Sunday, January 1, 2012

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

January 2012

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened. -Michel de Montaigne, essayist (1533-1592)

Perhaps that says the same thing Mark Twain aka Samuel Clements said, "Worry is like paying interest on a loan you may never have to make." At any rate it encourages one to proceed through life looking ahead to pleasantries, not disasters, so let us all do so as we head into this new year, seeing it full of promise and excitement.

We offer congratulations to one of our former authors, David Schleicher, and applaud his launching of a unique new experiment designed to bridge the gap between classic storytelling and new technology. The Stone Premier Issue - featuring great stories from Jack Lehman, Amanda Perino, Christopher Tait, and David - is now available exclusively through the Kindle App for only $1.99 (USB) Here's the direct link to Amazon's Kindle Store to buy: direct link. If people need to download the Kindle App (for free) first, they can use this link: free Kindle App. More info can be found on The Schleicher Spin..

This issue being the last one of Volumn 14 and the first of 2012, makes it the Omega-Alpha, doesn't it? Our columnists have submitted their thoughts, some addressing the new season, others looking backward, and have included some unusual tidbits. Check out "Irish Eyes" by Mattie Lennon; "Consider This" by LC Van Savage; "Introspective" by Thomas F. O'Neill; "Angel Whispers" by Peg Jones; "Cooking With Leo" by Leo C. Helmer; and "Eric Shackle's Column" by, of course, Eric Shackle plus his article, "Amazing Grace Now Amazing Race." The other article by LC Van Savage who celebrates the first as her birthday, is a glimpse at human nature, "On Lovejoy's Pond."

Ten poems help round out the Table of Contents with six from John I. Blair: "A Garden Never is Forever," "Little Victories," "Taking The Sun in January," "Trash at Five A.M." "Poet of The Small," and "WinterSpring."

Bruce Clifford sent along two of his melodic poems, "A Mixed Bag," and "Now I Cry." The poem "Half Past Dead" by M. Jay Mansfield, aka Fire Eagle, was written back in June while his Air Conditioner was out of commission, and is included here to remind us how we wished for winter back then. Wendy Shepard-Kalan speaks of "When The Past Is No More," and to many of us will bring echoes of our various loved ones, family and friends, who have become the victims of Alzheimer's Disease. Did Wendy intend this to help us understand?In my own family, my maternal grandmother Carrie E. Joslin and both her daughters, my mother Lena Carroll and my aunt Linnie Jane Burk are part of that list of victims.

Mark Crocker has begun his second book of Rabbo and the first chapter, "Departing" can be found under the segment for Stories as it is serialized. To read the first Book of Rabbo, click his name and find those chapters.

See you in February.

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

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Angel Whispers

By Peg Jones

Angel Message for 2012

I have asked the angels to share a message for our new year coming up. I have felt that they have something for us, that they would like to share with us.

They say that they have 5 points they would like to share with us. The points have to do with how to survive this next year without panic in anyway. They say that the hype of all that is to happen this next year, 2012, have made some people quite nervous. They want to assure us that all is going to be fine and that our journeys will still be in process.

  • 1. The angels want to remind us that we are Children of God. That life is precious and that God is with us always, even when we don’t feel his presence. They also say that each of us were made his image and we too can co create, what we want in our life. He will help us to grow to be the best we can be, because he will always love us.
  • 2. The angels say that there will be an out pouring of love in the world. That the world will become more cohesive in many ways. We see this already in the demonstrating that has been happening. The common man wants more equality for all living in the world, not for just a few. The issues with the world economy will be highlighted for all to be concerned with and there will be more demonstrations because of the way the 99% is being treated worldwide
  • 3. There will be new thinking on what the purpose of our lives, is all about. But then they say, not so much as new thinking, but a clearer understanding worldwide what this purpose is for us as individuals. There will be more of a conscious effort in thinking how our individual contribution affects the masses. There will also be more service to those not sure what is happening on a global level. Books and articles will be written in explaining what is happening. There will be more global projects occurring to include all, rather than a few.
  • 4. The internet will play a big part of bringing communication on a global level. This already happening, but we will see so much more of this, in the coming year of 2012. The internet will help to close some rather large gaps of communication around the world. The internet has already brought people from around the world together. Who would have dreamed this happening twenty years ago?
  • 5. The younger generations of the world will have a much bigger voice of their place in the world. They have started to already express what is truly on their minds, concerning the environment, the equality of all jobs, the 99% vs the 1%, and the world economy, are some of their concerns. The angels tell me their voices will help the world to become more aware of all that is happening and how it will affect them in the coming years.

The angels remind us that most of these pointers have been put in place in the last few years. They say that we will truly feel these pointers a bit more intensely this next year of 2012. The angels encourage us to continue on our desired path and that will be with us to help us complete our vision we have for ourselves and for our loved ones.
By Peg Jones, ALC

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

Consider This

By LC Van Savage

Bumper Stickers – Not For The Faint of Heart

Guess what? If you see a smutty, sexist, obscene, vulgar, or racist bumper sticker attached to someone's vehicle, there's not one thing you can do about it. Nothing. And that's the truth, folks. Well, I guess you could heave great clots of mud on it, but otherwise no, you cannot legally do anything.

Want to know why? I'll tell you. Messages on bumper stickers are protected by the Constitution. Whatever the message. Yes friends, it’s considered free speech.

When we're behind a motorcar that carries an offensive (to us) bumper sticker, we almost feel compelled to read it, right? We can’t resist. Oh now, I can hear you saying we're in no way forced to read the words, or to look at the disgusting pictures that often accompany the repugnant stickers, and you'd be right. Sure, we can pull up at a stoplight behind a car with a gross, loathsome statement glued to its back end and keep our eyes heavenward. But do we? I don't think so. I sure don't. And how do we keep our very literal grandchildren from reading all those things? And how do we answer them when they ask “But Gram, what does XXXX mean on that bumper sticker on the back of that guy’s car ahead of us?”

OK, I know what you’re thinking. Obnoxiousness and offensiveness are subjective things; what inflames me might fill you with self-righteous pridefulness. But in my opinion, some of the bumper stickers out there shouldn't be out there and please, don't accuse me of prudism. Honestly folks, I don't have even a nodding acquaintance with that.

One sticker comes to mind, and I'll soften and slangize its ninth word. It reads "If you can see the pimples on my arse, you're too close." Now that's objectionable. I mean just the mental picture of the driver's be-zitted backside is enough to cause a fatal accident or at least an involuntary gack of one’s lunch which can then be followed by a fatal accident. Is that bumper sticker funny? Wellll--yeah. Sorta. Sorry, but that doesn't make it any less indecent.

Today's bumper stickers can (and do) display the most atrocious of obscenities, including the inimitable S and F bombs. Once so taboo they were only juicily scrawled on the sidewalk in chalk well after dark followed by the sound of rapidly retreating footsteps, (mine,) they're now used so casually they've lost all their punch, their forbiddance, and have become ho-hum and completely impotent.

To a point. While few of us crumple to pieces any longer when we see or hear those words and all the others, they can cause some embarrassment when you're oh, say driving your elderly grandmother to her weekly Bridge club, and you're stuck in traffic behind one of those low-life dimwits for whom filthy language is obviously high - class entertainment, so he's put a whole lot of it on the back of his vehicle. Idle conversation turns to frantic babble while Granny's eyeballs and yours too, desperately search the skies for something to watch so you don't have to watch *it* until you can finally get away from that nasty prose.

Do we have to accept someone's poor language choices while we idly idle at a red light? Our venerable Constitution advises that we do. People who wish to festoon their vehicles with obscene sayings and sexual suggestions have the legal right to do that, and while it is our prerogative to object, we are prohibited from stopping the practice. It is the rights of the moron driver ahead of you which say they can shoot off their entitlements and be gross in any verbal way they wish. Even if it offends. And apparently especially if it offends.

One of the stickers I find particularly vexing are those aimed directly at tourists that say, "Welcome to (Wherever.) Now go home."

Who's the sub-Cretin who thought that one up? I doubt it could penetrate this simpleton's small and obviously calcified brain that the tourists are buying his or her wares, perhaps even giving him or her a job, keeping taxes lower, forcing highway improvements, giving countless employment to people, paying for services--the list of positive things tourists do for us is very long. I think there should be a law against the habitual, unfunny and rude practice of insulting golden geese. Talk about biting the hand.

