Sunday, April 1, 2012

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

April 2012

I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. Knowing that I was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to realize his ambition. I did my best to explain. 'The first thing,' I said, 'is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. After that you merely have to write.' -Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)

Greeting April with hopes of a joyful month, yet this issue is somewhat of a serious toned melody with "Always Looking - Infant Mortality," John Blair's column and our own tribute to a beloved aunt.

When hearing that she had passed away in her sleep this March, we couldn't help but think of her one time comment that all her important dates saving Christmas and sometimes Easter were in the month with hers, her husband's, and daughter's birthdays and their wedding date also. This year that would have been their 72d anniversary. Our uncle, Dr. Edgar Burks, and her daughter Alice Ann were present to welcome the family and celebrate her life, not mourn her passing. Many a poem was penned by this lady Linnie Jane Joslin Burks and her bio can be found with a list of some we've published here.

Having served as a missionary with her husband in Nigeria for 30 plus years, and worked alongside him at the several churches he pastored in Missouri and Arkansas, she was well known and loved for her twinkle of eye and laugh and her ready song which she cheerfully played on piano. We will cherish the memory of her accompanying Uncle Edgar and his violin for some songs during our visit a few years ago. The funeral was held in Springfield, Missouri, and the burial the following day in the Pineville cemetery where our brother in law Rod Cohenour took these pics of the stones remembering the three brothers of Linnie Jane and Mother, facts which underline John Blair's column.

William Henry Joslin - Infant born 7 Feb 1915 and expired 8 Feb 1915.

This second son was born a mere nine months following the death of the first boy child in February of 1915. Onas Ray Joslin - 20 Nov 1915.jpg

This third boy child lived less than one month, a mere three weeks before he, too, lost his battle to survive. James Arthur Joslin Jr. - b. 18 Nov 1916 - d. 8 Dec 1916.jpg

One of two sons born after Mother then Aunt Linnie Jane was present for the services, driving up from Texas with his wife. The other son, a WWII veteran passed away in Austin several years ago. Many friends and associates and several other family members were there also from both her and his side of the family lines.

This issue also features several poems, one by Bud Lemire, "The Funeral Poem," which sounds sad but is filled with hope and reassurance. His other poems for April are "The Beauty" and "Life Review."

John Blair's poems are: "Aylee," "Caliber," "Doors of Time," "Great Grandpa Buck," "My Little Secret," and "Time/Life." Bruce Clifford has eight poems in this time beginning with "Nothing Left in the Way." Others by him and a co-author to be introduced next month are: "Common Ground," "Crawling Out of My Skin," "Dreaming as Dreamers Do," "In Touch," "I've Got You on My Mind," "We Know This in Our Hearts," and "What's Been on Your Mind."

LC Van Savage shares one of the poems from her book of published poetry, "Nun and Chappie, Her Rainbow," and her column "Consider This" dwells on etiquette, past and present. Peg Jones shares the Angels' message for April in "Angel Whispers." Leo C. Helmer gives us the lowdown on Easter history and a neat breakfast recipe to use up some of those Easter eggs in "Cookin' With Leo."

"Irish Eyes" by Mattie Lennon brings a tribute to the late David Farrelly, a countryman composer of many songs. Thomas F. O'Neill ("Introspective") muses on the differences in minimum wages and the resulting life styles in China and the USA.

"Eric Shackle's Column" takes note of the celebration of the residents of the English town of Sandwich in the county of Kent. 68,000 of them will be marking the 250th anniversary of the 'invention of the sandwich' by their earl of that time.

The article by David Van Os touches us in both heart and pocketbook and includes some trends to keep an eye toward. Eric Shackle's article also voices a warning to heed well when traveling to "Wrong Sidney."

Mark Crocker adds Part A of the fantasy "Rabbo Tales II, Chapter 4 - Names" with sophisticated main character, Rabbo.

See you in May.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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Consider This

By LC Van Savage

Emily and Amy

There’s a new-ish book out now, a biography of the life of Emily Post who as everyone knows, was the give-all and end-all of proper etiquette. If you wanted to set one foot out of your baronial home to mingle with the affluent well-heeled dudes and dudettes, you’d better have read Emily Post’s words of decorum first so you didn’t make an unforgivable and unforgettable gaffe, such as using your dinner fork in your salad.

When we young girls arrived at the longed-for age of eighteen, we were all given a brand new “Emily PostEtiquette ; The Blue Book of Social Usage” as a gift, either the 1942 or the 1947 version. I forget. Can you imagine how thrilled we were getting that stupid book? Did we really care how to get a fishbone delicately out of our throats while wearing gloves, while the boys just simply hocked them out onto their plates? Can you imagine how enraged we girls were by getting that book from hell when we’d made it plainly clear we were expecting a convertible? Did the boys get brand new Emily Post books as a gift on their eighteenth birthdays? You know the answer. It’s no. They got far more important things like gold pen and pencil sets, engraved watches, and trips.

I’m sorry to say I’ve lost my original Emily Post book, although one can easily get another. They’re actually still in print. And yes, they really do have their place in the world. But I do still have my “Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette,” given to me in the late 1950s. I guess my family thought if I had two etiquette books I’d have a leg up into the world of high society, wherever society is highest, and would maybe climb down out of those trees I loved, or stop bringing home pet mice and forgetting I’d left them in my sister’s dresser drawers, or collecting slimy biting things, forgetting I’d left them in the bathtub. Alas, the Ms’s Post and Vanderbilt have no chapters on those important issues.

I doubt if Amy and Emily were friends because Emily was born in 1872 and Amy in 1908. I suspect Emily thought Amy was a bit of an upstart and I wonder if Amy stole a couple of howtobeproper ideas out of Emily’s book. But both women were born with platinum shovels in their mouths and were taught early on of such things as the disgrace and shame of leaving one’s spoon in one’s teacup, drinking out of one’s fingerbowls, and casually belching at table.

I think Emily wrote sequels to her books, maybe “The Blue Book of Social Usage, Part II” or something. I often wonder how she thought she could improve upon the perfection of the first book. Unless she lightened up a little. Jeezum, talk about rigid.

Amy V. has had a couple of revised editions too, but none of them let anyone off the hook much, society-wise. You shaped up, made no mistakes, or you were an outcast, a pariah who would be dropped off invitation lists like a blob of wet pancake dough onto the kitchen floor, and the loud thunk of your faux pas would be heard everywhere by anyone who was anyone, and you would never, ever be welcomed back into that rarified atmosphere again.

My Uncle Bill used to date Amy Vanderbilt although Uncle Bill was a gasbag blowhard and had gargantuan delusions of adequacy, so it’s maybe a little doubtful that he and Amy actually really spooned beneath a silvery moon. He did however tell us some funny stories about Amy but at this point, who can check and who cares anyway? Amy and Bill have shuffled off to that great society mansion in the sky where wrong fork issues likely don’t exist because I don’t think anyone ever eats there anyway.

Amy’s book is incredibly funny. For example, she frowns, but only slightly, on the issue of men wearing frock coats for daytime use although allows as to how some men might prefer the less restrained cutaway unless, of course (of course!!) there is entirely too much length to his watch chain. (For those who don’t know, gold watch chains stretched from small vest pocket on the left to small vest pocket on the right where it was hooked to a smart gold pocket watch. So some gentleman with a certain excessive avoir du pois had to have jewelers add in a few more links. Now mind you, this book was written in 1952. I never saw a man wearing a frock coat or even a cutaway except at fancy, boring weddings or something, but I did see men with watch chains. I recall it always being a tediously annoying production to get them to tell you what time it was.

Amy lightens up a little on the ever important issue of elbows on the table. She says it’s OK between courses, during conversation, but never ever while one eats. And she opines that one must never cut up one’s toast beneath one’s poached eggs with one’s fingers. Now come on Amy, who would do that? No one in my circle, that’s for sure. I mean really.

So many of those old niceties would result in our being stared at and laughed at if we did any of them today. Do I regret that? Sure. Those old rules were nice. Often ridiculous, sometimes with no rhyme nor reason, but still old fashioned and nice. Civilized. You knew where you stood even if you never did make it into the famous “Blue Book” (aka “The Social Register”) of the 1800s compiled by Mrs. Astor who put it together so everyone would know who the important people (aka the “first families”) were; in other words to make absolutely sure your basic parvenus, (those pushy newly rich folks) or even the not quite wealthy enough, didn’t muddy up their fine lives.

There were 400 names in that discriminatory book, because Mrs. A. could only fit 400 people comfortably into her ballroom and it simply wouldn’t do to have people of lesser stature prancing about at her famous, opulent galas. And yet everyone scrambled madly and kissed a whole lot of seriously wealthy butt to get into that little blue book, and I’ll wager their manners were pretty darned pristine whenever Lady Astor was nearby. It would never do for her to see one take a sip of tea without a properly protracted pinkie, since forgetting to extend that digit in Mrs. A’s presence would have ensured one’s banishment forever from those coveted pages.

