Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

November 2011

Language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. -Richard C. Trench, poet (1807-1886)

No snow here, but the electricity has stuttered a few times on this last day of October. No trick or treaters yet this evening either. Hoping that November will be a calmer, more peaceful time for everyone.

We feature poetry this issue with 19 selections from our poets John I. Blair, M.Jay Mansfield, LC Van Savage, June Hogue, Wendy Shepard-Kaplan, and Bruce Clifford.

Thomas F. O'Neill dedicates his November column "Introspective" to the memory of his grandfather and namesake who was born 100 years ago this month. John I. Blair discusses some of the terminology you will need when checking on your family history and includes another poem inside the column, "Always Looking." Leo C Helmer (Cookin' With Leo) has another Thanksgiving Turkey recipe to share, and Mattie Lennon's column "Irish Eyes" reveals some entrepreneurial news. LC Van Savage in "Consider This" tells how 'firsters' affect her. Eric Shackle (Eric Shackle's Column) discusses "Ball Throwing records" and updates us on the treasure hunters in the seas of the Fiji group.

Peg Jones (Angel Whispers) brings us the practical advice received from Arch Angel Michael, pointing out that the angels truly care about our day to day struggles, and are always near to help us. Gerard Meister, "Thinking Out Loud" adds his humorous words for after all, we need to have a way to diffuse stress.

Time to introduce our newest columnist, Caroline Evans, coming to us on LC's recommendation. Her column "Etcetera" debuts with this issue and here is her lovely picture.

Our newest columnist

If you haven't 'liked' us on FaceBook, now is the time to do so and become a fan of our publication at FaceBook.

Offer us some feedback at the blog www.pencilstubs.net and we'll see you in December.

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

Cookin' With Leo

By Leocthasme

The Easiest Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe From The Combined Great Minds OF My Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother And Aztec Annie

Well, I was thinking hard about it. What is it I can do about a great new way to fix a turkey for the upcoming holidays? And then after dreaming hard about the question for an hour or two with a few cool ones, who should show up to help me out but my Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother and not only her but Aztec Annie too. Must have put a double in that last one I thought to myself. “How come I’m getting two figments of my imagination all at once?”
“You no get two figs of anyting,” said my Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother. ”We here to help.”
“Yea” said Aztec Annie, “We’re here to help with a great new turkey recipe just for you.”
“Gee that’s great, glad to see you both all at once.”
“If you no get more rain in Texas, neither of us never gonna come back.” That from my Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother.
“That’s right.” added Aztec Annie
“Please don’t blame me, I have nothing to do with it. Could be the politicians who took away everything else from the poor Texans that could have had something to do with it.”
“Maybe you’re right,” they chimed in, “But we’re here to help with holidays”.
“Well, that’s great, what have you got?”
“What we got you get right now,” they chimed in.
Pow with that dammed magic wand and
tatatatatatatatatatatatataatatatata, added Annie,
and they were gone, but here is a great new turkey recipe that they left behind.

What you need:

    1 12lb turkey
    Assorted veggies and/or fruit
    Salt and pepper

How to do it:

Preheat the oven to 325°. Pull the giblet pack out of the cavity and toss the liver, use the rest for the gravy. Dry the turkey with paper towels and season inside with salt and pepper and rub with butter. Fill the cavity with such things as onions, carrots, apples, and herbs, get creative. Place breast side up in a roasting pan and then brush the outside of the turkey with melted butter. Tent with foil and roast for 2 hours. Add an extra 15 minutes for each pound over 12 lbs. Remove the foil and baste with more butter and raise the heat to 425°. Roast for another hour or until the meat at the thigh registers 165° Remove from oven and let rest while you make the gravy.

Enjoy Your Thanksgiving
And Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

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Thinking Out Loud

By Gerard Meister

Lately I've been very involved in finishing my "Tough Times Tougher People" memoir. Accordingly, I have attached the book cover (art work by my grandson Max) for your perusal. My daughter Ellen (the book's Editor-in-Chief) prepared the galleys she sent to the publisher, and we are working with the publisher (Lu Lu) for a modus operandi which would enable a reader to download a copy or two at a moderate price.

Editor's Note: Meanwhile, life goes on for the author who is 'practicing retirement' in Boca Raton, where he shared some true life tales with a group there recently. This story-telling of a poignant incident of his father with Eleanor Roosevelt, can be seen and heard via YouTube.com where there are five segments of varying length: #1 of 9.02 minutes; #2 of 7.28; #3 of 6.56; #4 of 2.24 and this is ended with mike problems; and #5 of 2.14 to finish the tale. Click here: MeisterandRoosevelt.

This is possibly the final choice for the cover of his memoir.

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

Angel Whispers

By Peg Jones

Angel message for November 2011

November’s message from the Angels is mainly from Archangel Michael. There are other angels around also, however AA Michael will be the main speaker.

Archangel Michael is the Archangel is the protector angel. When you call on him for protection and to keep you safe he will be beside you immediately. Don’t be afraid call in him, as he will only come to you if ask for his protection.. Archangel Michael is the highest Archangel and the main leader of all of the Archangels. On November 8th, I will be having an Archangel Michael Healing Circle Teleseminar. The phone number to call is 1-712-580-8025, Pin Number: #4168543. The time for the Tele-seminar will be at 7:30 pm eastern standard time…

Archangels Michael’s message is as follows:

“Children, we are here to speak to you tonight about your fears of what is going on the earth plane. We are sure you have noticed changes in the weather and freaky things that have been happening, The consistent frequency of natural disasters in the past few years, has many of you very worried about your safety and the safety of loved ones and friends and neighbors. We ask you to be prepared in case there is a natural or a weather disaster, where you are living.. Keep extra water and canned goods in a safe storage area. Also have on hand, batteries, flashlights, candles and matches.. Keep important papers in a safe box. Make sure you have insurance for your home, your apartment and the numbers in the safe box. We ask you not to be afraid, to go about your lives. Get to know your neighbors, and get to know your community agencies and offices.....

