Saturday, November 1, 2014

Editor's Corner

November 2014

“If you have not done things worthy of being written about, at least write things worthy of being read.” --Giacomo Casanova.

That is what we aim for each month with Pencil Stubs Online - things worthy to be read. For instance, "Little Things" by your editor's granddaughter, Jennifer Terwilliger, who writes movingly, and with humor of herself with her sons.

Jennifer's poem is one of sixteen presented and, as usual, there is a bit of synchronicity at play. Both Bud Lemire and yours truly composed verses describing their 'real' self, mine "Really Me" on the 8th and Bud's "The Real Me" on the 10th of October. Bud has five more poems, "We Can Fly," "The Rewards of Genealogy," "Autumn's Journey," "Songs in Time," and the timely but unsavory "Sour Turkey."

Phillip Hennessy sent along "Judy Kay" which he wrote of a friend of a friend while visiting in the states. The poem was also done as a song by one of his English musician friends. Bruce Clifford submitted "Another Door" and "There's No Peace."

John I. Blair's poetic muse has reawakened, he said he'd been in a summer slump with many gardening activities. We are rewarded with "Living Garden" from that focus. Then there is "Granddaughter" - he has two living near him - "Gifts," "In October," and "Looking at The Night." His Column "Always Looking - People Who Made A Difference XXIII" features the renown conductor Robert Lawson Shaw.

Mattie Lennon of Dublin, discusses Nicknames in "Irish Eyes," and Judith Kroll, always "On Trek" herself, says a lot succinctly in her column's essay. Our author and world traveler from Pennsylvania, Thomas F. O'Neill, now teaching in China, returns to his admiration of Einstein in "Introspective." Peg Jones in "Angel Whispers" shares some ideas for drawing family together through the holiday period just beginning, by recognizing reasons to be grateful.

The story section has chapter 7 of the self-declared wise feline, Lexi, "Cleanliness is next to Cattiness." The other chapters may be accessed by clicking the author's byline.

As always we are grateful in this month of Thanksgiving and must not forget our webmaster who keeps the wheels oiled and the ezine looking good - Mike Craner. Thanks again, Mike.

Look for the December issue of Pencil Stubs Online. Compositions are accepted throughout the period from publication through November 26th. If you'd like to do a regular column, send your suggestion and let's get you into action.

Click on Mary E. Adair 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.

Always Looking - People Who Made A Difference XXIII

Robert Lawson Shaw

Robert Lawson Shaw spent a lifetime in music. He founded the Robert Shaw Chorale, the Collegiate Chorale, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. His love of music was nurtured in a California parsonage (his family was known as "the Singing Shaws") and in the church (three generations of Shaws and Lawsons were chaplains, ministers or missionaries). Shaw studied comparative religion, philosophy and English literature at Pomona College with the intention of following his father into the pulpit. But at age 22, with little prior experience, he accepted an offer from Fred Waring to form a glee club for a new radio series.

Although many people think of Shaw primarily as a choral and orchestral conductor, he might better be considered a minister of music, for he ministered and brought a message through his music to musicians and laypeople. He long worked to overcome the separation of art and religion, giving numerous addresses on the importance and interrelation of worship and the arts. On the nature of worship, one of Shaw’s frequent themes, he made three points. First, for worship to occur, there must be a sense of mystery and an admission of pain. A second characteristic of worship for Shaw was that it is communal. Shaw cited Martin Buber: "Man finds his being and his relationship to the other . . . which some call God, only when he is confronted with and responsive to another human being — a thou." Third, according to Shaw, worship has a "formal and ritualistic basis." Our coming together with regular frequency helps us better understand one another and our relationship to God.

Robert Shaw

In 1960, while associate director of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Shaw was installed as minister of music — at no salary — at the First Unitarian (Unitarian Universalist) Church of Cleveland. In his inaugural sermon, "Music and Worship in the Liberal Church," he spoke of the responsibilities of the arts to the church, saying that only the best is good enough. Otherwise, "God is only mocked, not worshiped." He cited four elements that are part of worshipful music. The first is the motivation of the participants. A second element of music for worship is craftsmanship. Shaw’s third criterion was that music have a historical perspective, which is "close to what we mean by ‘style.’ " Shaw’s final criterion was the possibility of the music’s being the "creative miracle of revelation." "The higher consciousness of the great artist," Shaw explained, "is evidenced not only by his capacity for ordering his experience but also by having his experience."

"Art exists to convey that which cannot be otherwise conveyed," said Shaw. He wanted, he said, to create each Sunday morning "out of worthy things, a wholeness of beauty and truth, an integrity of sound and sight and reason, which shall be its own reason for being here." The arts help us express and communicate ideas in a way not possible through words. The feeling and intensity expressed in a piece of music may be remembered long after the sermon is forgotten. The arts are the hand of humanity reaching out to others in a world of persecution, indifference and terror. The arts can set us free, unlike our technological, image-making society, which seeks to control us. "The arts may be not the luxury of the few, but the last, best hope of humanity to inhabit with joy this planet," said Shaw, who sometimes referred to the liberal arts as the "conservative" arts because they are the things that really "conserve" us. It is the nature of music, unlike painting and most of literature, that its final creation is not its original creation. Music needs to be sounded, to be sung. In this sense, the composer literally must leave his work to be finished by others.

