Monday, July 1, 2019

Editor's Corner


July 2019

"The Summer looks out from her brazen tower, 
Through the flashing bars of July." 
- Francis Thompson, A Corymbus for Autumn .

Flashing bars of July could describe the triple digit weather expected as well as the dominance of hurricane reports in the weather news. We are hoping for a calmer, cooler day for the Fourth of July as so many will be outdoors to celebrate and just enjoy meeting up with friends.

Our authors didn't address the Fourth in their submitted works this month, but I love the Fourth of July and even won a small monetary prize locally when the town celebration was held in the park. Still being in the Texas State Guard at that time, we set up a first aide station and as the theme that year was about the Past in the West, I wore what was considered an old fashioned dress while being a "nurse" at the aide station. See pic at bottom of page.

Bud Lemire has five poems this issue: "Farmers Market," "Aronsons Island," "A Pigeon Stared at Me," "After School," and "Facebook." John I. Blair's duo of poems are "Misty You" and "Prometheus." A poem from my grandmother's scrapbook marked author unknown is presented under her name, Carrie E. Joslin, and she has another included for July, "To My Darling." Her second daughter, your editor's aunt, Linnie Jane Burks has "Anticipation of Furlough" penned while waiting to leave Ibadan, Nigeria, for a visit home. Bruce Clifford shared "Sea" and "Air."

Marilyn Carnell (Sifoddling Along) tells of the antics surrounding a couple of her favorite relatives, and LC Van Savage (Consider This) recalls with trepedation attending The Automat with her outgoing, well meaning, often confused grandmother. Judith Kroll (On Trek) discusses the brevity of life, often unexpected demise and preparing oneself for the shock of loss.

Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) writes to us while awaiting his return to China to resume his teaching career there. Mattie Lennon relates the latest updates in Valleymount stage and theatre events, and applauds Paul Carroll who is diligently trying to get funds to restore his alma mater. Rod Cohenour's column has an interesting concoction of chicken and pineapple he calls Heinz 57 Polynesian Chicken for his meal of the month.

Melinda Cohenour (Armchair Genealogy) dedicates her column (which is a poem her first ever composed) to the Bethany Fire Department who came to her rescue exhibiting care and efficiency in their aide, which explains why she doesn't have anything about genealogy for July.

We appreciate Michael Craner, our co-founder and the webmaster who keeps us in our place in order to bring you the eZine each month. Thanks again, Mike!

See you in August!

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.


Armchair Genealogy

Armchair Genealogy

This month's "column" is dedicated to the fine heroes of the Bethany Oklahoma Fire Department. They were dispatched to my home this past week after my misfortune. Cheerfully, caringly they provided me with their help after my fall. They managed to diminish my huge embarrassment by their kind and reassuring attention. Thank you, so very much!

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me!

Poor, poor pitiful me!
I fell, you see
Upon my knees!
Oh, woe is me,
Poor pitiful me.

It was the cat
That mashed me flat.
She dashed - and SPLAT!
I fell down flat.

I yelled her name
As SWOOSH she came,
Striking my cane
And down I came.

Upon my face
In full disgrace,
Here in my place
No sign of grace.

On head I slid,
And struck my lid
Against the door
As WHOOSH, I slid.

No help for me
As both my knees
Throbbed with such pain
As down they came
Upon my cane,
My BLASTED cane!

Call 911!
For help to come.
Not EMTs
But Bethany FD.

A lift assist
They term their work.
As five deploy
To my endless joy!

One each for feet,
One behind my seat
And round my waist
An orange belt they thread.

Quick as a wink
No time to blink
Upon my feet!
Up from my seat!

Now cane in hand
It's time to stand,
On wobbly feet I land,
I'm Up, My man.

No bones did break.
No blood did leak.
Upon my feet,
No ER to make.

Now in my bed
I lay my head.
TV? Too far down steps to tread
My choice, instead?
Three books I've read.

