Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Editor's Corner

December 2015

"Some people will never ‘get you’. Do not spend eternity asking why.
People will see you differently, just cherish those who lift your soul."

--Dodinsky’s Garden of Thoughts

"Being Got" has a lot of meanings but the one quote here is about being understood. Couldn't resist sharing it in this column where we strive monthly to be understood and appreciated. We are still in Thanksgiving mode though Christmas is around the corner so we are grateful for those who "lift our soul." You know who you are, so thank you!!!

"A Picture of You," "The High Road," and "Where Did My Purpose Go" comes in from Bruce Clifford. Bud Lemire shares "Clinical Depression," "Don't Throw Them Out," "The Pearl," and "The Moments That Lead to The End." Your editor's poem is "Daily, Sometimes Hourly."

Phil Hennessy's poem "Love is Here" was sent with this message from him:
"Here's Another old poem, that became a song....this time, it's ME singing and playing it....I'm surprised I haven't shred this one with you before, because it was written quite a long time ago."
youtube link "Love is Here"
-uploaded in HD at http://www.TunesToTube.com

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda (Carroll) Cohenour, delves into the origin of Cherokees, whose very name is differently recognized by other tribes, yet they flourish today and even have a principal chief among the others. "Introspective" by Thomas F. O'Neill, details some of the problems now facing the China born Miss World. Eric Shackle's Column is about wild camels in Australia.

"Irish Eyes" from author Mattie Lennon leads us toward the Blarney Stone with his tale of the "stretch the truth" Jack Farrell. "Consider This" by LC Van Savage is a poignant memory, and a fact to be faced in these times. Rod Cohenour, in his "Cooking with Rod" column presents a traditional good luck meal for the Christmas - New Year's Day feasting.

John I. Blair is allowing us to publish the novel "Emeralds for Emma" by his late wife Clara Blair. We have published around 80 or more of her poems and articles and always had good response from them. This novel will be presented in installments, so watch for the next segment in January.

Rebecca Morris, author of the other serial "The Adventures of Ollie Dare" continues with Chapter 8 "Ollie-Dare The Christmas Bear" for this issue. We hope you are sharing reading these tales with your youngsters.

Thanks again to Mike Craner for his expertise and patience that allows this little ezine to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading.

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.

Cooking with Rod

Christmas Posole - December 2015

      In Albuquerque where I grew up, the holiday season was magic! Great food, marvelous parties, incredible home decorations featuring traditional luminarias, colorful wreathes, beautiful dried chile ristras, and fabulous music.

      This is my favorite time of the year. New Mexico is aptly titled the Land of Enchantment and this time of year is proof positive that love, family, good food, and merriment are cure-alls for any blues or fears that have plagued in the past. Snow on the pines, air scented with the distinct aroma of pinon logs in an adobe oven (classically called the “horno”), the forest green of the pines beautifully contrasted with the rich red of the chile ristra that hangs from the exposed vigas of the classic New Mexican casa. “Bien venido!” (Welcome!) “Mi casa es su casa!” (My home is your home) is the traditional message to family and friends and especially true at this time of year.

      Tradition has it that if you eat your Christmas Posole before New Years Eve you will have a blessed and prosperous New Year. For me, I was simply content with just eating this incredible meal. I am sharing this recipe with you and wishing each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Or, perhaps I should say, “Feliz Navidad y Prospero Nuevo Ano!”

  • 2 lbs boneless pork loin or shoulder, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2-4 Tbsp vegetable oil (no olive oil for this recipe)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chile powder
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or 32 oz carton)
  • 2 cans (29 oz) cooked hominy corn, drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 batch Salsa Roja (recipe below)
Toppings and Sides:
  • Finely chopped cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Thin red onion slices
  • Avocado slices
  • Lime wedges
  • Fried tortilla strips or tostadas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Shredded cheddar or Mexican Mix cheese (Colby Jack, Monterey and Cheddar blend)
  • 2 dozen flour tortillas, warm
  • Sweet creamery butter
Season pork cubes with cumin and chile powder. Heat vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat. (NOTE: I do not like to use olive oil for a Mexican soup because it imparts the wrong flavor.)

Add seasoned pork and cook until browned on all sides, working in batches if needed to keep the pot from being too crowded. Keep heat on medium to prevent scorching but allow proper carmelization to begin. Watch carefully and turn often. Make sure all surfaces are browned.

Stir in water and chicken broth, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that might be clinging to the bottom of the pot. Add hominy corn and bay leaves.

Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, until pork is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Just before serving, stir in salsa Roja and simmer for 10-15 minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Once the Posole is ready, set out an array of small dishes with various toppings in the middle of the table. Serve the Posole piping hot in large bowls, and let everyone customize their bowls as they please.

Tradition calls for this to be served with warm flour tortillas and plenty of butter.

Salsa Roja
  • 1 (one) 14 oz. container frozen Bueno red chile concentrate
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (Mexican, if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime (or 1 Tbsp lime concentrate)
Set aside frozen Bueno concentrate and permit to begin defrosting. Heat the oil in a small skillet set over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until onion is lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes. Add oregano and cumin, and continue cooking until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the Bueno concentrate and onion mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Process until you have a smooth puree, adding lime juice as needed to create a smooth consistency.

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

Consider This

The Eyes of A Tigress

    Today I remembered being nine and standing in front of a tiger’s cage in a zoo called the Barrett Park on Staten Island in New York, and staring into the unblinking yellow eyes of a huge, beautiful female tiger--tigress, if that word is used for tigers and not just wild women. There she lay on that cold wet cement floor of her cage, staring through bars, not lying on the soft turf where she belonged, not staring through tall grasses.

    I was a “regular” there, well known, connected so to speak, and was afforded privileges others had not. I could be trusted. I talked with the zookeepers a lot. I even knew some of the men there who went about the world collecting snakes for that zoo, and back then the Barrett Park boasted the largest snake collection in the USA. Beautiful reptiles they were too, although they never did much except to constrict the occasional hapless rat or sweet little rabbit, and then only after closing hours so as not to offend the sensibilities of the visitors. At that time it wasn’t considered seemly for humans to actually see the dining or propagation habits of the animal kingdom we view so routinely on TV today.

    And then there was Jocko, the huge ape everyone loved, who entertained the people by executing unspeakable acts. He never disappointed and performed daily right on cue. All he needed was just one person to be outside his cage looking in and you can probably imagine how he screamed and performed, and what he threw. But hey, if you were caged up all day behind metal bars on a wooden platform above a wet cement floor, taken away from your family, bored, angry, sad and lonely, you might throw some too.

    I was alone that day when I was nine. The tigress stared at me, I stared back, I blinked. She did not. And then I said “I’m sorry. I wish you didn’t have to live here. I wish I could take you back to your home and your family.” And she stared at me more, and again I blinked and she did not and I knew she understood.

    Zoos were only just starting to improve back then, and while all-natural zoos were mostly just the dream of zoologists, magnificent, priceless animals were subjected to the purgatory of those cold cement floors, hard iron bars, a swinging, ragged tire perhaps, maybe a thick propped tree limb and a couple of wooden palettes high off the floors (sometimes) so the animal could escape the daily hosing down of the cement. They deserved better. They deserved to be home. Theirs.

