Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eric Shackle's Column

Every dog hath his day__ (English proverb)

Widespread confusion identifying world's oldest pooch

Editors of two of Britain's national newspapers must have very short memories. Five weeks ago the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph splashed a story about a lovable "terrier-mix" dog named Max celebrating his 26th birthday in New Iberia, Louisiana, USA.

"World's Oldest Dog Turns 26," London's Daily Telegraph reported in huge headlines on August 10. But by September 11, having conveniently forgotten about Max, it gleefully ran a story about a 20-year-old pooch in Shropshire, with the headline Dachshund from Shrewsbury 'may be world's oldest dog'.

The rival Daily Mail also ran two conflicting stories: Max the terrier becomes 'world's oldest dog' as he celebrates 26th birthday was the headline on August 11 (click to see some great photos)

By September 11 the Mail too had dismissed Max, boldly (and wrongly) claiming that Otto the 147-year-old British Dachshund is the world's oldest dog. (The147 years was based on the mistaken belief that each year in a dog's life equals seven human years, and that Otto is now 21).
The story about Otto was originally posted in his hometown newspaper, the Shropshire Star, on September 9 under the modest heading Could elderly Otto hold world record?

The two national sheets apparently made no attempt to check the facts, but pumped hot air into the story and told their myriad readers that the comparatively young Otto was indeed a world champ.
In America, the global news organization United Press International (UPI) based in Washington DC (motto: One hundred years of journaalistic excellence) compounded the error by picking up the Daily Mail's Shrewsbury story and posting it in its "Odd News" section, (second item) without checking the facts.

Media around the world (hundreds of them) blithely copied the UPI story without checking its accuracy. A typical example was the Karachi, Pakistan newspaper and online website The Nation,

Back in the Unites States, Danny Tyree wrote in the Marshall County Tribune, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: "While folks argue whether Chanel (a 21-year-old dachshund who passed away in August) was really the world's oldest dog, a famous cartoon pooch will turn 40 on Sept. 13.

"Yes, Scooby-Doo and his Mystery Inc. chums (Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy) are celebrating their 40th anniversary and still going strong in the 'solving supernatural crimes' biz."

Steve Fritz has written an entertaining, nostalgic story in Newsarama  about the cartoon canine, "the true top dog of animation, a crime-solving man’s-best-friend whose fumbling and meddling has debunked ghost chasers, would-be werewolves and wannabe-witches since he took his first bow on the small screen back on Sept. 13, 1969. Generations of fans know this Great Dane of Saturday morning memories as Scooby Doo."
Scooby-Doo is undoubtedly The World's Best-Known Dog. But for real-life pooches, our money goes on Max as the World's Oldest Dog. He's the max!

* You can see a video of Max and his owner HERE:
Posted by ERIC SHACKLE at 6:59 PM, Friday, September 11, 2009, in his blog, "LifeBeginsAt80"

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

Fifties And Seventies

Being in one’s seventies, even when being that has happened greatly against one’s will, kind of forces one to look backward a lot. Because after all, let’s face it; in one’s seventies, there’s a whole lot more backward to look at than there is forward. We’ve crested that hill and we really have no choice but to look down. Sometimes. Moi? I rather enjoy looking backward because even tho there are those well- meaning dolts who think it’s riotously funny to shout out on a person’s 70th birthday party “Here’s to 70 more!!” we’re obviously not going to get another 70, and the shouter moron knows that and should be asked to leave. So those of us who have crossed over into our 70s, let’s look back at the good times, and come on, we’ve all had at least a few of them.

The fifties was a fascinating decade, right? We were so dumb back then, just as we’re so dumb now. We did such stupid things. For example, why did women wear those torturous Merry Widows? Remember them? Madonna calls them “bustiers” but we called them Merry Widows, although I can’t think why. Believe me, there wasn’t anything merry about them and maybe widows wore them. I can’t be sure. We’d wear them under certain dresses and within a short time, we were in terrible pain, but remove them? Never! Show the pain? Never! After all, our grandmothers taught us that “it takes pains to have beauty.” They should know. Don’t forget our grandmothers wore excruciating whalebone corsets that completely rearranged their natural born innards, and the whales didn’t much care for them either.

And speaking of pain, how about those strapless scratchy tulle gowns from the 50s? We’d struggle into them, and noticed immediately that when we turned to the left, our gowns turned to the right. Oh how they hurt. And those high heeled satin shoes we got dyed to match? Hurt? You bet, and constantly fretting about getting them dirty or scraped ruined prom night for a lot of young ladies. They could not be redyed.

And while we’re on the subject of sartorial pain, females in the fifties wore girdles. Yes we did. Nasty rubber things with four long ugly garters hanging down, and lest your mind is taking you to places where women wear things like that for reasons other than to have her skirts fit smoothly and her stockings to not fall down, then shame on you. Girdles were murderous, turning every woman’s body, if she wasn’t skeletal and yes, even skeletal women wore girdles back then because their mothers made them, into a muffin with legs. You know, narrower on the bottom, belly fat squeezing out of the girdle’s top. Awful. And those flesh colored (Caucasian of course—apparently African American women didn’t have to wear girdles) Playtex rubber girdles, punched through with air holes where one’s skin puffed out like dozens of flesh peas. Trying to pull them up on a hot humid day was, let us say a challenge quite often resulting in tears, screams and scissors.

And cinching up stockings to those garters—oh my, constantly worrying about those crazy seams that had to be razor straight or women risked a lifetime of shame. I will never forget seeing those poor Godly women leaning over the altar rail taking communion on Sunday mornings, flashing those garters, thigh backs and stocking tops while an embarrassed congregation turned politely away. At least the polite ones did. This awkward discombobulation vanished when women were finally permitted to wear pants in public, and oh phew, in church too.

Bras? Engineered so that a woman’s mammaries were apple hard, sharply pointed and reset to suspend directly off the collarbones. Why did we allow it? I know! Because that’s how movie stars looked. Janet Leigh could quickly punch her way through a thick plywood door without ever touching the doorknob.
We must have been seriously into points in the 50s, because women wore shoes so highly heeled and sharply pointed they could kill a wild pig with one smart kick to the jugular, if they ever found themselves in a place where enraged wild pigs roamed about.

