Friday, July 1, 2011

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

July-August 2011

"Keep away from small people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great, make you feel that you, too, can become great." - Mark Twain 1835-1910, Humorist and Writer

Check our Table of Contents, because we have a wonderful lineup of compositions for you. This is a combined issue though it will show on the Blog as simply July as it comes out right after midnight on July one. I hope everyone has a safe Fourth of July.. let's not set any fires anywhere, so if there is a fireworks ban where you are, please observe it.

All our regular columnists are back besides Peg Jones and John I. Blair, but Blair did send some of his poetry. We could be heavy on poetry but it's all good this issue and even your editor has one, "Shoestring." As I just had cataract surgery, I'm cutting this column short and you can find your favorite writers without my help. We have M. Jay Mansfield, John I. Blair, Phillip Hennessy, and Bruce Clifford with poetry and the three articles are extra nice.

The continuing story by Mark Crocker, "Rabbo Tales," adds Chapter 11, "Visitors" of Book One of this adult fantasy and will end this book with Chapter 12 to be published in September. Book Two will follow shortly. Mark Crocker thanks all his readers who have kept up with the fantasy and all compliments are duly noted and appreciated. He hopes it has been as much fun reading it as it has been for him to write it.

See you in September!

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

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For the past and the future – July 4, 2011

By David Van Os

Posted on July 4, 2011 by David in:

Notes from a Texas Patriot by David Van Os

Today is July 4, 2011. It is the 235th marking of one of the most remarkable events in the history of humanity. It is our national birthday. It is our Independence Day. It is a day for celebrating both the past and the future.

It is the anniversary of the day when the people’s representatives of 13 ex-British colonies on the North American continent proclaimed their freedom and independence. On that hot summer day, July 4, 1776, the subjects of an empire became the self-governing citizens of a republic. The owned became the owners. Monarchy dissolved and democracy arose.

In the hearts of royal despots everywhere a tremble of fear arose. In the hearts of their millions of victims a beacon of hope was lit. For not only did our national forebears announce a new nation, they altered the very definition of nationhood.

The people’s representatives assembled in Philadelphia who took this bold step on behalf of their fellow citizens were normal flesh and blood human beings. Just like all of us, they were full of the countless flaws and infirmities of the human condition. But also just like each of us, they were also vessels for the most remarkable potentials of the human race. They were petty and political. They were also brilliant, enlightened, visionary, and courageous. Just like each of us, they had the innate human capacity to rise to their best when their time on earth required it.

These representatives of the people of the 13 ex-British colonies decided to do something that proved extremely important. It turned out to be one of the most important things ever done in the history of humanity. They decided to write down their reasons for declaring revolt against the British Empire.

Their reasons for risking their lives as traitors to the British Crown are why our national Independence Day is so valued by us and why it is honored around the world today. For they took such a dangerous step not only to be separated politically from Great Britain, but also to establish an entirely new vision of how human society should be ordered and governed. They put it down in writing for the posterity of their nation and the world.

In one remarkable passage they gave to their fellow citizens, to their descendants, and to all of future world history their new blueprint for human society:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among there are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –“

If you have not lately paused to read these words slowly and to contemplate their meaning, there is no better time than today, the anniversary of their first public utterance. Read the words slowly. Absorb their meaning.

You will then understand that the incredibly courageous and visionary founders of America redefined the very meaning of government and nationhood. In their vision, government existed not as the tool of a ruler or ruling class, but only as the extension of the self-governing people themselves, and only for the purpose of securing the human rights of the people. They created a country for the purpose of carrying out this vision. This is why America exists. This is why we have a national identity as Americans. This is what our country is here for. It is the new definition of nationhood that our national forebears birthed.

It is not only for the past that we pause to honor the birth of the vision 233 years ago. Equally, or perhaps even more importantly, we honor it for the future. The words of the Declaration of Independence are not just a history lesson. The vision of which they speak is not just a quaint artifact of the past.

The Declaration of Independence announces a mission. It is our responsibility as legatees of the American Revolution to understand that the vision is not a static object that lies frozen in time behind us, but a vibrant goal for us to commit ourselves to reaching.

It is a mission that has never been fully realized. Most of the authors of the Declaration were male supremacists and many were slaveholders. Many were moneyed elite who preferred to preserve voting rights solely for their social class. They were far from perfect examples of the vision they articulated.

But they nevertheless envisioned what was possible for humanity, and they sacrificed everything they had to make sure their great experiment had a chance to take root. We honor them for that, but at the same time we look forward in the recognition that each generation of Americans is responsible for advancing further toward realization of the Declaration’s vision as our goal. We accept that responsibility for our time, and we look to the future in the determination to deliver the vision to our descendants closer to fulfillment than it was left to us.

So on this day, July 4, 2011, for the sake of those who came before us and for the sake of those who will come after us, we rededicate ourselves to the task of fulfilling the magnificent vision of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. For the 235th time, we declare it anew.
David Van Os
July 4, 2011

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Letter From The American Flag To The American People

By LC Van Savage

Hi Folks:

How’s it going with you? Me? I’m doing especially well today. I’m feeling as if I’ve been reborn or something. Oh, not in the religious sense, but in the living sense. It’s I speaking, your American flag. It’s the July 4th weekend, 2011.

We don’t see each other as much as we’d like, do we? Oh you’ve seen me around, I know, but you’ve taken me for granted a lot. I hang outside post offices and other Federal buildings, I’m unrolled and hung on special American holidays, and I’m in all parades. I think my real meaning is sometimes lost though. But I understand.

They say one Betsy Ross was the first person to make me in around 1776, but there’s some controversy about that. It doesn’t matter really, I only care that I was made. (And I personally think she did. It’s such a cool story, right?)

My colors? Beautiful combination, don’t you agree? Red, white and blue. I mean talk about your flag fashion statements! Strong. Brilliant. Classic! Makes every other flag look sort of dim by comparison, if I may indulge a little egotism here. I will never go out of style. I’m told the red is for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.

Lots of old versions of me are still around. I’ve been made of homespun and wool and every sort of material. A huge, old version of me hangs in the Smithsonian, and other examples of me, with lesser groups of stars on my blue field than today’s fifty, are worth lots of money these days, I hear.

I understand the rules made up for me; you know, where and how to hang me and when, were created to show me respect; taking me in at sundown, having me lit if I’m left out at night, what kind of weather to avoid hanging me in, etc.

Never letting me touch the ground is one rule I really like. That’s sort of a moral crime, you know, to let that happen. People standing at attention, right arm across left breast, a hand raised in salute and hats removed as I’m carried past them is my favorite. Makes me feel good. Makes me feel honored.

I am also honored that F. S. Key wrote our astounding National Anthem while watching my broad stripes and bright stars gallantly streaming o’er the ramparts through the perilous night. And the honor I feel being flown above our Capital building, or covering the coffin of a fallen soldier is indescribable.

Because of something that happened one day almost 10 years ago, I feel as if I’m beloved again, as if I stand for something. That week I was hung everywhere, from homes, trees, bridges. I was seen all alone in fields, painted on rocks, taped to mailboxes, fluttering from the ends of car aerials, pasted onto cars and trucks. People were wearing my colors on their jackets and they were not burning me that day, at least not in America, nor were they desecrating or ignoring me. That week, the week of September 11,th 2001, I was born again. They tell me the stores ran out of me everywhere. Even the lady writing this letter for me, LC Van something suspended me between two trees in her front yard, and kept me there for months.

America was united again, just as we were before and during World War II, and frankly folks, it felt really good. The senseless, horrifying carnage America suffered on that awful September 11th nearly ten years ago brought America to tears, but not to our knees. We were finally Americans again, reminded of the greatness of our land, and of ourselves.

I am proud on this July Fourth, 2011 weekend to remember that date, the 10th year anniversary of the World Trade Center bombings, coming up soon, in just over two months. I got to represent a great people who chose that terrible week to not hang black bunting around our mighty nation, but instead to hang me. Long may you live, in prosperity and safety, good people of the United States.

Happy July Fourth, the date our Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. I intend to keep these spangled stars and stripes of mine flying over you, the land of the free and the brave, forever. Bravo to all of you, and God Bless America!

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

Cookin' With Leo

By Leocthasme

Fourth Of July Stuff

Ok, so my Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother ain’t been around since she told me it would rain in Texas, well no rain, no Fairy Godmother, nuttin’ but HOT, HOT, HOT, but my other pal Aztec Annie showed up one day while I was relaxing in the hot, dry shade of West Texas with a wet drink. In wet clothes, of course, not water wet, sweat wet, Well anyway Annie says
“Hey, watcha doin out here in all this heat?”
“Well, hi Annie, I’m just tryin’ to find a place just a bit cooler than Hell. And here in Texas there ain’t no such place. My Dear Sweet Italian Godmother told me it would rain and it never did happen. I am beginning to doubt her wisdom.”
“Oh she didn’t make any mistake, it did rain around here someplace.”
“Yep that’s for sure, rained about 3 or 4 drops over in Odessa, maybe a few more down in the mountains and just a few more over east. Not enough rain to cool the cattle or grow some grass. Well didn’t have to cut it at all this year, that saved a few bucks. But then probably next year we’ll have to plant a new lawn, or live on a sand dune.”
“Don’t be so down, not like you, you always up when I come to see you.”
“Yea I know, Annie, but you don’t live where it never rains.”
“Oh yea, I do , There a place near Chile where it never rain for a million years.”
“Well maybe you got one on Texas there, but it seems like that’s what’s happening here too.”
“Hey, how about I cheer you up with a new recipe for 4th of July?”
“That might help, Annie, need something to cheer the folks up around here and me too, I guess.”
“Tattatatatatatatatatatatatatatatattattat” she whispered in my ear and she was gone. But now I have a new recipe for the 4th of July celebrators and it is called

Annie’s Easy Cocktail Meatballs.

Here is what you need for about 10 or 12 folks:

  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tblspns soy sauce, divided
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • 12 oz grape jelly
  • 12 ox tomato based chili sauce
  • And here is how to do what you gotta do to do it:

    Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a large baking shet with nonstick cooking spray. Now combine the beef, pork, bread crumbs, egg, mustard and 1 tblspoon soy sauce in a large bowl, mix well. Use a small ice cream scoop to shape the mix into about 1” meatballs. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake until browned, and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Combine the remaining soy sauce, jelly and chili sauce, toss in the meatballs and make sure they are all coated with sauce. Cover and bake till heated through, about 10 minutes.
    Serve hot with Mich or Bud.

    Take Care Now, Ya’heah!
    An’ Enjoy The Fireworks!

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

Thinking Out Loud

By Gerard Meister

Beginning with the ball point pen (I kept dipping it in the ink well), I’ve had trouble with every new fangled modern advance you could think of and some that you wouldn’t think would bother me. Take digital phone dialing – as opposed to the rotary one – which I just knew would take the human being out of the telephone answering equation. Except of course in India, Bangladesh and some outlying islands in the Philippines, where you could always find someone to answer the phone and often – but not always – understand what they were saying.

