Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Consider This

Love And Marriage -- Allowed For Some, Denied To Others

This week’s column; where to begin? I never write about anything political because I’m not smart enough or savvy enough to pull it off. I’m always far too short on research and facts and far too long on knee-jerk, and I suppose I’ll be accused that this column is all written with my knees. So be it. I’ve been accused of worse.

But knowing that about myself, I still have to write it. I’m awfully saddened by the recent voting against the human rights of people who simply want to be married and to enjoy the same rights and privileges as one-man, one-woman marriages have. “Same-sex marriages.”
That very phrase apparently shoots cold terror into the hearts of all citizens who cannot and will not ever be other-centered; it’s literally against their inner religion. Thus I’ll write about this, send it in, and hope for, well what? At the moment “hope” is pretty dim and I know this column will be considered a poor-loser whine. That’s cool. I have the right to whine after all, have I not? I also know people are getting “sick and tired” of this issue. That’s because they are heterosexual and can’t/won’t relate.

I feel terrible disappointment because once again, Gay people have been denied what straight people get to have automatically without ever having to fight for it. Gays just want what we want, but they can’t have those freedoms of choice and yet it’s the basic right of straight people to have them.

Yeah, I’ve read all the arguments as to why Gays should not be allowed to marry even though it’s really no one’s business, and in thousands of homes where there are two parents of the same sex, there are children who are happy, strong, and well-adjusted-- but I guess they don’t count. I guess there can only be happy kids if they have two parents of opposite sexes. Or perhaps two divorced parents of opposite sexes. Or perhaps a “properly” married couple of opposite sexes who frequently beat each other or their kids nearly to death. All is well I guess, as long as these kids have married parents, one male, one female.
Well, I’ll tell you one thing; of the Gay couples we know who have kids, I just wish we’d done half as good a job at raising our children as they did and do at raising theirs. Their kids, ours too, grew up to have responsible, productive lives and great families and guess what folks? No one ever “forced” those children to “become Gay.” Can’t happen. Not possible. Read about it; this news isn’t new.

And of course the really big argument against all this, they tell us, is the Bible which the YES people insist says within the pages of that sacred rule-book that marriage cannot ever be between two people of the same sex. (Must be one of the newer translations. I don’t think I ever read that part.) Yes, the Good Book they so solemnly thump, that 2000 year old book that tells us amongst many hundreds of similar tales we must emulate, a woman who is discovered to have not been a virgin when she married must be stoned to death. Deuteronomy 22:22. (If people abided by the Bible today and followed that rule, we’d be clear out of stones.) Was that the Good Book on which they relied? The book that amongst many, many other things speaks of two naked people, an apple and a talking snake making the world the bad place it is today? That book? Wow. But at least one person in Eden was female and the other was male. Heterosexual, right? Do we know that?

And let’s chat about all those commercials stating our kids would be “taught homosexuality in school” or the really horrifying fear that marriage between two people of the same sex will also be “taught in the schools” along with the students being educated on what Gay people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. What? I mean what???? Have straight marriage and straight sexual habits been taught in our schools all these years? It has? What’s the name of that course? No one told me. Our kids never said a word. How odd! But, according to those scare commercials, homosexual marriage will be a taught subject. You’re kidding, right? Would special teachers be hired to teach those courses? Betcha they wouldn’t be Gay.
So can someone out there tell me why this vote thing has happened? I am sick and ashamed today that the world thinks that in my beloved Maine we’d do this kind of thing to good people who love one another and only want what rights we get to have by birth. They are once again not allowed to have normal freedoms, normal lives, or normal acceptances, so say the YES folks.

Maine took some pretty bad hits on all major networks the night after it happened, while lots of the self-righteous leaders of the YES mobs insisted on camera their YES campaign was not at all about hate. Oh come on. Please.

I can just hear the people from away saying once again that Maine is a backward state where no one does anything except to carve seagulls or make quilts and that the residents certainly don’t keep up with the times or the Times and probably don’t even read any newspapers at all. So wrong. Maine is such a progressive, educated and glorious place to live, extremely productive and modern where it has to be, and has everything anyone could ever possibly want to live a healthy, safe, informed and good life. So please tell me why Maine can’t do the right thing and grant equal rights to everyone? Who really was behind this huge fight? Who had all the money and the clout? Who promoted the fear? I know. You know.