Amy was a bit more loosey goosey than Emily was. For example on the subject of one and one-half year olds making a mess of their food; “Let them. To them it’s delightful.” She tells us how to handle our social secretaries, our cooks and kitchen maids. (Aren’t they all the same person? They are today.) How to throw a party without a maid. (You mean that’s not how it’s done?) How to write a social letter. (Pre e-mail of course.) How to be an agreeable wife which means no coming to the breakfast table in curlers, no face cream at night, no tying up her chin(s) or wearing “oiled mittens” to bed, eeuw, to always remember that if she shares her sleeping quarters with her husband she is “obliged to make herself an attractive roommate, not a banshee.” Odd. I’ve searched through Amy’s whole book and can’t find a chapter on “How to be an agreeable husband.” Well, it’s an old book; those pages about agreeable husbands likely dried up and fell out.

It’s a nouveau world now folks. I wonder if there are any social books out there on how we should behave today. There probably are. I’ll check. But there’s not much point in my reading them because I think dear husband “Mongo” and I have been dropped from all extant high society lists anyway. Oh well. So it goes, so it goes. It’s kind of a relief though. We can let our pinkies down now.

Click on LC Van Savage for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
See her on MPBN, Saturday mornings at 10:30 on “incredibleMAINE.”

Cookin' With Leo

By Leocthasme

The Real Easter Story
Ma, Nimrod, Astarte, Rabbits, Babylon, And Whatever Else Comes To Mind

Way back when, not long after Noah and the ark, his kids found a new home and they called it Babylon, and the first bunch to run it was Nimrod, the hunter and his ma, who was the queen. Nimrod liked to go hunting for big game. But since it was only a short time since the big flood the big animals hadn’t populated much and the only thing Nimrod was bringing home from his hunting trips was a hangover and rabbits. Well, Ma had zillions of recipes for rabbits and she could whomp up rabbit stew or whatever in no time flat. But she had another interest, a chick named Astarte, and she proclaimed her to be the goddess of Love and Beauty, and Fertility among other things. And every spring while Nimrod was out hunting Ma held a fertility festival in Astarte’s honor. It was such a great event that it is still carried on to this day. Easter to remember Astarte. It has little to do with Jesus’ resurrection, although the churches like to associate the event in order to make it somewhat holy the same as they did Christmas. Anyway Easter goes back to Nimrod, Ma and Astarte. Actually, Easter is a passed on name for Astarte as it got along into the English language. So now you know and I suppose it is a good thing that I know all this ancient history to pass on to my devoted readers.

An Easter Breakfast with all them EGGS

Here’s what ya need:

  • 1 lb bulk sausage
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 sm onion, diced
  • 1 10oz pkg frozen chopped spinach
  • ¾ to 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 ½ cups egg substitute or six more fresh eggs
  • 1 cup of Half n’ Half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled (talk the kiddoes out of some o' them bunny eggs they hunted up)
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Here’s how to do what ya need to do:

Cook sausage, onions, and mushrooms ‘til meat shows no pink. Drain extra grease. Take pan off stove and add spinach stirring in well along with ½ cup of the cheese. Place in a 13x9 inch casserole dish and nestle the 6 eggs within the mixture. Beat the egg substitute with the Half n’ Half and milk and seasonings. Pour on top the eggs and sausage mixture in the casserole. Bake 30 to 35 min at 350 until set. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and let rest about 5 minutes before cutting in squares with a whole egg in each square for 6 servin's. (You can halve the eggs and cut smaller squares for 12 servings, but center a half each square if'n ya do.)

Have a tasty Easter, ya heah?

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

Always Looking –

By John I. Blair

Infant Mortality

I saw something on Facebook the other day that took me aback and made me think. Somebody was complaining about having their kids vaccinated and considering refusing to do it.

How quickly we, as a people, seem to forget. And at least partly as a consequence, a number we have been proud to see get smaller and smaller through recent generations – the infant mortality rate – has started getting bigger again in this country.

According to the CIA World Factbook (2009 figures) the United States of America, the greatest country in the world as we fancy ourselves, ranks 49th in the world in infant mortality, with 48 other countries having lower infant mortality rates than we do. Among the countries with lower rates: New Caledonia (46), Cuba (40), South Korea (25), Andorra (20), Macau (7), and Bermuda (3). The lowest infant mortality rate for a major country is Japan (2). The number of infant deaths per 1,000 live births in the United States is almost three times that of Japan.

Many factors affect infant mortality rates in a country – immigration, diet, availability of affordable health care – but high among them is the prevalence of childhood vaccinations against major communicable diseases. And even within my lifetime, these childhood vaccinations have saved literally millions of lives in this country alone.

simple vaccination

When I was a child (in the 1940s), for example, polio was one of the most frightening diseases still rampant. In 1950 alone there were more than 20,000 new cases of polio in the United States, many of them fatal, and far more of them crippling for life. We all knew about iron lungs, about leg braces like those worn by the children in the polio posters. We all knew somebody personally who had been crippled by polio. Then came the Salk and Sabin vaccines, universal use of them, and the virtual elimination of polio in the country.

The same story, with variations, occurred over and over as one disease after another was fought and vaccines developed. Generations of new parents came along (like me and my wife) who could reasonably expect their babies to live and grow up.

This is a recent phenomenon historically.

Alta Blair died 3 months.

For millennia humans have had to face the truth that infant and child lives were fragile. Infant death was so common that most infant and child burials were not even marked in cemeteries. To achieve the large families needed for an agricultural system dependent on muscle power, on a limitless supply of hand labor, people procreated as rapidly as was physically possible. I have one great-great-great grandmother who gave birth to 22 children in the early 19th century (six of whom died in childhood). Most of my ancestors 100 years and more ago typically had from six to twelve children, and this was the norm for nearly every class of society.

Cora Temperance Veale died three years nine months.

Houses were jampacked with people, even more so since typical houses prior to the latter 19th century were very small, consisting usually of only 2-4 rooms. Just consider a typical log house on the American frontier 200 years ago. People were literally in each other’s faces 24/7. Consequently, communicable diseases spread like wildfire. Plagues such as a couple of my great-great-great grandparents died of in 1820 were a real possibility.

Laura Veale died nine months.

And the death rate among the children was particularly tragic. Another example from my family: in the winter of 1883-84, in a two-week period centered on Christmas Day, my great-grandfather William Patterson Veale and his wife Ruth lost three of their five children to diphtheria – all of their daughters, ages 6, 4, and 1. They must have been devastated – scarred for life emotionally, even though they went on to have seven more children. Later in life Great Grandpa Billy lost two more daughters, these to tuberculosis, one of them my grandmother Tempie.

Salathael Blair died two years.

And now some parents – people many of them with college educations and good incomes – are seriously defending having their babies skip their DPT (diphtheria, pertussis [whooping cough], and tetanus) vaccinations for reasons varying from thinking the risk of side effects is greater than the risk of infection to thinking the government should stay out of their lives. Ask me what I think of this. Or just guess, considering my family history.

As for tuberculosis, that one isn’t even whipped yet. There are still millions of deaths worldwide from TB, some of them in this country. And strains have appeared that are resistant to ALL antibiotics.

The bottom line – as the saying goes, people who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat history. With two young granddaughters to love, I don’t like that prospect at all. And the more people neglect simple preventive healthcare, such as infant vaccinations, the more children get sick, and the more likely it is my own loved granddaughters will be exposed to potentially fatal or crippling illness. There it is – my motives are selfish. But that kind of selfishness, broadly applied, can save millions of lives.

Above: Thomas Blair died nine years old.

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


By Thomas F. O'Neill

I told my students in my cultural diversity class here in Suzhou, China that I never owned an iPhone or an iPad. Those Apple devices make my students lives so much easier especially when it comes to social media and their school work.

These Apple gismos certainly have become extremely popular throughout the world including here in China. Most Americans are unaware of the fact that Apple’s products are assembled in China. My students quickly brought that fact up in my class last week.

The Chinese wages have been steadily increasing over the years as well but consumers throughout the world probably won’t see an increase in the price of the popular Apple products. The company that assembles the Apple devises in China also pledged to trim their workers hours and continue to raise the pay for the hardscrabble assembly workers.

You would think Apple would be concerned over this news but due to negative news stories on the harsh working conditions in the factories where the Apple products are being assembled. Apple is pushing hard to bring about positive changes in those factories in order to make the working conditions better for the assembly workers. Not to mention it would be a good Public Relations move on Apple’s part to make those changes a reality.

Wages have been steadily growing in China since 2010 due to China’s pledge to raise the standard of living for all its workers. Labor expenses though make up a very small portion of the total bill for the Apple products due to the fact that they are made in China.

Most manufacturers that use Chinese workers are less worried about the labor costs than they are about the cost of the parts that power their devices.

The Foxconn Technology Group assembles 40 percent of the world’s electronics including Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Foxconn is owned by Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Company they promised to limit the Chinese workers hours and keeping the total pay the same. This will give the assembly workers a higher hourly wage.

The second most valuable company in the world Apple, Inc., was forced to hire a labor auditor to review the labor practices and treatment of the Chinese workers in the Foxconn factories. The auditor’s report claims that the Foxconn factories are sweatshop assembly plants that force the workers to work more than 15 hour shifts and over 60 hour work weeks to keep up with the global demand for the electronic goods they are assembling.