Being prepared will help in coping with all that had transpired. We also ask you to pay attention to the signs that we may be giving to you…impending disasters or weather oddities etc…Learning to sense the signs through media, such as radio and tv and the internet, and being prepared with your safe disaster goods place, will give you much protection and safety…

We only want the best and for you to be safe in every way…..We are with you always and don’t be afraid to call us. Take care of your earth, and take care of your body. Trust that the universe is with you always.”

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


By Thomas F. O'Neill

This column is dedicated to my Grandfather, Thomas F O’Neill, he was born 100 years ago this month. His love and affection has impacted my life in so many ways and he has provided me with so many found memories. My Grandfather passed away in March of 1982 but there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not reminded by something he said or did that made me laugh with his humor.

Hallows-Eve in Suzhou, China

At this very moment as I am writing this column I am continuously being interrupted by little, ghouls, witches, vampires, goblins, and lady ga ga’s - talk about a ghoulish night.

Before moving to Suzhou, China I didn’t know they celebrated Halloween here. I found that out two years ago and I felt bad when I didn’t have anything to hand out. Last year I missed the pint-sized spooks because I was at a Halloween party elsewhere.

Last week though I bought a variety of different bags of candies for this special spooky occasion. I also picked up a glow in the dark skeleton which I hung up on my front door. It wasn’t a real skeleton like the one in the Bio-lab at my school. It was just one of those store bought ones but scary none the less. I think that’s what attracted all the pint-sized visitors on this howling night.

The kids don’t say ‘trick or treat’ here like American kids they say - ‘Gěi táng jiù dǎodàn’ which means 给糖就捣蛋 if you didn’t know that already.

One little witch yelled out “Hello Mr. Tom!!!” when I opened my door. She was holding a large chop stick for her magic wand. I opened the little witch’s bag to see what goodies she possessed. I then proceeded to take a few of her candy bars and a bag of M and M’s.

“Hey” she said in a little perturbed voice, “Mr. Tom you’re supposed to give me Candy.”

“Oh” I replied “Is that how it works so do you know any tricks?”

She then started singing, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands …..”

“Oh stop” I said, “you’re scaring me.”

I handed her a couple of candy bars and she yelled “thank you.”

“Good, now go away” I replied.

“What are you doing?” she asked me while starring at my lap top computer on my desk, “Oh homework I hate homework,” she said as she turned and headed out my door.

Others came as well on this hallows-eve and they reminded me of the fun I had as a child going door to door. It was followed by mischief night. The only real mischief here though was the fireworks kids set off in front of my apartment building and sticking a half-eaten apple in my glow in the dark skeleton’s mouth.

Boy what I could teach those little burgers about the mischief I did as a child.

I like the little half-pint Chinese kids here in my neighborhood though they are extremely affectionate. They like to run up to me and give me a big hug. I tease them quite a bit too with fake punches and pokes. One little girl likes to really wallop a few punches on me but she’s much too little for me to hit back not that I would want too.

Every now and then I borrow an old projector from my school and set it up in my apartment building lobby. I run children’s movies off my computer when the kids are out of School during a holiday weekend. The projector projects movies on the apartment lobby’s wall and about ten kids that live in the area show up to watch them. My one neighbor has a nine year old girl and she always brings watermelon and various other fruits for the kids to eat but the kids usually hand most of the fruit to me. I found that a lot of the children here have trouble with English. The children who do speak English have to interpret what I say to the ones who don’t.

I also found that most of the children in my neighborhood go to an elementary school that is located right across from my apartment building. On holiday occasions some of the kids invite me to their school to meet their Chinese teachers. Unfortunately, some of the students have to interpret for me when talking to their teachers as well. A lot of the elementary teachers can’t speak English and they get embarrassed about that.

Most of the children will speak fluent English by the time they reach middle school. English is very important here due to China’s growing economy and it is vital for finding good employment. I wish my Chinese was better though because there is so much I could teach the kids here.

The children here like in America are really into the advancing technology that’s changing the world. When I was a kid there weren’t any personal computers, cell phones, computer games, and the internet. Instant messaging on cell phones and computers was something out of science fiction movies. The first time I saw a personal computer I was in college and I was too lazy to use it on a regular bases. Now I can’t get through the day without using one.

I was in my thirties when I got my first cell phone it cost $1.99 to place a call and then 70 cents a minute to talk. I was scared to use it after I got my first cell phone bill. After that whopping phone bill my cell phone became more of a status symbol than a calling device. Today, little elementary kids run around calling each other on cell phones for the answers to their test questions.

I can now phone the U.S. from my BlackBerry phone here in China for 2 cents a minute and send a text message to the U.S. for 2.3 cents a minute. I can also see the person I’m talking to on video calls halfway around the world for free over the internet. Yesterday’s Science Fiction is now today’s reality.

My students also have a technological advantage when it comes to learning and they are so much smarter than I was in college. Many of my students enjoy reading the ancient Buddhist Sanskrit’s online. When I was in college they were hard to come by especially in English in American libraries.

Once a month I meet with some of my students at a restaurant or a coffee shop to talk about the ancient Sanskrit’s. Those meetings are called ‘an English corner’ and it is encouraged by our School. The students get extra credits for participating in them. My students have found that in spite of the advancing technology. The ancient Buddhist texts are as relevant today as they were 2,500 years ago when they were first written.

Many of my students’ grandparents could not afford to purchase the ancient texts when they were my students’ age but they can now be read online for free both in Chinese and English.

Technology is indeed changing our world but perhaps not all for the better. I do find however it will never change the youth filled imaginations of the children I encounter on a daily bases. That is something I truly enjoy being part of and no matter how far I travel in life. Children will always bring out the child in me and there is certainly nothing wrong with that especially when you were raised in a different culture.

I am going to have to let you readers go for now because I need to get back to my little broken English spooks and perhaps steal some more of their candy.

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

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

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

Always Looking –

By John I. Blair

“Third Cousin Once Removed”?

Recently I had a pleasant visit with my third cousin once removed.