I would personally love to see the abolishment of those stickers that gratuitously deal with sex, violence, and obscenities that only reflect the mental machinations of the imbeciles who plaster them onto their vehicles. They apparently also have the right to glue on racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, sexist, war mongering and any other inflammatory opinion statements. What a world!

When we espy an offensive sticker and raise our voices in objection to its blatant grossness, the attitude (generally shouted by drivers) is "Hey! S. happens!" And, of course, it does. But you know, I'm not entirely sure the framers of the Constitution really had any of this in mind. Maybe if the Colonials had pasted obscenities on their horse's arses, or their wagons and carriages, those worthy gentlemen would have quickly reframed. I'd like to hope.

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

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

From Finuge To Leinster House

Via Croke Park

Finuge, Finuge, Oh golden wood.
Your meadows wild and green,
With the soft kiss of moonlight
On the cross of Coolnaleen
...Words written by the late Sean McCarthy; a man who immortalized the north Kerry village and who is commemorated annually by the Sean McCarthy Memorial Weekend. A key figure in organising the event for the past twenty years was Finuge native Jimmy Deenihan. Jimmy is now our Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. He is the most able person to hold the position since Michael D. Higgins, who went on to become President of Ireland, was appointed in 1993.

Jimmy’s sporting career started when he scored a point in Sullivan’s field, in Finuge, as a seven year old in 1959. (“I still recall the sense of achievement I derived from kicking a football over the bar . . . It was a defining moment in my development as a footballer and I remember running home excitedly to tell my father about it.") And it finished . . . Hold on. Is it finished yet? On 08th October 2011, a few days after his 59th birthday, he togged out with an Oireachtas team for a charity-match in Croke Park. As I watched from the stands, when he faced an opponent from the opposing Media Selection, I wondered was our Minister thinking of his five All-Ireland medals or was he once again a seven-year-old in Sullivan’s field?

Despite a busy schedule he has now written his autobiography My Sporting Life. It was launched in the National Museum on Tuesday 13th December by former Dublin captain and Jimmy’s one-time rival, Tony Hanahoe who said; “Jimmy and I met by accident in 1976.” He was referring to the day he was playing in the forward line in Croke Park and made involuntary contact with the man from Finuge.


He was asked to bring Gaelic football's all-Ireland cup to New York in 1981 to have it photographed with the World Series baseball trophy and American football's Superbowl prize. He didn’t want to take responsibility for what was, for years, a Kerry trophy but he was eventually persuaded. He brought it to Gaelic Park in the Bronx where it was stored in a safe while players from the Feale Rangers team socialised. After a match between Feale and Ardboe of Tyrone the next day, Jimmy went to get the cup only to be told by the caretaker that it had been taken from the safe by someone unknown to him that morning.

Jimmy Deenihan with the Sam Maguire Cup

I have heard him tell the story or some of it several times but in My Sporting Life he writes about the intervention of the FBI and "When I called to Gaelic Park the following morning at 11am, the Sam Maguire was in the bar wrapped in a black plastic refuse bag." I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll have to read the book for the full story. Proceeds are going to the Lartigue Restoration Committee...
Full monorail fund details.
The Listowel-Ballybunion Railway was opened in 1888 at a cost of £30,000 and it ran for 36 years until it was closed in 1924.It was a unique rail-system designed by a Frenchman, Charles Lartigue. The train carried passengers, freight, cattle and sand from the Ballybunion sand-hills. Among the passengers were Ballybunion school children going to the Listowel Secondary Schools, Kerry and Limerick people making their way to the beach resort of Ballybunion and golfers going to the fledgling golf course at Ballybunion, which was to develop into one of the greatest golf courses in the world.

The Original Lartigue Monorail

The Lartigue was the only railway of its kind in the world. One Kerry historian described the design as follows, "Loads had to be evenly balanced. "If a farmer wanted to send a cow to market, he would have to send two calves to balance it, which would travel back on opposite sides of the same freight wagon, thereby balancing each other."

Bottom of Page: Lartigue's demonstration at Westminster in 1886.

1988 saw the centenary of the opening of the Lartigue and several initiatives were taken to celebrate the event. Among the most valuable of these was a history of the Lartigue written by local politician and Lartigue enthusiast Michael Guerin. Michael Barry of Lisselton had already assembled 50 metres of salvaged track and an original carriage and Michael Foster had written a valuable book on the Lartigue. From this time a feeling emerged that a restoration of the Lartigue should be attempted in some form. As a result, in the mid 1990's a Lartigue Restoration Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Jimmy Deenihan TD, with Jack McKenna, who had traveled on the footplate of the original Lartigue, as President.

After much work and fundraising by the committee, work started on the building of the new Lartigue on the site on John B Keane Road in November 2000. The construction work was carried out by an excellent team of FAS employees, under the direction of members of the Restoration Committee, and the train went in to operation in June 2003.

The Lartigue today

My Sporting Life is not confined to stories about Fine Gael and the GAA. Jimmy introduces the reader to such people as FW de Klerk, Nelson Mandela, Joe Jagger (father of Mick) and Alfred Hitchcock. As a young man he didn’t have any political ambitions. So, how did he end up in the Dail? Perhaps the question is best answered by the other great man of letters , Kerryman, Con Houlihan in his introduction to My Sporting Life, "His winning speech as captain of Kerry in an All Ireland final was heard by Garret Fitzgerald who marked him down as a young man with a future in politics."

While teaching in Tarbert in 1982 (the year he missed the All-Ireland final due to injury) Jimmy was asked to run as a Fine Gael candidate. Before making a decision he sought the advice of that great Listowel sage, John B Keane..

"Because of my trust in him, John B's advice would be crucial to my decision, His first reaction was one of surprise that I should even consider going into politics. He advised me that politics was a tough game, that your own party members could be the most negative and hurtful towards you... as I have discovered since."

As on the field, whether on the opposition benches or in Government the Finuge man gave a good account of himself. As one reviewer puts it, “When he entered political life, he embraced the concept of sport for the many and not just for the few, undertaking extensive examination of the role of sport in the lives of Irish people. He also details his organisation of sporting events involving his Dáil colleagues and their counterparts in other countries.”

What’s it like being a Minister in these turbulent times? This Kerryman has the answer, "Playing sport at a high level prepares you for anything that comes your way in life."

Google "My Sporting Life" and a Happy 2012 to you all.

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

Cooking With Leo

By Leocthasme

For The New Year Celebration
And All The Cold Weather That Follows

OK, I’m still on a drink kick, let’s face it it’s that time of the year for such things,.and it’s time to gather round with friends and neighbors and enjoy the New Year. So, let’s have a holly, jolly time and break out the spirits. Well the New Year is the time to celebrate and enjoy the new things coming our way. Every New Year is a time for New Things. Kick out the old and ring in the new. So while we enjoy doing our thing let’s enjoy some spirit help.. You friends, neighbors and\ guests will enjoy these cold weather uplifts and rate you high on their best cat in the neighborhood list. And that should last till May or June when you fill up the pool in your back yard and at least the guy next door catches you out back cleaning up the BBQ Pit. Have fun til then.

Red-Hot Apple Cider

    Combine 2/3 cup red cinnamon candies and 8 cups apple cider; stir occasionally to melt candy. When ready to serve, mix in 1 cup brandy and add thin apple slices.

Mulled Red Wine

    Mix two 750-ml bottles dry red wine such as zinfandel, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 5 whole cloves, 4 cinnamon sticks, 4 allspice berries, and 4 peppercorns. Serve with fresh-cut orange slices.

Winter Tea

    Mix 2 1/2 cups water, 2 cups orange juice, 1 1/4 cups cranberry juice, 5 star anise, and 1/2 cup brown sugar. When hot, add 6 cranaple tea bags, steep 8 minutes, and remove bags. Add 1 3/4 cups spiced rum.

Sugarplum Kiss

    Combine 3 3/4 cups peach nectar, 1 3/4 cups prune juice, 2 1/2 cups sweet white wine, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 6 cinnamon sticks, 5 whole cloves, and 5 cardamom pods. Serve in sugar-rimmed glasses.
Enjoy It All Till The Birds Start Singin’ Again, Whenever!
Click on Leocthasme for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


By Thomas F. O'Neill

They say when you get old time goes by with a blink of an eye but for the very young time moves at a snail’s pace. I am witnessing firsthand how fast time is moving especially here in Suzhou, China.

It wasn’t that long ago in 2009 to be exact that I was invited to be a guest teacher at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School for one semester. Now three years later I’m still in China and the semesters are racing by very quickly.

