Monday, March 1, 2021

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

March 2021

“March, when days are getting long,
Let thy growing hours be strong
to set right some wintry wrong.”

― Caroline May.


Many people in the USA will likely be happy that February is a short month as weather-wise it really 'packed a wallop' this year. With record breaking sub-freezing, even sub-zero temps in some locales, shocking residents and thwarting travelers, it embittered many and will, no doubt, be a blight in the history books.


"View from My Back Steps" includes one "snow pic" and a personal record of how the weather affected John I. Blair's usual activities within his view. Marilyn Carnell presents a humorous tale of the hazards of politics in her column "Sifoddling Along."


Mattie Lennon, in "Irish Eyes" focuses on the holiday of the month built around legends about Saint Patrick, then moves quickly into the future to discus a new book by Richard Kearney. Judy Kroll's column "On Trek" gives her opinion on how we can use our words more effectvely for a kinder, gentler world.


Thomas F. O'Neill in "Introspective" delineates the way cultural dilemnas develop in various lifestyles, and how geography may play a part. Melinda Cohenour is still mired in relocation difficulties so we present her wearing a different hat, namely when she served as guest cook in "Cooking With Leo" a few years ago, as an alternative "Armchair Genealogy."


Once again "Cooking with Rod" yields to an Encore Presentation. This time the guest cook of Leo C. Helmer's column is yours truly with a spicy rendition for Brunch.


Bud Lemire composed "Never Assume" and a remembrance poem titled "Harold." Both have illustrations.


Walt Perryman hs four poems: "My Birthday," "Don't Google Your Meds," "Passwords," and "Why Do Grown-ups Cry?" John Blair stuck to one poem for the month, "Blizzard 2021."


"Searching for Answers," "Stand UpTall," and "Live Without," come to us from Bruce Clifford. Phillip Hennessy (see pic)sent his poem for March with the comment it came from personal mistakes in being 'overly generous' and hopes it will serve as good advice when "You Are Strong" is read.



Mike Craner, Webmaster and co-founder of this eZine, keeps this eZine functioning with his ingenuity and consideration. Thanks, Mike!

We will see you in April!

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This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy: Encore Guest


By Melinda Cohenour

Because our Armchair Genealogy author is still detained during relocation, here she is in a different role when she served as Guest Cook in the December 2009 issue.

* * * * *

Sister in Law as Guest Cook on Cooking with Leo

Since I'm still a bit under the weather...plague take this rain, anyway!..here is my guest cook for the month. Melinda is the baby sister of editor, Mary E. Adair, and both she and husband Rod Cohenour are excellent cooks. Ain’t it great to have so much talent in one family? I guess I could take off more time and nobody would ever miss me… forget it. I ain’t ready to give it all up yet. Anyway speaking of talent, just make sure you read this special way to cook a Ham, no not me, a bone-in ham that is.

Rod bought a bone-in ham on sale. I baked it -- with a mustard, brown sugar, and pineapple marinade. We sliced it and ate a couple of meals. We had a very large leg bone remaining with lots of meaty ham left on it, but not where you could slice it.

I decided to try my hand at a new dish I'd never prepared, but had always thought sounded delicious -- a ham chowder. It turned out really lucious, so I thought I'd share my recipe with you. Of course, I cook for a houseful -- and we don't mind leftovers (it makes my cooking chore easier if I have a couple of meals ready to just heat and eat with fresh salad and fresh fruit added........) We just finished off the chowder tonight, with a large fresh fruit tray (strawberries, grapes, sliced oranges, cheddar and pepper Jack cheese cubes and some low carb crackers......)

Anyway -- new recipe is here. You can cut the recipe down for your households since most of you are cooking for only a couple (Pat is solo; Melissa and Erin; Mary and Leo, but Kim may be able to utilize the full recipe with the bunch that shows up at her house all the time! Ruben, you might like something a little different.......

Melinda’s Cheesy Ham Chowder

    Meaty ham bone
    Water to easily submerge bone

    4 Irish potatoes – peeled and sliced in ½ “ thick slices

    3 carrots – peeled and sliced in ½ “ slices
    3 spines celery – de-stringed, sliced lengthwise and finely chopped
    1 large Bermuda or Spanish onion, sliced and diced
    Pepper to taste
    Celery salt – scarce ¼ teaspoon for this quantity

    1 cup butter

    2 cups flour
    Pepper to taste
    4 cups milk
    Shredded cheese, preferably cheddar – Monterey Jack blend – full 8 oz bag for this quantity chowder.