Girls wore their cardigans backward, their jeans rolled up (but only for athletics of course) Peter Pan collars, gold circle pins on those collars, occasionally changed over to button-down collars, plaid skirts, penny loafers, saddle shoes, or tight skirts and black flats, and hair? Bobby pins clamped down onto viciously tight pincurls every single night; it was like sleeping on a pillowcase stuffed with nails, but oh, yes, we thought hard about how it takes pains to have beauty and if our being beautiful meant the occasional loss of blood, well, that’s the way it was. Bermuda shorts with knee socks, plaid belts, stupid bathing caps designed to keep one’s hair dry while swimming. Why? I never got that. Oh I guess it was hoped that all that blood and pain endured by sleeping with a head stabbed full of Bobby pins would somehow be saved by a brutally tight bathing cap, strapped under the chin. All they did was let a bunch of water into one’s ears and hold it there, temporarily deafening the wearer and giving ear doctors a good living. And oh yes, wearing gold and silver at the same time anywhere on the body was a social faux pas and was simply not done and never to be forgiven.

Sex? Everyone feigned big shock about anyone indulging pre marriage, and perhaps a few post. But it was big phony feign which covered big genuine curiosity. Movies, magazines, newspapers, everything talked and wrote about the sin and shame of anyone getting caught in flagrante delicto and while Big Red A’s were no longer compulsory, everyone mentally put them on women who did the deed without a marriage license, or with one but not with her husband’s name on it. Men, even in the fifties, got off scott free. Who’s that lucky dude named Scott anyway? He’s always gets to be free. Abstinence was preached even back then. Didn’t work then, won’t work now, and never will. Purchasing condoms in the 50s was a deeply humiliating experience for a young guy. Sex in the 50s, and as it always has been and always shall be, just would not go away.

Music? Rock and Roll swept across the land, and listening to it was another sin to pile on the growing pile of other sins. Listening to it, gyrating to it, was a ticket straight to hell. Parents and clergy fought the good fight but lost, and life for kids in the fifties joyfully became Grease.

Sundays were church days. Dressing up. No one went to the movies or to town or to anywhere, especially church, unless one was dressed up. Mothers put a huge roast into the oven on her way to church services, so she could come home and spend the Day of Rest cooking, scrubbing pans and pots and washing dishes, but oh the house smelled great when everyone tumbled back into the home after church. Occasionally a house or two would burn to the ground while the family prayed together and their ovens malfunctioned, but not too often.

I’m barely scratching the surface here. Anyone of my vintage could add pages and pages to this column about the mores and habits and styles of that strange decade where things were so rigid, so fake, so break-through, daring and fun. Were things better back then? Nah. Are they better now? Sure, in countless ways. It was the best of times and the worst of times. When isn’t it?

Click on  LC Van Savage  for author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Email LC at
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10:30 AM Saturdays

The Little Quaker Bear Of The Miami

People who are familiar with Texas history have read the sad story of Cynthia Ann Parker, the girl who was kidnapped by Comanche Indians in 1836, adopted and raised Comanche, married to war chief Peta Nocona, mother to three children, one of them the famous chief Quanah Parker, kidnapped again with her daughter by Texas Rangers, against her will, in 1860, and finally died, of grief and depression, in 1870, her husband violently killed at the time of her capture, her daughter dead of disease, her sons forever kept from her.

I would like to share with you another somewhat parallel, but very different, story from American history, one with a special importance to me because of a connection to my own family’s history. And one, I believe, that illustrates the possible results of following some basic principles of how we humans should live our lives.

In 1774 a girl named Frances Slocum was born in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, daughter of a Quaker family who had lived there since being driven from Massachusetts Bay Colony by persecution for their faith. Drawn by the promise of rich, newly opened land in the Wyoming Valley of the Susquehanna River, near present-day Wilkes-Barre, in 1777 the Slocum family moved to what was then dangerous frontier wilderness, land that, as they soon learned, was in bitter dispute, claimed by both Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and also by the powerful Iroquois Confederation of Native Americans whose villages were located near the headwaters of the Susquehanna.

Even as the Slocum family was relocating, the colonies were in open rebellion from England. Battles had already been fought. And the frontier was not a safe haven from this conflict. The Iroquois and their allies had aligned themselves with the British. The colonists in the Wyoming Valley proceeded to build a series of small forts for shelter and mustered a ragged militia of untrained farmers, old men, boys, and rejects from George Washington’s army, “the undisciplined, the youthful and the aged” as they were later memorialized. A great-great-great uncle of mine was a “captain” in that militia.

In July 1778 attack came. A combined force of British troops, Iroquois, Delaware and other Indians moved down from the north to just above Wyoming. The settlers’ force marched out to attack, but were tricked into an ambush that left many of them dead and the rest in a disordered retreat. Before the fighting and its bloody aftermath were over, many more settlers, including noncombatants, were killed, and the rest were in panicked flight from the Valley.

One family that remained, however, were the Slocums. Frances’ father, being a Quaker, had refused to participate in the fighting and trusted to his peaceful and friendly behavior to protect them from harm. Unfortunately, not all the Indians recognized this trust, especially as one of the Slocum boys was known to have participated in the fight. Later that autumn, in early November, the Slocum farm was raided by a small band of Delaware. A boy staying with the Slocums was killed and Frances, found hiding under a staircase, was taken captive.

Only a month later, in a separate incident, Frances’ father and grandfather were killed as they worked a field. Frances’ surviving family fled for awhile, but returned to their farm when it became possible. And they never forgot her. As soon as they could, her brothers searched for her, but without success. Not until 59 years later did her family finally locate her and learn what had happened to her. And that’s where the rest of the story begins.

As I said, Frances’ story is well-known in American history. Her loss, the decades-long search, and eventual rediscovery, became a part of American folklore. She became “The Lost Sister of Wyoming.” Monuments exist to her memory. Poems were written. Parks and schools have been named for her. Her tale became mythic. But she was a very real person, who lived a long, productive life and made some strong decisions during that life. As I said, my family history touches hers. Not only did the family of my great-great grandmother, Catharine Marvin Baker Reeves, live briefly in the Wyoming Valley during the Revolution, Catharine herself lived for several years just across a small Indiana river, the Mississinewa, from the elderly Frances and may have known her personally. I like to think so.

But what was Frances’ story, and how was she “found” 59 years after disappearing into the wild forests of Pennsylvania, slung over the shoulder of a Delaware Indian, her auburn hair hanging down his back as her mother saw her tear-streaked face for the last time?