I get easily attached to my students especially the ones who participate in class they make my classes more enjoyable with their unique brand of humor. Some of my students even comment that they wish my classes would continue on especially when the semester comes to an end.

I enjoy teaching and entertaining my students with humorous stories about some of my experiences in life. When they ask me how old I am I tell them I am very old with a youthful personality. A Buddhist student said, “Mr. Tom you are an old soul that returns to teach and enjoy life with others.” The Buddhists have such a unique perspective on life and the subject of Buddhism intrigues me.

I once told my students when you are enjoying life time moves quickly and that is very true for me. I suppose that is why I don’t have any particular plans on moving back to the United States. But it’s not that difficult to stay in touch with people due to the internet. I can email videos to people and call people via Skype anywhere in the world. I enjoy staying in touch and reading about the happenings in the area I grew up (Shenandoah, PA) because a part of me never left my hometown.

I tell my students the world is becoming a smaller place especially with our modern technology. Computers, cell phones, satellite television, and especially our internet technology are bringing the world closer together in ways our ancestors never would have imagined. The evolving technology has no end in sight and it will only make our lives a bit easier as time progresses.

China’s culture here is progressing rapidly and my stay here is something I value dearly because of the beautiful people I encounter. I particularly enjoy the children here and I never find myself getting bored when they are around. I like playing games with them and they have a knack of making me laugh. I find that the Chinese children here are more trusting and open than most American kids their age.

That lack of trust among some American Kids is mostly due to the U.S. media covering crimes against children especially the abduction of young kids. That is something that always disturbs me how people could harm a young child in such heinous ways. A little Chinese girl once said to me “America Danger” she was trying to say that it’s dangerous for kids in America. With the help of a Chinese teacher I told her it’s not as dangerous in America as some people think. People think that way because of the American News stories of adults in the U.S. harming children.

I never watch Chinese television here even though you can pick up loads of western channels on satellite television. I get most of my news online by reading various newspapers and watching news programs via the internet.

I like to recap some of the global events in my class and the students are always ready for the questions and comments. One student asked if America is losing its ‘top dog’ statues in the world. I replied that I do see China as being the ‘top dog’ in 20 years. A female student then quickly interjected that “China is not a dog.” I said to her your right ‘top dog’ is just a bad expression of who has the greatest influence and in my opinion in 20 years China will have the greatest influence on the rest of the world.

My students’ readiness to voice their opinions in my classes is something I enjoy. There are times when I disagree with their comments, especially, when their perceptions of America is based on what they see in popular western films.

One of my student’s felt that all Americans’ walk around with concealed weapons. I told him some Americans do but most don’t. I went on to say if they ever visit America they won’t have to worry about a little old lady sitting down next to them with a magnum 45 hidden in her purse.

The western media along with western music and movies greatly influence the Chinese culture. It also influences their perception of what America stands for. America was once a land of dreams and opportunities for many in China. But their perceptions of America is changing they see the U.S. as a land of immense wealth and material greed.

The sad thing about that is many here in China are ignorant of the millions of Americans struggling below the poverty line. The great divide between the haves and the have-not’s are becoming wider in America but nowhere near the divide that’s in China. Over 600 million Chinese make less than 2 dollars a day that is extreme poverty.

However, more than 400 million Chinese are now middle class and the middle class is growing with each passing year due to their booming economy. I tell my students that both the United States and China have an immense disparity between those who have plenty and those who have far less.

I am deeply troubled by the poverty here perhaps because I witnessed it firsthand. I also have deep empathy for those who are impoverished but seeing homeless children is most disturbing of all. No innocent child should have to live on the street. It is so painful for me to see homeless children and some of them are forced to beg on the streets to all hours of the night out of despair and hunger. I tell my students that there are plenty of homeless in America too some with serious mental health issues.

You can judge a nation by how well it reaches-out to the unseen the so called downtrodden. They are the ones with the least influence but some Americans will complain that the U.S. is using hard earned tax dollars to help the down and out. Those same people who complain about Government entitlements derogatorily call it ‘Socialism.’ Helping the homeless however is not ‘Socialism’ it’s just doing the common decent thing when common decency is called for.

America and China need to do a far better job in caring for the less fortunate.

The overall Chinese culture does continue to intrigue me though and I’m curious what effect their growing economy will have on their rich culture. One thing I enjoy doing here is visiting an elementary school near my apartment. I get various invitations to go there and when I visit the school the first thing the Chinese teacher does is hand me a cup of tea. It’s a sign of respect and hospitality for my visit and the children stand up when they see me enter the room. Then they show their excitement for my being there. Some yell “Hello, Mr. Tom” and they practice their English with me. They keep me entertained, young at heart, and they bring out the child in me.

The children here are also more disciplined than I was at their age and I enjoy the time I spend with them. When I was a child I wish I worked as hard as they do now in their studies and I also wish I had the teachers they have now as well. The Chinese students are not smarter than American students they are just better disciplined and far better prepared for their future academic challenges. China’s emphasis on education will enhance China’s overall well being because education is vital for any nation to compete within the global economy.

I would like to wish all of you a fabulous New Year and may it be filled with warm thoughts and happy hearts.

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
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

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

Eric Shackle Column

By Eric Shackle

Bell to chime 2011 times

At precisely 10.30pm on Christmas Eve, six bell ringers will begin tolling the bell of Dewsbury Minster in Yorkshire, 2011 times, to finish on the stroke of midnight. It's a 600-year-old custom, called the Devil's Knell.

The bells remind the townspeople of the number of years that have elapsed since the birth of Christ. It's supposed to mark the Devil's departure from the Earth.

In the 15th century a local knight, Sir Thomas de Soothill, in a fit of rage, murdered a servant boy by throwing him into a mill pond. To expiate his crime he gave the tenor bell, Black Tom, requiring it to be tolled at his own funeral. It is now rung on Christmas Eve to signify that the First Eucharist of Christmas proclaims the defeat of evil.

"We ring about 26 blows per minute" says bellringer Derek C. Johnstone. "Each person takes his turn to ring 100 blows, then signs them off on a sheet.

"We have a target time chart to ensure we stay on track to finish at midnight.We ring from the comfort of the ringing chamber. The wind through the louvres makes ringing an alpine sport."

The other ringers: Ronalda and Richard Johnstone, Gill and Denny Flynn, and Hazel Crabb.

The British Post Office issued a special stamp in 1986, commemorating this historic event.

The Anglo Dutch brewery in Dewsbury produces Devil's Knell beer, described as "A reddish ‘winter beer'".

You can listen to the Devil's Knell here: the Devil's Knell.

See the Dewsbury stamp, 1986.

Saturday, 17 December 2011
From Sydney, Australia.

Newspaper Nonsense


In the anagram world, it's well known that MONKEYS WRITE the NEW YORK TIMES.

That's not surprising, since the infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite number of times will almost surely type the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Nor is it surprising that Rupert Murdoch recently closed down his infamous THE NEWS OF THE WORLD, since it was a HOT, LEWD SHEET (FROWN) with HOT, TENDER FLESH. WOW!

THE SCOTSMAN (Edinburgh) with typical frugality, HASN'T COST ME


The letters forming THE IRISH TIMES say EITHER HIT, MISS.


A London newspaper, THE DAILY EXPRESS, can claim I HELP SEXY STAR!

Another, THE GUARDIAN, can be shuffled to say HUGE, RADIANT. Mix the letters again, and they produce the less complimentary HIT AND ARGUE, or (worse still) DRAINAGE HUT.



The letters forming the words THE INDEPENDENT can say it's THE INTENDED PEN or THE INDENTED PEN. Or PENNED, THEN EDIT.





Anagrams for some US newspapers:

AKRON BEACON-JOURNAL says OK ON A JOCULAR BANNER (it must sometimes display amusing banner headlines). Another anagram indicates AN OK, AN ABLE, CONJUROR.




BUSINESS FIRST can be shuffled to say IS BEST FUN, SIRS.




CHICAGO SUN-TIMES can be shuffled to show that this newspaper is AMUSING, CHOICEST! Mix them again, and you find that it IS CATCHING MOUSE.

The CHICAGO TRIBUNE wins a prize for being a BIG ANCHOR CUTIE with A BIG, NICER TOUCH.




THE (Columbus, Ohio) DAILY REPORTER can be shuffled to form two apparently related anagrams, revealing that a HYPER ALERT EDITOR REPORTED HEARTILY.



