Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Editor's Corner

November 2010

Every word was once a poem. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

Love that thought of Emerson's, but have certain doubts as to the veracity. Lots of words, likely unpoetic, probably flew tonite into the air above Arlington's Ranger field as the San Francisco Giants took home the World Series trophy. Although it was the first time for them to do so since 1954, there were few moments when they didn't outplay the Rangers. All the young players for both teams have mighty futures ahead of them.

Sports have definitely distracted your editor this past month, and this issue of the ezine will come out a bit tardy. When it is released, you readers have many treats in store, among them the on-going tale from Mark Crocker with Part One of Chapter Five of Rabbo Tales.

Our outstanding article this issue, written by Leo C. Helmer with the permission of the featured personality, belongs in Helmer's historical Country Music category telling about the career of "Bill Anderson," 'Whisperin' Bill.

Bruce Clifford's poetry sings to us in "She Told Me," "Then It Goes Dark," "It's Greek To Me," "Fork In The Road," and "What is She Doing with Him?" Your editor put on her rhyming hat and submitted "Need Coffee," and MJMansfield, aka FireEagle to his chat friends, adds two of his poems, "Spider" and "I Was Thinking."

LC Van Savage who has a book of poetry published sent one of her verses for us to show, "Life Is---."
John I. Blair's poems for November are "Center," "How Soon I'll Forget," "Like A Tortoise," "Loving," "On Equal Ground," and "Pillbug."

"Always Looking - Genealogy Wars" is John I. Blair's column; "Angel Whispers" written by Boston area's Peg Jones, has inspirational thoughts. "Consider This" belongs to LC Van Savage; "Cookin' With Leo" comes from Leo C. Helmer; "Thinking Out Loud" lets Gerard Meister share some humor.

With "Introspective" from Thomas F. O'Neill now located in China, and Mattie Lennon of Dublin, Ireland, doing the "Irish Eyes" column, we add an international flavour.

This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter. We invite you to become a fan of our publication at FaceBook.

See you in December!

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

Monday, November 1, 2010

Angel Whispers

Random moments of Inspiration are always present in our lives

I really depend on the angels for inspiration for my monthly column writing, here at Pencil Stubs. Now writing with the angels is cool when you think of it but it can be very crazy too. I say that because I usually have no clue what I am going to be writing until the fingers hit the keyboard. It's all about trust. Trusting what you are hearing deep in your heart. When you are trusting deep in your heart, you are hearing your higher self speak. This is your true self-speaking. Your true self is the personality above the everyday masks we wear in our everyday lives. That is understandable because none of us want to be ridiculed or harmed in any way. So we put on our public mask and live in a way that is not truly who we are. It's who we want to show to others in a way that is safe.

Our higher self lives in our heart. In our heart, there is only love peace and serenity. It is where we meet our angels and where our higher power is, whom I call God. I use all the letters in his name. I have nothing to hide. I do not quite understand why some people write G_d.

How can I get to this heart place when I need to go there? I just imagine my angels and God present with me. . I feel their love and know I am there. Sometimes I listen to a visual meditation and bring myself to a place where I am relaxed and where I am completely calm. This helps me get to the heart place of where God and my Angels are.

I am not sure why my angels tonight want me to talk about this for November’s issue of Pencilstubs. I feel maybe sometimes the hustle and bustles of our everyday lives are so packed full of activity that we don’t make time for ourselves to really hear what our higher self has to say, on any particular day. Maybe you do not want to hear what will be said, because it may be negative or demeaning. If this is what you are hearing then God or the Angels are not speaking to you. It is probably your ego speaking, thinking that it has to protect you for some reason.

Have you ever had a thought that was inspirational to you, but you didn’t know how the thought would have come to you? Two days later you hear a friend speak of this to you too and then that evening you hear something on the radio about it… You find the idea to be refreshing, fun and really possible for this idea to happen…… You find that you encounter the right people and before you know it the vision you had in your mind has been manifested. You can be sure that the angels had helped you on your way with this idea. They helped you to find the right people and to be at the right place at the right time.

Sometimes it is a feeling or it is a knowing or is something that you see or hear that helps you to form your vision. The angels play a big part helping with inspiration in manifesting our hopes, dreams, and our experiences.. They are with us since infancy and they never leave us. It is up to us to acknowledge their presence in our lives. We hear about the angels more now than ever before. It because they know we are ready to let them in our lives.

Inspiration, “In Spirit” is something we all possess and when we are aware of this we can watch our inspiration grow with love, peace and compassion. We see how the healing in our life is taking place and we can nurture ourselves with love peace and compassion. We all deserve to feel at peace and to live the dreams we have been inspired by. Our life is a path of wisdom and through our different experiences; we can see the growth that has occurred in our life. This is something we all go through and each time we learn something that is powerful and enlightening, more dreams and visions are manifested. Our journey is our own and we all experience different paths. Yet our goal is the same…….

What are the things that inspire you the most? Do you make use of your inspirational thoughts and how do you go about doing this? Is it through writing or through poetry? Or is it through drawing or painting? Through speaking or through singing? Are you able to use your inspiration in your everyday job or with others? We all have the capacity for inspiration. Let your dreams be your realities. Enjoy the journey of your life and always know the possibilities are endless.

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

Bill Anderson

If you want to get attention just whisper

Although “Whispering Bill” Anderson is not associated to Western Swing as the stars that I have been writing about such as Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Spade Cooley and others over the past several years, it seems about time to expand my ‘nearsighted’ imagery and tell the stories of all the greats in The Music of the West, or Western Music, or as the term implies Country Music, the implication being that as opposed to Pop, Jazz, Classical, or whatever, country means Cowboy songs, Range songs, the kind of music Jimmy Rodgers fathered in the late ‘20s and the stuff that came out of the ‘Grand Ol’ Opry’ since 1924. Well, it is different. Country Music has a story, the rest have orchestration and singers. So let’s start with a great story teller, composer, and singer.

Bill Anderson ‘if you want to get attention just whisper’ has been using that philosophy for almost fifty years to capture the attention of millions of country music fans around the world, en route to becoming a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of the most popular, most enduring entertainers of our time.

“Whispering Bill”, a nickname was hung on him years ago as a result of his breathy voice and his warm, soft approach to singing a country song. His credentials, however, shout his prominence: One of the most awarded songwriters in the history of country music, a million-selling recording artist many times over, television game show host, network soap opera star, spokesman for a nationwide restaurant chain, and a consummate onstage performer.

Bill Anderson was born in Columbia, South Carolina, but spent most of his growing-up years around Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, having worked his way through college as a disc jockey on nearby radio stations. It was while he was still in school that he began performing and writing songs. At the age of nineteen he composed the country classic, “City Lights,” my favorite, and began rapidly carving his place in musical history.

He moved to Nashville, Tennessee, secured a recording contract with Decca Records, and began turning out hit after hit with songs like “Po’Folks,” “Mama Sang A Song,” “The Tips Of My Fingers,” “8X10,” and the unforgettable country and pop smash, “Still.” His compositions were recorded by such diverse musical talents as Ray Price, Porter Wagoner, James Brown, Debbie Reynolds, Ivory Joe Hunter, Kitty Wells, Faron Young, Lawrence Welk, Dean Martin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Walter Brennan and many others.

Bill Anderson has been voted Songwriter Of The Year six times, Male Vocalist Of The Year, half of the Duet Of The Year with both Jan Howard and Mary Lou Turner, has hosted and starred in the Country Music Television Series Of The Year, seen his band voted Band Of The Year, and in 1975 was voted membership in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Ten years later, the State of Georgia honored him by choosing him as only the 7th living performer inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In 1993, he was made a member of the Georgia Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. In 1994, South Carolina inducted him into their Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. And in 2001, he received the ultimate honor, membership in Nashville’s prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame.

An entertainer in every sense of the word, Bill Anderson was the first country artist to host a network game show, starring on ABC-TV's, "The Better Sex." He also appeared for three years on ABC's Daytime soap opera, "One Life To Live."

For six years he hosted a country music game show on The Nashville Network called, “Fandango,” later an interview show called “Opry Backstage,” and somehow found time to be co-producer of another TNN Show called, “You Can Be A Star.” In addition, Bill has appeared frequently as a guest star on television’s top variety and game shows, including The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Match Game, Family Feud, Hee Haw and others. He currently hosts "Bill Anderson Visits With The Legends" on XM satellite radio.

Bill Anderson’s autobiography, “Whisperin’ Bill,” was published by Longstreet Press in 1989 and relates the fascinating details of his life and lengthy career in show business. The book, which Bill personally wrote over a period of three years, made bestseller lists all across the south. Bill’s second book, a humorous look at the music business titled, “I Hope You’re Living As High On The Hog As The Pig You Turned Out To Be,” was published in 1993 and is currently in it’s fourth printing. His most recent literary effort is "Letters To My Fans - Volume One."