    1 can corn, drained

    2 Tbsp dried parsley (less for fresh)

Prepare ham stock:

Simmer ham bone in water until tender and stock looks hearty. Remove ham bone, cool until capable of being safely handled. Remove ham from bone and cut in ¾ “ chunks. Stock should be poured into tall, narrow pitcher and refrigerated until fat rises to top and congeals. Remove fat.

Prepare chowder vegetables:

When stock has been de-fatted, pour into bottom of large Dutch oven and add sliced and chopped vegetables. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook until vegetables are crisp tender.

Prepare classic béchamel sauce:

When chowder vegetables are cooked, prepare cheese sauce. Place butter in sauce pan and melt. When butter is completely melted, whisk in flour, season with pepper and dash celery salt. Permit to cook 1 minute while stirring to prevent scorching. This prepares the roux and rids the flour mixture of its “raw” taste. Begin adding milk slowly, whisking while adding. Bring mixture back to boil, stirring constantly. Do not permit to scorch. When béchamel sauce has thickened, remove from heat, add cheese and whisk briskly. This creates a thickened cheese sauce.

Add the cheese sauce to the hot stock and vegetables. Add the cubed ham, can of drained corn and parsley, then taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir until liquid is evenly velvety.

Serve hot with crisp salad, hot bread and fresh fruit for dessert. Serves 12 easily. To prepare for four reduce ingredient list as appropriate.

©September 2006 Melinda Ellen Cohenour


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Encore Presentation: Cooking with Leo

Encore Presentation: Cooking with Leo

By Encore

(Encore Presentation)

Mary’s Weekend Breakfast

Although I do most of the cooking around here, on Sunday morning Mary usually takes over and puts her own ideas to work and does her own thing. Well that’s great because by Sunday I get up late and I usually run out of ideas. Not that bacon and eggs or sausage and eggs are new ideas, but when I do them sometimes they are. Do so try to make such uninteresting items the interest of the moment. But doing that 6 days a week tends to make you run out of ideas. But on Sunday Mary goes to it and makes something very special and here is one of her weekend specials. My Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother nor Aztec Annie never bother her. I suppose they figure she knows more than they do anyway. Maybe so but in any event Sunday Breakfasts ala Mary are the best of the week.

Weekend Sunrise

Sunrise Quiche - Crust

    3 Corn Tortilla’s 6”
    1 wedge or square of left over Cornbread, may be jalapeno or green chile cornbread
    ½ stick of Butter

Sunrise Quiche – Filling

    1 or two strips Bacon
    3 extra lg or 4 lg eggs
    3 to 4 oz Swiss Cheese
    1 oz Mozzarella w/jalapeno String Cheese
    2 cups loosely torn Romaine Lettuce
    3 Tbpns Half and Half
    1 Tablespoon canned or fresh diced tomatoes, drained
    Garnish: 1 heaping Tablespoon Sour Cream

Serves two to four.

For Crust:

In food processor, add the 3 tortilla’s torn into 8th’s or smaller, pulse on high ‘til crumbed, add cold butter and pulse ‘til loose dough begins to come together. Press into 11” pie plate thinly and up the sides. (Set processor bowl aside, no need to wash before doing the filling.) Crumble the cold cornbread and press into the butter-tortilla mixture and up the sides to form a crust. Bake at 400º's ‘til edges begin to firm, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, lower heat to 350º, and let crust cool slightly.

For Filling:

While crust is baking, put bacon strips in microwave on bacon cooker with paper towel on top, or microwave safe plate with paper towel below and on top of strips, for 2 minutes, adding another minute if slices are not crispy looking. Meanwhile, in same processor bowl, add Cubed cheeses and process ‘til finely shredded, in crumbs actually, then crumble and add in the cooked, cooled bacon and pulse ‘til crumbed. Add the torn Romaine to mixture in processor and pulse ‘til also in a crumb state, not ‘til wet.

Place all the cheese, bacon, romaine blend into pie shell, sprinkling to the edges in even layer.

In same processor bowl, (no need to wash) add eggs and half and half, and run on low ‘til blended. Pour carefully over the cheese mixture in shell. Place tomatoes in a narrow ring on top of mixture about 1/3 of distance from center to edges. (This is your ‘sun’ ring.) Bake 25 to 30 minutes in 350º oven until puffed and edges of crust are browned gently.

