Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Editor's Corner

April 2013

"When a poet digs himself into a hole, he doesn't climb out. He digs deeper, enjoys the scenery, and comes out the other side enlightened." - Criss Jami.

We welcome our poets and new authors to our publication to climb right in and make themselves a cosy little nest. We continue to feature poetry and foster its appreciation. For instance this April, we are presenting "The Journey," a poem by Martha A. Bradley along with a photo she took. Thank you, Martha.

Wendy Shepard-Kalan is back with the poem "His Real Mother" dedicated to her friend Cathy. John I. Blair did one romantic poem "Moonlight" and one Spring time poem, "Shadows on The Grass" along with his column "Always Looking--People Who Made A Difference" about Roger Nash Baldwin who helped found ACLU. (Good to hear from John as we know his computer has been on the sick list with him and also Clara.)

Bruce Clifford, one of our prolific poets sent five poems, "You and Me," "Guilty of Hurting You," "I Love You More Each Day," "Maybe One Day," and "When You're Hurting."
We are pleased to have another poet new to these pages, Judith Kroll, with a nostalgic "The Homestead." She also has a column for us, "On Trek" some encouragement for those finding their own paths. Many of our readers will know her better by her chat name, Featherwind.

Merlin, a chat friend and teacher, allowed us to reprint his comments on the fear of looking within, "Love, Not Fear." As is often the case, Judith's column mentions that particular fear too.

Peg Jones (Angel Whispers) has been traveling and was not able to prepare a column this time, nor was Andrea free to create a recipe for her grandfather's column "Cookin' With Leo". We miss their input, however Kat Embrey, another of Leo's granddaughters, a member of the Army Reserve sends the good news that..."I'm now a published illustrator! Check out the cartoons I did for my Army Reserve unit's monthly magazine :)"
Here is the link so it can be found on FaceBook and there's one cartoon at the bottom of this column.
March Magazine FY 2013 .pdfMarch Magazine FY 2013 .pdf
5527K   View   Download 

Eric Shackle in his column discusses some gastronomical oddities ("Chinese Eat Oz Cane Toads") and warns about their deadly poison. Shackle also tells how the Cuban newspaper "Grandma" got its name in his article.

Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) spotlights the intriguing essay of one of his physicist students, while Mattie Lennon (Irish Eyes) celebrates a new CD featuring Irish voices from the past.

The new chapter in the adult fantasy with rabbits by Mark Crocker is "Rabbo II, Chapter 13-Party Time." Previous chapters of this tale can be accessed by clicking the author's name.
See you in May! Once more we thank our co-founder and webmaster Michael Craner, for his continued support of our creative activities. Thanks again, Mike.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Always Looking--People Who Made A Difference V

Meet Roger Nash Baldwin

Born in 1884, Roger Baldwin grew up steeped in a tradition of social responsibility. “Social work began in my mind in the church when I was 10 or 12 years old and I started to do things I thought would help other people.”

In 1981 his memorial service celebrated 97 years of vigorous life. Baldwin had rich, comfortable Boston roots. Relatives included Mayflower Pilgrims and a Revolutionary general. Family friends included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Booker T. Washington.

After Harvard, Baldwin engaged in social work, soon establishing a national reputation. During World War I, he became a leading figure in the American Union Against Militarism. Concerned about safeguarding political rights for conscientious objectors, Baldwin eventually headed the National Civil Liberties Bureau.

First he tried to reach out to top government officials, then he deliberately violated the Selective Service Act. This led to a celebrated trial and his imprisonment. In January 1920 Baldwin helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, which quickly became involved in a series of noteworthy cases, including Sacco and Vanzetti, John T. Scopes, and the Scottsboro Boys. ACLU attorneys helped reshape American constitutional law, concentrating on the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights.

All the while, Baldwin continued to urge Americans to join in fighting fascism, racism and poverty. Revered by many, he also made enemies, including J. Edgar Hoover. Baldwin became increasingly disturbed by purge trials in the Soviet Union and accusations leveled at the ACLU by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. After the Nazi-Soviet pact of August 1939, he worried for the very existence of the ACLU. The following spring, Baldwin campaigned to revise the ACLU charter so those affiliated with totalitarianism could not serve on its Board.

At the same time, Baldwin and the ACLU challenged internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese aliens. He continued to fight such violations of civil liberties, while seeking to stay on good terms with the federal government. In 1947 General Douglas MacArthur called him as a civil liberties consultant in Japan.

In late 1949, when Baldwin resigned as ACLU director, Samuel Eliot Morison wrote, "You have done wonderful work with the Civil Liberties Union. More than any other agency in this country, it has kept alive the traditional rights of man." Margaret Sanger declared, "The name Roger Baldwin and Civil Liberties are synonymous in the minds of all people in the United States."

For the next several years, Baldwin worked for international human rights. His book, A New Slavery, condemned "the inhuman communist police state tyranny, forced labor." In South Vietnam he criticized the repressive regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. By contrast, in Puerto Rico, Baldwin remained close to Governor Luis Munoz Marin, a former fiery socialist; jailed independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos; and cellist Pablo Casals, among others.
In India, Baldwin maintained a friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru and his family. As the 1960s began, Baldwin worked at the United Nations as a consultant for the International League for the Rights of Man.

He was praised for his support of civil rights for black Americans. In a moving tribute, Margorie M. Bitker referred to Baldwin as "long the moving spirit of the American Civil Liberties Union . . . a pacifist, the only label, by the way, that he is willing to wear." Bitker quoted him as affirming, "The rule of law in place of force, always basic to my thinking, now takes on a new relevance in a world where, if war is to go, only law can replace it."

Adapted from an article by Robert C. Cottrell at www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/baldwin_r.html

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Below: Baldwin, middle aged and at his most active period of his life


Tonight I drove down moonlit streets
And although it was early yet
Old magic filled the air.

Ever since our star-stuff
Stood erect, looked at the sky
And dreamed of goddesses,

We’ve reacted to this sight
With a feeling
Best explained as awe.

No matter if we’re in a dusty car,
The backseat packed
With paper bags,

Our heads a-teem
With thoughts of supper,
Once we behold that ancient orb

Behind the trees, glowing,
We still sense a tiny thrill
For all our bookish knowing.

©2013 John I. Blair

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

Love, Not Fear

Why would you be afraid to look within, fearful of what you think is in there? Does not the love of The Universe overcome all that we would choose to perceive as flawed?

Fear associated with sin the ego would see as entirely appropriate and smiles upon you in approval. The ego is not alone. Its rule is tempered by its unknown enemy, which it cannot see. What it cannot see, it fears.

The ego tells you not to look within, it tells you if you do you will see the “sins” for which you must answer to the Universe, to your God, and be struck blind. This you choose to believe! Your faith in a fear that you can neither see nor understand is the true source of fear for you.

This presents to those who are willing to "see", a double negative!
  • What if you looked within and saw no negatives?
  • What if you looked within and saw nothing upon which the ego has cast its control?
  • What if you saw only the love over which there is no control, because love “Is”?
  • What if you looked upon the illusion you have created of a life controlled by fear and choose in that instant to awaken from the dream you have been living and see yourself as beyond the control of fear and of the ego?
Is this not the moment of your own resurrection? This week my friend, I wish for you a life beyond control by fear of the unknown, instead to be replaced by life filled with the love of the known.

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

Irish Eyes

Voices From the Past

“The voice of the dead was a living voice to me.” (Tennyson.)
When listening to The Lake Isle of Innisfree or reading The Great Hunger, have you ever wondered what the authors’ voices sounded like.