Bill Anderson continues to paint a broad stroke across the Nashville music scene. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1961 and performs there regularly. He continues to record and made a video.
Despite his hectic schedule and the demands of his multi-faceted business enterprises, Bill has made a renewed commitment to his first love – songwriting. “I feel like I’ve come full-circle,” he smiles, "because songwriting is what got me to Nashville in the first place.” In 1995, Billboard magazine named four Bill Anderson compositions – “City Lights,” “Once A Day,” “Still,” and “Mama Sang A Song” – among the Top 20 Country Songs of the past 35-years. No other songwriter had as many songs listed.

Anderson closed out the 20th century with a pair of #1 hits, “Wish You Were Here,” by Mark Wills and the Grammy nominated “Two Teardrops” by Steve Wariner. His song, “Too Country,” recorded by Brad Paisley along with Anderson, Buck Owens and George Jones, won CMA Vocal Event Of The Year honors for 2001. The following year saw Kenny Chesney soar with his version of the Anderson-Dean Dillon masterpiece, “A Lot Of Things Different.”

But in a period of twenty-five months between November, 2005, and December, 2007, Anderson enjoyed perhaps the most fertile period of his songwriting life. He won CMA Song of the Year honors for his and Jon Randall’s poignant ballad, “Whiskey Lullaby," recorded by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association for co-writing with Tia Sillers the Country/Gospel Recorded Song of the Year, "Jonah, Job, and Moses," sung by the Oak Ridge Boys, and his first ACM Song of the Year Award for "Give It Away," recorded by George Strait and written with Buddy Cannon and Jamey Johnson. "Give It Away" went on to win the CMA Song of the Year as well as affording Anderson his fourth Grammy nomination.

In 2002, Broadcast Music, Inc. named Anderson its first country music songwriting Icon, placing him alongside R&B legends Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and James Brown as the only recipients of that prestigious award. In 2008, the Academy of Country Music honored him with their inaugural Poets Award.

On the personal side, Bill lives on Old Hickory Lake outside Nashville where he spends as much time as possible with his three children and seven grandchildren.
Leo C. Helmer for Pencilstubs.com, November 2010, with permission of Bill Anderson.

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

Need Coffee

(Sometimes Coffee Works)

Dozing restlessly
Tossing fitfully
What is today?

Rising carefully
Creeping quietly
What can I say?

Craving desperately
Sniffing deliciously
Coffee can sway

Sipping deliberately
Waking belatedly
Thoughts far away

Sighing expressively
Nodding decisively
Soon on my way

Working ceaselessly
Typing endlessly
I can't delay

Tiring listlessly
Slumping needlessly
Get coffee tray!

©Nov 01, 2010 Mary E. Adair

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

Cookin' With Leo

A Cowboy Cookout

No, I ain’t no cowboy, an’ ain’t never been one but then bein’ down here in West Texas, I seen Oil Field Workers, Ranchers, an’ yep, even a cowboy or two. Well now, it ain’t always true that they ride around the range singin’ like Gene Autrey or Vaughn Monroe. What you ain’t heard of Vaughn Moonroe? Well now he was the band leader, singin’ cat what had that nice deep voice and sung them classics like ‘Riders In The Sky’. Well for all you younguns what ain’t been around as long as this ol’ bag a’wind. He was a big hit way back in the 40’s and 50’s Well there is a music history lesson for today along with a real cowboy recipe I done got from a ol’ saddle seated singin’ steer serenader, whichever.. Well now, I believed him, so that should tell you something, whatever. Ok, so ya’ll think cowboys don’t like such stuff as beans an’ all them things what gets cooked over the campfire, well they sure do, and since I got the first hand aroma of the ol’ cowpoke who was I to doubt him? Anyway here is a cowboy cookout bean recipe.

Here is what you need:
  • ½ pound good maple flavored bacon
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium size chopped onion
  • 2 cans about 16 oz each kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1can about 16 oz pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large can 28 oz maple flavored baked beans
  • 1 can 14–16 oz diced tomatoes
  • 3 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tblsp garlic powder.
Here is how to do it:
Now I know you all ain’t got no campfire in the kitchen to bury these beans in all day, so how about if we use a crock pot? Anyway, let’s start with slicein’ up the bacon into I in pieces. Brown them in a skillet an’ pour off the grease. Add the beef and onion to the skillet. Cook that until brown, stirring it ever so often so it don’t stick and burn. Drain that fat away, and spoon the beef mix into a 4-6 qt slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients and now set the cooker on low heat for 6-8 hours. When you get home from rantin’ an’ ravin’ about your boss an’ your hard day at the office, all them good beans will be ready an’ you can forget about them bad bosses, pop a top, and sit down an’ enjoy them cowboy beams
Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

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

Irish Eyes

Our Boston Trip

And this is good old Boston
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk to the Cabots
And the Cabots talk only to God.
©John Collins Bossidy.

Since I saw you last I’ve spent a very enjoyable week in Boston and I have to say that the New England Fall is all that it’s supposed to be. What was I doing in Boston? I was, with 102 others, supporting the CIE Transport Gaels Gaelic football team. They played a Boston GAA Selection on the Gaelic pitch beside the Irish Cultural Centre, Canton, on Saturday 16th October.


The banner proclaiming “ CIE TRANSPORT GAELS TAKE BOSTON BY STORM” didn’t prove true.

CIE Transport Gaels

They were beaten fairly and squarely by the Boston team but it didn’t spoil our week.


We had arrived on Wednesday 13th and had a get-together in M.J. O’Connor’s Irish Pub that evening. Ballads and banter took us into the early hours. Next day was a shopping trip to Wrentam. Have you ever been in the company of a large group of Irish shopping activists?

On the Friday night we went to see Shear Madness at the Charles Playhouse. This play which has been running in the USA for thirty years was enjoyed by one and all. The audience participation was suited to our Irish crowd. I recommend Shear Madness to banish the blues.

After the match on Saturday we had a meal, music and the craic in the Irish Cultural Centre where we met American musicians and singers who are “more Irish than the Irish themselves.”
I discovered that our PRO John Cassidy is related to Bill Clinton through his (Bill’s) mother. John is also a cousin of Boston’s ace journalist Chris Cassidy.

We stayed at the posh Boston Park Plaza hotel, a favourite haunt of the aforementioned Bill Clinton. President Obama was visiting Boston while we were there and it was rumoured that he would be staying at our hotel but he didn’t arrive.

A bus tour of Boston was really worthwhile; it’s a very historic city. On the Tuesday before our return we went to Cape Cod. Very interesting but coming from Ireland cedar-dwellings takes a bit og getting used to. Not a solid structure for miles.

While in Boston I learned that Michael (“Mickey”) Conneely, from Ballyconneely, Co. Galway, who had been living in Weymouth, Massaeutessis, died suddenly aged 52 last March. He left behind his widow Jeannie and two young children. The Irish community have rallied round to raise funds for this heartbroken family.

The late Mickey Conneely, his wife and children.

A benefit dance will be held in Florian Hall, Dorchester on Sunday November 14th 2-8 PM.
Information from Jimmy King
Ph; 617 347 8176
Cash donations may be made by cheque to:
Mount Washington Bank,
c/o Conneely Family Fundraiser,
708 East Broadway,
South B

Above:     CIE Transport Gaels Manager, John Brady, with his wife.
Click on  Mattie Lennon for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Thinking Out Loud


The world has changed much since my wife and I were married more than half-a-century ago, 1953 – to be exact. And I’m not just talking about cell phones, the Internet and take out pizza. You would think that something as basic as marriage would be sacrosanct, but clearly such is not the case.

Whenever my wife and I are out together people – particularly young people – are wont to ask how long we have been married. This happens most often when we frequent a Starbucks, which – being heavily into industrial strength coffee – is several times a week. Now for some reason and I truly don’t know what it is, I never remember seeing a barista old enough to have seen Mickey Mantle play. So when we tell them fifty-seven years they are astounded.

Apparently, to those young pups any monogamous relationship lasting more than a fortnight after a one night stand is beyond their ability to comprehend. And since my wife and I are especially gregarious to young people, we sometimes draw a small crowd all of whom want to know “our secret,” how on God’s good earth have we managed to stay together for what seems to our audience – an eternity.

Here I must admit that I am somewhat facetious and look for an opening for a bon mot. One time I was grilling one of my servers who alleged he was a history major and asked if, he knew anything about Mussolini. After a pregnant pause the future Toynbee admitted that he might have had a Mussolini salad with his soup at an Olive Garden. Possible, I guess. So I go with the old saw about what makes a marriage work, what makes it last?

“Easy,” I tell my rapt audience. “When my wife and I took our vows we agreed that I would make all the major decisions and she all the minor ones.”

“Wow!” murmurs the audience. “And it really works?” they wonder.

“Well, luckily for us so far nothing major has come up,” I explain. Sometimes I get a few laughs, but mostly they just nod.

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


Liu Xiaobo and the Nobel Peace Prize

I never heard of Liu Xiaobo, a leading Chinese dissident, who is serving an eleven year prison sentence for repeatedly trying to bring about human rights and democratization in China. It wasn’t until he won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize that I became aware of who he is. His eleven year prison sentence makes his story all that more remarkable.

