I could ever get closer to Heaven than where I am today.” I said to my husband. After a few moments of quiet, I said, “Al, I want a place on Big Sugar.”
         My husband was agreeable to almost anything I proposed so long as I was reasonably well behaved and didn’t do something outrageous on the courthouse steps and scare the horses. That is another way of saying that provided I didn’t do something embarrassing that might alarm others, he was game.
          “Good idea,” he said. That week we began looking for a cabin on Big Sugar Creek. Success was improbable. I wanted to have a place not too remote and there were very few houses on the ten mile stretch of dirt road that ran beside the creek between Pineville and the once thriving hamlet of Cyclone. Remote was a relative term. McDonald County wasn’t at the ends of the earth, but you could almost see it from there.

* * * * *

         For most of the first eighteen years of my life, I had planned my escape from Pineville, a backwater village that had raised me with love and caring. It was the safest place I would ever know; peaceful, cooperative and to be totally honest, I was related to most of the people in one way or another. My generation saw no future in staying. The days of self-sustaining farms were over; there was little hope of finding a job. We had to leave or be satisfied with a very bleak future. It was also the dawn of realization that women could have a career and I wanted one.
         The next thirty five years I was torn between two worlds as I worked my way up a career in foods and nutrition while the same time I tried to distance myself from my hillbilly origins. The daughter of a teacher, I could speak standard English and “pass” in most situations. Once in a while a colloquial expression would come out unbidden and cause momentary confusion, but that was fairly rare. During those years I met and married Al Williams. We lived in a community on Philadelphia’s Main Line. I had landed jobs with Fortune 500 companies, held my own in a competitive environment with colleagues from all over the world, but my inner self said I was a fraud and didn’t really belong in such elitist realms. At the same time, I was always pulled toward “home” and subconsciously plotted ways to return to the Eden I had left behind..

* * * * *

         Al and I stumbled upon our haven by stopping to talk with a farmer who was near the road and asking if he knew of anyplace to rent. As it happened, he did. We contacted the owner, bought it “as is” and quickly shopped for some minimal furnishings – a luxurious king size bed, bookcases and a couple of couches upholstered with an “Indian’ pattern that we thought appropriate for a rustic retreat.
         The cabin was built by a retired Colonel who was clearly a micro-manager if not a fine craftsman. He probably wore a belt and suspenders. Our new house was built on pilings with room for the water to flow under it if necessary. No detail too small, the Colonel made sure that the cabin was officially above the flood plain according to FEMA. He was a great believer in redundancy: the cabin had electric and propane heat panels and a large wood stove. Of course, our first agenda item was to add central heat and air.
          It wasn’t an impressive place, a wooden structure built on pilings overlooking the creek about 15 feet below. No one ever accused me of being house proud. Because we paid cash, we got it cheap. We had acquired seven acres of beauty located in the middle of a 2,500 acre State Park. Unlike Cousin Paul’s place, our cabin wasn’t high on a bluff, but snuggled deep in the valley next to the creek far from the dusty road. If we wanted peace and quiet, we had found it.
         We could sit on our deck and watch fish glide around or enjoy seeing blue herons on high stepping tiptoes hunting along the shore in search of minnows. The cabin’s relative crudeness meant that no one had to worry about protecting good things from wet swim suits, or dusty feet. It was a place to relax and be ourselves. We named it Sweet Williams Place. I had found Eden once more.
          I forgot about the snake.
         We lived by Big Sugar Creek for 15 years. When a nearby cabin came on the market, we bought it to use as a guest house and an art/sewing studio for me. Even in the country Al and I needed a little personal space. We loved the creek. We started a daily blog, kept busy with individual projects and time went by. Big Sugar still seemed to be a magical place to me. It was the background of many stories and family memories It is scenic in every season, lush and verdant in the summer, all colors in the fall, silvery in the winter and exploding with energy in the spring – powdered with dogwood, laced with magenta frosted redbud and wild flowers carpeted the greening woods.
          During the warm months, canoes slipped past. We had an easy relationship with them; similar to the one we had with our usually unseen neighbors, cottonmouth and copperhead snakes. We didn’t bother them and they didn’t bother us. We were comfortable in our country home and didn’t plan to leave except feet first.