Many of you (if you’re typical) probably react to that announcement with What? What is a “third cousin once removed?” Unless you are an initiate of the arcane details of genealogy, or a fan of Debrett’s Peerage (look it up), the terminology is confusing at best. At worst it just sounds silly. And really, it’s not. Just shorthand for how you are related to someone in your family tree.

Each of us has literally thousands of cousins, some still living, but most deceased. When you subtract father, mother, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and all the many grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, great aunts, great uncles, grand nephews, grand nieces, etc. etc., everybody left is a cousin. I have/had 27 first cousins just on my father’s side of my family. (I was never able to get an accurate count of the first cousins on my mother’s side.)

First cousins are (relatively) easy. They’re everyone besides your siblings with whom you share one or more grandparents. That can be complicated (as it is in my mother’s family) when there is more than one wife, or husband, for a grandparent. My maternal grandfather was widowed after having four children. He remarried and had seven more. I’ve always thought of the second group as my “half-uncles” and “half-aunts”, but then what are their children? “Half-cousins?” That just gets silly, in my opinion, though the term is used. It’s not like there’s a great family inheritance to squabble over. I got Grandma Percy’s milk glass dresser set (from my Mom); that was about it.

The real complications with cousins arise when the generations multiply. But, thankfully, there’s a guideline. It’s based on the number of generations separating you, and the cousin you’re calculating, from your Common Ancestor, and the difference in generation number.

For example, my visitor and I share as Common Ancestors my great-great grandfather David T. McWilliams of Missouri and his wife Elizabeth Matthews McWilliams. If we were in the same generation (as are my visitor’s father and I), we would be third cousins. All cousins with the same great-great grandparents are third cousins, even as all cousins with the same great grandparents are second cousins and all with the same grandparents are first cousins.

But my visitor was a member of the next generation after mine and his father’s. That results in a “removed” being added. Hence my calling him my third cousin once removed. All “removed” means is that there is a generational difference.

Here’s another example, again from my family tree. My Dad and Mom share a pair of great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents: John Linville and Ann Hendricks. That couple’s son Thomas and daughter Aylee each started a line that led, ultimately, down to me. This sort of interrelationship is actually fairly common in America’s rather inbred frontier population. Because of these common ancestors, Mom and Dad were eighth cousins. Because they were in the same generation, there were no “removes” involved. Neither of them had any idea they were related at all – the families had lived in different states since the mid 1800s. And it wouldn’t have made any difference. Thomas and Aylee Linville were born circa 1720, nearly 200 years before either of my parents. Mom and Dad’s amount of shared DNA (if anybody 73 years ago, when they were married, had even known about DNA) was minuscule.

As further illustration: my visitor is my son’s fourth cousin, they being from the same generation and sharing common great-great-great grandparents. And he is my granddaughters’ fourth cousin once removed.

A good guide to all this can be downloaded off Rootsweb at rootsweb.ancestry.com

There is also an extensive article (though one with posted “problems”) in Wikipedia under the topic “Cousins” that gives mathematical formulae for calculating this same relationship. Some may find that easier to use; I didn’t.

I think myself that “real” relationship has at least as much to do with non-DNA factors. I have some technically close relatives I find nothing in common with except a name; I have friends with whom I feel like a brother, even though we have no genes shared. And to me that’s what’s truly important. Especially since, as mentioned, there’s no family fortune to be gotten at.

Funny story though (stop me if I’ve told this one before): once upon a time there was a family fortune in dispute. My great-great grandfather, his two brothers and sister, all were potentially heirs to a portion of their own grandfather’s estate back in Cornwall, England. The times being the 1830s, the matter had to be settled in person – there was no international legal and banking network to use. So Great-Great Grandpa Jacob, who was the youngest of the brothers and not yet married, was delegated to represent the Missouri heirs in Cornwall. He traveled there by sailing ship and coach, arriving, no doubt, dusty and disheveled from the long trip. Although he’d been born in Cornwall, no one there had seen any of the siblings since 1820 when they emigrated to America with their now-deceased parents; and all had been small children at the time, not adults. His problem was to prove he was truly an heir. Casting about for something to show as evidence, he finally was struck by an inspiration. He took off his shoes and stockings.

When the assembled family saw his feet, they knew at a glance he was truly a Veale of St. Columb’s. He had two very prominent bunion joints – so protruding he probably had to have custom-made boots to accommodate them. Almost all of the Veales had been born, for generations, with this minor, but obvious, deformity. My own mother had it. (I’m lucky enough not to.) Jacob’s reward (and collaterally that of his siblings) was to inherit a share of the fortune – enough in his case to help him, later, purchase a thousand acres of rich Missouri farmland as his patrimony to his own children. His brothers (the sister died young) used theirs, respectively, to buy land in Texas and California and start family lines in those then-new places.

My own take on relationship I expressed recently in a poem, with which I’ll close this column.


The genes we share
Took different paths
One hundred sixty years ago;
Yet though the tie is thin,
It’s there, self-evident
To those with eyes to see,
Ears to hear.

It’s not your tangled hair;
My locks, once auburn, wavy,
Are from another tree.
Nor your hawk-like nose;
I’m sure that mine, so similar,
Is Blair, not from your line
(Though stranger things can be).

No; what convinces me
Is how we both
Have found our way
On solitary paths,
Both been the “strange one”
In the mix; both strode
A road less traveled by.

©2011 John I. Blair
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By Caroline Evans

My Friend Thelma Is A Hen

My friend Thelma is a hen.

Thelma is an older hen here at the homestead.

She has seen a fair supply of her contemporaries pass to the great henhouse in the sky. Her most recently deceased contemporary companion was Louise who died of old age at the end of the cold season this year. Louise was provided hospice care in my living room where we communed as she quietly passed away in a comfy little box.

Thelma has more lighter colored feathers than the youngsters who stay in the henhouse out back.

Thelma has been granted permission to stay overnight, every night on the steps leading up to my second floor apartment.

She ascends to the fourth or fifth step toward sunset each day and hunkers down for the night. I pet her on my way by up or down the stairs... sometimes I sit a step or two below and pet her for a few minutes.