In my classroom I have a signup sheet and my students can sign up to go to dinner with me on Friday evenings. I treat them to that dinner and about 11 or 12 of my students sign up. It was during one of those dinners that I mentioned Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Most of the students never heard of him but that didn’t surprise me. If you type his name in Chinese on a China internet search engine you won’t find much because the internet here is highly censured. My student had to research him on CNN’s website and various other western media internet outlets. They just typed his name in English and loads of articles came up on you guessed it, Liu Xiaobo.

Some of my students however think Liu Xiaobo won the prize due to western politics and they felt Obama won the same prize due to politics as well.Other students were angry at the treatment Liu Xiaobo’s wife has been receiving at the hands of the Police. She has been placed on house arrest ever sense her husband was awarded the prize. Most of my students feel that as more Chinese become aware of Liu Xiaobo’s arrest and his winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Eventually more pressure will be placed on the China Government for his release. That is what I think will happen as well.

China’s economy is growing in leaps and bounds but when it comes to human rights they are somewhat dwarfed behind the U.S. and other western nations. Communism has many draw backs and it can stifle free expression and open dialog especially in areas regarding the China Government’s policies. The China Officials don’t take well to harsh criticism especially when the criticism is aimed directly at the China Government. That is what led to Liu Xiaobo’s arrest. He was organizing a protest movement called ‘Charter 08’ which criticized China’s human rights violations and various other policies that are implemented by the China Government. That is why the Government here is calling him a dissident and they have him locked up with an 11 year sentence.

These kinds of arrests in China make me more appreciative of being born an American. We have freedom of speech in America, and we can criticize our Government policies without fear of reprisal. We can also organize protests in America against things we don’t agree with.

I showed my students videos in class that were made during the anti-war protests during the Vietnam War. My students generated so many questions about that era and they were disappointed when the classes ended. They were absolutely glued to the style of dress and the language that was being used by the protesters. None of my students were born when the Vietnam War was being fought but their interest in that era led to four or five term papers being turned in about the late 1960’s in America.

I tell my students the internet is a remarkable tool for disseminating information and not even China will be able to control the super information highway indefinitely. My students’ ability to speak and write in English opens many doors for them and one of the advantages it gives them is ways in bypassing the great internet wall of China.

I never told my students this but as technology continues to evolve throughout the world and people become more aware of China’s human rights violations through various media outlets. China will have no choice but to change for the better with the rest of the modernized Nations.

I quickly discovered when I came to China that there is a growing interest in Spirituality here. The majority of those spirituality seekers have an interest in Buddhism. They view America as a great Christian nation and they don’t have a problem with viewing all Americans as practicing the Christian faith. I tell my Students however that not all Americans are Christian. America is made up of all sorts of faiths including agnostics and atheists.

They always comment about the rich history behind our great American nation. I tell them that it’s our rich ethnic values that made our nation great. As long as our nation never loses sight of those values we will continue to be a beacon of light for the other nations of the world.

The values I grew up with in America, especially in the Pennsylvania coal region, is something I try my best to instill in my students. I tell my students that it’s not just the materialistic wealth of our nation that’s important but rather it’s the values that formed our nation that’s most important to us. Those values made our nation the greatest nation on earth. Those same values set us apart from the other nations of the world. Hopefully we as Americans will never lose sight of those values.

The Chinese are desperately seeking those American ideals but our values can never be implemented as government policy. They have to be instilled in the home and communicated through ones character for others to emulate and embrace.
China’s growing interest in Spirituality may lead them closer to finding a deeper meaning and purpose in their lives. Hopefully they will also discover ways in communicating that spirituality within their materialistic booming economy.The difficulty with spirituality these days, - how does the average person communicate it, within the hustle and bustle of our modern day society?

Many American’s and especially the Chinese are discarding the outdated dogmas of old and seeking a more contemporary approach to spirituality. I would not consider myself a Buddhist but the subject does intrigue me. I also enjoy discussing the matter with my students. I tell my students, their interest in Spirituality is not a new trend because a deeper meaning to life is what we humans have been searching for since humanities conception. We are not just human beings on a spiritual journey we are spiritual beings on a human journey.
Only time will tell.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
Phone: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
Skype: thomas_f_oneill
Email: introspective7@hotmail.com
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link: http://thomasfoneill.blogspot.com

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

Consider This

And Lovers And Husbands, Too

There are three men I’m annoyed at and it’s because they wrote and performed a song back in 1963 called, “Wives and Lovers.” Burt Bacharach who wrote the music to this sexist, annoying song, Hal David who wrote the words to this sexist, annoying song and Jack Jones the silky voiced crooner who sang that sexist, annoying song. All three men were and are enormously talented and have contributed much to modern music. Bacharach has always written unforgettable music, David unforgettable lyrics and oh my, when Jones sings there’s a whole lot of melting going on, and I know that firsthand.

I wish that song had not been the huge hit it was, but it would never be a hit today because women would revolt! Back in ’63 however, we were only just beginning to be PC, the song was accepted, enjoyed and pretty much concurred with. Let’s go through it stanza by stanza and see if you don’t agree that it shouldn’t have been written or played. If you male readers out there don’t agree then I suspect you’ve got a whole lot of trouble going on where you live.

Here are the lyrics along with my opinions:
First line: “Hey little girl!” It was Gloria Steinem, bless her, who finally clued grown women to the fact that being called “little girl” was demeaning, stupid, not charming and wrong. Perhaps back in 1963 and maybe even well before that, men might have felt big and powerful and macho when they called the wifey “little girl” but it doesn’t work today. We are not cutsie little girls needing to be held by the hand and guided through this big old cruel world by big old tough, smarter men.

And while I’m on the subject of “little girls,” please ladies, can we stop saying that we “have to go to the ‘little girls’ room’”? Please. Just get up from the table and say “excuse me. I’ll be right back.” We’ll get it! And stop saying “I gotta go pee.” Just stop that. That’s what very young kids say. Yes I’ll admit it’s maybe a touch more genteel than saying “I gotta go urinate” but only just a touch. Grow up and “go to the bathroom.”

Next lines: “Comb your hair, fix your make-up/Soon he will open the door/ Don‘t think because there’s a ring on your finger/You needn’t try anymore.” Well now sure. I think it’s probably a nice thing to not look like a bag of dirty laundry when your husband is about to come home from work, but come on, how many households have The Little Woman waiting inside today? Today’s Little Women are generally out earning the bacon too, or even earning it by themselves without Little Men to help. And are there women today that get that wedding band and immediately turn into Tugboat Annie the day after the wedding? (Look it up.) Maybe. Are there men today who always held their stomachs in until their wedding day and then with a mighty relieved exhale let it all spill forward? Began an hourly cacophony of repulsive bodily noises? Began to scratch themselves everywhere on their bodies whenever the urge hit? Yeah, there are.

Next line: “For wives should always be lovers too/Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you/I’m warning you.” You are what?? Warning me? Well now thanks, Burt, Hal and Jack. So, you’re suggesting that the good husband arrives home always looking like something out of a Brooks Brothers ad? (Look it up.) I don’t think so. Thus, you’re warning us women to beware, we’d better look perfect when hubby blows in after work or he’ll what, turn on his well polished Gucci heel, climb back into his Bentley and drive off into the sunset never to be seen again? Oh please. And wives should always be lovers too? Not husbands? Really?

Next lines: Day after day/There are girls at the office/ And men will always be men.” Yeah? Because they were born male they get a pass to have a roving eye or a roving whatever because there are “girls” at the office? OK then, just to keep things in balance, men should always look absolutely spiffy at home because don’t forget, day after day there are “boys” at the little woman’s workplace too, and after all, women will always be women, right? We’re warning you!

Next lines: “Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers/ You may not see him again.” What?? For sure, that’s not a particularly good visual for a man to see when he’s saying good bye to his wife in the morning but for that she may not see him again? Talk about shallow. I mean if he’s going to leave her, let it be because of something of a bit more substance. Have some depth, man.

Next: “Hey little girl (there we go again with the little girl bull)/Better wear something pretty/Something you’d wear to go to the city/And dim all the lights/Pour the wine, start the music/Time to get ready for love.” Time to get ready for love? Is that a surreptitious, songy way of saying “time to get ready for sex”? We haven’t discussed children here, have we. I mean let’s get real. Hubby comes home after a long haul at the daily grind, and wifey, seeing him in the driveway should dim the lights, start the music, pour the wine and start to prepare for a little bumpin’ uglies? With the kids roaring about? Sure. Easily done. First they’d immediately snap the lights back on after complaining it was too dark in the house, next they’d complain really loudly about the music because it would be interfering with their evening TV shows and lastly they’d likely sneak a swig out of the wine glass just to see what it tastes like which would be followed by their knocking over the whole shebang by accidentally throwing the dog, splashing permanent Rorschach wine stains on the carpet, followed by all screaming accusations that she, no he, no she, no he did it after which they’d begin screaming louder for their dinners. Yes, a perfect setting for dear perfect well dressed hubby to walk into so he and the perfect little missus can start getting ready for love. And exactly where would that be happening? Bedroom? Tree house? Basement? Shed? Car? Roof? Garage? The kids would be howling and brawling, seriously wrecking the mood. Give it up. It appears that when Burt, Hal and Jack were sending out warnings to those careless women in curlers they hadn’t figured on kids. Maybe they never had any. I think most of us can now dismiss this song as laughable, sexist, unrealistic and stupid, right? Most good marriages go a lot deeper than dim lights, poured wine and Montovani on the stereo.