DENVER ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS can be re-arranged to say SUNNY, DOWN-MARKET (OVER-NICE?). Mix them again, and they tell you that an UNKNOWN SECRETARY MOVED IN.




EL PASO TIMES also spells A POET SMILES. Mix the letters again, and they say SEEMS A PILOT who AIMS TO SLEEP.

FORT LAUDERDALE SUN-SENTINEL can be mixed to show that this newspaper is NEAT (UNDERLINED) OR FAULTLESS. Shuffled again, they say it has a FAULTLESS RETURN ON DEADLINE.



INDIANAPOLIS NEWS can be shuffled to say it's IDEAL, WINS ON A SPIN. Mix them again, and they suggest NOW SLIP IN AN ASIDE. And if you do that, you're rewarded by a WIN AND A LIP'S NOISE (that's a kiss!)

INDIANAPOLIS STAR can be shuffled to say it's A LAD'S INSPIRATION or INSPIRATIONAL, SAD. Mix them again, and they tell us that A SNAIL IS NOT RAPID. AND IT IS ON A SPIRAL!

The INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY yields two highly complimentary anagrams: IS SUNNY, ASSORTED, VISIBLE and its BODY IS AS SUNNIEST SILVER.

KANSAS CITY STAR says SACK ANY ARTISTS! Mix those letters again, and you find that that ISN'T A SCARY TASK and that objections can be overcome by A SCANT, ARTY KISS.


THE (MEMPHIS) COMMERCIAL APPEAL can also say CALL, COME, I AM THE PAPER! Mix them again, and they proclaim AM THE COMPILER PALACE.


MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL can also say JOLLIER, KEEN, MUTUAL, SANE WIN. Mix them again, and they tell you this newspaper is JEWEL-LIKE, LUMINOUS, NEAT RAN.

MINNEAPOLIS-ST.PAUL PIONEER PRESS can be shuffled to read SUNNIEST, PROPER, APPEASES MILLION. Mix them again, and you get a fine piece of alliteration: PRIME PURPLE POSITIONAL SANENESS.



NEW JERSEY TIMES can ask WIN? YES! (MERE JEST). Mix them again, and you find the reply: YES, I'M NEWER JEST.

NEWSDAY, LONG ISLAND can be shuffled to say DANDY AS WELL – SIGN ON! Mix them again, and they form AND NOW SADLY SINGLE or SNOW DELAYS LANDING.

THE NEW YORK TIMES (quoted earlier) can be shown to contain KEEN WORTHY ITEMS or else THE MONKEYS WRITE it.

THE OREGONIAN can be shuffled to read ONE GIANT HERO. Mix the letters again, and you find the message, NO! IGNORE HEAT! or GENERATION OH!


PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS can be shuffled to say HAPPY HEADLINES WILL AID. Mix the letters again, and they boast WELL, I AN IDEAL HAPPY DISH!


(ROCHESTER) DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE can also say DECENT, CORDIAL – MARCH ON! (or ON MARCH). Mix them again, and you find the message CHARM CARTOON DECLINED, and the reply CARTOON DRENCHED – CLAIM!

THE SACRAMENTO BEE can be shuffled to say THE NAME? BEST OR ACE! Mix the letters again, and you find SERENE, COMBAT HEAT.

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH can be re-arranged to show a puzzling SLID PAST THIS OCTOPUS. Mix them again, and you find STATISTICS SHOULD POP or AS POLITICS THUDS – STOP!





The letters spelling SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS can also say WARMNESS CURES, ENJOY! or a somewhat cryptic CREW ENJOYS SURNAMES.



THE TAMPA TRIBUNE can be shuffled to say THE BRAIN TEAM PUT (or BRAIN PUT THE TEAM). Mix them again, and they say REMAIN – BET THAT UP! or disclose a mysterious I'M A BETTER HAT PUN.

Top-selling national newspaper USA TODAY shouts OY! – US DATA, while USA TODAY NEWSPAPER can be re-arranged in A SANE, SUPPORTED WAY.

The 21 letters forming VERO BEACH PRESS JOURNAL (Florida) can be shuffled to read HE'S JOCULAR, BRAVE PERSON. Mix them again, and you get JOCULAR, SHARP – EVEN SOBER! And for a third anagram, you find the slogan OUR SHARP RELEVANCE: JOBS!

VIRGINIAN PILOT can be shuffled to say NIP IN – GO TRIVIAL! Mix the letters again, and you find OIL VIA PRINTING is PILING ON TRIVIA, with a LOVING PAIR IN IT, and a VIP IN TAILORING.

WALL ST. JOURNAL delivers a simple message: JOLT ALL, WARN US (is that us or U.S.?)


THE WASHINGTON TIMES can be shuffled to read HONEST MIGHT, SANE WIT. Mix the letters twice more, and they say HAT ON – MIGHTIEST NEWS! followed by WHITE-HOT ASSIGNMENT!

FOOTNOTE. These and many other computer-generated anagrams can be obtained easily (and free of charge) from either of two Internet servers, run by computer wizards William Tunstall-Pedoe, of Cambridge, England (AnagramGenius) and Anu Garg, of Seattle, Washington:

Tuesday, 27 December 2011
From Sydney, Australia.

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Amazing Grace Now Amazing Race

By Eric Shackle

Danny Bloom, an American journalist living in Taiwan, has rewritten the lyrics of one of the world's favorite hymns, "Amazing Grace." He has changed the title to "The Human Race".
Here are his words:

Amazing race, how cool you are
A long-lived family tree.
We are one on Earth unbound
Once born, we breathe, we see.

O human race there's naught to fear.
life's one sweet adventure true
How precious is each day we live
You and you and you!

Though many dangers, toils and snares
Lurk behind the doors of fear
We are one amazing race
and friends are always near.

Day by day and year by year
We need to stand up tall
And fight injustice wherever it lies.
United, one and all

But when our flesh and hearts do fail,
And mortal life does end,
The human race goes on and on
and memories last, my friend.

Well, we've been here ten million years
And we'll last till the end of time.
So wipe away those human tears
Be strong, be good, be kind.

Amazing race, how cool you are
A long-lived family tree.
We are one on Earth unbound
Once born, we breathe, we see.

Amazing Grace, "almost certainly the most spiritually moving melody ever created," was written in the 1770s by John Newton, an Englishman who had been in turn a slave and a slave-trader.

After a checkered and violent career as a boy and young man, Newton "saw the light," and ended his days as a respected clergyman in the English village of Olney, in Buckinghamshire.

"Amazing Grace might very well be the most easily recognizable hymn ever written," says the Newton Library website. "It's been recorded by popular singers, performed on TV, used in commercials and it was even played in its entirety during the broadcast of the women's gymnastic competition of the 1996 Olympics.

"Many people who never stepped foot in a church could recite the first few lines and maybe even the whole first verse."

In her book, "Amazing Grace, The Story of the Hymn", Linda Granfield wrote "Newton was a man of paradoxes: for many years he earned his living from the slave trade, and yet he was for a short while a slave himself, planting lime trees in Sierra Leone.

"A horrific storm at sea in 1748 led Newton to his new life as a minister and anti-slavery activist. He recollected both his deliverance from the storm, and his life without God, in his most famous creation."

In 1830 the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, despite bitter opposition from many Americans including Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett who declared "I would sooner be honestly damned than hypocritically immortalized."

Cherokee men, women, and children were herded into makeshift forts with minimal facilities and food, then forced to travel 1000 miles west, often on foot. A detailed report of what is termed "one of the saddest episodes of our brief history," is shown at a North Georgia website.

A fine painting of the Trail and many more details are posted at a Missouri website which says: "One can only imagine the suffering that was taking place... Disrespectfully uprooted, homeless, they were embarking on a long journey in worn-out moccasins in the unforgiving dead of winter.

"Enduring river crossings, ice floes and relentless winds, they had only a blanket for warmth - if they were lucky. You imagine huddling around a fire, comforting your mother while she gets weaker and weaker ... wondering, as she, when the suffering would end, and whether she would even live to see it."

Frankie Sue Gilliam, editor of Twin Territories, "Oklahoma's Only Historical Newspaper," took pride in being an "Okie from Muskogee" and a Cherokee. She traced her ancestry back to Little Terrapin, one of 300 Cherokees who, having mostly supported England in the Revolutionary War, moved westward from Arkansas in 1817.

