Saturday, April 2, 2011

Old Fashion Girl

By Bruce Clifford

She's an old fashion girl with modern design
She can get to your heart without even trying

Now I'm crying
And I'm dying

She's a chemical reaction girl with dreams on her mind
She can enter your world as each dawn arrives

Now I'm drying
And I'm hiding

What to do with you
How to do without
Need a place to run
Are we in it for the fun

She's an old fashion girl with dreams and desires
She can bring you to your knees and preach to the choir

Now I'm crying
And I'm dying

What to do with you
How to do without
Find a place to go
Need to scream and shout

What to do with you
What to do with me
Need my dreams to come back
Leave my heart to be

©3/9/11 Bruce Clifford

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

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

April 2011

We all know we are unique individuals, but we tend to see others as representatives of groups.--- Deborah Tannen

Thinking about this quote reminds me of something someone said to me recently while in the act of despising a set of people, then adding, 'of course I like so and so even though he's one of them.' I was not happy to have such conversation, however the quote infers it is a common manner of viewing those we don't know personally--as a group. Perhaps it is a goal we can set to improve our concepts, to view the individuals, not the group. If we don't, so much for world peace.

John I. Blair despite other medical tests and appointments for himself, sent these poems: "Aunt Mary," "Cottonwood, " "Fragrant You," "Girl with Bows," "My Father Never Spoke of Dreams," and "Sometimes History's A Ditch."

Bruce Clifford's poems this issue are "I Love You," "Hide," "Overdosing On You," and "Old Fashioned Girl." Yours truly adds a poem inspired by procrastination, "God Didn't."

Mattie Lennon shows the latest news in Ireland, and tells about the scheduled quasquicentennial, "CIE-GAA" for "Irish Eyes." Thomas F. O'Neill's column "Introspective" avers "Education is Vital for America's Future". Gerard Meister ("Thinking Out Loud") struggles with his on-going battle with telephonic communication's new gadgets.

Eric Shackle sends us not only "Eric Shackle's Column" but two intriguing articles: "Rats of Tobruk Remember Benghazi" and "Feathers Will Fly April 2." Eric in a recent email claims he is becoming a compulsive writer, says he is "getting garrulous" these days.

"Angel Whispers" by Peg Jones, shares her revelations on Love and "Consider This" has LC Van Savage recalling why she lives in Maine.

Leo C. Helmer, brings both his Sweet Muffins recipe in "Cookin' With Leo" and an article "2011 - More on Western Swing" that showcases Zeke Clements.

The continuing story, "Rabbo Tales," adds Chapter 8 of this adult fantasy.

See you in May.

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

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Cookin' With Leo

Sweet Muffins

Well now, since I’m getting’ old and I don’t keep up with the entire goings on in this old world, which is only just a bit older than me. Don’t really need to keep up since I probably was there when whatever happened, happened. My Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother and Aztec Annie keep me up to date on things very old, after all Aztec Annie was around before the Spanish Conquistadors went looking for the Fountain Of Youth. She never even let the Aztecs ever find it so that is why they decided to end the world in 2012. I guess they figured if nobody found it by then maybe the gods would point it out for all eternity to use to keep all us earthlings alive from then on. Well that is just a thought. 

And, beside that My Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother was around when Julius met his Waterloo or whatever, so to speak. When that happened she broke into the Roman Catacombs and found all of his Kitchen Concubines’ Classic Concoctions and has been passing all that interesting Italian information on to me in bits and spurts. She has given me enough now to keep all them saints and angels transfixed forever. Sure do hate to brag, don’t I? Well anyway here is something from way back whenever, when I was just a pup so to speak. This is a Bisquick™ recipe what goes back to the ‘30s or somewhere thereabouts, whenever.
Here is what you need:
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tblspns butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Original Bisquick mix
  • 1/3 cup sugar
And here is how you do it:
Heat the oven to 400 degrees
Lightly spread a bit of butter on the bottoms of a 12 size muffin pan
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the milk, butter, egg, Bisquick mix, and sugar together until blended
Spoon the mix into the muffin pan, dividing equally in all 12 sections
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown
Serve warm with a pat of butter and jam on each muffin and lots of good Coffee.

Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

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

Thinking Out Loud

My constant readers know that I’m always at odds with my cell phone. Nothing personal or anti Semitic in my relations with the contraption, but still there is something going on, to wit:

The other day both my wife and I received a cold call from an unreachable source (no way they can be called back. I told my better half that I’ll handle the problem and off she went to play bridge. Now I know that there is no way you can call a large company and speak to a human being in the first ten or twenty prompts. So I pull up a comfortable chair, brace my back with a cushion and call the Verizon business office. But instead of dialing 611, which number is universal for the business office from here to Outer Mongolia, I dialed 6, not 611 and therein lies the rub. Each time I dialed 6, I got a prompt from Verizon that they can’t connect me.

Not to be out done by the bureaucracy I set aside my cell phone and reached for my land line so Verizon would know I meant business. Here I must admit that I thought I hung up – or whatever the term is – to shut down my cell phone. (I found out later that whatever button I pressed did not shut the contraption off.) So after a score or more prompts from the Verizon 800 number each of which had me press one or two more numbers, I lost patience slammed the phone back into its cradle as I pressed the “talk” button again, which I assumed would shut the phone down, but in truth I did hear something about a “flag” number, if need be, as the line went dead.

Now comfortably ensconced in my easy chair I decided it was time for my afternoon nap. Just as I shut my eyes I heard someone call out, “Hello Mr. Meister; Mr. Meister, hello!” Startled – I thought someone was at the door – I jumped up shouting, “I’m coming, I’m coming!” And low and behold a voice which now had, at least to my mind, an ethereal quality to it proclaimed: “I’ll wait, no problem Mr. Meister, I’ll wait.”

Okay, I got it. My cell phone – which I thought I shut off – but in any event, had lain fallow for ten or fifteen minutes, had now come back to life. “Who is this, did I call you?” I shouted in the general direction of my cell phone lying on the table (I was a bit leery about picking it up).

“Sheila Burns of Verizon, Mr. Meister,” the voice answered,” and well, in a way you did; you asked us to call you back, so here we are. How may I help you?” she asked.

To make a long story short, she explained everything to me, somehow she knew I thought I dialed 611, but did not, and then when I crashed the phone back in its cradle I must have triggered that return call (simple, when you really think about it). “Okay, I need to get a number blocked – a cold caller – can you handle it?”

“Sure, she responded, “no problem.” I thanked her profusely, apologized for any problems I might have caused and said goodbye as I grabbed cell phone off the table to disarm, shut off, hang up (or what ever the word is}. But as she said goodbye to me, a picture of the New York Post suddenly appeared on my screen. “My God,” I screamed, “somehow the Post crept into my phone.”

“No, Mr. Meister!” Sheila Burns shouted “You never shut the phone off; you must have taken a picture. Your phone is still on; hit the small button on the right side, that’s the off switch. Got it?”

Apparently I did; haven’t heard from Verizon for two days now. I’ll keep you posted.

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

Angel Whispers

Love is in the air

"__Bless all of you who are with us on our journey. We thank you for your support each day. The word is getting out that we exist and are here to help mankind to make the changes necessary for growth and rejuvenation. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Let the joy in heart help you to grow. For this joy will spill into love for all to see. Don't be afraid to show your light to all that you see. Love comes in all different colors like the chakras-

    Love can come in red which can be a bit boisterous
    Love can come in orange which is deep and bright
    Love can come in yellow which is sunny and bright like a sunny day
    Love can be green which can be a healing love from within
    Love can be blue which is telling others about your love for them
    Love can be indigo and seeing the big picture your love to all people
    Love can purple and this is a love for all things spiritual, understanding the universe's messages.__"
July 24, 2010
What color is your love today?

©Copyright2011 Peg J and the angels

I heard this message last July and used it for a daily angel message I had been doing and still do for my blog and for Face book too. This message has come to me many times and I have also meditated on it too. It seems to me that love is the base of all that makes the world go around in a positive manner. Nothing can top love. There are a lot of seconds like peace, serenity, happy, like, fond of, and I am sure there are a million other words too. Love has such melody and it's so short and to the point.

Love will change a sad, sappy time to a place that is so far away from sadness or the feeling of hate. I love you! What magic. I hate you gives you the feeling of total dejection, more hurtful than I don't like you. Love is a bouquet of flowers and a baby smiling. It can be a kiss on the cheek or a kiss on the hand they both mean love.

Love is what we need more of in this world. We need to be able share this love so that others can feel the love too. Play some nice music get that love feeling and spread it around.. Do some dancing and sing as you are dancing! The love dance and song will help you to get there too. Then there is the love of nature. Who doesn't love to be in nature, on top of a mountain, walking through a field of daisies with butterflies dancing on them. Who doesn't love going on a bike ride to the beach for the day, or going on the surprise cruise to the islands.