After her abduction, Frances was carried miles away, hidden overnight in a cave, then taken many more miles, ultimately as far as the Niagara River area. She was adopted into a Delaware family to be raised as their own daughter, replacing a daughter who had died. She was given the Delaware name We-Let-A-Wash. Her adoptive father, Tuck Horse, who spoke English well from contact with the British, interestingly also made chairs and played the violin skillfully enough to be asked occasionally to play for the local English. Her adoptive mother made and sold brooms and baskets.

During the unsettled times following the end of the Revolution, her new family moved farther and farther away from the eastern colonies, now states in the new country, eventually settling near what is now Fort Wayne, Indiana. Frances was taught a myriad of skills appropriate to her new life – how to cure and sew skins, how to hunt and fish, how to ride a horse, how to live a nomadic life. And she was brought also into the spiritual life of her new people. She became a Delaware in every respect but her skin and hair color and remaining memories of her early childhood.

During her mother’s lifetime the search for Frances was never abandoned. Several times her brothers, and once even her mother, traveled hundreds of miles by horseback through the wilderness, following up on stories and rumors, offering rewards for her return, with no success. Her mother died at age 71 in 1807, still hoping for her Frances to be found.

Years passed. Of her nine brothers and sisters, only four were still living. Then, in 1835, a trader traveling through the Miami Nation country along the Wabash in Indiana was forced to stop for the night at a Miami house. The people there generously gave him shelter and food, as was their custom. He noticed that the eldest of the family, a woman in her 60s who was treated with great honor by the others, had unusually fine-textured, fair hair and pale skin, even white where it was protected from the sun. After the rest of the family had retired for the night, the old lady stayed, asked him to listen and, reluctantly and with much trepidation, told him that she had been taken as a girl from her home on the Susquehanna and raised among the Indians, so long ago that she no longer remembered how to speak English. (He was fluent in Miami.) She remembered her family name, Slocum, and that her family had been Quakers, but not her given name. She had never told anyone before, as she did not want to be taken from her children, grandchildren and friends and the life that she had known for so long; but at this time in her life she was very ill and thought she was dying, so she felt the truth finally should be told or she “would have no rest in the Spirit World.”

On returning home the trader told his mother, who urged him to send a letter to Pennsylvania, advising of his discovery. He did, but through neglect it was another two years before the letter was made public, in a newspaper that found its way into the hands of a friend of the Slocum family. As soon as possible, three very excited members of the Slocum family arranged to travel to visit Frances at her home near Peru, Indiana. They were able to identify her without doubt by a mangled finger, injured in a childhood accident. At first Frances, known among the Miami as Ma-Con-A-Quah, or “The Little Bear,” remained stoically indifferent to their presence.

After a couple of days visiting, she relaxed enough to talk about herself with them; but at their urging her to come back to live with them in Pennsylvania, she firmly refused. She said, “No, I cannot. I have always lived with the Indians. They have always used me very kindly. I am used to them. The Great Spirit has allowed me to live with them, and I wish to live and die with them. Your looking glass may be larger than mine, but this is my home. I do not want to live any better, or anywhere else; and I think the Great Spirit has permitted me to live so long because I have always lived with the Indians. I should have died sooner if I had left them. My husband and my boys are buried here, and I cannot leave them. On his dying day, my husband charged me not to leave the Indians. I have a house and large lands, two daughters, a son-in-law, three grandchildren, and everything to make me comfortable. Why should I go and be like a fish out of water?”

She even refused to go visit her relatives in the Wyoming Valley, saying “I am an old tree. I cannot move about. I was a sapling when they took me away. It is all gone past. I am afraid I should die and never come back. I am happy here. I shall die here . . . and they will raise the pole at my grave, with the white flag on it, and the Great Spirit will know where to find me.” And her son-in-law added, “When the whites take a squaw, they make her work like a slave. It was never so with this woman . . . I have always treated her well.” The older daughter, Cut Finger, added “a deer cannot live out of the forest” and the younger, Yellow Leaf, repeated “the fish dies quickly out of water.”

As a later chronicler of the story commented, “they had found the long-lost sister Frances; they found and left her as an Indian. She worked like an Indian, lived like an Indian, ate like an Indian, lay down to sleep like an Indian, thought, felt, and reasoned like an Indian; she had no longings for her original home or the society of her kindred . . . she could only breathe freely in the great, unfenced out-of-doors which God gave to the Red Man.”

Two years later, in 1839, one of Frances’ brothers, with two of her nieces, again made the journey to visit her. The visit went well; and the nieces kept journals of their conversations and observations that have a woman’s perspective. For example, they comment on the cleanness and neatness of Ma-Con-A-Quah’s household, the excellent food served for meals, and the very fine needlework produced by her and her daughters, at least some of it evidently exhibiting skills she had learned as a small Quaker girl in Pennsylvania, then passed on. The grandchildren they met were named Corn Tassel, Blue Corn, and Young Panther. Ma-Con-A-Quah told them of her early life, moving with her Delaware parents from New York to Ohio, marrying a Delaware named Little Turtle.

But when he went west to war with the Americans (in which he was killed), she had refused to follow. Later, she said, while traveling down the Wabash, they came upon the scene of the very recent and bloody Battle of the Fallen Timbers, with bodies still lying on the ground. But one of the battle casualties was still alive, a young Miami chief named She-Pan-Can-Ah.

They rescued him, nursed him back to health, and Frances married him. Ultimately they had four children: two boys who died in childhood, and the two daughters who were still living with her in her old age. She-Pan-Can-Ah, later known as Deaf Man because of a hearing loss, was good to her and left her a wealthy widow by local standards. When her nieces visited her, she invited them and their father, her brother, to come live with her, as she had plenty of land and goods – even as she had been invited two years prior to come live in Pennsylvania.

The next year, 1840, brought a crisis for Ma-Con-A-Quah and her family. The Miami were talked, or coerced, into signing a treaty that required them to vacate all their lands in Indiana and remove to what is now Kansas. Frances and her children appealed to her Slocum relatives to help them in this crisis; and the Slocums submitted a memorial in her name to the United States Congress, asking them to find a way to make an exception for her and her daughters. The family tradition is that the elderly John Quincy Adams took an interest in the plea and supported it.