Each morning she makes her way down the steps and heads out into the yard to chow down on some bugs and some grass seeds and some plants. Sometimes my next door neighbors... who technically own Thelma.... toss out some corn cobs or other treats for Thelma and the five other hens who prowl the yard.

Thelma.. after taking a breakfast jaunt.... almost every day... comes back into my stairwell... and climbs all the way up to the second floor landing.... and settles in and lays an egg on my doormat... right in front of my door.

It is not the easiest thing in the world for a hen to climb stairs.... yet Thelma goes out of her way to lay her egg before my door.

Ya know.... it is things like this that make me cry.... the good kind of crying.... a simple little hen climbs up some extra steps and gives me an egg for being her friend... almost every day.

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

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

We have a brand new President...

None other than poet, philosopher, intellectual, elder statesman and philanthropist Michael D Higgins.

There were seven candidates in the running all with their own talents and ability. But, as Irish legend, Christy Moore said on TV, "Thank God Michael D won."

There is time and a place for Entrepreneurs et al but how many of them could make poetry out of, “A secret made between the morning pitch and toss behind the alley and the encounter with Sunday afternoon snores . . . ”? Or remember with a philosopher’s perception the “. . . soft velvet of his ears as he bent in habit for the winkers.”

There is time and a place for Entrepreneurs et al but how many of them could make poetry out of, “A secret made between the morning pitch and toss behind the alley and the encounter with Sunday afternoon snores . . . ”? Or remember with a philosopher’s perception the “. . . soft velvet of his ears as he bent in habit for the winkers.”

Smart Water

I once knew a young man who had a habit of mistaking other people’s property for his own. When he “acquired” , say, a tool, the first thing he would do was to carve his initials on the handle. I heard of a nipper on a building site who, once, marked a Billy-can by putting a nail-hole in the bottom of it.

Whether it’s branding sheep or dropping a glass eye in a partly consumed pint everyone likes to mark their property. Up to now the effectiveness of such identification was limited.

Now County Meath man Michael Corcoran has brought the marking of property into the twenty first century. Michael and business partner Philip Yeates are the directors of SmartWater Technology Ireland who produce 'SmartWater' - a clear product which gets applied to people's, or companies', possessions and then it glows when put under UV light and each marking has a unique forensic code, placing criminals at the scenes of crimes as well as handling stolen goods.

Michael, ever the entrepreneur, says, "After all of the thefts in our locality, and also the ones on our own farm, as well as our extended families and neighbours properties, I took the bull by the horns and ever since wanted to introduce a product to Ireland that would actually work correctly and catch criminals. I now have the one." He says his security product is suitable for anything from private households' individual items up to companies with large infrastructure to protect.

SmartWater Forensic Property Coding carries a chemical ‘code’ which is registered to an address or location and can mark anything from lead roofing to a wedding ring. More robust than DNA, it is almost impossible to remove and Police can analyse SmartWater to prove where any item of property came from and whether it is stolen. SmartWater Forensic Spray System is used to convict criminals by spraying them with an invisible liquid which marks their skin or clothing with a forensic code assigned to a particular location. SmartWater Index stays on skin for weeks and for even longer on clothing and footwear. It can be used to link a criminal to a particular crime, remaining detectable long after the crime has been committed. Police across the UK routinely scan criminals and recover property through SmartWater and use it in undercover operations, the SmartWater brand has become a very powerful deterrent. Criminals are increasingly aware of SmartWater and fear its power to link them with a crime scene. For this reason they will avoid coming into contact with SmartWater at all costs.

Michael has been trying to bring SmartWater to Ireland for a long time. "We were at our wits' end as although we had insurance many irreplaceable items had gone without a trace," he says. "I had lived in the UK for 12 years, and had seen how effective SmartWater was as a deterrent and also in recovering stolen property so I realised there was a huge need for this effective crime prevention solution to be available in Ireland. Most people have experience theft in some way at or near their homes, many farmers for example have had machinery and large goods stolen one time or another.”

We hope to expand to over 28 full- and part-time staff over the next 12 months, with further expansion expected throughout the country.”

Meath Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Dean Kerins is fully behind the project, no doubt encouraged by the fact that 100% of UK police forces including the PSNI use SmartWater in their crime reduction programmes .

And Michael Corcoran is “ . . . . also dealing directly with the Assistant Commissioner's office in An Garda Síochána “ . Thjs Meath man says ; “ With a SmartWater taggant, stained notes can now be linked back to a specific crime - more importantly - so can the offender. SmartWater is used extensively throughout the UK. Our taggant will resist aggressive attempts to remove it and is not affected by the normal forensic evidence retrieval processes. SmartWater's Forensic Spray Systems are already used to protect Banking halls. Remote ATM pods, Cash delivery centres, Cash delivery vehicles, and anything else worth marking.”

Michael and his team would be delighted to make a presentation to the relevant departments to show how they can develop a relationship with the customer.

Telephone SmartWater on 00 353 1 442 8960 or contact Michael Corcoran at; michael@smartwaterireland.com for information.

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

Below:Michael Corcoran (Smart Water.)

Eric Shackle's Column

By Eric Shackle

How Far Can a Ball Be Thrown?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Irish-born James Patrick Garvan (1843-1896), who migrated to Sydney, once threw a cricket ball a record distance of 121 yards 1 foot (98.75 metres). Does that record still stand?

Apart from his ball-throwing prowess, Patrick Garvan was a remarkable man indeed. He was a competitive sculler and amateur heavyweight boxer. He was an insurance entrepreneur who founded today's MLC insurance company, and a politician who was Minister of Justice, Attorney General and Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales in the late 1880s.

His daughter later donated 100,000 pounds towards the cost of establishing The Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

But we digress. We tried to find how far a cricket ball or baseball (they're much the same size) - or even a golf ball - has ever been thrown.

Scouring the internet, we found that British Olympic javelin-thrower Roald Bradstock holds the world record for throwing an iPod (154 yards), an egg (118 yards) and a goldfish (56 yards). And he has thrown a golf ball 170 yards (160 metres).