Look. Marriage is about love, right? But the YES vote is about fear and hate. I will try to sympathize with those who fear, but I have no sympathy for those who promote groundless hatred. Religions preach love and acceptance, do they not? So because of this vote, may I infer that they are failing in what they preach?

Why do some humans feel entitled to deny the rights of other humans? They seem to have a genuine problem, do they not, in being able to walk in another’s moccasins, and particularly in Gay moccasins?

Email LC at lcvs@suscom-maine.net
See her on “incredibleMAINE”
on Saturdays at 10:30 AM on MPBN.
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Questions, Questions


Is there a question I should ask
That is keeping me from beginning my special task? 
Is there something that I should see
That is keeping me from what I should be?

What is setting the limits of my view?
I know it is me, and certainly not you--

Why does my ego tempt me to pride
Am I only trying to hitch a ride?

What do I deny that I should know--
Is it what I should say or where I should go?

Who says I cannot enter this life?
Only myself who insists upon strife--

What within me is staying concealed
That once unmasked would see me healed?

How can I call upon ease and grace
And keep contentment upon my face?

Is fear keeping me from going deeper?
No, only I can be my keeper.
©2008  Mary E. Adair 

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Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those

Who are also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
And they can become your blessings.
Author Unknown It’s o.k. to say thank you!  

My Mozart Rondo

A Mozart rondo I’ve been playing
More than fifty years
Accuses me again from my piano rack,
Reminding me how often I’ve abused it.

I’ll launch into the starting chords,
Rush along for several frantic bars,
Then get my fingers tangled
On the first chromatic run.

I’ll cuss and fumble to the repetition,
Take it from the top,
Then blow the entire piece
The second time!

But I know I shouldn’t fuss,
For how many things in life
Will afford me endless ops
To do them over?

©2006 By John I. Blair 

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Bottom Feeders

Bottom feeders eating other bottom feeders
Straight through the ground
Never making any sounds
Bottom feeders acting like trick or treaters
The rise and the fall
Endless charades in the stall

Why don't you grow up and not act so strange
Why don't you get a life and get on this same page
Why don't you take an inch instead of taking a mile
Why don't you wipe away the horrid look and wear a basic smile

Bottom feeders eating other bottom feeders
Living out their days
Eating the plenty and the strays

Bottom feeders living like bottom feeders
Nothing is ever learned
The innocent get burned

Why don't you grow up and not act so strange
Why don't you get a life and get on this same page
Why don't you take an inch instead of taking a mile
Why don't you wipe away the horrid look and wear a basic smile

And it goes on and on and on
©11/5/09  Bruce Clifford
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Explosions In The Night

Explosions in the night.
I wonder, should I look
Or simply speculate,

Explaining to myself
The night’s so black
I’d see no hard rain fall,

Wouldn’t see a thing
But flashes on the trees,
Descending into darkness.

Window blinds closed tight,
All the lamps bright lit,
I can think I’m safe inside.

But a quick glance down the hall
Reveals an undefended pane
Admitting night is in the yard.

©2007  John I. Blair

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Extravagant Love Song

True love is forever.
I’ve heard this said.

So many times
My mind grew numb,
Indifferent, incredulous.
More fool me.

Repeating may not make
A saying true,
But neither does it
Give the lie.

For I love you
In my meat, my bones,
My molecules,
My every atom.

And as my atoms
Go out to the universe again
They will form starstuff,
Radiant, eternal.

Then will my love
Forever be.

©2005  John I. Blair

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Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh My

In 1944 my mother
Took me and my brother to the zoo –
A small zoo in a small park
With a small budget.

It was during World War II
And people craved amusement,
Even if the best that they could do
Was stare at animals staring back.

I was too young to comprehend
Why the breeze smelled so bad,
Too young to feel
How sad it was to watch

The proud cats pacing
Two steps one way, two another,
Trapped in their tiny, filthy cages,
Scarcely twelve by twelve;

The bears, groaning
As they licked at sores
Worn by endless rubbing
And sniffed the sour ammonia air;

And the monkeys, worst of all,
Seeming in despair, no longer cared
What they did, peeing, defecating
In their food, their water.