Interestingly, a recent poll of 100 top scientists revealed that they believed the most important invention ever, and yes, it surpassed the wheel, was – and I kid you not – the cell phone. Still, despite all the evidence as to the cell phone’s unique, overarching importance my wife believes that I would be better off with carrier pigeons. Okay, so I still can’t retrieve a message or find the last number that called me or put the phone on vibrate and then somehow manage to get the darned contraption to ring again. But that doesn’t make me a bad person and if I ever did have to rely on my fine feathered friends, I would treat them kindly.

I guess my wife felt that I was worth rehabilitating so she went out and bought me a type of “blue tooth” contraption, which she averred would be so easy to operate that even I could use. So my wife and daughter sat me down to install the contraption in my right ear (I wear a hearing aid in my left) and out I went shopping knowing that I was in touch with the world. I was in the car less than two minutes when my phone rang. Understand that I wanted to get this answering system straight so I pulled over to the side of the road. Then when I reached for the contraption I inadvertently knocked it loose from my ear and it fell onto the passenger’s side floorboard, but was still ringing. I tried to reach for it, but was restrained by the seatbelt and had to unbuckle it. Still time I thought because it was ringing, but as I’m sure you guessed by now stopped ringing just as I got to it.

Now I had to get to my phone to see who it was that called, making me get out of the car because the phone was in one of those deep pocket shorts which I couldn’t handle while seated. For some reason when I tried to see who it was that called the phone asked for my password, which – as god is my witness – no one in with my carrier ever asked for at anytime in the five years I am with them. To make a long story (somewhat) shorter I never did use my blue tooth ever again, but am thinking seriously about the carrier pigeons.

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

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Writers’ Week

Last month I threatened to tell you all about my annual visit to Listowel Writers’ Week. Well here goes.

I arrived in Europe’s Culture Capital on Wednesday 01st June. Called to see a few old (literary) friends and made it to the opening of the 40th Listowel Writers week.

It was officially launched by Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht Affairs. Jimmy (who happens to be a local man) spoke for twenty minutes, with the minimum of notes, on everything from Listowel in the fifth century to the town’s connection with Shakespeare to a comprehensive account of the first writers’ week in 1971. At that first gathering of literati in the north Kerry town local celebrated writer the late Bryan McMahon imparted the following advice to the founding committee, “Always keep one foot in the cow-dung.”

Thursday meant an early start for a radio programme broadcast live, on the national airwaves, from John B. Keane’s at nine o’ clock. Then on to Saint John’s Art Centre for a recording of Sunday Miscellany.

In Lunchtime Theatre Sean Tyrell did a great show on the lives of the people behind Irish poetry. He went through the passions and foibles of Yeats, McNeice, O DireƔin Hartnett Wilde and Heaney to mention but a few.

After a hectic day it was a delight to sit and watch Tony Guerin’s Cuckoo Blue. It was a wonderful performance by the Lartigue Players.

And the night wasn’t over yet . Poets Corner, in the Kingdom Bar, hosted by John McGrath and attended by a talented crowd went on until . . .

Friday was another busy day. The songs of Delia Murphy were delivered by the famous Mairin O ‘Donovan accompanied by Gerry Anderson and Rita Ann Higgins, that celebrated poet from a humble background gave a wonderful account of herself in the Plaza Cinema.

Poetry Without Pints in the Seanchai Centre was not to be missed. talks by Harry Clifton and Gerry O ‘Carroll were well worth a visit. . Dear Frankie in Saint John’s and once again it was time for Poet’s Corner and another late night.

Events of Saturday? It would be exhausting just to write about them. Suffice to say that from John Lonergan’s talk at noon until midnight was an action packed and most enjoyable day.

And Sunday . .

The annual Healing Session is held in John B. Keane’s on the Sunday of Listowel Writers’ Week. For many it is the highlight of the festival. As far as I know there is no laying of hands . . . although there is a dimly-lit area in the west corner of the bar., George Rowley , Author and Civil Servant , was Master-of-Ceremonies for two decades. His contract expired in 2009 and he informed Billy Keane that he would not be renewing it but he would assist in securing a successor. Billy agreed but with the stipulation that George’s successor would have to be the opposite of George in all respects.

He would have to be;

  • *Unable to sing, dance, play an instrument or write.
  • *Be unattractive to females.
  • *Come from a county which hasn’t ever been beaten in an All-Ireland Final.
  • *Have an agricultural voice.
  • *Be in employment but have a healthy aversion to work.
  • A shortlist was drawn up and everyone on it was an antithesis of George. Yours truly was included and I was interviewed by Billy Keane in Croke Park at half time of the 2009 All-Ireland football final.

    I heard nothing for several months. Then on Sunday 04th June 20010 at precisely 12.30 P.M. Billy Keane invested George Rowley as Grand Master of the Healing Session. (I’m told that the sash and other investiture items were since auctioned for charity.) I was then unveiled as the new MC.

    And I mustn’t have been too bad because I was retained as Master-of-Ceremonies this year.

    Singer Mickey McConnell started the ball rolling accompanied by Jim Gornal on the Piccolo (he objects to being introduced as “the man with the small flute.”)

    It was my job to recruit a continuous stream of performers . That wasn’t difficult.

    The place was like the marquee in Drumlish, with “Cajon Queens from New Orleans and Marys from Dungloe.”

    First to the platform was Mike Gallagher, a Mayo man exiled in Lyrecrompane. Having pointed out to us the Ireland is an island off the east coast of Achill he read his assessment, in verse, of local politicians.

    A man from the far side of Dirra Boy refused to perform unless he was allowed to sing two songs.

    Most people read their own work but Larry Burke an actor from Minnesota gave a moving rendition of The Stolen Child and a Limerich woman gave a very moving rendition of Sean McCarthy’s “Darling Kate.”

    My amateur status showed more than once. When introducing a singer/songwriter from the Premier County I got mixed up between the two “Ridings.” A poet from Rathdowney put me wide pointing out, “ . . . there’s also a sort of a no-man’s-land across Tipperary where there’s no riding.

    When I introduced Paddy Phelan as a reciter Billy Keane was in like a shot to point out that the term is “Recitationist.”

    The marathon finished at five thirty and only because the less cultured patrons of the Island Racecourse were due in.

    Picasso said “If it’s worth stealing I’ll steal it” but I say if you come to John B’s the Sunday of Writers’ Week, if it’s worth healing we’ll heal it.

    While driving home I even put together a bit of a rhyme about it;

    The Healing Session.

    The Angelus bell o’er William Street
    Put people at their ease.
    ‘Though signs of irritation showed
    In the queue outside John B’s.
    The man beside me shuffled;
    His face was stern and dour.
    “With the Sergeant that’s in Listowel now,
    We’ll be here for half an hour.”
    When the bolt was drawn, with a stifled yawn,
    The landlord scanned the scene.
    “I’m stuck” says he “will you do MC”?
    ‘Twas the voice of Billy Keane.
    The author of “ . . .”Our Rivers . . .”
    Was quickly in full flow
    With Jim Gornal and his small flute
    (It’s called a Piccolo.)
    We had farmer-scribes from Breffiney
    And teachers from Mayo.
    Some looked like Priests in mufti
    (But you wouldn’t really know.)
    There were busmen-poets from Dublin
    Who knew the “Jimmy Riddle.”
    And singers wearing mini-skirts
    That wouldn’t dust a fiddle.
    Mike Gallagher, reciting,
    Wore a Western Seaboard grin.
    Tom Donovan whispered strategies
    In the ear of Mannix Flynn.
    And that woman from West Limerick,
    With a bust above the norm,
    I think she misinterpreted
    When I asked her to perform.
    A man who worked for CIE
    Read prose about rails and sidings.
    When I introduced a poet from Tipp
    I got mixed up in the Ridings.
    Mallow men and Tralee lads
    Would send each other up.
    With some things left unmentioned
    (Like the Sam Maguire Cup.)
    A Minnesota actor
    Was delighted with my touch
    But a lad from near Dungarven said,
    “You curse too fucking much.”
    Retrospective FF bashing
    From Biffo through to Harney.
    When John Sheahan entered with his Strad
    I pretended he was Barney.
    The others all could come and go,
    Which put me in a rage;
    I wouldn’t get a break at all,
    I couldn’t leave the stage.
    If someone reads an epic poem
    Sure I could walk away,
    Relax for maybe half an hour,
    An’ have me cup o’ tay.
    Christ. That won’t bloody happen,
    I’ll stick it out instead.
    Then Pat McDermott rescued me;
    He’d do “The Slatted Shed.”
    The rest went very smoothly
    With Sonnets and Haikus
    With the odd race-goer filtering in
    With non-poetic news.
    The Healing Session over
    (With its myriad acts and strands)
    Except in one dark corner;
    The laying-on of hands.
    Those things can last ‘till Monday
    And keep you on a high
    But without cop- on will ruin you
    And leave you high and dry.
    I knew ‘twas time for wind-down. I needed to get real
    When I tried to pass a Squad-car
    On the road to Abbeyfeale.

    Before I see you again, please God, I’ll have attended the Doneraile Literary and Arts Festival.

    Information at

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

Consider This

By LC Van Savage

My Beloved Barney

I admit I've always made fun of Trekkies, those folks so hooked on the Star Trek TV series that they have enormous fan clubs all over the world and meet for "conventions," wearing absurdly dorky pointed rubber ears and ski PJs, and where they speak in Trekkie tongues. Which, by the way, they can all understand. Creepy. One Trekkie language is called “Klingon” I think, and there’s even a Klingon Institute. What are we coming to?

Now to me, all that's extremely weird, so I chuckle derisively and feel superior when I read about those strange, obsessed people.

Until uh oh, in a rush of embarrassment one evening I realized I too am hopelessly hooked on an old TV show, only my addiction is at least normal. And they speak American, well sort of. I love this old show so dearly and have watched it so often I am able, in every rerun, to speak the dialogue word for word in unison with all the actors, I guess my own kind of Klingon. You’ve already guessed which show it is of which I speak, right? Yes, you’re right; it's that great TV classic, that magnificent, artistic work of peerless drama, The Andy Griffith Show.

I am just simply nuts about those corny old productions and I really do think that because of watching it so obsessively, I was compelled to nag my husband “Mongo” to move us all to Maine, and at nagging, I’m a champ. Just ask him. I’ll go head to head with anyone claiming that title, and I’ll win. We moved to Maine.

Are the small, easy towns of Maine like Mayberry? Yes, only the winters are harsher and the accent up here is a little different. For example, Mainers say KADJ-roy for corduroy. In Mayberry, North Carolina, they say it slower; “CAWWWD-jroy, honey.” I doubt they even wear corduroy in North Carolina anyway.