Back in 1884, another Englishman, Robert Percival, threw a cricket ball 422 feet (128.6 metres) at Durham Sands racecourse.

On August 1, 1947, a Canadian, Glen Gorbous, hurled a baseball 445 feet 10 inches (135.89 metres). It has been estimated that Glen's "muzzle" velocity would have been around 120 mph (193 kph), with a running start.

The Gorbous drill, a special training technique developed for baseball throwing, was named after him. It involves throwing the ball straight up in the air as a way of developing the muscles used in distance throwing.

World-famous athlete Mildred "Babe" Didrikson threw a baseball 296 ft. (90.22 metres) on July 25, 1931, and that probably is still the furthest a woman has ever managed to throw a ball.

You might think that a cricket ball, being slightly heavier and smaller than a baseball, would fly further, but that's not borne out by past statistics.

Spectators at The Oval (London) in 1878 wildly applauded cricket icon, Dr. William Gilbert Grace, when he threw a ball more than 116 yards (106.07 metres) three times with the wind, and more than 100 yards (91.44 metres) in the opposite direction.

In a profile of the great doctor, Duncan Hewett, who lives in Bristol (Dr. Grace's home town) says: "W.G. Grace was a legend in England in his lifetime. The nation admired him.

"He perhaps could have been an even better player if is wasn't for food. He enjoyed his lunch at matches too. A number of times he got out shortly after a big meal.

"A whiskey often accompanied his food. He was once compared to Henry VIII.

"Grace scored 54,896 runs at an average of 39.55. He is still the fifth highest scoring player of all time. He wasn't just a batsman though. He took 2876 wickets at an average of 17.92 - the sixth highest wicket taker of all time.

"On two occasions (1873, 1876) he scored 2000 runs and took 100 wickets in one season. He also make 887 catches, which is still the second highest number of catches taken by anyone in their career.

"All of this was done in 43 years between 1865 and 1908 when he eventually retired, aged 59."

By throwing a cricket ball more than 116 yards (106.07 metres), Grace narrowly beat what may have been the record, set by a famous bare-knuckle fighter, William Abednego Thompson (1811-1880), better known as Bendigo.

Naturally lefthanded, Bendigo fought as a southpaw, but used his right hand to throw a cricket ball 115 yards (105.16 metres). On another memorable occasion, using his left hand, he hurled half a brick across the River Trent - a distance of 70 yards (64.01 metres).

Bendigo, the youngest of 21 children, was one of triplets named Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, after the young men in the Old Testament who emerged unharmed from the fiery furnace of Babylon.

A biographer wrote "He excelled at all outdoor sports - running, somersaulting, cricket and stone throwing, and like many others indulged in badger-baiting and cock-fighting at local pubs... His angling gained him a few prizes and he was also known to swim a bit, pulling three drowning folks out of the River Trent during his lifetime."

Bendigo became so famous that an Australian goldmining town adopted his name (with a population of 92,000, Bendigo is now Victoria's fourth largest city).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a ballad entitled Bendigo's Sermon which can be found on the internet at Wikisource

You can see Roald Bradstock throwing a golf ball 170 yards in this video: http://www.youtube.co/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=njPiif2pPZs or google "longest golf ball throw."

Adventurers Reach Remote Rotuma

Thursday, 13 October 2011, Posted at 15:31

The intrepid band of treasure hunters led by Australian adventurer Don McIntyre in the icebreaker ICE have landed on Rotuma Island, one of the Fiji group. Here is Don's account, copied from his website:

Rotuma island appeared at first light on Wednesday, completing the 900 miles in exactly 6 days and 210 gal. fuel including all the head currents, so happy about that.
This place is heaven…We anchored in crystal clear ‘special’ blue water at 0700, with no sign of civilisation, in a beautiful bleached white super fine sandy bay beside a small outer island,,, coconut palms, black volcanic rocks… just incredible!
At 9am .Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Doctor all turned up from the other end of the mountain's volcanic island that is very spectacular. We were happy about that as Jane and I were about to land and make the 3 hr walk in the sun to visit them.
There is no anchorage by the village they are in…2000 people live here but we have only seen five people in the last two days..and one was a 56-year-old guy who was asking Mark about Jane! He lives with his mum and has never left the island…and there are no available women as they all go to Fiji!
So we have been catching fish, making awesomely spectacular scuba dives, snorkeling and spear fishing , beachcombing, night time crayfish spotting, having barbies etc. all on a place that seems deserted..Very few people come here and they get one supply boat a month…
The plan now is to leave on Saturday..It is just too good here..
Tomorrow we are going to try getting around the island..about a 12-mile circuit on a dirt road/track..There is one car here in this bay and the driver may be able to take us... sort of a trip to town too....not sure what we will find.
We should get to the Yasawas on Monday, stay for a few days there and then head to the marina at Vuda Point..Mel has apparently gone on a holiday and not back till Tuesday, so no problem for us….this is so good after Tarawa!
Will blog again on Saturday night once we are under way..Turtles cruise past every day now instead of oil slicks and rubbish..life is how it should be.

Don has promised to donate 20 per cent of any treasure he finds to the Sheffield Institute Foundation for research into Motor Neurone Disease and other Neurological disorders.

You can follow Don's adventures or email him by visiting his blog, www.bluetreasure.me

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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

FIRSTERS; You Know Who You Are

These guys constantly amaze me. OK, they're not always guys, but whomever, the thing I hate about the folks that amaze is that they force me against my will to always get that anxious, burny feeling in my middle which urges me unrelentingly to "hurry up and do this thing before they do it first.” Alas, I just never win. I know I’m a neurotic whacko who should be able to rise above, but rising above I’m not so good at. These people who get me so crazy I call the "Firsters" and where I'm concerned, they always win and I never do, mostly because I'm a born again (and again and again) pantywaist of the first water.

