Monday, February 1, 2016

Editor's Corner

February 2016

Volumn 19, Issue 1
"Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right use of strength."
--Henry Ward Beecher

First issue of the new volume which means 18 yrs online under our belt. Something to be proud of, because it represents the publishing of over 400 authors, both experienced and professional ones and the beginners. Many of the latter have found their calling in writing through these pages, over these years. Bravo to each author!

One article is shown by your editor's great granddaughter whose blog Altogether Beautiful allows her to express her profound and encouraging thoughts. For February she shares with us "Self Confrontation, Anger, and God's Grace."

The other article is by our former columnist Peg Jones. It is a tribute to Dr. Wayne Dyer and offers suggestions as well.

Two poems by Bruce Clifford: "Alaska Under The Sun" and "Nothing to be Said." Kay Roy Jones has a lovely poem commemorating her father, "Into My Father's Eyes." Bud Lemire shares three of his compositions: "Retrospective," "Must Go," and the lyrical as well as informative "Ships That Pass by My Window." John I. Blair also shows three poems with varied themes, "Bitterness at Life," "Perspective," and "January Roses."

Phillip Hennessy has been busy with Utube presentations with some being poems published earlier by Pencil Stubs, now set to music. He also includes "Dreams and Wishes" and "KaJa" with the uTube links to hear them. He sends this info "and, an older Pencil Stubs Poem put to my music....Phil Hennessy and "Crushed, and Broken" Instrumental -uploaded in HD at and my Very First Poetry video, tho I hope to do many more."

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda (Carroll) Cohenour, adds to the info in her own family with "Romance is in our Heritage." Good tale for Valentine month as is Clara Blair's novel "Emeralds for Emma" which adds chapters 5 and 6 and begins to show the romance of the heroine.

With his column, "Introspective," Thomas F. O'Neill lets us see how the Chinese New Year is regarded and celebrated. Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" introduces a new literary character Barney, the latest laugh inducing rage in just released book form. LC Van Savage uses her "Consider This" column to explain what a "Cheesecake Scramble" really is.

Rod Cohenour, in his "Cooking with Rod" tells how to get a really tasty and tender Roast Beef and Gravy. Judith Kroll gives poetic advice for her "On Trek" this issue.

"Adventures of Ollie-Dare." Chapter 10 by Rebecca Morris, lets the bear share his memories.

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.

So, Happy Valentines Day and Watch for us in March!

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

Armchair Genealogy

Romance is in our Heritage

February 1, 2016
      February. A month of contrasts. Often the coldest month of the year in the Southwest, biting cold weather hastened in by the Blue Norther a blast directly from the frigid Arctic continent; and, conversely, many times the harbinger of Spring, when southerly breezes from the tropics rush northwesterly bringing warm, sunny days and a taste for those first brilliant green sprigs on the trees interspersed with buds soon to burst forth in full flower. Romantic thoughts. Fitting for what may well be our most romantic month: February – the month we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day.

      My father was a romantic. Proof of his innate romanticism was shown not only by his proposal of marriage to my mother on Valentine’s Day, but decades later his service as a lay minister to hear the vows of my beloved Rod and myself when those fickle February winds had blown from the north and brought an icy wasteland to our shared home in Yonder Hills outside Guthrie, Oklahoma. For Rod and I had intended to wed on Valentine’s Day but were prevented from traveling to Dallas for that to take place. Daddy Jack, a deacon of the Baptist Church, a teacher of youth in that church, a devout and Godly man offered to hear our vows and organized a wedding for us that preceded our formal church vows five days later that month, the 19th, before Brother Steve Leatherwood who had served as our pastor in Dallas for many years.

      Fitting that Daddy would be the romantic. He loved Gothic romances, always enjoying the final emergence of true love that would not be denied. He could sometimes be caught with a tear in his eye (“just a spot of dust”) as he read the final pages. He always remembered our mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day. One of my cherished heirlooms is the set of Lovebird dishes he bought for her to commemorate one of their anniversaries. And I treasure the pair of hand painted China lamps bearing a medallion of roses ringed about with gilt. The lamps were so expensive he had to ask the merchant jeweler in our hometown to keep them for him in secret as he paid off the remaining balance. (This from the man who traditionally paid cash for his new cars! He really wanted Mom to have those lamps!) He gave one to her on her birthday and the second on Mother’s Day. Not as bad as one might think since her birthday was the 7th of May which oft-times also shared the holiday.

      So, it really came as no big surprise as I researched Daddy’s line that I would find two of the most romantic stories connected to his male ancestors. My 8th great-grandfather Bartholomew DuPuy distinguished himself in service to King Louis XIV of France. In my research into Bartholomew DuPuy, I found numerous stories.

King Louis XIV
I even purchased a bound book written by another descendant/family historian that recounted this version of the exciting and romantic story of Bartholomew’s escape from certain imprisonment and/or death in order to stand firm in his religious beliefs:

Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia.
Article LXIII.