A little charity here. It’s been almost 48 years since that song became popular, so Burt, Hal and Jack, we can safely assume that by now you’ve changed your tune, right? Ah, what good little boys!

Email lc at lcvs@comcast.net
See her on �incredibleMAINE�
on Saturdays at 10:30 AM on MPBN.
Click on  LC Van Savage   for bio.

Always Looking – Genealogy Wars

Always Looking – Genealogy Wars

Genealogy is a genteel pastime for little old ladies and gentlemen who wouldn’t hurt a fly – right?

Guess again.

Little – maybe. Old – no doubt most genealogy buffs are past 50, young enough to still have their mental faculties, but old enough to realize they don’t have forever for the research.

Genteel – you wouldn’t think so if you were to read some of the exchanges that take place on genealogy blogs or in some special-interest meetings. Rules of engagement are requisite; referees advisable. Facts are challenged; names called; mamas insulted.

And why would something as dusty as family history be so liable to verbal dueling? Think about it. Many people (especially those with little else to boast about) take great pride in their family heritage. Even if that heritage has to be buffed up a bit, turned just the right way to look its best, selectively pruned to leave only the finest fruit – pick a metaphor; you get the point.

I started off this series of columns with one titled “Always Looking for the Horse Thief.” I titled that partly with a view to humor, but partly looking over my shoulder for angry kinfolk. You never know who will take offense, especially if there really was a horse thief. That horse thief had grandchildren. (And great grandchildren.) And they know where I live.

But oddly enough, shady dealings in the past aren’t usually the worst causes of venom in the present. Some people actually appear to find satisfaction in thinking one of their ancestors was involved in dubious dealings – the shadier the better. One of my genealogy buddies told me at length about a great-great uncle of his who was the most notorious train robber in New Mexico and eventually was hanged for his sins. I almost thought my friend was boasting just a bit.

No, the worst wellsprings of wrath in genealogy are territorial and procedural. In other words, somebody poaching your great-granddaddy on FindAGrave. Somebody puffing out their private genealogy website with research you did, and not giving credit. Somebody posting photos downloaded from someone else’s album, without permission. And (most common) somebody presenting elaborate family trees constructed partly from fact, partly from supposition and wishful thinking. And not distinguishing the two.

We’ve all been tempted. All too many of us have succumbed to temptation in the enthusiasm of a project. Mea culpa, just a teensy bit. I’ve lifted family photos from a cousin’s brochure project. (He’s no longer around to complain.) Cherry picked names and dates from a friend’s research. (I tell myself he’s welcome to do that with mine.) Quoted obituaries without giving the source. (I try to go back and correct that when I can – nowadays.) And included a couple of names in my line because they just seemed very plausible, without footnoting that factor.

So far I’ve gotten off easy. Either nobody’s caught me, or at least nobody who cared. Not so for others. Internet genealogy sites are full of verbal flame wars that started over less than this. Entire sites devoted to family history have had their reputation sullied in public. Consequently the whole field has gotten a bit of a black eye. Which is a shame, because learning about family history should be a constructive, positive, restorative influence on families.

I think that much of this could be avoided by just following a few guidelines:
    1. Always check your sources for credibility. I talked about this in a previous column. Most of us, if we really think about it, can develop a pretty good idea whether a source is really A1 (census records, birth records, baptism records, death certificates, wedding certificates, military service records), A2 (news articles, obituaries, scholarly books), or perhaps 4F (Uncle Fred talking about great-grandpa’s incredible fishing prowess).
    2. Always check for copyrights on sources you plan on quoting in print. If they exist, then get permission to quote. Or at least document the sources.
    3. Always make sure photos or artwork are either taken/drawn by you in person, in the public domain, or taken/drawn by people who have given you permission to reproduce them.
    4. Walk on eggs when it comes to “competitive” websites such as FindAGrave, where several different people may all want to post a memorial for a common relative (and only one is allowed).
Above all else, be civil, be circumspect, be nice. Thank all the people who help you with research, most of them for free. Give credit where credit is due. Use common sense. The world of genealogy is full of touchy egos, but also full of some of the nicest, most generous people you would ever want to meet (even if only by mail/e-mail). Cherish them. Follow the Golden Rule.
©2010 John I. Blair

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


A curious crustacean the pillbug,
Hinged at the fringe of its multiple body plates,
Depending for its DNA survival
On connival into an armored ball.

The pillbug, a strategic analog
To armadillos, can curl up even tighter,
Winning “roly poly” as its popular cognomen,
(Sounding, as a consequence, quite cute).

Well, cute they’re not, exactly, but
At least there’s not much harm in pillbugs
(Unless you are a strawberry fanatic,
In which case you hate them).

I, however, have memories alternative
Of pillbugs from my childhood
For I tortured them ‘most every day,
To satisfy my sweet sadistic bent.

So though I fear the thought of pillbug karma
Is fanciful, yet they stand for me
As exemplars of innocence invertebrate
Run afoul of bloodyminded vertebrate intent.

©2003 John I. Blair

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

On Equal Ground

I can buy my way
Into a hospital;
Money definitely talks.

But (so far at least) I cannot buy
My way to immortality;
Death’s the lot of all of us.

What I control,
What gives me hope,
Is how I look at life the while I live it,

Not tearfully, through fear-filled eyes,
But with the clear and certain gaze
Of one who knows that life and death,

Suffering and joy,
All exist on equal ground
With sun and water, wind, earth, stars.

©2010 John I. Blair

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


Isn’t loving someone
Better than being loved?

Loved I may bask
In golden sunshine,
Reflect the silver moonlight;

But loving I become as sun,
Moon, stars,

So occupied with ardence
There is no time, no need
To brood about extinguishment.

©2010 John I. Blair

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

Like A Tortoise

I am at home
Wherever I land,
Here, within my shell,
Like a tortoise
Except for thinner skin
And warmer blood.

Sometimes I retract my head,
Wishing the vicious world
Would not bother me
And let me lumber
From one hushed bower
To another.

But I know
If I’m so imprudent
As too much to go
Against the flow,
Also like a tortoise
I may get smushed.

©2003 John I. Blair

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

Life Is---

My life is one of gladness
With very little sadness
And rarely any badness.
But sometimes there is madness
Which oft can lead to gadness
And from there to egadness
Which always is forebadness
By both my Mom and Dadness
'Cause they dislike jub'ladness
They say it makes me rashness.
And they get hopping madness
At having to keep tabness
On my grand gift of gabness
And my endless confabness
With every lass and ladness
Who'll listen to my blabness.
They tell me I should gab less
But that I just won't address
'Cause I refuse to chat less!
But let's do some more chatness
About life's likely drabness.
Say, it's not iron-cladness
That life should be all gladness.
There really can be drabness
And badness, sadness, madness.
I know. I've seen it happ'ness.
But joy? You've got to grabness
And on your own behalfness
So you won't just go daftness
At all the world's sad crapness.
Life really can be fabless
And it need not be hapless
Get right in it smack-dabness
And cram your life with joy!


Click on  LC Van Savage for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

How Soon I’ll Forget

When the End Time arrives,
When the Rapture comes,
When the Last Wave crashes
Onto the shore,
Then how soon I’ll forget
The bars, the scars,
The slights, the slurs,
That make me so mad.

I try always to take
Geologic perspective,
Judge things on a scale
Of sidereal size,
So when I am faced
With my own misfortune
I can credibly cry,
“Well, this ain’t so bad!”

©2003 John I. Blair

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


There is no doubt I’m scattered,
My thoughts like autumn leaves
Fluttering from one spot to another,
Too jerky, too distractible,
Dangerous at times
To me and those I love.

My disposition’s so intractable,
What can I do to find my center,
To soothe, to calm?
Poses, prose and prayers do not work,
But when I’m channeling a poem
My mind gets in the groove.