The negative treatment of Foxconn’s workers is also having a ripple effect on Apple’s public relations image because of the company’s growing dependence on Chinese labor. Foxconn has also been assembling for a growing list of other technology companies including Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. These companies’ electronics have become household staples throughout the world. Foxconn currently employs 1.2 million workers and with their pledge to cut the workers work hours they intend to hire more assembly workers to supply the global demand for the electronic goods.

China is known for being a manufacturing base for the world’s best known brand names and the rising wages in china doesn’t seem to be negatively affecting the global demand for the Chinese workers. It is rather helping China increase the workers standard of livings. The Chinese Government also realizes that raising the standard of living for the average Chinese worker will impact the Chinese economy in a positive way because the workers will spend more money on Chinese goods.

The basic monthly salary for a Foxconn worker is 1,800 Yuan ($290) that is more than double what the Chinese workers made in 2008. Foxconn’s pay increase had a ripple effect on other manufacturing companies in China as well. Toyota Motor Corp. and other Japanese automakers also granted pay hikes following a wave of strikes that had tacit government support. Japan's Toshiba Group, which employs 32,000 workers in China who make products such as refrigerators and TVs, is planning similar changes to reduce overtime work, improve working conditions and increase their workers hourly wage at its factories.

China’s Government also promised to double the minimum wage in China by 2015 to keep the standard of living on the rise. The minimum wage in Shanghai, one of the world's most expensive cities, is about 1,200 Yuan ($200) a month after an increase of more than 10 percent last year.

The northern city of Tianjin raised its minimum wage to 1,070 Yuan ($175). China is trying to make sure at least at the lowest level of unskilled workers that they have greater protection in terms of earning a living wage. In many cities throughout China there is a lack of compliance with the minimum wage laws which China is now rigorously enforcing.

These wage increases have not dented the profit margins for the world’s electronic companies nor has it resulted in higher prices for the products being produced. The reason being the labor costs make up less than ten percent of the total bill. Apple pays less than $8 for the assembly of a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S and $188 for its components. The phone sells in the U.S. for $649, though wireless carriers offer them at a subsidized $199 with a two-year service contract.

Apple could well afford to absorb a Foxconn wage increase by keeping the workers’ pay the same and cutting the workers work week from over 60 hours to 49, it would result in about $2 more to have an iPhone made. Apple makes hundreds of dollars in profits per iPhone.

Apple's latest iPad an extremely popular device worldwide costs slightly more to make than the iPhone. The tablet computer however is less expensive to assemble. The estimated parts cost roughly $325 and labor adds just $4 more to the bill. For most electronic companies the rising cost of the electronic components is a much bigger worry than the company’s labor costs.

Technology is constantly advancing and each new gadget seems to catch the imagination of the consumer. But most consumers know very little about their gadget’s components or how the electronic devices are assembled. Apple understands that the consumers are more concerned about the quality and the cost of the product rather than where and how the products are being made.

The world media outlets however have brought wages, workplace conditions, and the environmental impact of factories in Asia to the world stage. Scathing criticism from human-rights groups over the harsh conditions being forced on the Asian workers made many U.S. and European companies’ hyper sensitive to the media reports. Apple is now being faced with similar criticism over its dependence on Chinese factory workers working under harsh conditions. Apple however has the global clout to bring about change for the better in the Foxconn assembly plants.

Apple and other U.S. technology firms will be able to pressure Foxconn and other Chinese manufacturers into absorbing the higher labor costs on their own. As leverage, the U.S. firms can threaten to move the assembly work elsewhere, such as Mexico or Taiwan.

Many factory owners though especially in southern China have outsourced their manufacturing companies to Vietnam which has become a concern for the Chinese Government.

The outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China has certainly had a negative impact on the American economy. It doesn’t look as if those manufacturing Job’s will ever return to the U.S.

If more manufactures in China outsource to Vietnam it will have a negative impact on the Chinese economy just as the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to China had on America. The Chinese Government is also concerned over the negative impact the outsourcing to Vietnam will have on China’s economy.

Chinese workers especially the workers in the Foxconn factories who are getting higher salaries are worried that they will be unemployed. They are fearful that Foxconn will move its factories to Vietnam or elsewhere so that it won’t have to pay its workers those higher wages. The Chinese Government understands though how important it is to raise the standard of living for the country’s low wage workers but at the same time it doesn’t want to lose its country’s labor force due to outsourcing.

The changes that Foxconn promised to make in order to make the working conditions more bearable for its assembly workers is a good public relations move for their company and a descent moral choice as well. If these changes are actually implemented Apple will most likely take most of the credit in order to gain a public relations victory.

The bottom line though is that the Foxconn assembly workers will gain the most from the increased wages. Not to mention the positive effects on their personal lives from the cut in their overtime hours and this will most likely help bring about better working conditions in the factories.

Only time will tell though if Foxconn does in fact follow up on its promises to bring about the change for the better. My students here will most likely keep me informed on the continuing outcome of this story. They will also continue to encourage me to get an iPad so that I won’t have to lug my laptop computer around with me.

Since I’ve been living in China I have seen a huge rise in China’s standard of living especially in Suzhou and Shanghai. I believe a part of the rise in the standard of living is due to the enforcement of the minimum wage laws. As the minimum wage continues to be raised so too will the standard of living for most people in China and that of course is a good thing.

I feel the minimum wage in the U.S. should also be raised. I feel that the standard of living for the middle class in China is much higher than most of the middle class in the U.S. that is just from my own personal experience here in China.

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.

Angel Whispers

By Peg Jones

Angel Message for the month of April 2012

The angels like to speak of healing with their messages, for others. They want to help all who are in need of healing. The angels speak of how their messages help those who are hurting at the moment. The messages have a lot of light and bring hope to all those, who may see no hope .

The angel asks us to be hopeful; even in times, of sadness and pain. They say, that when there is a time, that seems very dark, that this is when you can’t give up. Asking the angels for help and guidance, will help you to feel better about a situation. They say that when asking the angels for help and guidance, they will come to help you immediately. The angels give us many signs that they are around us. They sometimes will brush up against an arm or a leg, or they may touch us on the face, to let us know they are around. We may hear something, whether it be on TV, or in a passing conversation, that something is said, and the words you heard came at the exact time you needed to hear them.

My favorite sign, that I have is a sticky note, and it says, “Call us, we are free.” Whenever I see this note, it reminds me, I can call on my angels for help. Be aware of these synchronicities as it is a good way to know that your angels are near.

The main message, the angels would like to tell us, for this month is that they want to help us in any way that we ask them to help us. They want to assist us to our highest good. They ultimately would like to see all us live in our heart place, on a daily basis. The heart place has no room for worry, or fear, or anger. Our higher self is present to us there, in the most positive way.

Living in the heart place, is where love and peace exist. Our clarity becomes more apparent, and we find that living in the heart place is a place where we can flourish and grow in so many ways. The heart place is where your true self lives and where the cobwebs of the ego are no longer there to ruin what the heart place truly stands for.

Sometimes imagining what your heart place looks like can truly help you to imagine in being there at all times. You can imagine who is there, and what you are speaking about, when you are there. Others benefit when we are in our heart place in that we let our light shine to all those around us, and we bring the light to areas that are not full of light. Our little beam of light can be a large beam of light when there isn’t much light. We all have light, when we are in our heart place and not living from our ego place. Asking the Angels for help in achieving this, will help speed up the process. It also helps us to understand that we really are not alone, even when we feel that way, at times.

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

Eric Shackle's Column

By Eric Shackle

250 Years of Sandwiches

The May 12-13 weekend will be memorable for the 68,000 people living in the English town of Sandwich in the county of Kent. They will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of their town's name being given to one of the world's favorite foods.

There'll be a sandwich-making festival with competitions, a food fayre and lots of entertainment.

Today's sandwiches are named after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, an 18th-century English aristocrat, who ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread. He was fond of this form of food because it allowed him to continue playing cards, while eating without getting his cards greasy from eating meat with his bare hands.

Other players liked the idea, and began ordering "the same as Sandwich."

Fast forward 250 years, and we find that John Edward Hollister Montagu, 11th Earl of Sandwich (69) is a British entrepreneur, politician and nobleman.

Eager to cash in on his inherited title, he opened a restaurant and sandwich shop, Earl of Sandwich, in collaboration with Robert Earl, founder of the Planet Hollywood chain, at Downtown Disney Marketplace in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The partners have franchising plans in the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The first Earl of Sandwich franchise (as opposed to corporate location) opened in Sugar Land, Texas, and is owned by an investment group.

Eleven other locations have opened since, in Florida, Texas, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

In 2001 Earl of Sandwich was launched in London with a gourmet sandwich delivery service in London's financial district. The first Earl of Sandwich restaurant outside of the United States opened in April, 2011 in London, the second at Disney Village in Disneyland Paris in June 2011.

When the first London shop was opened, the Daily Telegraph reported, "The current Earl, the eleventh to hold the title and one of the elected hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, is opening the shop in the City, with his son... They hope that their venture will eventually be big enough to take on Pret a Manger, Eat and the other national sandwich chains.