We hurried through the rest,
Grimaced at the alligators,
Stopped our ears
Against the roars, the screams.

After, by the duck pond,
A cool drink from a fountain
Helped us to forget, released
Some smiles just for our Kodak.

©2009 John I. Blair

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Ferry At Night, Port Aransas

We’ve traveled through the countryside all day.
Now it’s night, and for our final miles
Only oleanders along the way
And railings now and then
Shield us from the watery waste
That spreads beyond the mainland.

At the edge of Earth
Abruptly the pavement ends
And from the inky blackness
A boat draws near.
It bumps up to the road rim,
And a man in a yellow coat
Motions us to come aboard
Where we sit until the load is filled.

Shuddering, the vessel shoves off,
Rocking with the waves, forging forward
While yellow coat keeps watch.

But he is not Charon,
There is no triple-headed dog,
And this is not Hades. Instead,
As suddenly as we set out,
We arrive at the glittering lights
On the farther shore,
Down drops the boat ramp,
And we drive into Paradise by the sea.

©2002  John I. Blair

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Season of Laughter

Season of laughter
Take a bow
The quiet and lonely
Get through this somehow The echo of noise
Visions of the sound
The silent whispers
Walk together and proud
I can't make you change
Thinking of doing so is driving me mad
If you knew what I was going through
You still won't understand
Just where you and I stand
Season of laughter
Tomorrow comes around
Always remembering
Your will to defend
Season of laughter
Season of cries
Season of belonging
Season of knowing why
I can't make you change
Thinking of doing so is driving me mad
If you knew what I was going through
You still won't understand
Just where you and I stand
©11/20/09 Bruce Clifford
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Should I Meditate

Should I meditate or play Suduko
Sometimes I really don't seem to know

Putting worries up on a mental shelf
Could give me some time unto myself

And storing them there 'til a later date
Leaving them there as long as they'll wait--

The main idea is to shut off the mind
With what's ahead of the thoughts behind

It's not illegal and might save my hide
For a moment, to let the chores slide

For taking a nap was my G'ma's way
To level things out, calm down her day

Adjust the attitude, brighten the thoughts
Instead of dwelling on all the 'naughts'

To establish as routine I can't do
To keep me steady and not so blue

Since work with numbers is my vocation
Sudoko's not a real vacation

I'll listen to the cd for awhile
And if I doze off, don't you dare smile

For maybe it's a ticket to a nap
To set my mind sailing through the gap

Between this old world and the other side
Where joy and peace are said to reside--

So then I'll come back fresh as a daisy--
Though you thought I was being lazy!

©Nov 30, 2009 Mary E. Adair

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You And I

Let me tell you why
All the reasons we are left here to cry
All I can think about is when you and I
You and I Let me tell you why
All the enemies who left us here to die
All I can think about are all the reasons why
You and I
You and I remain on my finger tips
You and I are always the last words from my lips
You and I no matter how hard we try
You and I
You and I
You and I
Let me hear you say
All the things that got in our way
All I can remember is wanting to pray
You and I
You and I
You and I
Let me tell you why
All those many nights hung out left to dry
All I could think about was you and I
You and I
©11/26/09 Bruce Clifford
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Angel Whispers