Wonder no more. The British Library has brought out a 3CD set, The Spoken Word; Irish Poets and Writers. It consists of 24 recordings; almost three and half hours of listening.
The Spoken Word
It covers more than sixty years from a recording of James Joyce, reading from Ulysses, in 1927 to Eavan Boland in 1988.

In an extract from a recording made in 1963 Frank O Connor tells of how he became a writer. He illustrates his development with readings from his books including his short-story Guests of the Nation.

There are 38 minutes of W.B. Yeats (6 tracks.) One track In the Poet’s Pub runs to almost 20 minutes.

It is from a BBC broadcast of 1937. Yeats convinced the BBC to present English poetry readings on radio as if in a pub atmosphere. I find this surprising since it is widely believed that W.B. was only in a Dublin pub once in his lifetime. Listening to his voice recorded so long ago I couldn’t help thinking of the opening line of one of his poems, ”Speech after long silence; it is right.”
On this track his poems are read by actor, V.C. Clinton-Baddeley and Yeats himself can be heard singing in the choruses.

That other master of the English language George Bernard Shaw gives us, Spoken English and Broken English and Address at the British Drama League Conference. In the former he spoke about how the gramophone could distort the human voice. This was one of the earliest commercial spoken word recordings in English by any literary figure and it is a pleasant irony that now, 86 years later, we can listen to this amazing digital restoration of Mr. Shaw and others. And it would be hard to agree with Oscar Wilde who said, “Bernard Shaw has no enemies but is intensely disliked by his friends.”
There are only two recordings of James Joyce’s voice in the world and they are both in this collection. He is heard reading an extract from Ulysses in 1924 and an eight-and-a-half minute piece from Finnegans Wake which he recorded in 1929. Another track features Sylvia Beach discussing the recordings of Joyce in which she relates that Joyce picked the Aeolus section from Ulysses, to record, because, he claimed it “The only passage that was defamatory and therefore suitable for recital.” She makes it clear that she didn’t believe that Joyce picked the piece just because it was defamatory but that it was something the he wanted to say himself and have it recorded in his own voice.

Another track has Frank O Connor with Portrait of James Joyce in which he speaks of the only time he met Joyce in Paris. According to O’Connor Joyce, at the time was surfing from,” . . . a slight persecution mania ...” and, what O’ Connor calls, “association mania.” He also refers to Joyce’s obsession with, not Dublin, but Cork, the home of his father.

Tracks which were recorded in the 1960s include Sean O’ Casey, Elizabeth Bowen (who said, “Ireland gives one a sort of terrain of imagination”), Mary Lavin, Patrick Kavanagh and Sean O Faoláin. (There is also an earlier track of O’Faolain recorded in 1949.)

Brendan Behan sings The Auld Triangle which was written by his brother Dominic. The track is taken from a private disc donated to the British Library by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. No date is given for the recording but I’m fairly sure it was made in 1961 the year of his trip to the USA and Canada. (On his return when asked what the thought of Canada he It’ll be nice when it’s finished.”)

I would, at times, like to think that I know a thing or two about Patrick Kavanagh but to hear him baring his soul to Peter Duval Smith in a BBC interview, in 1964, was a revelation.
The man who accused Monaghan of burgling his “. . .bank of youth” and clogging ( . . .the feet of my boyhood,” confessed in this interview that leaving his home place was a mistake and that he had “lived in a fog” an because of a “fantastic inferiority complex” had always seen himself as a failure. This interview was recorded about the time he wrote "Song at Fifty" which begins,
It came as a pleasant surprise
To find experience
Where I had feared that I
Had no such currency,
Had idled to a void
Without a wife or child . . .
Almost every Irish person has read, or at least heard of, The Valley of the Squinting Windows (I couldn’t ever understand why it wasn’t made into a film) and the controversy surrounding its publication but how many know what the author Brinsley McNamara sounded like. He’s heard here along with four other literary luminaries, discussing Yeats and other poets.

From the stories of Edna O Brien and Mary Lavin, read by the authors to the philosophies of Liam O Flaherty and sean O Faoláin, it’s all there.

Anybody who has any interest in our Irish poets and writers owes a big thank you to the British Library for rescuing those voices from the jaws of obscurity.

The 3CD set is available from the British Library Shop: www.bl.uk/shop

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

On Trek

I was recently talking to some friends online, and we got into discussing our old cult-like religion. We all left the religion, for some of us it has been awhile since we left, for others it is a new experience coming out of this cult like religion.

The problem we all faced was what do we do now? Should we start going to other religions right away, and if so which one?

Most of us that had left the religion decided to take the time to step back from all religions, man-made teachings and all the different avenues of a spiritual approach to life, and look within ourselves deeply. We all needed to take the time to notice where we were, where we are, and figure out what makes us happy. We are here, on this planet, each with our own journey. So we should be looking at our own journey as just that, ours alone. Most of us had to abide by the choices our parents made for us, but it is possible it just isn’t a perfect fit. I might add there is nothing disrespectful in finding our own nitch in beliefs.

One needs to find out what they like and dislike. We should walk thru the trees and along the beach if we can. The old saying, take the time to smell the flowers truly is great advice. We need to clear our head and start over in our thinking, feeling, seeing, and tasting life. We do not want to jump out of the fire into the frying pan. We need to see the world thru our own eyes of understanding, and our own light and love, not someone else’s.

When we hug a tree, we know that God made that tree. He made everything. So becoming one with all things is a great start on our new chapter in our trek thru this life. It never hurts to talk aloud to the universe, God, etc. Our thoughts become alive once we think them, but I like to picture them traveling thru the universe once they are airborne.

We need to say thank you also for everything in our life. Gratitude is a great quality to have. Maybe our leaving the religion is traumatic, but being grateful we are not there anymore because it no longer SERVES US and moving on with our life is something to smile about. I am not saying it is wrong to be in a religion, if one is happy there, then that is where they belong. But choosing cult like institutions that control our every thought in life, is not using our free will, it is more like letting our free will become stomped on.

My advice is to take the time to indulge in reading whatever suits your fancy. Take the time to find who you are and what motivates you. Always be happy in your pursuits, and if it feels right, then it is right, FOR YOU. Of course, we would never judge another in what they decide, but what we do, do it for us, and not for someone else.


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Eric Shackle's Column

 Chinese Eat Oz Cane Toads!
Millions of highly venomous cane toads are invading northern Australia, killing countless small native and domestic animals. Men and dogs hate them.
Cane toads would never win a beauty contest.  In fact, they’re hideous.  John Burey, of Charleville, Queensland,  sends vast numbers of the pests to China, where they are eaten or their toxin is used as a traditional  medicine.

We asked John if he had ever tasted a cane toad, and how they’re caught.

He replied, “I’ve eaten quite a few of them in China, where they’re kept in captivity and feed on worms. To catch them, just walk around in the evening with a torch and gloves.”
An Australian website, All About Dogs, says:
"Toads exude a milky white toxin from poison glands behind their eyes. They squeeze this poison onto the surface of their skin when they are under threat. Toads do not spit or squirt the poison as commonly believed, and they don’t bite. Dogs and cats are poisoned when they mouth the toad or sometimes when the toad’s poison gets into their eyes.
 "The toad’s poison is also dangerous to humans and deaths have occurred. Some adults have even been affected when they absorbed the poison through cuts in their skin after handling a toad.
 "In China, they have used toad poison as an expectorant, a heart stimulant and as a diuretic. It has also been used as a remedy for toothache and sinusitis. In Africa and South America, toad venom has been used on the tips of arrows as a poison.
"Dogs may be poisoned by oral exposure to many types of toads. All toads produce venom but toxicity varies greatly by species.
"The most important species of concern in the United States is the giant or marine toad Bufo marinus, ( a.k.a. bufo toad ) an introduced species that has established itself in Hawaii, Florida and Texas.
"Local effects include shaking of the head, pawing at the mouth, retching and frothy salivation. Severe intoxication as from the Bufo toad may include life threatening cardiac and CNS involvement.