And since I’m confessing here, I'll admit to having a secret obsession for the star of that show for years. Today, I tell the world!

No, it's not Sheriff Andy Taylor. Or Otis Campbell, the town drunk. No not Emmett, the fixit guy. Goober, Gomer or Ernest T.? Get serious. Not Howard Sprague or Mayor Stoner, or Floyd Lawson the barber, or Briscoe Darling. And of course Opie was just much too young for my ardor.

It's Barney Fife. Dear little funny sweet undernourished high-voiced know-it-all cranky self-important bantam-cock Barney.

The *true* star of The Andy Griffith show. Was he adorable or what?

There he was, every week in his crisp uniform with his whistle and his one-allowed bullet stored in his shirt pocket, his own personal Rocky's Theme playing in the background as he swaggered off in pursuit of the bad guys in Mayberry of which, disappointingly, there were way too few to suit my brave hero.

Or, we’d see him going off to the dance with the love of his life, the endlessly patient and perpetually un-proposed-to Thelma (Thelmer) Lou, wearing his favorite old salt-and-pepper suit, (perfect for doing the dip,) and wide brimmed polished straw hat.

Every chance he got, kindly, wise ol' Andy was good to ol' Barn, letting the little guy take the kudos when Anj was the one who'd really earned them. And patient? Andy was endlessly patient with and protective of Barney when he screwed up, which he did perpetually, although nobody ever dreamed of using cuss words like "screwed up" back in Mayberry.

I never did like Helen Crump, the school marm (and coincidentally Opie's teacher) Andy eventually married. She was kind of a sourpuss. Stiff. Cold. I'd rather he'd married the much more appealing Ellie, the town pharmacist, but Ellie sort of vanished after a couple of seasons.

Aunt Bee Taylor was Everymother and I loved her dearly.

Plump, always home, always preparing scrumptious fat-laced dinners for Andy and Opie (and Barney, Gomer and Goober too when they could make it and they always could,) canning pickles for entrance into the County Fair contest (she never won because they tasted like kerosene until Anj and Barn switched jars so Aunt Bee could win,) growing roses for the contest at the county fair, running the Mayberry Civic League, and Garden Club, scolding Opie for stealing apples, being such dear friends with Clara Edwards the church organist (old friends from their grammar school days when Bee was the "best dribbler" on the girls' basketball team) singing in and attending church -- Aunt Bee was definitely not a woman of the twenty-first century. I'll bet she smelled like cookie dough and furniture polish, lavender and vanilla. I miss her.

And oh, that cheeky little mean Opie rejected that grand and noble woman at first when Andy brought her home to take the place of Opie's (never really discussed) deceased (or vanished) mother. (Maybe Mom ran away from boring old Mayberry to Mt. Pilot to live the high life. Who knows?) Well, Aunt Bee stayed and they even wrote in a couple of boyfriends for her along the way. She decided to not marry one or two after they’d proposed, so that she could continue caring for Andy and Opie, her true calling. What a marvelous, sacrificing woman she was. (One swain was a fiendish dude, out to do mayhem in the Taylor household, and it was Ol'Barn who exposed him and sent him packing. Well, Barney got the credit, but Andy did the dirty work. As usual.)

Was it that silly impossible TV show which greatly influenced me to convince--OK, to force my family to drop everything in their lives and move to a small(ish) town in Maine? You bet it was and I'm not in the least ashamed to admit it. Did I find Mayberry North? In a lot of ways I did. Yes. Good values. Good people. Good everything. Good move.

I could go on for a dozen more pages giving more details about that revered TV show, but I digress from my beloved Barney. (He was Andy's cousin, you know.) This man, the master of the Important Sniff, didn't have to fly around lost in space forever wearing ski pajamas to be my hero. He just had to be Barney Fife, a man who was content to dedicate his life to being Deputy Sheriff forever, and who I forgive for spending a little quality hanky-panky time down at the diner with Juanita when Thelmer Lou's back was turned. And why not? After all, he was only human. Ol’ Barn had needs just like anyone else. OK, he was no Captain Kirk, but Barney Fife, when he had night duty down at the jail and sang Otis to sleep while wearing his striped jammies, oh boy, he had a certain something, I can tell you that! He did indeed.

I love you Barney Fife.

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

Does your pet feel lonely?

By Eric Shackle

You call yourself a petlover, but have you ever thought how lonesome your pet must feel when you are away from home? Don't fret, my pet.

Sydney Pet Sitters provides professional pet minding and dog walking services in the lower north shore.
"We will send a qualified and compassionate sitter to visit your home where your pet is most comfortable", says its website.

"Whether your pet needs regular walking or just a quick visit, Sydney Pet Sitters guarantees friendly, reliable service that will meet your needs. Ask us about our new companionship visits that last 2.5 hours".

A cattery in the Sydney suburb of Arcadia says "Our Sydney cattery offers the best luxury cat minding service available.

"If you're looking for a Sydney cattery that will treat your feline like royalty, you've come to the right place. Aragon Cattery prides itself on providing Sydney's best cat minding service.

"Our cattery stands out from the rest when it comes to cat sitting because we offer luxury five star facilities which boast reverse cycle air conditioning and oversized verandah penthouse suites to house your loved ones while you escape Sydney for a short or long break.

"We also have large apartment condos and soon new villa suites which are set in peaceful rural surroundings even though our cattery is located only 45 minutes from Sydney's CBD."

Melbourne's Happy House Sitters offers a free in home house and pet sitting service to all pet owners anywhere in Australia.

"Save big $$$ on kennels/catteries and dog walkers," it says on its website. "We have hundreds of registered pet loving house and pet sitters who would love to look after your house and pet while you are away, and they will do it for free. It doesn't matter if you are away for a week or a year."

What if you are away for only a few hours? Well, in the UK, there are carers who will happily look after lonely humans, or their pets - dogs, cats, even goldfish (how lonely a solitary goldfish must feel, swimming around and around in his bowl).

First London Pet Sitting and its sister businesses "provide a loving alternative to boarding your pets outside the home. We are a family business and our priority is to provide first class care for your pets. Whether it is a dog, cat, turtle or ferret, we would love to care for them."

...And we used to think that only another ferret could love a ferret!

In Downey, California, Uncle Denny's Critter Sitters website says, "With Uncle Denny’s help your pets will stay in the secure comfort of their own home amidst the familiar sights, sounds and smells of their own environment."

Posted by Eric Shackle in Sydney, Australia.
to: Life Begins at 80

at 17:13 Sunday, 19 June 2011

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The Lost Wagon Train

By June Hogue

Of the many stories and legends surrounding the Sand Hills at Monahans perhaps the story of the Lost Wagon Train has been one of the most intriguing of all. Told and re-told by old settlers, it is one of the few that can be verified by its known existence and the relics that were recovered from it.

To understand about the Lost Wagon Train you need to know a tiny bit of history about the settlement of West Texas and the problem with the Comanches. The Comanches knew how to live and survive in that arid land and they knew the secrets that lay hidden in those sand hills for instead of a vast waterless wasteland of sand… there is water to be found and edible food that grows there.

Scattered in those sand hills there are occasionally some deep seeps where pools of water may be 12 to 18 feet deep. As kids we used to swim almost year around in those seeps. I was baptized in one of them. However, these seeps are hidden from view and unless you know just where they are you simply cannot see them unless you just happened upon one. Where does the water come from? From the sand itself! You can dig down about 6 inches into the sand at the base of one of those sand hills and water will begin to seep---pure, drinkable water that you can have by cupping your hand and scooping it up to get a drink...therefore we never took water with us when we went hiking in the sand hills.

Early settlers and pioneers did not know this about those sand dunes, nor did the early soldiers or the Buffalo soldiers who fought the Comanches vigorously. But the Comanches knew, and they knew the plants that could provide food for them as they took refuge in those sand hills and simply “disappeared” when being chased by an advancing cavalry unit. They could survive for weeks in that mini-Sahara Land while the mystified army searched in vain for any trace of them. Many legends evolved from the sudden raids and quick disappearances of bands of roaming Comanches who terrorized the west.

The trail from Ft. Worth to El Paso forms almost a straight line due west but you must veer slightly south from Ft. Worth to Pecos---and from there it is due West. I first heard the story of the Lost Wagon Train when I was just a little girl. Though I cannot verify the veracity of all the details, the story is essentially factual and can be proven by the many records of items found at the site and in the archives of Texas history. The story, as it was told to me by many old timers in Monahans, is as follows:

Sometime around 1918, or there about, a wagon train started out from Ft. Worth, TX carrying 3 or 4 families en route to El Paso where they hoped to settle near other relatives who had preceded them. Among those families, as it was reported to me, was the daughter of a relative of the editor of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram. With her she carried a large bolt of blue cloth which her mother was sending to a sister who lived in El Paso. The mother had cut off just enough cloth to make herself a dress and wanted to send the rest of the bolt to her sister in El Paso. However, the wagon train never made it to El Paso.

The Wagon Train simply disappeared in that vast wasteland of mesquite, greasewood, sagebrush and shrub oak that covered the prairies. Numerous searches were organized in hopes of finding some trace of the wagon train but all efforts failed. Then one day, sometime in the 1930’s , a rancher from Monahans, looking for some lost cattle in the edge of the sand hills came across the remains of a wagon train that was almost covered by those shifting sands. He found arrowheads and traces of burned wood indicating that it was probably attacked and burned by the Comanches. There were numerous artifacts that the Indians had left. Among the many items he recovered was an old trunk that still had the contents inside it…including a bolt of blue cloth. He took most of the items in to Monahans to show the good folks there what he had found.

He felt he had uncovered a mystery. What would a wagon train be doing in those sand hills? No sane wagon master would attempt to cross those sand hills—it was a vast desert stretching for hundreds of miles! Curious people began to descend on the scene and to carry off relics they found...old rusty rifles, arrow heads, an occasional part of a wagon—but not for long because soon those shifting sands once again covered the wagon train and, hidden by the dunes, it was not to be seen again for a several years. But the legend of that lost wagon train inspired many searchers through the years who knew that somewhere out there a wagon train lay buried in the sands.

Meanwhile the story of the old wagon train had made its way to Ft. Worth and the finding of a bolt of faded blue cloth excited the family of the now elderly editor of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram. Could it be the lost wagon train from Ft. Worth? The family still had the piece of cloth that had been cut off the bolt of cloth that had sent to El Paso. For sentimental reasons, the lady had never made the dress she intended to make and had kept the cloth in memory of her daughter. The cloth was taken to Monahans to see if by any chance it could have been from the same bolt of cloth. It was a perfect match, even to the cutting lines and thus a bolt of cloth identified the "Lost Wagon Train" and solved a mystery that had spanned a quarter of a century.