     I remember wishing we’d never had zoos. I now know their importance, how they’ve taught us to appreciate the great value of wild animals from the entire world, how zoologists are contributing invaluably to the health and preservation of those rapidly diminishing creatures, working hard to rebuild their decimated numbers. Who knows? Perhaps with cloning these thinning herds of great creatures can be made healthy, their numbers vastly increased. But I still shudder to think how many creatures had to die horribly and in huge numbers to get just one or two specimens into those old zoos.

     The accusing yellow eyes of that tigress from nearly seventy years ago still float to the front of my mind sometimes. She is long dead now, cremated probably after dying of a broken heart, broken spirit, and indescribable loneliness. She was not born to lie on hard cement floors staring through bars, her topaz eyes begging to please, please save her, take her back to her beautiful, free birthplace. I thought then and still think she was imploring me to get her out of there, to somehow get her home. It was the only way she had to communicate and I could only answer by speaking aloud to her what I wished could happen and knew could not. I still think about her as I shall all of what life I have left and will never forget those unblinking yellow eyes staring into the heart of a helpless little girl, pleading to be taken home.

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

Irish Eyes


Jack Farrell


A lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright,
But a lie which is part truth is a harder matter to fight.

   You could always know when a Ballinastockan person was telling lies . . . you could see their lips moving. But that changed slightly when a Tallaght man Jack Farrell inherited a small cottage in Kylemore. I suppose you could call it the Latin quarter of Ballinastockan.

   Jack and his elderly mother moved in to it. He didn’t fit in all that well with the natives because you see Jack always told the truth. It could be said of Jack Farrell that all his stories ran parallel with the highest ideals of veracity. I’ll give you an example. He would tell the innocent mountainy men stories of rows in Tallaght and how “they fight in Tallaght with blades o’ scythes.” One time he was snagging turnips for my late father Tim Lennon. The father was very proud of his turnips and he said to Jack, “Did you ever see bigger turnips than them, Jack,”? “Wait till I tell you” said Jack, “when I was workin’ for the Bird Flanagan below in Greenhills Flanagan had a sow on the point of farrowing. And didn’t she disappear. We searched for her high up and low down but not a sign of the sow. wasn’t she after atin’ her way into a big turnip. An’ she had her litter o‘ bonhams in it. An’ that turnip was so big that the bonhams were nearly ready for sale by the time she tunnelled her way out the other side.” He was telling me about one year the crows were playing havoc with his own potatoes and he made a scarecrow and do you know what I’m going to tell you? Do YOU know what I’m going to tell you? So realistic was that scarecrow that the crows didn’t take another potato and they even left back some of that they had already taken.

   Jimmy Norton told Jack about one day he was ferreting and he caught 100 rabbits. Maybe he did. Well he probably caught five or six anyway. Farrell ups and tells him about one day when he was shooting down at Balrothery. He was using a muzzle loader and after he tamped down the powder didn’t he forget to remove the ramrod before he fired at a clatter of wild ducks flying overhead. The must have been flying in formation, one above the other, because didn’t the ramrod spear three of them. Gravity then took over and ramrod and ducks fell into the Poddle River and the ramrod went straight through a salmon. As Jack was getting out of the river with his day’s kill didn’t he trip over a rabbit and killing him.

   One night in a rambling house the subject of the old age pension came up. And of how when the Pinshin was brought in in 1908 the authorities had difficulty proving their age since registration of births only became compulsory in 1864. ( If you compare the 1901 and 1911 census you will find that some people aged nearly 20 years in that decade.) An applicant would be asked if they remembered a particular event (usually an Act of God) and then asked to swear an affidavit. A favourite bargaining line was “I remember the Big wind.

   Jack Farrell, who was sittin’ in the corner, came up with the following story; “When Malachi Horan, who farmed in Killarden (it was at the back of Jobstown . . .and still is) went for the pension he was asked if he remembered the Big Wind. The Big Wind as you all know was in 1839 so if Malachi remembered it that would leave him over 70 in 1908. Malachi was more than equal to the challenge. According to Jack Farrell Malachi told the pension officer that, on the ***** that was the night of the big wind, he was sitting at the fire when a squall of wind took the roof straight off the house and it landed somewhere about Kippure. A pot of potatoes that was hanging on the pot-rack was blown up the chimney and at the top wasn’t it struck by lightning. The steam that came out of it was fright to the world and . . . they were the first potatoes in Ireland to be boiled by electricity. “

   I know from experience that you are going to ask me if Jack Farrell ever told a lie So, I’ll tell you now. He did. It is said that you should only tell lies to your wife or the police. Well the one lie that Jack Farrell told was to his old mother. A Redemptorist Missioner in the course of a rip-roaring sermon on the evils of drink told the congregation that making poitin was a reserved sin. Which means that the penitent would have to go to the Bishop for forgiveness? Jack had made the odd drop of poitin and he told his mother that he would have to go to Rome to go to confession. So, he made his way to the Eternal city.

   Daniel O’ Connell died on his way to Rome but Jack was just ready to head for home when he was bitten by an Italian Mosquito. It proved fatal. There’s a place in Rome called Bocca Della Verita. It means The Mouth of Truth. And it’s claimed by people who know that that’s where Jack Farrell is buried.


   And . . .before I go; My old Alma Mater, Lacken Schoolhouse (at Lacken, Blessington, County Wicklow) was built by Lady Smith of Baltyboys House in the eighteen eighties. (See drawing below.) And on 16th November 1916 the building was “sold” to the people of Lacken and the precincts thereof, for the nominal purchase price of £5, by Elizabeth Graydon Stannus, granddaughter of Mrs. Smith and mother of Edris Stannus who was destined to become the world-famous Dame Nanette de Valois. A new school was built in 2010 and the old schoolhouse, no longer houses the moulding of the minds of the young and is now a community centre. Major repairs to the building are necessary and members of the Lacken Community Development Association are doing their best to raise funds to cover the cost of repairs.
It is an opportunity for the Lacken diaspora worldwide to contribute. The Lacken Community Development Association can be contacted at: lackencomdev@gmail.com.

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


Armchair Genealogy

Who Were the Cherokee?