I have written about the heart place many times in my daily messages and on Pencilstubs ezine. The angels remind me that you will find love and that feeling of love in your heart place. Clearing away the negative feelings and taking positive action in your life.
Love is the one word that can change the world. But first we have to love ourself! When we love ourselves we give that feeling to everyone we meet and then they in turn do the same to those they see and meet each day too.

Sometimes I think that this goal of spreading love to all in our world is a dream. As I also see war, earthquakes and constant examples of what is not love in our world. But I also see I have to live with myself and all I can do is be myself and accept everyone on their own terms. To keep my judgments out of how I act in my life. Sometimes love has rules that come under the umbrella of tradition, culture, religion. So there are different rules and not for all if we continue to live that way. I am learning slowly to embrace all who I meet and not to make instant judgments or assumptions of people places and things.

My big dream for our world is that we find a way to accept each other as we are, and also so that we can learn from each other and share our uniqueness. We really are the same--we all want love, acceptance, and understanding! It's our basic right actually.
It's our choice to decide how we as individuals want to live… It's really all a choice!.

What is your choice? I choose love! The color I choose for today as to where my love is, is Pink.. What color do you choose?

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

Irish Eyes


Eighteen months after the GAA was founded the ball was thrown in, so to speak, in Irish transport.

In his book, Buses, Trains and Gaelic Games author John Cassidy tells us, “The earliest reference to Dublin Transport GAA teams is 1886 when the Inchicore railway workers founded a club called “Henry Grattan’s.” The founding members were, M. Gorman, T. Griffin, M. Kelly and the Honourary Secretary, P. O ‘Hagan. The first recorded match was against the Grocers’ Assistants and it was played, on a home-and-away basis, with each team consisting of 21 players.”

Transport workers (mainly from the railways) made up many teams in the last 14 years of the nineteenth century. There was Inchicore Emmets, Sarsfield Hurling Club, Foundry Gaels, Southern Rovers Hurling Club, Southern Gaels GFC and many more. In 1900 Transport Gaels, (later to become CIE Transport Gaels) was founded.

And now to mark 125 years (the quasquicentennial) of Gaelic games in Irish transport the GAA has given permission to Transport Gaels to play hurling, football and camogie games in Croke Park on Saturday 08th October 2011.


Criostoir O Cuana, Uachtarán Chumann Luthchleas Gael says of the occasion,
“ . . .it’s pleasing to know that the workforce of CIE still turns to Gaelic Games as an outlet for sport and leisure to this day.. . The GAA has always had strong ties with a body that has done more than any other to ensure the mass movement of our people across the island, many of them in transit to our games.”

Left: Martin McHugh
Right: Oisin McGinley

U14 GAA Player of the Year, Oisin McGinley being presented with his award by Martin McHugh at the Carrick Voc.
Fixtures and times of games in Croke Park.
12.00: Camogie match. C.I.E. Selection V Camogie selection.
12.35: Ladies Football match. C.I.E. Selection V Football Selection.
13.15: Hurling match. Transport Gaels V Liffey Gaels. (Match referee Danny Harrington, Dublin Bus).
13.45: Half-time entertainment Artane musical band.
14.45: Charity football match -

Charity football match

Martin McHugh Media Selection V Jimmy Deenihan Oireachtas Selection in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society and Special Olympics Ireland (Celebrity match referee Garda Inspector John Toomey). 15.30: Football match. Transport Gaels V Translink, Northern Ireland Transport Company. (Match referee Kieran McShea , Bus Éireann).
16.00: Half time entertainment: Artane musical band.
17.00: Plaques presented to team captains at the end of the football match.
18.30: After-match meal in upper Hogan stand, presentations to players and match officials and other presentations.

A capacity crowd is expected: as one sports commentator put it, “The only other major sporting event to clash with it on the day will be the Ocean Lava Lanzarote Triathlon.”

Immediately permission was granted to Transport Gaels, by the GAA, the committee decided that all takings would go to the Alzheimer Society and Special Olympics Ireland.
In the words of CIE Chairman John Lynch, “The achievements, both on and off the field, testify to the dedication of so many people. . . Running a sporting organisation is a time consuming business but with the continued voluntary involvement of managers, coaches, administrators, players and supporters CIE Transport Gaels will pass on a substantial legacy for future generations to build upon.”

This historic event will provide much needed funding for two very deserving charities.

The Alzheimer Society was founded in 1982 by a small group of people who were caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s Disease or a related dementia. Today, it is a national voluntary organisation with an extensive national network of branches, regional offices and services that aims to provide people with all forms of dementia, their families and carers with the necessary support to maximise their quality of life.

Maurice O’Connell, CEO, told me, “Our Society is delighted to be involved in CIE Transport Gaels 125th Anniversary Games. By partnering with Transport Gaels we hope to raise awareness about the work that we do and also raise much needed funds so we can continue to provide important services to people in Ireland living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The Society is the leading dementia-specific service provider in Ireland, providing people with all forms of dementia and their families and carers, information and support to help maximise their quality of life. We work in the heart of local communities to provide a range of critical services, including day care, home care, residential respite, advocacy services, carer support groups, social clubs, family carer training programmes and our National Helpline (1800 341 341). With existing and probable future funding cuts the success of this event will influence the level of service we can provide into the future.”

Special Olympics Ireland changes lives. Its mission is "to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with an intellectual disability, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community."

PRO of CIE Transport Gaels, Donegal man, John Cassidy says, ”We are very thankful to the GAA for the use of Croke Park and to all the volunteers working towards this memorable event. I haven’t felt so exhilarated since Donegal won the All-Ireland final in 1992.”
Details on

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

Eric Shackle's Column

Friday, April 1, 2011
Posted by shack at 4:42 PM
From Sydney, Australia.

Copyboys Are an Extinct Race

This article was first published in the Texas daily newspaper, The Hereford Brand, on April 28, 2001. It's being republished here in 2011, because The Press building, in Christchurch, New Zealand, badly damaged in the recent disastrous earthquake, is one of many buildings ordered to be demolished.

Generations of famous editors, politicians and businessmen began work as copyboys, when that job was the first rung of a traditional ladder to success. My own climb up the journalistic ladder led not to success, but to a small weather station perched on the roof of The Press, a morning daily occupying a gaunt, fortress-like building in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Aged 16, and just out of school in 1935, at the end of the Great Depression, I had scored a job there as a copyboy (wages one pound, then equivalent to four U.S. dollars, a week). I dreamed of writing like my favorite American authors, Don Marquis, Damon Runyon and Sinclair Lewis.

I worked from 6pm to 2am six days a week. Every midnight, I had to go on to the flat roof of the Press building, then scale a rickety, sometimes frost-covered ladder, flashlight in one gloved hand, pencil held between clenched teeth, to check the temperature and the previous day's rainfall and hours of sunshine.

One particularly cold night, my predecessor had caused a stir by reporting an above-zero temperature. "Are you sure that was the right reading?" he was asked. "Sure I'm sure," he replied. "There was so much frost on the thermometer that I couldn't read it at all, so I wiped it clean and took it inside under a good light to make sure I got it right."
In those distant pre-war days, copyboys had to fill paste-pots and inkwells, dole out fat 2B pencils, buy sandwiches and cigarettes for reporters and other staff, hunt rats that infested many of the barn-like, uncarpeted newspaper buildings around the world, and perform a dozen other menial tasks.

Soon after The Press's presses began producing the early edition, the copy boy had to get on his bike and carry a huge armful of papers across Cathedral Square and feed them into mail boxes at the General Post Office. They had to be posted by 2am to catch the country trains. One night, in heavy rain, my front wheel caught in the slippery tramline (streetcar track) and I went sprawling (came a gutser was the then popular phrase I used in describing the incident next day). Thirty-six rural readers must have wondered why their papers, received by post, were liberally splashed with mud.

The Great U.S. Writers website ... says that Damon Runyon (1884-1946), "the greatest newspaperman of his age," may have been a copyboy, since he was only 15 when he began working for the Pueblo (Colorado) Evening Press. As a cub reporter, he "developed a taste for fancy clothes, nightlife and alcohol." Soon afterwards he was a full-fledged news reporter. When a typographical slip rendered his name RUNYON instead of RANYON, he decided to keep it that way.

He went on to write about everything. The Great U.S. Writers Web site, which (surprisingly) is in Yorkshire, England says his subjects were "baseball games, boxing matches, murder trials, congressional hearings, obituaries, victory marches, funeral processions, interviews, profiles, editorial, humorous columns, and front page leads.

