Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Editor's Corner

February 2011

Volume 14, Issue 1

The above means that with the foresight and technical support plus encouragement from Mike Craner, we are beginning our 14th year of Pencil Stubs Online.
Our columnists and poets have been a changing feature, but a few, for which we shall always be grateful and hold in high esteem, have continued forward with the ezine. This past year saw the 'blog' dot net version added with same content, but different format from the ezine, or dot com version. The blog allows comments which the ezine no longer accepts, and for some viewers it is easier to load and use with its readily available index of current and archived months always on the sidebar. Some of us like the larger, plain background and larger images the ezine can employ. We each have our own "Perspective," which just happens to be the name of a brief poem yours truly shows in this issue.

Bruce Clifford's musical poems are "As Big As The Sky," "Holding on to Life ," and "A Shooting Star." John I. Blair's poems for us are "A Post Oak On Matlock Road," "Uncle William," "Marrowbone Spring," "Alex," "Sadness at Absence," and "Pear-Shaped." Blair included a picture each, for the first two listed here.

Speaking of pics, Blair's column is image intensive with 42 prepared for the "Always Looking -- When Cemeteries Became Parks" backing up the small ones displayed within the narrative with larger ones you can click to see. Some are very large, others not so much bigger, but all are interesting, so 'click!'

Mattie Lennon included a humorous cartoon by Morris at the bottom of his column "Irish Eyes" depicting his newly found freedom of retirement. Thomas F. O'Neill in his column "Introspective" tells a story in the style of a family reminiscense, beginning in 1828. Gerard Meister ("Thinking Out Loud") discusses with humor a conversation in which the party of the second part never recognized the tongue in cheek of the party of the first part.

Leo C. Helmer, in addition to his 'ere Lent recipe' just right for Super Bowl gameday, adds another article on railroads-this time some Katy facts laced with images that are clickable for larger views.  "Angel Whispers" by Peg Jones, is timely and directly instructional. "Consider This" is a bit of a soapbox for LC Van Savage, and many of us are standing in the crowd of her fans. She also has the article, "Dressing Up To Go Shopping? No More!." The continuing story, "Rabbo Tales," adds Chapter 6, part 2, for this adult fantasy.

Editor's Note:  "Italy's 8,000 dead doves come not long after 2 million dead fish washed ashore along Maryland's Chesapeake Bay -- and just days after up to 5,000 blackbirds fell out of the sky in a one-mile area near Beebe, Ark., and thousands of drum fish turned up dead along a stretch of an Arkansas river. Other animal die-offs in the past two weeks include reports of 40,000 dead crabs washing ashore near Kent, England, hundreds of snapper fish dead in New Zealand, 150 tons of red tilapia dead in Vietnam, 500 jackdaws crashing to their death in Sweden, more than 450 birds falling onto a Louisiana highway and a mass of dead fish in a Florida creek. Fireworks, pollution, disease and parasites are some of the official theories behind the strange deaths. Federal records indicate mass die-offs happen "on average every other day" in North America, The Associated Press reported."
Does that report disturb you? Does it disturb you more or less than the demonstrations in Egypt?

Though disturbed by both personally, hopefully, since*Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow today, we shall see you in March!

*Click for poem about Punxsutawney Phil written in 2001.

Click on Mary E. Adair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.This issue appears in the ezine at
and also in the blog
with the capability of adding comments at the latter.
We invite you to become a fan of our publication at FaceBook.

Uncle William

By John I. Blair

(See pic below)

When he was born in Cornwall,
Baptized at Saint Columba’s church
Where family sat in carved pews,
Stiffly dressed for Sunday mass,
Mad King George still sat the throne,
Napoleon ruled in France.

Not even in his teens
He journeyed with his family
Aboard the Hope of Philadelphia
First to Baltimore and then
To raw frontier,
Missouri, County Pike,

Where drafty cabins, angry Indians,
Rough uncultured settlers,
Harsh accents, sounds and smells,
Must have made the New World
Frightening at times
For twelve year olds.

And suddenly his parents died.
Leaving him, his brothers, sister,
Stranded there so far
From all they’d known,
Somehow surviving,
Helped by caring strangers.

Will grew up and married,
Farmed the soil, had children,
Moved to Illinois,
Built a house upon the prairie,
Lost a son and then his wife,
Reconsidered life,

And sailed for California,
In 1856 a catalyst for dreams,
A golden land for fresh beginnings,
Where he became a rancher,
Reinventing self yet once again
Five thousand miles from Cornwall.

And his children’s children’s
Children’s children’s children
Live there still, more native
To the place than most around them,
Roots sunk deep into the land, the home
That William finally found.

©2010 John I. Blair

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

Below: William Veale's marker


By John I. Blair

Late last night
The tinny tap of raindrops
On the vent above my stove
Announced the outstretched arms
Of Alex, first hurricane this year,
Were sweeping high aloof.

When Alex rushed ashore –
A wild man from the Caribbean –
Palms had bent before his wrath,
Roads and beaches
Gullied with his floods,
Beasts cowered down in brush.

But that was by his natal deep;
Three hundred miles of Texas passed
He masques as Alexander now,
As Sandy, Al the yardman
Merely watering the gardens,
Refilling all the birdbaths,

Hushing me to sleep
With soft calypso rhythms
On my unsuspecting roof.

©2010 John I. Blair

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

Sadness at Absence

By John I. Blair

Sadness at absence –
Old song, old book
On every shelf,

Imagined laughter,
Missed touch,
Fantasized fragrance.

I want to take you up,
Embrace, kiss,
Look and look and look.

That won’t be;
So here I’ll sit,
Blue, silent;

Write this
And caress
My aching self.

©2010 John I. Blair

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


By John I. Blair

As my shape devolves to pear
I share some of that fruit’s
Ripe delicacy, easiness to bruise;

My skin, so very thin,
Starts to mottle at the least abuse
And blushes in the sun.

Alas the fragrance I am prone to
Would by no one be called “fruity”,
Rather “cheesy;” and cheese does go

With pears; but I think my inner sweetness,
Always there, has now increased –
And will until I rot.

©2010 John I. Blair

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

A Post Oak On Matlock Road

(See pic below)
Many lives ago I was an acorn,
Round and smooth,
Clinging to my mother oak
Amid a grove along the stream.

Later, when the Man came
And cut so many trees
To make his buildings,
I had found a spot

Between some remnant roots
Where I sprouted as a tiny shoot
With just four leaves
Upon a spindly stem.

Rich with humus
From the dwindling woodland,
The soil nurtured me
Until I was a sapling

Tall and straight enough
To shade the deep veranda
Of the foursquare house
He’d built beside the springs.

He spared me, fenced me
From the goats and horses,
Watered me a bit
When rains failed.

My spreading arms
Sheltered his sons at play.
I recall their laughter
Even as they left,

Fodder for the war
So far away. The Man wept
Beside my trunk one night
When he heard their fate.

Years passed;
New people, new sounds,
Wagons, coaches, buggies,
Droves of bawling cattle.

Strange machinery,
First puffing steam,
Then smoke, growled
Along the road.

The empty house burned,
Replaced by pastures,
Other houses, other men,
Women, children.

And I grew old,
Rough-barked, tall, thick,
All the while
The people came and went,

And brought disruption,
Soil ripped open, all
The other oaks destroyed,
The stream defiled,

Cement, asphalt, bricks,
Lines of cars, offices
In rows, a pavement desert
Where my roots hide.

Yet I remain, deep
In memories, long
In patience, living
Where all else died.

Stand beneath my limbs
And look about you;
History is made
Not just of what is gone

But what survives.

©2009 John I. Blair

Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Below:M. T. Johnson Plantation House

Marrowbone Spring

By John I. Blair

Who would guess
But for the silent metal sign
How much has happened here?

A shallow swale
Strewn with rocks and sticks,
Trashed with waste
From parking lots nearby,
On wet days muddy,
Hard as brick on dry.

Famous once
For sandstone-filtered waters,
Magnet for thirsty animals, thirsty folk,
It saw life ebb and flow
For eons on this baking prairie.

Then came the Texians,
Sam Houston, soldiers
At a military post,
Plantations set in dusty fields,
Slave cabins, sorrows, joys,
Church picnics, brawling boys.

A scattered town, Comanche raids,
Rumbling coaches bound for Abilene,
Cotton far as eye could see.

But all these memories are gone,
Consumed by urban wilderness,
Mile after concrete mile;
Rains sealed from the aquifer,
This sweet oasis shrank
To an anomaly,

What’s here now?

Not even ghosts.

©2009 John I. Blair

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

The KATY Railroad

By Leocthasme

A couple of months ago I wrote an article on US Railroads and Steam Locomotives, and since it sort of brought a bit of attention to my various ramblings, I thought I might add more information about Railroad Lore. A good place to start is with the KATY since my father worked for this line not long after he returned home from WW1. He started with them in Pittsburg Kansas and ended up in Saint Louis at their freight rate offices. Other members of my father’s family also worked for the Railroads, but those are other stories I will attempt to expound on at a later date as I pick up on all the rail history in my family. My dad’s father and a brother also worked for various rail industries, and it seems my granddad at one time or another related stories to me about earlier Helmer family ancestors having some history with railroads, some are even repeatable.

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad,
The Katy

The Katy logo-Click for larger view

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, better known as simply The Katy or K-T, was a large granger system that, like the Illinois Central and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroads ran, unconventionally, north-south (instead of the more common, east-west).

As its name implies, the Katy connected all of its namesake states

with connections to cities such as Omaha and St. Louis in the north and Galveston and San Antonio, Texas in the south.

The railroad was somewhat successful over the years but it ran into financial trouble a number of times throughout its life. As finances again became an issue in the 1980s the MKT sought a merger with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1986 and in 1989 the Katy became yet another part of the UP empire.