Origins and Descriptions:
    It is believed the Cherokee tribe originated in the Northeast of our country in the Great Lakes area as one of the Iroquoian peoples. What prompted their move to the Southeast is not known but is acknowledged within their oral history. Their very language is known as a tongue that originated as an Iroquoian dialect. Some believe the move was prompted by ongoing battles with other tribes, threats to the tribe’s safety and security, or ancient weather patterns that may have caused the move southward to improve their habitat. The migration most likely took place in prehistoric times and evidence of their habitation of the Mississippi and Appalachian regions of the Southeast shows the tribe to be well ensconced by the time of the Spanish exploration as early as 1540-1541 but is believed to have preceded that time period by many hundreds of years. The Cherokee were indigenous to North and South Carolina, Tennessee and most populous in what is now Georgia when European settlers first explored the Southeast United States.
    They were a highly developed tribe with its own complex social structure which included a system of centrist government where a major population area was deemed to have a high level of authority over surrounding smaller communities. Although co-located in what was known as the Mississippian culture of native Americans, later studies have shown though the Cherokee shared some traits and benefited from knowledge and practices, they were not a part of the more ancient peoples who built the burial mounds for which the Mississippian culture is best known. Certain attributes were shared, however, such as a maize-based food dependence and cultivation; religious beliefs and ceremonies; a system of government by a chiefdom; a sophisticated trade network that stretched from the Great Lakes to Mexico; a social strata that embraced social inequality; the utilization of riverine to temper their shell-based potteries (a characteristic rather unique to the Mississippian culture); and an established community rather than a migratory or nomadic culture. The importance of the method of pottery making in tracing origins of Native American cultures is critical as one generation handed down knowledge of methods and materials to the next. Thus, the clay used, the method of forming pots, the manner in which the clay was tempered or fired all contribute to an archeologist’s ability to trace the peoples’ movements from one area to the next through history.
    The name “Cherokee” given to this tribe may represent one of the most controversial issues among researchers. Many different origins for the name have been proposed, as shown in Wikipedia, from sources shown at the end of this article: “Many theories—though none proven—abound about the origin of the name "Cherokee". It may have originally been derived from the Choctaw word Cha-la-kee, which means "those who live in the mountains", or Choctaw Chi-luk-ik-bi, meaning "those who live in the cave country." The earliest Spanish rendering of the name "Cherokee," from 1755, is Tchalaqueil Another theory is that "Cherokee" derives from a Lower Creek word, Cvlakke ("chuh-log-gee"). The Iroquois in New York have historically called the Cherokee Oyata’ge'ronoñ ("inhabitants of the cave country"). Tsalagi (Ꮳ ᎳᎩ) is sometimes misused as a name for the people; Tsalagi is actually the Cherokee (Ꮳ ᎳᎩ) word for the Cherokee language.”
Of great interest to me in researching the Cherokee was this description of the Cherokee by “American colonist Henry Timberlake as he perceived them in 1761: “The Cherokees are of a middle stature, of an olive colour, tho' generally painted, and their skins stained with gun-powder, pricked into it in very pretty figures. The hair of their head is shaved, tho' many of the old people have it plucked out by the roots, except a patch on the hinder part of the head, about twice the bigness of a crown-piece, which is ornamented with beads, feathers, wampum, stained deers hair, and such like baubles. The ears are slit and stretched to an enormous size, putting the person who undergoes the operation to incredible pain, being unable to lie on either side for nearly forty days. To remedy this, they generally slit but one at a time; so soon as the patient can bear it, they wound round with wire to expand them, and are adorned with silver pendants and rings, which they likewise wear at the nose. This custom does not belong originally to the Cherokees, but taken by them from the Shawnese, or other northern nations. They that can afford it wear a collar of wampum, which are beads cut out of clam-shells, a silver breast-plate, and bracelets on their arms and wrists of the same metal, a bit of cloth over their private parts, a shirt of the English make, a sort of cloth-boots, and mockasons (sic), which are shoes of a make peculiar to the Americans, ornamented with porcupine-quills; a large mantle or match-coat thrown over all complete their dress at home…"
The Cherokee and the Revolution:
    The history of the Cherokee is filled with stories of battles and ongoing wars between their tribe and others. During the American Revolution, the Cherokee sided with the British. This relationship was the outgrowth of an ongoing military alliance, which began during the French and Indian war. The British were permitted by the Cherokee to build forts to defend against the French. This alliance appears to have been borne out of long-standing feuds with other Indian tribes who had aligned themselves with the French, thus making it most beneficial to negotiate a workable mutually beneficial arrangement. One of the things the British attempted to enforce was a ban on American colonists encroaching on traditional Cherokee hunting grounds.
    Research into my own family tree provided the first of a number of clashes with the Cherokee people when tracing our Bullard line. My 5th Great Grandfather, Joseph Bullard was born about 1732 and first recorded as having migrated to North Carolina along with his brothers. It is believed he migrated with his siblings to America in the early to mid-1700’s (possibly 1750), probably from Northern Ireland and was of Irish or Scotch-Irish origins. Records show his father on tax lists of North Carolina, Rowan County, in 1761. Records show Joseph Bullard to be living along the Watauga River in or near modern day Elizabethton, Tennessee by about 1771. He and other pioneers bristled at the controls exerted by the British crown over their efforts to carve a living out of the Appalachian Mountains. The boundaries of this area were rather fluid at that period of time, being a confluence of eastern Tennessee, western Virginia and northwestern North Carolina. These independent mountain men formed an association, which was formalized in 1776 as the Watauga Association. Joseph Bullard was one of the signatories of that document which formed the basis of the charter, which developed, into the State of Tennessee. The document also engendered apprehension among the British who perceived it as a “dangerous example” of American colonists forming a government “distinct from and independent of his majesty’s authority”.
    The Cherokee viewed this settlement as a violation of the agreements with the British crown to protect their historic hunting grounds from invasion, or use by the colonists. A group of Cherokee who inhabited the western side of the Appalachian mountains (now a part of the state of Tennessee) was called the “Overhill Cherokee”. A very famous Cherokee woman, Nancy Ward (her Anglo name) Nanyehi was one of the “Beloved Women” of the Cherokees. She earned this honor by valor in battle against the Creek Indians with her husband, Tsu-la or Kingfisher, at the young age of about fourteen. After her husband was struck down, she is said to have taken up his long rifle and joined in the affray, ultimately leading her people to victory. A few years later, at the age of 18, she was awarded the title of “Ghigau” awarding her membership in the tribal council of chiefs. She was also the leader of the Women’s Council and the negotiator for her clan. Nanyehi believed in a peaceful coexistence with the American colonists. In 1776, after a battle with the Watauga colonists, she used her authority to spare the life of a female colonist who had been injured. She took this woman into her home and nursed her back to health. This act of benevolence proved to be of great benefit to Nanyehi and her people as well, for the woman, Lydia Russell Bean, taught Nanyehi how to use a loom to weave fibers into yarn and use the yarn to make clothing. Mrs. Bean also introduced Nanyehi to the value of cattle. In return for the sparing of her life and the resulting friendship, Mrs. Bean rescued two of her own cattle and gave them to Nanyehi, teaching her how to milk the cow and utilize the milk to make butter and cheese. These two acts of kindness actually resulted in a change in the traditional roles of women in the Cherokee culture.
    Nanyehi had a cousin named Dragging Canoe who headed up a rebellious faction of Cherokee who despised the colonists and vowed to rid his land of their very existence. In an act of defiance against the efforts of Nanyehi who wished to peacefully coexist with the colonists, Dragging Canoe led his band of rebel warriors in a series of attacks against the Watauga colonists. His efforts were rewarded by the British as those colonists took up arms to aid in the American Revolution. When Dragging Canoe and his band migrated to an area near where the South Chickamauga Creek joins the Tennessee River, the colonists began distinguishing this band of warriors as the “Chickamauga” separate from the friendly Overhill Cherokee.
    Capt. Joseph Bullard was one of the colonists who followed John Sevier into battle at King’s Mountain, successfully defeating the British Loyalist forces and bringing the first significant victory to the fledgling American Revolution. Bullard and Sevier were also Indian fighters, waging war against the Indians who sought to wipe out the colonists’ communities. In 1788, he was killed in ambush by Dragging Canoe’s band. Dragging Canoe believed Joseph Bullard to actually be John Sevier and they celebrated their perceived execution of Sevier by dancing three days and nights over Bullard’s body. The resemblance between Sevier and Joseph Bullard was said to be significant and the two were brothers in arms, neighbors and valiant pioneers working to establish a thriving community in the Watauga, Nolichucky and Washington area of Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
    Dragging Canoe was a brilliant and bloodthirsty chief, who numbered among his band the famous Tecumseh and Sequoyah. He was reputed by many to be the most significant Native American leader of the Southeast. (Sequoyah may be best known for creating a written alphabet permitting the Cherokee language to survive and evolve.)
The Removal:
    The Cherokee were primarily a farming people who resided in cabins built of logs, not the tipi. Following the American Revolution, the Cherokee were adept at negotiating with the American government in attempts to preserve their culture and the right to peacefully co-exist in their historic living and hunting grounds in the Southeast of the United States. After discovery of gold in their lands in Georgia, however, their fate was sealed. Sufficient animosity existed from the decades long battles, attacks and counter-attacks that resulted in many atrocities among both the Cherokee and American colonists members. The efforts of several of the Cherokee factions to sell off portions of their lands in return for a continued presence in their native region ultimately failed.
    The negotiations for sale of their lands also resulted in bitter feuds among the Cherokee, dividing them into political factions. One of the strategies of the Cherokee was to voluntarily remove from Georgia and relocate in Missouri and Arkansas. In 1815, a Cherokee reservation was set aside in Arkansas. “The reservation boundaries extended from north of the Arkansas River to the southern bank of the White River. Di'wali (The Bowl), Sequoyah, Spring Frog and Tatsi (Dutch) and their bands settled there. These Cherokees became known as "Old settlers." [Wikipedia: the Cherokee]
    Other Cherokee would migrate to the Missouri Territory where the Osage and Creeks were already established. The Creek Indians would accept the Cherokee, but the Osage were territorial and warred against the newcomers. Others would migrate into then Spanish territorial Texas. The Spanish welcomed them as potential allies in their ongoing confrontations against the Anglo-American colonists. Later, Sam Houston, an adopted Cherokee, would champion their cause although they would face ultimate eviction from his successor, Lamar.
    When Andrew Jackson attained the Presidency in 1829, he would sign the Indian Removal Act, a forcible eviction cloaked in political jargon asserting the move was to protect the native Americans from ultimate extinction, by setting aside a territory exclusively for their habitation.
    This removal was effected in a most harsh and cold-blooded manner, marching men, women and children (regardless of age, health or disability) to abandon their established farmsteads and household goods, cattle, crops and implements, poorly clothed and with insubstantial foods across hundreds of miles of territory. This inhumane “relocation” is known as the Trail of Tears and resulted in the brutal deaths of more than ten thousand from exhaustion, starvation and exposure.
From Wikipedia, “The Trail of Tears:
    “The phrase "Trail of Tears" originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831.
    Between 1830 and 1850, the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, Creek, Seminole and Cherokee peoples (including European Americans and African American freedmen and slaves who lived among them) were forcibly removed from their traditional lands in the Southeastern United States, and relocated further west. The Native Americans were forced to march to their designated destinations by state and local militias, in some cases at the express objection of the federal government and the US Supreme Court.
    The Cherokee Nation removal in 1838 (the last forced removal east of the Mississippi) was brought on by the discovery of gold near Dahlonega, Georgia, in 1829, resulting in the Georgia Gold Rush. The Cherokee was divided into thirteen groups, the last of which was led by John Ross, who had negotiated the nation's emigration contract with the Van Buren administration. Approximately 2,000-6,000 of the 16,543 relocated Cherokee perished along the way.”
The Cherokee Today:
    Today the Cherokee Nation has its headquarters at Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It is headed by Principal Chief Bill John Baker and has a thriving community. The nation has real estate, banking, agricultural, commercial and medical interests providing its membership with immense opportunities. Cherokee Nation Industries is a very large defense industry contractor. A string of casinos are operated under the leadership of Cherokee Nation Entertainment. An extremely beautiful university, Northeastern State, provides advanced training and education with its main campus in Tahlequah and two other campuses located in Muskogee and Broken Arrow. About one quarter of the students are Cherokee and the school offers classes focused on Cherokee linguistics and the preservation of the language and history of the Cherokee people.
photo By Phil Konstantin 2013
Principal Chief Bill John Baker