The Firsters who first come to mind are those morons idling behind you at a traffic light. You know who you are. You, the ones who have your meaty thumbs lightly but tensely pressed against your car horns while staring up hard at the red light. I hate to give you a compliment, but in fact your timing is just unbelievably incredible. I swear you have the eyesight of houseflies because I'm certain you can actually see that fraction of time when the red becomes green. In that millisecond, you eagerly ram down viciously with that thumb don’t you, and detonate the horns you've had amplified to a skull splitting pitch at some illegal car shop. Come on, you know I’m right.

What is the deal with those people, anyway? I mean even if their brains have only managed to develop to the dimensions of a goober pea, they must know that eventually, say within that one half second it takes to swivel the foot from brake to accelerator, we'll actually be moving our cars forward. Why do those over-anxious jerks do that? Does anyone know? I don’t. What’s their hurry? Or as the cops who stopped you for speeding years ago used to say, “Where’s the fire, Mack?”

Car washers, in general, frequently raise that same feeling in me, and here's why. You know that routine when you're inching up to the place where you hand the guy the money, get the change, shut the window, and put the car into neutral? Well, the part I take issue with is when you start to close the window and there's suddenly this race to the death between you and Car Washer Guy to see if you can get your window shut before his soap-laden mop slaps across the glass. I've occasionally lost that race by a nanno-second, and am left looking at life through suds-colored glasses which causes despondency.

Go on a bus tour somewhere with a group of people and yes, again, that discomfiting sense of competition when certain members of that gathering, and again folks, you know who you are, begin subtly muscling up to the front of the line. Usually, they're feigning animated conversation, pretending they don't really know what they're doing, until oh my! surprise! they discover they're accidentally at the front of the line when all law-abiding people have queued up properly. Now they can get that window seat, just as they’d planned all along! And know what? They do! These people just always, always win. The very sight of queues anywhere causes acidy matter to commence bubbling beneath my sternum. You’d think I’d get over that, right? Wrong. I don’t. Want to know why? Because it just never ends. Not ever.

Here's another example; I spy a short grocery line at checkout point six and at the same instant, so does Lurch. Moving slowly toward the coveted site, Lurch and I deliberately avoid eye contact, gradually beginning a slow gallop toward that spot in the line we both fancy. One of us, however, like in the ancient and honorable game of Chicken, must veer away at the very last instant, forced to move on to checkout point seven or beyond.

I am chagrined to confess here that I am always veerer person. Lurch consistently wins because he's -- well, Lurch, and I am Wimp, hear me whimper.

And while on the subject of queues, again comes that nasty inner feeling when, after one has been standing for a life cycle in a long line to buy food, return a defective piece of merchandise, cash a check or go through a bomb detector, a voice is heard saying "Attention please! Another line is opening up over here." Instantly adopting stampede-mode, every single person headlongs it over to the next line, causing the exact same feelings of inner friction in my own personal inners I’d experienced when the gang was impatiently waiting in the first line. In their haste, some of us, without being given a choice, have donated a swatch of our shin-skin which is left dangling like a gas station flag from the front of someone's viciously shoved shopping cart. Oh, blessed be that tuned-in soul who has the brains to say "I will take the next person in line over here, please." But then, who is the next person in line we ask ourselves. I am. That's who.

And don't you feel that same thing in your gut when (you presume) someone is holding that multi-tonned glass door for you and you smile with warm appreciation and attempt to walk briskly, and he lets it slam the instant you get to it, and it scrapes hard against some part of you that sticks out?

Remember the kid in school whose hand always shot in the air long before the teacher had finished requesting a volunteer to wash the guinea pig cages? That fink Firster never gave any of the rest of us a fair chance at sucking up. You know exactly what his designation was throughout each of his academic years, don't you? Sure you do. Two words; first began with a B. Second with an N. In today’s vernacular, the designation would be a little more biological, but no less apt.

Maybe I should stop clenching about all of this, and just do what all Firsters do with such aplomb; be pushy, obnoxious, confrontational and aggressive. I'd always get a window seat, get through the metal detectors before the plane is airborne, get into the checkout line of my choice, and I'd certainly have gotten a lot more A's in all my school years. Oh well.

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

Cooper’s Hawk

By John I. Blair

When I first saw you
Sitting there alone
As though surprised
At sudden emptiness
Where dozens had been feeding,
You had your back turned,
Leaving me at loss
Just what you were.

Then a profile,
A hooked beak revealed,
And doubt fled
With the sparrows.

It seemed appropriate
You were perched
Upon the power line --
Not just that it passes higher
Than the phone or cable
And is the easiest
For taloned feet to grip.

But that power draws power;
Lightning hits the high ground;
And you radiated power
Without a wing,
A pinion moving.

You did not see me
Peering from the window
Nor would have cared;
And when I glanced away,
Then looked again,
You’d gone.

But there remained
A memory
Of death constrained,
Purpose modified
By present possibility.

And if I’d been a sparrow,
Numb beneath an oak leaf,
I think I might have sensed
Within my hollow bones
Your passage through my world
Not so much a bane
As something needful
Come too soon.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Transfer Tango

By John I. Blair

No dancer I
Nor you of late.
Hampered we are
By fate and past.
And yet each day
We dance this dance,
Slowly, with grace,
As though our last.

First I lift
Till you’re sitting straight.
Then I hold my hands
To brace your arm.
Balanced on me
You stand erect,
Bridge the space
To the waiting chair,
Shift your weight, turn
To my loving lead,
Sit with care,
And I kiss your face.

This is our tender
Transfer tango.

