Monday, August 1, 2016

Editor's Corner

August 2016

Having been born to young parents, your editor became first child, and first grandchild to three sets of grandparents as one couple had remarried, and first great grandchild to a maternal side great grandmother and to paternal side great grandmother and great grandfather. This formed a sense of continuity and tradition at an early age, a foundation of gentle manners with encouragement to develop ones talents and lots of leeway to expand ones personality as well.

 It also fostered a feeling of being appreciated and of having responsibility to uphold values and always exhibit good character. Now as the next to the oldest remaining family member (Uncle Rex Joslin), and being a GreatGreat Grandmother of four so far, it isn't as easy to pass on tradition and values with the electronic distractions (to name one) youngsters and indeed, adults as well, have today. Trying but missing the mark would be the kindest judgement at this point.

Four generations with Great Grandmother Bullard, Grandmother Joslin, Mother Lena May Carroll,   Baby Mary Elizabeth.
Our authors were inspired however, especially the poets, so we bring you fourteen poems this month. One each by Blair and Lemire commemorating the Fourth of July, but several years apart in each poem's period. Blair submitted six more poems, and we are thrilled to see him getting back his writing muse. This group is: "Fourth of July at Grandpa's House," "Humming Bird Season," "In High Summer," "A Poem for A Day without Poetry," "Squirrels at My Window," "These Old Hands," and "When Trees Sing."

Bud Lemire's poems are: "The Pond" and "This 4th of July." Bruce Clifford also sent us two: "I Was" and "The Bloodline." Two of our columnists added some poetry this issue: Judith Kroll included "Harmony" and "All I Want is A Little Faith;" LC Van Savage penned the nostalgic "Lace Doilies."
LC Van Savage is showing an article "Maybe It is Our Job," and the second article is Dianne Lynch's "Packaging."

Thomas F. O'Neill, "Introspective," sends his column from Suzhou, China, with a perspective perhaps from his home town of Pennsylvania. Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" tells of a lighthearted play currently popular in his country which spoofs the workhouse situation. The play is popular but the true facts of that era are much grimmer he explains, and similar to Alcatraz has now become a tourist venue.

Judith Kroll's "On Trek" asks us to be kinder in our perceptions of others and most importantly, of ourselves. LC Van Savage's column "Consider This" confesses to the "Mounds of Sins" she has held against herself that are rather normal procrastinations and good intentions unrealized. Don't we all relate? For August, she also includes a tale for children "How to Be A Dragon."

The other story is Chapter 16 of The Adventures of Ollie-Dare which has the bear beginning plans. This delightful series soon concludes but is available from the first chapter by clicking the author's name. Rebecca Morris originally wrote these whimsical tales with a gentle moral for her nieces and nephews.

Both Rod Cohenour's "Cooking With Rod," and Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" are delayed this month since she suffered a heart episode, not yet completely diagnosed, and is hospitalized undergoing a multitude of tests. We are expecting them to be on their toes again soon.

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

Watch for us in 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 and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Consider This

The Mounds of Our Sins

      I’ll bet you uncountable pots of money you’ve never once made mental piles of your individual failings, am I correct? Well, not sayin’ I’m better than you, but I actually have. Made mental piles of my sins. (Heavy word, “sin.” Eye of the beholder etc.)

       As I rather too rapidly get closer to the big Eight O which will arrive with a nation-wide celebration on Jan. 1, 2018 I find myself most reluctantly making separate piles out of my life, piles of positive and negative memories of the things I’ve done. Or have not done. Or wish I’d done. Or wish I hadn’t done. Or should have done. Or---well you get the idea. You do, right?? Good. I knew that you would.

       So here’s the deal. I am actually spending time making mental heaps of all the really good things I’ve been responsible for in my life and yes, all of the really bad things too. I know you’re wondering which accumulation is the largest. Guess! So here I sit with these multiple imaginary mounds in front of me and oh my, some of them are Everest high. For example, I struggle to remember how many times I’ve made even the slightest effort to walk in another person’s moccasins to see how they feel about things before I go roaring off into judgmental blatherskiting. That mound is really tall. The times I’ve successfully walked in other people’s moccasins and have truly made a strong effort to understand why they are, who they are, and why they are doing/being/saying what they are, is pretty wanting, and I’m awfully unproud of that fact.

      The stacks of the times I’ve gone out of my way to be kind or thoughtful to another human being isn’t nearly as large as I’d like, so I’m working on that. There’s still time. Will that thoughtful pile ever get to be as large as the thoughtless pile? I can only hope. I can make an effort. But, will I? At this moment of writing today, I’m saying yes. But it’s only ten AM.

       And then there are the masses of slothfulness and no, I’m not plagiarizing the Bible, but it’s a good starting point. I can so easily nod off while folks about me are working triple shifts and regret I feel no shame in doing that. I’ve always been a great champion of good hard long solid avoidance sleep. My sloth pile is way too big although I recently once read that laziness is genetic. Phew. No more guilt. It’s my ancestors’ fault. I’m so relieved, I think I’ll sleep on it.

      The pile next to it is that old nasty gluttony. It’s way too big, most of it caused by my milk chocolate addiction. Can I ever give in and not eat m. c. when it’s in front of me? No. I just add that onto my growing mountain range of sins, but to my mind, that particular mound is forgivable.