* * * * *

         We had seen high water come and go, even get close to the bottom of our steps, but in April of 2011, the weather seemed different. For several days heavy rain had been falling; “railroading storms” they were called. The gravid dark clouds seemed to have an endless supply of water to share. The pelting drops hit the earth’s surface so hard they bounced. They splattered like a “cow peeing on a flat rock” as the old timers would say. The scant topsoil of the high savannas barely supported second growth trees that replaced the original pine forests. The soil got so water logged that trees began to topple.
         Water cascaded down the steep hills carrying with it last year’s sodden leaves, fallen trees and twigs that accumulated into big rafts of debris speeding atop the red clay-laden water. Some of the rain sank into the karst limestone cavities that honeycombed each hill. Every ridge was riddled with sinkholes, caves and faults that carried the water for miles only to come gushing out of wet-weather springs and feed the torrent.
          Al and I were not alarmed. Instead of doing anything practical like putting books on high shelves, we dithered. I was distracted because we had a friend staying at our guest house about 50 yards away. I waded through cold muddy water several times that morning to be sure that Meredith could get out of the valley safely. It was only three days until the “World Premier” of “Snake County Stories” a folk history play that my friend Colleen and I were producing for the local Chamber of Commerce. Meredith was the playwright and director so I was glad that she could continue to work on last minute production details. I was on the phone a lot, talking to friends who said they had called 911 for us to be rescued as they had heard a flash flood was in the making. Surely not, I said. We’ve been through this before; we’ll be fine.
         Al was in complete denial and refused to leave the cabin and I refused to leave him. I was out of my mind. It will crest soon. Floods on Big Sugar had a typical pattern. There would be a sharp rise to the peak height and an abrupt ebbing. These floods were very unlike Mississippi floods or hurricanes that left water standing for days. It would be a quick up and down. No worries.
         All morning we monitored the US Geological Survey gage height a few miles upstream, forgetting that there were other tributaries coming into the creek between that location and our cabin. At 15 ft. we knew that in about five hours water would be up in our yard and around the cabin. We moved the car up to the top of the driveway - just in case. If the water got high we didn’t want to get stuck in the mud. The gage readings were creeping up - 16 ft., 17 ft., 18 ft. I looked out our back windows. Our neighbor’s cars were gone. We were the last hold-outs. We were on our own. Fear clinched my belly.
         Suddenly a tsunami of pent up raging water surged into our kitchen. No mere walls could hold it back. Our delusions of safety were finally breached. It was time to flee. We waded across the deck and started down the steps to descend into the maelstrom. I looked up and saw our neighbor Jim York wading toward us pushing a canoe ahead of him. On the higher ground was his mom, Marilyn, the Rowses and two teen age boys cheering us on. We hadn’t been abandoned after all. We were going to be saved.
          Al and I struggled against the roiling debris-filled current threatening to push us underwater while clinging to the canoe. Two geezers in their 70’s who didn’t walk all that well on dry land.. The roar of the creek pounded our ears. The pelting rain had funneled through the ravines and hollers into the main stream and created a wall of muddy water that was washing over us. The odor was fetid and evil; a funky mixture of moldy leaves, soil and other detritus. Sometimes I still smell it in my dreams
          The mud sucked at our feet; I wasn’t sure I could keep my shoes on. I was a good thing I did as it was the only shoes I had for the next year (not because I couldn’t afford them, I simply didn’t care.) We scrambled to keep our footing. I held on the canoe and tried to keep my purse out of the water. Inside I had stuffed a Wal-Mart bag that contained all we could salvaged – a cell phone, medicine, a little cash, credit cards and checkbooks. We were soaked to our armpits as the water lapped, lapped, lapped against our bodies. The creek wanted to devour us.
         After reaching high ground, for a little while, we all stood in speechless shock. We were all soaking wet, scared and witless. There were eight of us. Three families were suddenly refugees. Gradually some reason returned and as a small group we started making basic plans - call the local motel and book rooms; board the pets with the local vet. Call family and friends and let them know we were ok, just a little inconvenienced. No need to worry. Our neighbors had saved us. We were fine. Just fine.
         The 911 calls had gone unanswered. No one came to help us.