In thinking about what I wanted to write about this month, I decided it had to be some sort of Christmas message that the angels wanted me to give to all of you. Then I thought of writing/channeling a poem or writing about the commercialization of Christmas. Then I thought about how Jesus would tell us how he thought about how we celebrated his special day. Did he have some suggestions as to how make changes or to make it better?
After some thinking about this column for this month I decided I would write a letter to Jesus wishing him a Happy Birthday and thanking him for his love to all on this earth plane.
Dear Jesus, I wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday on the 25th of this month. You have done so much for us and helped us in many ways, throughout the ages. Thank you for your love and support.
As I am writing this I am seeing a stream of water with a bridge over it. There is a clearing on the opposite shore and I am sitting down with you. We are having a conversation about the state of the world. I feel that you are a bit sad as we discuss this and I see that you are a bit frustrated with all that is happening, in the world today.
You are speaking of peace and love. You are speaking of the clarity that all men need to embrace so that peace can be brought into the world on a permanent basis. You are talking of acceptance of all mankind and how love is the key to peace. We are all one and there is but one God and he has different names. “My father asks that you truly see this for the sake of peace on this earth.”
We go over to the water and we see a waterfall close by. We go behind the waterfall and we sit on a rock and let the water spray all around us. As this is happening, bright light appears all around us and the angels surround us. Archangel Raphael is upon us watching the healing take place. His words to me are, “Be at peace my child, for you are a child of God.”
We walk back to the bench near the stream. As we sit there we are feeling very peaceful and loved. Jesus takes my hand and gives me a message. (What is your message?) He then says I have to go, but I leave you in peace and with much love.
Archangel Michael is walking beside me as I travel down the path. As he walks with me he sheds some feathers which cover the path. Then I notice an army of angels behind us who are also covering the path with feathers. Songs of praise and songs of peace and love are being chanted by the angels.
Thank you dear Jesus for listening to me and for helping me to understand what you would like for the world at this time. I wish you a Happy Birthday and know you are loved. Thank you for this vision as I have been writing to you.
Thank you for all that you do and all that you are,
Happy Holidays everyone. Love and Light

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Cookin' With Leo

Sister in Law as Guest Cook

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 b├ęchamel 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 b├ęchamel 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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Editor's Corner


The first day of December finds your editor scrambling to do all that is required of her in about eight different fields. One of the most important of these is keeping up with the doctor appointments for the household and seeing that the proper meds are taken at the proper time. Ah the joys of adulthood! That is the period between those years you long to be old enough not to be told you are Not old enough and when you wish you were still yearning for that status. So much of our life seems to be demands that have to be filled, rather than choosing which fulfillment we wish to demand.
Nonetheless, Thanksgiving was lovely and the first time we have spent it at home instead of traveling in many years. Sister shared some thoughts her company saluted their employees with as reminders for expressing sufficient gratitude in our daily lives. (OK, ok, I'm grateful that I'm the one counting out the pills, still capable of processing the information given by the doctors, etc., and able to care for myself and my loved ones.) You can see part of their message in the poem "Be Thankful."
Your editor is also thankful she can still enjoy penning verses and jotted down "Should I Meditate" while in waiting room while the cooking editor had some lab tests done. The other one by her is "Questions, questions." Bruce Clifford adds three poems to the lot with "You and I," "Bottom Feeders," and "Season of Laughter."
John I. Blair sends along a half dozen verses written over the years, with the latest scarcely two weeks ago. Our most prolific poet is also a romantic one and I was moved by the "Extravagant Love Song" for December. The remaining poems by him are: "Ferry At Night, Port Aransas," "Whooping Cranes," "My Mozart Rondo," "Explosions In The Night," and "Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh My." (The zoo poem pretty much echoed my own childhood trip to the Seattle one during WWII when ration cards were used for meat, sugar, gasoline, and many other essentials, so we realize now what was the problem.)
The article "World's Greatest Invention" is by LC Van Savage who also is the columnist for "Consider This." Her column gives her a chance to air her feelings about Love and Marriage; you may share her viewpoint.
Other columnists this issue are:
    Peg Jones from Massachusetts with a special letter in her column "Angel Whispers."
    Leo C. Helmer featuring a Guest Cook (your editor's sister Melinda Cohenour) in "Cookin' With Leo"
    Mattie Lennon speaks of a worthy gift from Ireland, just in time for Christmas in"Irish Eyes"
    Thomas F. O'Neill from China, shares his "Songs of Angels" for his Christmas focus in "Introspective"
    Gerard Meister who usually does "Thinking Out Loud" is playing hooky this issue, and we will be happy to see him back in swing next month.
We continue to offer a place 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 January 2010 !