Some days you would find four Runyon items in one edition. W. R Hearst gave his editors a unique instruction 'Run Runyon uncut.' He sold 76 stories to American magazines between 1929 - 1945. Collections of these stories sold in their millions in the USA and Britain. What's more, editions were published in French, German and Spanish. Runyon enjoyed international acclaim." There's a fascinating Story of Damon Runyon at the Denver Press Club. .

Being a copyboy at the age of 17 was the best job he ever had, U.S. novelist and Chicago Tribune writer Bob Greene wrote in his nationally syndicated column one day last year.

"I was a copyboy at the Columbus Citizen-Journal, a morning newspaper that now... is dead. The paste pots had to be cleaned in the men's room -- in the days before computers in newspaper offices, pieces of paper with headlines written on them had to be pasted to pieces of paper on which news stories were typed. Paste pots -- ceramic coffee cups filled with thick white paste -- were used for this. When they would get all gunked up, the copyboys would have to swab them out with copy paper dipped in water. This seemed like a fine way to earn a paycheck; it was actually sort of fun.

"The sandwich runs were for the entire news staff -- four times a day the copyboy on duty was required to ask each reporter, copy editor and photographer whether he or she wanted a sandwich, and then go out to Paoletti's restaurant and fetch them. This, too, seemed at the time like noble work, and as I recall the most popular sandwich among the C-J staff was something called a Denver, the making of which necessitated the copyboy standing around Paoletti's while eggs fried on a grill."

Another former copyboy is Dr Harris Sussman, of Boston, Massachusetts, "a teacher of teachers, a trainer of facilitators, a recognized futurist and a speaker who is often noted and quoted." He says: "On my 18th birthday, October 26, 1962, I thought the world would end -- not just my world, the whole world. I was working at The Washington Post in Washington, D.C... I was a freshman in college, the first undergraduate (I was told) to be a copyboy there. I would be there for only three months, on a co-op job that was part of the schedule of my college, and only because the father of one of my classmates was an editor in the newsroom...

"As a copyboy, I was a newsroom go-fer, I distributed mail to the reporters and editors, I went on errands. Occasionally, I heard, a copyboy would be allowed to write an obituary. On rotation with the other older copyboys, I had a shift in the wireroom, a glass-enclosed box where teletype machines clicked out news stories. It was noisy, with a dozen machines tapping away, and every now and then a bell would ring at one of the machines, signaling a story of special urgency. I tried to read them all at once, following the lines of type as they emerged. Sometimes there would be a message, signed 'tuvm,' which meant 'thank you very much.' I loved it."

Editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1966, just two years after leaving his native Australia, described his first job as a copyboy in a 1998 speech at the U.S. Library of Congress, which was exhibiting 60 original cartoons and sketchbooks spanning the artist's American career and 30 years of world history.

"Born in 1935," he said, "I went to work at a newspaper when I got out of high school and started with total immersion on what I was supposed to do with my life, which I had no idea about, actually, because I didn't have any direction. I knew I could draw, I knew what I was interested in, but I didn't know what I was gonna do with it.

"So I went to work as a copyboy for Rupert Murdoch's first newspaper, The Adelaide News, at a mere pittance, in 1953, late 1952. And then I moved across town after about three months to a newspaper called The Adelaide Advertiser, which was the competition, and copy-boyed there for a while -- we called it copyboy then, not editorial facilitating assistant or whatever it's called now.

"I was intending to become a journalist. I don't know why, but I liked to write and I liked to draw. I couldn't see how you could make a living drawing, actually, so I was gonna be a journalist.

"I decided there were too many journalists and so I went to work in the art department of that newspaper; I think they must have despaired of me actually becoming a journalist and from there I 'sprang-boarded,' if that's the word, into the cartoonist slot when our then cartoonist left to join the News. So I happened to be in the right spot at the right time."

Girls, too, used to work as copyboys, particularly during World War II. Never known as copygirls, they answered the familiar yell of "COPY BOY!" with unquestioning alacrity, which would shock today's politically correct pundits who would have insisted on yelling "COPY PERSON!"

Last October, it was announced that Connie Godwin, long time press aide to Senator Ted Stevens, would retire by the end of the year. Noting that she had been on his Washington, D.C., staff for almost two decades, Stevens praised Godwin during a surprise lunch in her honor, attended by print and broadcast reporters from the Senate press galleries.

At 74, Godwin was the oldest active press secretary in the U.S. Senate. "She's interesting to work with," Stevens said. "Connie pursues things in her own way. She's a master at trivia concerning the State of Alaska and always produces the right fact at the right time."

Godwin, a former editor of The Anchorage Times, grew up in the newspaper business, where her father was a Hearst managing editor. She began her own journalism career as a copyboy on the Washington Post more than 50 years ago. "In that less politically correct era, you were a copyboy to the editors, regardless of your sex," she noted.

Some copyboys had wealthy parents. In Australia, Tjerk Dusseldorp, son of millionaire industrialist G.J. Dusseldorp, was a copyboy on the Sydney Morning Herald. He used to drive to work in his Mercedes convertible.

Sadly, with the death of hot-metal printing, today's computerised newspapers no longer employ copy boys. "No one is needed to run copy from reporters to editors, from editors to the rim, etc.," says Barry Jensen, of the marvelously-named Eccentric community newspaper, in Birmingham, Michigan.

"We do hire interns, but the union contract requires that anyone employed in the editorial department receive union-scale wages. In the old days, we'd hire an intern or two every summer for free. They didn't get paid, but they got experience at a real newspaper and college credit (I did that myself as a callow youth). The good ones would very quickly get feature assignments, and would be invited back upon graduation. The bad ones would spend the summer typing up obituaries and calendars."

Don Cooper, who edits The Hereford Brand in Hereford, Texas, agrees that the copyboy's role was eliminated by the newsroom computer, adding "After the demise of the copyboy, U.S. papers started having 'newsroom clerks,' a job that also has died out."

FOOTNOTE: Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore once had a summertime job as a copyboy on the New York Times. He has been criticised for having described the position as that of a "newspaper trainee."

For those who want the latest update from Eric about the Treasure Hunters he has discussed in previous columns, visit this story on his blogspot: Global Treasure Hunters set to Sail.

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

2011 - More On Western Swing

Author's Notes: This is to thank all the readers who wrote in about my original Western Swing article, and the many later ones, which appeared starting wiith the October 2000 Issue of PENCILSTUBS. Many of you wrote me personally or commented on the original article and the ones that followed. Some thanked me for mentioning relatives and sent pictures. Some inquired as to where they might find a certain song or albums. And many asked for information on the artists. I hope I was of help to all and I do appreciate your comments. If I can be of any help in locating recordings, feel free to contact me here.

Zeke Clements

Guitar, Vocals, and Songwriter. born September 6, 1911 - died June 4, 1994

Zeke Clements was a country musician, he often dressed in a Western outfit and was known as "The Dixie Yodeler and he was also known as "The Alabama Cowboy."

Zeke was born Marlon R. Clements near Empire, Alabama, and had one of the longest careers in country music, having appeared on radio shows in all sections of the country, as well as having the unusual distinction of having been a member of all three of the major barn dances in the course of his long career.

Zeke Clements began on the National Barn Dance in 1928, toured for some years with Otto Gray's Oklahoma Cowboys, and then joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1933 as a member of one of their first cowboy groups, the ‘Broncho Busters’.

While spending some time on the west coast he appeared in such films as "Santa Fe Stampede" with John Wayne and "Billy The Kid Returns" with Roy Rogers. His is the voice of the yodeling dwarf ‘Bashful’ in Walt Disney's ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.

Clements returned to the Opry in 1939, where he became one of the Opry's major stars throughout the 1940s. He also became known as a songwriter during this era, especially for "Blue Mexico Skies," "Just a Little Lovin'" recorded by Eddy Arnold in 1948, a Kitty Wells 1955 hit, "There's Poison In Your Heart," and as co-writer of "Smoke On The Water," the No. 1 country hit of 1944, recorded by Red Foley.

Clements later appeared on the Louisiana Hayride and on many other Deep South stations. He pursued a business career in Nashville in the late 1950s and 1960s, then moved to Miami, Florida, where he spent nearly a decade playing tenor banjo in a dixieland band before returning to the Nashville area.

Zeke has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He became known as "The Man from Music Mountain".

He learned his songs from the old time residents of central Alabama. Zeke's radio career has carried him to over 44 states and he has been featured on innumerable radio stations; he has been featured on all of the major networks.

He played the guitar, sang and composed. And back in 1942, yes, for the ladies, he was still single. Zeke's picture career gave him spots in some 200 major Hollywood pictures. He did the voice of "Bashful" in Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". His yodeling sequence in the "Silly" song caused much favorable comments in the press at the time. Was on the Opry at various times in the late 30's and 40's, moved and pursued other business interests but moved back to Nashville and made appearances on the Opry in the 80's.