Armchair Genealogy?
Not this month, poor pitiful me.
©June 30, 2019 Melinda Cohenour
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Cooking with Rod


Heinz 57 Polynesian Chicken

The calendar keeps rolling round, as we approach the 4th of July!

My sweet mate keeps creating recipes for me to cook up. This one's a real winner! A bottle of this, a can of that, some lovely fresh veggies, a bit of spice and boneless, skinless white meat of chicken served atop fresh steamed white rice. This cuts the salt and fat while amping up the FLAVOR!

Bon appetit~!

Heinz 57 Polynesian Chicken

  • 3 lbs chicken tenders
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced in moons
  • 3 carrots, sliced or baby carrots
  • Medium onion, cut in wedges
  • Green bell pepper, cubed
  • Red bell pepper, cubed
  • Bottle Heinz 57
  • 1 cup Honey
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 15 oz. can pineapple chunks and juice
  • Rice, steamed
1. Rinse chicken pieces, place in single layer.
2. Season chicken with garlic powder and 1 tsp. chili powder.
3. Whisk together Heinz 57 and honey with remaining chili powder.
4. Place chicken in large (electric, preferred) skillet.
5. Top with vegetables.
6. Prepare rice while chicken and veggies cook.
7. Steam chicken and veggies until crisp tender, turning from time to time.
8. Add Heinz 57-Honey mixture and stir well.
9. Add pineapple chunks and juice.
10. Continue cooking until pineapple is heated through.

Serve over steamed rice.

A nice little twist on this dish, by the way, would be some optional additions: some fresh sprigs of cilantro, a sprinkle of unsalted dry roasted peanuts, and a sideboard with sliced jicama and lime juice.

Look for us here again in August!

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Irish Eyes

Valleymount, Lacken And Further Afield

Last month you left me in the culture capital of Ireland on the Friday of Listowel Writers’ Week and I had two action-packed days ahead of me with events too numerous to mention. The Holycross/Ballycahill Drama Group did a wonderful production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

On Sunday the Healing Session
took place for the 25th year.
This marathon open-mic session has been hosted in
John B’s for a quarter of a century
by the colourful and multi-talented Billy Keane.


And now back to my native heath.

The Lug Challenge is a 53km walk which begins in Stonecross Bohernabreena covering a total of 17 peeks and a 7500ft climb finishing up in Seskin in the Glen of Imaal county Wicklow..

Paul Carroll - a past pupil of the Lacken Community School took part in this challenge on June 15th to help raise funds towards the restoration of Lacken Community Centre. Paul’s challenge has raised a considerable sum for the restoration of his old Alma Mater but much more is needed. Let the Lacken diaspora et al go to the following link:

Paul's old school

* * * * *

And across the lake from Lacken this year's Arts and Heritage Festival in Valleymount opened with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', the classic Shakespeare comedy fittingly staged on Midsummer Night. The newly formed Valleymount Theatre Company is busy fundraising and renovating the stage in the community hall. The new theatre group is run by Ged Doyle, Liz Gardner and Mark Wright, who are hoping to create an ongoing drama group and art centre as part of the many activities now being created in the area. All three have experience in the arts and theatre and are working to improve the community centres facilities to stage more productions in the future.

The Valleymount Theatre Company is in good hands.

Ged Doyle has been involved in theatre, and the production of plays and musicals since his school days. He was a member of The Everyman Youth Theatre, Liverpool in its early years during the 1970’s. He studied dance and movement as part of his teaching degree at Liverpool John Moores University, performing in several productions whilst there. He was responsible for organising and running a local Arts and Music Festival in Ballyknockan, Co. Wicklow which took place in 2007. As a teacher in Liverpool and also in Ireland he has produced and directed many plays and musicals. He founded and managed a local youth theatre, ‘The Lakeside Youth Theatre’, from 2001 to 2007 in Valleymount. This included writing and co-writing a number of plays and musicals plus set design and construction, and direction and production. As well as the plays and musicals he has written and co-written he has been involved in the productions of plays and musicals such as; - Bugsy Malone, Scrooge (A Musical version of a Christmas Carol), Macbeth, Hamelin (A Musical version of The Pied Piper) and Alice in Wonderland.