It was believed that the wagon train did not veer far enough south to avoid the sand hills and not being forewarned, they bogged down in the sand and were attacked by the Comanches. Another theory advanced was that they were chased by a raiding band of Comanches and tried to escape by going across the sand dunes not realizing that they were headed directly into a desert. There was evidence that the wagon train had been at least partially burned.

Today there are still traces of the old wagon train to be found. But only the sharpest of sand hill explorers have been able to locate its remnants from time to time. The saga of the lost wagon train has been a Monahans legend for almost a century now but soon it, too, will fade into obscurity and be forgotten by the next generations. But sometimes, when the wind blows and the sands are swirling, I think I hear the cries of those lost pioneers echoing over the sand hills as a Comanche Moon rises in the Eastern Sky---and I remember…I remember Monahans---the Monahans I knew, now faded into obscurity and like the legendary Phoenix another rising to take its place.

We moved to Monahans in 1942 and when Freddy heard of the old wagon train he was determined to find it. Having a great sense of direction and after talking to those who had been there, Freddy set out to find it and find it he did. Only a small part was visible but he had nailed his location. As kids, Freddy took us out there several times. It was a long hike from our house...about 7 miles one way so we would set out about dawn and not get home till sundown. Sometimes we made the hike only to find the sands had completely covered it and it was not to be found. At one time when we first moved to Monahans, they had a small museum housing relics found in the area. Many of them were from the old wagon train. Today we are told that no trace of the old wagon train has been seen for many years. We feel we have been fortunate to have witnessed some of West Texas’ history in the making and to be able to report the story before it is forever lost to the generations that follow us.

To learn more about these early settlers and the Buffalo Soldiers, read some of the writings of Elmer Kelton who was one of the most authoritative and best loved sources of information on the history of this area. I knew Elmer Kelton and loved to attend his lectures. His passing was a great loss to the readers and collectors of authoritative works on the history west Texas.

Well, that's my story for the day...a true story that can be verified through early writings in area newspapers and other documents of the time.

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By Thomas F. O'Neill

Liberals are not the problem

I have read many commentaries in various newspapers written by religious conservatives claiming how liberals are destroying the U.S. economy and degrading our moral standing in the world. It is sad seeing how much the United States is struggling with high unemployment and a sluggish economy. However, I do not see the future of America through the eyes of a religious conservative. The future is not as bleak as most Christian fundamentalist would have us believe.

I do agree with their assessment though that the U.S. is in a grip of a serious moral crises and the root of our economic meltdown is lack of fiscal restraint and greed. The American public education system is also failing and it would appear in the eyes of the world that the U.S. is on the decline. However, it is not the public school systems responsibility to develop moral fiber. Bringing back pray in the classrooms or reading bible passages at the start of each class will not fix our education system. That is what most Christian conservatives would have us believe.

Common decency is what’s lacking in our society but it’s not something one learns in a text book. It is something that is developed in ones psyche through proper upbringing at home. Instituting morality is the parents’ responsibility and a strong moral fiber is passed down from one generation to the next. It is expressed freely in ones character for others to emulate and embrace.

I also disagree with the religious conservative viewpoint that liberalism is the culprit for the ills of America.

Our Nation’s history is full of examples of how religious fundamentalists pointed the finger at the so called liberals blaming them for causing each crisis that America faced.

A good example would be the delegates that signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. They were considered radical liberals by those who didn’t want to rock the boat and enter a war. The religious conservatives at that time argued that a war against England could not be won.

It was also during Thomas Jefferson’s time that the Roman Catholic Church declared democracy to be an immoral form of Government. The Pope at that time stated - ……. America does not recognize Christ and the church as its moral and governing authority. Therefore, its government is worldly and immoral…...

With his radical idea of erecting a wall of separation between church and state, Thomas Jefferson, was considered the greatest liberal of all. Conservatives at the time declared him an atheist even though he was a Deist. The Deist at that time believed in God but not in religion.

The 1860 presidential election in the U.S. is another example of the conservative influence at the polls. If it wasn’t a three way race Abraham Lincoln never would have been elected President. Lincoln only got 40% of the popular votes because he was considered too liberal by those who voted against him. Those in favor of slavery were the diehard conservatives that used bible quotes to prove their point as to why slavery is morally acceptable under the eyes of god.

I do not know of any Americans today that would justify slavery by quoting passages in the bible or blaming liberalism for igniting the bloodiest war in American history.

It would appear also that ultra conservatives have a narrow mindset and their outlook on the world comes in a prepackaged belief system. Their faith is steadfast and strong but the world is not as simplistic or black and white as the religious conservatives would have us believe. Reality is complex but reason and an educated society will continue to unravel the riddles of our vast and expansive universe. I do on the other hand believe there are deeper dimensions to life but I don’t believe in a supreme being concurring with feeble minded ramblings of bible thumping fundamentalists.

The Liberals who the conservatives fear so much were the free thinkers throughout history. They developed their intellects in order to enhance humanity. Their free thinking radical approaches to solving problems will continue to offend the religious conservatives’ sensibility while the world continues to progress forward.

I do realize however that Democracy is not a perfect form of government we witnessed that with our country’s economic collapse and the corporate bailout that pursued. Now we have a huge national deficit and the government’s only solution to solving this fiscal mess is by putting the massive spending behind. Fiscal responsibility is what’s needed in solving this economic crisis.

Our nation may be facing mounting challenges but it is not doomed as some would have us believe. The next generation will in fact inherit our national deficit due to our government’s shortsightedness but let’s hope we learned a lesson from this lack of fiscal restraint.

Today's Christian conservatives have a much dimmer view of America’s destiny but it wasn’t Christian fundamentalists that gave birth to this great land of ours. It was free thinkers who brought forth this nation and guided us forward so that we as a people can continue to be a moral beacon for the other nations of the world.

History will always repeat itself and just as our nation overcame past economic challenges so too will we overcome this current challenge and I truly foresee brighter days ahead.

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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Eric Shackle's Column

By Eric Shackle

Wednesday, 1 June 2011 World's Oldest Blogger, Bernando la Pallo, is 109 From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.

Brazilian-born Bernando la Pallo, who now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, is almost certainly the world's oldest blogger. He will celebrate his 110th birthday on August 17.

He looks half his age, and is a shining endorsement of his motto: "Age less, live more."

He moved to the U.S.with his family when he was five, and lived in New York for most of his life.

After studying abroad, he became an internationally renowned chef. He said he spent decades cooking for prominent people including Winston Churchill.

LaPallo has four children and four grandchildren. He hopes to live until he's at least 125.

Asked what are his favorite foods. he replied,"Garlic, olive oil, cinnamon, chocolate and honey."

Here's a story by Alexis Vance, a Fox-10 TV reporter who interviewed him on his 109th birthday:

MESA, Ariz. - On August 17, Bernando LaPallo turned 109 years old! This Mesa resident lives on his own, still drives and walks around just fine - it's incredible, so I asked him to share some of his secrets.

Bernando eats primarily raw fruits, veggies and fish. Meat is a treat only once a year. "This is my lifesaver, it keeps me I take it everyday since 1979 - I never miss." said LaPallo. He believes his clean lifestyle is why he's still alive.

"Well, I don't think I know that eating it's what you eat, you've heard people say you are what you eat, well you are."

Bernando reads daily, walks a mile and a half as soon as he gets up and his favorite product to use on his skin is olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is an age old secret he's practiced for years.

His faith is his foundation and his father his role model.

At 109, he's a popular man. He consults people who are trying to change their life for the better and makes speeches around the country. He's written one book, Age Less and Live More and is working on a second. His phone never stops ringing.

"I get calls from all over..Miami, Italy..I'm on TV in South America."

I asked him if he thinks about his final days. "I never gave dying any thought. I still don't. I know I've got to die. Everybody dies." said Bernando.

So what's next for a man who's lived over a century? He wants to open a restaurant here in the valley with raw foods on one side and healthy American food on the other. But on his birthday, he's going to take a break from his busy days and celebrate another year of life.

Four years earlier, Andy Hobbs, from the East Valley Tribune, interviewed Bernando, and reported:

"Believe him when he says he’s 104 "

Aging skipped Bernando LaPallo’s genes. He marked 104 years of life Wednesday, still defying every truth to getting old.

Barely a gray hair on his head, with saber-sharp social skills and shiny cocoa skin that shuns wrinkles.

I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes, much less my ears, at the fact he’s 104. He tires of the fuss people make over this number, but really, you can’t blame their awe — or envy.

I still looked for clues at his Mesa apartment, not so much because of doubt, but for a personal reality check. On a shelf, one trophy honored 20 years of service for his work as a chef on cruise lines. LaPallo got the trophy in 1957.

The disbelief, as hard as it is to put down, must go. LaPallo has earned every year on this planet through faith, education and taking care of his body.

He doesn’t eat meat, and for that matter, doesn’t indulge beyond satisfying hunger. Vegetables, fruit, fish and an overall organic diet do the trick.

Born Aug. 17, 1901, in Brazil, LaPallo moved to the United States with his family at age 5, where he was raised in New York and Philadelphia. Educated at a prestigious culinary arts school in Paris, his lifelong career path has included stints as a chef, podiatrist, herb specialist and massage therapist. Those topics dominate shelves filled with encyclopedias, textbooks and more.

It’s no surprise that longevity runs in the family. His father lived to be 97. His mother lived to be 105. In fact, photos of her at ages 104 and 68 just made me shake my head in amazement once again.

Georgette, his wife of 46 years, credits him for revitalizing her health. With the help of good nutrition and herbal supplements, her medication intake has been reduced from more than 20 pills to only two daily.

One would think LaPallo could make some serious money by selling his example of healthy living. I even suggested it, but he insists his philosophy would clash with the health care industry’s profit goals.

About a year ago, the couple moved from North Carolina to a modest Mesa apartment, where a good share of the residents run on the younger side.

For a guy who still hits the bowling alley — he recently bowled a 210 — LaPallo, in a way, really isn’t out of place.

"I have a friend who asks, ‘When are you going to age? When are you going to get old?’ ’’ he said.

"I ask myself the same thing.’’

Yvette Leslie of Mesa is LaPallo's unofficial adopted daughter who considers LaPallo her mentor. The two met 25 years ago and learned how to do theatrical and street makeup together at the Robert Fiance Hair Design Institute in New York.

She was shocked at his age when she first met him, and she still marvels at how well he's aged. "His memory is amazing," said Leslie, 52, a licensed massage therapist. "I've never seen him angry. His skin is so tight and in perfect condition. It just blows me away. "He's an amazing man. I've been blessed to have him in my life."