©2003 John I. Blair

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

~I Was Thinking~

(To share with any poet who is sometimes in doubt and to give them a mental hug...) 
I was thinking ...
yeah it happens on occasion
that every poet has words they need to spew..
yet for generations there has been no original thought...
Nothing to say that has not been said before.
Nothing to write that has never been written..
no inverted intro/extroverted perspective left unexplored
Millions of poets just like me have screamed cried written cursed and laughed
WHY...why....if you look at it and go oh no ...another poem
It definitely was not written for you....
But every once in a while a new soul either wrapped in pain or confusion
or wrapped in joy, love and exuberance is searching for some sort of resonance
and they were not there the other millions of times a poet spoke
So as much as I need to scream, laugh, tremble, yell and write.
Someone somewhere needs one of those thoughts.
I'm not sure which person or which thought.
So, as long as I can, I will bleed my thoughts onto paper..
and I will whisper my joys and insanities into the air
Because I have to.....it's what I do...
and somewhere, someone....needs what I have

©8-21-10 MJMansfield aka ~FireEagle~
Click on  M. Jay Mansfield for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Your face jars my memory like a spider crawling upon the dusty shelf of my mind
Leaving fine threads of web in the empty spaces.
Not visible until it’s too late then no matter how you wipe they seem to bind
Covering your skin and tormenting as you claw at your face So beautiful and delicate yet terrifying to the depths
Cataclysmic is too kind of a word it’s too clean and scientific
No single word can hold your true meaning
You are beautifully all encompassing blood curdling horrific
You are an event, a time, a generation
Yet I see only the great void when ever I chance upon your gaze
The next stage, the last stage, evolution
I tremble and hope you go away , then I pray that these are not the last days
Now I know I am that fly
Unable to resist the temptation even as I see my brethren twist for their very life
It is no longer about live or die.
It is an obsession that drives closer in to what I despise the inability to turn from your beautiful eyes
©10-27-10 MJMansfield
Click on  M. Jay Mansfield for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Fork In The Road

Each universe
There's two of us
Every passing day
The things we meant to say
How this thing called space got in our way

Remember when we took that other fork in the road
It took us to a place where fairy tales are told
Remember when we had the choice to decide
In the end we got in the car and took a long ride

We woke up in a field in another country far away
We had the blessings of angels as two hearts were meant to save
We gathered up berries and sunshine in the rain
We took our chances and had nothing left to blame

Each universe
There's two of us
Take the cosmic wheel
The things we always knew we would feel
How this thing called life took a hold and became so real

We woke up amidst the dust and freedom of change
We had the momentum of tomorrow as two souls needed to be tamed
We captured missing pieces in valley of the pain
We took our souls dancing and had nothing left to blame

What would you do at the fork in the road
What would you do at the fork in the road
It's a different world now when you reverse what you have known
On that new path at that fork in the road.

©10/5/2010 Bruce Clifford

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

What Is She Doing With Him

What is she doing with him
He doesn't give her the time of day
He doesn't make her feels special in any way
She doesn't even see where to begin
And here I am wondering what she's doing with him

He doesn't respect her in any way
He doesn't make her feel special and okay
She doesn't even see how things could be
Instead she's not seeing what she could see
Here I am wondering what she's doing with him

He's look at is watch a hundred times in so many uncomfortable ways
And where it stops is hard to surmise of all the things we could have saved
What is she doing with him

I wish she was timeless and florescent with the wave
I wish she was my girl who knew I had to be saved
I wish she was kindness giving me the will to survive
I wish she was created just to have me on her mind

I will never understand what she's doing with him
What is she doing with him
He doesn't treat her like a queen
Instead he lectures her and is always mean
I don't know what she sees in him

He doesn't respect her in any way
He doesn't make her feel special and okay
She doesn't even see how things could be
Instead she's not seeing what she could see
Here I am wondering what she's doing with him
What is she doing with him
©10/1/2010 Bruce Clifford

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

It's Greek To Me

It's Greek to me how anyone could be so kind
It's a mystery how we arrived at this point in time
It's Greek to me how you could still feel this way
It's our history that I will refuse to betray

It's Greek to me how you could still say my name
It's a tragedy how we let these things get this way
It's Greek to me and even harder to understand
It's a mystery why you would still hold my hand

All through the night
I dream in another life
Everything tastes and smells so different
It's too hard for me to explain
I am sure that parallel universe will have it's day
Will have it's way with me

It's Greek to me why the sun always sets
It's a mystery why so many of us live with regrets
It's Greek to me how the waters perpetually flow
It's our destiny to wonder about the things we will never know

©10/19/10 Bruce Clifford

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

Then It Goes Dark

Then it goes dark
Then it goes light
Then it gets me wondering
Did I get things right

When it turns bright
When day turns to night
I won't rest until I know
All this emotional glow
So many things I don't know

Then it goes dark
Then it glows bright
Then it gets me to thinking
Are we doing alright
Will I see you tonight

©10/23/10 Bruce Clifford

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

She Told Me

She told me "have a good day"
What else could she say
What else could she take

She told me "have a good day"
"talk to you later"
What can I say

Here I am in the middle of this and that
Left here wondering where things are at

She told me to soak up the sun
Take it all in
Grab your things and run

She told me to tone it down
What can I do
When no one is left around

She told me "have a good day"
"Talk to you later"
I'm waiting for that day

©10/23/10 Bruce Clifford

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

Rabbo Tales - Chapter 5, part 1

Strangers dancing in my head

      Rabbo had spent his class room time studying the life cycles of rabbits and it had left him a little on the depressed side when he found out that rabbits only lived from between 5 to 10 years in the wild and maybe up to 15 years in captivity. At first he had been glad that he had the chance now to study what he wished and he had picked the life cycle of rabbits as being one he was very interested. After all he was a rabbit.

      True a much enhanced rabbit but none the less still a rabbit. But once he learnt that horrible fact that he had at most 14 years left and if he was lucky maybe just maybe a couple more than that he had become depressed by that fact. 

      He visited with the female rabbit as often as possible that had been brought to him and while it was clear she was just a normal rabbit he liked to be around her. He had even sneaked out that first night and spent the whole night with her. 

      When he had come hopping up the garden path in the early morning light he had been met by Athena who was waiting for him. At first she was upset with him for sneaking out. But when he explained to her where he had been she had gone from being upset to very pleased and said he was a healthy normal male and that was good. The only thing Athena wanted to know was where he was so that she would not worry about him as much.

      When she had asked him about how he liked the warren that the rabbits lived in Rabbo had to answer that while his size gave him advantage with other animals it did mean that he was too large to get into the warren. But he and the female rabbit had found a nice tree near the woods that they could both be safe in between the roots.

      The topic had moved away from the warren and his female rabbit friend. Instead it turned to the topic of warmer weather and that there would be hard work to do in the garden and that they would have to harvest hay for the cattle so that they would make it though the winter.

      While Rabbo and Athena were talking Rabbo felt like something or someone was talking to him but just out of his hearing range. He tried to shake his head to clear the strangeness in his head but that did not work. But after a few minutes it passed and it was as if there never had been someone or something trying to talk to him.

      Athena looked at Rabbo and smiled as there conversation drew to a close. “Dad will be in the village a few more days. Seems that he is helping around the village and is enjoying being around people. But he still does not trust them”.

      It took Athena a few moments to notice that Rabbo had been listening but other things where on his mind. “Rabbo what’s bothering you” Athena asked with a worried tone in her voice.

      Rabbo thought it best not to mention the strange feeling that he had a few minutes before but rather on the fact he had to face. “How long do I have?” Rabbo asked in a rather sad tone.

      “If I got things right with you like I did with cat you might live a very long time. Cat is already close to 80 years old on this planet and showing no signs of slowly down. Just wish he would learn to read”.

      “Paha reading is for humans and rabbits. Not for Cat. Cat hunter. Why read” said Cat from the doorway. At the Cat’s feet was a duck that he had caught and brought back from down by Athena’s pool.

      Cat turned his head and looked back though the door. “Rabbit you have visitor but won’t come close because fear”.

      Rabbo hopped down from the table and hopped over to the door. He stood on his hind legs and could see the female rabbit waiting near his mothers run. His mother was sitting just outside her run sniffing the other female rabbit who was sniffing her back.

      As Rabbo watched they moved around each other almost as if they were doing a slow motion circling dance. But it was more like they were getting to know each other.

      “Well I guess your mother should know the mother of her grand children. I just hope your girl friend is not her daughter or grand daughter. Don’t like the idea of too tight a gene pool” mused Athena.

      Rabbo looked up rather confused about genes and pools. The only dealing with a pool was a few days before when Athena had been what she called skinny dipping.

      It was still cool in the house and Rabbo rather liked it but then it had not been that hot outside either.

       As Rabbo watched his mother and his female rabbit friend sniffing each other he once again felt a strange feeling in his head. Again it felt like something or someone was trying to talk to him but they were just out of his hearing range.

      This time he looked up at Athena and she had a look of being vacant as if she was listening to someone. “Dad wants to know if you want anything from the village,” Athena asked once the vacant look had gone from her face.

      Rabbo looked up and wondered how the whole telepathic link thing worked and if he could one day learn how to do what Athena and Merwyn did with their minds. But well they had bigger heads which meant they could do more then he could with his little old head that he had on his shoulders.

      Rabbo turned and hopped away towards the female rabbit without answering Athena’s question about whether he wanted anything from the village. After all he had everything he wanted at the house anyway.

      He hopped outside to where his female rabbit friend was and sniffed her. He rubbed his nose on her fur and she did not smell as interesting as she first had when he had met her. But still she made him feel good and that was what was important. He spent the time before his afternoon class bouncing around with her playing and eating the sweet young grass in the meadow.

      But he always kept one ear open for the sound of humans from the village or worse. He had seen a few times a thing like a dog come though the garden when he had been sitting on the window sill in Athena’s room late at night. He had looked up on the computer and knew that it was called a fox and that it hunted small animals like mice rats and rabbits as well as bugs and anything it could catch that was smaller than it was.