* * * * *

         We learned later that the crest was an unheard of 22 ft. The currents had been like a washing machine churning everything within its reach into a muddy stew. Treasured belongings collected over a lifetime were totally ruined. Six tall Ikea bookcases made of laminate, sagged toward the floor. The guesthouse was a soggy ruin. Our best things were in it - most of our art collection, our “city” furniture (it was a pet-free zone), handmade quilts and so much more. In the home cabin there was more art work, our collection of hundreds of cookbooks, my copious files on local history and anything else that caught my attention from thong trees to Ozark architecture. Shoes were in the bottoms of the closets.
         With a $300 credit card from the Red Cross, we were able to go to the nearest Wal-Mart and buy some essentials – underwear, toothbrushes, one outfit of cheap clothes each, some food and a really ugly lavender nightgown for me. I had my own credit cards, but that credit card was a little cushion that helped until I could assess the losses. I might need money in the short term.
         We were homeless. For the next two months we were like flotsam ourselves, moving our belongings in garbage bags from place to place. I gathered financial information and prepared to meet with government representatives in the town firehouse. Al’s son, David, flew from North Carolina to help deal with the cleanup. I hired a disaster cleaning firm. I did triage: 1) keep 2) dry 3) hopeless. It was impossible to keep up with what was happening with work crews in two houses tossing anything wet without regard to potential salvage. Seven dumpsters of precious belongings were sent to a landfill in Kansas. So many things that I later realized had been safely above the flood level; others that just needed washing – stainless steel bowls aren’t ruined by a little mud. So many things disappeared that I later suspected a lot of stuff was siphoned off to line someone’s pockets, but that realization was a long time in the future. It was months before I was capable of realizing how many “things” were gone forever.
          A few days into the clean-up, Al got critically ill. Unknown to me, he had taken a lot of aspirin that resulted in the eruption of a gushing ulcer. By the time I got him to the hospital 100 miles away, he was near death. The emergency room physicians pulled him back from the brink and I began to breathe again myself. After being reassured that he would be recovering, I had I had to leave Al’s side and to go home to deal with another crisis.
         During our absence, a F-5 tornado in Joplin had absorbed all of the available housing and repair workers in the entire area. Moreover, a second epic flood occurred on Big Sugar Creek the same week. This time water didn’t get up into the houses, but all of the carefully packed boxes and other items that had been stored in shipping containers in the yards were flooded. Naturally, the best things were at the bottom. We were back to the beginning. I was almost catatonic.
          I managed to rent an “apartment” in a neighbor’s barn for a month and brought Al home from the hospital. He was still too weak to do more than lie on a couch while David and I worked on the salvage operation.
          Our original plan had been to take the opportunity to upgrade as we repaired the cabins. Accordingly, many large items that were at least salvageable were given away or tossed. I was ok with that, but I came back from town one day to find that after discussion with David, Al had decided that we should move away for good. I didn’t fight it. I was already beaten.
          My son, Ben, called. He had offered to come and help earlier, but I knew that I couldn’t cope with any more people at the time. He said he could find us a place to rent in Hopkins, Minnesota since there was no available temporary housing in SW Missouri. Ben thought we needed to find a safe place to rest and be in a better position to make rational decisions about our future. We accepted his offer. He came down the next day. The following days were filled with arranging for the move to a distant place.

* * * * *

         It took an Act of God to evict me from Eden. This time the snake was the serpentine creek that rose and swept us away in a torrent of muddy red water. The resulting trauma led to our relocating in Minnesota where there was family for support. It isn’t paradise. Minnesota is a very different kind of garden – lovely in its own way, but much colder in climate and cooler in culture. “Minnesota Nice” is like the Platte River – a mile wide and an inch deep. As a talkative hillbilly who as always felt she could have a conversation with a fence post, it is hard to understand the reserved Scandinavian culture. It is also very different living in a city once again, but after two years, it is beginning to feel like home. My long journey has taught me that it is wiser to accept imperfection.
         After all, any Eden is only temporary.

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Cooking with Rod


An Easter Menu – And an Easter Surprise

This is the month we celebrate EASTER! After a dreary, cold Winter, we welcome the first flowering buds on trees, the buoyant blooms popping through the soil as Hyacinths, Daffodils, Jonquils, Tulips and other bulbs burst through - first offering their sweet green leaves before bringing forth their colorful blooms. Youngsters all round begin thinking about how many Easter eggs they can find to fill their Easter baskets and Moms begin worrying about how in the world they’re going to keep all those hard-boiled Bunny Eggs from going to waste! Fear not, oh faithful cooks! For we have a plan (or two or three) that will save the day and please the palate.