In closing, this article can only begin to touch on the rich history and culture of the Cherokee. Researching the tribe could take a lifetime’s devotion and still more could be learned for this is a people whose origins reach back beyond written or oral history, whose legends extend into the mists of time. My own curiosity was aroused as a result of our family lore that insists we have Cherokee bloodlines, a fact I have yet to document for our direct lines, but have found to be true for ancillary relationships. For this reason alone, my research into the Cherokee people will continue. Perhaps we can take another armchair trip through the genealogy of the Cherokee.
1.Cherokee Indian Tribe. Access Genealogy. (September 21, 2009)
2. Charles A. Hanna, The Wilderness Trail, (New York: 1911).
3. Martin and Mauldin, "A Dictionary of Creek/Muskogee." Sturtevant and Fogelson, p.349
4. "Cherokee: A Language of the United States". Ethnologue: Languages of the World. SIL International. 2013. Retrieved 20 Oct 2014.

Cunne Shote, Cherokee Chief, by Francis Parsons - English-1762 Oil on Canvas, Gilcrease Museum the Chief "Old Hop" who was also know as Standing Turkey - illustrating the description given of the Cherokee in my column - an oil painting (public domain) See Portrait below.
    Cumnacatogue (also known as Cunne Shote, Stalking Turkey or Standing Turkey) was one of three Cherokee chiefs who travelled to London in 1762 to see King George III. He was the nephew of the Chief "Old Hop" who was also know as Standing Turkey.
    Standing Turkey, also known as Cunne Shote (or Kunagadoga) succeeded his uncle, Kanagatucko (or Old Hop), as First Beloved Man of the Cherokee upon the latter's death in 1760. Pro-French like his uncle, he steered the Cherokee into war with the British colonies of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia in the aftermath of the execution of several Cherokee leaders who were being held hostage at Fort Prince George. He held his title until the end of the Anglo-Cherokee War in 1761, when he was deposed in favor of Attakullakulla.
    Standing Turkey was one of three Cherokee leaders to go with Henry Timberlake to London in 1762-1763, the others being Ostenaco and Pouting Pigeon. Standing Turkey was part of the Cherokee Bird Band, the wild Turkey of America.
    In 1782, he was one of a party of Cherokee which joined the Delaware,Shawnee, and Chickasaw in a diplomatic visit to the Spanish at Fort St. Louis in seeking a new avenue of obtaining arms and other assistance in the prosecution of their ongoing conflict with the Americans in the Ohio Valley. The group of Cherokee sought and received permission by Standing Turkey to settle in Spanish Louisiana, in the region of the White River.[1]
    BY THE WAY - Attakullakulla was the father of Dragging Canoe and the maternal uncle of Nancy Ward or Nanyehi (an incredible woman!!!)
Researched and compiled by author.

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


Eric Shackle Column

Wild Camels In Australia

     "An abattoir in Caboolture, Queensland, is processing a record number of camels from the Northern Territory and northern South Australia,'' writes Eric Shackle.