Liz Gardner studied at London Academy of Music and Drama Arts (LAMDA) Her track record is impressive; Gold Medal (with Honours) Acting, Gold Medal (with Honours) Spoken Verse and Prose, Certificate of Merit (Spoken English) She has been in various amateur productions during and since school as well as directorial roles including parts in Jane Eyre (Jane) and Hay Fever (Sorel Bliss) and was a member of Edinburgh Bedlam Theatre whilst attending The University of Edinburgh (1997-2001) Professionally she is a regular speaker on archaeological specialist topics on local radio and in other media.

Helen Mirren and Mark Wright

Mark Wright: Past: Royal Northern College of Music, Buxton Opera Festival, Granada TV, Yorkshire TV, Gate Theatre, Opera Theatre Co, NCH Dublin. National College of Art & Design Dublin

Production Manager: ‘Look Back In Anger’ Manchester, ‘Mozartheatre’ Dublin, ‘Eight Songs for A Mad King’ NCH Dublin, ‘Virginia Woolf’ NCH Dublin, ‘Amedeus’ DCU,

Props Master: Beckett Festival Gate Theatre, ‘Great Expectations’ Gate theatre, ‘Don Carlos’ Opera

Manchester, ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ Opera Manchester, Nutcracker, Northern Ballet Co, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Opera Manchester. Film: ‘Dylan Thomas A Life’ Director, ‘Berlin to Black Hill’ Producer, ‘Excalibur behind the Movie’ Director.

TV Broadcasts: RTE, PBS, Canadian TV, ABC Australia, France2

Mark lives in Valleymount, is currently writing and illustrating his first book; he is also working on another documentary to be shot in Paris.

Do visit the Facebook page:
Dress Rehearsel

A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream was followed by an exhibition in Valleymount Hall on June 22st, 223rd and 24th.

Midsummer in Valleymount

The exhibition was well attended by local people and guests came from all over Ireland, including many who had been force to leave their home as young children before the sluice gate was closed at Poulaphouca in 1940. The construction of the Poulaphouca Reservoir was one of the largest infrastructural projects ever undertaken in this country and hundreds of people were forced to relocate as 76 homes, 300 farms and over 6,000 acres of land were submerged by water.

Second generation from the lake

Historian D. J. Darby, with digital displays, gave a most interesting talk on the Saturday night and archaeologist Liz Gardner acquainted us with many lesser known facts about our past. It is absolutely amazing the number of stone age and bronze age artefacts which were found by archaeologists and local people when the lake was at its lowest.

The demand for electricity had risen to such an extent, by the nineteen thirties that the ESB had to look for a river to harness as a Hydro-Electric scheme similar to Ardnacrusha. The Board had ample powers of compulsory acquisition and opened negotiations with the landowners of the area from a strong position. As one commentator put it: “The element of compulsion and the rapidity with which the ESB moved to secure possession awakened dormant images of Cromwell’s soldiers and rapacious landlords. “ Landowners were dismayed by the valuation placed on their farms, the semi- state body measuring value in purely monetary terms. Many argued they would lose a family home that rooted them to this valley. The price offered was flatly refused by indignant landowners and the case went to arbitration. Decades later, in an RTE interview my father, the late Tim Lennon, said of this adjudication: “The arbitrator was the Devil and the coort was in Hell “. As the water level steadily wrote Poet, Austin Clarke (whose people came from Blackditches Hill) wrote: “Now that the reservoir dam at Poulaphouca has been completed, flood is raising to the last ridge below Valleymount and another sky has tumbled into the heather. The narrow lands from which my father’s people came have vanished under water and the trout are too heavy to jump”.