First of all, if your neck of the woods has been hit by one of Mother Nature’s little quirks – like snow and frostbite or a bit too much of the watering of the bulbs that left your yard awash in mud instead of sweet, green grass – try a creative Bunny egg hunt inside! You can still let the kiddos help decorate the eggs or you can shop for some Cadbury’s eggs, chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs, or what-have-you in the way of Easter candies, or you can buy a batch of plastic eggs and some miniature toy treats. Whichever plan you adopt, make sure you keep the chocolate away from the pets as it is toxic for the four-legged crowd. Count carefully to ensure every egg treat gets “found” by the kiddos, even if Grandpa or Grandma must help. This is a good plan with those decorated Bunny eggs, too, for it only takes one sulfuric disaster to spoil the atmosphere if overlooked!

Now to the fun part – the best part of Easter, the sharing of the blessings and the food with the loved ones.

Bon appetit!~

The Easter Ham

At our house, Easter just calls out for a delicious, juicy, tasty ham and all the fixings. The best choice, in my opinion, is a spiral cut ham since it offers those nice thin slices and the cuts usually go to the bone, making it easy to salvage the bone for the bean pot or a nice ham and potato chowder. Most spiral hams come with a pre-packaged glaze or basting sauce, but we kind of prefer to mix our own. Sometimes we use both – blending the packaged goodies in after we mix our own. Our goal is to have plenty for the ham and enough to serve at the table as well. The choice is up to you, but here’s our recipe:

    Large 7 to 10 lb. ham, spiral cut, precooked, no water added (this is often referred to as a city ham, as opposed to the country ham which is not sliced, usually is not precooked, and comes with a whole different set of rules for cooking!)
    Large 20 oz. can pineapple slices, drained, all juice reserved
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 Tbsp cinnamon
    2 tsp nutmeg
    ½ tsp allspice (this spice if very strong, go easy)
    ¼ cup honey
    ½ cup reserved pineapple juice (reserve what is left)

    1. Preheat the oven to 250°.
    2. Rinse, score the outer surface not cutting into the meat itself, then wrap the ham completely in aluminum foil. Place in a large roasting pan. Let roast for about 1 to 1 ½ hours to ensure the ham is fully heated through. A warm ham absorbs the glaze better (and lets the cook move forward with all the side dishes.)
    3. Prepare the basting sauce: In a small bowl place the brown sugar and spices. Add honey and about ½ cup of the reserved pineapple juice. The basting sauce should have a pretty thick consistency in order to glaze the ham and not just wash over it. You can always add more liquid if needed.
    4. When the ham has become deliciously aromatic and is fully heated through, remove roasting pan from the oven, increase the oven temperature to about 350° and unwrap the ham.
    5. Using a basting brush or large plastic spatula, begin glazing the bare ham (we will add the pineapple slices later). Make sure to cover the entire surface, but end up with the meatiest side up and the flattest side down in the roasting pan.
    6. After about 20 minutes, pull the roasting pan from the oven and place the pineapple slices on the ham, securing as necessary with toothpicks (which can be removed later).
    7. Baste the entire ham and all the pineapple slices and return to the oven.
    8. Baste again after another 20 minutes.
    9. Return to the oven for the final browning. You want the ham to have a lovely, even glaze but not be overly browned in any section. If you must, wrap foil over any part that is browning too much while the rest is not ready. You be the judge – it is your presentation. (Pssst, remove those toothpicks before serving!)
Easter Surprise Dressing

Here’s the fun part! We will use those leftover hard-boiled Easter bunny eggs to hide in the dressing, making it even more fun for the kiddos. It is even more fun if some of the dye material has colored the cooked egg whites.

  • 1 small bag or box bread cubes for stuffing or dressing
  • 1 small bag or box cornbread for stuffing/dressing
  • 4 stalks celery, de-stringed and cut into small half-moon slices
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, whatever color you choose, diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp rubbed Sage
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • ½ Tbsp onion powder
  • Dash garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 tsp black pepper, your choice
  • 1 can chicken broth, unsalted, no fat
  • 3 to 4 hard-boiled Easter eggs, cut in half, with yolks

    1. Preheat oven to 350° (it may still be warm from the ham)
    2. Prepare vegetables next, washing, dicing, and cubing.
    3. In large bowl, combine cornbread and bread cubes. Add spices and prepared veggies. Add ½ can of the broth and the 3 eggs. Begin mixing with your hands (clean hands, always). The mixture should be fairly moist but not soggy. (No one really likes a soupy dressing!) Add broth or more bread or crackers as necessary to achieve the right texture.
    4. Butter a 9” x 13” oven-proof casserole dish. Press about half of the dressing mixture into the bottom of the dish.
    5. Now add the Easter egg halves, gently pressing each into the dressing but making sure they retain their egg shapes.
    6. Add the rest of the dressing mixture on top, making sure each egg is completely covered.
    7. Bake the dressing about 30 to 45 minutes, until the top is evenly browned and, when tested, a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the dish.
Devilled Eggs a La M

Now, it wouldn’t be fair not to include a little idea or two from my sweet wife, the original Miss M, now would it? Besides, this ole boy dearly LOVES her devilled eggs and they make a perfect appetizer, along with a tray of fruit, cheese and crackers, while we wait for the ham and fixings to cook up.