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Songs of Angels

She listened somberly as the Priest read the prayers at the graveside. Her mother’s casket was slowly being lowered into the ground. A six year old girl grasped her Mother’s arm as the Priest slowly walked toward them, “She is with Jesus, now,” he said, but his religious platitudes rang hollow for the woman who just buried her mother. The Priest’s words and manner seemed somewhat rehearsed to Sally Stoner.
She tried desperately to hold back her tears, “Don’t cry, Mommy,” her daughter whispered.
Her family, friends, and neighbors walked stoically by her side as they turned from the graveside. They then quickly gathered at Sally’s home and spoke openly about her Mother. They shared food with one another it was their way of showing that they truly care for each other.
They shared stories as well about the old neighborhood were Sally and her friends grew up. She is one of the few that stayed behind in her hometown. Most of her friends after graduating high school and college left for better opportunities and a better life. They knew it was a rough year for Sally and her daughter, Morgan.
husband had left her, and the outsourcing of the local plant left her unemployed. Now the death of her mother only added to the fact that life was beating her down. She drew on every fiber of strength though, to remain strong for her daughter. She wanted desperately for Morgan to have a better life and future.
“Remember old Mr. Pompasko,” Sally’s cousin Fred said, “He taught Ninth grade English, whatever happened to him.”
“He retired long ago,” said Sally, “I remember the fun we had. The tricks we played on him. Remember when we glued his chalk to the chalkboard?”
“Boy did he get mad,” said another cousin, “I was too scared to laugh after that look he gave me.”
“Everything was so different then, the whole town is different now,” said Fred, “It sure changed from when we were kids.”
“I know,” said one of Sally’s neighbors, “this town is going downhill really fast.”
“I would give anything to move from here,” Sally said, “I want my Morgan to have better opportunities.”
“Nixon is resigning,” yelled Sally’s Uncle who was sitting in front of the TV, “do you believe it? Gerry Ford is taking over.”
“I don’t necessarily see Nixon resigning as the end of the world, Mr. Shishitski,” said Fred, “in a matter of time he would have been impeached.”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” said Sally’s uncle, “but Gerry Ford taking over, what the hell is this country coming to?”
Sally and the others continued to reminisce and laugh about their childhood experiences. The conversations stirred up deep feelings and emotions. Sally’s feelings welled up to the surface and she was unable to hold back her tears. She began to tell them stories about her father who immigrated to America from Poland. Like most of the immigrants in their hometown, they’d come there to work deep in the coal mines. But when Sally’s Mother died the coal mines had closed for twenty some years and their hometown has been on the decline ever since.
The stories stirred up some of her earliest memories as well. She told them how her father would sing Polish songs to her when she was her daughter Morgan’s age. One song in particular was of an Angel watching over a young orphan child. He sang the songs with such passion, love, and warmth. She still remembers how he would hold her in his arms as he sang. She would try and sing along with him. It was her father’s way of putting her to bed. The memories brought her both comfort and pain though, because her father passed away when she was only seven years old.
His body had been laid out in the living room and she could remember the miners dressed in their Sunday suits coming to pay their last respects. Her father only had one suit and that was the suit he was buried in. She had also grasped her mother’s arm at the cemetery the day her Father was buried.
At the age of seven she tried desperately to write the words of the songs her father sang to her. The harder the little girl tried the more the tears flowed. Her Polish mother held the grieving child in her arms. She told Sally, “Your father will always sing to you,” as she wiped the tears from Sally’s face. “Your father’s love will always be with you,” her mother told her once again in Polish.
While holding young Sally with all of her might, “his love will always be sung to you, you will see,” said her Mother with certainty, “Like the Angels in his songs, he is with you.” Young Sally with all of her might believed her Mother’s words. The thought of her Father watching over her like an Angel brought her great comfort.
A few days after her mother’s funeral, she moved into her Mother’s home. The house brought back so many recollections. They were memories of relatives and her Mother’s friends that have also passed away over the years. The memories came with each new discovery of old postcards, photos, and old letters from bygone days. Sally was an only child and the thought of not being able to talk to her mother weighed heavily on her.
It was just a few days after she moved, she enrolled her daughter in a new school. She was very much concerned about how Morgan was handling the change. Morgan’s father was no longer in the picture either. That just compounded the feeling of abandonment. She felt that she and Morgan were now alone in the world.
Sally decided a few weeks later to visit the school once again. She talked to Morgan’s homeroom teacher, Miss Crone.
“Morgan is such a bright little girl with an extraordinary imagination,” Miss Crone told her.
“My only concern” said Morgan’s teacher, “is your daughter has been sitting with the children during recess rather than playing the games they normally play. When I questioned them about it, Morgan said a nice man is singing songs to them. There’s never a man there singing. The others sing along with Morgan all huddled together. It’s been going on ever since your daughter arrived at our School. Her over active imagination is having an effect on the other children.”
“That doesn’t sound like my Morgan,” said Sally.
Sally called her daughter over to ask her, “Who’s the man that sings songs to you.”
“He’s such a nice man, Mommy, funny, and kind,” said Morgan. “He’s teaching me Polish too. He sings to me in Polish, and then he explains the songs to me in English.”
“That is what I mean,” said Miss. Crone, “your daughter has an extraordinary imagination.”
“How does this man look, Morgan?” Sally asked.
“He has a brown suit with stripes and a purple hanky sticking out of his pocket.” Morgan went on to say “he wears the same suit every day.”
Tears began to well up in Sally’s eyes as she knelt down to talk to Morgan.
“It’s normal for children to make up stories,” said Miss Crone.
“What songs does he sing to you,” Sally asked her with a tear rolling down her cheeks.
“Don’t cry, Mommy, they are happy songs,” Morgan said to her, “they are about angels and love. You find out at the end of one of the songs that only the children can see the Angel.”
“Wait here, Mommy,” said Morgan, as she ran over to her desk and grabbed her book bag. She then quickly ran back to her mother and pulled out a notebook from her bag and handed it to her.
“I wrote the songs down for us,” said Morgan, “one song is about an Angel watching over a young child but only children can see the Angel. The songs are about love.”
Sally began to wipe the tears from her face and she said to Miss Crone, “those were the songs my father sang to me when I was a little girl. I tried so hard to write down the words to his songs after his death. My mother told me his love would never leave me and I believed her.”
“Where did you get those songs, Morgan? At your nana’s house?” asked Miss. Crone.
“No the nice man sang them to me and he told me to write them down so I did,” said Morgan, “He said the songs are for the children.”
“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Stoner, I will get to the bottom of this and find out who that man is,” Miss Crone said.
“That’s quite alright I know who that man is,” said Sally, “and he can visit Morgan and the other children whenever he wants.”
As Morgan was walking home with her mom, she said, “Mommy that is Pappy that comes to my school isn’t it?”
“Yes it is,” said Sally.
“You are so lucky to have him as a daddy,” said Morgan.
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.