You can visit Bernando la Pallo's blog at
and see (and hear) him in videos at

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By M. Jay Mansfield

The Brother of the fiery phoenix
Flying slowly across the sky
His flaming violet and golden wings
Curling gently as he glides by

Even through the beautiful heat
The sharp metallic feathers can be seen
Razor sharp talons made for battle and meat
His peaceful gaze always vigilant and keen

He is the epitome of war and peace
An ancient warrior, brand new again
Born to love unto death is the least
Willing to suffer toil and surrender to win

He is full of love and sweet energy
And yet vengeance rolls gently in his currents as well
Sparks showering from him at his flights apogee
He rolls through the air with the grace of the oceans swell

Oh he knows heartache deep as well
He’s battled lovers and demons barbs
But he would never burden you and tell
The love he carries, so great, heals the wounds

Instead of dwelling in this land on old pains
He takes the love abroad to give and share
He gives the light he knows and not for gain
This is what he loves, it’s how he cares

So look up into the sun and you may see
His flaming wings slice the sky without a sound
A violent beautiful ghost that makes you forget to breathe
A simple brother of the phoenix being what he must be

©6-24-11 MJMansfield

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Don't Stop

By Phillip Hennessy

When bad luck gets wished on you
There ain’t much stuff that you can do
don’t stop it, don’t drop it
When happiness comes along
Just hold right on, and on and on
Don’t stop it, don’t drop it

I spent my Life loving you
And what did you do
Now I’m missing you
And the things we did too

spent a whole lot of money
Just to taste you, honey
I couldn’t resist
you were meant to be missed

You’re only here for a day
And then, come what may
It’s all over,
now that you’re gone

When the night comes along,
And the darkness is here
It’s not right to belong
To this lonely old fear

©2010 Phillip Hennessy

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Old House

By John I. Blair

I live in an old house.

Not antebellum old,
That hints at dark sins
Done by bushy-bearded
Great great granddads,

Nor New England old
Where Cape Cod boxes
Weather in Atlantic storms
Till wood blends with the sea,

Nor yet adobe old,
With vega-ceilinged
Thick-walled rooms
Like dwelling in the earth.

But old enough.

Enough for secrets,
Rotted places in its heart,
Spaces in the walls
One never would suspect.

Enough for scars,
Mars with causes
I can only guess
And make up tales about.

Enough that more
Has been forgot
Than is remembered
Through the drifting years.

Old enough its end
Might be nearer than its start.

©2011 John I. Blair

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The Smell Of New Construction

By John I. Blair

Passing new apartments
I thought of childhood days
At my father’s side
On building sites.

My nose would tingle there
With resin scents
Of fir, pine, cedar, spruce,
The musty, burning air

Of fresh cement,
Acrid ooze on pipes,
The oddly sweet perfume
Of glazier’s putty.

I was an animal,
Then as now,
A tracking hound,
And bounded room to room,

Following my nose,
Casting for clues
To chemicals and conifers
I never knew existed,

Tracing a place’s links
To earth and forest
By ephemeral aromas
Before they vanished,

Less than ghosts,
Beneath an all-consuming cloak
Of paint and paper,
Years and use.

©2011 John I. Blair

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The Shortest Route

By John I. Blair

Open land breeds open people.

Here we’ve never had to plan
Our path to B from A.

No mountains rear;
Most streams run thin
And quickly waded through.

Roads tend to stretch
Straight as a string
With but grudged kinks
As the Earth curves.

And I think
This shapes our souls,
Draining the deviousness
From our deeds,
Leaving us bluff and truthful.

But never underestimate
The bloody-minded
Ruthlessness the plains-bred
Kind can bring to bear
When someone does
Get in our way.

©2006 John I. Blair
Originally published in Prairie Poetry November 2007

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Bad Poem

By John I. Blair

This poem doesn’t work.
The thought’s dorky,
The rhyme’s iffy,
The rhythm sucks.

Two years I’ve tried,
Massaged it till it squishes,
That it isn’t worth my time.

So I’ve decided
To disassemble all,
Erase what I have writ,
Put a stop.

Each word I’ll re-stick
In its lexiconic slot
For reuse another day
When I’ve more than squat to say.

©2007 John I. Blair

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By Phillip Hennessy

When you are used to Nothing,
And Nothing, is a Place
Then all you have to do, is leave
And wear a happy face

When you are not supposed to,
and we are not Allowed to,
Then any way,…it’s OK
There will be - another day

When the time is Right, you know
That’s how it’s supposed to go
For there’s no time like here, like Now
Cause it don’t matter where, or How

No matter what you came for
You ‘Get it’, at the End
You’re goin out the same door
There’s no more time to spend

Treat every day, like it’s your Last
‘cause one day, you’ll be Right
somehow, someway, it’s in the Past
you’re here, today, and shine so bright

Remember to be Gentle
In everything you do
The crazy’s not so mental
When all comes good for you

©2011 Phillip Hennessy

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Full Moon

By Phillip Hennessy

It must be full moon
The energy’s strange
I feel like a goon
And I’m feeling the change

I wished you here
I kissed you, there
I missed you, then
I miss you now

I need some lovin, but I don’t know who to see
Is it all about nothing, is it all about me?
I don’t know what to say, or who to say it to
All I know is it’s now, and that I’m telling you

If ever you feel, like someone to hold
And you need to be still, your heart feels cold
When you feel all alone, and you need to smile
Then you know where to come and rest for a while

You meet your guides, in all kinds of places
your destiny’s blind, to familiar faces
There’s happy and sad, when those eyes look at you
Beyond the Darkness a light will shine through

©2010 Phillip Hennessy

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By M. Jay Mansfield

This feeling that belongs to you
It grows and washes over me
Sweet surrender doesn’t do it justice
Your sweet love rescues me

When I’m dragging me down.
Wave after wave of my doubts
You throw me that life line
And it’s so clear that it won’t run out

This heart of mine that is yours
I give it all to you with no reserve
Every bit of me knows your sweetness
Twice what I give is what you deserve

These feelings that are for you
They drown me in your beauty
No other place I would ever want to be
Going down and it’s a beautiful reality

When you say "mine" I know it’s true
How I was ever anyone else’s is a cruel joke
Arms open to my Goddess waiting for her
This sweet love is more than a boy could hope

©6-22-11 MJMansfield

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By Bruce Clifford

I can see it now
The way we are
All that has been
We keep doing it again

Look at me
Tell me what you see
Are we on the same page
Have we let it slip away
Look at me now

This is not making sense
It's beyond me
So beyond me

Can't you see
The better side of me
Have we taken this to far
Are we at the edge of a nearby star

Look at us now
In known that somehow
Between then and now

©6/22/11 Bruce Clifford

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Forgotten Heroes

You cannot move on, without letting go
You won’t move along, with your Past still on show
Take what you want, or leave it behind
For what lies ahead, is all in your mind

When it’s out of your head, and into your Life
Then the past is all dead, and you come Alive
Each step that you take is another step closer
There is no mistake, it’s time to say “NO, sir!”

When you’ve made up up your mind and your vision is clear
Don’t be cruel, just be kind, your mission’s not fear.!

We’re all moving on, alongside of you
For those left behind are inside you, too
You cannot share your heart with them
Without becoming part of them
So focus on Love, and that’s what you get
It’s time to move on, it’s time to forget

Forgotten Heroes and ill-gotten zeros
Are no use to you, when you’re sayin' “Cheerio”
Look straight ahead, with a smile on your face
‘cause you’re being led to a different place

©2010 Phillip Hennessy

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The Limit

By Bruce Clifford

There's a limit
Now you've found it
Come and get it
I'm on the ground

There's a limit
Now you want it
You have to have it
Save and sound

Don't worry if it's broken
Don't cry if it was a dream
Don't sleep inside my madness
Don't worry if you hear me scream

There's a limit
Now you've found it
Come and get it
I'm on the ground

There's a limit
You're all around it
Got to taste it
And be the clown

Don't worry if it's broken
Don't cry if it was a dream
Don't sleep inside my madness
Don't worry if you hear me scream

There's a limit
I can't take it
There's a limit
It's got me down

©6/4/11 Bruce Clifford

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Not An Exit

By John I. Blair

At the strip center post office
On a door, flat, gray, rectangular,

Patiently awaiting turn
I ponder:
If not an exit, what?

A covert, garbled reference
To Sartre’s depressing parable
Of Hell as other people?

The people in this line
Seem reasonably nice;
Yet I must conclude

The sign’s a useful clue
That guards against an error
If I’ve an urgent need to leave

Should one among
The nice-appearing people
Prove they’re packing

Or the window clerk
(Already looking grim)
Decide today’s the day.

©2011 John I. Blair

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I Cannot Write A Poem

By John I. Blair

I cannot write a poem
That glows like sunshine,
Paint a picture
Fragrant as a rose,
Compose a song
That tastes of wine
Or cook a steaming pot
Of thought-provoking prose.

©2006 John I. Blair

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By Mary E. Adair

A shoestring can dangle
Just enough
To trip and hurt you if
You're not tough

So double-knot them
Mom would say
Don't come home with
Skinned knees another day.

And though I'm grown now--
My shoe slips on,
There's a different shoestring
In my new dawn.

It deals with payments, budgets
To get through,
And I carefully consider
What I must do.

There's food to buy and utilities
All to pay
And some insurance, well,
Too much, I say.

Housing costs climbing higher
Things to repair
And the beauty shop for my ego,
Not just my hair.

Planning for annual costs as when
Taxes are due,
Is part wise use of the shoestring,
Part making do.

Accidents and maladies
Can shatter one
When living on a shoestring
Is how it's done.

Though regular medicine
Has its slot
It's the emergencies that
Most always do not.

Avoid financial bruises
And never bleed
By allowing exactly enough
For all I need.

Thus careful living, subsisting
One could say,
Is the way things are accomplished
The shoestring way.