      Rabbo was glad that he was about the same size as Cat and knew that if the fox went after him all the play fighting with Cat would help him. But he was not sure if he could beat a fox. But he knew that foxes went after easy prey and if he put up a fight the fox would run away, unless the fox was really hungry. So he kept one ear open to listen for a fox or even a hunting bird from the sky. And he had seen a few of those but they were small for the most part and seemed to stay clear of the house.

      The afternoon class was a hard one as it involved chemistry and while it was on the computer the sound blast from the computer would scare him badly if he mixed things wrong. Plus the loud noise would bring Athena running and he was always embarrassed when he would “Blow up the library” as Athena called it.

      So he was trying hard to mix the chemicals rights but his mind kept wandering off on his female rabbit friend. He was half listening to the computer about mixing three chemicals together and then adding another compound that would give it a bright blinding flash. “Pay attention Rabbo”.

      Rabbo looked around for Athena but she was nowhere to be seen yet he had just heard her voice very clearly as if she had been standing next to him. The lesson went on and he did not once make a mistake and was happy when the printout popped out telling him that he had scored an “A”. Rabbo hopped down the ramp holding the print out for Athena to see as he was proud that he had not “Blown up the library” and that he had scored well. It was rare that Isis gave an “A” and for him to get one was a good reward on its own. But with anything with Isis there was a down side and he knew that Isis would give him hard work to do.

      Rabbo hopped into the kitchen and saw his mother sitting in the doorway sniffing his female rabbit friend and two other rabbits. The two other rabbits looked at him and started to chatter at him. That reminded Rabbo that he needed to learn their language if he was to better understand the rabbits at the warren.

      He hopped over and listened as they chatted at each other than then at him. But he could not understand what they were trying to say to him or what they were saying to each other. He listened carefully yet he could pick out no pattern to the chatting sounds they were making. Plus the chatted so fast that he could not follow them even if there was a pattern for him to understand. Rabbo thought about how to learn the language of the rabbits and how to speak to them but he knew it would take a lot of time.

      If he could get them into the house and into the library he might be able to get Isis to record them and then be able to learn their language. But how to get them into the house?

      It seemed to Rabbo that the first problem was getting them into the house. The next would be getting them into the library. It did not enter into his head that Athena and Merwyn might not like the idea of having rabbits hopping around the house.

      Light foot steps came dancing down the stairs and Athena skipped into the kitchen. Once she saw the rabbits sitting close to the doorway she stopped and tried to make as little noise as possible. But it was too late as the wild rabbits had heard her skipping down the stairs and bolted like lighting.

      Rabbo looked up at Athena and was about to speak when Athena got a faraway look in her eyes. Athena looked at Rabbo “Dad still wants to know if you want anything in the village”

      Rabbo thought for a moment. “Nothing really. I have all I need”.

      Rabbo looked down the pathway at his female rabbit friend that was sitting on the pathway looking back at him. Rabbo hopped after her. He followed her down the pathway past the end of the garden down to the meadow to the low mound that the warren was dug into. To one side was a new hole. The hole was a large Rabbo size hole that he could hop into without any problems. The female rabbit hopped into the hole and looked back at Rabbo she then hopped out of sight down the hole.

      Rabbo followed her down the hole and it took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to how dark it was. The hole turned and twisted and a few times he saw other openings that were normal rabbit size. At last he reached the bottom and saw that there were fresh grasses and buttercups. The end of the burrow was a large area that he could turn around in and curl up in the bed of fresh grasses and buttercups.

      His female rabbit friend hopped into the grasses and curled up to sleep. So Rabbo nestled up next to her and waited until she was a sleep. As he waited he looked around and had to admit for a rabbit he did not like living in a cold damp burrow in the side of a low mound. It was too dark and his eyes could hardly see. The walls were too close and the low roof meant that he could not stand up on his hind legs. And worst of all he was worried that the roof or walls would fall in on him.

      Once Rabbo was sure that his female rabbit friend was asleep he slowly and gentle got up and moved away carefully as not to wake her. Half way down the burrow he was met by one of his brothers who started to chatter at him. It was clear that his brother was trying to tell him something and Rabbo guessed that it was about all the hard work that they had done to make him a burrow large enough for him to enter.

      “Thank you my brother for this wonderful burrow”.

      His brother chatted at him again and used his head to point to the walls of the burrow.

      Rabbo wondered how he was going to thank his brothers and sisters for all the hard work they had done. But that he was a little scared to sleep under ground. His brother turned around and hopped up the burrow towards the light that was pouring in though the opening. Rabbo followed and was almost blinded by the bright light of the outside world. He paused to let his eyes adjust to the blinding light of day.

      As he sat waiting he had that strange feeling that something or someone was trying to talk to him in his head. He looked around and spotted Athena lying in the tall grass near by. Being taller than the other rabbits he could see her tanned skin clearly though the grass. Looking right at her Rabbo could see she was watching closely what was going on.

      “Rabbo you will be late for your class if you don’t come along soon” said Athena’s voice in his head.

      Rabbo returned to the house just in time to start his afternoon class. The class was long and hard but as always Rabbo had to admit that he had enjoyed the class and learning was very addictive.
“Do you have any question unrelated to the class subject matter” asked the computer Isis.

      Rabbo thought for a moment and then looked around. He could not see or hear Athena so taking a deep breath Rabbo asked about the strange feeling in his head.

      Rabbo Isis was silent for a moment and then spoke, “Telepathic links often start with the feeling of someone talking in your head that is not your own voice”. As Isis spoke a red laser light flashed over Rabbo. “You are not my daughter” said the voice of Isis. Again there was a pause. “You are not human. Please wait while I access files” Isis paused “Oryctolagus cuniculus common rabbit. Detecting genetic manipulation”. Isis’s voice changed to one of all business. “Who did this to you? Was it my bond mate Merwyn or one of his colleagues”?

      Rabbo was rather confused by the sudden tone in the voice of Isis.

      “Umm Athena did this to me. And I like how it feels” said Rabbo becoming more alarmed at the tone of voice of Isis.

      “You are so I must deal with your being. I should not get upset as my own state I was willing to partake of. Please have my daughter come here at once” said Isis in a hard tone.

      Rabbo hopped down the ramp and went looking for Athena. He found her in the garden bent over picking fresh carrots for their dinner.

      “Isis wants to talk to you about me”.

      “Oh she scanned you at last. I was kind of dreading this day but it had to happen. I’m just surprised that it has not happened sooner.”

      Athena walked into the kitchen and put the fresh carrots on the counter top. Then washed her hands and walked into the library. Rabbo followed but as he reached the door it closed in front of him so that he could not enter the library. He reached up to turn the second door knob that was at his height but the door was locked so he sat down outside and listened.

      He heard Athena explaining all that had been done to Rabbo and the reasons why for each step. Then he heard Isis explain the moral issues of why she had a problem with what Athena had done. However Isis had no issue at all about the end result.

      The conversation when on until it was dark outside and Rabbo lost interest when things started to get to complex and they started to talk about another related issue. Rabbo hopped back over to the ramp that lead up to the counter top and hopped over to the carrots. He filled the sink with water and washed the carrots. He then cut off the tops and placed them in a bowl for himself.

      He chopped the carrots and then hopped down of the ramp off the counter and over to the store room where other vegetables were kept. He carried pea’s that were in their pods and thin beans back to the counter and shelled the pea’s and cut the thin beans. He was wondering if he should try and cook something hot for Athena when he heard the door to the library open and Athena walk out.

      She had a sly smile on her face that made her look even young to Rabbo. “Well mother is ok with you but not happy about what I did to young brothers and sisters but in time that will work itself out,” after a pause “we think. But only time can really tell”.

      Rabbo looked at her from the counter top and moved over to the basic salad that he had made for her. Athena added lettuce spinach salami and ham to her salad and added some peas and beans to Rabbo’s carrot tops.

      They sat and talked about what Isis had told Athena and then the subject of the feeling that Rabbo had of something or someone trying to be in his head.

      Athena looked at Rabbo and smiles then without moving her mouth or lips Rabbo heard her voice clearly in his head.

      “I better explain something about what I did. Years ago I was very sick and dad took a few brain cells from me and cloned them so that if something went wrong he could clone an embryo of me and use a host mother. Well I got better and we had the brain cells in cold storage in a manner of speaking”. Athena thought for a few “well after I worked on Cat I knew that one day I would be able to do better”.

      Again she paused for a moment. “Don’t get me wrong Cat is smarter than the humans on this planet. Just I forgot that cats are well cats and getting them to do things they don’t want to do is next to impossible. Just ask Cat. So anyway I thought maybe if I implanted those brain cells into your brain when you were very young I could make you just as intelligent as Cat. Only thing is that I used more brain cells than I wanted as I was not sure if they were good or not. What has happened is that your brain has been changed to something between a rabbit and a Sirian. You have all the mental abilities that I have as your brain is part of my brain”.

      Rabbo looked at her and then asked “So what abilities do I have?"