Left:  Kick-E-Se-Quah

The result was a special grant of a section of land to Ma-Con-A-Quah’s daughters alongside the Mississinewa and exemption from the requirement to move away. Later, when trouble developed with some of the new white settlers in the area stealing cattle and horses from Ma-Con-A-Quah’s land, she asked for, and got, a Slocum nephew, George, with his family, to come live near her, in 1846, as her advocate and protector. She lived a year longer, to the age of 74, and was buried in March 1847 with a Christian service (since her nephew was a minister); but her grave was marked, by her wishes, with a tall pole bearing a white flag in the Indian manner, “so that the Great Spirit should know where she was.” The grave site was on a beautiful knoll near the confluence of the Mississinewa and the Wabash, by the side of her chief and her children, including Cut Finger, who died four days later of “grief and care.”

A Son in Law

And the principles I believe are illustrated in the story of Ma-Con-A-Quah, “The Little Bear,” and her two families – one Quaker, the other Native American – principles evidently lacking in the story of Cynthia Ann Parker? Both stories begin with two apparently inimical cultures and belief systems clashing violently; but in the older story the two families learned eventually to accept one another’s inherent worth and dignity with equity and compassion, followed their conscience, and used a democratic process instead of violence to find a path to peace, liberty and justice. Perhaps there’s a lesson for some of today’s problems in this story.

And I really, really have to hope that my Indiana ancestors weren’t involved in that cattle stealing!

The book is Frances Slocum: The Lost Sister of Wyoming, compiled and written by her Martha Bennett Phelps for her children and grandchildren; second edition, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; published by the author 1916, copyright 1906 by Martha B. Phelps, Vail-Ballou Company, Binghamton and New York. This is a copy from the Google Library and is prefaced by a statement from Google that the book is in the public domain (i.e., the copyright has expired).

All the portraits are from the book and are copies of original paintings in the possession of the Slocum Family. The painter of the pictures in this article was Jennie Augusta Brownscombe whose early life sounds like the story behind one of her own pictures. Born in a log cabin in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, she was the only child of William Brownscombe, an English-born farmer, and Elvira Kennedy, a direct descendant of a Mayflower passenger, who encouraged her young daughter to write poetry and draw. Brownscombe won her first awards as a high school student, exhibiting her work at the Wayne County Fair. When her father died in 1868, Brownscombe began supporting herself through teaching, creating book and magazine illustrations, and selling the rights to reproduce her watercolor and oil paintings as inexpensive prints, Christmas cards, and calendars. More than 100 of Brownscombe's works were distributed this way, spreading her images into homes throughout the nation.

A prize-winning student at the Cooper Institute School of Design for Women and the National Academy of Design, both in New York City, Brownscombe in 1875 became a founding member of the Art Students League, where she later served on the faculty. Her oil paintings met with immediate success, as both her subjects (sentimental genre pictures and scenes from colonial American history) and her style appealed to prevailing Victorian tastes. Brownscombe studied art in France in 1882, spent the winters of 1886 through 1895 in Rome, and exhibited her pictures there and in London, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. She continued working until virtually the end of her long life, completing her final large oil painting at the age of 81 after recovering from a stroke. I found Jennie Brownscombe's signature on at least a couple more of the paintings and am pretty sure she did all of them. Not surprising, since she was well-known for painting American historical subjects for a popular market and has been referred to as "The Norman Rockwell of her era".

notes by  John I. Blair

©2009 John I. Blair
Click on author's name for bio.

Still I Know

I'd like you to tell me your mind
Are you living rough on the outside
Take a ride
Take a train
I'm not sure who is left to blame
Still know this is better than going insane It could have happened before it turned into this
Like a cosmic distraction and a scrape upon my wrist
I'd like you to tell me your story
Do you have any thoughts to help make things clear
Take a ride 
Take a train
I'm not sure who is left to blame
Still I know this is better than going insane
Still I know this is better than losing my brain
©9/10/2009 Bruce Clifford

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

At War With Fire

At war with fire
The love you desire
Many different ways
The heart always stays
At war with fire

Feel the raindrops within the touch
Taste the nectar you love so much
Hear the endless crashing of the waves
See how we made it through the darkest of days

At war with fire
It seems to lift you higher
Knowing all the roads
Each and every way to go
All that's left for us to know
At war with fire

©10/12/09  Bruce Clifford

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


I like choc'late,
yes, I do. 
I like choc'late,
how 'bout you?

Peanut butter,
choc'late crunch,

I like choc'late,
yumm yumm yummm
©2009  Kaitlyn 


Floating just above the ground,
Pervasive, evasive,
Fog dims lights, hushes sound,
Changes, rearranges
Familiar sights to strange,
Shifts, drifts,
Blurs the common,
Gifts it with grace,
Brushes new luster
On this dull place.
Fog helps me see with acuity
Past the crude face;
For, keenly viewed,
Everything’s a mist,
Intangible and unknowable.
©2003  John I. Blair
Click on author's name for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

I Think It's True

I think it's true
There's no you without me
There's no voice inside me
There's no reason for us to be
I think it's true
There's no vision ahead
There's no noise in my head
There's no living with the dead

I can't take it when things get this way
All the pushing and pulling stands in our way
Then you call me up as if nothing was ever wrong
Here we go again playing this same worn out song

I think it's true
There's no me without you
There's no deciding point of view
There's no reason to ever be true

I can't take it when things turn around
All the good times have faded when we start another round
Then you call me up as if nothing was ever said
Here we go again playing this story over and over again

I think it's true
There's no you without me
There's no voice inside me
There's no reason for us to be
©10/6/09  Bruce Clifford
Click on author's name for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

It Doesn’t Compute

The network is down,
No Windows allowed,
No “you have mail” bells.

Technology’s crown
Of which we’re so proud
Now just makes us frown.

An unnatural boon—
There’s no printer hum,
No CPU rush.

Since silence prevails
We exit our cubes
And gather to chat.

We’re slightly annoyed
When technology fails
And our lives have this void;

But only too soon
The system’s back up,
We return to our cells.

©2003  John I. Blair

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

Just Casual

The clothes I wear please no one,
Least of all myself.
For while I may be comfortable
Within my skin, there is small comfort
In these tight pants that make scant room
For yesterday’s indulgences,
Held by a belt that hints of bondage,
And but poor grooming in this shirt
With sleeves that shrank
And stop an inch short of my hand.
In fact, were nudity
Not banned, the only garb
I’d bear today
Is none.
©2003  John I. Blair
Click on author's name for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


I do not term them ties
(Ties sound so constricting),
But links, connecting
Friend to friend,
Lover to lover;
Turning isolates
Into a chain of being.
How precious each day
Just to place a call,
To send a card,
To make a letterbox clink
Or e-mail ring,
To lend ourselves,
Extend ourselves
And touch each other.
I think there is
No trivial way
To do this thing.