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Irish Eyes

Hand’s Turn

My late mother became visually impaired when I was a child. So, from an early age I was aware of the hardships of a person who was deprived of the gift of sight. During decades working in public transport I witness, almost on a daily basis, the value of the Guide-dog to those who live in a world of darkness. So it’s wonderful to see that Irish Guide Dogs will receive most of the proceeds from sales of a CD which has been brought out by an Irish sporting legend. Who is he?
If I said “Swindon Town”, “Dundalk FC” and “Portsmouth FC” you’d have a fair idea. And if I threw in “Shelbourne FC” or “Limerick United” you probably wouldn’t need to phone a friend but if I said “twenty caps for Ireland” (even without mentioning “Irish National Team Manager” or “1980 Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Personality of the Year Award”) you’d know I was talking about Eoin Hand.
You are all well aware of Eoin’s prowess in places as far apart as Limerick, South Africa and Saudi Arabia but have you heard him sing?
His CD was launched by Jimmy Magee in Dublin's oldest pub "The Brazen Head". (Both Robert Emmet and Thomas Moore stayed there.) The pub holds special memories for Eoin as he was born there in 1946. His mother, Monica, ran the pub in the 1930s and '40s. She died in May this year and Eoin recorded “After the Ball” in her memory . It was recorded live in John B Keane's pub in Listowel. It’s produced by another legend, singer/songwriter and Fermanagh man exiled in Kerry, Mickey McConnell.
Eoin says, “My mother had asked through Pauline, my wife, if he could make up a collection featuring me singing some of her favourite songs. This lead to a very enjoyable live recording and sparked the idea to release it to the public for charity.”
The album has fourteen tracks, twelve songs, and two of Eoin’s own recollections “Lessons Along the Way” and “Reminiscences,”in which he proves his love for his mother, his natural talent as a storyteller and his capacity to forgive, (even the “bastard” who de-tuned his banjo on the night of his stage debut when he was twelve years of age.)
Brendan Behan once said that he was a drinker with a writing problem. Well, Eoin Hand is a singer/raconteur who happened to play football. Listening to this born storyteller I couldn’t help wondering if he was still Ireland manager at the time of the “hand-of-frog” would he have had a more colourful comment than Mr. Trapattoni?
Apart from the vocal and instrumental talent the inside sleeve is a collector’s piece. We are treated to a gallery of photographs of Eoin in the company of fellow-celebrities such as Jackie Charleton, Ron Greenwood, the late Luke Kelly and George Best. Eoin (who is not at all impressed by Wikipedia’s revelation that his full name is, Eoin Kevin Joseph Colin Hand) is lavish in his praise of Jim Gornall, Wayne Tarran, David O’ Brien, John O’Brien, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Richard Casey and others involved in this very worthy project.
Eoin is now living in Moyvane, Co.Kerry and Paddy Coyle, Regional Development Manager (North East), Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, told me, “Eoin has allocated a supply of CDs to St. John's Arts Centre, Listowel, which will be sold locally, for their benefit. All other sales nationwide are for the benefit of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.” (On 24th November there was a “Kerry launch” in Saint John’s Art Centre, Listowel, with “The Bomber” Liston and the Sam Maguire Cup in attendance.)