"Mr Montagu said: 'When I was growing up it was always a fun story to tell. And then I went into business at the same time as the sandwich market exploded in popularity. It is one of those products you find all around the world.

"'And I said to Dad we could really do something, if we get the food right.'

"Unlike the majority of lunchtime outlets, Earl of Sandwich will sell hot sandwiches, made in front of the customers using freshly baked bread. They will cost £3.95 and include The Original 1762, a sandwich filled with hot roast beef, cheddar and horseradish sauce.

"Though this is the first sandwich shop opened by the family in Britain, it is not their first venture into the food business that has taken advantage of their name. They run 14 sandwich shops in America, including one in Las Vegas and one at Disneyworld in Florida, as part of a joint-venture with Robert Earl, the entrepreneur behind the Planet Hollywood brand."

The Disneyworld shop claims it's the busiest sandwich shop in the world.

Earl of Sandwich uses the same artisan freshly baked bread for its 14 signature hot sandwiches which all sell for $4.95.

Best sellers include The Original with fresh roasted beef, cheddar and creamy horseradish sauce; The Earl’s Club of turkey, apple-smoked bacon, Swiss, lettuce, tomato and “sandwich sauce,” and The Full Montagu, which is roast beef and turkey with cheddar, Swiss, romaine, tomato and English mustard sauce.

Certified Angus Beef is slow roasted and sliced on the premises every day.

Posted Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 22:50 From Sydney, Australia.

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Author's Blog.

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

The Quiet Man from Kells

When Maurice Walsh came up with the Quiet Man as a title for one of his stories he could have been using an appropriate sobriquet for the man who was to become famous through the John Fords film of Walsh’s story. If you have ever visited a shop in Galway, watched TV on a Christmas day, or went to a “barn-cinema” anytime in the last 60 years, you are no doubt familiar with the movie. Dick’s song “Isle of Innisfree” is the principle musical theme in the iconic film but the name of Dick Farrelly is missing from the list of credits.


Professor Des MacHale in his book, "Picture The Quiet Man", says –“The melody is featured at least eleven times throughout the film, including its use during the opening sequence.”. . . . "It is one of the finest and most beautiful melodies ever written, ranking in the opinion of many, right beside Danny Boy and no greater praise is possible. But its appeal is also timeless and international, expressing as it does the trauma of separation from one's birthplace and the joy of returning to the physical soil from which one is sprung... But it is the sheer unanswerable beauty of the melody that makes the greatest impact and dwells so deeply in the memory. Here is music dripping with emotion, lush texture, brimming with nostalgia, and fitting so perfectly into the action of The Quiet Man that it could have been written with the movie in mind. No wonder John Ford jumped on it and named the village of Innisfree in its honour".

In more recent times "Isle of Innisfree" is also used in the film E.T. (1982) where a scene from The Quiet Man is shown, and again the melody can be heard in the soundtracks of the films, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) and Breakfast on Pluto (2005).

But Dick Farrelly, the quiet unassuming man, wrote more than two hundred other songs. He was born on Thursday 17 February 1916 in Kells, County Meath. His parents were publicans and when Dick was twenty-three he left Kells, to join An Garda Siochana. He served in various Garda stations throughout his thirty-eight year career, ending up in the Carriage Office in Dublin Castle. He made frequent visits to his native Kells and one day while traveling back to Dublin by bus he got the inspiration for the "Isle of Innisfree" and by the time he reached Dublin he had composed the words and music.

Farrelly’s poignant words express the longing of an Irish emigrant for his native land. It was recorded by Bing Crosby for whom it became a huge international hit. It has since been recorded by a great many artists worldwide but above all, it endures in the hearts of many to this day as one of the great songs of Ireland. It was also featured in the RTÉ Radio Arts Programme, "Rattlebag", as one of the top 75 Irish songs of all time in a series entitled, "The Story Behind The Songs."

Dick Farrelly

In 1948, Anne Shelton recorded Dick Farrelly's first success, "If You Ever Fall in Love Again", becoming a hit for her in the UK. Guy Lombardo and his Orchestra, and instrumental pop group, The Three Suns, recorded the song in the USA. "Cottage by the Lee", was popularised by Joe Lynch and "The Rose of Slievenamon" was recorded by Joseph Locke. In later years he wrote "The Gypsy Maiden" which was recorded by Diarmuid O’Leary & The Bards, "Annaghdown" recorded by Larry Cunningham reaching No 6 in the Irish charts and also by Sonny Knowles.

"Man of the Road" was recorded by The Café Orchestra featuring singer Sinead Stone. "We Dreamed our Dreams", written by Dick when he was over 70, was first recorded by The Fureys & Davy Arthur in 1988. There are also recordings by Sean Keane, Cathy Ryan, The BBC Radio Orchestra featuring Finbar Furey on an album of the same title. "We Dreamed our Dreams" was covered by Maura O'Connell/Cherish The Ladies in the US.

Dick was involved in the Castlebar International Song Contest on several occasions coming runner-up in 1968 with The Gypsy Maiden, winning the Pop section in 1972 with "That's What Love is Made Of" sung by Mary Lou and in 1976 his song "Who's Gonna be the Preacher" reached the finals and was placed 3rd overall.

He also wrote songs in Irish, two of which are "Siobhan" and "Seolta Bána".

His works have been recorded by innumerable artists some of which include: Celtic Woman, Tommy Fleming, Sean Tyrell, Bing Crosby, Sinead Stone & Gerard Farrelly, The Cafe Orchestra, Phil Coulter, Anne Shelton, Vera Lynn, Dublin Screen Orchestra - ("The Quiet Man" soundtrack album), Connie Francis, Joe Loss & His Orchestra, Eamonn Cambell, James McNally, Finbar Furey, Paddy Reilly, Frank Patterson, Norrie Paramor & His Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Paddy Cole, Diarmuid O’Leary, Joseph Locke, Charlie Landsborough, Val Doonican, Daniel O’Donnell, Geraldo & His Orchestra, James Galway, John McNally, Jimmy Young, Victor Young & His Singing Strings, The Irish Tenors, Glen Curtin, Dublin City Ramblers, Sean Dunphy, Jimmy Griffin, Tony Kenny and Alec Finn to name but a few.

Legacy of a Quiet Man

Dick married Anne Lowry from Headford, Co.Galway in 1955, and the couple had five children. His two sons Dick and Gerard are professional musicians. Eleven of his songs have now been recorded by his son Gerard with Sinead Stone on an album Legacy of a Quiet Man.

The multi-talented songwriter, policemam and poet from Kells died on Saturday 11 August 1990.

Details from:

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Below: Dick Farrelly at the piano.

Great Grandpa Buck

By John I. Blair

I hope that my Great Grandpa Buck
Held me once before he passed.
That was 1942;
I was born in ’41 –
An entire year he could have done it.

He needed healthy babies.

His own so often died too young –
Of all his dozen children
Just Willa lived to grieve Buck’s end;
Ruth, his only wife, life friend,
Had died at 48.

He lasted 40 more.

So I hope Buck held me once,
Enfolding me in wrinkled arms,
Finding in my warm and restless body
Remembrance that the lives he’d lost
Were not the only ones he’d touched.

I’d have been glad to volunteer.

©2012 John I. Blair

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The Beauty

By Bud Lemire

I look upon the beauty, everywhere I go
The colors and the lighting, and what touches the soul
I watch at every angle, to see what I can see
In every direction, and how it effects me

Where is the sun shining, what is the color there
The best that it's hitting, and which ones I can share
I realize every time I'm out there, and I take a shot
The beauty that surrounds me, and everything I got

The trees and their shapes, the clouds up in the sky
Are saying “Pay Attention, and open up your eye”
Capturing it all, is the best that I can do
The beauty that is there, that beholds all that is true

The shapes and the sizes, the distance just as well
All come together, and they have a lot to tell
They speak loudly, if you listen you will hear
Put all things in focus, as they whisper in your ear

What are they saying, do you really know
Listen with your eyes, the beauty they will show
I let my eyes tell me, is this a good shot
I usually delete it, if by chance it's not
But mostly I pick the best ones, that my eyes see
All things I've taken shots of, so you'll see The Beauty

©Feb 27, 2012 Bud Lemire

I found that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I have taken pictures that many liked, and I never expected that.
I have taken some that I thought many would like, and they didn't.
Beauty is found everywhere, if you have the sight to see what is there.

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By John I. Blair

Some curse time
For taking health and life away
Bit by bit by bit.

I say praise time,
Salute it every day
And raise hosannas!

For without time’s blessing
Change would be unknown,
And without change, life itself.

©2012 John I. Blair

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By John I. Blair

Your parents John and Ann
Grin at me or grimly frown
(It doesn’t really matter which)
Across the years
From either side, ancestors
Of both my mother and my father;

You and your brother Thomas
Therefore are the buttresses
Of an imaginary bridge
That arches over all the oaks
And pines of Carolina,
Spans the rocky chasms

Of the Appalachians,
The blue Ohio, Mississippi
And Missouri,
Endless cornfields, prairies --
A viaduct across ten thousand
Bustling city streets,

Me its center point at last,
Me and half a million others, cousins,
Me a cousin to myself I guess.