An uncompromising conductor who lifted up the highest musical standards for orchestra and chorus, Shaw, with his visceral yet sensitive conducting style, inspired his musicians to attain his goals. "People, this just has to happen!" he prodded. He balanced his meticulous score preparation and rehearsal demands with a boundless childlike enthusiasm and contagious joy for each new work. Shaw’s life was interwoven into the developments of American music for over half a century, and his influence on choral music will be felt for decades. Because of his teaching, the music life in the cities where he worked is healthy and strong. Those who direct their own choirs came away from singing in Shaw’s choruses with renewed enthusiasm and the tools for teaching rhythm, pronunciation and tonal sonority.

Shaw occupied the most prestigious podiums in the country while being painfully aware of the sorrow, tragedy and racial divisions in our society. "We believe," he once wrote, "that in a world of political, economic and personal disintegrations, music is not a luxury but a necessity . . . because it is the persistent focus of man’s intelligence, aspiration and good will." A minister of music to all people, Shaw maintained that the church has a responsibility to the arts. In an October 1987 address to Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago on "Worship and the Arts," Shaw commented that in a world beset with a multitude of problems, “the arts may provide the day-by-day confirmation of Creation’s finger still at work in the lives and affairs of men . . . the church, if it wants to keep in touch with the Creator, must provide a home for all that is and all who are created, lest the church itself wither and drift into irrelevance.”

Full Orchestra
Adapted from an article by Gretchen E. Ziegenhals that first appeared in the Christian Century, March 22-29, 1989, p. 311. That article is copyrighted by the Christian Century Foundation.
Researched and compiled by John I. Blair

Click on John I. Blair  for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

On Trek

The crow moves swiftly from one place to another, flapping her wings tirelessly. If we would just listen we would hear the flapping, perfect tempo, swish swish swish of her wings.

Now the crow is sitting and resting, and watching the beautiful red tail hawk, gliding through the blue sky, dipping, and dancing with the wind, in what seems like an effortless undertaking. The crow is happy to just BE the perfect creature she is.

The red tail hawk saw the glistening crow shining in the light, admiring the beautiful colors that shimmered as the sunbeams touched the magical black cloak of the Crow. The hawk listened and heard the swishing of the crow.

The crow kept the beat, and the Hawk danced with the wind on the Arial dance space. We were blessed with another successful presentation of Harmony of Nature

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

Irish Eyes


“A nickname is the heaviest stone that the devil can throw at a man.”

That is the only William Hazlitt quote that I have difficulty agreeing with. Who could argue with his, “Of all eloquence a nickname is most concise; of all arguments the most unanswerable”?

“My own nickname was, and still is, Sykie. There is no point in asking the derivation of it because I haven’t a clue. All I know that I’ve worn it for more than half a century. And in the same period I have come across many another’s nickname, some of them very clever.

Shan Mohangi , a black South African, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 1963. There was an old woman contiguous to my home who believed in God but not in soap and water. (And this was before any water-charges.) She was promptly named “Mohangi’s mother.”
Thomas Paine claimed that titles are but nicknames and every nickname is a title. Families whose nicknames , such as “Informer” or “Souper” have travelled down the generations are not proud of their “title.” And I’m sure the “alternatively motivated” family who were known as the “stand-idles” weren’t all that impressed.

Of course some people were pleased with their handle. There was a man of my acquaintance , who was in a supervisory position and was known as The Rat. No need to describe him; suffice to say he was very proud of his moniker. I once knew a man who, because of an elaborate posterior, was known as, “Big Bum.” The initial of his surname was “C”, so the sobriquet progressed to “BBC.“ When his son joined the same company there was BBC 1 and BBC 2. A man in the same employment was always on the touch and he was called Red October (because he was always looking for a sub; it had to be explained to me too.)

I can’t be credited with coming up with many nicknames myself but I did make a few feeble attempts. One of my supervisors once reported me to the Divisional Manager because I was missing from my post for three minutes. It didn’t take me long to come up with The Egg-timer.
Tom Murray, a Dublin bus-driver was known as “The Jet.” Why? In the early days of Telefis Eireann, when the man in Marino had left his T.V aerial down on the road while he tried to establish where Kippure was. Pressure from the wheels of a No. 24 bus driven, by Tom , ensured that there would be no Tolka Row in that house for a while. The less than pleased the DIY man pursued Tom to the terminus and informed him; "You are after breaking my television aerial". Tom's truism; "*7^£%! buses don't fly" earned him the immortal nickname "The Jet" Murray.

And there was an ultra- conscientious Bus Inspector who had a penchant for hiding in doorways. And sure he had to be re-named “Milk Bottle.”  I knew an Operational Support Manager who was known as, Jock Strap and a woman who was called “Doorbell” for reasons that I won’t go into.