©04/06/2011 Mary E. Adair

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Love Comes Easy

By M. Jay Mansfield

Of all the things a warrior does
This may be the hardest
Obsession adoration LUST
All of these come easy

To battle his foes
And be wary of traps
Compared to trust
All of these come easy

A constant threat of death
With devils at his door
His brothers blood
And his peoples call

He’ll face them all full breadth
His face alive and unabashed
Body well, battered or broken.
For him love is the scariest fall

©5-2-11 MJMansfield

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By M. Jay Mansfield

I made my way to the void
and I threw myself upon it
I was consumed by the emptiness
I built worlds around myself

I made my way in the void
I stood proud among my peers
Yet I was jaded by their faithfulness
and I built gods in my image

I crawled through the void
enveloped by its infestations
I destroyed the plagues
and they immortalized me

everything is in the void
all that you could ever need
things that drain your very being
I finally understand how they feed

I understand everything in the void
I understand what I am becoming
I understand what I need to do
I understand where I need to go

You can have The All
Finally I am one with the nothing

©8-21-10 MJMansfield

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Any Other Day

By Bruce Clifford

If you could see me
The way I look at the world
The way I count the stars
How things could be

If you could find a way
To see things in another light
Tomorrow could be bright
It's like any other day

Any other day I would listen
Any other day I would call
Any other day this would matter
Any other day I would take the fall

If you could hear me out
I don't want to scream and shout
It doesn't matter
If I know I told you so

You don't have to go

You don't have to go


Any other day I would listen
Any other day I would call
Any other day this would matter
Any other day I would take the fall

Any other day I would bring promise
Any other day I would compromise
Any other day I would notice
Any other day I would bring you a surprise

If you could see me
The way I can see you

©6/3/11 Bruce Clifford

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Creepy Old Man

By M. Jay Mansfield

Strapped to his sides the swords seem more like scars than tools.
They are aged and grown over with time..
Ancient and surely not as violent now as they were when created
They scream of a past that is intriguing and a bit off kilter

This old man creeping about the woods
His blue green eyes twinkle with flecks of gold in them
His battered violet and golden shield haphazardly thrown on his back
A bird that never existed etched upon its face

His gauntlets a deep blue that has faded appearing to be a fishes skin
He almost looks like he grew up out of the swamp he travels
As much a part there as the water and the snakes
And yet he is as foreign as a diamond in a hog trough

His graying hair streaked with blond pulled back and tied with twine
A mild curiosity at best he seems to be, at worst a crazed old man
Guarding all that he knows is dear, children, family, far and near
He sees the way they look at him and he smiles behind the tears

A warrior this clown once was and once again shall be
He slides away into the swamp for work he has to do
They perhaps will never know or recognize his love
But that is not the reason he lives the life he does

©6-22-11 MJMansfield

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I Would Rather Be Dead

By Bruce Clifford

Sounds from yesterday
Words for today
I missed what you were saying
I don't know what you said
All I know
I would rather be dead

Songs for tomorrow
Visions of today
I took all of my chances
She got in my head
I know that instead
I would rather be dead

Because life without you would be missing the songs
And living without you I know I wouldn't belong
I wouldn't want to carry on

Sounds from yesterday
Words for today
I missed what you were saying
It's out of my head
Each day is a mystery
All I know
I would rather be dead

©6/10/11 Bruce Clifford
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A New Dog Day

By M. Jay Mansfield

The mongrel sporting a lineage so polluted.
This half breeds son of a half breed mom
The only thing pure in him is his will
His coat is not pure the colors all wrong
Streaks of things that shouldn’t be
He’s the new kid that’s a thousand years old
His teeth are too sharp too much curl in his hair
He’ll never fit in and he doesn’t belong

But he loves in a way the pure bloods can’t
With all that he has and no reserve to be had
He’s loyal and he’s steady in his own way devout
His weapons are many and his muscles still strong
Sleek and cunning in his own bastard way
He cannot be owned but yet at the masters feet he does lay
He’ll gladly spill blood yours or his own
But he’d much rather provide warmth or play

He is The Cur so often neglected, over looked, forgotten, ancient, unkown
He curls up next to the one who let him Love, Protect, Cherish
He adores the one who gave him the chance, who took him in and let him love and belong
He sits at her feet a Regal mutt, Loyal, Happy, Boyish, in love and finlly at home

©6-4-11 MJMansfield
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By M. Jay Mansfield

It had hissing eyes and a quiet maw of a mouth..
It’s back twitched and it’s tail was perfectly still
It’s blue black fur glistening in the light
It’s eyes seem to try to control me draining my will
of all the things I had never seen
I knew this is what death looked like….

I wrapped myself in the knowing
I call you out beast, come to me,
With that the beast paused
and I found that it could taste pain

We began to dance
That beast feeding on fear
and I feeding on pain
I held my hope tight and near
drawing him in, to me

I wrap myself in the knowing
I own you beast come to me
And in haste and fury he clawed
and he found more than he could see

We continued to dance
A tight spiral of fear
an ever expanding field of pain
I held my quarry nearer
and he slowly fell to me

Yes, I knew what death looked like
He is cold and breathless
His hiss long gone and stale
His coat my shelter

Yes, I know what death looked like.

©5-2-11 mjmansfield
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Rabbo Tales-Chapter 11-Visitors

By Mark Crocker

Dear readers,
Thank you for reading the chapter’s from the first book of Rabbo Tales. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I did writing them. I will be taking a break for a month or two then I will start sending Pencil Stubs the chapters from Book Two.
Thank you so much,
Mark Crocker
EDITOR'S NOTE: Chapter 11 follows while Chapter 12, the last in Book One, will be published in September.