     Australia's outback is infested with an estimated one million wild camels, descendants of thousands of camels imported, mainly from India, in the 19th century, and were used for transport and construction, before they were replaced by motor cars, trucks and bikes.

     While Australian military forces are fighting Afghans in Afghanistan, hundreds, perhaps thousands - of Afghans are living in Australia. Many of them are Australian citizens. Some are descendants of the Afghan 'caravanners' who worked in Australia's outback from the 1860s to the 1930s.

     They came from the region between south of the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and the Indus River in what is now in what is now Pakistan.

     Afghans played a major part in establishing Islam in this country, building Australia's first mosque at Marree, in South Australia.The first Afghan cameleers arrived in Melbourne in June 1860 - eight men with 24 camels specially imported for the Burke and Wills expedition. Afghans without camels had been reported to have reached Australia as early as 1838. Camels were the normal means of bulk transport in the outback, where the climate was too harsh for horses, before motor cars were invented. Today an estimated million camels run wild in the outback. There's an abattoir, and some of the more fortunate beasts are broken in and then exported to Arabian countries.

     Even though the Afghans' help was greatly appreciated by white Australians, they became victims of racism because of their religion, looks, and competition against traditional transport workers. The train from Adelaide to Darwin is known as The Ghan (formerly The Afghan Express) in memory of the Afghan pioneers. In all, some 3000 Afghans settled in Australia.

     One pioneer Afghan cameleer, Dost Mahomet (c. 1873 - 1909), became famous in his time. He used his camels to transport goods between the ports and remote inland mining and pastoral settlements of the Goldfields, Pilbara and Murchison regions of Western Australia at the end of the 19th century. One of his great-great-great grandsons, Jacob Mahomet, attended his 150th anniversary celebration for Burke and Wills.

     Gold was first discovered in Coogardi Coolgardie in 1892 beginning the famous Coolgardie-Kalgoorlie gold rush for surface gold and, later, the extensive underground mining of gold which is still underway. Camel transport operators quickly established themselves here, many living in a tent settlement at the end of Coolgardie Street. Demand for transport was high, so Dost acquired more camels and found men to work for him.

     Over the next decade, Dost carried goods to remote settlements further north. He had drays built to help in haulage. Pastoral stations had been edging northwards following reports from exploring expeditions led by John and Alexander Forrest, Lawrence Wells, David Lindsay and John Wedge. Many of these expeditions relied on some camel transport Camels were still to be seen loaded with wool bales loping between some of these stations and the rail head until the mid 1930s.

     Dost set up a permanent base at Port Hedland in 1906 servicing the Pilbara region. Other Baluch relatives worked in the area alongside other cameleers from Baluchistan, Afghanistan, and northern India. Many made journeys back and forth between Western Australia, South Australia, and their birthplaces. By law, all were subject to racial restrictions applying to migration, type of business, occupation, employment and location. For example, after 1897, on departure, special permission was needed for those wishing to return to Western Australia. Following the Federation of the Australian colonies, continued residence and entry again required legal permits.

     European cameleers also worked in the Pilbara, usually hitching wagons behind camel teams, unlike the method of loading individual camels traditionally used by Baloch and Afghan cameleers.

     In 1908, not long after Dost settled in Port Hedland, storekeepers at Marble Bar began arranging contracts with some of the camel operators to have their goods transported from the Port Hedland wharves. Contract rates were lower than the established going rates. Tensions flared. Non contractors refused to cart for the storekeepers and went 'on strike' rallying against 'non-union' rates. Two hundred and fifty camels at 32 Mile Well were unhobbled and scattered into the scrub. Camel loads were flung to the ground. The dispute was eventually settled after police and officials from Perth and the local area intervened and facilitated discussions between the opposing parties. Troubles resurfaced periodically - three years later agreement was reached to almost double cartage rates, but it had been a period of financial stress to the cameleers.

     In Coolgardie, Dost formed a lasting relationship with Annie Charlotte Grigo, whom he had met while she was working in her father's bakery owned by John de Braun, who also owned Perth's grand Esplanade Hotel. Annie's family had migrated from Peak Downs in Queensland, her mother having been born in Denmark, her father in Prussia.

     Annie's father and brothers opposed the marriage. The pair eloped by camel and took ship to India. At Lal Bhaker, Dost's birthplace, the two were married by traditional Muslim custom. Annie was 17 years old. Their first child was a son, Mustafa, born in 1896. Annie and Dost then returned to the camel business in Western Australia, leaving Mustafa in the village.

     Five children were born in Western Australia - Lillian Rosetta (1898-1970), Hagu (Ada) 1902-1987), Alious Ameer (Arthur) (c.1904-1988), Jenneth (Jean) (1906-), Pathama (Violet) (1908-1983). The couple led a mobile life working camels through the goldfields and stations of northwest Western Australia, finally establishing a permanent home in Port Hedland were they were respected members of a small town of 200 by 1909. Their home was built on the block they bought in Kingsmill St.

     In a seeming challenge to Dost's strict Muslim practices, he bought the old brewery opposite the Esplanade Hotel. The eldest two girls attended the local primary school when it opened in 1906 with other children of European, Aboriginal and Chinese origin. Camels were hobbled away from the town.

     The family kept goats for milk and butter. Despite earlier family antagonisms, once established at Port Hedland, Dost provided finance to help his wife's sister buy a hotel near the town. He also assisted two of Annie's brothers to become established in business. Life within the extended family, however, was often difficult..The brothers were heavy drinkers, sometimes violent and not always respectful of Muslim practices.

     Dost was short and strong. Wrestling was a sport he engaged in, occasionally with Europeans, but more often with other cameleers. He also had a reputation for having a quick temper and there are reports of physical violence in the home.

     Both parents died violently not longer after building their Australian-style home at Port Hedland.

     The full circumstances of Dost's death in 1909 are unclear. It is known he was killed at home during a long and fierce fight with his two brothers-in-law. One of them fatally smashed open the back of Dost's skull with a heavy piece of jarrah. The two brothers stood trial in Broome in June 1909 but were acquitted of murder. Dost's relatives attributed his death to Annie's brothers and held Annie at least partially responsible for their acquittal.

     Dost was a man of wealth as well as standing when he died. He had left a written will bequeathing his assets to his children and Annie and designating his brother Jorak as executor. Annie complained that Jorak was withholding money from her and that life was very difficult. She finally agreed to Jorak's offer of financial security and a good education for the children on condition that she return to India with the children.

     She boarded ship in fear for her life. In Karachi, she took precautions. She contacted the British Resident. She was well remembered by many of Dost's relatives around Karachi, working and joking alongside women in the village. Warned by some of them of threats to her life, she and the children moved one evening to a compound the other side of Karachi, gaining the protection of a trusted relative.Annie slept with a small revolver under her pillow and a watchdog outside.

     Three months after landing in Karachi, in August 1910, Annie was stabbed to death in her bed while her two youngest children lay alongside. Two nephews and a third person were charged with murder but were acquitted because of lack of identification.

     After the court trial, the five youngest children were returned to Australia under an agreement between the district magistrate at Karachi and the Federal and Western Australian Governments. They were eventually placed in the care of the State. After their deaths, accounts of their parents' assets included camels, property in Port Hedland, monies owing to the estates, and jewellery, but the children did not inherit any of those items.