      “Well you have healing, astral travel, creativity telekinesis and coercion. All the ones I have. Telepathy all Sirian’s have and that is being able to talk mind to mind like I am with you right now. Now to talk privately like I am with you, you have to think of the person and picture them in your mind. Or like I am now just make eye contact and once that is made we can talk privately. If you want just to talk to anyone you shout out inside your head. But that would not be a good idea as some of our race don’t think highly of dad or myself. While others that are here on this planet just don’t want to be bothered” again Athena pause. “They have their own reasons as we have ours. But there are not many of us left. Well there were not many of us here in the first place. We are what you call exiles and by our own choosing. Not that I had much say in the matter as I was young when we came here”.

      Rabbo and Athena talked back and forth about what his and her abilities were and how he should start learning to use them. It was late and Athena was sitting in her dad’s chair in the living room. “Ok let’s try something. Think of dad and call him.”

      Rabbo sat still and pictured Merwyn in his mind and how he was dressed when Rabbo last saw him a few
      days before “hello Merwyn” Rabbo shouted in his head.
And in his head Rabbo heard the voice of Merwyn. “Hey don’t shout. I’m not deaf you know. So Athena has taken it on herself to teach you telepathy. I guess I will have no peace now”? The tone in Merwyn’s voice was more humor than being upset. Rabbo and Merwyn talked back and forth as they did Rabbo felt himself start to get very tired.

      “Your mind voice is fading Rabbo. I think you need to rest as you don’t want to burn yourself out” said Merwyn. “And don’t answer as you need to rest your mind”.

      And with that Rabbo felt Merwyn drop out of his mind.

      “Ok daft rabbit you are faded and your ears are drooping. I think you need to sleep.” and with that Athena picked Rabbo up and carried him upstairs to bed. Athena tried to hold Rabbo like she had when he was just a kitten rabbit but he had gotten too big to be held like that so Athena put his front paws over her shoulder and carried him up to her bedroom. She placed Rabbo on the foot of her bed next to his mother and she then pulled the bed covers back.

      “I better wash first as walking around in just my skin while feeling good is not smart plus I have to wash places that don’t normally see the light of day when dad is here”.

      Athena walked out of the room and down the hallway to the bathroom.

      Rabbo awoke from a rather strange dream to see Athena sitting on his window sill cross legged looking towards the meadow with her eyes closed. Rabbo hopped up next to her and waited for her to open her eyes so that he could tell her about his dream. As he waited he looked out the window and saw the rabbits from the warren playing in the moonlight. One rabbit was sitting on the chopping block that Merwyn used for cutting wood. The rabbit’s ears were moving as if scanning for other animals. As Rabbo watched a second rabbit hopped over and took up position on top of the compost heap looking towards the first rabbit.

      To Rabbo it was clear that both rabbits where watching out for foxes or other hunting creatures. Plus from where each was sitting they could see what was behind each other.

      After a few minutes two other rabbits replaced the first two rabbits and so it went until his brothers and sisters had each taken a turn at watching out for hunting animals.

      As Rabbo watched he saw Cat watching from the long grass. Cat moved slowly in a hunting crouch ever closer towards the rabbits. For a horrid moment Rabbo thought that Cat was hunting the rabbits but as he watched Rabbo saw a large rat close to the shed that the cattle were in.

      Suddenly Rabbo felt a hand run up his back. He turned so sudden that he almost fell off the window. Athena looked down at Rabbo. “Can’t you sleep?”

      “I woke up from a dream and wanted to tell you about my dream but you were watching something with your inner eyes,” said Rabbo still trying to calm down and slow his fast beating heart.

      Athena got up and moved over to her bed. She slid between that covers and patted the pillow so that Rabbo would come and sit close.

      “So what was your dream” Athena asked as she lay in bed.

      “I dreamt that I was floating above the house. I could look down and I could see the roof and the garden. I floated free above the house but I could not float far away. Then I saw a bright light come flying out of the window and it went over the garden down past the meadow and far far away. I wanted to fly after it but it was gone before I could follow”.

      “That bright light was me in my astral form” she looked at Rabbo and smiled. “I went to see dad and to make sure he was ok. He is fine and packed so he can leave in the morning” after a pause Athena added in a sleepy voice and trying hard not to yawn “can we talk about this in the morning”.

      Rabbo too suddenly felt very sleepy and he was about to hop over to the window sill to sleep when Athena reached out and placed a hand on his back. “No sleep here next to me. I don’t want to be alone” said Athena this time she did not hide her yawn. Rabbo snuggled close to her like he use to when he was much younger. He felt the warmth of her breath blowing softly across his nose and it reminded him of when he was tiny that she used to do that to him to calm him. Rabbo woke briefly from a rather confused dream and looked over at Athena. Her face was all happy and relaxed and she had a smile on her lips.

      Rabbo awoke to hear Athena’s voice drifting down the hallway from the bathroom. His mother was sitting in the window and Cat was sitting next to her licking her fur clean.

      Rabbo smiled to himself as this was an improvement over how she would run and hide if Cat came close.

      Athena came walking into the bedroom looked at Cat and Rabbo’s mother and laughed softly. Then she walked over to her closet and pulled out a short toga and looked at it.

      “I guess I should wear something as dad will be home in about 2 hours. Oh well I did enjoy being in my skin”.

      She started to slip the short toga on and stopped. She reached back into the closet and pulled out a tube top and a short white skirt. As she dressed she kept looking at herself in the mirror and turned this way and that as if she was making sure she looked good from every angle.

      “Come on Rabbo get out of bed and come down to the kitchen for breakfast. I want you in class before dad gets back” laughed Athena.
Breakfast was leftovers from the night before and a little fresh milk.

      Rabbo hopped to the library and found the door was locked so remembering what Athena had told him about talking telepathically to someone he pictured her in his mind and spoke. “Can I come in please for my morning lesson?”

      “Just a moment I am finishing something up with mom. Don’t ask so I won’t have to lie,” Athena’s voiced drifted though his head.

      Rabbo waited outside the library and tried not to listen. But that would have done him no good as Athena was typing on the key board and talking to her mother Isis that way so that Rabbo could not listen in.

      It was about five minutes later when Athena walked out of the library she looked down at Rabbo and smiled before she skipped off though the kitchen. Rabbo sat down in front of the computer Isis and started his lesson. While he was watching a video he looked out of the window and saw his mother with other rabbits from the warren sitting on the grass in front of her run.

      “Pay attention to the video” said Isis

      Rabbo turned back to watching the video but it was hard as it looked like the other rabbits where having fun. After watching the video Isis started asking questions which Rabbo had to answer and explain how he had come to the answers. As class finished there was a bright flash followed a few moments later by a loud rumbling sound outside.

      Rabbo hopped as fast as his legs would carry him to the kitchen back door and saw dark clouds overhead. He looked around for Athena but she was no were to be seen. Plus all the rabbits where gone from the grass.

      Rabbo hopped back inside and went looking for his mother. He found her in the living room sitting under Merwyn’s favorite chair. She did not seem too worried about the loud noise so Rabbo started to relax until there was another bright flash that lit up the whole room and then another loud long rumbling sound that seemed to go on for ever.

      His mother moved further under the chair and this time she was shaking so Rabbo moved close to her partly for her comfort but mostly for his.

      Then there was another bright flash followed very quickly by a long rumble. After a few moments there was a hissing sound and Rabbo could smell rain. So he moved away from his mother and hopped to the kitchen back door to look outside.

      From the kitchen door he saw Athena running up the pathway with the rain pouring down around her. Her tube top and skirt were so wet that they were clinging to her body. The rain was kicking up mud so as Athena ran her legs were getting a fine coating of mud. As she reached the house she suddenly stopped and turned and stood still with her back to the house.

      As Rabbo watched he saw a black hood start to come up the pathway and soon he could make out a black cloaked figure. The black hooded figure was totally dry yet the rain was coming down so hard that Athena was totally soaked and her clothes had become transparent from the rain. Her hair was so wet that it just hung down sticking to her head and body. Then she started running down the pathway not caring about the rain.

      Rabbo noticed that a wind had picked up and the air was turning cold and he started to worry that if Athena did not get dry soon she would get a cold and be sick. Athena wrapped her arms around the black cloaked figure and shouted “Daddy”

      Rabbo smiled and wondered if it was normal for Athena to suddenly seem so much younger. Merwyn and Athena walked into the house and headed straight to the fireplace. As they walked over the fire suddenly lit itself and warmth started to fill the kitchen.

      “How many times have I told you not to get cold and wet,” said Merwyn. “Get out of those wet cloths before you get sick and sit by the fire”.

      Athena smiled shyly and slipped her short skirt off, then her tube top and sat down next to the fire. Rabbo noticed that she was shivering a little and trying hard not to let her teeth chatter from the cold. So her hopped over and jumped up on her lap and snuggled close so that his body heat would help warm her up. Merwyn took off his cloak and wrapped it around Athena to speed up the warming so that she would not be cold too long.

      “Why were you out in the rain in the first place” asked Merwyn trying to keep an upset tone out of his voice.