"Amazing Grace is a very important song to the Cherokees, and is often referred to as our national anthem," she told me 10 years ago.

You can listen to Danny Bloom's new version of the hymn, with vocals and guitar by Staffan Fenander:

Staffan was busking in the suburbs of Rome, Italy, in 1971, when he bumped into underground hat-passer extraordinaire Danny Bloom, who was also spending the summer fooling around in Rome, living in Trastevere and hanging out at the American Library near the Spanish Steps.
Now, 40 years later, the two friends have collaborated on their new global song, with Steffan doing the vocals and guitar work in a soulful, dreamy, melodious way, and Danny chiming in with the new lyrics for a new world.

Thursday, 1 December 2011
From Sydney, Australia.

Posted by Eric Shackle at 20:55
To his blog:

Note: A comment by Milo Thornberry on Eric Shackle's blog Nimble Nonagenarians reads, "Eric is also right about the "Trail of Tears." There are many sources for this sad story, but one of my favorites is a novel by a friend of mine, Helen Underwood titled, "Under Cedar Shades." She tells the factual story of the horror, and she does it through the eyes of ancestors in her family. "Under Cedar Shades."
2 December 2011 06:12

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Little Victories

By John I. Blair

Celebrating little victories
Is my salvation.

If I waited
For grand, defining triumphs
I’d live my life in sadness.

I’d never know
The sweet reward
Of pushing past my pain
To make the bed anew
With fresh-washed sheets;

The quiet comfort
Of serving up a tasty meal,
Fixed with what I’ve found;

The simple joy of helping you
Make one more transfer
To and from your chair
Without a fall.

All these mean more to me
Than any praise or plaudits,
Any prize.

I’ll wear them as my ribbon bars.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Taking The Sun in January

By John I. Blair

In Minneapolis, New Year’s Day,
Hundreds turn blue in Excelsior Bay.

Ice castles tower in Montreal
While snowflakes fall.

At Beaver Creek, Vail and Stowe,
Hardy souls ski to the valleys below.

Here in Texas I sit on the deck
Hoping for juncos, sun on my neck.

Winter’s soft in the South.

©2011 John I. Blair

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A Garden Never is Forever

By John I. Blair

A garden never is forever,
No more than a life;
The glory of a flower
Fades in hours,
Days at most.

But here’s the prize:
Each moment in a garden
Taken mindfully
Puts one as near to paradise
As one may ever be.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Trash at Five A.M.

By John I. Blair

Between city rules
And my own disrupted life
I often find myself
Taking trash out to the curb
At five A.M.

With my jampacked bag
Of kitchen residue,
Squandered forest products
And soiled cat litter
I half walk, half stagger
Down the dark drive

Hoping I didn’t wake the neighbors
When I rolled up the garage door
Or a passing patrol
Doesn’t profile me as a burglar,
Burdened with swag.

Though my garb alone –
Boxer shorts and baggy T –
Should disabuse them.

Life ain’t always elegant.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Poet of The Small

By John I. Blair

I want to be a poet
Of the very small.

Nothing in this life
Should fail my glance.

The grapeskin’s bloom,
The seeds, the twining stem,

Each feather on the finch
That feeds at noon –

All these deserve
Intense inspection.

In detail I find sense,
Not chance.

©2011 John I. Blair

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By John I. Blair

I’ve lost patience with Winter;
I have no time for cold,
Damp, death, dissolution;
I count the days to Solstice.

As for Christmas,
After seven decades
Of tinseled joy and candles
It’s not enough.

I want a shortcut to resurrection –
Green sprouts surging up
Beneath the snow,
New leaves defying ice.

Life’s too short
For me to wait for Spring.

©2011 John I. Blair

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Half Past Dead

By M. Jay Mansfield

Half past dead
Couldn’t be any weaker if you opened my veins
Half past dead
This evil thought keeps routing my brain

Every time I think it’s gone
It stands up and kicks in the door
This painful thing
I scream I can’t take any more

Half past dead
Why must all of them fall
Half past dead
This sweet noise isn’t Satan’s call

I fight it down
The screams seem to bubble up in my mouth
I know I’ve been found
I throw –up bile and sweet curses flow forth

I’m Half past dead
No I couldn’t just fall
Half past dead
I’ll come for them all

My thoughts calm down
The rage subsides leaving a dangerous mind
In the air, not a single sound
From the crypt I creep knowing it’s my time

©6-22-11 MJMansfield
LOL...with the AC broke this is how I feel right now...

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When The Past Is No More

By Wendy Shepard-Kalan

The cold wraps around her small frame
A shiver a sneeze
She can't remember his name
He extends his hand out with a soft please
I have to go home she cries
She walks to the door
He just sighs
won't you give me a moment more
She's sorry he's so alone
But she thinks I have to go home
He brings her tea and they sit
Over her lap a blanket
His eyes are so green
She just may know
Something she's seen
She needs to go.
Photographs of people who are they
She saw she was there
On a different day
She seemed to care
As the night grew long
She fell asleep
In her head a song
Hers to keep
Will the morning bring a memory
Will she remember me...
When the past is no more
Then steps to the front door
Where would she go
She doesn't know...

©2011 Wendy Shepard-Kalan

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Now I Cry

How did we get to here
Forever it has been clear
Walk to the landing and the sun
You're not the only one
Im the lonely son

Take a dream or two
It's all one can do
Cry as you touch the sky
There was once a you and I
Now I cry

Now I cry when I remember
Now I cry, I should have never surrendered
Now I cry when things are still at night
Now I cry in the darkened light
In this shallow life
You and I
Now I cry

How did we get to here
Forever it has been my dear
Swim to the empty shore
Cry until you can't no more
No more

Now I cry when I remember
Now I cry, I should have never surrendered
Now I cry when things are still at night
Now I cry in the darkened light
In this shallow life
You and I
Why am I so blind

©12/3/11 Bruce Clifford

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A Mixed Bag

A mixed bag
Aged wine
Reaching out
Feeling fine

A door locked
Her body moved
Out of sight
In the grove

It makes me wonder who we are
If I could reach the nearest star
And when the vision came that brought me down to my knees
Be what it may, and take what you please

A quiet night
And empty room
We've gone this far
We left so soon

A forward thought
Out of the box
In the bushes
A den with a fox

It makes me wonder who we are
If I could reach the nearest star
And when the vision came that brought me down to my knees
Be what it may, and take what you please
I you must stay, you'll take what you please

A mixed bag

©12/28/11 Bruce Clifford

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On Lovejoy's Pond

By LC Van Savage

In winter when the happy news finally came that the Lovejoy's Pond had frozen thick enough, all the kids would race home from school, grab their skates and head out. The Lovejoys, good people, would have already shoveled the ice for them and smoothed the surface with spray from their garden hose.

The kids would skate for endless hours, and when it became dark, they'd skate by the streetlamps shining over the old, tall wall around the pond, or sometimes by moonlight which turned that frozen place into an enchanted land of translucent, frosted silver.

The Lovejoys would watch over the children through their lace curtains, and sometimes on Sunday afternoons would come out themselves to the pond and skate in their old, stained and cracked skates.

She was so small next to him, and he, tall and bony, would hold her in the old-fashioned dancing skater's way, and they'd glide around that pond in perfect synchrony, side by side, moving to music only they heard. He'd smile tenderly down at her and she up at him, her head resting on his shoulder. The kids would sit on the sides of the pond and watch, and when the Lovejoys slid past them in graceful glissade, their skate blades making soft, ice-slice noises, Mrs. Lovejoy would look over and whisper a smile at them all.

And then one night a young child could not undo a knot in her laces and her treacherous friends left her there at the pond's edge, and she watched them get smaller in the streetlamp light as they walked back home in a crowd, their breaths joining in a single white cloud above them as they laughed and chatted. They never once looked back to see if she'd catch up, and their laughter came back in the darkness like pieces of thin, broken ice, and fingers of cold pushed relentlessly into her clothing and pinched hard at her skin. It was very dark.

She wept there by the pond, now a black mirror, and the tears froze to her cheeks and hurt there. She tugged frantically, but could not break the razor wire lace.

His strong arms gathered her against him and carried her up the hill to his brick house, and when Mr. Lovejoy pulled her into his kitchen, she felt the warmth of that room pour over her like heated molasses. He put her on a wooden kitchen chair, knelt and cut off her skates and pushed a pair of his own thick, woolen socks on her numbed feet. He said he'd already tried to call her parents, but there was no answer. He'd try again.