©2012 John I. Blair

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A Funeral Poem

By Bud Lemire

Let me write a Funeral poem
For all those who are taken home
It's not a poem about the dead
It's about the life they've lead

All about the journey they took
Written down on a page from a book
Everyone has a life's story to tell
Some parts you won't know as well

You might know who they are
But did you know about their scar
You may see them at a store
Did you know there's much more

The experiences they've been through
The good and bad, like all people do
Emotions that are hidden away
What they go through every day

Get to know the person as they live
Learn about what they had to give
Life is too short not to share
And let them know that you care

©March 19, 2012 Bud Lemire

I was asked once about my poems that end up at Funerals.
I replied “it's because they tell the story of their life.”
Celebrate their life, not their passing from your life.
Their life goes on, and that's a great cause to celebrate.
It's much better than their life here or ours.

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


By John I. Blair

One might think the name implied
Something big, impressive,
Even dangerous.

Then reality intrudes:
It’s a car, a Dodge in fact,
Only medium in size
And minuscule in menace.

This one came into my life
Quite by surprise,
A whirlwind romance
And forced engagement

Following an accident
Brought about
By someone else’s carelessness,
An error at an intersection.

Desperately needing wheels
I found that Calibers
Both met my minimums in size
And maximums in cost.

So here we are,
A managed marriage,
Seemingly content
But not actually in love,

Cruising quietly enough
But with a hint
(If you are giving heed)
Of friction;

Yet I do retain a hope
That, given time,
We yet may find
A high road to romance.

©2012 John I. Blair

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My Little Secret

By John I. Blair

My little secret
Is your little secret too –
Though everybody knows.

Our days are few;
Each one glows;
Live life as if this day,
This hour is all there’ll be.

©2012 John I. Blair

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Life Review

By Bud Lemire

This is something that you may not know
Forgiving one another is good for the soul
On Earth it is needed for the soul and heart
While on the other side it also plays a special part

Forgiveness is healing, cleansing of the soul
Releasing negative emotion, which is always good to know
While having a “Life Review” on the life you lead
All is considered, on what is done and said

Everything you did, each person that you knew
How you touched them, is in this “Life Review”
Nobody is the judge, it all comes back to you
Feelings will be felt, on all things you did do

When you are in spirit, you'll know so much more
The reasons for your actions, and what they all were for
We see the roles we played, the reasons for them too
How we grew from them, and all that went through

They were our lessons, on the Earthly plane
To understand them better, without all of the pain
We get to see the things we lived through, while we were here
And things we didn't know before, all will become clear

All of us will go through the “Life Review,
” and will feel all the joy, sadness, anger, pleasure,
and how our lives touched others.
Then we will decide what we want to do to make things better.
Because while we make others better, we also make our own souls better as well.

©Feb 16, 2012 Bud Lemire

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Nun and Chappie, Her Rainbow

By LC Van Savage

Once upon a time there was a little nun
Who lived life for God, but had little fun.
"God doesn't want me to be melancholy,"
She thought, "He'd rather I really be jolly!"
So she took orphaned kids to see happy plays
And also to ball games, to beaches to laze.
The little nun loved that, but something was wrong
Something was missing. In her heart was no song.
"Ah me," sighed the nun, "I guess I'm just greedy,
"The Lord's just so good, I'm just much too needy."
The little nun made up her mind to forget
About how she felt. She would no longer fret.
She made up her mind to ignore her feelings
And pray to the Lord to grant her some healings.
She'd work hard by day and would pray hard by night
And would work hard too, and do what was right.
One summer day after all chores were done
She sat on a bench and drowsed in the sun.
Startled, she jumped when she heard a strange sound
And looked at the sky, at the trees and all 'round.
Dazzling colors streaked past her eyes
Like apples, apricots, green grass and sunrise.
It squawked quite loudly which startled her greatly
Flew in mad circles and then pretty straightly.
And then to her shock the bird flew straight at her
And perched on her shoulder, starting to chatter.
"A parrot! A parrot!" the nun cried aloud
She reached up to stroke him, and felt very proud
This lost bird had picked her above all the others
Over the priests and the sisters and brothers.
The little nun strolled to her cell with the bird
She was laughing, weeping and everyone heard
Her say she'd work hard to find the bird's owner
And they also heard "But I'm such a loner.
"And God has sent this new friend to please me
"He'd never do this to sadden or tease me!
"He wants me to have a new friend all my own
"So I won't feel cheerless, as only He's known."
Delighted, she took the bird into her cell
And wrote out an ad for the paper to tell
The people who lost their dear parrot to call.
Then the little nun prayed and tried not to bawl.
She asked God to let no one answer the ad
And after a month she became very glad
When no one laid claim to the colorful bird
Said the nun "Oh thank you. My prayers have been heard."
Now everyone noticed how happy she was
"She's happy! She's joyous!" The nuns were a-buzz.
And no one begrudged the little nun's gladness
That gorgeous parrot removed all her sadness.
She named him "Rainbow," and everyone told her
That parrots are able to get much older.
"He'll outlive us all!" the Sisters all teased her
The little nun loved all the fuss. It pleased her!
She loved her dear Rainbow and felt very glad
That he'd live long. He was all she had.
She taught him to speak, to fetch and do tricks
And he'd steal her glasses, and crucifix.
The little nun now did her chores with a smile
And rushed through her prayers to get home to her "child."
The nun and her parrot passed such happy years
He scolded and broke things and pulled on her ears.
She clipped back his wings so he would not depart
Her darling parrot was part of her heart.
The Sisters had never seen her so happy
And laughed when she sometimes called Rainbow "Chappie."
"You'd best make provisions for him in your will,"
Said the Sisters, "Since parrots rarely get ill."
One morning the little nun called him to come
When he didn't answer, her heart became numb.
"Oh Rainbow, where are you?" the little nun cried
And she found him, all crumpled where he had died.
The little nun fell to the floor and she wept
And she howled and wailed and finally slept.
She dreamed that together they flew very high
Up through the clouds, and to God in the sky.
The little nun wrapped her arms 'round the bird's neck
And up they went higher, til they were a speck.
Her dear parrot carried her straight to her Lord
His bright wings flew to their well-earned reward.
The Sisters came in and approached them with dread
And burst into tears. Their dear nun friend was dead.
Her arms were wrapped tightly around her dear pet
The drops from her tears on his wings were still wet.
They buried the nun with her cherished bird
And when they had finished, her voice could be heard;
"Goodbye my dear Sisters, I'm now heaven-bound
"And dear Rainbow's with me. We'll see you around!
"I'm happy dear Sisters, God's given me much
"And now I'll be able to live near His touch!
"I'll soar in the rapture with my sweet Chappie
"And watch over you and hope that you're happy.
"I was so sad til the parrot was sent me
"Has God ever treated a nun so gently?"
The nuns glanced around but they could not see her
But all of them to a woman could hear her.
They never doubted they heard her speak
But they knew without her, their lives would be bleak.
They held hands tightly and stood there and listened
And on each of their cheeks, many tears glistened.
The little nun's voice came floating back to them
And they listened closely, her voice did soothe them.
"I'll watch o'er you, dear Sisters and hope that soon
"You'll shortly be with me, near the sun and moon.
"And I pray if you're lonely our Lord will try
"To send you a pet so you will not cry.
"And now please excuse me, I've got to depart
"So goodbye for now and there's love in my heart
"For all of you Sisters who loved me so dear.
"Good bye now, farewell now, my Rainbow is near
"We've got work to do, but I just want to say
"That mostly we'll fly around heaven all day!"
LC Van Savage ©
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Enough, enough, enough!!

By David Van Os

“ [I]t is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.”

So proclaimed the founders of the Republic of Texas in the magnificently expressed Declaration of Independence they issued to the world on March 2, 1836. Tragically, the State of Texas today suffers in the grip of an unpatriotic, radical government that is intent on making mincemeat of the state’s proud heritage of commitment to the principle of cultivating an educated and enlightened citizenry.

A large group of determined Texans of all generations and from all parts of the state gathered at the State Capitol on Saturday March 24 for the second annual Save Texas Schools rally, to protest the last session of the Texas Legislature’s decimation of school funding in worship of the false god of budget cutting.

Many eloquent speakers, including school superintendents, teachers, parents, pupils, and elected officials vigorously and inspiringly assailed the short-sightedness of the false economies achieved by wreaking huge cuts in the financing of public education.

The false dogma of budget cutting that has been applied to public education in Texas is but one example of the same false dogma that has been trotted out in cutting public employees’ labor rights in Wisconsin and other states, and that is being argued every day in national politics and government. It is false not only because its articulated logic is false, but more importantly, because its stated motives are not true.

There is plenty of money in America. The myth that the economy is running out of money is as false as a three-dollar bill. Our society is blessed with vast wealth and resources. But the wealth is being hoarded at the top. The wealthiest one percent of Americans control 40% of the wealth of the country, and that appalling imbalance is increasing every day as more and more of the fruits of the collective economy are transferred to the benefit of the ultra-rich. The real motivation of the architects of radical budget cutting is nothing more and nothing less than to protect this massive and growing wealth of those who already have all they could possibly need for multiple lives of luxury. Any and all of the double-talking other reasons articulated by the radical budget cutters are a pack of lies, concocted to suck in the journalists and to fool the voters.