Remove from oven and serve with a dollop of Sour Cream (your ‘sun’) in center of Tomato ring. Cut in wedges and enjoy with your Sunrise Drink.

Sunrise Drink:

  • 2 jiggers Tequilla
  • 2 jiggers Jose Cuervo™ Margarita Mix
  • 4 jiggers Chardonnay Wine
  • 2 tsps Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • 7-Up or Canada Dry
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnishes: Thin Lime slices, maraschino cherries

Use 2 lg or 4 reg margarita glasses.

Split the liquid mixture between the glasses, with a couple ice cubes in each, add 7-Up or Canada Dry to fill. Garnish with a cherry and lime slice per glass. Top edges of glasses may be wet then dipped in sugar crystals if desired, before filling. Lavender sugar flakes are nice.

Ya’all Take Care Now, Ya’heah!


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Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

Getting in touch with touching
and Saint Patrick’s days of yore

Saint Patrick was a gentleman, he came from decent people,
In Dublin town he built a church and on it put a steeple
His father was a Callahan, his mother was a Grady,
His aunt was an O'Shaughnessy and uncle he was Brady.


So says Christy Moore.


At this time of year, my mind always flies back to the 5th century. And to my own native heath of West Wicklow. You see, according to one legend, our area was Christianised before Saint Patrick; we were converted by Palladius. (One local wag said that we were Christianised sometime B.C.)


Other historians claim that Palladius was repulsed by the inhabitants of Wicklow, where he landed. ... One way or the other it’s generally accepted that Naomh Padraig didn’t set foot in our neck of the woods.


But the late Jimmy Freeman of Ballyknockan, had a more down-to-earth explanation. He told me, and I quote, “Saint Patrick stood at Burgage an’ he come no farther. An’ he pointed his staff up at Lacken, Kylebeg an’ Ballinastockan an’ he sed ‘Let that be a den of thieves an’ robbers forever more’ .


I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought, perhaps, he was indulging in a bit of, good-natured, inter-Townland rivalry. Being well aware of the God-fearing and law-abiding nature of the inhabitants of the places in question it looked like our National Apostle was out beside it. Oh, sure enough, a Ballinastockan man was once fined sixpence for riding an unlit bicycle in Blessington during the hours of darkness. And it was rumoured that (before my time) a farmer on the Kylebeg/Lacken border was prosecuted under the 1910 Noxious Weeds Act, but nothing serious.


You see, as a community, we were always as honest as hard times would. But the inhabitants or more progressive areas used to say that we only knew that Christmas was over when we saw people wearing shamrock. We know that Saint Patrick is buried in Downpatrick, Having died at Nearby Saul in 561. March 17th is the supposed date of his death. We can’t check. RIP.IE doesn’t go back that far. He was born in 486 and journalist, Billy Keane, has done a lot of genealogical research but failed to find any evidence of an exact date for the saint’s birth. Consequently, Billy suggests that his feast day (Saint Patrick’s not Billy’s) should be moved to September.


Any date in September save 19th to 25th inclusive. Because that would clash with Listowel races. However, it looks like we will be stuck with the current date for the foreseeable future. Of course the nostalgia associated with our National holiday varies from person to person. As children, if we were abstaining from penny toffees and Fizz bags for Lent there was an exemption on Saint Patrick’s Day. Adults off the booze and /or the fags got a one-day reprieve. Retailers have always loved it. Even the most humble huckster’s emporiums look like Carroll’s souvenir shops there’s so much green. You see, psychologists have established that green is the easiest colour on human vision, projecting a relaxed image and environment; it indicates a friendly approach and prompts shoppers to buy.


For my own part my olfactory sense goes back ever the decades whenever my nostrils detect the exhaust fumes, however tentative, given off by a forty to one fuel mix. Immediately I am back on any Saint Patrick’s Day in the 1950s When Ireland’s top scramblers are negotiating rough terrain at Templeboden Bridge. Despite muck-splattered helmets and goggles, older spectators were able to point out to us some of the all-time greats. Harry Lynsdsney, Ernie Lyons and Stanley Woods, Harry Lambert et al. And, in my mind's ear, I can hear the frantic revving of Nortons, BSAs and Bultaco bikes as the aforementioned and competitors from all over this island would halt for a time-check. In 2001 in the bitter New York wind I marched up Fifth Avenue as part of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. It was my first visit to the Big Apple. I still have the costume that I wore that day **** Saint Patrick’s name features in everything from Cathedrals to football clubs to middle names taken at Confirmation.