Chapter 11


    It had been over a month since Rabbo, Athena, Merwyn, and Cat had gotten back from the village and they had been doing so much around the house as the garden was producing so much and the villagers had brought gifts and offerings of thank to the edge of the woods.
    The villagers had in fact brought so much food and other gifts that Merwyn had to ask them very cleverly as not to hurt their feels not to offer as much food or gifts.
    It was Athena who had come to the edge of the woods with Merwyn on the second weeks and met with the pilgrims from the village that came up with the answer.
    Athena had spotted among the crowd the former high priestess holding her infant daughter so Athena asked her to step forth.
    Athena had found out that the young woman’s name was Helena and that she was just 19 years old but very smart with a quick wit and intellect.
    Athena explained the problem to Helena and at once Helena came up with an idea.
    Athena would ask the people to build a small temple to the goddess Demeter so that food could be placed in the temple and a small house for a priest to live in. Then the priest could give the food to the poor without telling the people.
    Athena told Merwyn who thought it was a great idea but instead of a priest it should be a priestess and she should be a priestess of Demeter the goddess of the harvest and the priestess preferable a mother which would symbolize fertility.
    Helena when told thought that was a great idea and she knew a couple of older woman that would be perfect for the roll.
    Helena was very shocked when Merwyn came out of the woods and joined them and told Helena that she should be the priestess but having other woman around would make her less lonely and that two others would be a great idea.
    The pilgrims that had been gathered near by watching but unable to hear started to mutter that Zeus had come forth and that they were being blessed.
    Merwyn very reluctantly played the role of Zeus and decreed that Helena would be the high priestess of the harvest and that a small temple should be build on the small hill next to the woods and that a house should be built for her and two other priestess that she would be told who to pick in her dreams.
    Merwyn added that no one other than Helena as high priestess could enter or hunt in the woods as that was part of the world of the gods.
    It had been a very hot day with the sun warming the garden to the point that had forced Rabbo, Athena and Merwyn to go inside the house to stay cool.
    As they sat in the living room talking Rabbo started to get a strange feeling that they were being watched.
    He looked around to see if anyone had snuck up on the house and was looking though the windows. Then he sat still and closed his eyes and stepped out of his body.
    And then he could just outside the house was a glowing ball of light right by the window. Rabbo looked closer at the glowing ball. It was a little smaller that what Merwyn would be in his astral form.
    Rabbo moved closer and the glowing of light took off and headed to the south moving faster and faster.
    Rabbo followed it as far as the start of the woods past the meadow before he gave up chasing it.
    Rabbo returned to his body and opened his eyes.
    Merwyn was looking at Rabbo as was Athena.
    “So you gave chase to our unwelcome visitor” asked Merwyn.
    “Who was that” asked Rabbo.
    “Hermes I believe” said Merwyn “but you scared him off before I could get a better look. But he will be back and next time he will be more careful sadly”.
    Athena turned to Merwyn and looked at him with a worried look.
    “Dad what is going on? Is there something I should be aware of here” asked Athena.
    “Nothing to worry about” answered Athena.
    “Now that worries me” said Athena. “When you tell me that there is nothing to worry about I get worried as that normally means there is something to worry about”.
    “There are strange things happening on Crete and Hermes is behind them” Merwyn paused and thought for a moment. “From what I know he is training and helping build an army. I believe they are going to try and make a move on the main land sometime in the next ten to twenty years”.
    “Then that means that Ra is getting power hungry again and will move against you as Hermes won’t do anything without Ra telling him too” said Athena looking worried.
    “Should we tell her what we saw when we went to their temple” asked Rabbo on Merwyn’s private mode?
    “No. Right now she has much more important things on her mind like the baby” replied Merwyn.
    “Dad, Hermes is not that strong of a traveler. For him to come here means that he is close and could even be in the village. I will go and see Helena in the morning before it gets to hot and see if she has heard anything”.
    “Rabbo and I will check the village after dinner” said Merwyn.
    “I am traveling with you as well. Three sets of eyes are better than two” said Athena.
    At dinner they talked about were would be the best places to check to see if Hermes was close at hand.
    The first place they would check was clearly the village but as Rabbo said “what if he is not there”?
    They knew the kind of ship Bastet had been sailing in and it was very likely that Hermes would use a very similar kind of ship. Possible smaller and faster but still with the wide hull that made in stable in rough sea’s.
    After going over maps that Merwyn went and got from his rooms they had found four or five locations within range of Hermes’s astral travel ability.
    Merwyn tried to talk Athena out of joining him and Rabbo on their astral travel trip using her pregnancy as a reason that she should stay behind.
    Athena had started to get upset explaining that while she was pregnant that did not mean she could not travel. In fact she had got so upset that she stood up and was about to storm out of the kitchen when she realized that Merwyn was trying to upset her so that she would storm out of the kitchen.
    So Athena calmed herself and looked Merwyn straight in the eye.
    “So why don’t you want me along on this trip” she asked all nicely yet with ice in her ice.
    Merwyn tried to explain and back peddle why he did not want her on the trip. The final excuse he came up with was that he wanted to train Rabbo in stealth. Something that Hermes had never mastered.
    “And if Hermes had mastered stealth Rabbo would never of spotted him” pointed out Athena.
    It was Rabbo that finally gave Merwyn the tool that he needed to talk Athena out of joining them on the trip.
    “Athena before we go maybe you should use the bathroom” said Rabbo.
    Merwyn looked at Rabbo and then at Athena.
    “Rabbo has a good point and that’s the final reason you can’t come with us. We would have to keep coming back her for you to have pee breaks” Merwyn pointed out. And then to palate Athena Merwyn added “We could really use you here in astral to see if Hermes comes back that way you will be able to track him when he leaves”.
    Merwyn and Rabbo set off towards the village. They flew over the woods seeing the life auras of the wild animals. Then as they passed over the temple just outside the woods they saw Helena outside tending a small garden with the two other priestesses standing spinning yarn using a drop spindle and talking.
    Rabbo and Merwyn moved toward the village keeping an eye out for a camp site that might mean Hermes was there.
    As they reached the village they saw a freshly raised mound with spears surrounding the top with heads on the spears as a reminder to other that raiders would meet the same fate.
    They circled the village checking the streets and surrounding area. Then they moved out in a spiral checking the farms looking for a bright aura hidden among the farms and buildings.
    Finally the hit the harbor and beach and checked among the warehouses and support buildings around the harbor but there was no sign of Hermes’s.
    “Maybe he is on that island shaped like a circle with the smoking mountain” asked Rabbo.
    “Maybe that is just within his range” said Merwyn.
    Instead of checking the area’s that they had gone over in the kitchen Merwyn and Rabbo headed to the island of Thira.
    As they got there they saw that the mountain was not smoking and that a large number of ships were at anchor in the harbor that was being built.
    There were also a large number of houses at the base of the volcano with women and children. The children were playing in the streets while the women sat talking in small groups.
    Most of the men where down in the square at some kind of meeting.
    As tempting as it was to listen Merwyn and Rabbo agreed that they had to find Hermes as he was their main target.
    As they came around to the opposite side of the island they came across a large palace like building with many guards walking around. And there was Hermes sitting in his courtyard looking towards the south.
    Standing around Hermes where a large number of slaves who all stood still waiting for their masters return to his body.
    Merwyn and Rabbo moved closer to get a better look at Hermes and Merwyn was surprised and shocked to see that age had not been kind to him.
    While Hermes’s body was still very muscular his hair had grayed and much of it had fallen out. But his once youthful face was wrinkled and had many scars almost as if someone had attacked his face with razor sharp claws and slashed opened his face.
    As they sat and waited for Hermes to return they saw a young woman that at first Rabbo thought was Bastet. While she had an aura it was only an aura of a living being and not that of someone with mental abilities.
    Rabbo moved close to get a better look and could see that while she did look like Bastet she was clearly not Bastet as she had fear in her eyes and she bowed her head as if to avoid looking at anything or anyone.
    “Hermes was and I guess still in love with Bastet” said Merwyn. “He tried courting her for centuries and she always turned him down”.
    Just then Hermes opened his eyes and looked at the woman that looked like Bastet and smiled at her.
    “Come here Bastet and sing and dance for me” said Hermes.
    The woman limped up to Hermes and started to sing and dance.
    Her voice was soft and beautiful but it was clear to Merwyn and Rabbo that she was forcing herself to be cheerful.
    After a while it was clear that Hermes was not going to talk to anyone about where he had been or what he had seen so Merwyn and Rabbo left and returned to the house.
    Athena sat waiting for them with a sly smile on her face and two goblets of chilled white wine.
    Rabbo sipped his white wine and wondered at its taste. This was his first white wine and with it being cooled it slipped down his throat smoothly.
    “Athena can you explain what happened to Hermes’s face” asked Merwyn.
    “You like Bastet’s handy work” asked Athena?
    “Not really. Just remind me not to upset her. What did she do” asked Merwyn.
    “Remember how he always was chasing after her and asking her to become his bond mate and how she would always tell him that she would sooner have a wild cat as a bond mate then him”!
    “Yes I remember well Athena. It was the huge joke that he was chasing after one of the few woman that had no interest in him. Ra would tease him to the point that he would go into a rage. I found the whole thing very sad to be honest” said Merwyn.
    “Well Ra got him in such a rage that he went after Bastet to force her against her will. Anyway Bastet turned herself into a lion and just went crazy with her claws while at the same time going into his mind and just frying his brains. It took Ra a hundred years or more to but his stir fried brains back in order. Or that’s what Bastet told me”.
    Merwyn looked thoughtful for a while “I guess she did it in self defense”.
    “Pretty much. By the time she turned back into human form he damage was done. And I say serve him right. Next to you and mom she is the strongest of us and he should have known better” said Athena. “So where did you find him”?
    “On Thira” said Rabbo.
    “Oh. That pile of unstable rocks? What’s he doing there” asked Athena.
    “Building himself a little empire by the looks of it” said Merwyn.
    “Now is not the time to tell her the truth” said Merwyn to Rabbo on the private mode.
    Rabbo looked over at the wine jug and wriggled his empty goblet at Athena so that she would refill it for him as the wine jug was in the center of the table and it would have meant him getting on the table to get the wine jug.
    Athena moved the wine jug closer to Rabbo and looked at Merwyn again with a sly smile.
    “Ok what’s your secret Athena” said Merwyn noticing her sly smile.
    Athena just giggled got up and left the kitchen and went into the living room.
    Rabbo looked around and saw at the kitchen door his first female rabbit friend with her kittens.
    The rabbit kittens hopped into the kitchen and looked around. They slowly and carefully hopped over to Rabbo’s mother’s food bowl and sniffed it before they started to eat from the bowl.
    “Ohh they are so cute” said Athena.
    Rabbo turned in his chair and saw Athena floating inches off the floor in the doorway from the living room into the kitchen.
    Just then Cat came down the stairs and spotted the rabbit kittens at Rabbo’s mothers bowl.
    Just about the same time one of the rabbit kittens spotted Cat and all hell broke lose with rabbit kittens running this way and that way banging into things and almost knocking themselves silly.
    “Rabbo take control of your children” snicker Athena.
    Merwyn just sat and watched with an amused smile on his face as one rabbit kitten came sliding across the floor spinning out of control on its butt. He reached down and stopped the wilding spinning rabbit kitten and picked it up.
    The rabbit kitten sat up in his hand looked around stood on his hind legs and boxed at Merwyn’s face.
    “Feisty little guy this one” said Merwyn.
    “That’s Boxer” said Rabbo with pride. “He’s my son”
    “Have you started to teach them to speak rabbit yet” asked Athena jumping out of the way of two rabbit kittens that had ran between her legs into the living room.
    “Some words just simple words really” said Rabbo with pride.
    “Then I suggest you use some words to stop them before they hurt themselves” said Merwyn.
    Rabbo barked the “halt” sound as loud as he could and suddenly all the rabbit kittens stopped racing around. Then Rabbo chirped the “here” sound and they all hopped over and sat looking up at Rabbo.
    The four rabbit kitten sat still with there huge eyes looking at Rabbo.
    Rabbo told them that a sharp pointed ear hunter was going to come over and that they should not run. He explained that they should take a good look at the sharp pointed ear hunter as he was a friend and would not hurt them.
    “Cat please come here and walk slowly. I want you to meet my children” said Rabbo.
    Cat walked over very slowly and sat down next to Rabbo. He looked at the rabbit kittens and then at Rabbo. “Mini Rabbo’s all in a row”
    Suddenly the rabbit kittens all started chattering very fast to each other.
    “What are they saying” asked Merwyn.
    “They are saying Sharp pointed ear hunter man talker” answered Rabbo beaming with pride. “My brothers and sisters call me man talker because I can speak with you and Athena. I guess because Cat can talk they call him sharp pointed ear hunter man talker. Cats are called sharp pointed ears hunter and a fox is bushy tail hunter and a hawk is sharp claws hunter”.
    Boxer hopped carefully and slowly over to Cat and sniffed Cat. Then boxer jumped on Cat and snuggled into Cats fur. Suddenly Cat was covered in rabbit kittens snuggling into his fur.
    Cat carefully lay down and soon the rabbit kittens were all a sleep snuggled into his fur. Rabbo’s first female friend hopped over and looked at Cat. She placed her front legs gentle on Cat and leaned in and started to clean his ears.
    Soon Cat was purring loudly as he had his ears cleaned then his face before the female rabbit started to get tired.
    She then hopped around looked at her rabbit kittens and snuggled into Cat next to them.
    Rabbo woke to a feeling that someone was outside the house again. Instead of getting up Rabbo slipped out of his body in stealth mode and looked around outside the house to see if Hermes was back visiting.
    But this time it was a faint weak glowing ball that bounces around like it was not sure of where it was going or what it was doing.
    Rabbo watched it for a few moments before he spotted Merwyn's glowing astral ball on the roof of the house.
    Rabbo drifted up next to Merwyn
    “Who is that” asked Rabbo.
    “I think its Helena. But I am not sure. She has been drifting around for a while. I think she is dream traveling”
    Just then Athena dropped down next to them on the roof.