Then, there was the fellow who must have been a barber’s nightmare because of the high and unique neck-shave that he always insisted on. He did, of course, become known as “Saint Anthony.”
I once worked on a building-site where one particular travelling-foreman would appear out of nowhere and it didn’t take much imagination to name him The Ghost and another who was continually forecasting doom and gloom; he was known as “Dark Cloud.”
The coining of a nickname would, at times, be a “family affair”; a neighbour of mine had sixteen children. He gave each one a nickname, not all of them complimentary .

Then there was the man who died at a very advanced age and brought the name Cold Poker to the grave with him. The name had survived eighty years. As a young fellow he got a job in the local quarry as a “nipper.” It was customary for pipe-smoking stonecutters to send the nipper to the forge to redden the poker in the fire and bring it to them to light their pipe. Of course when the new nipper was asked to “bring me the poker”, not knowing the drill, he grabbed a cold poker and brought it to the pipe-smoker. And the rest, as they say . . .

Another stonecutter had a lumber peculiarity, the clinical term for which is, Lordosis. He was known to all and sundry as “The Hollow-Backed-Lad.”
Do you know how the famous “Pecker” (Patrick) Dunne got his nickname? He used to ride horses for Major Packard and his younger sister couldn't pronounce 'Packard' and would say Pecker. The name stuck and became known from Newcastlewest to Nashville.

A man of rural Irish background (a Rus-in-urbe) who worked in Dublin was called “Knorr”, a cryptic term if you weren’t familiar with the advertising slogan, “Thick country vegetable.”
Nowadays you hear the term “cool nickname.” Now, I know nothing about the temperature of nicknames. And I know even less about the advice to “adopt a nickname.” If I (or you) decided to come up with our own a nickname do you think it would catch on? I don’t think so.


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

Angel Whispers

A Thanksgiving Message:

8 Ideas about how we can be grateful for all we have in 2014

A year has passed and the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. This day marks the beginning of the holiday season for those of us in the USA. Before I write of the activities of what happens after Thanksgiving Day, I want to speak of Thanksgiving, a holiday to share with family friends and a time to be thankful for what you have at this time. For me, it’s about the relationships with my family and friends. It’s also about all that I have to be grateful for in my life and letting the people in my life know how I feel. It’s about thanking my higher power and all that are in our universe, protecting and guiding us on a daily basis. Thanking them for the help and guidance they have shared with me this past year.

I have found over the years, that when I am not in a place of appreciation, that is time for me start writing down what I am grateful for. And it’s also time for me to write at least three things that was positive as I live my day. I have found that when I do this, I find that I am feeling better, about all that is happening in my life, no matter how small. The fact that there is positive activity going in my life gives me hope and gives me confidence that all is well. I am also letting the universe know, that I am grateful too.

When I write my grateful list I try to write at least ten things on a given day. If on the next day when I write my grateful list I make an effort to write a few more different items but if I find I am running out items I repeat some of what I wrote the previous night. After about a week, I try for 15 items, and continue for a few more each day. I usually go to up to 20 over a period of a few weeks. I have found that when I make this list I do find myself becoming very grateful for all that I do have.

So in thinking about the grateful list, I thought why not include children, grandchildren, partner, friends, or even a group of friends in making this list in a creative way. So here are a few ways, I have been inspired to share today:
  • 1. Instead of a list, each day, purchase or decorate notebook or a journal that you absolutely fall in love with. Use this journal to write down all that you are grateful for. You can draw, or paint, what you are grateful for or write poetry about being grateful too.
  • 2. Maybe invite your children, no matter what the age to do the same.
  • 3. Make a grateful affirmation board of all you are grateful for and add to it as you find or think of things. You can do this for you personally or invite family members to participate too.
  • 4. Another thing you can do with family is to have a journal for the family members to add to as they go through their week or day. Then put their name next to what they had written.
  • 5. Have a white board to write down all you are grateful for as your day goes by.
  • 6. Draw a large heart or purchase one at a craft store and have kids or partner write why they are grateful, and/or they can draw as above, put pictures in the heart too signifying , what they may be grateful for. Make it as colorful as desired.
  • 7. Thanksgiving is a great time to do some of these projects too.
  • 8. Thanksgiving or holiday time is a good time to do them with family, or any other time for that matter.
I asked the angels, their take on what they want to tell us about Thanksgiving or the reason for the holiday. So this is what I heard:
“Letting go of the ego and letting go of what is in our head, and going to the heart place, we are able to wipe away the negativity or frustration of what we don’t have, can’t have and focus on, what we do have in our life that will help us to be grateful for the gifts in our life. Letting go of the ego, we can begin to see differently and we can begin to understand how lucky we truly are in our life. The angels of protection and the angels of healing are with you always. All you have to do is to ask for guidance and they will help you immediately. They also say that when we go to our heart and ask for their help, they will be with us, “Thanksgiving is a time of being with family and friends that matter. Celebrating each other and knowing that time spent together is precious.” They add, “Make this the best holiday possible, to celebrate uniqueness of each person you will be spending time with, this holiday.”

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Click on Peg Jones for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.