 "Toads were introduced into Australia in 1935 to control the cane beetle - a disastrous move, as toads have no natural enemies in Australia.
"Australian Terriers and Fox Terriers also think this was a dumb idea, as they are the breeds most often affected by toad poisoning.    
"The Cane Toad is Australia's only true toad, it grows to a massive 24cm and can lay up to 40,000 eggs in one season. Most native tadpoles cannot live in the same water as the poisonous Cane Toad tadpoles. Each female cane toad lays up to 40,000 eggs a month, and half that number can expect to develop into tadpoles within three days.    
"The largest cane toad on record in Australia was 16.5 cm wide, 24cm in length and weighed 1.36kg.!

An article on The Australian Museum (Sydney) website says:
No humans have died in Australia from cane toad poison but overseas, people have died after eating toads and even soup made from boiled toad eggs. Cane toads are also poisonous to pets and in Hawaii up to 50 dogs a year have died after mouthing cane toads. Signs of poisoning through ingestion include profuse salivation, twitching, vomiting, shallow breathing, and collapse of the hind limbs. Death may occur by cardiac arrest within 15 minutes.
Australian native fauna that have been killed by eating or mouthing cane toads include goannas, freshwater crocodile, tiger snake, red-bellied black snake, death adder, dingo and western quoll.
A cane toad responds to threat by turning side-on so its parotoid glands are directed towards the attacker. The poison usually oozes out of the glands, but toads can squirt a fine spray for a short distance if they are handled roughly.
The poison is absorbed through mucous membranes such as eyes, mouth and nose, and in humans may cause intense pain, temporary blindness and inflammation.
First aid treatment includes irrigating (washing with a lot of water) the eyes, mouth and nose if they have been exposed to toad poison.
 Seek medical attention if symptoms persist. When handling any frog or toad, protect the eyes, wear gloves, and thoroughly wash hands before and after touching the animal.
The cane toad has mounted a successful invasion in Australia and many other countries - but where did the toad come from originally? These toads have a wide native range in Central America and South America. Studies on DNA characteristics of Aussie toads suggest that they descend from a group of toads originally collected from South America (perhaps French Guyana). These were taken to Puerto Rico, then toads from that island were taken to Hawaii – and finally, 101 Hawaiian toads were brought to Australia to form the beginnings of the invasion.
A message from Hilbilly NC on an American online forum says,
"Most toads have poison glands in their skin, some have pretty potent toxins. I've heard of Cherokee cleaning toads by holding them under swift running water, twisting their heads off and skinning them while keeping them under the current. I think I'd have to be pretty damn hungry to try it, though. I really like frog legs."

Hopping mad: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/cane-toad-spat-leaves-slayers-hopping-mad/story-e6frg6n6-1226599838178

Save Our Frogs: http://allaboutfrogs.org/info/save/whattodo.html 

Cane toad video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mvV8OT-mmE 

Kimberley Ark: http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/s3719551.htm 

Toad sausages: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8640207.stm 

Cane toads in Oz : http://www.canetoadsinoz.com/ 
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. Posted Saturday, 16 March 2013, at 18:07.

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


One of my students here in Suzhou, China is a Physics major and she compiled a research paper on the subject of invisibility which is a fascinating read.

When I was a kid I always wondered what it would be like being invisible entering rooms unseen. One of the first books I read as a child was ‘the invisible man’ by H. G. Wells and I also watched several movies that were adapted from his famous science fiction novel. 
Invisibility has been the theme for many other novels and movies but Japanese researchers are now a step closer in making it a reality. They have developed a hi-tech cloak which, worn by a person, makes him or her look “transparent.” The transparent cloak was made by using so-called retro-reflective projection technology. A camera fitted on the back of the cloak records what happens behind the wearer and projects the image on the front, creating the illusion that the person is transparent.
A computer processes the background imagery and relays it to a projector that filters through a half mirror and projects the scene onto the wearer. From a certain angle, the cloaked person looks transparent to onlookers.
Scientists are developing practical uses for this technology and hopefully it can be applied in future cars, helicopters, and planes, helping drivers and pilots to see “through” the vehicle as they operate it. It could for example help eliminate “blind spots” in the car, so that the driver notices easier a motorcyclist approaching from behind, or it could help a driver back the car up without the risk of hitting unseen obstacles. This technology would certainly reduce those unforeseen fender benders.
Physicists have had a fascination with light throughout the centuries and we see things because light reflects off of objects and hits our eyes.Light has properties that can be manipulated, which is how objects can be rendered invisible. Magicians, for instance will use mirrors to reflect light away from an object making the observer see the object disappear or seem invisible.

The United States Military has done extensive research on bending light around objects to render them invisible to the human eye. In the past however there have been little practical military uses for this technology. Our Defense Department has also spent Billions of dollars on camouflage that solders say doesn't quite work in combat situations.
Scientists however are developing a cloak that can have practical applications in combat. This cloak was developed by combining copper tape with polycarbonate, a material commonly used in DVD's and CDs. The resulting cloak has a miniscule pattern -- like a finely checkered shirt -- that neutralizes light waves bouncing off of it.  For it to work, the material's pattern has to be roughly the size of the wavelength of light to be canceled out. That gives it a tightly limited range of waves it will work on.
It has no effect on a vast array of electromagnetic waves, which come in a myriad of sizes. The light waves we can see make up only a thin sliver of them.
Although the scientists say the principle behind the cloak at our present time could only be used to hide objects from the human eye. This is however "paving the way" to the development of advanced "camouflaging and invisibility." Our military has also developed ways to neutralize Microwaves that are used in radar detectors. 
I never thought that the Science Fiction stories of my youth could one day become reality, especially, in my lifetime. Making objects magically disappear or rendering them invisible was something magicians did with mirrors. Perhaps future magicians will no longer rely on those mirrors to perform their disappearing acts but rather a common camouflage cloak will accomplish their grand illusions.
Only time will tell …….