The Katy has its beginnings dating back to 1865 when the Union Pacific Railway (later changed to the Missouri Kansas and Texas Railroad in 1870) was chartered to build a line connecting Junction City, Kansas to New Orleans. Around the same time the railroad was able to reach Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri when it took control of the Tebo & Neosho Railroad which connected places like Sedalia and Clinton, Missouri with Nevada, Missouri.

Of note the Katy was leased to the Missouri Pacific in 1880 and became part of the burgeoning Jay Gould empire for a time, which lasted until 1888. The biggest advantage the Katy gained from this leasing was that it acquired new markets and reached cities like Fort Worth, Dallas, and Waco, Texas.

A Trestle-Click for larger view

While profits and the overall health of Katy ebbed and flowed through its early years, after the lucrative World War II traffic ended following 1945 it became increasingly difficult to remain solvent.

The Katy Area-Click for larger view

The Katy, of course, never had the most direct lines and in a region choked with other railroads it comes as no surprise that trying to survive became an increasingly tricky task as the years progressed (to add to its problems the railroad had poor management on and off throughout its existence).

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad also never had an extensive passenger network (which, looking back at history today this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, particularly as the service began to eat away severely at profits across the industry following WWII) and as early as the 1950s the railroad began to wholesale abandon unprofitable rail lines and shutdown passenger operations where possible.

By the 1970s things were looking better for the Katy as a new president, Reginald Whitman, worked to abandon unprofitable lines and passenger operations and bring in new freight business, which had become quite successful by the early 1980s. However, the merger movement of the 1980s was, unfortunately, the final blow for the Katy.

Click for larger view--With the loss of profitable overhead traffic

provided by such railroads as the Missouri Pacific Railroad and Frisco and now a David among Goliaths surrounding the MKT it simply had no choice but to find a merger partner somewhere, which it did in 1986 with the Union Pacific Railroad and finally in December, 1989 the Katy officially became part of the UP system.

While much of the original Katy system has since been either abandoned or railbanked some of its lines continue to carry on, including with the Union Pacific. Although now gone, the Union Pacific recently paid homage to several of its predecessors, including the Katy, by painting one of its new EMD SD70ACe locomotives into a version of the railroad’s famous red and black passenger livery complete with a version of its well known livery.

Click for larger view--This unit debuted

during September of 2005 and it received a number recognizing the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad’s final year of independence, 1988.

Researched: January 2011 by Leo C. Helmer

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

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


By Mary E. Adair

Each by his own perspective
Must speak and live
Associate, tolerate
Accept or give
Rise before dawn
Or when day is half done
Meander slowly
Or speedily run
Or barely discern
From experience
Or only school to learn
Proceed with caution
Or brashly rush
Yield gracefully
Or all opposition crush
Surge to the forefront
Or quietly wait
Inevitably perspective
Determines our fate.

©01/09/2011 Mary E. Adair

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

Always Looking

By John I. Blair

Always Looking -- When Cemeteries Became Parks

In our family photo albums one of the nicest photos of my wife as a baby, shows her all dressed up, being held by a smiling man in a uniform.

photo of Grandpa Franz and his granddaughter-Click for larger view

Surrounding them are trees, dense shrubbery, lush grass – all the aspects of a lovely park. But when asked where it was taken, she says “at Green-Wood Cemetery” where her grandfather – the man in the uniform, was a guard and visitor guide back in the 1940s.

The history of cemeteries goes back thousands of years – as long as humans have been burying or otherwise giving special handling to their dead. Various religious beliefs have led to very distinctive practices, ranging from the eternal pyramids of the Egyptian pharaohs to the frail burial platforms of some native peoples, both rather grim.

Early-style graveyard, neglected graveyard-Click for larger view

And cemeteries in Europe, and in America after its first settlement, continued to be rather plain, grim places, filled with stone slabs, suitable for mourning (and looking for ghosts).

Haunted (?) graveyard -Click for larger view

But in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as part of a particular esthetic that arose in that period in the United States, some cemeteries were developed to be places of beauty both artistic and horticultural – public gardens before public parks became common, rivaling parks after they came along, and even serving as alternative public parks for many. Most American cities of any size have at least one older cemetery of this sort and some are so extraordinary as to be nationally, or at least regionally, famous.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Watertown, Massachusetts (a Boston suburb), founded in 1831, was the first example. At 174 acres it is only medium-sized for a garden cemetery, but is outstanding for its landscaping, art, and famous burials. Mt. Auburn, designed by Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn, is credited as the beginning of the entire American public parks and gardens movement and it set the style for several other landmark American cemeteries, including Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery (1836), Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (1838), Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore (1838), and Forest Hills Cemetery, also in Boston (1848). Collectively these provided the link between 18th-century English landscape gardening and Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park in New York City (1850).

Guidebooks were published to Mt. Auburn, strict rules established about the size and style of grave markers. Above all, beautiful landscaping was designed, planted, and carefully tended. Today Mt. Auburn’s collection of over 5,500 trees of nearly 700 species and varieties and thousands of well-kept shrubs and herbaceous plants decorates the hills, ponds, woodlands, clearings, and more than 10 miles of roads. Notable burials include William Ellery Channing, John Ciardi, Charles Bulfinch, Dorothea Dix, Mary Baker Eddy, Buckminster Fuller, Winslow Homer.

Three photos of Mt. Auburn below:

photos of Mt. Auburn 1. Egyptian Revival Entrance Gate Click for larger view

photos of Mt. Auburn 2. Civil War Monument Click for larger view

photos of Mt. Auburn 3. Some of the beautiful Mt.Auburn plantins and monuments Click for larger view

Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, is larger than Mt. Auburn at 225 acres and similarly carefully landscaped. Famous burials include e. e. cummings, William Lloyd Garrison, Edward Everett Hale, Kahlil Gibran, and Eugene O’Neill. The gateway, instead of Egyptian like Mt. Auburn, is in the far more typical neo-gothic style.

Two photos of Forest Hills below:

photos of forest Hills 1. Forest Hills Gateway-Click for larger view

photos of forest Hills 2. Flowering tree at Forest Hills-Click for larger view

Laurel Hill in Philadelphia, though smaller than Mt. Auburn, is noted for its remarkable collection of architectural and sculptural mausoleums. More than 33,000 markers and monuments fill the hillside cemetery. Famous burials include Civil War General George Gordon Meade; Owen Wister, novelist and author of The Virginian; and Henry Deringer, the gunsmith.

Four photos of Laurel Hill below:

photos of Laurel Hills 1. Cluster of monuments at Laurel Hills-Click for larger view

photos of Laurel Hills 2. Mausoleums at Laurel Hills-Click for larger view

photos of Laurel Hills 3. A Cemetery Monument at Laurel Hills-Click for larger view

photos of Laurel Hills 4. Laurel Hills Cemetery Tomb-Click for larger view

Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore is perhaps less impressive for its landscaping, but remarkable for the artwork included among its monuments. Among its famous burials are John Wilkes Booth and two other conspirators in the Lincoln assassination. (It’s a custom to leave Lincoln pennies on the graves of the assassins.) Also Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister in law; Johns Hopkins the philanthropist; and Sidney Lanier the poet.

Four photos of Green Mount below:

photos from Green Mount 1. Green Mount Cemetery-entrance Gate-Click for larger view

photos from Green Mount 2. Riggs Monument at Green Mount-Click for larger view

photos from Green Mount 3. Bronze Mourner at Green Mount-Click for larger view

photos from Green Mount 4. John Weaver mausoleum at Green Mount-Click for larger view

But the giant of all the early garden cemeteries is Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where my wife’s grandpa worked. At 478 acres and with approximately 600,000 graves, it is in its own class. Almost as large as nearby Prospect Park, at one time Green-Wood was nearly as popular as a place for city families to spend a pleasant weekend outing. Grandpa Franz was for years a security guard and greeter there, who would help visitors find what they were looking for and make sure they behaved themselves. My father-in-law as a young man worked with his dad at Green-Wood as a groundskeeper.

My wife remembers the place fondly as being totally different from the generally gloomy, crowded, burial grounds more typical of New York City cemeteries. Instead, Green-Wood was filled with trees, shrubbery, and flowers. The rugged glacial moraine setting rises to as much as 200 feet above the harbor that lies at the foot of the hill on which Green-Wood is located. The gothic revival entrance gate is a well-known landmark on Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue and often reproduced in books about the history of architecture as a quintessential example of the gothic revival style. Famous burials at Green-wood are legion and range from DeWitt Clinton to Leonard Bernstein. The cemetery has even figured as a setting (for the climactic scene) in a detective novel: "Lawrence Block’s A Walk Among the Tombstones."

Three photos of Green-Wood cemetery below:

photos from Green Wood 1. Entrance gate at Green Wood-Click for larger view

photos from Green Wood 2. Vista at Green Wood-Click for larger view

photos from Green Wood 3. Chapel at Green Wood-Click for larger view

Many, many more garden cemeteries were developed as the country exploded with prosperity and confidence following the Civil War. Some are as impressive as the pioneering ones described. Of the ones from more modern times, perhaps the most famous might be Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, memorialized as “Whispering Glades” in the Evelyn Waugh novel (later made into a movie) The Loved One. Forest Lawn is actually a series of cemeteries in the Los Angeles area, originating with the one in Glendale, and later ones in Hollywood Hills and other locations, designed entirely as parks with myriads of often spectacular artworks and lavish landscaping, but unobtrusive grave markers. The Forest Lawn concept, originated in the early 20th century, has dominated American cemetery design for decades now, and will perhaps only be supplanted as more and more people opt for cremation in the face of skyrocketing burial costs and urban land becomes prohibitively expensive.