©2003  John I. Blair

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

Long Ago

I remember when you broke me down
I remember when you came in to town
It started off with us just being friends
Things got tossed and it came to an end
I remember how you tied me in to knots
I remember the bells and the shots
It started off easy as if it was fine
Then things got crazy and ugly followed behind

Now I'm thinking about those days in our past
I'm not sure why this comes to me now or how long it will last

I remember the bench in the park
I remember walking hand in hand in the dark
It started off fine just two kids without a plan
Then one day it was too hard to understand

Now I'm thinking about those days in our past
I'm not sure why this comes to me now or how long it will last

I remember those days so long ago
I thought I forgot them and how they hurt me so.
©10/28/09  Bruce Clifford
Click on author's name above for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Once again my office place
Has been parsed as cutouts
Regimented on ruled paper;
And for a period no doubt
I'll feel patchy like these outlines.
Perplexed by this nomad mood
I could let it prune my life,
Capitulate to temporality,
Perceive my home away from home
As perennially impermanent.
But instead I find opportunity
To free my self expression,
Empower my personality's expansion
Inside an empty space, convert a void
Into a panorama of myself.
©2004 John I. Blair

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

Sail Squirrel

Speeding to get to work on time,
With a thump-crunch I drove
Over a half-seen object in the street.

Not a minute before I had swerved
To dodge a kamikaze squirrel
Dashing in fear across the pavement.

Soft as I am on furry animals,
I bought an instant menu of remorse
And self-flagellated all the way to Dallas.

To some my pain may seem unjustified,
Uncertain as I was if what I hit
Was bushy-tailed or PVC;

But in a larger sense, such thoughts
Are always justified, as evidence
That I still deem life dear.

©2003 John I. Blair

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

Think of Us

I try so hard
Often that's not enough
I can't go on
When things get so awkward and rough I try so hard
I don't think I'll ever let go
We've gone this far
This is the only way I know
Think of us then
Think of us now
Think of us when
Think of us how
I try so hard
Trying shouldn't have to be so tough
Until the end of time
Or until we've had enough
Think of us then
Think of us now
Think of us when
Think of us how
I try so hard
I don't think I'll ever let go
We've gone this far
This is the only way I know
©10/2/09 Bruce Clifford
Click on  Bruce Clifford   for author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Thinking Out Loud

I caught a lucky break when the Nobel Prize Committee convened a few months ago and I had one of my top investigative agents in Oslo checking out a prospective scandal in the herring tidbit industry, which turned out to be a wild goose (or is it fish?) chase. But, when my man got a whiff of Obama being in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize he contacted me (we use encrypted e-mails) and I set some wheels in motion.

After some tricky maneuvers, I managed to get my man imbedded as a men’s room attendant, thus making him (covertly) privy to some candid conversations, literally history in the making. The first thing I learned was that Obama had some stiff competition from the three other candidates: Senator Al Franken, documentarian Michael Moore and Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.

The first problem was with Franken who, though a bitter foe of George Bush (which endeared him to the Prize Committee) was basically an unknown in Norway. To help with Franken’s name recognition the Committee retained the Minnesota chapter of Acorn to do some polling. But when Acorn came back with more than nine million votes for Franken in Oslo, it raised some concern with the Committee’s poll watchers since Oslo had a population of only slightly over four million. Thus Senator Franken was set aside temporarily with the promise from the Committee that he would be in the running for the next Nobel Peace Prize along with Dan Rather and Charley Rangel.

Actually, Michael Moore had the prize won, but refused to take a shower and put on a clean shirt, suit and tie for the reception, which he thought would make him look like a capitalist. A melee occurred when an unnamed Nobel Laureate tried to hose him down and Moore had to be airlifted back to the French Riviera.

Everything about Gadhafi was weird. Firstly, it turned out that that odd little hat he always wore wasn’t a hat at all, but a hair transplant gone wrong. Secondly, and this might have killed the prize for him, his first language was Esperanto thus making his Arabic so convoluted that one of his translators nearly bit his tongue off straightening out a sentence which began: “ When - or perhaps, if and when” - and ended some one hundred eighty-eight words later with, “Barbara Bush - or was it maybe Barbra Streisand.”
All in all envisioning our president in the pantheon of Nobelists falling in line right after Jimmy Carter, Yasser Arafat and Al Gore, makes me feel that Obama wasn’t so bad a choice after all.

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

Irish Eyes

Tales of Ballydrum, etc.

John Edward Henry (1904-1986) was a native of Ballydrum, Swinford, County Mayo. He emigrated to the USA in his mid- twenties and spent a number of years in Chicago before returning to Mayo in 1931. When he came back, he married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Salmon and took over the running of his family farm in Ballydrum.

He also worked with Mayo County Council as a supervisor on road and bridge construction for a number of years. The nature of his work meant that he was often absent from home from Monday morning to Friday night for weeks on end.

It was during those periods of enforced absence from home and family, that he gathered much of the stories and anecdotes that would later form the basis of his folktale collection.

He used to invite older members of the community to chat with him about the customs and habits of their own times and those of previous generations, which he felt were in danger of being discarded in the name of progress. Very few others of his time felt the same desire to record and preserve for posterity the folk heritage of previous generation that was in danger of being lost forever but this did not deter him in the slightest.

John Henry or “Sean” as he was also known left a collection of stories about everything from “Barnala Wood” to “Bellmen.” Whether it’s an account of the “Big Wind” or a Connaught person’s take on “Ninety-Eight” the true storyteller is evident.

When Sean was a young lad a certain “Knight-of-the-road”, who was better dressed and seemed to be on a slightly higher mental plain than the average tramp, used visit the area.
He was known as “the Toff” and when he told a story young Henry hung on every word and would, decades later, commit it to paper
“ . . . In my great grandfather’s time,” said The Toff, “there were little few glass windows to be found except in the Big Houses, and churches and with some well off people here and there. Among the poorer people, there were various excuses for windows. In some houses, long, narrow openings in the walls served for windows. It was narrower on the inside than the outside and a board was fitted on the outside at night or in bad weather. In some cases, a mare’s placenta or a sheepskin with all the wool and fat removed was stretched across the ‘window.’

These allowed a dull light to get through but were far from being as satisfactory as glass. A good many dwellings then were only ‘bohauns’ or mud huts; they had no light except what came in over the half door.”