Mrs. Lovejoy came in then, and pulled off the child's jacket murmuring softly, and then placed a thick white mug in her frozen hands, and the cocoa burned her tongue and throat and tasted as if made by angels.

And then she was before the fire in their livingroom wrapped in Mrs. Lovejoy's thick hand-made afghans. The tiny woman moved around her like a small, worried bird, clucking, whispering, tucking the blankets about her. She felt warm and safe there.

Mrs. Lovejoy walked to a wooden chest in the corner and slowly pulled out colorful story books, and walked toward her, cradling them in a stack against her, like a baby. She sat next to the small girl on the floor, and in a soft voice, like moth wings fluttering, began to read ancient stories. The child dozed and listened and soon Mrs. Lovejoy put her arm around her as she read and her head fell against the woman's thin shoulder and she felt as if she were melting. She looked up at Mr. Lovejoy sitting in his big chair across the room. He was leaning forward, watching them, smiling, but it seemed not a happy smile. It was one she'd seen people smile when they are trying to hide that they're really crying.

Her father's angry hammering on the front door brought them all to their feet in a staggered jerk, livid because she hadn't returned with the other kids. The afghans fell to the floor in a mottled puddle, and Mrs. Lovejoy, frightened, gathered up all the old books, clutched them to her, and faded into a shadowed corner.

Mr. Lovejoy explained calmly to her father what had happened, that he'd tried to call before and had intended to call again.

Her father's breath came in angry, white bursts in the streetlamp as he led her back home, the wounded ice skates hanging from her mittened hand and clinking together. As she trotted behind him, she tried to tell him how good the Lovejoys had been, how her pals had abandoned her, of how the older couple had warmed and fed her, read her stories from really old books.

"Oh, those old books probably belonged to their kid who died," her father yelled over his shoulder. "He fell into the pond when they weren't looking and drowned. They shouldda filled it in years ago when it happened. Why the heck do they keep that old pond, anyway?" He shook his head and walked more quickly in the dark cold.

But when she was older, she knew why. She understood that the sight of that pond must have caused the Lovejoy's excruciating grief when they gazed at it, unable to not recall the melancholy summer day their beloved son slid beneath the glistening surface and died. They would never fill it in_. They kept the place of their child's summertime death alive to give wintertime joy to other people's children, knowing it was the best possible legacy their dear son could leave behind.

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Email LC at or
See her on incredibleMAINE, MPBN,
10:30 AM Saturdays

Rabbo II-Chapter 1

By Mark Crocker

Chapter 1 - Departing

Rabbo sat by the fire looking up at Athena as she was teaching her two daughters how to speak. He remembered well how she had made shapes with her mouth and had shown him how to make those very same shapes and sound with her mouth and so taught him how to speak.