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


Education is Vital for America’s Future

The United States is slowly bouncing back from one of the worse recessions in our Nation’s History. Our country still has a long way to go though in terms of a full economic recovery. Many States are also facing huge budget deficits and the State of Pennsylvania where I was born and raised is no exception.
I have been reading online about Gov. Tom Corbett’s current budget proposal to slash Pennsylvania’s education funding by fifty percent. To say that such a proposal would be detrimental to the Pennsylvania School Districts would be an understatement, especially, for the Pennsylvania coal region.

There has also been talk about cutting the head start programs in some of the School Districts due to budget shortfalls. In my opinion that would be a huge mistake also because early childhood education especially the head start program is paramount for the Child’s educational development.

I am no longer living in Pennsylvania or the United States for that matter. I have been working as a teacher at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in China for several years now. I am witnessing firsthand how education can change the course of a nation and lift millions of people out of poverty. Here in China K-12 students have twelve hour school days they go to School from 8AM to 8PM. They have 43 more school days per year than American children.

Shanghai, China last year achieved the highest test scores in the world in reading comprehension, writing, math, and science. They accomplished this with English as their second language.

The Chinese are not smarter than Americans they are just better prepared academically. Many Asian’s are coming to the U.S. and going to our top Schools on full scholarships. The sad thing about that though when they complete their academics in our American Universities, our Federal Government makes it extremely difficult for them to remain in America. That is so unfortunate because their knowledge and educational skills can truly benefit our country.

Chinese engineers who earned their engineering degrees in our American Schools built the world’s fastest Super Computer. Their computer design wasn’t built in America though it was built in China. This Superfast computer can make 2,700 trillion calculations per second and no other computer in the world can do that. It would take a laptop computer ‘480 years’ to accomplish what China’s new Super Computer can accomplish in ‘one second.’

Chinese engineers who graduated from American Universities are in the process of building commuter trains that can reach top speeds of approximately 500 miles per hour. Unfortunately, those trains are not being built in America they are being built in China. Our country could have benefited a great deal from those engineers knowledge and skills. Imagine taking a train from New York City to Los Angeles in 4 hours.

The China Government has people on its payroll to actively find and recruit people from the U.S. and various other countries that they feel can aid their educational facilities and help prepare their students for the global market. This is also adding to the ‘Brain Drain’ in America because China is hiring the people that should be preparing U.S. students for the global market.

In 2010 there were 34 other countries that achieved higher test scores than our American students in reading comprehension, writing, math, and science. They accomplished this with English as their second language. This is truly giving the U.S. a ‘dumbing down’ image in the eyes of the world.

The State of Pennsylvania shouldn’t be cutting its educational funding but rather the State needs to develop resources to enhance the educational opportunities for its citizens. Education is vital for the Pennsylvania coal region where I born and raised. It is also vital for our Nation as a whole because it provides people with the means, skills, and opportunities to better themselves.

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:

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Consider This

Why Do We Live Here Again?

Driving down a local highway today a large truck roared past me and splattered a huge mess of brown muck on my windshield and when I tried to wipe it clean with sprayed water and wipers it made a great, streaked mess on the glass. I pulled over to clean it by hand and when I stepped out of my car, my unbooted foot went ankle deep into freezing black gritty water.

I sighed, probably cursed, looked into my side-view mirror and asked one more time, “Why do we live here again?? I forget.” And I drove home with one frozen filthy foot aching inside of one frozen, gritty, filthy and formerly favorite shoe.

But once inside my home, warm and safe, I looked outside at the impossible expanse and huge mounds of white and black and brown in our neighborhood, I thought about that endless, whining question, and I once again began to count the reasons why in fact, I do love to live here in Maine, have chosen to live here, never want to leave here and even dreamed of moving here when I was little and hadn’t even yet come to Maine. Is there reincarnation? Do I know? But were it true, I must have lived here sometime in another life because all I ever dreamed of was moving to Maine and living here forever. I got my wish.

Everyone who’s ever lived or visited here has written about why they love Maine, and I really couldn’t possibly expand on their words or write or say them better or with more eloquence. But I can write about how I felt when we moved here back in 1974. I’d waited 36 years for that trip north and for me, it was being reborn.

I well remember my New York birth family carrying on about this move to Maine. When we first told them, they stood still, silent, and finally said amongst lots of other things, “You want to move where? Are you crazy? That’s Siberia, you know.” They warned me that Mainers were cold and unwelcoming, that their accent was so thick no one could possibly understand them, that they had no use for people who wanted to move into their state and “ruin” it for them, that I’d soon regret this crazy foolishness and would head straight back to New York or New Jersey. They’d give me a year, they said. I’d soon hate having given up all the creature comforts there are in NY and NJ and that it really wasn’t a joke that most homes in Maine still had outhouses, that if the people even had TV all you could get on it was weather and tide reports, that women didn’t really do much except make quilts and when the men weren’t lobstering, they were carving sea gulls.

Right. I laughed, waved goodbye and never looked back. OK, I had to go back once in a while, but I never looked back. There’s a difference.

Cold Mainers? My first full day here was full of funny, warm men and women who went out of their ways to talk to us and show us where things were in the town in which we ‘d chosen to live; Brunswick. We felt completely welcome, we were never made to feel as if we were interlopers or outsiders or annoying foreigners. The schools were good, the kids were normal, our sons made friends quickly, so did we, and we began life here easily and happily.

One of our sons made friends with an older woman who had a thick Maine/New England accent and soon he was speaking the patois with her, rather well I thought. The woman was never offended and laughed at his efforts. The Mainers we met were generous, warm people with no particular agendas, we were invited into their homes and all had TV and all the TVs had the usual shows on them and all the homes had indoor plumbing, running water, and it was lovely. It gave me great pleasure to write to the relatives in the “real world” to tell them all this, but they suggested to me that I was making it all up so they wouldn’t worry about us, and when, by the way, were we coming back to civilization?

Well let’s see---that was 37 years ago, those folks have since died and hello! We’re still here and we’re going to die here and we’re going to die happy.

I’ve written about the following incident before but it bears repeating here. One day in the late fall of our first year, I was driving our sons somewhere in our big black Chevy Suburban we liked to call our “truck.” It had rained that day and the temps had dropped suddenly. On a steep hill, our truck hit some black ice and it began to slide and spin out of control. There was no stopping it and it went nose down into a deep ditch on the side of the road. The back end was high in the air, the boys were screaming and I calmly screamed back at them to get out of the truck. Now!! I turned off the engine, they got out, and I joined them. We scrambled and clawed our ways back up onto the road and stood there. It was now sleeting and so cold. No one was near. Cell phones hadn’t been invented yet. I looked around but all I saw was dark grey and bare trees and wet leaves and my car with its big butt in the air and its big nose pointed straight down into that huge ditch. We were wet, cold and helpless.

Rather suddenly a large car pulled up the hill. It stopped, and it seemed as if an army of men flowed out of that car, one at a time. Big men, small men, all dressed in bright red plaid jackets and hats. Deer hunters. As my sons and I huddled shivering on that black road, those men scrambled and slid down the bank into the ditch, and I swear to this day, they lifted that Suburban up and pushed it back on the road. No one said a word. It was surreal. It was the Twilight Zone. They never even looked at me. Our truck safely on the road, they stuffed themselves back into their car, I stammered some kind of babbling thanks, asked if I could pay them, tried to find my purse, but they ignored me completely and just simply drove away. I will never, ever forget that day. Would that have happened in NY or NJ? I have no idea. But it doesn’t matter. I was now living in a unique state, full of people who would always save us, a place when named always evokes immediate fascinated responses and questions, a place that has a charm like no other. Maine will always have a mystique, a pull. Maine is a state where a person can see something beautiful every single day of their lives if they have the chance to look for it and even when they don’t. Maine has given me so much. What have I given back? Not nearly enough.

That incident with the black ice and the black Chevy Suburban? That’s one of many, many such kindnesses shown us in our 37 years here, most of them given to us with no thought of our repaying. Cold, rude Mainers? Where are they? I’ve never met any. Not once.

So, black grey brown snow splatting on my windshield? Black grey brown freezing puddles submerging my feet? Bring it on. All of it. We came home in 1974 and we’re staying.

Email lc at
See her on ?incredibleMAINE?
on Saturdays at 10:30 AM on MPBN.
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Sometimes History's A Ditch

Hunt the earth
Beneath our feet:
Each bump and dip
Is ripe with meaning.

Not every pregnant pause
In our descent
Piled pyramids and palaces,
Persepolis or Parthenon.