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

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

Maybe One Day

You amaze me more each day
Even when we go our separate ways
Do you mind if I tell you how much you mean to me
Maybe one day things will just be

No one else has ever touched my heart
I never used to cry, but now I do when we're apart
Do you mind if I tell you exactly what I see in your eyes
Maybe one day, you and I

As the rain comes down
My heart skips a beat
As the tear are flowing down
You mean everything to me

How can I escape when I love you
It's the only real thing I know how to do
Do you mind if I ask you to take this leap of faith
Maybe one day you will find what's great

As the rain comes down
My heart skips a beat
As the tear are flowing down
You mean everything to me

Love can make you cry
Love can make your heart sing
Love can make you question why
Love, i love you more than anything

©3/22/13 Bruce Clifford

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When You're Hurting

When you're hurting
My heart sinks a thousand ways
How can recover
All I feel is your pain

I will love you even more tomorrow
And I love you as much as anyone can love you today

Maybe you don't understand me
I've been here for you though all the centuries
Maybe you don't feel any pain when I am crying
I know my heart is broken because you're afraid

I will love you even more tomorrow
And I love you as much as anyone can love you today
I will love you through all this sorrow
You're the only one who can make me feel this way

©3/29/13 Bruce Clifford

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The Homestead

I walked to the old homestead that sat upon the hill
The tire swing, the faded fence, gave me a bit of chill
memories flooded me as I walked thru the creaking door.
I saw the chipped linoleum and pictured nan cleaning that floor.
Wallpaper pieces clung for life and dusty images shown where pictures hung
the aroma of coffee and freshly baked pies, and the songs where life was sung.
I stooped to find an old skeleton key, and rubbed it 'tween finger and thumb
The tears were flowing now, as I stood frozen, numb..
My heart could feel the house become alive once more
the warmth, the laughter, and everyday hum could be felt deep down to my core.
The sweat stained railing,the worn down steps,the old stove waiting for wood,
the coat rack beckoning for granpa's hat, the spot where nan's apron stood.
Like a shadow now in my mind, I will tuck the memories deep
let life run its course, like a healing tear drop on the cheek
Let life run its course, like a healing tear drop on the cheek
©Jun 25, 2007 Judith Kroll
Click on Judith Kroll  for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

His Real Mother

Dedicated to my dear friend Cathy
A cry in the night,
For a hug, secure and tight.
A reassuring word,
In his fear, he heard.
Pit-a-patter on the floor,
Handprints on the door.
Giggles, tender and sweet,
Mud filled footprints from little feet.
A bruised knee,
Climbing a tree.
A tear kissed away,
Love grows every day.
Given to you, only six weeks old,
Bravely, the truth was told.
In trust with God above,
he was given for you to love.
He may not look like you,
But, you come out in all he will do.
You’ve helped him through school,
And watched him act cool.
A young man stands before your eyes,
You’ve learned the joys of parental ties.
A stranger came along with a desire to know,
A baby, she years before let go.
Curiosity is what he must feel.
What you have no one may steal.
Be sorry for all she has missed,
And be thankful for his bonding kiss.
Any woman can give life to another,
But only you are “His real Mother”.
©March 4, 2013 Wendy Shepard-Kalan
Click on Wendy Shepard-Kalan for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

The Journey


By Martha Bradley

Droplets join rushing
between rocks, gliding
swiftly smoothing
jagged bodies, searching
a destination... a resting
place, their journey creating
beauty of motion, traveling
through luscious rainbows, greeting
countless friends.
The lazy rush twisting,
turning amidst the unchanging;
its path forging.
Silent sounds echoing,
quietly causing
crescendos of striking
peaceful music, ending
in stillness,
Spirits thickening
the air.

©3-4-2013 Martha A. Bradley
Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
MBradley photo taken near Bryn Mawr.

Shadows on the Grass

I see shadows on the March grass
That pass so quickly
What they mean
I can only guess.

I think they may be starlings,
Redwings, hued things with feathers
Iridescent on their backs
Who flock to feed on flowered trees,

Swirling through the harsh blue sky,
Giving the lie to winter,
Adoring spring in all its
Fragile and intimidating glory.

©2013 John I. Blair

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You and Me

How many time will I let you break my heart
How many years since we've traveled worlds apart
It gets me down when my heart keeps sinking
I get turned around from all of this believing

Can't you see I love you
I try to show you everyday
It's so hard for me to forget you
You're with me everyday
In every way

You stole my heart centuries ago
Now there's a reason for us to dance soul to soul
You took me heart while I wasn't looking at my own
All I can think about are the moments we should hold

How many times to I have to explain
How I love you in so many different ways
I can't escape the memories of the way love used to be
You and me

©3/16/13 Bruce Clifford

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Guilty of Hurting You

Hurting you
Is not something I wanted to do
Hurting you
Has broken my heart into two

I don't want to go outside
I don't want to face the world
I can't let go of that look in your eyes

Hurting you
Is not something I meant to do
Hurting you
Has changed the way we used to be

Hurting you
Is not something I wanted to do
Hurting you
If I could turn back time it's the one things I'd do

©3/13/13 Bruce Clifford

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

I Love You More Each Day

So you heard my songs
Read my words
I've been fighting so long
Just to be heard

Can you hear the truth
Raging from my heart
It's all I can do
To keep from falling apart

I love you more each day
I never thought a this miracle could be real
I love you more each day
But, please don't tell me what to feel

Maybe we're a little confused
I can't hide the love I have for you

So you heard my songs
Read my words
I've been trying for years
Just to be heard

Can you see the truth
From within each verse
It's all I can do
Just to be heard

I love you more each day
I never thought this miracle could be real
I love you more each day
But, please don't tell me what to feel

Yes, it's all I can do
Just to be heard

©3/9/13 Bruce Clifford

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HOW TO READ BAR CODES... (everyone must know)

An Information Must Share

HOW TO READ BAR CODES... (everyone must know)


With all the food and pet products now coming from China, it is best to make sure you read label at the supermarket and especially when buying food products. Many products no longer show where they were made, only give where the distributor is located. The whole world is concerned about China-made "black-hearted goods".

Can you differentiate which one is made in Taiwan or China ? The world is also concerned about GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods; steroid fed animals (ex: 45 days old broiler chicken).

It is important to read the bar code to track its origin. How to read Bar Codes....interesting !

If the first 3 digits of the bar code are 690, 691 or 692, the product is MADE IN CHINA.
471 is Made in Taiwan .
If the first 3 digits of the bar code are 00-09 then it's made or sourced in USA.

This is our right to know, but the government and related departments never educate the public, therefore we have to RESCUE ourselves. Nowadays, Chinese businessmen know that consumers do not prefer products "MADE IN CHINA", so they don't show from which country it is made. However, you may now refer to the barcode -

Remember if the first 3 digits are:
890......MADE IN INDIA
690, 691, 692 ... then it is MADE IN CHINA
00 - 09 ... USA and CANADA
30 - 37 ... FRANCE
40 - 44 ... GERMANY
471 ........ Taiwan
45 or 49 ........JAPAN
489...........HONG KONG
50 .......... UK
57 .........DENMARK
471......... is Made in TAIWAN (see sample)
628.........SAUDI ARABIA
740..........745 - CENTRAL AMERICA

All 480 Codes are Made in the PHILIPPINES. 