Two photos of Forest Lawn below:

photos from Forest Lawn 1. Forest Lawn, Glendale-Click for larger view

photos from Forest Lawn 2. Chapel at Forest Lawn-Click for larger view

But whatever one may think about the extravagances and frequently blatant one-upmanship that garden cemeteries came to be associated with, many of them remain beautiful places filled with remarkable art and lush landscaping – and is that such a bad thing?

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

Consider This

By LC Van Savage

On The Art Of Raising Up And Kicking Down

Well folks, let’s get it started. We’re a little late with this batch, but we can easily catch up. The list is growing longer. It’s time, isn’t it that we began to tear down the latest bunch of heroes, right? Let’s go.

Let us begin with oh, say the thirty-three Chilean miners who were in that mine for 69 days last August. Heroes all, right? We loved them, prayed for them, learned about all of them and their families, and when they were finally sucked up to freedom and fresh air, we applauded and cried and offered them anything they’d ever want for the rest of their lives.

So, isn’t it time we started to rip at them? Isn’t it time we began to bellow about how they could have gotten out of that mine if they’d just worked a little harder? Put their backs into it? Maybe dug themselves out with their hard hats? I mean come on, they’ve had their 15 minutes of fame. Let’s get on with it. Enough already. After all, they’re just Chilean miners. What right do they have to be given freebies or fame or trips or TV interviews or rewards of any kind just because there was some crazy malfunction in their mine? Sixty-nine days buried 2300 feet below the earth’s surface? What’s the big deal?

And what’s with that Elizabeth Smart kid from Salt Lake who’s now finally had her day in court? She was walking around in plain sight with her kidnapper, back in 2003. Why didn’t she run? Why didn’t she cry out? What was the matter with her, anyway? OK, she was being raped on a daily basis by her dirt bag abductor, big deal, and OK, he told her repeatedly that if she ever, ever once asked for help he’d see to it that her family was murdered immediately. This went on for nine months. Hey, she was 14, certainly old enough to be brave and not terrified, and strong enough to outwit that slime and his slime wife who did nothing to help her. Come on, 14, old enough to run, to scream for help. Everyone says so. Just read the comments on the Internet. No sympathy there, although there was so much concern when she went missing, all the prayers and posters and wishes and statements to the press. After all, she was only 18 miles from home, for crying out loud. But then after she got rescued, well, time enough for us all to turn our backs on her, frown and announce en masse that she could have helped herself if she’d only just tried, if she had just put her mind to it. Yes folks, I’ve read just those words, and actually heard those words coming from some of my now former friends. What was wrong with her? Being terrified and desperate and brainwashed at the hands of a rapist, kidnapper and torturer is a pretty lame excuse to not bolt because it’s so obvious she had so many chances. She was 14 after all, not a kid anymore.

Now let’s get started on William Windsor and Kate Templeton. Oh how we love to see that beautiful, loving and glowing young couple together, she wearing Britain’s beloved Princess Diana’s engagement ring. She is so tall, so beautiful and graceful, her smile just radiant, her husband-to-be and king-to-be fiancĂ©, so handsome and charming with his mother’s up-from-under grin. So isn’t it about time we began to talk about their splitting up? Sure, it’s way, way overdue, isn’t it? We must be vigilant. But then, maybe we’ll wait for them to marry this coming April and then around June first, we can all start talking about their getting divorced.

We love to trash the royals, right? Remember how we bad-mouthed Fergie? Too fat. Too flamboyant. Too much her own woman. Too commercial. Too unroyal. Too too too. Talk about judgmental; we are awfully good at it.

Hey, there’s a brand new guy on the scene now we can all start shredding right away. He’s been in all the papers. His name is Ted Williams. No, not that Ted Williams but a new Ted Williams. This Ted is 50-something, and he was until very recently homeless, coming out of years of drug and alcohol abuse, living in a tent behind an abandoned gas station. He begged for money by the side of roadways and avenues. He was a mess but he was getting clean and sober, and he possessed a very rich, good voice. Someone asked him to use that voice while they held a video camera out of their car window, and poof, because of that great, smooth, deep voice, suddenly Mr. Williams is the darling of the world with job offers coming in from everywhere, a new house, a part in a Jack Nicholson film, a solid job in TV and radio announcing. After 20 years he was finally reunited with his 90 something mother who’d never lost faith in her son. We all love Ted Williams; we’re cheering him on, boosting him up the ladder. We’re all giddy with joy, devouring every single detail of this man’s roaring two day extreme life-change. Oh well, I say let’s give the man another week or so before we begin to trash him. I wonder how we’ll do that; perhaps we’ll focus on his dark days and so we can convince ourselves and everyone else that he really doesn’t deserve this mercurial gift, that all his blathering about God’s helping him, hearing him, how he never gave up his faith and prayed endlessly is all just bunk; he was just in the right place at the right time with a nice, mellow voice. I suggest we kick him to the curb as soon as possible, OK? How dare he succeed?

We do this to all our heroes. Think back to our war heroes. Sports figures. Inventors. Scientists. Medical people. Boot-strap people who’ve come from nothing and made huge successes of their lives. People who have rescued those in distress. People catapulted to fame for performing a heroic act. People in politics; we vote them in with cheers of joy and encouragement and once they put their hand on that Bible, we begin a campaign to tell anyone who’ll listen, especially the media, especially the Internet that they’re losers and ought to be immediately impeached. We love and cheer them on the way up, kick them hard when they’re up there and then viciously shove them down. We seem to be particularly livid at wealthy folks, most of whom have worked very hard and long to become wealthy. Not allowed.

Why do we do this? I don’t get it. Have I ever been guilty of doing this? Yes, I am ashamed to say. I was taught well and took years to stop that destructive and stupid MO. Now before I shoot my mouth off about the undeserved, newly vilified, I try to stop and think. It seems to come too naturally to us and we just keep on doing it and doing it. Is there a psychologist out there who can explain this to me? Do we have dark ulterior motives? Do we do this because we’re so jealous that these good things have happened to others and not to us? If that’s so, do we think if we trash these people we’ll somehow step into their place in the sun and get that warmth and fame for ourselves? What’s the deal with this behaviour? I honestly don’t understand. Do you? Do you do this also? Why? Is this a global habit or an American habit? Whatever, let’s stop. It’s just wrong.

Email lc at
See her on ?incredibleMAINE?
on Saturdays at 10:30 AM on MPBN.
Click on LC Van Savage for bio.

Cookin' With Leo

By Leocthasme

Chili Maple Mustard Ribs

Here we are again, it’s that time of the year, right before Lent, whatever was lent, and the final football frolic, aka, the Superbowl. Big day for all, not only them sport fans, but just about everybody in general, whether we like football or not we are gonna’ be involved, somehow, however. Even if we ain’t tuned into the game some announcer on some station is keepin’ us upgraded on the latest score, whatever. So, take it in stride and just do something good, like good cookin’ that is.. Even if the whole gang ain’t showin’ up to invade the front of the TV screen and the fridg to find all the goodies that can be found therein. Just make the best of it anyway and make somethin’ good for just the homefolks, whoever. After all just remember them lent days will be upon us all whether we like it or not. An them good Christians, what gets all turned on about that sort of thing, are gonna make themselves heard and felt. The supers are gonna’ get all sort of stuff in for them folks so they can get lent felt, however. Anyway here is somethin’ good for them last good days.

Here is what you need and how to do it:



      about 4 pounds pork spareribs
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

      For the Glaze:

      1 tablespoon olive oil
      1 small onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
      1/2 cup sugar-free pancake syrup
      3 tablespoons red wine
      3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
      1 tablespoon chili powder


Oven Method: Preheat oven to 325 F. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper; set aside. Make glaze as directed above. Place ribs on baking sheet, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil, brush ribs with glaze, and continue baking for 45 more minutes, turning and brushing with glaze several times.

Grill Method: Preheat grill to a low setting. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper; set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil for 1 minute. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in syrup, vinegar, mustard and chili powder. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Place ribs on grill, cover and cook 45 minutes, turning three times. Brush ribs with glaze and continue cooking for another 45 minutes, turning and brushing with glaze several times. Serve immediately.

Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

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


By Thomas F. O'Neill

The summer of 1828

Jonny Hargrove turned 14 in the summer of 1828 and he was a restless teen who sought adventure.

    “I don’t know what to do with that boy,” said Jonny’s grandfather to his daughter at the Pottsville canal, “I could get more work out of a one eyed coyote. Your boy is lazy as they come.”
    “He’s just an imaginative child still has some grow’n in him,” said Jonny’s Mother.
    “Yea but he’s a waste’n his best work’n years,” said the grandfather.
    Jonny climbed up high in a tree and worked his way out onto one of its large limbs. It was then that he noticed young Sally a bright eyed young scarlet.
    “Ahhhh !!!” yelled Jonny as he lost his balance and fell into the water. A large splash pursued followed by a laugh from Sally. The thirteen year old girl removed a man’s trousers from a potato sack. She ran behind a tree and quickly put on the trousers. She then tied a rope around her waist like a belt. After all the pants were five times her size and she didn’t want to lose her father’s trousers in the canal.
    “What are you boy’s doing in there?” a man yelled.
    “What does it look like,” yelled Sally
    “We’s fish’n,” yelled Jonny.
    “I’ll knock that sassiness out of you boy’s you wait and see,” yelled the Man.
    “I’m not a boy I’m a girl,” yelled Sally.
    “I can vouch for that Mister,” Jonny said, “she goes to my School.”
    “Do I look stupid or something,” yelled the Man.
    “Yep,” said Jonny
    “Since when do girls ware trousers?” yelled the man.
    “I only ware um when I swim,” Sally replied and she was highly insulted by being referred to as a boy.
    “The canal is not for swim’n so get out,” the man said angrily.
    “So what are you the governor or something?” asked Jonny sarcastically.
    Well that certainly ruffled the man’s feathers to the point of jumping in the canal after them. The two belligerent teens never swam so fast, their hearts were pounding with a combination of fear and amusement. Their legs and arms moved faster than they ever had before. When they got to the other side of the canal they ran but Sally quickly noticed something - her trousers were gone.
    She quickly jumped behind a bush, “I got you, you little monkey,” the man said to Sally.
    “Hey Mister please get me my trousers in the water,” said Sally with great embarrassment.
    “What?” the man said with confusion, “you don’t seem so sassy now, now do you.”
    “Please Mister,” she said.
    “Oh all right can’t have you run’n around with no clothes on,” said the man.
    Sometime later he yelled “I found them.”
    Sally popped her head up from behind the bush at the same time an elderly man was riding past her on a mule. He saw the man with the trousers in his hand and the child hiding behind the bush. He then noticed the child had no pants on. The poor fellow holding the trousers never saw the fist that came in his direction from the man on the mule - popping him on the jaw. That elderly man jumped off his mule so fast to aid the trouser less child. He was a bare fisted champion fighter in his youth and it sure showed. The elderly gentleman knocked out the man holding the trousers with a one-two bare knuckle combination punch.
    “Here you are child,” said the elderly man handing her the trousers “that scoundrel will never bother you again.”
    “There you are,” Jonny said to Sally, “I was wonder’n what happened to ya.”
    The elderly man on the mule trotted on past him.
    It was then that Jonny noticed the man lying on the ground.
    “Boy he must really be out of shape if the swimming made him that tired,” Jonny said, “hey there’s a big bump on his head.”
    “It’s a long story, Jonny” said Sally.