Eoin with Joe Murphy at the "Kerry launch."
Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind relies almost exclusively on voluntary activity and donations for the bulk of its income. Today, 15% of its annual income comes from statutory agencies with the remainder from fundraising activities and donation. Currently, there are 171 working guide dogs in Ireland.
In 2008, work commenced on the €4,5 million redevelopment of the Headquarters in Model Farm Road and Training Centre aimed at increasing the organisation’s capacity to provide services to an increased number of clients. All their services are provided free of charge and they rely heavily on volunteers to support them through fund raising, the raising of dogs, and in many other ways.
They need your help and you are wondering what to get that special person for Christmas. Why not give them a “Hand.”
“After the Ball” is available
(the recommended donation is €15)
from http://www.guidedogs.ie
or lo-call 1850 506 300.

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The Greatest Invention Ever

Back when I was in college, and yes Virginia, they had colleges back then, I had my own radio show. Well, “my own” might be a tiny stretch—it was a course I opted to take called “Radio” because the other choices were calculus, chemistry, or law. I knew I’d pretty much excel at any of those offered curricula, but Radio was offered after 5 PM and even back then I did not believe in mornings, and particularly mornings that involved textbooks. So I signed on because that radio course actually gave credits, and I became a radio personality although I’m not sure anyone ever called me that except me. It was fun. I learned a lot, and I loved (and still love) being on the radio and would almost kill to be able do it again because, and the reasons are obvious, it really doesn’t matter how you look when you’re on the radio. You can be snaggle-toothed, ratty-haired, fetid, and covered with running sores the cause of which can’t be identified, but as long as your voice sounds good, and you can do commercials with some enthusiasm, you’re OK. I so wish I had my own radio show again—I’ve had 3, but luckily never had to learn “the board.” Someone else did that for me. Radio rocks!
But that’s not the point of this column, so just about here I’ll kind of gently segue over to the real subject; safety pins. OK, that was a pretty abrupt segue, but here’s the deal. When I was doing that radio show during my college years, Mr. George, our radio teacher guy, wanted us to interview a large number of people wandering around the campus for Parents’ Weekend about what they thought was the most important invention of the modern world. Some tried to be really brainy, spouting off things like Mr. Einstein’s theory, or maybe trying to be amusing like saying “toilet paper” or “the church key” (ask your grandfather) but one woman (it would of course be a woman) gave the best answer; “the safety pin.” And she was right. The safety pin is probably one of the best inventions ever.
Now be honest; how many of us have been grateful to have found a safety pin when the elastic in our underpants suddenly gave way in the middle of our very first date or as we’re walking toward a lectern? But then this isn’t a column about the badzillions of uses this gizmo has, most of which are in emergency situations; it’s about the history of that small bit of bent, pointed metal. And I’ll bet you’re really interested in the history of the safety pin. Am I right? Well, lucky you, I’m about to provide that.
Nope, sorry, we Americans did not invent the safety pin. It’s thought that the thing was created about 3K+ years ago in Central Europe. It began as a curved wire, probably bronze, with the point exposed which was likely a bit painful when people flew into an embrace, forgetting they were holding their garments together with that sharply pointed bit of wire. Ouch. Something obviously had to be done. Too much blood was letting.