“My great grandfather was known locally as Mairtín Bradach. (Mischievous Martin) He went to Sligo on one occasion and brought back a pane of glass. He was so careful of the glass that he carried it all the way home on his back in a sack that was well-padded with rags and paper. He never once sat down on his journey of 22 miles. With the help of a local handyman, he fitted the glass to a wooden frame and installed it with the proud boast that it was the first glass window ever to come to the village of Cruck.”

The Toff went on to add that his great grandfather had a well-known habit of turning things around when he spoke. So, when a neighbour who came across him while fitting the window, asked him what he was doing, he received an unexpected answer.
“I’m tying to let out the dark,” my great grandfather is said to have replied.
“Letting out the dark, as Mairtín Bradach said,” became a popular saying in the locality afterwards.

When the window had been fitted, some of the neighbours felt it that a celebration known as a ball was called for. Accordingly, a small money collection was held and Mairtín donated the food and the music, he being a player on the fife or wooden flute.

During the ball, Mairtín saw a neighbour to whom he had not spoken to for some years, peeping in through the new window. There were two lighted candles, one on each side of the window, and he had no trouble recognising the ‘gobadán’ (curlew) as this man was known locally. He had a very long nose, which earned him his title.

After making up his mind, Mairtín moved quietly to the back door and picked up the hardest sod of turf he could find. Moving stealthily, he waited until he got beside the window. He waited until the gobadán had his long nose right up to the window. Then he let fly catching his opponent full on the nose and of course breaking the window in the process.
Sean amassed a considerable pile of wire bound notebooks and jotters as he went about his labour of love and in later years he used those notes to write his folktales.
A number of those stories were published in book form by the Mercier Press (Cork) in the late seventies under the title of “Tales from the West of Ireland.” This book was re-issued in 2000 and both editions were quickly sold out.

He contributed to a number of periodicals and magazines and for a long number of years he wrote articles on contemporary Irish social and economic affairs for an American travel company’s newsletter. “Mayo Folktales” is a collection of his stories that have been published in digital from by his son, Eamonn.
There is a total of 54 articles in this collection and it had been arranged in two volumes for distribution purposes. Both volumes are available on CD-ROM as well as in PDF format for direct downloading from the site; The CD versions are designed to run on all Windows operating systems from Win 98 SE onwards and as PDF is a cross-platform format, those files are compatible with all common computer platforms and are not limited to Windows’ users only. Full details may be had from The CDs cost €10 each or €15 for both excluding postage costs. The PDF documents are priced at €7 each or €12 for both.

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



          Re’ai (with love) from Suzhou, China--

When I first came to China I was somewhat taken aback by all the personal questions thrown my way. Especially, by my students who ask questions with blunt force precision. I try not to mix words when answering their questions either. I found that being straightforward and honest in class gains their respect but most importantly their trust. When I first arrived here I answered each question in stride. I would tell myself that it’s a different culture and a learning experience for both my students and myself.

I discovered within a matter of a few months that my students were not trying to be insulting with the questions they ask. If you spend enough time in China you will learn that the Chinese language has very few pronouns. One word in the Chinese language can have four different meanings by the tone of the voice. That is why it is very difficult for a westerner to master the Chinese language. On the other hand the Chinese find grammar and the proper use of pronouns difficult to master.

People born in English speaking countries can ask direct and personal questions in a way that softens the blow. For the Chinese its all in the tone of the voice which doesn’t always translate well into the English language.

One day in class for example a female student raised her hand and asked, “Are all American’s fat, Teacher?”

“Yes,” I replied, “but not as fat as me.”

I then explained, “some Americans are thin. Some are thinner than others. You also have the thinnest of people in America,” I said while holding the palm of my hands close together. I then went on to say, “some Americans are fat some are even fatter than me. You also have the fattest of people in America,” I told them with outstretched arms and the class broke out with laughter.

I told them the story of the man who was so fat that when he died, they had to remove the roof of his house and hoist his body up from inside his home with a large Crane. This very large person had to be buried in a piano crate because he weighed over a thousand pounds.

“That is very fat, Teacher,” a well shaped female student said with an astonished look on her face.
I told them that I am somewhere in the middle of fat and the fattest of people in America. But hopefully the fruit juices, the rice, and the vegetables will kick in and I will lose some weight.

“Do you eat a lot of hamburgers and hotdogs in America?” a male student asked and the class listened for my answer with great curiosity.

“That and everything else” I said, “I like all foods, food is my greatest weakness.”

“So unhealthy, teacher,” a female student said with a concerned look on her face, “stay away from the noodles, too, no good for you.”

I realize now that it's just their way of caring for their foreign teacher. I also found that what I am offering my students is part of myself. Our life experiences are part of the lessons of life. We can never lose who we are in the world and who we are can become the greatest gift to others. My classes are not designed to fill young minds with mundane facts but rather to open their minds to new ideas. My classes can also help them gain new perspectives not just on life but on what they can offer the world. I try to get my students to draw inward to help them write about the things that shaped their lives. Those experiences may be positive or negative but in the end they influence how we relate to others. Students learn a great deal from what they read in books but they can also learn a great deal more about themselves from what they write. I suppose that is one of the reasons why I became a writer as it’s also a way of reaching out and connecting with others.

My students always ask me why I came to China.

I always find myself pausing for a second trying to locate the perfect words or phrase that they can easily understand. “I fell flat on my face before coming to China,” I told them with blunt honesty. “But the failures in life are not the ones who fall flat on their face. They are the ones who remain flat on their face. The moment I stood up and brushed myself off was the moment I took a fresh start in life. I discovered that moment not just within myself but here in your classroom……”

“You’re a good teacher,” a student said without raising her hand.

“China,” I replied, “was another opportunity for me to learn and grow.”

“We glad you’re here, Teacher” someone else said sitting in the back of the room.

“People are always crossing my path in life,” I told them. “I am very grateful to be here. I hope people like you will continue to cross my path and touch my heart. I also hope that what you get out of this class is greater insights that life is what you make of it. The greatest opportunities in life are within you.”

“We enjoy your class, Teacher,” a female student replied with some difficulty in finding the words to express herself.

“All of you are making your living in life,” I told them, “and what you give to others makes your life worth living.” At that moment the bell sounded and the student voices broke out in Chinese chatter.
That was my last class of the day. I spent the rest of the afternoon answering emails and text messages. I realized than that when you truly care about others, others will truly care about you.

Always with love, Thomas F. O’Neill
(800) 272-6464
Skype: thomas_f_oneill
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.