Jonny’s Mother spoke often about how her husband was killed in 1814 by the British troops. He was killed in the war of 1812 shortly after the birth of their son. Jonny’s Mother witnessed the burning of the White House. “The devil be with us this night Johnny” she said clutching her infant child tightly to her chest.

Her heart pounding with fear and the sound of the screaming people embedded in her soul. She hid with her parents and prayed for the war’s carnage to end. Her husband never returned home from that war. On many nights Jonny would clutch his mother in his arms as she relived the moment of that harrowing night in her nightmares.

She moved northward with her parents and in 1819 settled in the village of Pottsville. Jonny’s Mother gained employment as a School teacher and her Father owned a small produce store.

Every Friday early in the morning before the sun would rise Jonny and his grandfather would go to the Pottsville canal. They would wait there with many others for the large barge to arrive. They would then load their goods on to a mule drawn carriage to their produce store.

    “I’m going to be a barge captain and travel all over the world on it all the way to China,” said Jonny to Sally.
    “You have to cross a big Ocean to go to China,” Sally told him as they sat on a large tree limb overlooking the canal.
    “Maybe if I make enough money on the barge I could buy my own ship,” said Jonny.
    Friday’s came quickly that summer and Jonny dreaded having to unload the crates.
    “Where is that lazy good for nothing son of yours,” said the grandfather to his daughter.
    “He’s not here,” she said.
    The barge arrived and the produce was loaded on to their mule drawn carriage.
    “No lunch or supper for that lazy boy,” he said to his daughter as they headed home to their store.
    The barge headed southward down the canal.
    The barge Captain heard something it sounded like two large rodents. He started slamming a large stick against the large wooden crates.
    “I’m tired of you dam rats get off me barge!!!!”

Two loud screams broke loose causing the captain to tumble backwards over a large crate.

    “Who the bedevil may you two be?” said the captain.
    “We just wanted to come along that’s all Mister,” said Jonny.
    “Yea” said Sally, “don’t hit us with the stick.”

The Captain had a thick Gaelic sounding accent that they never heard before.

    “Look this is no place for children,” the Captain yelled, “but I can’t take yas back until me finish me rounds and me ain’t pay’n yas none either.”
    “Where are you headed” asked Sally.
    “We’s got a lot of stops along the way to Philadelphia.”
    “Never been there,” said Jonny.
    “This is no Joy ride there’s raiders to look out for,” said the Captain.
    “What’s a Raider?” asked Sally “is that like a big cat or something?”
    “No you stupid child they steal your barge.”
    “What do they do with it,” asked Jonny.
    “Pirates they are dirty Pirates” said the Captain, “they sell the produce for themselves and when they done with their business they set it ablaze.”
    “What do they do with the people?” asked Sally with fear in her voice.
    “They kill um” said the Captain “that’s why this is no place for the likes of you.”

Sally and Jonny stared at the Captain in disbelief wondering if they will ever get home alive. As the barge pulled into the next stop ropes were thrown to them and two mules pulled the barge closer to land. They saw a man struggling with one of the mules because the mule was refusing to pull. An elderly man gave the mule a swat on its rear with a large piece of wood. The mule kicked back with its hind legs knocking another fella clear into the canal.

    “That must hurt,” said Sally to Jonny watching it all from the barge.
    “Well just don’t sit there, unload” the Captain yelled to the two barge mates.

Unloading the barge was no easy task it was hard work and their arms ached and their legs ached and parts of their bodies they never noticed before ached.

    “How many more stops are there?” Jonny asked lying across a crate.
    “Plenty” said the Captain.

Sally fell asleep lying between two crates.

    “You look like a bright young fella so since you’re here you can learn to sail me barge,” said the Captain, ”then you can take your nap like your girl.”
    “She’s not my girl she’s just a friend,” said Jonny.
    “Nightfall,” said the Captain, “that’s when I will let you sail me barge. That way the Raiders can’t get to her. If she’s move’n at night they know we are awake and they will leave us be. The Raiders come and steal when we’s sleep’n not when we’s move’n.”
    “When will I sleep if I’m up all night,” asked Jonny.
    “When you’re not unloading you can sleep like your girl there,” said the Captain.

That night Sally stayed really close to Jonny every sound and thump made them jumpy. They were scared of the darkness that surrounded them. They were mostly scared of the unseen Raiders ready to pounce on their barge at any moment.

    “I wonder what they look like Jonny?” Sally asked in a petrified voice.
    “Those Raiders, those Pirates?” asked Sally
    “I don’t even want to think about it,” Jonny said trying to hide his fear.

Jonny felt a large callused hand come down on his shoulder and he let out the loudest and most gut wrenching scream the Captain ever heard. Sally clutched on to the Captain’s arm during that terrifying moment.

    “What in blazes boy is wrong with you?” asked the Captain.
    “I thought you were a raider,” Jonny said in a frightened voice.
    “You’re doing a good Job sailing me barge we’s be in Philadelphia by morn’n,” said the Captain.

The Captain handed each of them a dried beef-jerky to eat and water to drink. After three days on the barge Jonny was thinking about his mother’s scrambled eggs. He told Sally about his Mother’s cooked ham, her warm fresh milk, and her fresh bread. “Stop it Jonny you’re making me hungrier,” Sally said placing her hand on her stomach.

As the barge approached Philadelphia two small boats pulled up close to them. “Raiders!!!!” screamed Sally. Jonny grabbed a stick to take a swing at the men in the boats.

    “For crying out loud I ought a just leave yas off here,” said the Captain pulling the stick out of Jonny’s hand.

The two high strung teens grabbed the ropes that were thrown their way by the men in the boats. They tied them to the barge good and tight. Mules on shore pulled the barge closer to the harbor. The two barge mates helped to unload and when they thought they were all through they sat down with delight.

    “What are you two rug rats doing over there?” asked the Captain.
    “Everything is off the Barge,” said Jonny proudly.
    “We need to fill our next orders for the trip back so get to work,” said the Captain angrily.
    As they looked at all the crates ready to be loaded on board Jonny’s legs began to feel like two wet noodles. Sally’s arms began to feel like ragweed and tears began to well up in their eyes at the horror of it all.
    “What good are yas?” asked the Captain, “when we get back to Pottsville you two got to go.”

When the barge was reloaded with various produce “well,” said the Captain, “we got to get some food in yas before we head back.”

The Pottsville teens were awe struck by the amount of people on the City streets. They never saw so many stores and taverns. The Captain took the two starving children into the White Horse Tavern for a hot meal and fresh coffee. The Captain drank one mug of beer after another in that character filled place. He seemed to know many people there as he comingled and laughed.

    “Where are you from?” Sally asked the Captain, “I never heard anyone talk like you before.”
    “Me nether,” said Jonny, “sometimes I have a hard time with the way you talk.”
    “Ireland,” came the Captain’s reply.
    “Is it near Philadelphia,” Jonny asked.
    Sally laughed at Jonny’s question and so did the Captain.
    “No” said the Captain, “but there are plenty of Irish here just the same.”
    It wasn’t long before the Captain was filled to the brim with booze and he soon began to sing to the other patrons in Gaelic. Sally shrugged her shoulders at Jonny because they couldn’t sing along. They didn’t know the words to the songs and the songs weren’t even in English. The owner in due time placed the Captain in a small room on the second floor to sleep off his drunken stupor.
    “Hey” said the owner “do you guys have any money.”
    “No” said Jonny.
    “I don’t either” said Sally.
    “Well here is a dime and a nickel for you” he said to Jonny, “and here is a dime and a nickel for you” he said to Sally, “go out and have fun he won’t be going anywhere till morning. You can stay here tonight this is where he normally stays before heading back to Port Carbon. Is that where you two are from?”
    “No we live in Pottsville,” said Sally.
    “Well have fun and come back later I’ll give you guys a room.”

They walked around and visited various stores. They saw beautiful suites and dresses in store windows. They saw men walking around with large top hates and women with beautiful hairpins with fancy designs.