And . . . in 1757 the owners of Rowes Distillery, in Thomas Street, Dublin built the highest smock windmill in Europe on their 17-acre site, to power their distillery. The tower still stands to this day. Because of the shape of its dome it has been known to generations of Dubliners as “The Onion Tower” but its official name is Saint Patrick’s Tower but . . . did Saint Patrick turn back at Burgage? The jury is still out. Perhaps in the future through carbon dating, DNA of some other science yet unknown, Jimmy Freeman will be proved wrong . . . or right.

* * * * *




Sir Walter Scott referred to, “ . . . the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting.”


In the Ireland of my youth there wasn’t a great tradition of touching as a gesture of affection. A “Toucher” was a fellow who usually had his hand out for the price of a drink. Richard Kearney is an Irishman, who holds the Charles Seeling Chair of Philosophy at Boston College. He jokingly writes that people in Ireland to which I refer, “ Only touched when they were drunk ( south of the border) or trying to kill each order (north of the border .) Although he has a wonderful turn of phrase he is not joking in the 202 pages of his latest book, Touch, in which he agrees with Freud that, “No mortal is ever silent. If he does not speak with his mouth he stammers with his fingers.”


Because of social distancing, there is less touching, in Ireland than ever before. Strange as it might seem there are people on this island who haven’t shook hands with another human being for a year.


After twelve months of such deprivation it’s interesting to be reminded of what we are missing.


The author advises us to “get back in touch with touch." Kearney, a true philosopher gives us some frightening statistics about loneliness and points out how lack of touching leads to “excarnation.” His advice? “ . . .we have learned from Covid how much we miss touch “ . . .it is no accident that skin is our largest organ and that we are born and die naked. We need computers but we also need carnality.” Touch is a wonderful and informative pick-me-up in a world in turmoil.
A must-read.


See you in April


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Sifoddling Along


By Marilyn Carnell

Politics is a Hazardous Game

Politics has dominated our news this year. Sometimes drowning out information about the COVID pandemic. Thank heaven, for now, things have calmed down a little bit and I can sleep through the night most of the time. But it does remind me of some experiences my family has had in running for office. Someday, I may even write about my own experience as a public servant but after nearly 25 years it is still a sore subject.


This is a tale about my brother-in-law, Earl Spears running for Sheriff. It could only happen in a small, inbred town like Pineville, Missouri.


Earl was a good campaigner and was elected for three terms. I don’t recall the years of this event and don’t remember the name of this particular opponent, but it went like this:


My Mom and Dad lived in the north addition to Pineville, one block off Dog Hollow Road. The street didn’t have a name until about 1950 when it was named King Street to honor its origin from the King farm. Houses were hastily constructed in the 1920s and my parents bought a house and a few acres in the early 1930s.


What Earl’s opponent didn't know was how close and complex families were.


He first stopped at my Grandma Annie Epperson Carnell’s house to leave his card and pitch for her vote. My Mom was visiting her as she conveniently lived next door. Mom assured him that there were no votes for him at that house. He went across the street to meet another potential voter, hoping he had seen the last of my Mom.


Meanwhile, Mom went home to pick up some fresh tomatoes to share with family members. He knocked on their door and was met by my Mom who once again said she was not going to vote for him.


He proceeded up the east side of the street to the end, two blocks away uneventfully, but he may have been a little shaken. Working his way down the west side of the street, he got to my Aunt Ruth Taylor Clemons. Aunt Ruth was my great aunt on my paternal side. My Grandmother was Florence Mahala Clemons Carnell. He was once again greeted by my Mom who had stopped by for a minute.


Two doors down he was greeted by my Aunt Fannie Bunch Legore, Mom’s sister. Mom and Aunt Fannie were catching up on family news. Next door was the Campbell family and while he was talking with them, Mom passed him by and was visiting my Aunt Florence Carnell Laughlin, Daddy’s sister.


Apparently, he abandoned his efforts to gain support on the north side of town and worked his way to the southern end of Main Street – less than a mile from that nest of voters for Earl.


Of course, by then Mom had driven down to see another sister, Etta Bunch Lines and they were sitting in the yard drinking iced tea.


Mom said she thought he gave up on politics that day and probably still has nightmares about being haunted by a slim auburn-haired woman who vigorously opposed his candidacy.


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