Strange name of Cuban newspaper: GRANMA

The Patria Grande will never forget Chávez was the heading of the lead story of the online edition of the strangely-named Cuban newspaper GRANMA the other day.
“ PREMIERS and political leaders from a number of countries expressed their sorrow at the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, with messages of condolences for his family and the people of the Bolivarian Republic.”
Every Cuban knows Granma. It's the nation's leading daily newspaper. How did a Spanish-language newspaper acquire that ludicrous English language title? It took a long time and many emails in both Spanish and English to discover the details.
Granma was the name of the 60-foot (18 metre) motor yacht in which Fidel Castro and his men sailed from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 to start the revolution.
Castro had been exiled to Mexico. where he joined forces with Che Guevara, a young Argentine doctor who had abandoned his profession and native land in an ill-fated bid to help the world's poor. Castro bought the yacht Granma from a Texan (who had named it after his grandmother).
With a small group of supporters, Castro and Guevara crossed the Caribbean in the decrepit and leaking boat, vowing to invade Cuba and overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista.
"On December 2, 1956, the Granma cabin cruiser arrived on the eastern coast of Cuba, at Los Cayuelos, two kilometers from Las Coloradas beach," Granma International recalled in 2001, on the 45th anniversary of the landing. "It had left from Tuxpan, in the Mexican state of Veracruz, on November 25, with 82 men aboard, commanded by Fidel Castro. The purpose of the voyage was to return to Cuba and initiate the war for the island's definite independence."
Landing in a hostile swamp, in a province now also named Granma, losing most of their party, the survivors fought their way to the Sierra Maestra, a mountain range in south-east Cuba. Two years later, after a guerrilla campaign in which Guevara was named comandante, the insurgents entered Havana and launched the first and only successful socialist revolution in the Americas.
Granma newspaper was established in 1965 by the merger of two major publications: Hoy (Spanish: for Today), the organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, and Revolucion, the daily newspaper of Castro's 26th of July movement.
Granma's website (*2) offers an impressive list of news stories in Spanish, and a link to Granma Internacional (*3), which deserves an award as one of the world's most comprehensive multi-lingual sites. The newspaper's weekly edition offers an array of news stories, facts, figures, politics and economy in Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and German.
Granma has its critics on the Internet. A report (in German) from "independent journalists in Cuba" says the paper is "the Party Gazette which is distributed throughout the country and which is the only and worst Gazette in the Republic. The page-long speeches of the Great Leader are also useful for toilet paper." (It's next to impossible to find a front page without at least one picture of Fidel Castro or his brother, Raúl Castro, plus reports of their activities and speeches).
What happened to the historic yacht named Granma? It rests behind thick layers of glass outside the Museum of the Revolution in Havana. You can see a picture of the yacht, kindly made available by David Mericle (*4).
A Cuban Government website says that one of Havana's tourist attractions is the Museum of the Revolution and Granma Memorial, adding, in halting English: "In the exterior areas it is the Memorial Yate Granma, where is exhibited, protected by an inmense (sic) glass case, the ship used by Fidel Castro and over 80 combatants in the return to Cuba from the exile in Mexico."
You can visit Granma at http://www.granma.cu/ingles/ouramerica-i/6marz-chavez.html
Boat Granma in Havana museum: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granma_(yacht)
Boris Becker praises Cuban cigars: http://www.granma.cu/ingles/cuba-i/7marzo-10becker.html
Tomorrow May Be Too Late: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/01/95109/cubas-granma-newspaper-publishes.html
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia.
Posted at 18:52 Thursday, 7 March 2013