    Rabbo tried hard to stay away from the twin girls as they would garb at him and pull at his fur. And when they were smaller they would spit up their mother’s milk all over his fur and he would reek of baby puke. And to make matters worse Bastet had given birth a month later to a girl and a boy.
    The house just did not smell the same anymore but he had not blamed Merwyn one bit when Merwyn had moved into the barn with the cattle. But now Rabbo was glad that Merwyn had moved back into the house and had let him have access to his front room of his private rooms. Rabbo still could not enter Merwyn's private office but fully understood why now as the children of Athena and Bastet had taught him that need for a private area in which someone could hide and be free with their own thoughts.
    What Rabbo could not get over was how fair and blond the twin girls looked and how much they looked like the holograms of Athena that Merwyn had shown him with pride of Athena at the same age. What got Rabbo the most was how sweet the two girls could be at one moment and how mean they could be at the next. Grabbing his ears and tail and pulling hard on his fur. Even his mother had taken to hiding from the two little girls of Athena.
    Yet Bastet’s daughter and son seemed so sweet and did not grab and hurt him or his mother.
    But some how Cat had always seemed to get out of the way before Athena’s two hellions had been able to grab him. Cat had explained it to him that his own children were far worse and that they would bite his ears and attack him from hiding spots in the woods and over the years he had learnt how to deal with each new litter that he would father and that he could out race them and knew from years and years of kitten how and what they would do before they would know themselves.
    So Rabbo listened to Cat as Cat pointed out all the ways that Rabbo could avoid having his ears tail and legs grabbed pulled and yanked on. Such ways as always making sure that he knew where both the twins were. Always listening out for soft feet making the pitter patter sound and then there was the giggling.
    Merwyn had even got in on the advice and pointed out that the twins minds leaked naughty children thoughts when they were after Rabbo to play with. And a good tool for him to use was his claws and teeth. But not deep starches of hard bites just enough to warn the two hellions that they where hurting him.
    Rabbo had admitted that he really did like the twins it was just that they seemed to be having a hard time learning that they were hurting him sometimes.
    Then Merwyn pointed out that once they started learning what their abilities were things could become very strange and Rabbo could be left quiet literally “left hanging” or that he might find himself hopping around in circles and not be able to stop himself until either he or Athena stepped in.
    However Merwyn did give Rabbo some very useful tools to help defend himself against such playful attacks from the twins.
    It was one cool fall morning as Rabbo was sunning himself on the window of the new room that Merwyn had built for the four children that he felt himself being gently and slowly lifted up by invisible hands. So as Merwyn had instructed him he closed his eyes and looked for astral hands lifting him up and to see where they were coming from.
    Rabbo was rather surprised to see that the hands were from Bastet’s son and that while it was a shock to be lifted off his nice warm spot in the window it was even more of a surprise who was doing it. So instead of doing what Merwyn had suggested and using a mental lance to make the offender yelp and let go Rabbo simply helped and floated himself up out of the way of the young boy.
    Bastet’s son who was a very quiet child started clapping and screaming in delight. He screamed so loudly that it brought Bastet, Athena, and Merwyn running. As none of them could believe that Bastet’s young son was make such a racket. And once they all saw Rabbo floating out of reach and spinning end over end slowly they too started to laugh. That made Bastet’s son squeal and laugh even harder and that brought the other children running as fast as their little legs could carry them.
    A problem which happened very early on was when Athena’s twins had started doing what Merwyn called “Mind yammer”. As Merwyn told Rabbo a few days after the first incident of the twins “mind yammer” was “That all children on Sirius would start to mind yammer at about three to four months old. Mostly when they were dirty and needed their diapers changed or when they were hungry or when they were feeling lonely and they worst was when they were tired and cranky and did not want to sleep”.
    The second time the twins started mind yammering it got so bad that Bastet’s son and daughter started to mind yammer too. For Rabbo it was so bad that he bolted out of the house down though the garden without looking where he was going other than straight head and spent a night in his burrow down in the warren.
    Merwyn had come to his rescue and explained how to block out the mind yammer and in doing so helped Rabbo strengthen his shields so that they were almost as strong as Merwyn's.
    Rabbo watched in amazement and disbelief at how quickly the twins started to learn how to speak.
    What had taken him a month took them a week and they had learnt simple words so fast. Words like mommy, bye, grandpa, hello, night, day, yes, no and so on.
    They seemed to really like the word “no” and would often say “no” and shake their heads when Athena would try and feed them or when she wanted to bath them or put them to bed.
    “I really think I made a mistake teaching them to talk” said Athena a month after she had started to teach them.
    Merwyn looked over and smiled “yes I know what you mean”. He then looked over at Rabbo and winked.
    Bastet had snickered when Merwyn had said that.
    Rabbo guessed that Merwyn was making a comment about when Athena was the same age and she had been learning to talk.
    The sun was setting and Rabbo and Bastet where both standing outside watching it sink below the trees.
    “I never stop being amazed about this planet” said Bastet.
    “It’s the only planet I know” said Rabbo.
    “I know it’s just that it’s so beautiful” said Bastet. There was a long pause before she spoke again “I just wish that people could get along like Merwyn dreams. You would think with such beauty, people would. Yet, well you know they don’t.”
    “Athena went though something like you did when the sea raiders attacked Athens” said Rabbo wanting to know what had happened to Hermes.
    “I know” said Bastet sadly.
    They both turned to watch the last rays of the sun sink down behind the woods before they spoke again.
    “I will be leaving soon” said Bastet.
    “Leaving” asked Rabbo.
    “Yes my village and house is almost finished. And this time I can be free and don’t have to play goddess”
    “Do Athena and Merwyn know that you will be leaving” asked Rabbo.
    “They know. The person I was dreading telling was you my cute little fur covered friend. I have come to adore you in the two years that I have been here. I will be sad to leave” said Bastet trying to hide the tears that were dripping down her nose.
    “It’s not like you are going to be on the other side of a sea now is it” said Rabbo trying to sound cheerful.
    “No it’s not. Just three days by foot or thirty seconds if I self teleport. In your case that might be six days by hopping” said Bastet laughing softly.
    “I still would like to know what happened to Hermes” asked Rabbo.
    “He scared you, Rabbo” stated Bastet.
    “Yes I only saw him a few times. But there was something about him that did not seem right.”
    “He is far from right. He is a very intelligent person. Very smart very quick witted and very dangerous. I am glad that his body and mind still live. If I had killed him or let the lioness kill him I would carry his guilt. But by trapping his mind in the in-between worlds with all those that he had killed or ordered kill he won’t harm anyone and the souls of the blessed dead will remind him of the horror that he forced on them”. Bastet paused “Rabbo you have to know the truth. I did not want to do what I did but if I had not and I had just run like I was doing he would have come after my beloved Athena and I can’t have that. He and the others would of brain fried her and in doing so would have so hurt Merwyn that he would give up on life. So you see I had to shut Hermes away”.
    “He is that powerful” asked Rabbo.
    “Yes, and the others are not on their own. But as a group they are very powerful. And as a group they could of brain fried Athena” said Bastet sadly “I had to stop that from happening”.
    Athena came walking outside in the chill air with her two girls following along behind her. They each had a long cloak on against the night chill that gave them the appearance of floating across the grass.
    Rabbo moved around to the other side of Bastet to give him some protection against the two little girls.
    The twins blond hair hung free and gave them the appearance of having a silver golden holo around their heads almost making them look angelic. Their blue eyes had started to get a hint of Athena’s green eyes and they almost looked like blond miniature versions of Athena. Even down to how they walk and would look around at things.
    “Talking about Hermes, are you?” asked Athena.
    “Yes we were” said Rabbo.
    “It’s been two years and three months since Bastet locked his mind away. He can’t escape and Ra can’t rescue him. So why worry about him?” said Athena.
    “Because Bastet feels guilty about doing what she had to do,” said Merwyn stepping out of the shadows where he had been standing since before sunset.
    “I do not,” said Bastet.
    Merwyn just looked at Bastet and shook his head before he turned to look at Athena’s twins.
    “Now leave momma rabbit alone,” said Merwyn to the twins.
    The twins had moved around to where Rabbo’s mother was sitting and were about to make a grab for her.
    The twins looked up at Merwyn with sad forlorn look on their faces as if they were not going to play with Rabbo’s mother.
    Rabbo’s mother turned and looked at the twins before she hopped over to them and sat down between them.
    “Now gently pet her,” said Athena.
    The two girls knelt down and very gently slid their tiny hands up and down Rabbo’s mother’s back. Rabbo watched and worried as he knew that his mother had to be now a middle aged rabbit and was not getting any younger. She had to six to eight years old now and that was a good age for a wild rabbit.
    The faint hint of gray that Rabbo had first noticed over two and half years ago was now spreading all over her face. But as yet she had not started to lose weight as older rabbits would do as they started to become very old.
    The twins petted Rabbo’s mothers gently and stroked her fur making Rabbo’s mother roll on her back to expose her stomach to them so that could be rubbed too. The twins petted Rabbo’s mothers stomach with such care that Rabbo was very surprised at how gentle they were being.
    “They know she is old” said Athena seeing Rabbo’s worry.
    “Bastet told me she was leaving. When?” asked Rabbo.
    “The people from her village that are coming to help her move will be here early tomorrow morning and then they will be done packed in a single day. They want to get the move done fast as winter will so be on us and that would trap Bastet here if last winter is anything to go by,” said Merwyn.
    “I think my girls will be very upset to have their playmates leave,” said Athena.
    “They will get over it in time,” said Merwyn.
    “Don’t grab her legs” said Athena to the twin.
    “Sowe, momma” said the twins in unisons.
    Rabbo’s mother rolled back over sat up on her hind legs and placed one of her front paws on one of the twin’s chest before she leaned in and sniffed her. She then hopped over to the other twin and did the same thing.
    Rabbo hopped over to his mother and sniffed her to make sure was ok as her behavior was not her normal run and hide.
    Rabbo wondered if one or both of the twins where using coercion on his mother. But as far as he could see they were not so he relaxed and sat down next to her.
    Athena looked up at the night sky now dotted with stars and the pale silver glow of the moon coming up in the west. Athena reached over and grabbed the hands of both of her daughters and they walked back into the house together.
    Merwyn turned back and disappeared into the night even though he had not moved it seemed that the night’s darkness had embraced him and hidden him from normal sight and that only the use of astral eyes would make him visible.
    Bastet turned and looked at Rabbo and his mother. “I shall miss you and your mother. As I said I have come to adore you Rabbo. But I still think you are a very cute bunny”. Bastet paused “being ugly like I am I know beauty when I see it. Don’t say anything, Merwyn, ” said Bastet speaking into the night at Merwyn “But every time I look in the mirror I see my mixed up half human half lion face. Rabbo, we have a saying on Sirius. To know true beauty you have to know true ugliness. I see ugliness every time I look in the mirror so I know true beauty when I see it and you are beautiful Rabbo and cute too”.
    Rabbo looked down at the ground to hide his embarrassment at being called beautiful and cute. He then looked at Bastet and smiled.
    “Beauty does not come from the outside, but it comes from within. It’s that glow that shines through and lights someone up,” said Rabbo.