Click on By Thomas F. O'Neill   for author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Editor's Corner


Your editor and the cooking editor are traveling during October and the first week of November so this is being readied on the road, so to speak. The visits in Plano with oldest daughter, on to Illinois to meet a couple more of the chat friends from at the Hines' household where our Brit friend Jules was also visiting, all were quite satisfactory.

Now we are in our home state of Missouri, but a long way from our residence in Texas, while staying near Leo's family. His column is even being done this month by his oldest granddaughter so don't miss it.
After a week of November in these parts we head south again to visit along the way near Kansas City with another chat friend, and then to OK City to have lunch with my brother in law, and then further south a ways to meet up with our esteemed webmaster and dear friend Mike Craner and family. After that the car should end up back in West Texas with an added 2400 to 2500 miles on the gauge.

John Blair has stepped out of the poet role long enough to favor us with an exciting tale about Frances Slocum who was kidnapped and adopted by Indians in 1778. He shares the following about the painter of those lovely prints displayed with the article, "The Little Quaker Bear Of The Miami." The portrait of Kick-E-Se-Quah is by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (American, 1850-1936), a well-known artist whose paintings are still collected. He says the others may also be by her.

Here's a bit about Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, an American, 1850-1936, who has been called "a kind of Norman Rockwell of her era." In fact, the skillful drawing, attention to detail, and nostalgic moods of her paintings make the comparison between Jennie Augusta Brownscombe and the popular American illustrator seem quite apt. Please see the other notes by Blair following the article.

The other article "Fifties and Seventies" is by LC Van Savage who also is the columnist for "Consider This."

Other columnists this issue are:
    Peg Jones from Massachusetts with her column "Angel Whispers."
    Leo C. Helmer featuring a Guest Cook in "Cookin' With Leo"
    Eric Shackle with the proliferation of oldest dog links, in "Eric Shackle's Column"
    Mattie Lennon speaks of a true tale master from Ireland, in "Irish Eyes"
    Thomas F. O'Neill from China, in "Introspective"
    Gerard Meister, Floridian, does his satire in "Thinking Out Loud".
Poems include "Choc'late," a yummy one, from Kaitlyn of Illinois, and Blair has the following six: "Sail Squirrel," "Fog," "It Doesn’t Compute," "Just Casual," "Links," and "Peripatetic." Bruce Clifford, the song writer, submitted the following: "Long Ago", "Still I Know," "Think of Us," "At War With Fire," and "I Think It's True."

We continue to offer a quality ezine that is read internationally to showcase your compositions at no cost to you, where they are copyrighted, and remain yours to use in compilations or to send to other magazines. All we ask is that you mention they were published in the ezine Pencil Stubs Online.
See you in December!

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

Cookin' With Leo

I'm taking this chance to be lazy and let my oldest grandchild do my November column. My only daughter, MaryAnn, gifted me with five grandchildren (Andrea, Tim, Kathy, Jason, and Christina, in order) all residents of Missouri, so we are here visiting with family. Andrea and husband Kevin Abernathy and their three children (Tiffany 11, Jimmy 5, and K'lie 18 months) have welcomed us into their home. He is former military and 'though she is currently pursuing a military career, she finds time to use her culinary skills almost daily for the family. I (modestly) claim credit for her interest in cooking, 'though she may tell it differently. So here is Andrea and her recipe for this issue:

Andrea's Lasagna

    Olive Oil
    Small yellow onion, diced
    2 lbs ground beef
    15 oz diced tomatoes
    15 oz - 30 oz tomato sauce
    1 small can tomato paste
    16 oz Ricotta Cheese
    *5 Cups shredded Mozarella Cheese
    1 egg
    9 Lasagna noodles, already prepared
Preheat Oven to 375º
In a deep skillet saute onions in about 1 Tbspn of Olive Oil until golden brown. Add in beef and brown. Season with Salt and Pepper. Drain meat and return to skillet. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and 2 Tblspns of the tomato paste. Stir Well. Put in 1 - 2 Tblspns sugar. Season with basil and oregano while cooking over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring every 5 - 10 minutes to keep from sticking. While that cooks, in a bowl mix Ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the shredded cheese and 1 egg. Stir well.
In a 9x13 glass baking dish (spray with cooking oil) put enough sauce in the bottom to lightly cover it. Put in 3 noodles. Spread on 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Then put on 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat two more times. Cover the top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 30 - 45 minutes.
Let cool for 15 - 20 minutes.

*Andrea says for extra flavor, mix in shredded Provolone, Asiago, and Romano Cheese and the Italian Blend in the cheese aisle works great.

Thanks, Andrea! An' Y'all Come Back, You Hear!

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

Consider This

Dress-Up? Why? Who Cares??

Are our lives so dreary and bleak that we have to liven them up by focusing so much attention on the garb of our fellow Americans? And especially our famous fellow Americans? Honestly I think we spend way too much time, ink and air space on what they wear.

For example, this past summer the really huge news was no, not global starvation, no, not the stupid, useless wars that are robbing the precious lives of so many military and civilian people, no not the rampant diseases ravaging the helpless, and no, not the fact that our world and the animals and all living things on it is being methodically and slowly destroyed by us. Nope, none of that. The really important and huge news last summer was that Michelle Obama had the unutterable gall to wear shorts on a blastingly hot day while visiting the Grand Canyon with her kids. Oh the horror!

The Internet was exploding with this appalling news, headlines screamed, radio and TV newscasts were afire, endless debates abounded. How dare she wear shorts and show her legs? She is the First Lady for the love of all that’s holy, not a normal woman who wants to feel cool on a terribly hot day. She showed the world her legs. Oh my. Hey, I knew she had legs. Didn’t anyone else?

People were cajoled into sending in their votes as to whether it was appropriate for Mrs. Obama to be comfortable and cool in shorts while strolling with her daughters on the rim of the Grand Canyon in the middle of summer. Votes? What is that all about anyway? Today in the news we hear anchor people asking us in the coziest of ways, leaning warmly toward the camera; “Come on folks, what you think about all this? Send in your votes. Let us know how you feel! Just call the toll-free number at the bottom of your screen. We’ll tell you in tomorrow’s newscast what the results were!”