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

Rabbo Tales II-Chapter 13

Party Time

 It was almost sunset when Rabbo, Athena, Merryn, Wenna, Angus and Solee arrived at the village square.
 Athena was dressed in a white short skirt with red and gold trim. She had on a thick silver belt that circled her waist and pointed down in a “V”. Her top was a low cut backless tube top. Her sandals had silver straps that crisscrossed up her legs to just below her knees.
 The twins were dressed in matching toga’s that had silver and green trim. They too had sandals with silver straps that crisscrossed and came up to just below their knees.
 Athena had brushed and brushed their hair so that it looked like they had a halo of almost gold around their heads.
 Rabbo’s fur too shined so brightly that he felt like that he would blind people if the sun hit him just right.
 Bastet came walking up from where the harbor was wearing a long purple toga that shimmered in the late evening sun. As she came closer Rabbo noticed that she could see her legs though the fabric.
 The toga its self was low cut with slits up the sides that showed Bastet's long legs when the wind caught the toga with a gentle breeze.
 Walking next to Bastet was Merwyn who was wearing a kilt of red, green and blue with a white shirt and white socks and knee high boots with the white socks turned down over the tops of the boots.
 From the house that they were all staying at came Angus who was dressed in the same manner as Merwyn and on Angus arm was Solee who was wearing a short red backless toga that only went down to mid thigh. They all walked towards each other finally coming together at the far end of the village square.
 Around the dancing area more tables had been added and at the far end furthest away from the small group was a long table that had places set for twenty two people.
 Suddenly the touches that dotted the dancing area ignited themselves as did the candles on all the tables.
 A great hush fell over the square and all the locals turned towards the main administration building and from there came Yhva with the other Sirians.
 In pairs they walked towards the dancing square then around it towards the long table that they would be seated at for the feast that was to come.
 But instead of walking to the table they stopped at the edge of the dancing area turned and faced the far end of the square were Rabbo, Merwyn, Angus, Bastet, Athena, Solee and the twins were standing.
 The group of Sirians bowed towards Merwyn and the others.
 “This is going to be a bloody formal affair” said Merwyn to everyone in his group. “Ok the twins up front then everyone pairs up with myself and um who is going to be on my arm
 “I will” said Athena on the group telepathic mode.
 They lined up with the twins in the front followed by Bastet and Rabbo then Angus and Solee and at the back Merwyn and Athena.
 As they marched forward a faint low hum and a droning sound with a musical hint could be heard filling the air. Then a tune could be picked out.
 The tune made both Merwyn and Angus stop briefly in mid stride. Both Merwyn and Angus stiffened and slowly in a measured pace walked forward.
 “Dad you ok? What’s wrong” said Athena on the group mode.
 “Just the tune my dear daughter” said Merwyn.
 “It’s our old regiment march” said Angus with a sad tone in his voice.
 As they walked forward slowly flags suddenly unfurled from the front of the administration building and they were a mix of regiment flags that Merwyn had commanded and of the states of the planet that they had come from.
 “Dam this is going to be dam formal indeed” said Angus on the group mode. 
 Again Merwyn and Angus hesitated then continued their walk forward aware that all eyes where now turned toward the little group.
 Suddenly without warning Wenna squealed in fear and started running back down the little procession running straight up to Athena and burying her face in Athena’s skirt.
 “Mommy I’m scared” cried Wenna as Athena reached down and picked her up.
 “Hey its ok mommy’s here. Its ok baby shhhhh” said Athena rocking Wenna in her arms.
 “That’s torn it” said Merwyn leaning into Athena.
 “I am not going to push my own daughter way” said Athena her voice hissing.
 “I know and now the truth is out it will be easier on us all” said Merwyn.
 Merwyn looked up the line and saw Merryn turning back trying to look brave while still walking forward.
 “Come here sweetie” said Merwyn.
 Merryn turned and came running down the line and leaped into Merwyn’s arms. She wrapped her arms around Merwyn’s neck and buried her face into Merwyn’s shoulder.
 Once again the small group walked forward until finally they reached Yhva and the other Sirians.
 Yhva bowed low and then looked at Merwyn.
 “General Merwyn commander of the 4th mountain army I bid you welcome to our celebration of arrival on this your planet” said Yhva in a loud voice.
 In the back ground faintly could be heard the young man who acted as translator translating for the villages who could not speak or understand Sirian.
 The crowd cheered wildly scaring Wenna and Merryn even more and making Rabbo jump.
 “Come join us in this feast of thanksgiving and welcome and also in your honor” said Yhva.
 Yhva and the other Sirians walked towards the long table mixing with Merwyn and his small group.
 “Why did you hide the fact that Merryn and Wenna where Athena’s children and not Bastet's” said Yhva on Merwyn’s private telepathic mode.
 “Mostly to protect them from Ra and partly because we were not sure if you would be offended when you found out their parentage” answered Merwyn on the same mode.
 “Then you are their father” said Yhva. “I think I understand why you and Athena wanted to keep that secret. But children have away of letting the truth be known”.
 “Yes they do. It was hard for all of us to keep that secret. It worries me still that Ra might try something. And if he harmed them or Athena I would become something I don’t wish to be. I promised my bond mate Isis that if anyone harmed our daughter or her children I would return the harm a thousand fold before I faded” said Merwyn dryly.
 “I don’t think that will happen. As I said earlier in our meeting I will keep the peace but if pushed I will side with you as my people and I owe you for helping us. And beside I do not wish to see a new Toner on this or any planet” said Yhva still on Merwyn’s telepathic mode. “And Ra seems to be modeling himself on Toner”.
 “Very true. And I assume that you know how bad Toner really was seeing as you are his grand son” said Merwyn keeping his tone neutral.
 “How did you figure that out” asked Yhva very shaken.
 “I met your grand father a few times. I even spent a couple of weeks talking with him” said Merwyn. “But let’s not talk about the passed tonight. You and I are both here to celebrate a new beginning and not to look back to the past. But we must never forget the horrors that were visited on our people”.
 “I agree tonight is for enjoyment. But I would like to hear more about my grand father. I was not born yet when he faded. So I never got to know what he was truly like just what I heard with my own ears and that was enough. My father was almost as bad and I hated what they did. I promised myself that I would never be like them. My mother once told me about the great hero that did not want to fight. The great hero that wrote poetry and would sooner sit by a river and watch the beauty of the world than fight a battle or a war. I have to admit she kind of made you into a hero for me. And I so needed a hero as well my grand father and father where too busy destroying anyone who did not agree with them. What really pushed me over the edge was when my father had my mother killed for preaching in the royal residents about all of us living together in harmony. Seeing her killed before my eyes really turned me away from the path that my father and grand father wanted for me. To survive I had to act like I was of their mind and that was hard. I wanted to cry but I could not. And now I can’t cry. I try I want to sometimes but the tears just don’t come. But I remember what my mother said about you once. She said that you were honest fair kind and treated all people as equals. And that if ever I was lucky enough to meet someone like you I should listen to their council and act upon it” said Yhva. After a brief pause Yhva added “Only Pele knows who my father and grand father was. Please let’s keep it that way. I am ashamed of whom my father and grand father was plus they would not trust me anymore as they would fear that I would become like my father and grand father”.
 “I understand” said Merwyn.
 Pele walked over carrying two plates and placed one plate in front of Yhva and the other in front of Merwyn.
 “Eat up and enjoy” said Pele as she turned away to get a plate for herself.
 Athena who was sitting next to Merwyn was busy cutting Wenna’s steak into small pieces.
 Athena turned to ask Merwyn a question when her eyes met those of Yhva. For a moment they both just looked at each other and then turned away both blushing.
 Rabbo sat in a chair that had block of wood and a cushion so that he was at the right height to eat without any problems. Sitting next to Rabbo was Hestia who kept adding uncooked vegetable to his plate when he was not looking.
 Finally Rabbo turned and looked at Hestia “would you not mind piling my plate so high with all those veggie”
 “I just want to make sure that you don’t go hungry” said Hestia.
 Rabbo laughed “does it look like I miss a good meal or are you fattening me up for some other reason”.
 Hestia laughed “I am sorry just after being of half rations for so long and all the food we now have I just don’t want to see anyone go hungry. I am still getting use to being able to eat when I want and feel like it and not just one small meal a day”.
 “It must have been hard for you and the others” said Rabbo as he used his fork to stab a carrot.
 “It was. We barely had enough food when we where on the fourth planet. But here we have more than we can handle and eat. And everything taste so good too” said Hestia with a thoughtful look on her face. “Rabbo have you ever been so hungry that you will eat anything and that you spend your time thinking of the taste of something so simple. Something like that carrot you are about to pop into your month”.
 Rabbo looked at the carrot that he had on his fork and thought about it for a moment. Then he looked at Hestia for a moment smiles popped the carrot on his mouth and ate slowly trying to think about its taste rather than the words that Hestia had just said to him.
 “To be honest I have never been that hungry” said Rabbo as he swallowed the carrot.
 The formal meal went on until well after dark with light talk between the occupants of the head table.