  • 2 dozen hard-boiled Easter eggs, peeled and carefully halved (we don’t want to break the egg now, do we?)
  • ½ cup Miracle Whip (you can use mayo, but we prefer this)
  • 1 Tbsp prepared mustard (the old-fashioned yellow hotdog favorite)
  • 1 Tbsp sweet pickle relish (keep the jar handy, we may want some juice)
  • Dash of black or white pepper
  • Paprika, for dusting the prepared eggs
  • Parsley, a nice garnish as well

    1. Make sure all the egg shells are washed from the eggs before you cut each in half.
    2. Remove all the cooked yolks and place in a small bowl.
    3. Mash up the yolks, using fork tines, keeping them fluffy.
    4. Add about half the Miracle Whip you’ve set aside and begin mixing into the yolks. Work until the mixture is fairly creamy, adding more of the Miracle Whip as necessary.
    5. Add the mustard, ground pepper, and pickle relish. Continue fluffing the yolk mixture, the goal is to have a light and creamy mixture. A touch of the pickle juice adds flavor as well.
    6. You can spoon or pipe the yolk mixture into the egg white halves, depending upon how artistic you wish to be. 7. Arrange the egg halves on a pretty dish (we use a couple of dishes specially created for presenting these egg delights)
    8. Garnish with Paprika, parsley, or your choice of: black olives, sweet pickle slices, celery stalks with leaves attached, whatever strikes your fancy.
Texas Style Angels on Horseback by M

Here’s a fun twist on the old bacon-wrapped oyster or scallop thing they do on the Coast. My Miss M has come up with a very tasty alternative. Give it a try!

  • 2 Packages of Cocktail wieners (Lil Smokies are delish)
  • 1 lb. maple bacon (cut in thirds, and do not use thick cut)
  • 1 bottle barbecue sauce (Keep it Simple, Kraft’s will do)
  • 1 jar grape, apricot, or peach jelly
  • Wooden toothpicks
  • ¾ to 1 cup brown sugar (in a bowl)

    1. Heat your oven to 450°.
    2. Foil a large cookie sheet, this will make clean up easier.
    3. Mix the barbecue sauce and jar of jelly together, whisking thoroughly. Heat in a saucepan on top of the stove, add 2 of the Lil Smokies in to give the flavor and a bit of fat to the sauce.
    4. Wrap each Lil Smokie in a strip of bacon, securing with a toothpick and letting each end stick up (for angel wings, of course)
    5. Dip in the heated sauce, then in the bowl of the brown sugar, be sure to completely coat the wiener and the bacon.
    6. Place each wiener on the foil-wrapped cookie sheet. (Be sure to retrieve the last two Lil Smokies from the sauce and wrap them, too.)
    7. Pop in the oven and cook until the bacon is crisp.
    8. Serve with the toothpicks still attached (the horsebacks, of course!) to make it easier for your guests to help themselves.
    9. Be sure to have a small bowl of the dipping sauce alongside.

A tip from M: To turn these into Devils on Horseback, use chili sauce instead of barbecue sauce and slice each Lil Smokie, insert a strip of jalapeno pepper and a small strip of cheddar cheese before wrapping in the bacon.

The Easter Menu – all the fixings? Well, we like to have a potato dish (mashed taters or Potato Au Gratin, even Scalloped Potatoes), sweet potatoes prepared your favorite way, some green beans (casserole, with some of the ham and onion, or your family’s fav), a really nice crisp salad, hot breads, cool tea, and lots of Easter blessings for your family from mine! Happy Easter, folks!

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I just recently appeared on the Sam Lesante Show and spoke about the cultural differences between the Chinese and American education system.

I think you will find the show interesting.

I posted the link below.

ESL Teacher in China Thomas O’Neill guest on Sam Lesante Show

    Always with love from Lock Haven University
    Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (410) 925-9334
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Facebook: https:/

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