     A tamarind tree still grows in Port Hedland at the site known as One Mile. It's reputed to have been planted by Dost Mahomet.

     An abattoir in Caboolture, Queensland, is processing a record number of camels from the Northern Territory and northern South Australia.

     The owning company, Meramist, supplies camel meat for human consumption in Europe, the US and Japan.


     Camel abattoir: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-15/spike-in-camel-abattoir-meat-production/4630318

     Written by Eric Shackle - Published on June 24, 2013 11:30 AM | Permalink with British publication "Open Writing."

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


   This year’s Miss World beauty pageant is being held in mainland China but Canada’s Miss World beauty contestant, Anastasia Lin, is banned from ever entering China. She was stopped in Hong Kong on Thursday, November 26th and denied a visa to enter the Country.

   Anastasia Lin, the 25-year-old Toronto actress was crowned Miss World Canada in May. Lin, believes she is now being punished by the Chinese authorities for speaking out against human rights abuses in China.

   She states her inability to obtain a visa in advance of her arrival for the contest finals in Sanya, (a southern Chinese resort island of Hainan) is nothing more than retaliation against her by the Chinese government.

   Canadian citizens can obtain a landing visa upon arrival in Sanya but when she attempted to obtain the visa she was immediately denied and was barred from ever entering mainland China.

   She told reporters at the Hong Kong International Airport that she is also being persecuted by the Chinese authorities for her religious beliefs. Lin, is a practitioner of Falun Gong, a religious group that she says is being repressed in China.

   “There has been no response from the Chinese authorities so far …,” she told reporters, “….no comments from the Chinese embassy, so I realize that's the tactics they're using, they just want to let it die down."

   She went on to say, “it’s very difficult to stand up for what you believe in so I need to figure out what to do next."

   “I want to speak for those in China that are beaten, burned, and electrocuted for holding to their beliefs,” she told a U.S. congressional hearing on religious persecution in China. The hearing was held in July of this year.

   Lin, now claims her father who lives in China is being harassed by Chinese officials. She states the harassment started shortly after she testified before the U.S. congressional hearing.

   However, there is no concrete evidence to back her claims that her Father is being harassed in China.

   Canadian newspapers are now reporting that the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said that Lin is not welcomed in China. "China does not allow any persona non grata to come to China," Yundong Yang, an embassy spokesman, told Canadian reporters. "I simply do not understand why some people pay special attention to this matter and have raised it repeatedly."

   On a brighter note, Miss World pageant organizers have announced that they will offer, Anastasia Lin, a place in the 2016 Miss World contest.

   I’m not a big fan of beauty pageants and I did [not] watch the Miss World contest. However, due to the nature of this story I thought it was worth writing about. Anastasia Lin, has plenty of political supporters who are giving this story plenty of airtime in the western media. That being said, her story is not getting any airtime what so ever in China. I decided to jump on the band wagon and write about her because of the human interest value.

   On the other hand, all this media coverage on Lin’s potential to take home the top beauty crown in 2016 seems a bit superficial.

   The western media should be more focused on the actual human rights abuses being conducted in China. The media surly has the means to expose those abuses and force the Chinese authorities to bring about change for the better.
    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 author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Love is Here

The Love that we've been waiting for, is Here
The love that we saw last night made it Clear
If ever, I saw Love before,
that look in your eyes, showed me more
The Love that we've been waiting for, is Here

I feel Oh, so Differently today
I'm ready, for what ever comes my way
You're everyone I've ever known,
and Everything I need to know
The Love that we've been waiting for, is Here

Last night I cried my Fears to you
Last night, I Died, this much is True
But I'm in Heaven, now
This time was worth the wait, somehow
You're all my Heart could see

Now, you're a Part of me
I am blessed with feeling Love , so strong
This is what I've needed, for so long...
My heart's open wide, for You
and every part inside me, too
The Love that we've been waiting for, is Here.

©2008 Phil Hennessy

youtube link "Love is Here"
-uploaded in HD at http://www.TunesToTube.com

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

The Pearl

With every person, there is a pearl which is called the soul
Shining brightly for everyone, remove the shell and see its glow
The body is our shell, our soul is the pearl
Hearts beating in love, for a boy or girl
Love is the greatest thing, that we could ever feel
Our hearts feel it, and our soul knows it's real
It's something that we know
An energy that will flow
Giving us an inner glow
We feel it, yet it may not show

When our bodies can't go on any longer
It ceases, and our souls become much stronger
We will shine so strong and bright
As we travel in Heaven's light

Yet that is not the end of life as we know
In the Astral Universe, our love continues to grow
Experiencing more as life continues through
An eternity to learn all that you can do
Like the pearl shining in its shell
You'll become much brighter as well
©Nov 23, 2015 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
Remember, you are much stronger than you
know. Your soul is there and is guiding you
to where you need to be. It shines, and it
helps you to be in tune with your surroundings.
Listen, feel, know! Because your soul is the pearl
that will shine brightly for the YOU that you are.

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

Daily, Sometimes Hourly

Well, minute by minute, I do make the day,
Often thinking if he would have done it this way
Remembering we went to sleep with my hand in his hand
His strength was always what helped me to stand

His laughter and good humor while sharing a story
Surely helped pave his way into Glory
While cooking or eating, seeing food ads on TV
Can't help but compare to his way with a recipe

And seeing 'his' baseball and football teams winning their game
I can hear him telling anecdotes for each and every name
Music has always been special to me
And we shared our tastes, alike musically

So yes I would phone and ask for advice
Hearing his voice would be especially nice.
And I'd remind him to reserve a cloud near his own,
So I will be nearby in our heavenly home.

©November 12, 2015 Mary E. Adair

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

Don't Throw Them Out!

In the old photos, there may be a face
Or maybe more, that you can't place
An unknown relative in your family
Yet you don't know who they could be
You may think they mean nothing to you
But in fact, you really should know they do
What if there's a relative, who just might know
A name for each person, you wouldn't have to let them go

Maybe a cousin is doing the family tree
Might have an idea, of who it could be
It might be Aunt Sally, or Uncle Sam
Calling out to you saying, “you know who I am”

Don't throw them out
Let go of the doubt
There may just be
Someone knows your family

When looking through old photos, and you see a face
That is somebody, that you just can't seem to place
Even when you have the slightest of doubt
Someone might know, so don't throw them out
©Nov 13, 2015 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
If you look at your old photos and don't know the people
in them. Don't throw them out. There may just be someone
who may be able to identify some of the people. It may seem
that they may not have much meaning because you don't know
who they are. Instead of throwing them out, ask if anyone else
would be interested in having them. Because once they are
thrown away, they can not be recovered ever again. Do the
wise thing, before taking the action of throwing them away,
ask around. Looking ahead, always label your pictures, so
that someone in the future won't be throwing away a picture
of you.