    Her glowing astral ball moved down towards the faint glowing ball and started to guide it back towards the far side of the woods and where the temple was.
    Rabbo returned to his body and brought his heart rate back up to normal and the laid still trying to warm his body back up.
    Ra sat in his chambers crossed legged in the middle of his huge bed. His eyes were closed and he was focused on the island of Thira and Hermes.
    “Are you sure that they have some kind of guard animal that spotted you and that it’s not some contrivance of Bastet” said Ra
    “Very sure my brother. I had just got to the window. I had not even looked though the window and this bright glowing ball came at me fast. I did not stick around to take a good look at it. What ever it is it’s not Sirian and not human. I know that Athena and Bastet talk but they have not meet in over two hundred years since Merwyn left us” said Hermes.
    “Was this glowing aura field intelligent” asked Ra
    “Yes I am sure it was. It followed me and gave chase. But it chased a short distance before it turned back. I did notice that his daughter glows brightly. Far more brightly than she did before she left us. This may present a major problem for us” said Hermes.
    “How did you notice that if you never looked though the window” asked Ra
    “She is that bright she glows though the walls my brother. And their abode has its own power and they trade with the village. It seems that they are setting up some kind of inn or brothel. It’s just on the same side of the village past their woods. The woman human there has a larger aura than the normal human things my brother”.
    “What?” said Ra.
    “She is young and her aura is twice that again of the human things on this planet. Her genes could mix with ours. If that was the case we could brain fry his daughter and just use her as breeding stock and use this woman if she is useable as breeding stock too. If we could bring Bastet back on our side I could breed with her” said Hermes
    “Forget Bastet or next time I will leave you to her. What of his daughter? Can you watch her without her knowing?”
    “Maybe but I will have to be careful” said Hermes.
    “I want Thira fully operational in ten years. I want your troops fully trained in landings and taking that city. I want that place wiped of this planet. All of that has to be ready in ten years. I will move my whole army to Thira as soon as we have a fleet that can carry 20,000 warriors. When the warriors attack his daughter’s beloved city they will both defend it. That is when we attack when they are weakest. We brain fry her and that will so weaken him that he won’t matter. But I want her as my play thing. The daughter of Isis is my trophy”
    “Then we can turn on Bastet as she won’t have them to help her. And I get her as my reward that is after you brain fry her”!
    “Depends if you let me down or not” said Ra
    “I won’t let you down I want that woman and I want to make her pay for what she did to my face” said Hermes.
    “I must attend to affairs of state. Be gone now” said Ra
    Ra opened his eyes and looked at the two young females laying naked on his bed. They were still a sleep worn out by the early activity.
    Sitting next to them looking down at the two young women was Hathor.
    “How did it go with Hermes” asked Hathor.
    “It went well. But it seems she is growing stronger. If we wait twenty years she will be too strong to brain fry. So we must move sooner. I have given Hermes ten years to get ready” said Ra “it also seems that they have some kind of guard animal that gave chase to poor stupid Hermes”
    “She learnt well from Bastet. That woman is dangerous we should move against her soon. I know what she can do and give her time and she will figure out how to breed with these creatures and then who knows what she will do. I am just glad she is of that same cowardly stock as Isis and her bimbo daughter” said Hathor.
    Hathor leaned in and kissed Ra.
    Rabbo awoke from his sleep on the window sill. He turned and looked around to see if Athena was still asleep.
    Rabbo noticed that his mother was not on Athena’s bed and that Athena was still asleep and snoring softly.
    Rabbo hopped off the window sill and as quietly as possible went down stairs into the kitchen after he had cleaned his teeth.
    Cat was sitting cleaning the rabbit kittens who where sitting around him looking up with huge adoring eyes.
    Rabbo’s first female friend was sitting watching Cat as Cat checked Boxers ears before pushing him gentle towards his mother. Then Cat turned back to one of Rabbo’s daughters and started to clean her from head to toe.
    The female rabbit kitten rolled on her back and opened her legs so that Cat could clean her stomach. But she wriggled around so Cat placed one paw on her to hold her in place while he continued his cleaning. But she still tried to wriggle as he licked her stomach.
    “Hold still, wriggler” said Cat.
    “Wriggler that’s a good name for her” said Rabbo.
    Cat finished cleaning Wriggles and pushed her off to her mother who was sniffing boxer.
    Rabbo’s mother hopped over to Boxer, Wriggles Rabbo’s first female friend and sniffed them before she sat back on her hind legs and started to clean her paws.
    Cat cleaned the other two female rabbit kittens and pushed each one over with his nose when he was done.
    Merwyn stood watching Cat clean the rabbit kittens and found the whole scene rather funny as it did not look right to see a cat caring for something that he would normally be hunting.
    Rabbo noticed the rather amused look on Merwyn’s face yet the look did not hide the fact that Merwyn looked like he had been up all night.
    “You look tired” Rabbo asked Merwyn.
    “I am I have been checking things. I think we should go and see our little priestess as she seems to have learnt something of astral travel” said Merwyn with a very tired tone in his voice.
    Athena came walking down the stairs and stood still watching Rabbo’s first female rabbit friend playing with the young rabbit kittens.
    Merwyn looked up and smiled at Athena.
    “Do you feel up for a walk” Merwyn asked?
    “Sure, dad, where are we going” asked Athena.
    “Well you, Rabbo and Cat are going to see Helena and find of if she knows that she is sleep traveling” said Merwyn.
    “Is that something like sleep walking” asked Rabbo?
    “Yes it is very much like sleep walking Rabbo” answered Athena. She turned to Merwyn “are you not coming with us”?
    “No I need to take a nap as I have been up all night checking on a few things” said Merwyn trying and failing to keep the tired sound out of his voice.
    About an hour later Rabbo Athena and Cat were walking into the woods when they bumped into Helena who was walking down the path that lead from the temple though the woods to the house.
    “My great goddess Athena” said Helena dropping to one knee and bowing her head. “I come in great need. I dreamt last that the god Hermes the winged messenger was coming after you in a great rage. He and other gods from far away were after you and Zeus. So I came in my dire need to talk to you” said Helena all in a rush.
    Athena sat down on a fallen tree trunk and looked at Helena.
    “Who is taking care of your daughter” asked Athena.
    “Agatha is looking after my daughter” said Helena.
    “I think you and I need to talk about this dream and the fact that you have a gift from us that you need to be training in. Do you trust Agatha? As you might be gone a day or two” said Athena.
    Athena lead Helena back to the house with Rabbo and Cat walking alongside them making sure that things were safe and nothing was following them.
    “Nothing behind us” said Cat.
    “And nothing to the left or right of us” said Rabbo.
    “Oh, my goddess, your cat and rabbit speak or am in dreaming” asked Helena.
    Athena laughed “you are in the world of the gods were cats and rabbits talk” said Athena keeping the amused tone out of her voice.
    “Yes we talk” said Rabbo looking up at Helena.
    “And he talks and talk and talks” added Cat “and its rare that he will let me get a word in” and with that Cat playfully hit Rabbo on the head and bounced off up the pathway to the house running sideway as cats sometimes do when playing.
    Helena stopped dead in her tracks as she looked at the house.
    She raised her hand and pointed at the house.
    “I saw this building in my dreams last night. I thought that it was the home of Hermes as he was here. Yet it is not the same dwelling place as you had when I was last here? Hermes lives here” said Helena rather confused.
    “No this is what our home really looks like. Not what you saw the last time you where here. We made that image for you and those that came with you. And as for Hermes he does not live here with us”.
    Merwyn walked out of the house and looked at Athena Rabbo and Helena who where standing looking at the house.
    Helena bowed low to Merwyn exclaiming “My god the great Zeus” and again she dropped down to one knee and bowed her head.
    Merwyn looked at her and smiled “please get up girl” he said smiling very friendly.
    Helena got up and looked at Merwyn with wide eyes. “My lord Zeus I dreamed last night that Hermes the winged messenger comes after you in great rage. He is on the island that the raiders use as a place to attack my people in our city. Another god that is from the land of my grand mother talks to him and they plan a war on you and the blessed Athena. In my dream other gods that are lesser gods from the land of my grand mother gather with them to fight the great Zeus. But in my dream a goddess with a cat face warned me to warn you. The cat face goddess said to me. “From far they come in ships of steel though space and time. That the gods of my grand mother must stop their rage and join with you to protect the lands of your children”. This she said to me”
    Merwyn turned to Athena “Hail Bastet and ask her what’s going on”.
    Merwyn turned back to Helena and smiled. “Come let’s go in the house and relax and talk. Would you like something to eat?”
    Helena followed Merwyn Rabbo and Cat into the house.
    Once inside Helena looked around and was surprised to see two adult rabbits sitting watching her and four young rabbit kittens chasing around in circles.
    “You will have to forgive my children” said Rabbo “they are young hellions and just love to play”.
    “Can they talk as you do” asked Helena.
    “No they can’t talk your language. And they are still learning rabbit” answered Rabbo.
    Rabbo chattered to the rabbit kittens and they stopped chasing around and lined up at Helena’s feet.
    “They are so adorable” said Helena “they are the rabbits of the gods”.
    “That is boxer” and Rabbo called boxer to step forward which he did. “That one is wriggles” and he asked Wiggles to step forward and then back into line. “That one is fluffy tail and lastly the little one with the tuffs of fur all out of the place is mischief. She is always getting into trouble”.
    “Yes and she is the smartest of your children. As much trouble as she is her chatter is the closest to making human sounding words” said Merwyn.
    Mischief sat down and Helena’s feet and started to paw at her to be picked up. As Helena looked down mischief stared to chatter and jump up and down. So Helena reached down and picked mischief up and held her in the crook of her arm much as Athena had done to Rabbo the year before.
    Merwyn led Helena into the living room and pointed at a chair for her to sit down in and to relax.
    Merwyn poured a glass of wine for Helena and then started to talk.
    Rabbo hopped in followed by Boxer
    “So you dream travel” said Merwyn. “It is a good gift to have. But you need instruction in how to make it more useful and something you can do at will. So let us begin once you have finished your wine. It will help you relax a little”.
    Helena downed her wine in one quick swig and smiles at Merwyn.
    “I am ready to learn the gift of you Lord Zeus” said Helena.
    “Now listen only to my voice and I will help you to lean how to astral travel” said Merwyn.
    “Astral travel? What is that” asked Helena.
    “It is like the dream travel you do in your sleep. But you will be able to control where you go” answered Merwyn.
    The rabbit kittens hopped into the living room and sat down next to Rabbo. They all sat next to the fireplace and turned and watched Merwyn as he stated to teach Helena how to astral travel.
    “Listen only to my voice as I guide you into a state where you can leave your body in your astral form” Merwyn took a deep breath and continued. “Clear your mind of everything. There is no inner voice no mental imaged. There is only blackness and stillness within your mind. Hear nothing but my voice and empty all thoughts within your mind. There is no past. There is no future. There is only now”.
    As Merwyn spoke his voice took on a soft almost sleepy sound that made Helena relax and almost drift off to sleep yet her mind listened to the tone of Merwyn’s voice in such a manner that she felt everything melt away. She could only think of Merwyn's voice and then suddenly she felt her body start to life up.
    Helena opened her eyes wide first in panic as she had felt like she was floating upward and that she was as light as a feather. Then the look of panic was replaced with amazement and awe.
    Before she could speak Merwyn reached out and touched her hand gentle and softly then he spoke in a hushed voice.
    “That was very good let’s try that again my dear girl.”
    Merwyn sat back in the chair again and started to talk Helena though the first step to relax her mind. When he reached the point that she had panic at he told her to “relax”.
    Merwyn softly spoke “Hear nothing but my voice and empty all thoughts within your mind. There is no past. There is no future. There is only now. There is no fear. Now take ten loooong deep breaths. I will count them off for you and breath as deep as each count. Inhale deeply filling your lungs with air. Keep filling them until I tell you to exhale. Inhale deeply and slowly feeling your lungs fill with air. Now exhale slowly and gentle letting all the air out of your lungs”. Merwyn repeated this ten times until Helena felt as if she was so light that she could just float away.
    “Now take ten shallow breaths. Filling your lungs with just enough air to give you what you need. Breathe in as I tell you and exhale when I tell you. Breathe in the air now exhale”. Merwyn repeated this ten times until he knew that Helena was just floating above her body.
    Merwyn let Helena float just above her body for about five minutes before he stated to speak again.
    “Feel your body sink slowly and gentle back down into your earth bound body. Feel your arms and legs as you return to this world from the astral world. Slowly and gentle inhale feeling your lungs fill with the air around you. Feel your hands and legs. Feel your toes and fingers. Now slowly open your eyes”
    Helena opened her eyes and in wonder and amazement looked around at Merwyn, Rabbo and the rabbit kittens.
    Before she could speak Merwyn leaned over and place his index finger gentle on her lips to silence her.
    “Shhh relax and wait” said Merwyn softly.
    For the next eight hours they repeated the whole process seven more times until Athena poked her head in to let them know that dinner was ready and that they all needed to eat.
    At the dinner table they all sat around eating.
    At first Helena had be very confused when Rabbo and Cat joined them at the table and sat in the same manner as Merwyn and Athena instead of the manner that Helena would eat which was stretched out on a couch reaching up to a table were food had been placed.
    Helena had used her fingers at first in the normal manner that everyone in the village ate until she noticed that Merwyn Athena and Rabbo were using knifes and folks.
    So Helena copied them as best she could.
    “I spoke with Bastet and she said that she had warned Helena instead of me as she is not totally sure but she saw a fleet of ships leaving Sirius and she thinks they are heading our way. She also said that sun which our home planet orbits does not look right and its turning very bright and white. Dad I’m worried” said Athena.
    “Tonight I will check out what Bastet saw and if she is right I will warn Ra and the others” said Merwyn.
    Merwyn stood up and left the table heading out into the garden.
    Athena and Helena cleared the table and took the dishes to the sink. Athena explained to Helena how to wash the dishes and dry them.
Rabbo hopped down from his chair and gathered up his children and escorted them and their mother down to the warren.
Watch for September's continuation of "Rabbo Tales" which will be the last chapter of Book One in this series.

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