 Once the formal meal was over the entertainment started. Pele walking out into the center of the dance square holding a long thin silver tube with keys and valves all down the top.
 Pele brought the far end up and started to blow gentle into the long silver instrument making a strange soft almost haunting sound that filled the whole village square.
 For the next fifteen minutes Pele played a number of different tunes on her flute before she came to her finally playing a lively tune that had people’s toes tapping.
 Then Erin walked out to the center of the dance floor with Breasal and Bladud.
 Erin had a violin that she placed under her chin and started to play solo while Breasal and Bladud stood watching holding their instruments.
 The tune that Erin played was a lively tune that soon had people clapping along and once she finished the applauses started and the people stood up making it clear that an encore was needed.
 Once Erin had played her encore Breasal and Bladud walked up next to her and together the three of them moved off to one side of the dance square.
 Bladud had a strange looking instrument that Rabbo had never seen the likes of before.
 The instrument had three long tubes that stood up over Bladud’s right shoulder a bag that went under his right arm another tube that he placed in his mouth and finally a tube that hung down and that he had placed the fingers of both hands.
 Breasal held in his had a small brass trumpet.
 Erin looked at both Bladud and Breasal and together the three of them started to play a dancing tune.
 Yhva stood up and walked over to Pele who was standing off to one side. He took her hand and lead her out onto the dance floor and together the started to dance.
 Merwyn turned to Athena and offered his hand and together they walked out onto the dance floor and joined Pele and Yhva.
 After Erin Breasal and Bladud played the first dance Solee walked up carry another Violin that she gone and gotten from her ship while Pele had been playing her flute. She walked up next to Erin and spoke softly to her before she joined them to play the next dance tune.
 The next forty five minutes Solee, Erin, Breasal and Bladud played tunes that were Sirian dance tune that almost all the Sirians had grown up with.
 Then once Solee, Erin, Breasal and Bladud had finished their set they stepped down to refresh themselves and to let the dancers cool their toes from all the dancing that they had been doing.
 “I did not know that Solee played the Violin” said Rabbo to Bastet and Merwyn.
 “I did not either Rabbo. I think there is more to Solee than just the ocean and sailing” replied Merwyn sipping on his wine to refresh himself.
 “Oh there is a lot more to Solee that neither you nor Rabbo now about” said Bastet laughing.
 Five of the local villages walked out to the far end of the dance area and stood silently waiting to be noticed.
 Once all the talking had died down they started to play their instruments which was a local dance tune that brought those of the village that had not danced out on to the dance square.
 Rabbo noticed among them Athena and Yhva dancing together closely and clearly talking to each other about something that amused them both.
 Rabbo reached over and grabbed the wine flask that was sitting close at hand. As he did so he noticed that the twins where curled up against Bastet who was gentle caressing Wenna’s hair.
 “Bastet you want me to take them back to the house” asked Rabbo on Bastet's private mode.
 “Not just yet” replied Bastet on the same mode.
 Rabbo refilled his small wine goblet and watched as Merwyn leaned over and started to talk with Angus about the music and the Sirians had played and that it so reminded him of his younger days before he was an oath keeper.
 After a while Rabbo hopped down a little unsteady and stood up on his hind legs and looked around to see what was going on.
 Rabbo could see lots of people dancing and some of the Sirians where dancing with some of the local people.
 Rabbo saw that off to one side Angus and Solee where snuggled together kissing and talking while Bastet stayed at the main table talking with Merwyn and taking care of the twins who were now almost a sleep.
 The local musicians played for a while longer before they needed a break and so that those that had been dancing could stop and cool their feet and to quench their thirst.
 Athena came skipping over and sat down in Merwyn’s lap stole his glass of wine and looked at Rabbo who had returned to his chair so that he would not get stepped on as people moved around.
 Yhva sat down next to Merwyn and was about to talk when Erin looked over.
 It was clear that there had been some brief interplay as Yhva turned his head looked towards the harbor.
 “Pardon me I need to deal with an issue” said Yhva.
 Yhva turned to Athena and took her hand and kisses it gentle.
 “My lady could you save me a dance. Sadly I need to deal with affairs of state” said Yhva as he stood up and walked towards the harbor.
 Rabbo turned and watched Yhva leave and wondered what could be going on down in the harbor as such an hour that would require Yhva’s attention.
 Rabbo closed his eyes and traveled down to the harbor.
 Once at the harbor Rabbo saw Bastet's ship, the trading ship plus the normal fishing boats that were all docked. But just outside the breakwater Rabbo saw three large ships that the sea raiders used to attack Athens.
 Rabbo was about to return to his body when he heard Yhva voice in his head.
 “Glad you came along my furry friend. Tell me are they warships or traders” said Yhva.
 “They are warships. They are same kind that raided Athens a few years ago. Ra has warships like these but I don’t know if they belong to Ra or not. Would you like me to look closer” asked Rabbo.
 “If you could please” replied Yhva.
 Rabbo moved out across the water to the three ships that had just dropped anchor and were getting ready to send boats in.  
 The men in the boats had on just white kilts and as far as Rabbo could see they had only short eating knifes with them. Plus eat boat had only three men in them.
 “I don’t think they are Ra’s people. But I am going to look on the ships to see what if anything is going on” said Rabbo.
 Rabbo moved onto the first ship and was surprised to see that there was jumble of broken wood and wounded men laying all over the place. He then moved across to the second ship and saw that it was pretty much the same. When he reached the third ship Rabbo was shocked to see dead and wounded laying mixed together and huge chucks of broken wood littering the whole ship.
 Instead of telling Yhva right away what he had seen Rabbo hailed Merwyn on his private telepathic mode.
 “Merwyn there are three ships here that have been in some kind of fight or storm. There is lots of wounded and dead on one ship and the other two have lots of damage. I just thought you might want to know” Rabbo informed Merwyn
 “Thank you dear rabbit. One of Bastet's sailors just arrived and said that there was a huge storm off the coast early this afternoon and that the ships could have been caught in the storm”.
 Rabbo then relayed to Yhva what he had seen on the three ships and that from the three ships three boats where heading his way with three men in each boat.
 “Thank you my furry friend” said Yhva.
 As Rabbo drifted back across the water Rabbo saw that the translator had joined Yhva at the harbor and that there were two others walking down the pathway towards the harbor. As he passed them he saw that they were Pele and Erin who were both carrying large white bags.
 Rabbo returned to the village square just in time to see Merwyn and Athena dancing together.
 Most of the other Sirians were dancing as well as a lot of the locals.
 Angus and Solee were nowhere to be seen and Bastet had Wenna on one hip and Merryn on the other.
 Bastet headed towards the house so Rabbo followed along behind as he was feeling sleepy and the thought of sleep had become very appealing to him.
 Rabbo awoke once during the night and that was when he heard Merwyn and Athena come in and go to the bedroom next to the twin’s bedroom.
 The second time he woke up was when Wenna was poking at him as he lay on the window sill.
 “Mom said mup as breaky is ready” said Wenna poking Rabbo again.
 Rabbo slipped off the window sill hopped to the bathroom and brushed his teeth and fur before hopping down the stairs slowly one at a time.
 In the dinning room sitting at the far end of the table was Merwyn Angus Solee Bastet Athena and Merryn.
 Wenna came thumping down the stairs behind Rabbo and then she skipped across to Athena and pulled herself up into the chair next to her sister.
 “Rabbo you saw the ships last night. Tell us how many men do you think were on each ship” said Merwyn.
 “The first two I would say maybe ten healthy on each ship and about the same number wounded. As for the third ship I don’t want to think about that death ship. They had wounded and dead all over the place” said Rabbo trying to keep the tone of his voice level.
 “Death ship” said Athena.
 “Please I don’t want to talk about it” said Rabbo.
 “How much damage to each ship” asked Solee?
 “I don’t know all I can say was that there was wood all over the place and that they sat low in the water. I am just glad that I could not smell anything” Rabbo answered.
 “I think we should go and look and then find Yhva to see what we can do to help” said Angus.
 Merwyn Solee and Angus stood up and walked out of the dinning room.
 Athena placed a bowl of fresh greens in front of Rabbo and then returned back to Merryn and Wenna.
 “I saw you dancing a lot with Yhva last night” said Rabbo looking at Athena.
 “I was just being nice” answered Athena who started to blush.
 “I wish I got some of that nice last night” said Bastet.
 “You did after Merwyn went to sleep” giggled Athena.
 Bastet giggling hard as she looked at Athena.
 Wenna reached over to her sisters plate and grabbed a half eat slice of toast off the plate making her sister squeal.
 Wenna jumped down from her chair and while taking a bit from the toast ran off towards the door.
 Merryn jumped down and was about to give chase when she closed her eyes and made Wenna’s feet stick to the floor.
 Wenna squealed in anger and tried to turn and face her sister.
 Merryn came running over grabbed the half eaten slice of toasted and went running towards Athena and Bastet who were sitting watching the twins.
 Rabbo looked at Merryn as she climbed back up on her chair and wiggled close to him while still keeping an eye on her sister whose feet were still stuck to the floor.
 Wenna closed her eyes and the one hand that Merryn had placed on the table became stuck to the table.
 “Will you two stop it” said Athena trying to sound upset and failing.