      Coveting? Come on. Anyone who says they’ve never wished they had something their neighbor has and they don’t, is lying, and lying is yet another pile. You’ve never coveted? Never lied? Seriously? Then your life is lots more mound-free than is mine. But don’t forget—avoidance of truth is yet another mound, so beware!

       Gloating is another heap of mine that isn’t too huge, but it’s there. I will confess to giving in to gloating when someone who’s been an evil human gets busted, and has to pay dearly for doing bad things. Hitler comes to mind although his badness went on far too long. I’m not too ashamed of my righteous gloating when appropriate, and fiercely gloat when anyone who’s hurt a helpless human or animal gets smacked down and is punished severely for doing that. That is a mound I intend to keep and add to as I go along.

       My vast conglomeration of stupid pride is rather too large and while I desperately and daily try to maneuver my way around the multiple, disparate life-stacks of my own making, I occasionally focus on my Golden Rule mounds, and they ….. well, let’s say they could use a little work.

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On Trek

Our Enemy

      Most of the time we are our own worse enemy.

      One of the problems we all face, is how we view our past. We tend to continually run ourselves ragged worrying over what we did in the past. For Example: How we raised our kids, why didn't I do it this way instead of that way. How we treated people, or how we let people treat us. Etc etc.

      So how about we look at our "mistakes", this way. We cannot use our forty, fifty,sixty etc, year old minds, to condemn our ten, twenty, thirty year minds and actions. We have changed, and our perspectives have changed. We are not the same people we were. So our decisions we made back when, would not be the same decision we would make now, as as an older adult.

      For example, a young person might decide to get married at a young age. They are in love, and they know what they feel. Later, thru the years, they think if they had their whole life to live over, they might not jump into a marriage so young. They might consider getting a good job first.

      We make our own decisions, and we get buy with them. But some people condemn themselves forever for things they had done as a young adult. The truth is, we should never condemn ourselves at all.. We need to let it go and move forward.

      Try to help others to rethink their decisions while they are young..If not, they will learn a good lesson, if they survive the foolishness.!! And remember, controlling people is NOT the way to do it. Everyone, has FREE WILL. If we choose wrong once, get back up on our feet and don't make the same "wrong" choice for ourelves again.

      Our path our life, our free will, our lessons to be learned. We lift a helping hand when needed for others, but we never condemn forever..we all are changing..and changing our thinking and ways constantly.

      That is why we keep moving forward, not getting stuck in our ruts we make for ourselves.

      Happy journey to all!!

      Judith, July 25, 2016

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Irish Eyes

Portumna Workhouse

      Lady Gregory, in her play, “The Workhouse Ward” took a humorous look at life in an Irish workhouse. Two paupers, Mike MacInerney and Michael Miskell, are in neighbouring beds in Cloone workhouse. They are bitter enemies. However when the sister of Mike MacInerney comes up with a plan that would separate them it doesn’t work out. They refused to be separated as they would be lost without each other’s company. As soon as Ms MacInerney’s back is turned they begin their bitter arguments and commence to exchange insults once again. Of course, in real life, there was little to laugh about in the workhouse.

      The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna is the only centre in Ireland dedicated to telling the story of the Irish Workhouse. It is located in a real workhouse in Portumna, one of the best preserved workhouses in the country, with all seven main buildings intact. Steve Dolan told me, “The first workhouses opened in 1842, before the famine, with 163 built in total. The workhouse was the last resort of the destitute poor from the 1840s and life in the workhouse was particularly harsh. Family members were split up into separate quarters with both young and old expected to work. In return, these ‘inmates’ received just enough food to survive. As an institution, the workhouses were hated and the stigma was such that, for generations, few people would admit to having had relatives there.”

      At Portumna, visitors enter the workhouse via the waiting room, the actual room people came through when seeking admission to the workhouse. A short film is then shown in what was the girls’ classroom. After this, visitors are guided through the yard and dormitory block, including the matron’s quarters, the nursery, the women’s workroom and then the laundry. Visitors also have the opportunity to see on-going conservation and restoration work in progress. The guided tour lasts about one hour. The centre is open 7 days a week, from 9:30 to 18:00.

  The centre will have three Workhouse / Famine-related events for Heritage Week - To launch Heritage Week, on Saturday August 20th the Workhouse is offering free guided tours for families. Tours take place every hour on the hour from 10 am to 4 pm. On Sunday August 21st at 1:30, accomplished writer & poet Margaret Hickey looks at the history of Ireland through food and drink. This is also a free event. And on Monday August 22nd, Aileen O'Dowd of the Irish Workhouse Centre presents a special talk on the history of Portumna Workhouse through artefacts uncovered during its restoration. This again is a free event.

      You will find more information at: Irish Workhouse Centre

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In High Summer

In high Texas summer
Heat slams down
Like a crock pot lid,

Sealing me in to simmer
Slowly in my own sauce,
Breathing a toxic option.

So I don’t go out.

At this point my intent
Would be to praise the name
Of Willis Carrier;

But it doesn’t match
My poem’s meter; thus
I’ll honor him in cool stillness,

Chilling beneath my A/C vent.

©2016 John I. Blair

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