    They came to a large theater, “how much does it cost to get in?” Jonny asked the man in the ticket booth.
    “Ten cents” came the reply.
    “That’s an awful lot of money Jonny,” said Sally.
    “I’ll tell you what,” said the man in the booth, “I’ll let both of you in for ten cents.”
    “Thanks Mister,” said Jonny excitedly.
    They went inside the theater, “I never been in one of these before” said Sally.
    A man and women began to pompously sniffle with hankies up to their noses. It seemed to them that the two young barge workers sitting nearby watching the Opera were in desperate need of a good scrubbing down. “The people they let in here,” said the woman.
    “How much for one of those meat sandwiches?” Jonny asked a street Vender.
    “Two Cents,” came his reply.
    “Two cents for a sandwich” said Sally “everything is so much more expensive here.”
    “Well I’m still hungry so give me one and her one” Jonny said to the vender.
    The next morning the Captain seemed to have a bit of a hangover but he was looking forward to his trip northward to Port Carbon via the various canals and stops along the way.
    “Well you guys need to wash your clothes and take a scrubbing before we head off,” he said to his two young stowaways. He didn’t have the heart to leave them there.
    “We’re not taking a bath together” said Sally
    “Did I say together first you than him,” said the Captain.
    “I had to share a room with Jonny last night. What will people think of me in Pottsville?” Sally grumbled to the Captain and Jonny through a closed door.
    “Hurry up in there” the Captain yelled to Sally.
    “I just got in the water and it’s cold,” said Sally.
    “Oh I boiled that water plenty,” said the Captain.
    “What are we supposed to ware while our clothes are being washed?” Sally asked angrily.
    “Just wrap yourself in a towel,” he said, “now get scrubbing.”

On a Friday morning the barge slowly moved towards the Pottsville canal. Sally and Jonny were so grateful to be back home. They were only gone a week but they never been on such an adventure before especially to a grand place like Philadelphia.

As the mules pulled the barge closer to shore Jonny’s grandfather noticed his grandson on board with his friend Sally.

    “You got a lot of explaining to do” said Jonny’s grandfather, “but first unload our produce. Your Mother hasn’t slept a wink since you two left.”

Jonny gave his Grandfather a big hug.

    “There’s plenty of time for that later just help me unload my produce,” said the Grandfather.
    When Jonny’s Mother seen him she broke down in tears, “where did you go” she asked.
    “Philadelphia,” said Sally excitedly.
    “Do you believe that they went all the way there on the Barge,” said the Grandfather.

Jonny turned and waved goodbye to the barge captain as he sailed off.

The week long disappearance of Jonny and Sally made a huge stir in Pottsville that summer.

The day they went missing someone came forward and reported that a man chased a trouser less child across the Pottsville canal. The incident occurred just a few days before the two teens went missing. That certainly raised the fear level among the Pottsville villagers. Things like that just don’t happen in Pottsville. A description of the man went out and the elderly gentleman on the mule spotted that scoundrel once again near the Pottsville canal. He jumped off his mule and gave that man a one-two bare knuckle combination punch. The suspect was knocked out cold and quickly apprehended. The judge ordered that he be held without bail in the Pottsville jail.

The day the two young barge mates returned home the man in the Pottsville jail was released. It took him a long time to build up enough courage to return to the canal. The two adventurous youth were ordered by the Court to do work for the man accused of their abduction. They had to tend to O’Neill’s farm for each day he was unjustly incarcerated and it served them right.

Sally and Jonny eventually married due to the scandal of them sharing a room in Philadelphia. They took over the produce store in 1849. They had twelve children over the years and their descendants are spread-out across the United State.

We must never lose touch with what filled the heart and soul of those two young teens in the summer of 1828. Their wondrous youth filled imaginations and carefree innocence are within all of us just waiting to be rediscovered.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O?Neill

    Phone: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

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

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

I’m Retired

Here comes February, a little girl with her first valentine, a red bow in her windblown hair, a kiss waiting on her lips, a tantrum just back of her laughter.
_Hal Borland.

As promised last month I’M RETIRED. On my last day in gainful employment 31st January I sort of took a look at “significant” Januaries in my life. The first one was January 10th in 1946; of course I don’t remember that.

14th January 1949 was my first recordable day. I remember my father bringing out a Whitehead cow to the fair of Blessington.

January 1957 I was in a Dublin hospital much closer to death than I realised.

January 1963 the country was in the grip of the biggest freeze up for decades. I was foddering cattle in Kylebeg. The Blessington Lake was frozen over for weeks and as one local put it “if you spat against the wind you’d be hit in the face with a lump of ice.”

On the 10th January 1979 I learned (or should have learned) a valuable lesson about the futility of projecting. My mother was in a coma in Naas hospital and I was driving along a country road to visit her. Of course I embarked on a line of “intelligent “thinking. “My mother is going to die. I’ll be in bits at the funereal and not able to drive my car. Who will I get to drive it?” So that I could concentrate without interruption and do some serious planning I turned off the car radio. Very soon I went in on a patch of frozen snow, skidded, collided with a brand-new, oncoming BMW, turned it over and almost wrote off my own car. Thank God there were no injuries. My mother liver for another twelve years and there wasn’t a bother on me at her funereal.

On 14th January 1980 I got married. It was snowing. And the scene in the video where my late father’s hat blows off is rather entertaining.

And then of course there was January 2011. Our government was in chaos, we have a general election in February and I was told the following story in Lacken:

A Wicklow farmer finally decided to buy a TV. The store in Blessington assured him that they would install the antenna and TV the next day. The next evening the farmer turned on his new TV and found only political adverts, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, the whole lot, on every channel. The next morning he turned the TV on and found only political adverts again. When he came in to eat dinner he tried the TV again but still only found political adverts. The next day when he still found only political adverts he called the store to complain. The owner said that it was impossible for every channel to only have political adverts, but agreed to send their repairman to check the TV. When the TV repairman turned on the TV he found that the farmer was right. After looking at the TV for a while he went outside to check the antenna. In a few minutes he returned and told the farmer he had found the problem. The antenna had been installed on top of the windmill and grounded to the manure spreader.

I went to see John B. Keane’s masterpiece The Field starring Brian Dennehy. And while it takes a bit of getting used to the Bull McCabe with an American accent, it was a great production and one that I’m sure the late John B. would be well pleased with.

I’m only a few hours retired and I’m already getting plenty of slagging. But it’s great crack.

Last month I was going on about what Charles Lamb had to say about retirement but . . .you know . . .I kind of prefer what James Thomson had to say about it:

An elegant sufficiency, content,
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books,
Ease and alternate labour, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven!

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

Thinking Out Loud

By Gerard Meister

My constant readers know that I am facetious at times, perhaps overly so one might say. But, that is not always my fault as witness the following scenario:

My wife and I go to our club’s gym a couple/three times a week. Marilyn always drives and holds the gym door open for me so I can safely amble in with my cane. She then swipes our membership card while I mosey on over to the towel rack – a full yard away (which I navigate in about the same time as the current record for the 100 yard dash). Also picking up a towel was one of my tennis buddies from our (senior) doubles league, a league in which I last competed in September, 2009, and the following conversation ensues:

He: “Meister, haven’t seen you in a while, are you still playing?”

Me: Balanced against the counter and leaning on my cane as I try to put a towel under my arm without toppling over, “Well, I only play singles now, that’s why you haven’t seen me.”

He: “Wow, that’s great, where do you play?”

Me: (Understand that I didn’t know the guy that well, so I didn’t know if he was kidding me, or what, so I decided to play along.) “I play at the club in the afternoon,” I explain, knowing that no club member has ever ventured onto the courts after lunch. No one has the time: lunch, shower, afternoon nap and it’s time for the early bird.

He: “Wow, that’s great, when’s your next game?”

Me: Now I’m getting worried, the guy actually thinks I’m serious. I have to think of something to say to shake some sense into this guy. “Uh, it’s sometime Sunday but I’m playing Yitzhak Perlman and he’s flying in from a concert in South Africa, and what with the headwinds I’m not really sure of the time.”

He: “You’ll let me know?”

Me: “What a question,” I say, as I turn and walk away.

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

Dressing Up To Go Shopping? No More!

By LC Van Savage

My shopping done at the loved/hated big box store, I decided to go into a small eatery attached to one side to indulge myself in a fabulous hot concoction of sugar, caffeine, and a lot of I don’t give a rat’s about additives. Oh my, that is one mighty good potable and drinking it likely shortens my life, but do I care?

Sitting there looking out at the big, busy store I thought how smart we all are these days because now we dress so comfortably. Sneakers. Sweatshirts and sweatpants. Pants on women. Big, loose sweaters, big warm loose jackets, hats of choice. It’s just great we do that. I sat there watching all that humanity streaming in and out and I remembered.

Remembered what, you ask. OK, so you’re not asking but I’ll tell you anyway. It was not all that long ago (we oldsters always say that when in fact those things really were all that long ago) anyway, back in the day no one dressed comfortably to go abroad. (“Abroad” is a snooty way of saying “leaving the house to go anywhere,” not necessarily to Europe.)

Yes, back in the day, whatever that day was, when one wanted to go to the movies or shopping or traveling, one got gussied up. I had a dear friend named Margo. Talk about June Cleaver. A clone! Margo always dressed up to greet her husband at the door when he got home. She had a fabulous dinner prepared, candles lit, martinis chilling, music playing. Her hair was done, expensive subtle perfume in proper places on her body, expensive subtle jewelry also in proper places on her body, seams razor straight, heels high—Margo was one classy lady. I always had a fantasy I’d grow up to be exactly like Margo; never came close. Just ask Mongo.

I well remember sitting in her serene, perfect parlour and saying, “Hey Margo!” She graciously let me call her by her first name. Her son and I were exchanging newly born hormonal rustlings, and Margo was well aware but never made much of it. I said to her, “Margo, I gotta go to the city on Saturday to the Museum of Natural History and I’m gonna wear blue jeans and Keds and my big sloppy joe sweater. I just don’t want to dress up and walk on those hard floors all day.”