 Merryn looked at her sister and closed her eyes again and Wenna was able to lift up her feet from the floor. As she lifted up one foot then the other she floated back across the floor towards her sister that still had one hand stuck to the table.
 Wenna stuck out her tongue and Merryn was able to free her hand from the table.
 Rabbo finished his bowl of greens and hopped down from the table and headed to the kitchen to put his bowl in the sink to be washed.
 Merryn slid off her chair with her now empty plate and followed Rabbo into the kitchen.
 Rabbo levitated himself up so that he could place the bowl in the sink then he turned and reached for Merryn plate so that he could place that too in the sink.
 As Rabbo and Merryn went back into the dinning room there was a knock at the front door.
 Wenna slipped down from that table leaving what was left of her breakfast and was about to run to the door when Athena spoke.
 “Wenna finish your breakfast” said Athena sternly.
 Bastet got up and walked towards the front door.
 A few moments later she returned with Yhva next too her.
 “You have a gentleman caller darling” said Bastet giggling.
 Athena turned and looked at Yhva and smiled. She stood up half bowed and then sat back down to finish feeding Wenna who had now become more interested in Yhva than the last of the food on her plate.
 Rabbo hopped back into the dinning room and suddenly he remembered something that had been buried deep in his subconscious. The voice in his head was not a telepathic voice but a memoir of a conversation “Athena will fall for a man that will break her heart”.
 Rabbo wondered if Yhva was that man but thought it best to keep his thoughts to himself as he could not remember what the context was of the conversation but he was sure that it was from one of his dreams from when he had traveled forward in time.
 Yhva sat down looked at Wenna “You best do as you mum tells you and eat up your breakfast so that you can grow up big and strong and as beautiful as you’re your mum”.
 Wenna looked up at Yhva with her mouth wide open and huge eyes.
 Merryn skipped back into the room stopped and looked at Yhva poked out her tongue and blew a raspberry before running past and up the stairs to wash up after breakfast.
 “I am sorry about Merryn” said Athena blushing. “Just sometimes she is full of herself and she is not use to all these people she keeps meeting”.
 “That’s ok I do understand. I kind of grew up alone in a manner of speaking so I know what it’s like” said Yhva. “Actually I am here to request your help. Well you, Bastet, Angus, Solee and Merwyn really. Where is Merwyn by the way?” 
 “I am not sure where my father is” said Athena.
 “I think he is down at the harbor helping load my ship” said Bastet not wishing to tell Yhva the truth.
 “Oh that’s good because it’s down at the harbor where I need help” said Yhva.
 “Is it something to do with the three ships that arrived last night” asked Bastet.
 “Yes it is. I would like help treating the crews and repairing their ships so we can get them out of here. Something about them does not feel right” said Yhva looking very thoughtful.
 “Ok let me finish taking care of my two monsters” said Athena “and we will be down to the harbor as quick as we can”.
 “Thank you so very much” said Yhva bowing.
 “Oh would you like something to eat while I take care of the monsters” said Athena blushing a little.
 “I would love a little toast” said Yhva looking at the toast that was sitting in the toast rack.
 About an hour later Rabbo, Merwyn, Athena, Solee, Angus and Bastet stood on the harbor wall looking at the three very battered ships that had been moved in behind the mole to protect them from any storms that might hit them.
 The ships themselves were a mess of broken wood sail and rigging.
 Rabbo, Bastet, and Athena turned and walked over to the warehouse that had been turned into a hospital for the sailors.
 Lying in make shift beds were about twenty or so sailors while the remaining somewhat healthy sailors sat in a small group talking with the village translator.
 The translator walked over to Rabbo, Yhva, Athena and Bastet. “They are saying that there were six ships and that the storm came out of nowhere. One moment the sky was overcast and then next thing they knew they had what they called high seas and huge waves hitting the ships. The leader of the group was on one of the ships that sunk. As they said “it was huge waves that grow and grow and just turned the lead ship over and over spilling the crew and sinking the ship”.
 “The storm just sprung up” said Bastet looking at Athena.
 “Yes my lady” said the translator. “They said that wind started blowing from a different quarter and the seas became high and that they had no time to umm reef the sails”.
 “I don’t like the sound of that” said Athena.
 “Me either” answered Bastet very thoughtfully.
 Merwyn and Solee came walking in talking to each other about what needed to be done to the three ships to get them ready to sail again.
 Bastet turned and started to explain to Merwyn and Solee what the translator has said about how the storm just sprung up out of nowhere and how the lead ship had been sunk.
 Suddenly around them a thin shimmering dome sprung up.
 Merwyn grinned and looked at Yhva “You will have to pardon me for putting a shield up over us. But I don’t want Ra hearing or seeing us”.
 “You think this is Ra’s work” said Yhva.
 “I am pretty sure of it. Now the question is why? And I am pretty sure I know the answer. But we need to question the sailors as I know Ra won’t just attack head on like that. There has to be more than just a single attack. But I do think that these poor sailors were just test run to see how he could animate a storm and use it” said Merwyn looking back out the door towards the southwest.
 The group walked over to the sailors who where being treated for their wounds and who were in make shift beds.
 Though the translator Merwyn asked each sailor what he saw and what they thought happened. The story was pretty the same for all of them.
 At the end of the make shift beds one old sailor weakly sat up and looked at Merwyn.
 Speaking weakly and hoarsely he said with out the aid of the translator. “The sky was grey and the sea was calm with just a breeze that pushed us along. Then the sea seemed to start to boil and the waves got bigger and bigger fast. I did not even have time to order the sail reefed. The wind picked up the same way. It was mere heart beats from the sea starting to get high and the wind picking up. It was almost as if the gods themselves were in control of the storm and that they picked us to vent their fury on. I saw that just a boats length away that the sea was as flat as plate yet all around us the sea was so high and the winds howled with fury. Yet if I could have gotten our boat just a length further away I would have been safe”
 “What were you doing out so far in what are clearly coast ships” asked Merwyn.
 “We were not that far out. We could still see land and then some how we got further and further out and we could still see land as if it had not got further away” said the old sailor. “When I was young they use to talk that the gods of the south would push the wind around like that. But I never believed that. Now I do. The southern gods had to be behind it”.
 “I think you might be right” said Merwyn.
 Merwyn looked at Yhva with a knowing look.
 Rabbo hopped over and hop up on the chair next to the old sailor and looked at him.
 “I heard what he said” said Rabbo on Merwyn’s private telepathic mode. “I think Ra was behind the storm. I mean it sounds like someone was pushing that storm around”.
 “I have to agree” answered Merwyn in the same mode.
 The group of Sirians with Rabbo and Solee walked back outside to the harbor and looked towards the three ships that were being towed in so that they could be repaired.
 “They look like warships” said Rabbo looking at the ships as they got close.
 “They do don’t they” said Angus.
 “No darling” said Solee as she slipped her arm around Angus’s waist. “They are part time warships and part time traders. See how they are wider in the hull and that the stern is rounder and there is no ram at the water level”.
 “Oh” said Angus and Rabbo.
 “You know when we head back to Athens that we will have to take turns watching to see if Ra tries a storm on us” said Merwyn.
 “I think that might be his plan” said Athena. “I don’t mean to sink us with a storm. But to tire us by making us watch him. That way we will be weaker if he does attack us”.
 “Good point” said Bastet and Merwyn together.
 “I hate to say this. But if they attacked the six ships and sunk three it would be a good idea if we left here as soon as possible as right now Ra and the others would be recovering from their attack” said Angus.
 “Sadly you are right Angus” said Merwyn sounding like the general that he had once been.
 Merwyn turned to Solee “How long before you could set sail”.
 “Once I round up my crew we could be out of here in an hour” said Solee.
 “Make it so” said Merwyn as he turned back to Yhva.
 “I am sorry but we have to leave. I need to think of my family first before any pleasure. And in light of this possible attack by Ra I think for the safety of my family that we should leave here. I would like to stay longer but I don’t want Ra attacking us when we are at sea. So please forgive me for departing so fast and in such a manner” said Merwyn bowing to Yhva.
 “To be honest I was thinking the same thing. If you would like I will travel with you as an extra mind would help you” said Yhva smiling. “I can always come back on a trade ship later”.
 Athena smiled and looked at Merwyn with a hopefully look on her face.
 “Thank you Yhva for your offer but you are needed here. I do appreciate your offer. Honestly I do and clearly Athena would like your company but your place is here with your people” said Merwyn.
 “I best get the children and our belongings from the house” said Bastet about to turn away.
 “I have that already taken care of” said Yhva turning and looking up the pathway towards the village.
 The twins came skipping down the pathway with Pele and Erin. Behind them were a couple of the local villagers carrying the bags that held their belongings.
 About twenty five minutes later Solee returned with her crew who were loaded up with items that they had picked up around the village that they had purchased from some of the shops that had been set up.
 Merwyn was the last to board the ship and as he got to the gangplank he turned and looked at Yhva who was standing on the harbor looking at Athena who was standing at the bow looking back.
 “He is up to something” Merwyn thought to himself.
Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.