Further afield one English writer said of the scheme, “Industrialisation is writing Ireland’s epitaph ...”
Monument to a displaced people

On Sunday 24th June Bishop Eamon Walsh opened and blessed the memorial garden erected to the memory of all the families who were uprooted to make way for the lake. But did they ever really leave? I think it was the Greek poet Cavafy who had the answer, “No matter where you wander all over the world, in the fields and streets where you grow up, there you will live and there you will die.”

Ballinahown, photo by Gerry O'Neill

An old man from Carrigacurra told me the following story; It was 1978. The lake was at its lowest ever. Ruins of old farmhouses and outlines of small fields were once again visible; having been submerged for thirty eight years. A British film company decided to make a documentary about the flooding of the valley. One September day Jimmy was standing at the end of Norton’s Lane in Ballinastockan. An English registered Landrover stopped. The driver, a man with an Oxford accent, addressed Jimmy. “We would like to interview the oldest person in the area.” Jimmy’s reply? “Yer late. He died last week.”

You would hear all sorts of stories in that area. And sure half of them mightn’t be the truth at all. I picked up this one in Valleymount as well. Sean and Paddy were walking home after a party, in Poulaphouca, and decided to take a shortcut through Baltyboys graveyard. When they were right in the middle of the cemetery they were startled by a tap-tap-tapping noise coming from the misty shadows. Catching their breath and trembling with fear, they found an old man, with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones. ‘Holy God, Mister,' said Sean, his voice quivering, 'You scared us half to death. We thought you were a ghost! What on earth are you doing working here so late at night?'
“I was a Ballyknockan stonecutter”, the old chiseller grumbled, “And those bastards have misspelled my name.”

See you in August.

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I’m planning on returning to China to continue teaching at the end of July. I was told by the Chinese Consulate in New York that I can apply for a residential visa a month prior to the start of my new teaching contract.

In the meantime I accepted a temporary summer position with the YMCA in Williamsport, PA and I got to know some of their employees. I was shocked to learn how low their full-time hourly pay is and that they are working without health benefits. The person in charge of the summer program said to me “the YMCA has a lot of challenges. The only people who are willing to work for minimum wage are individuals with criminal records.” A criminal background check is required in Pennsylvania for a job working with children and that is a good thing.

I enjoy telling others about my teaching experiences in China because it has given me a unique perspective not only about teaching but about life in general. I say this because in China summer programs are all about learning and gaining new experiences. Most summer camps in Asia pay their employees well and the employees are highly skilled when it comes to teaching. My experience at the YMCA was the exact opposite because the workers are working for minimum wage. In my opinion the children are being short changed by the company's lack of insight. In China teachers instill a love of learning within the children. At the YMCA in Williamsport, PA the children have very little respect for the employees because many of the staff reflect a dissatisfaction with their job mostly due to low pay.

I had to participate in a day of training with some of the other employee’s and I was dumbfounded to learn that most of the full-time employees qualify for section 8 housing. One individual, a recent college graduate, had to quit his Job because rental agencies in Williamsport, PA refused to rent an apartment to him because they said his income was too low.

In China summer programs pay teachers extremely well because of their respect for the teaching profession. It is sad that the YMCA in Williamsport does not fully understand the power and influence they have in shaping young minds. If they truly want to be a positive force for good in their community they must start by respecting their employees by offering them a living wage. I feel it is unethical to hire full-time employees that qualify for section 8 housing and offer no health benefits. Minimum wage is no longer a living wage in America and how a company treats their employees is a reflection on the company’s overall value and where their priorities are.

Perhaps the YMCA should reflect on what their mission truly is because my experience with their summer program shows that there is something profoundly lacking in their so called educational program. I say this because there was no teaching going on mainly due to the company’s refusal to pay their workers adequately. They also need to hire qualified people to run what they claim to be educational programs. One employee told me he saw himself as an “underpaid babysitter.” That to me is sad when you consider the true potential that is being wasted due to sheer incompetence at the top of the YMCA’s management.
    Always with love,
    Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (410) 925-9334
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Facebook: https:/

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