Now Margo wasn’t a blancher but she pretty much blanched at that. “Now Elsie,” she said, in her well modulated tones. “My dear, you can NOT go into New York City unless you dress up. It simply isn’t done. You must wear suitable pumps (snooty word for “dressy shoes”) and nylons with very very straight seams, and of course a girdle, clean and appropriate underwear, a nice understated dress with a crisp, clean white collar if possible, a warm but fashionable coat, shoes the same color as the hem of your dress and a small, elegant purse to match the shoes. Understated make-up of course, and for heaven’s sake, have those nails done, and oh, you simply must do something about that wild hair of yours; all those curls flying all over the place. I mean really, Elsie darling, you simply cannot go to New York City in DUNGAREES! It just is not done!”

I loved that elegant woman and so did as she bid and spent a miserable day at that glorious museum clumping about on those cold marble floors, cursing Margo for forcing me to wear that girdle to hold up those torturous stockings with their impossible, ropey seams. Girdles, unless you were severely undernourished, maybe flattened a woman’s butt and belly, but gave her a big, wobbling water-ballooned top from her waist to her arm pits. So that afternoon in that hallowed old museum, I stomped into the lady’s loo, stripped off that girdle from hell and the stockings too, stuffed them all into a waste bin and marched defiantly out of that bathroom with, gasp, bare legs, my feet crammed into black suede high heeled pumps. The relief was palpable, although tromping about in those shoes with no stockings quickly became another painful ordeal. But at least there was no longer any girdle/garter/stocking/seam pain. Life is all about compromise, right? For me, it was an OK trade-off and once on the Staten Island ferry going home, I kicked off those pumps and trod about the decks of The Gold Star Mother utterly barefooted. Exhale! I never dared tell Margo. She’d have scolded.

And so I sat there that recent afternoon at that sticky table drinking that concoction with extra whipped cream, and looked at all those people in their sloppy, roomy, comfortable clothing and thought, “you guys have no idea how lucky you are to live now.” We all have discomforts with which to deal, but one of them today doesn’t have to be restrictive, painful stupid clothing.

I tried to imagine had that big store been open in the 1800s, how women in long skirts, petticoats, corsets, bustles and huge hats would have managed in those aisles. I mean every time they turned around they’d have wiped a shelf clean of inventory with just their caged backsides. And the men; they didn’t get away with much. Starched shirts, black woolen suits, derbies. Oh my, people back then must have been some gamey.

People in those days couldn’t even swim in comfort. Women had to be nearly completely covered up because showing limbs—(they weren’t ever called “legs” by your better class of people) showing one’s female limbs was considered beyond scandalous. And their bathing attire was usually woolen so I reckon between the sand and salt water, there were serious chafe issues.

Men too couldn’t expose much of themselves at the beach; tank tops were OK for their manly chests, and bathing trunks were OK too, but they often wore long black tights. Oh boy, swimming back then, could that actually have been fun? Makes one wonder when skinny dipping was invented, but certainly not why.

I finally drained that hot, life shortening and wonderful libation to which I confess I’ve become permanently addicted, stood and looked around at that mob of people making their purchases, congratulating them silently on their intelligent haute couture.

A well turned out woman did enter the store about that time and I looked at her shoes. They were very high heeled which I’ll admit can make a woman’s legs look gorgeous, but oh my, women who wear those things are pitched forward while walking around on the balls of their feet and their poor toes are squashed crookedly and painfully into the points of those shoes. She clicked across the floor and people looked at her because oh, she was so beautifully dressed, and yet I thought she had not come so far from women’s binding their feet or wearing high button shoes. Well, as my old wise grandmother used to say, “Elsie, beauty requires that we suffer pain.” Of all her many homilies, that was my least favorite.

Well, perhaps on some level it’s still true. Women in particular still suffer a lot of unnecessary physical pain to be someone else’s idea of beautiful. Ever chatted with someone who’s endured a chemical peel? But in fact we really have come a long way, and I for one applaud it. Onward!

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

Angel Whispers

By Peg Jones

I have asked the angels to share a message with all about our new year 2011. They seem to be pleased that I have asked for their message. I believe they have been waiting for me to ask for their input. It as if I am seeing a group of angels who have the message they want to share on this day.

We come to you today to speak of the condition of the world and how we would like you all to consider on all that is happening here in our world. A lot that is going on is very troublesome and the situation is quite desperate. There have been demonstrations in Tunisia and there are demonstrations in Egypt as we speak. There is still war occurring in Afghanistan and the entire Middle East is very much a time bomb. We hope that a peaceful resolution can be worked out in Egypt.

We are asking the light workers of the world to hold peace vigils and prayer and healing services. We are asking that you continue to shine your light to all the world so that the many beams around the world look like one large beacon of light.

The angels ask us to do moments of silence and to spend some time in meditation. They also say this is a good time to do random acts of kindness when there is a call to do this. Helping your neighbor clear off their car full of snow or helping to shovel the snow away from their car from someone who is elderly is a welcomed random act of kindness.

They say that this is a time of great change for all on the earth plane and that we have seen the changes. Whether it be the weather changes taking place or the way in which we physically feel from day to day, these are all signs of the changes occurring.

I asked the angels what they would like to see on our earth plane for the year 2011. They say that service to all is something the angels would like to see here on earth. They would like to see the world calmer and more tolerant of each other’s beliefs and practices. They also say that peace begins in your family and peace begins within your heart. That is where your light is and that is where the love of our angels are too. The love of our higher power is also there. When feeling this serenity you will know that you have done your part to contribute to a peaceful world. Also paying attention to the messages you hear from your angels daily are a good way to stay connected to the Universe. The main thing to remember is that your angels won’t come to you until you ask them for help. Do ask for their guidance; you will see a difference in your life and you will feel the peace and the serenity in your heart.

The angels are also asking you to be kind to yourselves. I have heard this many times, that we are not able to help each other truly until we help ourselves first.

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

As Big As The Sky

All these years
With all these fears
Each passing day
Every word you say

In the night
When all seems right
There’s no escape
There’s no other way

When I dream of the past
All the memories that couldn’t last
Every vision that keeps rushing by
They hit me as big as the sky
When memories come at me and I don't know why
They rush through my head as big as the sky

All of this time
Each treasure we would find
On a course to collide
I never could understand why

When I dream of the past
All those moments are gone in a flash
Each memory has left me with the will to survive
And I will always love you as big as the sky
I don’t think I will ever understand why
I will always love you as big as the sky

©1/26/2011 Bruce Clifford
Click on Bruce Clifford for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

A Shooting Star

Like a shooting star
Another day
Every moment we take
All of the choices we made

I don't care
I would go anywhere
This is who we are
Just like a shooting star

Days turn into nights
Living free and avoiding fights
All we can do is take a chance
Is there time for just one dance

I don't care
We could go anywhere
This is who we are
Just like a shooting star

©1/14/2011 Bruce Clifford
Click on Bruce Clifford for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Holding On To Life

Coming up for air
She said don't go there
Not knowing what to do
There's a distance between me and you

Holding on to life
Thinking through this twice
A road without a name
Such an unproductive game

Are you the angel in the night
Are you the reason for the fight
Are you the energy and the wave
Are you everything I have saved

Are you the moments in the sun
Are you the panic room and the gun
Are you the limits that were made
Are you everything that I gave

Coming up for air
This is not going anywhere
The voice inside is on the loose
The dawn of each never ending truth

Are you the angel in the night
Are you the reason for the fight
Are you the energy and the wave
Are you everything I have saved

Are you the moments in the sun
Are you the panic room and the gun
Are you the limits that were made
Are you everything that I gave

©1/18/2011 Bruce Clifford
Click on Bruce Clifford for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Rabbo Tales, Chapter 6 - part 2

By Mark Crocker

Full Moon-Part 2

Rabbo hopped of to the library for his morning lesson. But once in the library he could hear giggling, laughing, and banging sounds coming from above him.

He blocked out the noises coming from above and started to study hard as Isis had told him that he would be taking a huge test at the end of the six days of class. Isis had told him that it would be a very important test that would mean either he had learned a lot or a little.

When his class was over, Rabbo came out of the library and was surprised to see Athena wearing her robe sitting at the kitchen table eating a sandwich. There was no sign of Bastet anywhere.

Merwyn walked out of the living room into the kitchen. “I guess Bastet is here. How can anyone sleep with you two around?”

    “Dad, you did not ask why she is here or how she got here,” said Athena trying not to giggle as she spoke.
    “Well?” said Merwyn.
    “She teleported here, and she needs your help and my help with something she wants.” For the next hour Athena explained what Bastet needed and what she was willing to do in return for getting what she wanted.

    Rabbo wondered why Bastet wanted a child and why Merwyn was unwilling to help her.

    While they were talking Bastet came down the stairs wearing one of Athena’s long togas and sat at the table and listened.

    It was then that Rabbo noticed that she looked like a more tanned and fuller Isis.

    Rabbo hopped over to Bastet and looked up at her from the floor. “You look like Isis.” Bastet looked down at Rabbo with her mouth wide open. “Oh, my! Your rabbit talks!”

    “Yes, I talk. Why should I not talk? You talk, so I talk to you,” said Rabbo looking up at Bastet.
    “Oh, he’s so cute!” said Bastet to Athena.

    Rabbo hopped around to his chair and jumped up on his chair then onto the table and sat down in front of Bastet. He turned and looked at Merwyn and Athena and said, “Sorry.” He then turned back to Bastet. “I have eyes, ears and a brain. I am not some cute rabbit that has no clue, so please talk to me as you would talk to any human. I may seem like a rabbit, but my IQ is far higher than the original humans of this planet. Forgive me if I sound upset. I am not. I just would like you to understand that I think, talk and have a brain. Don’t let my looks fool you.”