We are where we are today because for too many years and decades, We the People have allowed false academics, false politicians, and false journalists to propagate the immoral philosophy that greed is a virtue. We are where we are today because for too many years and decades we the people have allowed too many of these false pundits in the worlds of academia, politics, and journalism to lead us down the primrose path of cultivating a newly brazen economic system, which for the sake of a handle let me call the neo-liberal economics of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, which more than ever rewards greed and punishes humanity.

And now things are spiraling rapidly downward for Constitutional democracy itself, as savage vigilante justice strikes in Afghanistan and Florida, marked in one instance by the brutal slaughter of innocents by an American soldier and in the other instance by the appalling murder of a youth whose mere skin color rendered him suspicious in the eyes of a self-proclaimed property protector; and as the neo-liberal police state continues to react with greater and greater savagery in its repression of dissent on behalf of the ultra-wealthy for whose protection it serves, as shown by the growing nationwide suppression of the Natural and Constitutional right of the people to assemble and petition for redress of grievances in public places.

Many others have spoken, are speaking, and will speak with more eloquence than me about all these matters. All I have left to say today is:

Enough, enough, enough!!

"Notes from a Texas Patriot" Posted on March 25, 2012, by David Van Os
LINK: "Notes from a Texas Patriot"
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Wrong Sydney!

By Eric Shackle

Shortly before Sydney's 2000 Olympics, we warned, tongue in cheek: "If you plan to visit Sydney, Australia, be sure your reservations are for the right destination - there are Sydneys (and Sidneys) all over the place (20 in U.S.)

You could end up in a South African big-game lodge, or near the scene of the legendary feud between the Hatfields and the Coys. We had to wait two years for the payoff. Last month, BBC News reported that an Internet booking mix-up had left a young English couple holidaying in chilly Sydney, Nova Scotia, instead of on the sun-kissed beaches of the Australian city of the same name.

Emma Nunn, of Sidcup, Kent, and Raoul Christian, of Charlton, south east London, both 19, bought their tickets from an online travel agent for £740 each, but after a six-hour flight from London's Heathrow Airport, their flight landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. An hour later they arrived in sleepy Sydney, Cape Breton Island, off the north eastern coast of Canada.

"Obviously it is a big disappointment," Ms Nunn conceded. "But after it sank in we both said 'let's make the most of what we've got around us.' They said they were enjoying looking at the pick-up trucks, and eating the local lobster.

Airport officials said they had sometimes received luggage destined for Sydney, Australia before - but never people.

Andrea Batten, an employee of Air Canada in Sydney, Nova Scotia, told Reuters news agency she was dropping off a friend at the airport when a colleague asked: "Can somebody go to the counter and help these people? They think they're in Sydney, Australia."

"They were obviously very surprised," said Ms Batten (that name rings an aviation bell*), who said she had never heard of such an incident in 13 years' working there. "They decided they might as well stay for a few days, having come all this way. It's going to be a trip to remember."

The BBC report prompted several follow-up messages. "Last year I booked a trip to Sydney, Nova Scotia, and ended up in Australia," said Bob Smith (Scotland). "Can you imagine how aggrieved I was? Couldn't get a decent lobster anywhere - the pick-up trucks were a waste of time and the bears were no bigger than a pillow."

Chris (UK) said "I was incredibly close to making exactly the same mistake last week. Happy to have found a flight to Sydney for £500, I was inputting my card details as quickly as possible, when I suddenly realised the second leg of the trip only took one hour from Halifax. My family and I are now flying via Singapore."

Dave (UK) said that when a Japanese tourist at London's Paddington station on her way to Heathrow had wanted to go to Turkey, the staff put her on a train to Torquay.

From the United Arab Emirate, Philip Cass told how a woman planning to fly to Dhaka, in Bangladesh, had bought a ticket for Dakkar in West Africa and had gone all the way there before realising her mistake.

Different accents can pose problems, too. Roberto Samaniego (Peru) said "I was in Miami trying to buy a plane ticket to Newark, New Jersey.

"Lacking confidence in my ability to pronounce and understand the quaint dialect of English spoken by American airline personnel, I repeated that I was going to Newark, not New York until I was blue in the face.

The sales girl was very polite and helpful, processed my request, and, after a reasonable wait and pleasant chat, triumphantly produced a ticket to... New Orleans, Louisiana."

*THE JEAN BATTEN STORYJean Batten, born in New Zealand in 1909, was a pioneer aviator in the 1920s and 1930s. On October 16, 1936 she arrived at Auckland at the end of the first flight from England to New Zealand. Her 14,224 mile journey took 11 days 45 minutes, a time which was to remain a solo record for 44 years. The Percival Gull in which she made the journey now hangs in the Jean Batten International Terminal. This little monoplane enabled her to establish herself as one of the great women aviators of all time. She died on November 22 1982, alone in Majorca where, unknown, she was buried in a communal paupers' grave. The world was unaware of her fate for a further five years.

POSTSCRIPT - WRONG INDIA! ... Arjun Bali, of Mumbai, India, writes: "The couple which reached Nova Scotia, has now joined an exclusive club first started by Columbus. He not only conned his Government to fund his trip to India and reached the Americas. He also decided to carry the gag a little further by calling the natives 'Indians' and confusing millions of generation further. It is an exclusive club."

This story was first posted in Eric Shackle's e-book in 2002.

PPS (posted 2012): We have just received this email from a reader, Louise:
I am an American living in France , and I always fly Air France when returning to the States. My sister lives near Washington, DC, and I have to be very careful when booking my flight to visit her. If I say I want a ticket to Dulles (airport), I am often offered a seat to (Dallas) Texas, and if I only say Washington, the ticket agent says "Seattle?"

Posted Sunday, 25 March 2012, From Sydney, Australia

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Author's Blog.

In Touch

By Bruce Clifford

Sometimes I wish I could run away
I would find a place where we can escape
When this world becomes too much
I want to hide away and stay out of touch

A care free place to dance and play
It seems so simple but so far away
To dream, to wish for a place as such
I want to hide away and stay out of touch

Each passing night so the story goes
I dream of a garden where only happiness grows
We climb the mountain to reach the top
I want to hide away so this insanity could stop

Is it wrong to run and hide
To preserve my sanity, this peace inside
Just a place free of fears and woes
On and on the story goes

So if I run away will you follow
Will you carry me across this dream
If I run away will you follow
Before my heart breaks into a million tiny things

©3/27/12 Bruce Clifford

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Doors of Time

By John I. Blair

I’ve been knocking
On the doors of time,
Taking rubbings
Off pitted rune stones
In grass grown graveyards,

Climbing shyly
Up my family tree
And nodding as I go
To those who cling there,
Hoping they might nod to me,

Sitting up by moonlight
Tracing genealogies,
Endless lists of names,
Dates, places, and events,
Battles, births, and burials,

Asking why I do it,
Wondering how anyone
Could not, since this
Is all about the course
Of how we came to be.

©2012 John I. Blair

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Dreaming as Dreamers Do

By Bruce Clifford

Do you ever think of dreaming
Dreaming as dreamers do
Do you think of living
Living for the truth you always knew
Living for the best side of me and you

Can you canvas the open sea
Or are you lonely and confused
Is there are darkness in the sky
Like a piano that's out of tune
Like living for the best side of me and you
I trust in everything we do
It doesn't matter if it rains all day and night
It doesn't matter as long as you are near and always in sight
When I see you in the moonlight
It makes everything alright
Do you ever think of dreaming
Dreaming of all you would want to do
Do you ever think of living
Living for the best side of me and you
Living for the truth you always knew
The truth you always knew

So when you wake up and it's a new day
And you face the world and find the words to say
Together we make everything okay!
It doesn't matter if it rains all day and night
It doesn't matter as long as we are both getting it right
When I see you in the sunlight

Do you ever think of dreaming
Do you ever dream if what could be
Do you ever think of each moment
Do you see the best side of you and me
The best side of you and me

©3/20/12 Bruce Clifford

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

I've Got You On My Mind

Nothing seems to come easy
Each chapter a new tear to cry
I wish I could fly the sky

Nothing ever comes easy
Every day a new fatal flaw
One day soon I will even the score

Day in day out I think of you
Day in day out from out of the blue
It doesn't get easier

It doesn't subside
Day in day out I've got you on my mind

Nobody believes in emotions
Each window a new state of pain
I wish I could find a way out of this rain

Day in day out I think of you
Day in day out from out of the blue
It doesn't get easier

It doesn't subside
Day in day out I've got you on my mind

It doesn't get easier
Will I ever break stride
Could there come a day without this pain inside

Day in day out I think of you
Day in day out from out of the blue
It doesn't get easier

It doesn't subside
Day in day out I've got you on my mind

©3/27/12 Bruce Clifford

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

What's Been On Your Mind

I can't explain this
I don't know why
What are we doing here
What's waiting for us in the sky

I don't have answers dear
Just unfounded fear

I can't say why
What are we moving towards
Will we ever understand why
They broke our hearts when they let us down
They took our souls and they tossed us out

I can't explain it
I don't understand
Why are we in so deep
Nobody will lend us a hand

They broke our hearts many years ago
They destroyed our faith and stepped on our souls
Why am I still a dreamer who believes in you
Baby you're the only one who can see this through

I can't explain this
I don't know why
What are we doing here
What's been on your mind
That's the only answer I need to find!