Sometimes history’s a ditch:
A moat around a hill fort,
Ruts from raiders’ hooves,
The bog where Grendel grunted.

Should that surprise?
From death to birth
We frequent places
Very like a ditch.

Our affinity for grooves
Seems obvious;
Only bards might dream
We’ll meet in heaven.

©2010 John I. Blair

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My Father Never Spoke of Dreams

My father never spoke of dreams.

Was his sleep seamless,
His life without regret?

Or were his dreams
The kind he couldn’t share,
Thought I wouldn’t understand?

I hope with all my heart
He underestimated me;
Hope he could have told me,
If not then, when I was young,

Then now, when it’s too late
For him,
But not too late for me.

©2010 John I. Blair

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Girl with Bows

Pretty girl
With curls and bows
Perched on a chair
Beside her calm mother,

Always aware
That time is brief,
Life short,
Grief long.

©2010 John I. Blair

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Fragrant You

What started as a game
Of Chanel Number 5
On the pillow
Of my dirty narrow cot
When I barely knew you,
But knew you wore it,

Matured to Windsong
On a coat collar,
Emeraude on white silk,
Ombre Rose
On cotton camp shirts.

Now we lie here,
Spooning like young lovers
Atop our Sleep Comfort bed,
My nose in your back
Inhaling the sweet orange oils
Of Medline therapeutic cream,
Secure in more than forty years
Of finding every scent you wear
Unutterably sexy.

©2010 John I. Blair

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One side scarred from storms,
It still stands tall, strong,
Striving toward the day.
Thousands of shining deltoid leaves
Twirling loose on long stems
Fill the air with rustling sound.

Half-turned, ready
To step into my car,
I stop, feeling something –

Something about the tree,
A sense of semi-sentience,
A notion that it knows I’m here.

There’s no communication,
No speech, no gestures;
Just a presence, purposeful

If purpose can be measured
Over years, decades,

Unique in place, in past,
This cottonwood has spirit, pride;
It’s there in more than mere location.

If I’d learned the language
And could form the words that slowly,
I’d say hello.
©2010 John I. Blair
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Aunt Mary

From Missouri on the phone
She sounds fresh, alert,
Filled with spunk and love;
You’d never guess she’s 98.

She speaks of World War I;
Great Uncle Hugh in Flanders, killed;
Grandma’s and Aunt Fannie’s tears
Beside the morning glories.

Her daughter, husband, gone
These several years;
Father, mother – faded photos;
Sisters, brothers – painful losses still.

Yet she shrugs off the hurt,
Always says how thrilled
She is to hear from me,
Laughs, seeks news, tells stories,

Will not give in to age,
Will not abandon life,
Will not be limited
By mere weak flesh, old bone.

©2010 John I. Blair

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God Didn't

God didn't put me here
To keep house
If I were sure He did,
I'd be quiet as a mouse

But since I don't believe it
I'll stand up and yell
When it comes to mopping
I'd rather go to ...well,

I think you understand
What I'm sad about
So I really don't think
That I needs must shout

But it wouldn't be nice
Or even very kind
To hire someone to clean
What's been left behind

The drapes need replacing
I'm tired of this paint
There's more to do
Than what there aint

I guess someday I'll muddle
Through and finish somehow
Though it'll definitely take
More time than I have now

If I had free
A month or more
I'd get done
What I've not before

That chance isn't likely
So it'll never be done
If I had my life choices
It wouldn't be this one.

©03/23/2011 Mary E. Adair

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Rats of Tobruk Remember Benghazi

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
From ERIC SHACKLE in Sydney, Australia.
Daily TV news items showing armed clashes in Benghazi and Tobruk for control of Libya have triggered memories of World War II for "The Rats of Tobruk."

The Rats - now in their 80s and 90s - are Australian, British and Indian survivors of bitter fighting against German troops who outnumbered them. They withstood months of aerial bombardment.

They survived the siege of Tobruk which began on April 10, 1941, and continued for about 250 days.

A small group of Rats will hold a memorial service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday, April 3, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk. Then they and their younger relatives and friends will enjoy a picnic lunch.
LINK: Fortieth Anniversary of The Great Revolutionion

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Feathers Will Fly on April 2

Saturday, March 19, 2011
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.
Thousands of feather-brained folk with nothing better to do will hit one another with feather-filled pillows on April 2 -- International Pillow Fight Day.
These free-for-alls will take place in scores of cities, ranging alphabetically from Amsterdam, Hollamd, to Zurich, Switzerland. You can find a long list of participating cities here.
In London, annual pillow fights are held amongst the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. And in New York, they take place in Union Square.

In theory, you're supposed to limit your targets to other pillow-players, but innocent spectators are often hit.

These days, many pillows are filled with materials much heavier than feathers, and are much less fun. Which recalls the ancient riddle: Which is heavier -- a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?

The Amsterdam Pillow Fight website hits the right note when it says:
For the 3rd year in a row we will have a massive pillow fight on the Dam Square, because it's World Pillow Fight Day! This free event is all about fun and it is celebrated on the same day in many cities around the world. It's even more fun if you bring your friends, so invite them through the menu on the right. Everyone can join!
There are usually free after parties happening after the pillow fight that last deep into the night. ...Keep your eyes and ears open for some serious pyjama partying ;)

Our world is increasingly obsessed with regulations, security and commercialism. This threatens our freedom and creativity.
That’s why we must reclaim the streets as a place where everybody can simply have fun - without meddling authorities or corporate sponsors. So grab your pillow and join us in this feathery blast!
Years ago, pillow-fight duels between pairs of muscular young lifesavers were a popular feature of Australian beach carnivals.

The lifesavers straddled slippery beams erected about six feet above the sand, and beltd each other with pillows until one of them was toppled from his perch.

POSTSCRIPT. Pillow fights are popular in China, too.

"In recognition of Women's Day, which is coming up, Window of the World Park in Changsha, capital city of Hunan Province, launched a pillow fight for women on March 3," Wang Qianyuanxue wrote in People's Daily Online.

"Every female visitor can bombard each other in the appointed place with pillows provided by the park to release pressure from their daily life and career.

"After one fight, the feathers that have scattered on the ground will be put back into the pillows in preparation for the next fight."

LINK: Chinese women release pressure For more with pictures, click here. 

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Trapped in book
The pages it took
Days, months and years
Wipe away the tears
Hide away the fears

She was in a dream
Wild and mean
The shadows pass close by
Wipe the tears from your eyes
Find a good place to hide

Today and tomorrow
Each passing year
Each falling tear
The joy and the sorrow
We can find our dreams tomorrow

©3/2/11 Bruce Clifford

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

I Love You

I love you
Yes I do
I love you
So very true

You're everything to me
With you is where I want to be

I love you
I always have
I love you
As we walk this path

You're everything to me
In my heart you'll always be

I love you
I love you
I love you
You love me too

©3/30/11 Bruce Clifford

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Overdosing On You

I think I'm overdosing on you
I can't seem to get enough, it's true
The more I try
The more I die
I wish I knew just what I should do

I think I'm falling apart inside
I can't seem to find a way to make things right
A love so deep
The dreams I keep

Are you willing to be with me in this fight
Two souls drifting upon separate wings
Two hearts finding a way to make love sing
The difference could mean everything

I think I'm overdosing on you
I can't find a way out from falling apart into two
The more I cry
The more I die

I wish I knew just what I should do
I think I'm drifting inside and out
I can't seem to find the strength to figure this thing out
The dreams I keep
The more I weep

I wish you could show me the way to put an end to all of my doubts
Two souls drifting upon separate wings
Two hearts finding a way to make love sing
The difference could mean everything