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

A Picture of You

There was a picture of you
Just before I was born
Did you know what we were to do
Then you were gone

There was a memory or two
Not long before the bell
All we were destined to go through
Our unconditional hell

Living identical lives
Believing all of the insipid lies
We’re counting on stars and on extremes
Tell me what this all means
Tell me what this all means

There was a picture of you
Were you thinking about the stars
Or were you dreaming of internal scars
To tell me who we really are
Or were you wishing to get away from here
I saw the picture of you in that empty stare

There was a picture of you
Taken just before I came along
Did you know this wasn’t from out of the blue
I saw this picture of you
From just after 1962
A memory or two

I saw a picture of you
©11/2/15 Bruce Clifford

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

Where Did My Purpose Go

I don’t know
Where did my purpose go
Oh I don’t know
I don’t know

In a flash
I took a sidebar and made a dash
Oh I don’t know
I don’t know

What are these mornings for
Why is each day just like all the others
When did all this turn into one gigantic chore
What is there to do today
I need to get away
I don’t know

Where did my purpose go
If I had known
Maybe I’m hearing a different tone
Where did my purpose go

In a flash
I tried to reason but it was trash
Oh I don’t know
I don’t know
Where did my purpose go

©11/10/15 Bruce Clifford

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

Clinical Depression

With the life threatening illness I face
It's become a terrible place
It's a depression easily misunderstood
When I am in it, it's not very good
It's much worse than the seasonal kind
It's a much darker place in my mind
When you lose a loved one, it's not like that
It's a place where nobody should be at

I have no zest for life, no will to live
My energy is gone, I have nothing to give
It takes control of everything I do
Its darker than the darkest blue

Normal decisions that I usually make
Are the hardest ones that I must take
People don't understand, they say go for walk
They say play some music, but I just can't talk
I want to tell them I have no will, leave me alone
It's the worst place to be, that I have ever known

People think I can get out of it easily, just change the mood
Those kind of people have the wrong kind of attitude
Think of it this way, you're born with love of light
But how would you feel if it was as dark as night

The only thing that I can do, is wait until it is done
Ride it out, and when it is over I shall see the sun
Those thoughts don't come when I am in that dark place
It's like I am alone way out there in outer space

I wouldn't wish this kind of depression onto any soul
Because when I have it, I just don't feel whole
I have it, so I know what it is like to be
In a dark place, I just don't feel like me
©Nov 29, 2015 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
Clinical Depression is the worst kind of depression
you can have. It is a dark place to be. Not even music
can lift you out. Nothing can. You just have to ride it
out and wait until you come out of it. Like a lost soul
in a place that is so dark, until the light surrounds you
once again.

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

The High Road

So you think it’s alright to come back into my life
Haunting me
Taunting me

If you can’t let the old things go you’re better off alone
Hating me
Disrespecting me

I took the high road so many years ago
I found my freedom and learned to let you go
I don’t understand why you can’t do the same
I guess it’s all the memories to blame

I took the high road and I got out
It doesn’t mean I don’t think about
The way we were, what could have been
I took the high road

The only road to ride again
So you think it’s alright to come back into my life
You think it’s okay to let the past get in the way
You never learned to let the old past go
I guess it’s the only way that you know

But I took the hight road so many years ago
I found my peace and I learned to live and grow
I don’t understand why you can’t do the same
I guess it’s all the memories to blame

I took the high road and I got out
It doesn’t mean I don’t think about
The way we were, what could have been
I took the high road
The only road to ride again

©11/25/15 Bruce Clifford

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

The Moments That Lead to The End

In the moments that lead to the end
I gave my best and treasured each friend
I shared all the beauty that was seen
The beautiful skies, the trees so green
I socialized on Facebook, with Pen Pals, and on the C.B.
In my lifetime, I found out how to be a better me
In and out of love, I found one that is true
She is the One, until my time is through

I helped those who needed my care
I treated those better, when life was unfair
I found the good in everyone I found
In my lifetime, my soul truly grew

I went on a journey, an ancestry quest
Taking a bus trip, out to the west
I traveled to where my ancestors use to live
If you needed my help, I'd surely give

I found out what happens when we pass away
The realization helps me through each day
The life we have here, isn't the end
It's just a temporary place in time that we spend

The soul's journey continues as we learn from each lesson
In this life and after, it's truly a great blessing
In the moments that lead up until the end
Be your true self, no need to pretend
©Nov 2, 2015 Bud Lemire
                      Author Note:
From your birth, until your death here on Earth, there is so
much to learn and experience. Explore everything! Sometimes
it's not all about exploring everywhere else. Sometimes it's about
exploring everything about where you are at the moment.
Enjoying every moment, every friend, everyone who enters and leaves
your life. For they have touched you in one way or another. Remember,
money isn't everything. There are many things that have more value than
money. Love, friends, pets, a good book, a good TV show, a ride in
the country, a beautiful picture or poem, a song that touches you.

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

Emeralds for Emma Chapters 1 and 2

 By Clara Blair

Chapter One

What Emma found inside the envelope took her breath away.

She never thought much about her name. It was comfortable and suited her. It sounded old-fashioned and made no demands on her personality – she imagined she probably was named for some old great-aunt she’d never met and nobody ever talked about anymore.

She’d never had any reason to look at her birth certificate before. But now, with both her parents suddenly gone and so many legal matters to be settled, her birth certificate was only one of the many papers she had to dig out of her parents’ files.

Their office had always felt like a perfect reflection of them – messy but comfortable, disorganized but full of fascinating bits of information. Bob Walters had been a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at a small college where he and Emma’s mother, Amanda, were two-thirds of the faculty for the unlikely department.

Bob and Amanda seemed happy in their work. The relatively low-volume demands of Sophia Lyon Fahs College in Emerson, Iowa, allowed them ample time for each other, their daughter, and their many friends and wide-ranging interests. Their library overflowed into every other room in the house with books on history, music, botany, ornithology, poetry, chemistry, ecology, geography, anthropology, textiles, ceramics, religion, philosophy, stagecraft, painting and folklore – some in languages Emma had never seen anywhere else.

Emma turned her thoughts to immediate details to help her cope with the abrupt and final removal of these two precious people from her life. She had just turned eighteen and would be attending the University of Kansas in September. Mom and Daddy had finally decided to spend a summer touring Europe and had invited Emma to come with them. She insisted they consider the trip a second honeymoon, because they hadn’t traveled without her – or out of the country – for as long as she could remember. Besides, she reasoned, she wanted to spend time with friends before they all went off in different directions for college.

The 777 slammed into a sandbar in Jamaica Bay minutes after takeoff. There were no survivors. Years might pass before the NTSB discovered why the plane had gone down.

While the Walters were rich in friends, there was no extended family – no aunts, uncles or cousins on either side. Life was lived in the present, the future or the distant past. Active intellects and generous spirits made up for the lack of grandparents and other family members. One benefit of this arrangement was that Emma grew up without the burden of family feuds and grudges that complicated the lives of many of her friends.

Life was good. Possibilities were endless. Questioning was encouraged. Her mind was nurtured to value freedom and respect individuality. Bob and Amanda taught by example the value of little things and the importance of thoughtful decision-making.

Now they were gone, and she was trying to understand the contents of this large brown envelope.
Friends and love had filled the house as soon as word of her loss arrived. A memorial service had been held at the Fahs Chapel Unitarian Church, where her parents’ lives were celebrated by people who had known and cherished them. Stories were told, poetry was read, and music was played on cello by a member of the music faculty she called “uncle” and on flute by Emma’s friend Trish – their lawyer’s daughter – who planned to study music at Wichita State University in the fall.