©2011 John I. Blair

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By M. Jay Mansfield

The whispers in my mind
voices sweet and old
cross the void of time
and wrap me in their hold

A word as fresh as now
wafting on the breeze
A look out on the bow
crashing thru times waves with ease

Soon I am enveloped in memories of them
thoughts heavy and old
sounds that a life cannot dim
Warm loving memories that leave me cold

And not a one would I give up
nor one friend I would have left behind
even as each chapter shut
Beautiful scarring my humble mind

©9-15-2011 MJMansfield

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

Too Strong

By M. Jay Mansfield

Too damn strong to die…
Too weak to go on
Stuck in a hellish purgatory
So tell me what I’ve won

Warrior with no battles left to fight
Sword caked with rust and blood
A holy man with no god to set me right
Cook my food over a pit filled with holy pages

Too damn strong to die
Too weak to go on
Cursing at the gold gray sky
Quicksand won’t pull me under

Old man in a body young
Mind it plays tricks on me.
Thinking back on all I’ve done
Watched them all slip away

Too damn strong to die
Too weak to go on
Oh my how I would cry
If I thought I could stop

I’ll always be a smiling friend
My soul never left not one behind
And I’ll be with you too, long after the end
For now I sit and talk with you and gently hold your hand

Too damn strong to die
Too weak to go on
Too damn strong to give it up
And so I carry on…

©9-6-11 MJMansfield
Click on M. Jay Mansfield
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October Sunshine

By John I. Blair

The old familiar sunshine
My foe in summer
Fills the window now
With welcome warmth.

Above the treetops
A clear blue sky
Glows like no sapphire
Ever dreamt of.

Cardinals, finches, chickadees
Flash from branch to branch,
Festooning the feeders,
Fattening up for frosty nights.

Brightening our urban yard
Autumn blooms draw butterflies . . .
Mistflowers, Mexican petunias,
Creamy orange lantanas.

These are the days when faith returns
That She who puts us all to bed
For our reluctant winter nap
Is still to be trusted, still to be loved.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Spider Revisited

By M. Jay Mansfield

Your face jars my memory like a spider crawling
upon the dusty shelf of my mind
Leaving fine threads of web in the empty spaces.
Not visible until it’s too late then no matter how you wipe
they seem to bind
Covering your skin and tormenting as you claw at your face

So beautiful and delicate yet terrifying to the depths
Cataclysmic is too kind of a word it’s too clean and scientific
No single word can hold your true meaning
You are beautifully all encompassing blood curdling horrific

You are an event, a time, a generation
Yet I see only the love when ever I chance upon your gaze
The next stage, the last stage, evolution
I tremble and hope you go away, then I pray that you never leave.

If these are the last days let me die in your grip
Now I know I am that fly unable to resist the temptation
even though I have seen my brethren twist for their very life
Slowly every moment becomes a revelation.

It is an obsession that drives closer in to what I desire
Now owning the ability to turn from your beautiful eyes
I can dance away from the edge of the fire
I refuse to, it is no longer about live or die.

Sometime you just have to see what it is all about
Live each twist and turn
Sometimes you need to feel the spiders bite
And I live to feel that glorious burn.

©5-2-11 MJMansfield

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I Do Not

By M. Jay Mansfield

I do not belong to the cult
I watch them huddle and chant
I can not be like them
But neither will I curse or rant

It is what it is
I can be complete by myself
I don't need to be part of this
I can stand alone

©9-24-2010 MJMansfield
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The Gift

By John I. Blair

When I looked out on the deck,
As I do whenever possible
Since viewing birds and blooms
Is my grounding
As I bustle through my day,
This morning an anomaly appeared,
A still gray form beside the chimney
Half-hidden by a chair.

It took a blink to realize
It was a dead rat,
Caught by who knew what disaster,
Whether hawk or cat
Or poison bait or just the ill effects
Of eating too much mildewed birdseed.

I knew I had to move it,
Not just for sanitation
But as well from a surprising urge
To show respect toward a creature
I consider hostilely.

By the time I got outdoors
The carrion flies, familiar crew,
Had settled in, were feeding
And depositing their eggs,
Part since time began of Nature’s plan.
The odor was horrific to my nose,
Heir of a hundred million years
Of noses that had known
This was the smell of death, decay,
Disease, a warning to the living.

But I faced it, scooped it on a shovel
With the longest handle possible
And made procession to the compost pile
Where I’d already dug a grave, a tiny pit
Replete with microscopic life
That was waiting for my gift –
The rat’s gift really – of a body
To be reabsorbed into the soil.

And what could be more holy?
What more sacred than a gift
Of life for life, flesh for future flesh?
I laid it gently in the earth,
Covered it with loam and leaves,
Thought a silent thought of blessing
To this, my furry brother/sister,
Then went back to all the flowers,
The singing finches.

©2011 John I. Blair

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At the Break of Day

By June Hogue

The stars grew dim, and the clouds
Turned white, like winter's snow.
I knew what it meant, for over the hills
I saw a faint pinkish glow.

The dawn of a new day was breaking!
The stars faded slowly away,
And the clouds floated like feathers across the sky;
For it was the beginning of a new day.

The birds, from their soft feather nests,
Began to sing and twitter and fly;
The sun rose slowly from the hills,
And the shadows passed quickly by!

At last! the day was finally here.
The dew was like diamonds on the lawn!
Some people don't notice it, but I do;
For I think the greatest of God's creations is the dawn!

by June Harper (13 years)
Monahans, Tex.
(previously published in "Wee Wisdom")

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The Heart Is Not An Indian Giver

By June Hogue

I gave my heart to you, beloved One
Oh, so long ago…
And then I tried to take it back
And thought that I could deem it so.

But I learned, as time went by,
That the heart is not an Indian Giver
And only the heart knows the destiny
Of the love it must deliver.

The recognition came slowly but clearly
Like the dawn of a new day
And I could only hope that the many tears I shed
Would somehow wash the guilt away.

I had denied the truth
And told my heart a lie,
Hurt you, oh so deeply, and made a choice
That will haunt me till I die.

I let you go for reasons I can't quite explain
I thought I had wearied and perhaps needed change!
You were so deeply hurt and then you left…
As I explored freedom's open range.

In time I learned that freedom was indeed open range
And I missed the touch of your soft caresses,
The strength I felt in your arms,
And most of all, the tenderness of your kisses.

Slowly, you wandered through my dreams reminding me
Of the loneliness that your absence brought about.
My mind was ever filled with the hollow echoes
Of all the dreams we'd so carefully laid out.

Now the years have passed
And I am getting frail and old
I know not where you are
Yet I must speak… if I may be so bold

For I vowed if ever I found you
I would explain something that is very true
That my heart is not an Indian Giver
For it has always belonged to you.