©3/24/11 Bruce Clifford

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Rabbo Tales - Chapter 8

By Mark Crocker


    It had been a busy three week for everyone. What with Bastet making sure that both she and Athena were pregnant and helping to find out what abilities Rabbo had. And to add to things Rabbo was dragged off to the warren to witness the birth of his kittens from his older female rabbit friend.
    And then there were his training lessons that Athena, Merwyn and Bastet had been giving him with his healing, astral travel, creativity telekinesis psychokinesis and coercion.
    By the end of each day Rabbo had been so tired that he had slept though the night on the window sill without waking up.
    What surprised Rabbo was that neither Athena nor Bastet showed that they were pregnant. They did not get fatter fast like rabbits would have in three weeks nor did they smell that much different.
    The only problem that had happened in those three weeks was when Merwyn had got upset with both Athena and Bastet about being unclothed all the time.
    While all the training of his abilities had been hard work and enjoyable for the most part what had amazed him was the birth of his rabbit kittens. And how small they where and how weak and defenseless they were when first born.
    But they were growing fast and they now had fine fur all over their bodies and did not look like pink wriggling over weight worms. In fact they looked a little more like rabbits now that they had fur. But their ears seemed small and their eyes were not open yet.
    Rabbo’s first female rabbit friend had given birth to their kittens in his burrow so that he could see them. His second female friend had been there too to help and make sure that they were not bothered as his first female friend had given birth.
    Rabbo had wondered if his first and second female friends should have name and if he should give them names as it was hard to explain to Merwyn, Athena and Bastet.
    But maybe his second female friend did have a name. She chattered at him and that would have meant that she was intelligent too.
    Rabbo wondered if he should ask her next time he was at the burrow?
    Not only were his abilities being trained so that they would be useful but he was also learning to speak rabbit and now could talk to them. Admittedly it was in what Merwyn called broken rabbit but he could get the point across. Even if he had to say the same thing over and over again in different ways until they got what he meant. He also wondered if his kittens would have his abilities but he was not sure and they were too young to find out anyway as they still had their eyes closed and all they did was eat sleep and poop a lot.
    His burrow had started to smell badly and he had cleaned out all the bedding and brought down from the house some straw and lavender and that took away the odor of the poop and pee.
    He would spend what little free time he had in his burrow sniffing and nosing the kittens and licking them clean.
    Rabbo had been so proud when he had told Merwyn, Athena and Bastet that the kittens had been born and that he had 3 daughters and a son.
    Then he let slip that his second female rabbit friend might very likely be a niece.
    Athena and Bastet both had become very worried talking about to close a gene pool and that in breeding was a bad idea when the gene pool was so closed.
    Bastet had looked at Athena and it had been clear to Rabbo that there was some telepathic interplay that they had on the private mode. But what it was Rabbo could not guess.

    * * *

    Rabbo awoke early feeling refreshed and ready for anything that Athena or Bastet could throw at him.
    He had slept well even after Merwyn had worked him out long and hard on his first long astral travel trip the night before.
    While Merwyn had said it was just a short trip to the top of the mountain it had seemed so far away to Rabbo.
    Even with his normal eyes he could only see the top of the mountain and that seemed so very far way as if it would take months to hop to the top.
    Merwyn had said that it was a two day hike from the house to the very summit of the mountain. Yet they had done it in less than five minutes in their astral form and spent close to two hours looking at things. And the trip back was less than the five minutes that it had taken to get there.
    Once he had returned to the house and was back in his body it had taken Rabbo a while to be able to move his body properly and he had needed help to get to the garden so that he could take care of his business.
    One of the things about astral travel that Rabbo did not like was that every time he would leave his body he would need to pee once he got back even if he went before he went on the astral travel trip.
    A few times when he had taken his first few trips he had almost not made it outside. So now Merwyn would pick him up and take him outside to the edge of the garden so that he could pee and do his business.
    Rabbo hopped down off his window sill which now was very comfortable as Athena had made him a soft cushion for him to sleep on rather than the old blanket that he had been sleeping on.
    In the kitchen sat Bastet dressed in just her skin while Athena had on just a short skirt and a halter top.
    Merwyn came walking in from the garden with two large buckets of fresh milk that he placed in the cool storage room before turning and looking at Athena.
    Merwyn totally ignored Bastet which was normal as he did not want to see that Bastet was naked.
    “So what have you two planned for Rabbo today” asked Merwyn as he looked out of the kitchen window.
    “Well Bastet is going to slash her leg open and I will suck the blood out and Rabbo here will heal her” said Athena laughingly.
    “Ok dear daughter. I’ll ask Bastet instead of hearing your jokes” said Merwyn. “So Bastet what are you teaching Rabbo.
    “Well as Athena said we are going to slash open my leg and Rabbo will heal the cut”
    “Ok glad you gave me a straight answer” said Merwyn thoughtfully as he looked out the window.
    “Are you really going to cut your leg open so that I have to heal it” said Rabbo rather alarmed at what they were going to ask him to do.
    “Don’t worry sweetie” said Athena in the private mode to Rabbo.
    “Its not that I am worried it’s more that I don’t know if I can. And if I remember right she should not lose too much blood while pregnant” replied Rabbo in the same mode
    “Sweetie I am not worried so don’t you worry. Beside if I think she is bleeding too much I just take over and we try again after I heal the wound”.
    Merwyn walked back over to the cool storage room and came out with a jug full of milk and poured a glass for each of them. He then poured the rest into a bowl for Cat who had been gone for the last few days on what Merwyn had called “Cats secret mission”.
    The smell of the milk brought Cat in from his sun spot in the living room into the kitchen and right to the bowl of fresh milk.
    “Thank you” hissed Cat.
    “It always gets me that Cat is so polite” said Bastet. “I should teach mine manners. But all the do is demanded things. Pet me, fed me, clean my sand box, and pick me up. Never a please or thank you. Just nag nag nag. Maybe I should turn myself into a cat and teach them better manners. Oh well I can’t for at lest a year and half”.
    “Oh I see it now Bastet” said Merwyn. “You turning yourself into a cat for the rest of your pregnancy and giving birth to kittens instead of babies. Just what this planet needs a race of super cats running things”?
    Both Athena and Bastet started to laugh hard at the mental image that Merwyn projected into their minds and Rabbo’s of half human cats sitting around talking and playing cards.
    Rabbo looked confused and cocked his head to one side. “And what would be wrong with that”?
    “Never mind” laughed Athena “let’s get on with your lesson”.
    Athena drunk her milk and looked at Bastet who was still watching Cat lap at his milk and smiling.
    Rabbo hopped into the library and saw that a table had been set up with a bowl of hot water, towels, a very sharp knife, bandages, gauze, needle, cotton thread and next to the chair a large metal bucket.
    Bastet walked in holding Cat and carrying her glass of milk. She looked around the room and then at the table. She reached over and picked up a towel and placed it on the chair. She then sat down on the chair and put cat down. She reached over to the table and picked up a second towel and placed that over her lap.
    Bastet took a deep breath “Ok Rabbo lets go over this again before Athena slices open my leg for you to heal. Remember what I told you and how we did it with the cut on Athena’s finger. Remember you have to picture clearly the skin knitting together. But this time you have to see the muscle too. But before Athena slices my leg I want you to see the skin and then look with your minds eye and the muscle of my leg were Athena is going to cut”.
    Athena looked at Bastet’s upper thigh and marked to area she was going to cut deeply into making sure she was well away from any arteries.
    “Now Rabbo close your eye’s and tell me what you see” said Bastet
    Rabbo could see layers and layers of skin with tiny holes with fine hair then as he looked deeper and deep it turned to muscle pink then red. He saw veins and arteries and lastly bone.
    For the next forty five minute’s Bastet had Rabbo repeat the whole process until she was sure that Rabbo had it right.
    “That was very good Rabbo” said Bastet.
    Rabbo bowed his head wondering if they were ever going to slice into her leg so that he could try and heal it.
    Then without warning Athena picked up the knife and sliced deeply into Bastet’s upper thigh.
    At first there was a faint red line and as Rabbo looked closer blood started to well up out of the wound and spread down the side of her thigh.
    Rabbo closed his eyes and thought about the skin knitting together and the muscle knitting back together.
    “Stop” said Bastet as Athena placed a compress on her upper thigh. “You did not tell me that you were going to go so deep”
    “You never told me how deep to go” replied Athena before she stuck out her tongue.
    Athena then closed her eyes for a moment. There was a faint odor of burnt flesh and then Athena removed the compress and looked at the leg.
    “I did not heal all of it Rabbo you can finish the job” said Athena.
    Rabbo nodded and looked at the wound. Blood was seeping from the wound and little droplet dropped down onto the towel.
    He closed his eyes again and saw the wound healed down to the muscle by Athena and at once he knew what he had done wrong. He had started to slow and at the skin instead of the muscle. So he continued the healing of the wound that Athena had left undone and finished at the last layer of skin.
    “Much better” said Bastet “I was going to tell you that you should have started at the lowest level of the cut but you were in a hurry”.
    “Ok darling get ready and as before don’t tell me when you are about to slice and please not so deep. And please wait until I finish talking” said Bastet on the private mode to Athena.
    Athena smiled and winked at Bastet. She looked at Rabbo to see if there was any sign of him being tired but she could see none.
    “Now Rabbo lets go over what you did and what you did wrong” said Bastet as she picked up the bloody towel and placed it in a bucket that had been placed next to her chair just for that reason.
    And again for forty five minutes Bastet went over everything she had already told Rabbo in great detail. Towards the end of the forty five minutes she had Rabbo repeat back what he had to do. As he finished Bastet smiles at him.
    Then Athena sliced into her other thigh without saying a word to Rabbo or Bastet.
    Rabbo closed his eyes at once and started to knit the muscle back together as fast as he could to stop the bleeding.
    Once he got to the skin he looked down deeper and cleaned up the muscle wound as he had missed a few places in his hurry. Then when he got to the skin he went back down to the bottom of the muscle wound and checked to make sure that he had not missed anything. Then he started on the skin making sure that it was knitted properly. Once that was done he went back down to the bottom of where the muscle wound had ended and check again to make sure everything looked good. Then he moved his sight over to the other leg were the first wound had been to make sure that had healed properly.
    Rabbo opened his eyes and found it hard to focus for a few second then once his eyes had adjusted her looked at Athena and then at Bastet. They both smiled and nodded at him yet their lips moved and he could not hear them.
    He shook his head trying to clear his ears so that he could hear them as they talked to him.
    A little worried Rabbo spoke to Athena on the private mode. “I can’t hear you talking. Something is wrong”.
    “Close your eyes for a second and look at the last part of the wound you were working in and withdraw slowly. Your mind is still focused on healing. You have to return it to normal mode” replied Athena on the same mode.
    Rabbo closed his eyes and looked at the where the wound had been on Bastet’s thigh. Slowly he pulled his mind back and opened his eyes again.
    “Well Rabbo can you hear us now” said Bastet a little worried.
    “Yes I can that was scary not being able to hear properly” answered Rabbo.
    “Your ears are drooping so much dear rabbit I think you need a nap” said Athena looking carefully at Rabbo.
    Rabbo agreed that sleep and rest would be good as he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open and he could not think too clearly either.