Who cares?? Do people do that? Call in votes? Why? Does it change anything? Does anyone really care who votes and why and for whom and for what on those TV stories? Is it a silly ploy to make people think their votes matter in some way? That they’ll change anything? I think it’s a media trick to make us feel as if we’re all one big warm and fuzzy global family joined together in voting on issues that just don’t matter, like Ms. Obama showing her legs, or on other issues no one cares about, that won’t change anything and most certainly aren’t counted by anyone anyway.

But back to our friend Michelle O. Jackie O. wore sleeveless dresses all the time during the JFK years and the Ari Onassis years, and no one printed banner headlines about that. However, when Michelle exercised her right to bare arms (sorry, had to do it) the media exploded. Frantic votes were taken. Now let’s get truthful here; most women would kill and kill again to have the first lady’s long, beautiful muscular arms, but no, shock swept the land and while our world slowly falls to shards, the headlines screamed about Ms. Obama’s effrontery at showing her bare arms straight up to the shoulders. Gasp. She also took a whole lot of heat because last year she had the impertinence to meet a head of state wearing a beautiful black velvet pants suit instead of a proper skirt suit. Double gasp! Hey, Laura Bush wore them all the time. Hillary surely does. Women who have to stroll across daises and stages and other up-high places do themselves and the world a favor by not wearing skirts and high heels. Queen Elizabeth, take note. Please.

Is Michelle Obama a fashion leader? Do I know? OK, I’m not all that crazy about that big studded belt she favors cinched at the top of her rib cage, but maybe she likes it! Maybe she’s high-waisted. I just wish I had a waist. Do I wonder about her bolero styled too-tight cardigans? Maybe they’re in now. Maybe she knows something about fashion I don’t and will never learn. My fashion statements are outfits which are a mixture of ’57 retro, farm worker comfy, chic-nono, wrinkles, baggy, and Amish. I can’t make it work. Never could. Never will. Don’t want to.

Yeah it’s good to look as great as one can if that’s one’s goal, but not all of us have the gift of great fashion sense. And neither do many of our most famous fellow Americans. The very young, very sexy B. Spears perhaps was maybe thinking she was making a fashion statement when she flashed her Brazilian hoo-hah at the paparazzi as she swung out of her chauffeured car. Britney honey, if you’re reading this, that was no fashion statement, but it was most certainly just plain gross.

And speaking of the very famous showbiz folks; do you ever worry the gowns and jewels they wear when appearing on the red carpet out in Cauliflower (that’s how Schwarzenegger seems to pronounce “California”) might make the rest of the world pretty much hate us? Considering that the cost of one of those gowns could feed several third world families for months? Do you feel guilty about their swishing up that red carpet to those awards’ ceremonies wearing all that money on their backs? I do. Am I jealous? No, honestly not, except I wouldn’t mind having their bods.

And then comes so much press, articles, blogs, twitters, whatevers as to whether those showbiz folk should have worn what they wore. There are whole TV shows where panels of crazy people discuss and discuss and discuss those actress’s frocks. And again, they look into the cameras and ask for our votes of approval or disapproval. I don’t get it. Who cares if an actress wears a huge plaid bow on her butt and little else, or another wears what appears to be a giant, dead swan draped over her torso? But more importantly, why have we come to accept these stupid excesses in our country, and please tell me why these issues have risen to a level of such importance in our lives?

Click on  LC Van Savage for author's  bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Email LC at
See her on incredibleMAINE, MPBN,
10:30 AM Saturdays

Angel Whispers

November in the USA

November in the USA is in preparation of the Thanksgiving holiday that takes place on the fourth Thursday of the month. A lot of preparation goes in the holiday. Menus are planned, baking takes place and you can smell the aroma of apple pie being baked in the oven along with other familiar scents of the holiday. Travel plans are being made to visit family /friends for the four day holiday, whether traveling by car, train or plane. It is a time that families gather near or far, to prepare for this holiday of thanks and to show appreciation of one another also.

Coming from a large family, we meet at my parent’s house on Cape Cod and my siblings and families come from all the over USA to gather there for the weekend. Now we don’t all stay there, but we are in the area. There are a few traditions that we have kept the same since we were children. The food is pretty much traditional fare from that time along with contributions from the different families. My mother provides turkey, the stuffing, and of course the pies, and we bring the rest.

Not everyone is always here because of time, distance and family activities. But pretty much there is at least 30-33 of us together. They start arriving on the Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday. It is a fun time for all. The day of the holiday, I am driving to the cape with my husband to be there for noon and meanwhile the family already arrived on the cape have been to a Thanksgiving service at my parent’s place of worship. The aroma of turkey cooking is throughout the house and the thanksgiving parade is on the television being watched by the grandchildren. Grandma is making her pancakes for morning brunch to last ‘til the late afternoon turkey dinner.

It is no secret that our family likes Thanksgiving the best. We like it because it’s just a few days that we are able to spend time together without expecting anything in return. This year will be extra special as my Dad turns 80 earlier in the month. So we will celebrate his birthday and also my parent’s anniversary, which is on the28th of the month. This is the time when I feel we are grateful for all that we all have in our lives, for the love of our family and for the uniqueness of each family member. We are thankful for all that God has given to us this past year and for the many blessings that have been bestowed to us throughout the year. Most of all I feel we are thankful that we are together with each other catching up with the latest news of doings with the kids and the adults. Watching the game is a big thing and tuning into the wifi with our lappy’s to catch up what is going on in our worlds. It is just a time to be and to enjoy those that we have a connection with and enjoy being with.

The day after Thanksgiving we repeat the meal of the night before for more leftover turkey and trimmings and dessert. Saturday comes and we start to get back to our lives in traveling to our homes where ever we are. Memories of good food and family chatter stay with us one or two days later and remind us all of how thankful we are to be together when we are able to do so.

In writing of this scene of the holiday at the Cape I am reminded that the angels are truly with us on this weekend and that they have brought us through the times that have been difficult and trying. We were brought up with the angels and we were told about the goodness of our guardian angel. I am glad the angels have been with us through all these times. The angels are with you too and if you don’t think they are, ask them to be with you and see what happens … It may truly delight you. I wish all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA a wonderful holiday.

One last thought. We can all pick a day of thanksgiving and celebrate it with the traditional faire and with the ones we love. And there might be a holiday like this in your country but you don’t really celebrate this holiday, because life gets too busy. Try to pick a day for you and your family and see the many blessings this day will bring for you also. Sometimes I feel everyday should be a day of thanksgiving without the trimmings. Just a simple prayer of thanks to Our God and Source of all.

Wishing you the many blessings of the season.
May the angels be with you and your loved ones always.

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