I wish you every happiness, I wish you love and joy,
Prosperity and peace beyond measure--
For my heart was not an Indian Giver…
And until death you'll remain its secret treasure.

©June H. Hogue
(for a friend who broke an engagement years ago and never forgave herself for breaking it. She loved the poem and has thanked me a million times for writing it for her.)

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Tiny Little Bird

By Wendy Shepard-Kalan

Glide through the clouds
Glide through the breeze
Tiny little bird doing what you please
The air so light
The sun so bright
Tell me how it feels to be so free

Sitting in a tree or walking on the ground
Making a funny little chirping sound
Tiny little bird tell me
What's it like to go
Over the snow
Feel the mist of the rain
Nothing to lose or gain

The warmth of the sun
Is it really fun?
Berries from a hedge
Resting on a ledge
Tiny little bird tell me

Do you travel every day
Or would you rather stay
Up so high what do you see?
Tiny little bird tell me...

©10/4/11 Wendy Shepard-Kalan

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Men on Vacation

By LC Van Savage

Here's a simple observance of mine
Don't call me sexist. It's just my opine.
And I know it's really not always true,
And I also know that you might argue.
But here's the deal, it's no affectation
You always can tell men who're on vacation.
I'll tell you why if you're really curious
Although it'll make a lot of gents furious.
But they seem to dress in horrid apparel
When they'd really do better dressed in a barrel.
These normally well-dressed men decide
To find a sweet cottage by the seaside.
Then on day one of their vacation
(They ought to be forced to deportation,)
They put on some shorts of vomitus plaid
And their shirts? The best description is "bad."
These guys who dress well on business days
Whose wildest colors are black, grey, and beige
Just lose it and suddenly they're wearing a symphony
Of baroque colors more like a timpani.
These guys seem to not feel the tiniest shame
Of walking about in shirts aflame
With Hawaiian patterns, or prints or stripes
Of mismatched splendor of ghastly types
Of every material known to man,
The clothes on these guys look like Grandma's divan.
And what's with their socks? Don't they have a clue?
Black socks and black shoes with shorts just won't do.
Especially short black socks, especially nylon
The clothes on these guys no house fly would fly on.
Some wear tank tops when they really not oughta
Over huge bellies. They don't really gotta.
And those hats, there really should be a law
They inevitably make all viewers guffaw.
But there's one sure way you can always tell
When a man's on vacation, though he does rebel.
It's while he's shopping with his dear wife
And she's trying on clothes as if her life
Is about to end, so she'd better buy lots,
And her husband awaits her, thinking bad thoughts.
The way you can tell those poor guys on holiday?
It's clear to all, for them it's no jolly day.
They're the guys with the big sour pusses
Looking a lot like furious gooses.
They're the guys who're muttering curses.
They're the guys forced to hold their wife's purses.

©2011 LC Van Savage

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Just Laying Down

By M. Jay Mansfield

I lay down to sleep with my weapons
The last good night my friends....
oh yes we had a great run
my blessed fiends

I am always more comfortable with them
they always come to life when I am near
they always respond to my every touch
each and everyone I hold dear

Cold steel blade that slides thru my abdomen
you always loved me the best
My bow and I…we killed many vermin
my staff, in battle and now in rest

You that I trust….
now I lay down with you
and we both finally can rust
My toys …… lay down ……

©5-6-11 MJMansfield

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Not A Clue

By John I. Blair

The day I find no hints
Of failing mind
You can think for sure
I’m there already.

When I squint
Into a mirror
I see forty, fifty most;
Yet others my own age
To me seem wrinkled
Graying geezers.

Though being blind to loss
Is no protection,
This inability
To grasp my own decline
Is Nature’s funny way
Of being kind.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Ann Was A Fool

By LC Van Savage

It was awful for Ann when she saw all that blood on that terrible, scary day
But calling a doctor would shame her she said, then said "It'll all go away."
Ann wept and she screamed, and prayed awfully hard, and frequently lost her breath.
She did not call the doctor, so soon after that, Ann was embarrassed to death.
©2011 LC Van Savage

published in New Maine Times

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I Miss You Now

By Bruce Clifford

I miss you now
More then ever before
All of this silence
Has become such a chore

I wish I could tell you
If only you would hear
Without you around
All I do is fear

I miss you more
It shows in my dreams
I wish I could tell you
I'm lost, so it seems

©10/5/11 Bruce Clifford

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It Hurts Too Much

By Bruce Clifford

It hurts too much
I think too much
I cry too much
It's not enough

It's hard to see
What used to be
It hurts too much
I'm losing touch

Everything that was meant to be
Has gone away like it's all lost at sea
Every single promise we made
Has gone away
Has gone away

It doesn't get any easier
Each day all I can do is wonder
I'm not the one hurt her
But I'm paying the price
It's breaking me down

It hurts too much
I think too much
I cry too much
It's not enough

It's hard to see
What used to be
It hurts too much
I'm losing touch

It's so hard to be
So very hard for me
It hurts too much
It hurts too much

©10/23/11 Bruce Clifford

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It Never Gets Easier

It never gets easier
It's always the same
I can't count on you too much
But I can count on the rain

It never gets easier
It's about passing the blame
I wish you would speak to me
I have so much to say

The seasons come and go
The moments ebb and flow
I will always want to know
I want to know

Chemical reactions
Noise and satisfaction
The history of man
The ultimate and final plan
The places one must stand
Give me your outstretched hand

It never gets easier
It's always the same
I wish I could count on you
Will things ever change

©10/28/11 Bruce Clifford

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By Wendy Shepard-Kalan

Wish I could fly like a seagull in the sky
The wind on my face
Gliding up so high
Taking me out of this place

The waves always moving as in a dance
Over the rocks and sand they flow
how I wish I had the chance
I just need to go

The clouds are white and calling
Like a voice I've always heard
From my past I'm falling
I want to fly like that bird

Graceful, a soft gray
His screech
Just another day
Soaring out of reach

Wish I could fly like a seagull in the sky

©10/4/11 Wendy Shepard-Kalan
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