©3/20/12 Bruce Clifford

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

Crawling Out of My Skin

Crawling out of my skin
I don't know where to begin
I can dream of a time and place
There are those nights where I can still see your face

This world has made me so cynical
This world has turned me into a pessimist
Oh I can't resist

This world has made me feel so down and out
My heart makes me turn about
I want to reach back in time,
I want to find that place where my heart can touch your face

Crawling out of my skin
I am not sure where or when this will end
I can dream of a place and time
Maybe one day there will be happiness to find

Please don't let my mind erase
the last touch of your face
Don't let it slip away
My heart is melting

Those who are left standing will wonder
What did we teach them in the end
Did we show them how to learn from desire
Or did we light this world on fire

Crawling out of my skin
It's all fading so fast
The touch of the past
This dream won't last

©3/18/12 Bruce Clifford

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

Common Ground

"This is an updated piece originally penned in 2004"

The King and I,
You and I don't stand on common ground
My love for you will never die
You say you'll never come around

When you touch me the world moves
But to you it's just good faith
When I see you with other guys
My heart just tends to break

Will we ever find a common ground?

The King and I,
You and I don't stand on common ground
When I look into your eyes
My heart makes a new sound
Is there a chance you will come around

I can always tell when you are near
My body gets so weak
But you are just playing a part
While my love for you grows strong

Will we ever stand on common ground?

I don't understand why you can't feel the way I do
With all that we have in common I thought that it would be so easy to
What is it that I don't do for you

I don't know why
You and I don't stand on common ground
Your voice that soothes a stormy sky
I thought love was finally found

When you look into my eyes
Sometimes I think you really care
But other times you drift away
And you hardly know I'm there

The King and I,
You and I don't stand on common ground
Will there ever be a you and I?
Did you really ever try?

©3/19/12 Bruce Clifford

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

We Know This In Our Hearts

Many years from now
Those who are left standing will wonder how
What did we leave for them
What did we save for them

It's not like radiation doesn't leak from the sky
It's not like economics are going to keep us alive
It's not like foreign policy has found peace in our hearts
It's not like any other day, and we knew this from the start
We know this in our hearts

Maybe we should blame each other
Maybe we should take the fall
Maybe we should try to discover
Maybe we are dead after-all

Maybe greenhouse gases are melting the ice away
It's not like false promises have ever carried any weight
Maybe science fiction is the ultimate way to fly
It's not like a chain reaction where most of us come to die

It's not like radiation doesn't leak from the sky
It's not like economics are going to keep us alive
It's not like foreign policy has found peace in our hearts
It's not like any other day, and we knew this from the start
We know this in our hearts

Those who are left standing will wonder
What did we teach them in the end
Did we show them how to learn from desire
Or did we light this world on fire

©3/16/12 Bruce Clifford

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

Nothing Left In The Way

I can't stand it when you're sad
It breaks my heart and it makes me mad
If I would take away all of your doubt and pain
Then there would be nothing left in the way

I fall to pieces when you cry
It's not like I want to or even try
If I could fill your life with less chaos and those who are insane
Then there would be nothing left in the way

I can't let go when you're in need
It makes it so hard for me to breathe
I wish I could take away all the fear you feel inside
Then there would be a reason for the sadness to subside

©3/3/12 Bruce Clifford

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

Rabbo II-Chapter 4

By Mark Crocker

Part A

Rabbo sat looking out of the window watching the twins play in the snow. It was still too cold in his mind to go out and join them in their games or to help build a snow fort for them to play in. Beside they seemed to be doing well on their own without his help and his mood was rather sad as he had told Mischief the sad news about her kittens.

Mischief had seem to of taken the news better than he had thought she would have and all she had said was “Kitten live life in now. Let them enjoy the now and tomorrow is tomorrow”. Which Rabbo had to admit was very wise and very deep.

As he sat watching he saw soft eyes who was not hard to pick out as she had on a jacket that Athena had made that covered her shaved stomach. Soft eyes and her brothers and sister bounce over and jump in a pile of snow near to the twins.

The twins looked at the rabbit kittens and then threw handfuls of soft snow into the air so that it came down over the rabbit kittens like new falling snow. The rabbit kittens chased around after the falling snow until they started to tire. Then the rabbit kittens started to hop towards the opening that Rabbo and his mother had once used when they were first in the house.

Rabbo hopped off to the med lab and waited for his grand children to hop in. Once they were in he nudged them into the kitchen so that they could nap by the fire and get warm. Soft eyes seemed a little more tired than the three other kittens so he had her hop on his back and he hopped slowly and gently next to the fire and let her slip down. Rabbo then slipped her little jacket off and checked her bare flesh stomach to make sure that she was ok. The other rabbit kittens hopped over and snuggled around soft eyes and soon all four rabbit kittens were a sleep in a heap of fur.

Mischief came hopping in followed by Rabbo’s mother who looked down at the sleeping rabbit kittens. She then sat close by and looked into the fire. “Why worry” said Mischief.

Rabbo looked at Mischief and smiled weakly.

“Come out into white stuff and play” said Mischief.

Rabbo followed Mischief outside into the snow and watched as she bounced around in circles. Then she ran off turned around and slid across the snow coming to a stop in front of Rabbo and covering him in a shower of snow. Rabbo sat and looked at Mischief though his covering of snow and felt his mood lift a little. Then without warning snow balls started to rain down around Rabbo and Mischief.

Rabbo looked over to see if the twins were throwing snow balls but they were still busy making a snow fort with snow figures. Rabbo could see Athena walking over from the barn so he knew that it was not her throwing the snow balls. Rabbo looked around and could not see who or where the snow balls were coming from but he knew it had to be Merwyn as he was the only one he could not account for. The rain of snow balls continued for a few more moments before they stopped falling around Rabbo and Mischief.

Rabbo listened hard using his ears to scan until he picked up the faint sound of Merwyn breathing. Then Rabbo looked towards the shed that housed the solar panels and windmill that powered the house and he could make out a figure wearing a white thick jacket with white thick heavy pants and white gloves. But all that could be seen in the snow was a pink cold face. But Rabbo knew that it was Merwyn and was not worried that it was someone that should not have been near the house.

So Rabbo reached down and scooped up a handful of snow and using his psychokinesis aided the snow ball on it way and launched it at Merwyn. The snow ball flew though the air towards Merwyn and landed short by about six feet. Rabbo then scooped up another paw full of snow and made another ball and launched that one at Merwyn. This time it landed about two feet behind Merwyn.

“Ok now you have me bracketed you should be able to hit me, Rabbo” said Merwyn.

Rabbo scooped up another paw full of snow and made that into a snow ball and launched that one at Merwyn. The snow ball flew though the air and landed right at Merwyn's feet.

“Not bad Rabbo but you need to work on your snowball skills” said Merwyn.

Athena walked over to the twins and looked at them carefully. She touched their cheeks and slid her hand inside their jackets. “Ok you two inside you are getting cold” said Athena with a smile on her face.

“NO” said the twins in one voice and started to run off heading towards where Merwyn was standing. As the twins reached Merwyn they turned and stuck out their tongues at Athena before they turned back and bumped right into Merwyn. They looked up with surprise and shock and started to cry so Merwyn reached down and placed one on each hip before he started to walk towards the house.

“When your mom tells you something you do what she tells you to do” said Merwyn with a kind tone in his voice.

Athena, Merwyn, and the twins went inside the house to warm up leaving Rabbo and Mischief sitting outside in the snow. “I go check on rabbit home and see family. You come” said Mischief.

Rabbo followed along behind Mischief being careful not to slip in the snow or to trip over something hidden by the snow. There had been a pathway cleared all the way down to the warren so it was pretty easy going for both Rabbo and Mischief.

At the warren Rabbo was greeted by big sister who was sitting on top of the warren looking around and scanning with her ears. Big sister bowed to Rabbo and then looked at Mischief “where you been. We worry much and worry more of kittens.”

“I have been at house. Soft eye very sick and man talker help” said Mischief.

“Yes” said Rabbo “soft eyes has been very sick and so are the other kittens”.

“Why other kittens sick” asked Big sister.

“Female human said that breeding with brothers and sister very bad. Makes for sick kittens and kittens die. Not good” said Rabbo slipping into the method of talking rabbit.

Big sister looked at Rabbo and shook her head. “We breed as we always breed”.

“No brother sister breeding bad” said Rabbo

“We breed who we want to breed” said big sister not understanding what Rabbo was trying to tell her.

“How do I explain something that I don’t truly understand” Rabbo thought to himself.

“Human female wise” said Mischief. “If she say bad, it bad”.

“Big sister” said Rabbo. “If health problem in female grown rabbit and breeding partner is brother that make kittens sick too. But worse”.

“We breed as we always breed” said big sister and she turned and hopped down into a burrow and slipped from sight.