    “I am very sorry. I did not mean to insult you,” said Bastet bowing her head towards Rabbo.

    Merwyn slid his hand over his face to hide his smile. “Very well said my dear friend” said Merwyn privately to Rabbo.

    “I still think he’s so cute for a rabbit,” said Bastet on the general telepathic mode to Athena and Merwyn totally unaware that Rabbo could also hear her.
    “My name is Rabbo,” said Rabbo in the same telepathic mode.

    Bastet brought her hand to her mouth as if to say “Oh!”

    “I better explain Rabbo to you, darling” said Athena.

    Athena turned to Bastet and started to explain what she had done to Rabbo and how he came into being.

    Merwyn turned and looked at Rabbo “Come on Rabbo, let’s go outside and check on the cattle and see what work can be done in the garden as there will be no peace in the house while Bastet is here”.

    As they walked towards the meadow where the cattle had been staked out Merwyn explained that Bastet, while being the younger sister of Isis, was very smart if somewhat clumsy socially. She was in fact one of the smartest genetic engineers on Sirius, and more than likely was very surprised that Athena had done what she did to Rabbo and Cat. What properly surprised her more was that Athena had done such a wonderful job on them both. Something that Merwyn sounded very proud of. But what bothered Merwyn was the fact that Bastet wanted a child.

    The cattle were gazing towards the house and almost at the end of the ropes that were being used to stop them from wandering off into the woods.

    Merwyn paced out an area that seemed very large to Rabbo. The area would be fenced off using wood that Merwyn would have to cut from the forest.

    They then walked down to the garden where fresh dirt had been dug in long lines from one side of the garden to the other.

    That area had previously been left empty, and Merwyn and Rabbo had been planning on tilling the soil to get it ready for planting of parsnips, carrots, cabbage, onions, garlic and beets that would be used to get them though the winter.

    Merwyn looked around wondering who or what had invaded the garden and had been digging and tilling the soil for them.

    It was Rabbo that spotted the paw prints that lead away from the garden towards the low mound that the wild rabbits lived in.

    “You know this area is twice the size of what we need to plant for our winter vegetables,” said Merwyn to Rabbo.
    “I think that’s what they planned,” said Rabbo looking up at Merwyn.
    “Who planned?”
    “I think they helped so they can have food, too, though the winter,” mused Rabbo.
    “Who are you talking about?” asked Merwyn.

    Rabbo stood up on his hind legs, turned toward the low mound, and saw a row of rabbits' ears all turned towards him and Merwyn.

    “My brothers and sisters,” said Rabbo almost laughing.
    “Well, if you can, ask them to dig an area about the same size. I will plant as much as I can, so they can eat very well all winter long. But as it is, we can eat ok if we spilt half with them. Does that sound fair?” asked Merwyn.

    Rabbo and Merwyn set to work in the garden planting rows and rows of carrots, parsnips, cabbage, onions, garlic and beets. They then set up irrigation pipes so that the garden could be watered without any problems.

    Then Rabbo hopped out an area that was the same size as the area that the wild rabbits had dug, and started to dig hoping that his brothers and sisters would understand what he wanted.

    As he marked out and dug the area, he thought to himself how useful it would be to be able to talk to them so that he could find out what they wanted and what he could do to help them and how they could tell him things that they saw and heard that would help to protect not just them but Merwyn and Athena too.

    Rabbo and Merwyn headed back towards the house as the sun was starting to set behind the forest to the west.

    They walked into the kitchen and could smell food being cooked even before they were both fully inside.

    Athena and Bastet were sitting at the kitchen table talking about genetic engineering and what they could do to make an embryo for Bastet.

    “We could do me too at the same time” said Athena. “I so want a baby”
    “WHAT!” said Merwyn.
    “Dad, my mind is made up. I want and will have a baby.” And with that Athena got up and left the kitchen.
    Rabbo looked up at Merwyn “It seems that would make her very happy. But there are no males here other than you to help her with that need”.
    “That’s part of the reason I don’t want her in the village. She has been running on her hormones since she met the pregnant young priestess from the village. Beside from what I understand the genes of the people of this planet don’t match ours so the chances of Athena getting pregnant from the males here are low. I do know that they don’t interest her anyway,” Merwyn told Rabbo on the private telepathic mode.

    Athena did not join Merwyn, Rabbo, Cat and Bastet for dinner as she had gone to her bedroom and then to the library and had locked the door.

    Rabbo was sitting on the rug by the fireplace with Cat and his mother. Merwyn was outside with Bastet in an astral trance.

    Rabbo did not notice Athena float softly and quietly out of the library and come up next to him.

    The first thing he knew was when he floated up off the rug and felt her arms enfold him in Athena’s warmth.

    “I think that played out very well. Dad will help to get Bastet pregnant by giving her the genes she needs. I just wish that it was the normal method. But still she is not into men so it will have to be gene manipulation and Bastet taught me how to do that. And as for me…” Athena left the rest of what she was going to say unsaid on the private telepathic mode.

    The full moon was bright over the trees and the house as Athena and Rabbo came outside to see if Merwyn was mentally back from his astral travel trip and to see what Bastet was doing.

    Bastet was in her lion form stretched out in front of Merwyn who was sitting very still with his legs crossed and his eyes closed.

    It was clear to even Rabbo that Merwyn was light years away and that it would be some time before he came back.

    Rabbo looked at Bastet in her lion form and saw that the toga she had been wearing in her normal human form was neatly folded and laying on the chair that Athena liked to sit in when the sun was warm and bright.

    Bastet turned and looked up at Athena. She slowly got up and rubbed her lion head and body against Athena before she walked into the house.

    Athena turned and started to walk to the house following Bastet.

    As Rabbo sat watching Athena and Bastet heading into the house he was surprised to see the slide across the grass and follow them into the house.

    Rabbo turned back and looked at Merwyn he was surprised to see his brothers and sisters very close to Merwyn. What surprised him even more was the fact that the other wild rabbits were just as close.

    He saw his two female friends almost at Merwyn's feet eating grass and looking over at him.

    His first female friend hopped over and Rabbo noticed that her stomach was fat and it moved a little as if something was inside.

    Then Rabbo remembered the words that Athena had spoken one time recently, “She is checking out the mother of her grand children.”

    Suddenly Rabbo laughed to himself and understood fully why he liked her and the other female.

    He hopped over to his new female friend and sniffed her and she did smell very interesting. He was about to use his nose to nudge her off somewhere so that they could be alone when he heard chattering behind him.

    Rabbo turned and one of his sisters was right behind him. And next to her were four small young rabbits.

    His sister sat back on her hind legs and made the grass sound to the young rabbit and leaned down and pointed her nose at the grass.

    Rabbo forgot about his interest in the other female rabbit and listened to his sister, and followed her around as she showed the young rabbits lots of different things and made different sounds for each different item.

    After a long while they ended up at the burrows. As his sister sat in front of the burrows entrance she made a sound and used her nose to point out the entrance to each burrow.

    But when she came to the big burrow she made a different sound and pointed her nose at Rabbo.

    Rabbo sat back on his legs and thought about all the sounds and repeated each one in his head.

    He knew the sounds for grass, stone, path, water, dig, come, go, here, there, sky, follow, and many more. He knew that now he might be able to learn the rabbits' language and therefore talk to his brothers and sisters.

    Rabbo watched as his sister entered one of the normal size borrows and she looked at the young rabbits and made the "follow" sound to them.

    Rabbo hopped back up toward the garden and met two of his brothers who were sniffing the area that Rabbo and Merwyn had planted that afternoon.

    He looked at them and hopped over to the area that he had marked out and made the dig sound.

    His brother looked at each other and chattered very fast to each other then turned back and nodded at him.

    Rabbo then acted like he was harvesting carrots and other vegetables and then acted like her was giving half to his brothers.

    His brothers chatted to each other some more and they acted like they gave half back to Rabbo of the pretend pile that he had given them.

    Rabbo nodded to them and knew that he had just negotiated a deal by which the rabbits would dig another large area, and they would take a quarter of the vegetables.

    His brothers looked up at the full moon that was now high over head and nodded to him and started to hop toward the low mound that was their home.

    Rabbo hopped to Merwyn to see if he was back.

    In the moonlight Rabbo could she that Merwyn was still sitting cross legged, but one hand was rubbing his chin as if he was deep in thought.

    “So you negotiated a deal with your siblings. How much are they going to take? Half or three quarters?” asked Merwyn.
    “Just a quarter after they have dug the new area,” replied Rabbo.
    “So that would have been half of the old area they dug for us?”
    “Yes, that right. I think we have a good deal,” said Rabbo.
    “Offer them a third tomorrow and not a quarter.”

    Merwyn and Rabbo walked up to the house and quietly entered the kitchen.

    So Rabbo hopped over to his elevator and rode upstairs and then hopped down the hallway towards Athena’s bedroom.

    When he entered the bedroom he saw Athena sitting at her dresser brushing her hair and Bastet asleep in Athena’s bed.

    The window was wide open and a gentle breeze was blowing though bringing the night smells into the room.

    “Dad is right. With Bastet here I won’t get anything done. And tomorrow Bastet and I need to get to work in the lab with our gene splicing and mixing and matching so that we can make two embryos to go in her,” said Athena on the private telepathic mode to Rabbo.
    “I thought you wanted a baby, too?” asked Rabbo on the same mode.

    Athena just smiled, got up and slipped into bed next to the sleeping Bastet who turned and snuggled close into Athena.

    Rabbo hopped up onto the window sill and curled up to sleep.

    The sunlight was pouring in though the window and the warmth of the sun on his fur woke Rabbo up.

    Rabbo looked over at Athena’s bed and saw that it was made and empty. So he slipped off the window sill and went downstairs to have his breakfast and get ready for class.