Emma had been surrounded by thoughtfulness and spared the polite platitudes that so often disguise the condolences of strangers. The family lawyer was a trusted friend who stepped in gracefully without treating Emma like a helpless child. Bob and Amanda had left their legal affairs in good order, in absolute contrast to their library. Except for this envelope.

After presenting her with a written summary of the details of the estate, Jim Harwood reviewed some key documents with Emma, answered the few questions she had, and promised to be available whenever she needed him.

“I don’t know whether I’ll be able to help you with this, though. But I’ll try,” he said. “I have only the vaguest information about what’s inside it.” Jim kissed her gently on the forehead, handed her the envelope and left.

It was made of heavy brown craft paper, about eleven by fourteen inches and sealed with string, a wax seal and wide transparent tape over the seal. In her father’s bold, open script, it was labeled:
For Emma Walters. To be opened on her twenty-fifth birthday, before her marriage, or upon the deaths of both of us. We love you unconditionally.

It was signed by both Robert and Amanda Walters.

Emma had left it on the library table for two days, not sure she was ready for any drama, and more than a little stunned that her parents would challenge her with a surprise like this. The envelope was thick with papers, a small book of some kind perhaps, and a little box.

She read the label more than a dozen times before she finally opened the envelope.

Chapter Two

Morning sunlight poured in through the office windows and spilled across the library table. Emma set down a fresh cup of coffee carefully on a coaster and contemplated the envelope.

If she sliced it open at the top of the flap, how could she close it again? She could cut tape around the edge of the flap, but the string that wrapped around the cardboard grommets to close the envelope was secured by the wax seal. Although it was under the transparent tape, the seal seemed to have some kind of insignia pressed into it and she didn’t want to destroy it.

Procrastination strikes again! But the carefully sealed envelope presented a fascinating puzzle, and Emma was usually good with puzzles. “There is always another way.” She had heard this countless times from both her parents during sometimes-heated discussions with friends and other faculty members. Ethical dilemmas, political strategies, contradictory goals – always more than one solution, if a person would only persist in the search.

Cutting the flap between the seal and the fold would preserve both the seal and enough of the flap to close the envelope again. Emma found a small knife in the desk and carefully formed a new flap. Now there was no excuse not to examine the envelope’s contents.

There was a small box inside, two leather-bound journals – quite old –along with a worn child’s ruled-paper notebook with black-and-white cardboard covers, and a sheaf of documents – some single sheets and some joined in a fascinating technique involving tiny cuts and folds in the corners of the pages. In some of the many catalogs her parents got in the mail, Emma had seen several versions of overpriced gadgets that would join papers this way, but these pages were very old and the cuts and folds were uneven, as if they had been made by hand. Many of the documents were handwritten or typed on old manual typewriters, most not in English.

Emma could see strange watermarks on some of the pages. There was heavy vellum as well as the lightweight “onionskin” popular before the advent of fax machines, photocopiers and computerized word processing equipment, when par avion meant high postage rates and people used thin paper so they could spend less on stamps.

There were letters and legal-looking documents. Contracts, deeds, bills of sale, wills, birth certificates, baptismal records? Emma had done well in her French classes, but deciphering old handwriting was very different from reading clearly printed books. Some of the pages looked like German, many were French, and then there was the unmistakable Cyrillic alphabet that she had never learned to read.

The first journal was very old; the top layers of the leather finish came off like dust on her fingertips. Flipping through it, she saw different inks, languages and handwritings. The cardboard-covered notebook was filled with a childish scrawl in broken English. The newer leather bound journal was written in what looked very like her father’s hand. What was she supposed to do with all this?
Emma carefully slid the documents and the books back into the envelope and took a sip of the now-tepid coffee. She couldn’t think. She had no point of reference for this unexpected bundle of obscure information.

Then she reached for the little box. Like the oldest journal, it was very old. It was covered in velvet that had once been wine-colored, and a small mother-of-pearl button was set on one side. She pressed it and the box popped open.

After the chaos of the papers and the confusion of the journals, Emma didn’t think she could be surprised again this morning. But the box contained a ring that glowed in the sunlight like green fire.
Buttery yellow gold held what had to be emeralds. There were three rectangular stones in an antique step cut, a large one in the center flanked by two slightly smaller ones. All were supported by a heavy but open bridge of gold that allowed light to enter the stones from every angle to dazzle the eye. The ring fit perfectly on the middle finger of Emma’s right hand.

She put the empty ring box back in the envelope, which she then hid behind a set of encyclopedias. She sat down and tried to finish her coffee but found she couldn’t swallow. She laid her head on her arms and sobbed until the afternoon sun was low in the windows.
©Clara Blair

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Watch for the next installment of this novel next month.

The Adventures of Ollie-Dare - Chapter 8

OLLIE-DARE-The Christmas Bear

   Once upon a time, deep within the Great Forest lived a wise bear, named Ollie-Dare. Now we all know that bears sleep during the winter, but this was a very special bear, for he was Ollie-Dare The Christmas Bear. Ollie-Dare had a magical candle, and on one night a year that candle would glow so bright that the whole forest would come to life.

   Ollie-Dare would awaken to the sound of joyfull music that the animals of the forest, who would gather together, would play on their magical instruments. Ollie-Dare would go out in his night shirt and cap, and gaze upon the forest, and each year the wonder of it would cause him to smile, and his eyes would twinkle with delight. The forest trees would be lit with lights of every color, and the animals would dance merrily under the trees. All creatures of the forest played in peace, and not one snarl or growl would be heard. Wolf played with squirrell, birds with cats, racoons, rabbits, deer, and fox all danced together in the wonders of the night. For on this night, all God's creatures, man and beast, sang the songs of a child born so long ago.

   On this magical night Ollie-Dare would travel throughout the forest and towns and tell a story. Never tiring he repeated the tale of so many Christmas eves long ago.

   "Once upon a time," he'd say, "In a town far, far away, a star appeared. Now, not just any star, but a very special star with a glorious light, that reached forever far. It led the way of wisemen and shepherds to see a birth. Not just any birth but a very special birth."

   And on he'd tell his story throughout the night.

   He would tell of angels within the night sky saying, "Be not afraid for we bring you good tidings of great joy. Unto you born this night is a savoir. You will find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, and his name shall be Jesus."

   "Wisemen and shepherds followed the star and find the child they did. Now as they reached Bethlehem, under the star was a stable and inside the stable were angels singing praise, and a babe lay among the oxen, sheep, goats, cows, and creatures of the forest. All were bowing in praise to the little child. And as the mother wrapped the small child in swaddling clothes, the voices of the angels would be heard singing, "Unto you is born the King of Kings, the Son of God, and His name is Jesus."

   Now as morning would grow within the sky, Ollie-Dare would make his way back deep within the forest. He would check under each lighted tree to make sure there were packages with bows for all the forest creatures. And once again he would stop and look at the beauty over the forest. With a smile and a long sigh Ollie-Dare and his magical candle would once again enter his cave for his long winter nap. But as he listened to the wind blowing in the trees somewhere in the night he would hear, MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

May God's Blessings be with each of you this Christmas ! ©2002 Rebecca Morris
Next month: Ollie-Dare Goes for A Ride

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