    * * *

    Rabbo awoke from his nap to an empty room. From above her hard a thumping sound that was too faint to figure out from where it was coming from.
    He hopped into the kitchen and Bastet was sitting on the kitchen table eating salad, fresh baked bread, and cheese. She looked over at Rabbo and smiled.
    “There’s my little healer rabbit. Did you sleep well” Bastet asked.
    “Yes I did thank you” replied Rabbo adding a bow to make himself very polite. “Where are Athena and Merwyn”?
    “Talking” answered Bastet with a sly smile on her lips.
    Rabbo hopped up on the chair next to Bastet and stood up on his hind legs so that he could almost see eye to eye with Bastet.
    “It might be better if you hop up on the table so that you don’t strain your back standing on your hind legs like that” said Bastet with a genuine worry in her voice.
    “I can’t sit on the table. Merwyn and Athena don’t like me doing that”.
    “Oh ok” mused Bastet. “I guess that would be like me standing on the table. Not very sanitary”
    “Something on your mind” asked Bastet.
    “What’s it like where you came from” asked Rabbo.
    “It’s a beautiful planet with great mountains and huge oceans and sea’s with great forests and huge grass lands and beautiful deserts with red rocks and sand. Where I was born was by a huge long river that spread out into a great ocean. There were huge palm tree’s that were so tall that to climb them took skill. The weather would be warm all year round and you did not need cloths other than to stop your skin from burning in the noon day heat”.
    Bastet looked sad “I so miss home. But now it’s not how I remember it. The war came and the delta I live by was destroyed by the followers on Toner. My father and mother fought hard and with the people from the city near by. And because the city and all its people stood against Toner he burnt the city to the ground cut down all the palm tree’s burnt all the tall grass and killed everyone. I was safe only because I was with my sister who was in the mountains giving birth to Athena”. Tears started to stream down Bastet’s cheeks.
    “When I came home there was nothing left. Everything was gone. Then Merwyn came with what was left of his army and I joined him fighting for freedom for our peoples. Fighting so that everyone on the planet could live the life they wanted and could be free to use their minds abilities how they wanted. Not under some dictator that tells you how to do everything. I was there when Merwyn was betrayed. And we would of won if we had not been betrayed” Bastet slammed her fist down hard on the table. “And Merwyn let the traitor live and come with us and now he is spinning his poison again”.
    “Who” asked Rabbo softly wondering why he felt like it would help Bastet heal if she talked about the pain she felt.
    “Amun-Ra” hissed Bastet. “He spins lies and blinds people to what he really is. He told the others that Merwyn was planning to set himself up as leader of this planet. So Merwyn left and moved as far away as he could so that he would not be a bother. And Ra lied and told them that he had forced Merwyn to leave. Then he started to enslave the people and make himself like a god to them and his close friends did likewise and the rest of us who spoke up they joined together and tried to kill. I hid myself in a delta that reminds me of home. Just me and my cats. Oh I have a few friends that are from this planet and they understand that other than what I can do with my mind I am just like them. But Ra is after Merwyn again and I told him. You know what Merwyn said”?
    “What” said Rabbo speaking softly.
    “He said that they would not come as they would be busy fighting among themselves as Ra was blind to the ambitions of others. He might be right. I hope he’s right. And if what Kronos said is right Ra is getting weaker with age” Bastet smiled “mind you Merwyn is the oldest of us and he is not getting weak. If anything he is getting stronger”.
    Bastet was about to say more but was stopped by the footsteps coming down the stairs.
    Merwyn walked into the kitchen and headed to the cool storage room and came out with three large steaks and one small steak. He put the small steak off to one side and looked at Bastet.
    “I’m not going to ask you how you want your steak Bastet that’s a given but what other vegetables would you like” asked Merwyn?
    “Um do you have potatoes”?
    “Sadly no. That’s the one thing from home I did not bring as I thought they would be wild on this planet” stated Merwyn rather sadly.
    Merwyn got busy cooking dinner for them while Bastet set the table and talked lightly about how Rabbo’s healing session went with her thighs.
    Athena came down the stairs wiping sleep from her eyes and looked around the kitchen for Cat.
    Cat was sitting on the window sill by the sink watching the birds outside in the bush near by. As she sat watching he would cheap and chirp at the birds as they came close to the window.
    Dinner was placed on the table with Bastet’s and Cats raw steaks off to one side.
    Athena helped herself to a steak and sat down close to Merwyn. She turned smiled and winked at Merwyn before filling her plate with raw squash, carrots peas and beans. She then added salad and a dressing of olive oil garlic and vinegar.
    Bastet did the same placing her raw steak to one side and filled her plate with everything that Athena had.
    Cat slipped off the window sill and licked his lips before jumping up on his chair “Cut steak please” said Cat as he looked at Merwyn.
    Merwyn cut Cat’s steak into small squares making sure that there was plenty of juices and blood for Cat.
    Merwyn reached back and grabbed the wine skin off the back of the chair and poured a glass for Rabbo and himself.
    Merwyn looked over at Rabbo “Tonight we are going south I overheard you and Bastet talking and I want to see what Ra is up to and why Bastet is still worried. All I want is your eyes and ears so that we don’t miss a thing”.
    Rabbo nodded as his mouth was full of dandelion flowers.