    “Well said,” said Merwyn’s voice drifting in from the dark.
    Bastet suddenly let out a giggle and a laugh “I best get inside I have just been offered a promise that I can’t turn down”.
    And with that Bastet turned and left lightly on her feet heading inside to the waiting Athena.
    Rabbo sat looking up at the night sky watching the stars overhead and wondering how many of the harbored life on them.
    He knew that Sirius had harbored life and now that was gone. But Merwyn and Ra had mentioned sister worlds and that there was life there and that the Sirian’s would live on. But he did not know where or how many.
    “Rabbo I hear your thoughts” said Merwyn’s voice drifting in again from the dark.
    “How many sister worlds are there?” asked Rabbo.
    “Many but I would not worry about them coming here and spreading the poison that was on Sirius. What I would worry about is the 12 ships that left Sirius some time ago before Sirius ended. They are headed this way having stopped on the forth planet”.
    Rabbo looked at Merwyn remembering when he had ridden along with Merwyn and Athena and had seen the dieing planet and the twelve ships that had left Sirius with about two hundred and forty people on board them. What had got Rabbo the most was seeing how sick the people were and the fact that they still hoped for life even as they knew that death was coming for them.
    When Merwyn and he had traveled to the fourth planet he had been surprised at how few there were left. In fact out of the two hundred and forty only twenty five remained and those twenty five had looked to Rabbo’s planet even as they tried to repair the former colony that was on the fourth planet.
    And now Merwyn was saying that he was worried that they were coming to the third planet and that worried Rabbo.
    Rabbo stepped out of his body and saw the glow of Merwyn’s astral body standing a few feet away, hidden by the barn from all but astral sight.
    “Merwyn” asked Rabbo some what nervously “what bothers you about the colonists on the fourth planet”?
    “Faces mostly” said Merwyn.
    “Faces? I don’t understand? Why would faces worry you unless there is something wrong with the faces”?
    “Rabbo it’s not that easy. I know a few of the faces and like every group of people and faces there is good and bad. There is good and bad in all things. I myself am both. To some such as you I am good. But to others I am bad. It is the very nature of life. Even a honey bee can be good or bad. A bee pollinates the flowers that in turn give us food and with out the honey bee there would be none of that wonderful honey. Yet the honey bee can sting and as you saw with Bastet it can be very harmful and in some cases kill. So everything is good and bad. Even you have good and bad in you, my dear friend,” said Merwyn. “The secret is to know that you are both and to be both knowing when and how to use both parts of your nature”.
    “I don’t understand. I guess I am just a dumb rabbit” said Rabbo.
    Merwyn laughed “That is a wise comment. Someone that knows that they are dumb is truly smart”.
    “How” asked Rabbo.
    “You know that you don’t know much. Most people think that they know so much and in fact know so little. What I know is nothing compared to what there is to know. And the more I learn the more I know that I know so little”.
    “Now that I understand” said Rabbo. “Three years ago all I knew was this house then I learnt that there was a whole planet and not just this planet but countless planets. But I did not understand until I went to Athens’s with you Athena and Bastet. Going to Athens’s made that real. And now I know that I know so very little about everything. If it could be measured I would know less that one percent of all the knowledge that there is to know”.
    “My dear rabbit” laughed Merwyn “Even I don’t know that much. I would say I know less than one hundredth of one percent of one percent”!
    Rabbo laughed “you know that much”?
    Merwyn too laughed “if I am lucky I might know that much”.
    Rabbo shivered and looked up at Merwyn. “My body is getting cold. Let’s go in and warm by the fire”.
    “We can’t yet. Athena and Bastet are um polishing the kitchen floor,” said Merwyn.
    “Oh” snickered Rabbo.
    Rabbo stepped back into his body and felt really cold. His teeth started to chatter from the cold. Then he felt warmth spread over him.
    “Thanks” said Rabbo to Merwyn.
    “Think nothing of it my dear friend” replied Merwyn.
    Rabbo sat and thought about what Merwyn had said about how little he knew and how little he himself knew about things.
    There was so much that he did not understand such as why Merwyn was worried about the faces on the fourth planet. That really bothered him as there was something that worried Merwyn. But what it was Rabbo could not figure out. So he started to ask himself simple questions that Merwyn had taught him to use that might give him the answer.
    So Rabbo started of with a fact he knew.
    Merwyn was worried about the people of the fourth planet. “Ok why” Rabbo asked himself. “Well clearly he knew some of the people. He has said as much. Merwyn had also said that there was good and bad in all people. So ergo there must be good and bad in the people on the forth planet. And because Merwyn was worried about them it must be bad to Merwyn” Rabbo pondered that fact for a moment.
    “Why were they bad to Merwyn? Was it because he had fought them in the war and that they might bring the war here with them? Was it because of the sickness they carried? What kind of sickness? Merwyn had said it was radiation sickness but he had also hinted at more? So what did he know so far? The facts where not complete at best. What was known was that they were sick with radiation sickness and something else. Merwyn knew some of them and was worried. There was much that did not add up and there were so few facts to go on and too many questions”.
    “Ok let’s review the facts again” Rabbo told himself. “Fact one Merwyn is worried. Fact two Merwyn knows some of the people. Fact three the people are sick. Fact four now what was fact four? Ahh yes fact four was that there was good and bad in all peoples. So Merwyn was worried that the people on the fourth planet would come to the third planet and do what? Now what about Ra and his followers in Egypt!” Now that was a new line of thought that popped into his mind. “What if the people on the fourth planet allied themselves with Ra”?
    Now Rabbo started to understand why Merwyn was worried. “If they allied themselves with Ra it would make Ra very powerful and very dangerous to Merwyn Athena and Bastet. Yes that had to be why Merwyn was worried”.
    “Merwyn” asked Rabbo. “What if the people on the fourth planet ally themselves with Ra”?
    “Oh is that what you were thinking about”?
    “Yes” answered Rabbo. “It worries me that you are worried”.
    “To put your mind at rest they won’t. They know Ra and they know what he is like. No that’s not a worry that you or I need to bother with”.
    “Oh ok” said Rabbo now more confused than he was when he thought he knew my Merwyn was worried. “So why are you worried about”?
    “A number of things and none that I want to talk about right now. Like you I am going over the facts in my head. And when I have an answer I will let you know” answered Merwyn with a harsh tone in his voice. “I’m sorry Rabbo just a lot of facts for me to think about and the answers don’t work out right. I did not mean to take that tone with you”.
    Rabbo woke up in Merwyn’s front room feeling well rested after a good nights sleep. He had not been upset that he was unable to sleep on his window sill in Athena’s room but Athena and Bastet had closed the door and by the sounds of it where very busy when he had hopped up to sleep.
    But now Rabbo could hear voices coming from Merwyn's private office and that did peak Rabbo’s interest.
    He could make out Merwyn’s voice but there was another voice and it sounded female and it was not Athena’s voice nor was it Bastet’s and clearly not Helena’s voice.
    So who was it? It did sound some what familiar but Rabbo could not place it at all and that really got his interest going.
    Rabbo sat up and turned to look towards the door that went into Merwyn's private office and was surprised to see that the door was open.
    “Darling he’s awake” said the female voice.
    The door to Merwyn's private office closed and the voices where cut off so that Rabbo could hear no more.
    Rabbo wriggled out from the cushions and hopped out of Merwyn's front room. He headed down the hallway stopping at the bathroom to take care of his morning needs before he rode down in his elevator.
    In the kitchen was a huge pile of boxes and six women and men that where taking the boxes outside.
    Athena was sitting at the table feeding her twins as well as Bastet’s two children who had a mix of egg and bread on their faces.
    Bastet walked in wearing pants like Merwyn would wear and a shirt like Merwyn's. She looked around and pointed to one of the woman and asked her to come outside to help supervise loading of one of the carts.
    Rabbo hopped around the boxes dodging the feet and legs and made his way to the cool storage room to get his breakfast. He then had to weave his way back to the table where he sat down and started to eat his breakfast while all the time watching the pile of boxes getting smaller and smaller.
    After Rabbo had eaten his breakfast and placed his bowl and the bowls of the children in the sink he hopped out side and saw six large carts with oxen in front of each cart.
    All but one cart was fully loaded and Rabbo guessed that the people who were helping Bastet had arrived at about sunrise and that the loading must of started shortly there after.
    Rabbo hopped up on the wood cutting stump and watched as the last of the boxes where brought out of the house and placed in the last cart almost filling it up.
    “Ok I want to be down in the town before nightfall” said Bastet as she turned and looked to the north.
    “What’s the hurry” asked Rabbo.
    “There is a storm coming down from the north and it’s a cold storm. It might have snow in it and I don’t want to get snowed in like we were last year” answered Bastet. “Beside the snow and me are not a good mix. I will be happy on the coast where it’s warmer and lower. As much as I love it here it’s too cold in the winter and there is not as much air as I would like in my lungs”.
    Athena came walking out with the four children toddling behind her. What surprised Rabbo was that they were now totally clean and all signs of food that had been all over their faces and cloths were gone almost as if they had never been caked in food at all.
    Looking at Athena Rabbo suddenly remembered what he had heard in Merwyn's room.
    “Who is in Merwyn's private office? I heard him talking to what sounded like a woman” Rabbo asked Athena on her private mode.
    “I don’t know. More than likely it’s my mother on the computer” answered Athena on the same mode. “Don’t forget I have never been in dad’s private office”.
    Just then Merwyn came walking outside carrying a small box. He walked over to Bastet’s two children and got down to their level and gave them a hug each. Then he reached into the box and pulled out two small stuffed furry rabbits made of cloth.
    The cloth rabbits where about the same size and color of Rabbo and it took Rabbo a few moments to realize that they were stuffed toy copies of himself. In fact they looked so much like him that Rabbo wondered if they could come to life would they act just like him.
    Merwyn stood up and closed his eyes and sudden the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits started to hop around like real rabbits.
    Rabbo hopped over and joined the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits and joined in chasing them around and around.
    The children started laughing and giggling and they joined in playing chase with Rabbo and the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits.
    The six men and women stopped the final load and watched as the children played with Rabbo and the two toy cloth stuffed rabbits.
    “Please let's finish loading so that we can get this move over and done with as I don’t want to get caught in the snow” said Bastet smiling to the six men and women.
    One of the women looked at Bastet “Snow what is snow”?
    “It's frozen water. Cold and nasty and it falls in great white piles and then gets hard so you slip fall and hurt yourself” said Bastet “Now lets get moving please”.
    Bastet hurried the six men and women and the last of her items where loaded on the last cart. Food was brought out by Athena who gave each of Bastet’s villagers a package of food for the trip down to Athens’s and then the trip around the coast in Bastet’s ship to her village.
    It was the painful stillness that awoke Rabbo long before the sun would rise above the forest. Rabbo wriggled on his cushion in Athena’s window and realized that the reason he was awake was that he was cold and very cold at that.
If it got any colder his ears and tail would fall off and that was the last thing he wanted as he really needed them. Rabbo peeked behind the curtain and was almost blinded by the silvery glow of the moon on frost frozen ground. Rabbo slipped off the window sill and hopped over to the bed jumped up next to his mother and Cat and curled up next to them for warmth.
Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.