Sumerians had created straight pins made of iron and bone and from their extant writings, they apparently invented the eye in those pins so they could be used for sewing. My second grade teacher, however, taught us that cave people used to thread some sinew, preferably not a family member’s, although maybe, into a sharpened bone with a hole in one end, and with that, stitched skins together, preferably not a family member’s, although maybe. And, some ancient writings on some cave walls somewhere show pierced fish spines for sewing.
Anyway, somewhere around the sixth century BC, Greek people used something pretty close to our safety pins of today. Togas and robes were a bear to keep on, especially on very windy days, so they fastened their robes with belts or ropes around their middles, and on the top of one shoulder with a thing called a “fibula” which until this instant I thought was a bone in the leg or somewhere. Well, the joke’s on me; apparently it’s both. Boy, you sure do learn a lot when you write a column. Anyway, this pin at the shoulders of Greek ladies, was a kind of coiled metal thing which would clasp together with tension and had a spring-open option. Man, you can always count on a smart Greek, right? Lord or Lady Grecian could then stroll with confidence around Athens or wherever Greeks’ favorite stroll areas were, and not be afraid they’d find themselves suddenly dishabille in the middle of something Olympics.
Your Greeks also used straight pins for ornamental jewelry. They could be made of anything valuable; ivory, bronze, and were called “stilettos.” And you thought those were shoes worn by hookers, right? This time the joke’s on you!
Pins were a huge deal way, way back. Always treasured, and in short supply, taxes were levied on the poor (nothing’s changed, right?) so that feudal lords could have money for pins. Pins became so important to people that they were hoarded and therefore became very expensive, so a law was passed that they could only be sold on certain days of the year. Women assiduously saved up their “pin money” so they could buy them on the allowed days. Then the price of pins dropped and “pin money” began to mean a wife’s pocket money, a tiny amount of lucre with which she could only afford to buy pins, because they were now not so important and therefore cheap.
The safety pin with its safety cover at one end began to gain in popularity and in fact became a tidy business for a couple of thousand years but then, uh oh, someone invented buttons, and safety pins as a clothing necessity began to go the way of the buggy whip. OK, maybe not that extreme. We don’t use buggies anymore, but we sure do use pins. I have a treasured collection of old diaper pins I use all the time; to hold my dust ruffle around my mattress, to pin tight my skirt waistbands when I lose weight, (I know what you’re thinking. Be nice.) To pin gloves together. To pin keys together. To pin together the cases on the electric hotpad covers I make that I keep under every chair in my house and in our bed because my feet are blue with cold for 10 months a year. TMI, right?
Just the right size, diaper pin uses are multifold in my home, along with Velcro, fishing line and Duct Tape. But just try to find old diaper pins with plastic shields on their ends anymore. And while you’re at it, try to find the old cloth diapers we used those pins on. Alas, I guess they’ve gone into the buggy whip and ear trumpet museums. But I’m OK. I have squirreled away many precious diaper pins and no one will ever find them. I’ll never share them either, so don’t ask.

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Email LC at lcvs@suscom-maine.net
See her on incredibleMAINE, MPBN,
10:30 AM Saturdays

Whooping Cranes

We stand upon the boat deck
Drifting slowly in the channel
At Aransas
Looking at the birds.

The captain tells us all the facts—
How many birds are here,
How many in the world this year.

They come in pairs or threesomes,
Having flown with mighty wings
Two thousand miles from Canada
To find one final sheltering place
Of all the coastal flats they once inhabited.

Oh, how lordly they do stand!
As tall as many men, regal, white,
Posing upon the marsh as if they still ruled here.

We know that they are fugitives,
Adrift precariously in the present world.
But as other royal refugees have done
They manage yet an air of majesty
Even in perilous times.
©2002 John I. Blair
Dec 2009 Publication in "Pencil Stubs Online"