    * * *

    It was full dark when Rabbo and Merwyn went outside and sat down on the grass near the oak tree.
    Rabbo closed his eyes and felt himself float up out of his body.
    Next to him was a dim glowing ball that was Merwyn.
    Normally Merwyn would have been a bright huge glowing ball but tonight he was in what he had told Rabbo was stealth mode.
    Rabbo felt Merwyn wrap himself around him and then they started to move at high speed.
    The land below became a blur as they moved faster and faster. Then they were over water and for a brief glimpse Rabbo saw boats with sails off an island that had a smoking mountain in the center surround by water and then land with a small opening that boats could come in and out though.
    Rabbo and Merwyn passed over another island that had lots of buildings and people moving around in the early night.
    Then more water until Rabbo saw land again with a huge green fan of land. Then they came to a huge river with a green belt that ran down the sides of the river with a desert on either side of the green belt of land. Then a huge village with burning lights in the streets and people and great big buildings. They went further down the river until Rabbo saw up a head a huge building with great high pillars with people that were glowing and moving into a chamber.
    They slowed down and moved into the chamber high up in the ceiling. There they stopped and waited.
    The chamber was huge and around three sides was a raised platform. The center platform was higher than the others and a flight of five steps lead up to the single throne seated in the center.
    The platforms on either side had only two steps up to them and on the platforms were five thrones on each side.
    A tall man wearing a white kilt walked up and sat on the high throne looking down at those gathered around him.
    His skin was light and his body was muscular. His hair was dark brown or black with touches of gray. He had a long braided beard. His eyes were brown but looked like dark pits.
    Around him on the lower thrones sat five men and four women. Below them stood about forty men dressed in the same manner as Ra. But it was clear to Rabbo that they were lesser people then those that were seated on the thrones and that Ra was the most important of them all.
    Rabbo felt raw power coming from Ra who looked around at the others on the thrones before looking at the people below them.
    “Commander of my forces step forth and report on the status of those I placed under you to train”
    A man of about 5ft6 stepped forward wearing a white kilt with a sash of red running from his right shoulder down to his left hip. He moved forward and knelt with his head bowed.
    “My holiness those that I train learn slowly I try my best yet some do not understand how to use the weapons that you gave us in the manner you wish” said the commander with his head still bowed.
    “Then kill some of them in the manner which they are being trained in. They will learn fast enough once a few have been killed” said Ra with an ice cold tone in his voice. “Remember commander these men are just to core ground. Those that live will train others who will train others until I have the force I want. Do I make myself clear”?
    Rabbo noticed that Ra’s eyes were glowing red and that smoke seemed to be coming from his nose and ears.
    “Well spoken my brother Ra” said one of the men seated on a throne to one side of Ra.
    “Commander you can leave now and I want a report in the morning of the training and to see the bodies of those that fail” said Ra with flames licking from his nose.
    “Yes your holiness” the commander stood up keeping his head bowed and backed out of the chamber.
    “Commander of my navy step forth”.
    A fat short bold man stepped forward and knelt before Ra and bowed low.
    “What is thy wish my master” said the fat bold man.
    “Report on how many ships we have built this moon and how your training of shipwrights is proceeding” boomed out Ra’s voice.
    “My master we have three new ships in the style and manner you wished. A forth is almost done and the shipwrights learn fast the skills and the tools you have taught us. I am please to report that the harbor we are building is almost complete and that we will be able to start training men to sail those ships before the end of the next moon”.
    “I wanted four ship built each moon but as you have one almost complete I will let that pass. And as you have the harbor almost done three moons ahead of when I wanted it finished you can take your pick of the maidens waiting outside. Now depart”.
    Ra looked at the others sitting on their thrones and smiled slyly.
    “Commander of my plantations step forth”.
    An old frail man hobbled forward and with great effort lowered himself to his knees and bowed his head.
    “My master the planting is not going well I am sad to report. There was less rain this year that we had hoped and that”.
    “Enough. You failed me I know that only two thirds of what I wanted was planted and a quarter died. I told you how to irrigate the land and you have not. I don’t care if it is not your way. You will not fail again and I will make sure of that” and with that Ra’s eyes glowed brilliant red and the frail old man fell forward his skin boiling and his eyes popping out of his head. He jerked and twisted and the stopped moving.
    Ra pointed at a tall man with dark skin and a bold head.
    “You dump his body in the Nile and bring his wife children their grand children and if he has any great grand children here. They will follow him in his failure. Once they have been killed hang their bodies outside the walls and let it be known that I will not have failure”
    Ra stood up and looked at the lesser people standing below him.
    “Do I make myself clear” his voice booming out and filling the chamber. Ra pointed at a tall man with dark almost black skin. “You there you know how to plant and run plantation? You are now the commander of all my plantations. See that you don’t fail me”.
    Ra pointed at another lesser man. “Bring me those two girls that were waiting outside but first prepare them in the manner I desire. I want them here when we adjourn. The rest of you get out of my sight before I make you follow that decaying piece of flesh” said Ra pointing at the body of the frail old man that was being dragged away.
    “Ra is a bad man” said Rabbo to Merwyn
    The chamber empted very quickly and Ra turned to the others seated on their thrones.
    “I glad that we have that out of the way. It bores me that these things can’t do the simple things I wish. Now down to business” said Ra as his eyes stopped glowing and the flames and smoke faded away. “I have it from Hermes that the things on Crete are following his advice. They already have a colony on Thira that is doing well. Now as we have discussed before. We have to attack his daughter and not him. If we destroy her he will give up and fade from this life. Anubis I want you to set up an advanced base on Thira with Hermes so that when the time is ripe we can land near his mountain and in concert with the attack on that village near them we can attack her. Once she is dead then he will no longer have the will it live”.
    “I can have that advanced base of operations ready in 20 years. But I still think that just brain frying her will do the same thing with less work and less risk. I am worried about that volcano on Thira. It’s been rumbling of late and only Merwyn can look that low to see what’s going on down that deep” said Anubis.
    Ra ignored Anubis’s worry and looked at Hathor “would brain frying her be easier”?
    “She is strong almost as strong as he is. It would take all of us to brain fry her but killing her would be easy and you could do it in the same manner that you did to Maxus”.
    “Oh you are cruel Hathor. You still have not forgiven him for bonding with Isis and not you” laughed Ra.
    Hathor looked at Ra with a look of pure hate. “I am better in bed than she ever was as you well know. And I would of given him many children not just that bimbo of a daughter that does not use her mental abilities to one tenth of her skill level”.
    “Yes I know well your mattress dancing skills” said Ra with a sly smile “as do the rest of us here”.
    “Then why don’t you invite me to your bed again”.
    “Because these female things entertain me more” replied Ra. “But we are talking about how to rid ourselves of Merwyn and his daughter. Not your lustful ways Hathor”.
    Horus leaned forward “Why don’t we just zap her mind and use her body. I don’t like the idea of wasting those genes of hers. After all she is his daughter and the daughter of Isis we could clone her and have one of your play things carry to team and then we could raise her to adulthood and train her in the way we want”.
    “Hmm that’s an idea. Nut, Hathor, Ma'at, Seshat can that be done. Horus is right about wasting those good genes” asked Ra.
    “We have tried to use these females before and it’s not worked yet. If Bastet was with us it could be done. But she won’t join us. Don’t forget she is her aunty and is secretly in love with Merwyn” said Nut speaking for Hathor, Ma'at and Seshat. “I am just glad that we can’t have children on this planet by normal means. But I do wish that Bastet had not taken all those files with her. If I could get to them I could figure out how to use these females to breed for us”.
    “We have eons before we have to worry about that” said Ma’at.
    Standing at the entrance to the chamber stood the man that Ra had sent to bring him the two young females.
    Ra turned to Horus “they are both his daughters that he brings. That will teach him to make comments about me”.
    Ra stood up and waved the man standing in the entrance way forward.
    Behind the man were two young women.
    The two young women were about 5ft3 with long legs dark skin, brown eyes and long black braided hair. They where wearing wide metal belts with chains running from their hips to their wrists. They also had on short white skirts and sandals. Neither of them looked scared as they had been drugged before hand.
    Ra stood up walked down the steps and looked at the two young women. “Perfect” he took them by the hands and led them from the chamber.
    The rest of the council members stood up and left the room. Only Nut remained seated deep in thought. She then looked up at were Merwyn and Rabbo had been hiding and winked.

    * * *

    Rabbo opened his eyes and felt so tired and old. He looked up at Merwyn “I don’t like this Ra. He’s evil and nasty. Why kill an old man. And why does he enjoy treating the humans of this planet like that”?
    “He was not always so Rabbo. Once he was a very caring man. But war turned his mind and then coming here made him power crazy” answered Merwyn
    “He’s always been evil as long as I can remember” said Bastet who had walked up with warm milk and a tray of oatmeal cookies. “Did you meet my spy”?
    “Yes and that was an eye opener. Right under Ra’s nose. Very clever move on your part. I had assumed that you had a servant in his court but not Nut as your spy. Very clever move on your part very clever indeed. Isis would have been proud of that”.
    “Thank you. But how else do you think I got all my files out without Ra finding out” said Bastet shyly.
    “He knows that you took them. Just be careful that he does not come after you” said Merwyn very worried.
    “Oh he tried but I was ready for him” laughed Bastet. “Don’t forget I am more powerful in a few areas’ than he is. And Horus and Anubis are scared to death of me. And Nut won’t let him touch me and she controls Hathor”.
    “Oh we have to warn the village that there is a small fleet of ships coming their way” said Rabbo.
    “We can do that tomorrow” said Bastet. “I need to return to my home and there is a ship waiting in the harbor at the village that arrived for me today”
    “You are leaving us” asked Rabbo?
    “I must or I won’t leave until it’s too late and I can’t teleport myself now as I am pregnant and that would undo all the hard painful work we have done. Athena and myself have been talking it over and while she wants me to stay I have to leave”.
    “Are you going to travel like that Bastet” said Merwyn looking Bastet up and down.
    “Like what”
    “Naked” answered Merwyn.
    “Oh no” laughed Bastet
    Merwyn stood up reached down and picked up Rabbo and started to walk up to the house.
    Once inside he put Rabbo down and looked at him “You look tired Rabbo best that you sleep in the living room tonight.
    “I do have a question” stated Rabbo.
    “What’s that?”
    “Does Bastet love you”?
    “Yes in a manner of speaking. She is a very loving caring woman. But not in the manner that I loved Isis or Isis loved me” Merwyn paused and looked out of the window and turned back quickly “get some rest I think its time you saw the village and it will be a long trip tomorrow”.
Rabbo curled up on the rug and sleep overcame him fast as the astral travel trip had drained him more than he had thought.
Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.