Rabbo turned and looked at Mischief who was sitting on her hind legs listen very carefully to sounds down in the warren. “Mischief is the smartest of my children,” Rabbo mused to himself. “She seems to understand that it is wrong for her to breed with her brothers and sisters. Maybe I can get her to explain to big sister, little brother Long ears, Little sister and my other brother”.

Mischief turned and looked at Rabbo and cocked her head to one side. “You tell me I explain to others”.

Rabbo looked at Mischief and wondered if she could hear his thoughts. “You hear my words in your head?” asked Rabbo on the general telepathic mode.

Mischief sudden sat back and looked at Rabbo with shock and disbelief on her fur covered face.

“Who are you talking to, Rabbo?” said Merwyn on the general telepathic mode.

“Mischief” replied Rabbo.

“Oh. OHHH” said Merwyn and Athena.

Rabbo looked Mischief right in the eyes and spoke to her on the private telepathic mode. “Can you speak mind to mind?” Rabbo asked.

Mischief looked at Rabbo and shook her head like she was trying to shake something out of her head.

“It’s just me, Mischief” said Rabbo trying to make Mischief relax, but Mischief looked wildly around as if she was trapped and could not escape from the voice in her head.

Rabbo again looked her right in the eyes and remembered his coercion training and thought soothing relaxing thoughts so that Mischief would calm down. Rabbo could feel Mischief’s heart racing and the adrenalin racing though her body as well as her muscle tightening ready to run in fear. Soon he felt Mischief start to relax as his thoughts calmed her and relaxed her. Then Rabbo spoke softly to her on the private telepathic mode. “It is my voice you hear. Man talker do not fear it”.

Mischief looked at Rabbo and nodded her head slowly and moved closer to Rabbo.

Rabbo switched back to the general telepathic mode “How do I get you, Mischief, to understand and explain to the others in the warren that brother sister breeding is wrong”? The question was more aimed at Athena and Merwyn as he hoped that they would pick up on his question and help.

“I trust you man talker” said Mischief “You are rabbit. You are wise. You live with humans. But talk in my head--I scared of voice in head”.

“Rabbo, you can’t explain it to her. While she is smart for a rabbit she just can’t understand. It would be like explaining to a person that has been blind from birth what a rainbow is. They just can’t understand what it looks like” said Bastet’s voice on Rabbo’s private mode. “Explain to her that she must not breed from any of her close family members like her sons or grand son or uncles. That’s just as bad as with brothers”.

“If you say breeding with brothers bad then it bad” said Mischief.

“Ok, Bastet” answered Rabbo. Rabbo turned back to Mischief “You can’t breed from sons or grand sons or uncles that will make sick kittens”.

“Ok. What if I breed with you” asked Mischief.

“That would be very bad” said Rabbo out aloud as not to scare Mischief anymore than he had already.

Rabbo then switched back to Bastet on the private telepathic mode “How did you know that I was talking with Mischief”?

“You hailed loudly and I heard you. It’s not wise to hail that loudly, Rabbo” said Bastet.

Mischief nudged Rabbo with her nose and then hopped off to the end burrow what Rabbo used sometimes.

Down in his burrow Rabbo was greeted by Bossy who was sitting in there eating a carrot with her latest litter of kittens. Rabbo closed his eyes and looked at the litter of kittens to see if they were all healthy and to make sure that they did not have any growths inside them. “Who father of litter” asked Rabbo relieved not to see any signs of growths.

“Male who no talk” said Bossy.

“Is he only father” asked Rabbo.

“Yes he chase me catch me and mate with me” said Bossy.

As Rabbo sat looking at the kittens and talking with Bossy and Mischief, Rabbo was surprised at how warm the burrow was. “Is all warren warm like this” asked Rabbo.

“Not all some cooler but no cold in warren” said Mischief.

It was dinner time when Rabbo returned to the house having spent all afternoon in the warren visiting with the wild rabbits. Rabbo had checked the rest of the young rabbits and noticed that a few had health problems but nothing like the health issues that Mischief’s kittens were having. As Rabbo sat at the dinner table he explained what he had seen at the warren and that he had checked the younger rabbits that had visited him in his burrow.

“In breeding is not all bad” said Athena. “Sometimes it’s done for a reason such as continuing a race or for a specific genetic trait or to reinforce an ability”

“True” said Merwyn.

“But as a rule if the gene pool is not clean then there can be huge issues such as we are seeing with some of the rabbits in the warren” continued Athena. “So what we need to do is somehow get the rabbits to understand that inbreeding is very unwise”.

“But what about Mischief and the fact that she was picking up on my thoughts and that she could hear me when I spoke to her telepathically?” said Rabbo.

“That’s something we need to look into” said Athena.

“Something Mischief said to me worries me” said Rabbo.

“What did she say that worried you” asked Merwyn.

“She said What if I breed with you. Father Daughter pairing is bad right” said Rabbo rather worried.

Athena suddenly blushed and looked at Merwyn then turned and looked at the twins before turning back to look at Merwyn.

“Umm not always” said Merwyn stuttering “sometimes if the genes are clean its umm ok as long as umm well umm”.

“Wenna no hit me” said one of the twins.

Athena, Merwyn, and Rabbo turned and looked at both twins as one of the twins started to slap at the other twin.

“I think they are getting cranky” said Rabbo.

“No she called her Wenna” said Athena. “It’s a naming”.

Merwyn looked at the twin that was trying to slap her sister “what’s your name”?

“Wenna” said Wenna as she slapped her sister.

Athena reached over pulled Wenna off her chair and held her so that she could not slap her sister.

Merwyn turned to the other twin and looked at her carefully “do you have a name”?

The little girl looked at Merwyn with wide eyes and tears running down her cheek

“Merryn” she said in between sobs.

“Well hello Merryn” said Merwyn. Then Merwyn turned to Wenna “hello Wenna”.

“I am so glad that they picked names at last” said Athena “I was getting worried that they were being slow”.

Merwyn held Merryn on his hip and got up from the kitchen table and walked off to the cool storage room to get some wine.

Merwyn returned with a very dusty old bottle of wine and looked at Athena and Rabbo. He uncorked the bottle and sat it down on the table. “Well this is the last of the wine I brought from Sirius and well I think this is as good a time as any to open and bless the newly named members of our family”.

Merwyn filled Athena, Rabbo and his wine goblet and they got two egg cups and poured a little wine in each. Merwyn gave the egg cups with a splash of wine to each of the twins then he picked up his wine goblet. “A toast to Merryn and Wenna. May they long hold their names” said Merwyn.

Both Athena and Rabbo raised their goblets and said “To Merryn and Wenna”.

Both twins drunk their splash of wine and looked at each other.

Athena looked over at Merryn and Wenna “I think its time I bathed them and got them ready for bed”. Athena took her wine goblet with her as she took the twins upstairs’ to the bathroom to wash them before getting them ready for bed. Athena returned about thirty minutes later wearing a short toga with the twins following along behind her.

Wenna and Merryn walked over and sat down by the fire next to Cat Rabbo’s mother Mischief and her kittens. The twins looked around and Merryn said “Wabbo wead to us”.

Rabbo hopped of to the library and came back with the book that Isis had written. He sat down in Athena’s chair and started to read to Wenna and Merryn. For the next hour the twins sat totally still sucking on their fingers as Rabbo read the last of the book.

Cat Rabbo’s mother Mischief and her kittens snuggled in a furry heap at the foot of the chair that Rabbo was reading from. Rabbo came to the end of the book and the twins yawned and stretched out and started to push each other. As they pushed each other it got rougher and rougher until Rabbo hopped down from the chair and stood between them pushing them apart with his paws. Athena came walking over and grabbed Wenna and Merryn by the hands and shook them before she looked at them.

“It’s bad to fight each other” said Athena looking angrily at both of her daughters.

Merryn stated to cry and then though her tears said to Wenna “sowe.”

Wenna then reached over and hugged her sister before she pulled away and started to walk towards the stairs. She climbed up on the first step and placed her hands on the second step and started up stairs. Athena followed along behind with Merryn.

About twenty minutes later Athena came down the stairs very quietly and walked over and picked up Rabbo and sat down in her chair. Athena looked over at Merwyn and smiled as she refilled her wine glass. Merwyn looked up smiled back and then got up and walked off into the living room.

At the living room door he turned and looked at Athena. “You want to help me with something?” said Merwyn.

Athena stood up grabbed the wine and walked over to the living room door. As she entered the living room Athena closed the door behind her.

Rabbo looked down at Mischief and her kittens. Mischief’s kittens where snuggled in a pile around Rabbo’s mother and Cat. Mischief looked up at Rabbo and then hopped over and sat at the foot of the chair looking up. “Why it wrong to breed with brothers? You say it wrong and that ok and make it wrong but why it wrong” said Mischief trying to understand.

Rabbo tried to explain to Mischief what it was wrong to breed with her brothers but as hard as he tried he could not make her understand. So after about an hour of explaining Mischief stated that she was sleepy and Rabbo had to admit that he was sleepy too. So he hopped over to his elevator and went up to Athena’s bedroom to sleep.

Be sure to watch for Part B of Chapter 4 - Names in the May issue.

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