      Athena looked up. “Dad I was down at my pool skinny dipping and I got out and was warming myself on a rock and fell a sleep. I honestly did not see the storm coming”.

      Rabbo snuggled closer into Athena sharing his body heat so that Athena could warm up faster. As he snuggled close her felt her start to shiver and at last she let her teeth chatter.

      Merwyn who had walked over to the stove to make something warm for Athena returned and looked at Athena as she shivered. He shook his head and started to walk away then he turned back and closed his eyes. Suddenly Rabbo felt warm all over and Athena stopped shivering and looked at Merwyn and smiled.

      “Dam you daughter you know how I feel about showing off with my abilities and if I did not know better I would say that you got cold just to make me use them,” despite the tone in Merwyn’s voice it was clear that he was not upset.

      Rabbo wriggled out from under the cloak and looked at Merwyn then Athena. He stretched out and put his front paws over Athena’s shoulder. Rabbo was glad that he had come out from under the cloak as it had gotten very warm under there and he had started to pant a little from the heat. Athena slipped a hand out from under the cloak and started to pet Rabbo by sliding her hand gentle up and down his back.

      Rabbo slipped down into Athena’s lap and rolled onto his back so that she could rub the soft fur on his belly. He wiggled in her lap so that his head hung down off her legs.

      From his upside down view point he saw his mother sitting in the kitchen door way watching the rain falling hard.

      The rain was coming down so hard now that there were deep puddles of water forming around the doorstep. Further away the tree’s were being blown hard by the wind and clouds where moving down from the mountainside covering the top of the mountain.

      Rabbo rolled and slipped of Athena’s lap and crashed to the floor.

      “I meant to do that” said Rabbo as he rolled over and stood up.

      Both Merwyn and Athena started to laugh.

      Merwyn walked back over to the stove and came back with a bowl full of soup. He then walked to the door looked outside and then reached down and picked up his pack that he had placed there when he had gotten home. He reached into the pack and pulled out a small black item and walked over to Rabbo. Merwyn opened the small black item which was made of black cloth and there was a small sword about 12 inches long. The black cloth Merwyn opened up and it was a small black cloak also there was a black leather belt and scabbard for the sword.

      “I had these made for you. The cloak has pockets in it so that you can put things in.”

      Rabbo took the sword and looked at it carefully. He then looked at the leather belt and scabbard and he put the sword into the scabbard. Carefully he put the belt on and the sword and scabbard hung down onto the floor. So he took the belt and scabbard off and placed them gently on the floor. Rabbo then took the cloak and placed it over his shoulders and did up the clasp. He stood up on his hind legs and looked around.

      Merwyn walked back over to his pack and pulled out a wrapped item that stood about 18 inches long. “Now my daughter something for you and something to think about.”

      Athena unwrapped the item and it was a statue of her wearing her armor and looking very goddess like. As Athena sat and looked at the statue Merwyn unpacked a few other items that he had brought back from the village, such as a couple of wine skins some parchment, ink, seeds, and little leather bags with dried herbs.

      Rabbo hopped over and sniffed the herbs and looked up at Merwyn then he looked at the parchment and ink. He then sniffed the wine skins and by the shape he could tell that they were full. Then he noticed still in the pack was a bunch of sticks with roots still attached to them. Rabbo looked closer at the sticks with the roots and wondered what they were for and why Merwyn had bothered to get sticks with roots when he could dig up living sticks with roots. Rabbo turned to look at Merwyn and was about to speak when Merwyn spoke first.

      “Those are not dead Rabbo they are just asleep. They are grape or will be grave vines so that we can have grapes to eat or make our own wine.”

      “Wine? How do you make wine” Rabbo asked.

      “Another time Rabbo and I will explain or better yet tomorrow I will plant these and next year I will show you how to make wine.”

      Athena got up from the chair near the fire and handed Merwyn his cloak back and walked out of the kitchen. Merwyn watched her leave and then took the vines out of his pack and put them beside the door. Then he went and filled a bucket with water and put the vines in the bucket. It was still raining hard outside but the kitchen was now nice and warm with the fire burning brightly.

      Rabbo’s mother came hopping over and sniffed Rabbo before she hopped to the kitchen door. She took one look at the rain then hopped over next to the fire and sat down on the rug in front of the fire.

      A few moments later Cat walked in dripping wet from the rain. He looked at Rabbo and walked by and sat down next to Rabbo’s mother and started to lick himself then he leaned over and started to lick Rabbo’s mother. She rolled over on her back so that Cat could clean her stomach. Rabbo was rather surprised at how relaxed his mother had become towards Cat and that she no longer moved away or even hid when Cat was around.

      Athena came walking back into the kitchen wearing a short white robe that she had left undone. She walked over to the storage room and came back with a tray loaded down with cold cuts of meat and fresh vegetable. She walked over to the kitchen counter and started to make dinner which looked like it would be cold cuts of meat and vegetables.

      Merwyn who had left the kitchen returned wearing a pair of shorts and a loose shirt he looked over at Athena and stopped. The look on his face was sad and he lowered his head for a moment to hide tears.

      Rabbo looked at Merwyn and wondered why he suddenly looked sad as he knew that there was no reason for Merwyn to look sad.

      Almost as if reading Rabbo’s mind Merwyn said. “She looks so much like her mother dressed like that.”

      Athena turned and looked at Merwyn “sorry dad I did not mean to upset you. I know that you still love my mother. But I am not sorry that I look like her. After all I am her daughter and your daughter so if I look like you or her, it’s natural” she turned back to preparing their dinner.

      Rabbo hopped out of the kitchen and head to the library as he knew it was close to his afternoon classes and that if he did not start the class now he would make dinner later not just for himself but for everyone. Rabbo’s afternoon class was went on a little longer than normal as it had left him with many questions that he wanted to answers too and he questioned Isis for a while unaware that over an extra hour had past. When Rabbo looked out of the window he could see that it was still raining and that the sun was starting to sink down towards the hills.

      He hopped down the ramp away from the desk that the monitor for Isis sat on and headed into the kitchen. The table was set but other than Cat and his mother there was no sign of either Merwyn or Athena.

      Rabbo hopped over to the kitchen door and pushed it open to see they their where outside but as far as he could see there was no sign of them outside. He hopped over to the elevator and was about to go upstairs when he heard foot steps coming down the stairs.

      Athena walked into the kitchen her hair wet from a bath. She was wearing a short skirt and a halter top. She walked over to the cool storage room and came out with the tray full of the food she had prepared earlier. Athena placed the food on the table and filled Rabbo’s plate with fresh greens with carrots and some fruit.

      Merwyn came down the stairs and went to where he had placed the wine skins and picked up one. He then got two large goblets and a small goblet and placed them on the table before filling them with wine. Rabbo sniffed the wine and wondered if it would taste as good as the wine he had before and whether it would leave him with what Merwyn called a hangover.

      “This won’t give you a hangover Rabbo” said Merwyn as if reading the rabbit’s mind.

      Dinner was very cheerful which pleased Rabbo as Merwyn had looked so sad before Rabbo had gone to class.

      After dinner Merwyn cleared the table and washed the dishes before he came over and sat in one of the chairs by the fire place. Athena sat down across them Merwyn and sipped on her wine.

      “Now, Rabbo, Athena tells me that you are starting to use your minds abilities is that right” said Merwyn in a very business like tone.

      “Yes or that’s what I think is happening. She speaks to me mind to mind and I hear her voice in my head. Also I have dreams where I float and I told her about them and she said that I was astral traveling”.

      “Tell dad about the feeling like something or someone is in your head, Rabbo,” said Athena.

      Merwyn looked at Rabbo and raised an eye brow. “You have that feeling? ” He turned and looked at Athena who looked away.

      Rabbo nodded and was about to speak when he had a strange feeling in his head. It persisted for a few moments before it stopped.

      “Like that” ask Merwyn or like this?" Again there was strange feeling in his head and he hopped around in a circle.

      “What did you just do to me?” asked Rabbo.

      “I am sorry I controlled your mind to make you do something” said Merwyn “It seemed easier than telling you.”

      “No neither of those feelings are like the one I was telling about. It’s more like when someone is in another room and they are talking low so I can’t listen” explained Rabbo.

      “Seems like you need to build a mind shield to keep unwanted thoughts and feelings out,” said Merwyn.

      As Merwyn started to explain how to make mental shields to protect Rabbo’s mind Athena sat sipping on her wine and from time to time she would look over at Merwyn smile or wink. Merwyn would pause and take a sip from his wine and then continue explaining to Rabbo how to build and use shields to protect himself.

      Merwyn then had Rabbo make a mental mind shield and then Merwyn would probe it and tell Rabbo how to make it stronger and better. It was quiet late when Merwyn finished explaining and testing Rabbo’s mental mind shield and Rabbo was feeling sleepy.

      He hopped over to his elevator and rode upstairs to Athena’s bed room. He climbed up on to the window sill and looked out over the garden and the meadow. He could see the other rabbits down at the far end eating the rain wet grass. But he was too tired to go out and join them.

Watch for December's continuation of "Rabbo Tales."Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.