    Merwyn was sitting at the kitchen table eating his breakfast and drinking a glass of fresh milk.

    “Athena and Bastet are already in the lab so we won’t see them today or tomorrow. So it’s just you and I today, Rabbo,” said Merwyn.

    Rabbo ate his breakfast and drank the fresh milk wondering why the milk always tasted best when it was still warm from the cows.

    Once Rabbo had finished his breakfast he hopped into the library and stated his morning class.

    The class was very hard involving algebra, trigonometry and calculus. It was so hard in fact that Rabbo had to keep going back over things and checking and rechecking his answers. In fact it took him so long that the sun was at the noon day mark when he had finally done the last set of figures.

    Rabbo’s mind was so tired from all the hard mental work that he was having a hard time keeping his ears up straight. Rabbo also noticed that his eyes were hurting too and a nap was very much in order.

    Merwyn looked at Rabbo and shook his head but did not say a word about how Rabbo looked or that Rabbo could not keep his ears up.

    Rabbo knew that Merwyn had wanted to have him negotiate with his brothers and sisters about giving them a third of the harvest from the area that they would dig. But he felt too beat and tired to even hop to the garden let alone down to the warren. As for talking in rabbit, his mind was still to busy with figures and formulas to even think in rabbit. All he could think about was what Isis had been teaching him.

    Rabbo had eaten only about half of his lunch when he felt his head start to nod from being tired. So he hopped down from the table and over to the rug.

    He curled up and closed his eyes and fell straight into a deep sleep.

    When he awoke an hour later, Cat was sitting next to him cleaning his ears. “Think and learn too much. Silly rabbit. Fill head with too much,” said Cat.

    Rabbo waited until Cat had finished cleaning him before he sat up and looked around and noticed that his mother was sitting behind Cat cleaning her paws.

    Rabbo returned to the library and sat down at the computer and waited for his next class to begin.

    The class picked up right where his morning class had left off but with a difference that Rabbo picked up on straight away.

    The class was aimed more at going over the morning lessons rather than new things that would have taxed Rabbo’s brain even more than it had been in the morning class.

    At the end of the class, Rabbo was informed that there would be no exam and that Rabbo could relax for 30 days as it was time for him to rest his mind and body so that once classes restarted 31 days later he would be fresh and ready to start learn more things and that the classes would be different as he would have to go outside to learn some of the things and that he would have to do some of his classes at night when it was dark.

    Rabbo was very happy to know that he would have 30 days free of classes as he was starting to think that all he did was learn and learn and that while it was great to be learning there was only so much that his brain could hold at one time.

    As it was just Rabbo and Merwyn to eat dinner that night, Merwyn set up dinner outside on the lawn.

    A wine skin hung over the back of Merwyn's chair while a small low table had been placed in front of the two low chairs that Merwyn had set out so that he and Rabbo could enjoy the early evening.

    Dinner was steak with salad, squash and pasta for Merwyn, and fresh greens with carrots peas and beans for Rabbo.

    After dinner Merwyn looked Rabbo up and down to see if he was fully recovered from his mathematical ordeal that computer Isis had put him though that day.

    Merwyn shook his head. “Pity you are not fully recovered as I was planning to start to see if you had the mental abilities that Athena has as you have some of her brain cells in that head of yours. I know you astral travel, but I have no idea how strong you are or what your other abilities are. I assume that they are the same has Athena’s but again I am not sure. I guess tomorrow or the day after we should start to see what you have. How do you feel about that?”

    Rabbo thought and then looked at Merwyn thinking hard.

    Rabbo snickered to himself as it would be funny if he was thinking so hard that smoke started to come out of his ears. In fact it was so funny that Rabbo pictured himself with smoke coming out of his ears.

    Suddenly there was smoke and then flames, followed very quickly by burning pain that hurt so much that Rabbo squealed loudly.

    Rabbo felt his ears cool and the pain stopped and the smell of burning fur and flesh drifted away very quickly. A gentle breeze wafted around his ears soothing them and making them feel even better.

    “Ok, so you have creativity. That’s two abilities I know you have. But let's wait until tomorrow at the soonest before you do any more party tricks as I don’t want you hurting yourself tonight or tomorrow as the lab is not free,” Merwyn said in a thoughtful tone. “Here, have a refill on your wine.”

    Rabbo held his glass up as Merwyn refilled his glass.

    The glass was Rabbo’s standard size glass that was about one third the size of Merwyn's glass.

    Thinking deeply and trying hard not to start his ears smoking or catching fire again Rabbo wondered how he was going to find out why Merwyn had a problem with Athena getting pregnant, and why Merwyn was unwilling to help Bastet get pregnant. After all, Rabbo had got his female rabbit friend pregnant and more than likely his new female rabbit friend.

    “Rabbo, you are deep in thought. What are you thinking about?” asked Merwyn.
    “I am confused. Athena wants a baby and you got upset. Bastet wants a baby and you won’t help her. Why? I don’t understand. I have a female friend that I made pregnant and possibly another female friend that I might have made pregnant. But you don’t want to help either Athena or Bastet, I just don’t understand,” said Rabbo in a very confused and thoughtful tone.
    “It's not that I won’t help Athena; it’s more that I can’t. As for Bastet,” Merwyn laughed, “She won’t let a guy touch her that way, so a fertile egg has to be put inside her by other means. The fact she is willing to have me help Athena tells me that she wants a baby very badly. I’m just glad that it’s not by the normal delivery method.” Merwyn paused and thought. “I’m not sure how Bastet will put a fertile egg in Athena without my help. I can’t work out how she will do that.”
    “Maybe Bastet has other plans on how to put a baby in Athena?” asked Rabbo.

    Merwyn looked at his wine glass. “There is that possibility. I don’t know what she has planned. Bastet is a wonderful smart woman. Just she sometimes does things and never explains why she did them or how she did them. I just don’t know what she has planned when it comes to Athena and having a baby. Beside I have other worries about that.” He tipped his wine glass back and drunk it dry. “You want another refill?”

    Rabbo emptied his glass and held it out for Merwyn to refill.

    They sat there in silence for some time watching the full moon rise.

    The wind blew gently down from the mountains and made the trees shake a little. It blew across Rabbo and Merwyn making Rabbo’s fur move a little.

    “Hmm,” mused Rabbo. “I wonder if we could use the wind to power something. The way you use the sun light to power the lights, elevator and computer.”
    “A windmill,” said Merwyn looking at Rabbo.

    Rabbo sipped on his glass of wine and turned and watched the wild rabbits hopping towards the area that he had negotiated to have dug with two of his brothers.

    “We could use that power to make some kind of area safe for rabbits so that they could live without worry,” mused Rabbo.

    Merwyn laughed and turned to refill his wine. After a pause he looked at Rabbo and smiled. “Do you know what would happen if this area was safe for rabbits?”

    “They would breed so fast that no matter how much we planted there would not be enough food for any of us. Think about it Rabbo. A female rabbit can have 3 to 4 litters a year with 4 to 6 kittens per litter. Let’s start off with just one male and one female rabbit. Let’s say that each litter has 4 kittens. And that she gives birth 4 times a year. Their offspring can breed at 6 months old. In one year there will be how many rabbits?"
    “That’s just 18 rabbits,” said Rabbo looking at Merwyn.
    “You are forgetting that their offspring can breed too, and each pair can add to that number.”
    “Oh,” said Rabbo “You are right.”
    “Well, how many rabbits now would that be?” said Merwyn looking hard at Rabbo.

    Rabbo thought for a moment and instead of working it out guessed, “Umm 50?”

    “That’s about right. And in the lifetime of the two rabbits that started the family, that would be 100’s or even over a thousand, depending on how long they live.”
    “So in other words, foxes, dogs, hunting birds, humans and all the other things that eat rabbits keep the number down so that we rabbits don’t end up ruling this planet. Is that right?”

    Merwyn started to laugh and laugh hard. “Yes, in a manner of speaking.” Merwyn looked at Rabbo thoughtfully. “Are you planning on taking over the planet?”

    Rabbo looked up at Merwyn and offered his wine glass to be refilled.

    “Yep. I plan to be King Rabbo and my hoards will sweep over the planet and we will rule the world!”

    Rabbo put down his glass and started to laugh hard. So hard in fact that he slipped off his chair and landed in a heap of ears, legs and fur.

    “And a great king you would be!” Merwyn reached down and picked Rabbo up and put him back in his chair. “A toast. To the king of the bunnies!”

    Merwyn and Rabbo raised their glasses and together they said “To the king of the bunnies!”

    They sat sipping their wine each deep in thought and from time to time Merwyn would refill their glasses.

    Rabbo got up and stood a little unsteady on his hind legs. He looked around and could see that the wild rabbits had stopped digging and were busy eating the grass on the lawn.

    Rabbo hopped over to the chopping block and hopped up on it. Again he stood up very unsteady on his hind legs spread out his front legs “My loyal minions.” The wild rabbits all stopped eating and hopped over to sit in front of Rabbo. They then lined themselves up in nice neat rows. “My loyal minions,” hiccuped Rabbo. “I have called you here to explain my wicked plan for world domination.” Rabbo said no more and fell off the chopping block to land in a drunken heap in front of the wild rabbits.

The wild rabbits hopped back to their feeding leaving Rabbo face down.

    “Great! That’s all I need. A drunken dictator rabbit.” muttered Merwyn to himself.
    Merwyn got up and staggered over to Rabbo. “Ok, my drunken friend. I think its time we called it a night.”
    Rabbo looked up from his crumbled heap and smiled drunkenly. “That went down well.”
“Well, we know you have astral travel, creativity and coercion,” slurred Merwyn. “I think it's time we went in before you lead a rebellion against us humans.”

Merwyn picked up Rabbo and staggered towards the house.

Watch for March's continuation of "Rabbo Tales."

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