"From notes written at the base of our ancestral tree I copy the following:
--'Bartholomew Dupuy (my paternal Huguenot ancestor) in 1650 or 1653. At eighteen years of age he entered the army, where his intelligence and fidelity soon won him the confidence of the King, Louis XIV, who promoted him at an early age to be an officer in his household guard. He so far trusted and honoured him as often to select him to perform duties so important as to require his own signature to some of the orders. One of these papers was the means under God of saving this officer and his wife from arrest and most probably from death. 

But a short time before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he married a Countess (Susannah Lavillon) and retired to his villa for a short respite from his military duties. Very soon after his retirement, they were called on by one of the King's messengers, who communicated the startling intelligence that the revocation of the Edict of Nantes was to take immediate effect, and that he had been sent by the King from motives of esteem to save him and his wife from the impending fate of all heretics. He urged their submission (that is, their renunciation of the Protestant faith) with all his eloquence, and with all his promises of great benefits from the King if they would show them fidelity by obeying their orders. Dupuy replied that the demand was so sudden and important that he would beg a few hours for consideration. The priest said that this request was reasonable, and he would grant it cheerfully. As soon as he had retired, Dupuy sent for the village tailor, and asked whether he could have a suit of livery made for his page in six hours. He replied in the affirmative, and at midnight they were completed and delivered. In this suit he immediately disguised his wife as his page, and putting on his best uniform, and girding on his sword, took what money and jewels they had, together with a few clothes and their Bibles and Psalm-Books, and, mounting two good horses, set out for the frontier of the kingdom. 

They travelled either fourteen or eighteen days, and, though stopped almost daily, always escaped by saying that he was the King's officer, until near the line, when he was arrested. He showed the officer the paper with the King's signature; and, immediately snatching it back, he drew his sword and fiercely asked by what authority he was thus insulted, and demanding an escort for his protection to the line, which was immediately granted. On their safe arrival the guard was dismissed, and, crossing over into Germany, they there sang the praises of God in the fortieth Psalm, and offered up prayers and thanksgivings to their great Deliverer for their escape from a cruel death. 

They remained in Germany fourteen years, then stayed two years in England, from whence they came to America in the year 1700, and settled at Manakintown, on James River, in King William parish. The sword used by Bartholomew Dupuy while in France is now in possession of Dr. John James Dupuy, of Prince George, and was used by his grandfather, James Dupuy, Sr., of Nottoway, at the battle of Guilford, where he signalized himself.' " 

Photo of the note written by the King as it was, supposedly, saved by the Trabue family (descendants also of DuPuy who also had the sword - no pic of sword.)
      We are related to Bartholomew DuPuy by the following descendancy: Bartholomew (or Bartholomey) DuPuy (1652-1743) had a son, Pierre “Peter” DuPuy, Sr. (1694-1773), whose son Pierre “Peter” DuPuy, Jr. (1729-1812) had a daughter, Mary A. Malone DuPuy (1766-1851) who married David Motley Ellington (1759-1855). Mary and David Ellington had a daughter Prudence Ellington (1788-1860) who married Peyton Wade (1808-1887. Their daughter, Martha Ann Wade (1847-1886) would marry Absalom Creek (1844-1914) (the son of Virginia Lee Younger and Jacob Haudenscheldt Creek. Their daughter Flutie Creek (1877-1951) would grow up to marry Lewis Wallace “Wall” Alexander (1862-1941) and bear one child, Nora Viola Alexander (1896-1964). Nora married Everett Marion Carroll (1894-1981) and they had one son, John Edward “Jack” Carroll (1913-1996), our father – my DaddyJack.

      The second story found in researching my father’s line concerned a German ancestor, George F. Hempleman. Now, this was an interesting and long-awaited find. My grandmother, Nora Alexander King (married name) would use this heritage to reprove her granddaughters when we were behaving like little tomboys rather than young ladies by remonstrating in a rather stern voice, “Remember, you are descended from Baron von Hempleman of Hesse-Cassel and should behave as ladies!” For years and years I searched for what I understood to be Baron von Hompellman or Hoppelman or Homperman for grandmother would use her Germanic accent to pronounce the name. I was actually rather surprised when, in seeking parents of yet another ancestral pair I found George Hempleman and realized my mistake. And this romantic story is also a doozy!

      The story goes like this: George Hempleman, the younger son of Baron von Hempleman of Hesse-Cassel, and a member of the peerage became fully enamored of a young woman, Marguerite Duffey, the daughter of peasants. His father when he became aware of his young son’s romantic entanglement demanded that an immediate and complete halt be called to the relationship. George and Marguerite, however, were “head-over-heels” in love and no reprimand could cause their hearts to change and their attentions to cease. The father, by all accounts, was prone to dictatorial ways and both sons bristled at his officious and demanding ways. So, George shared with elder brother, Adam, the depths of his despondency regarding their father’s demands. Adam, it seemed, was already planning a way to free himself of his overbearing father. He planned to emigrate to the New World. When he shared this plan with George, it seemed to be the ready answer for the plight of the lovelorn pair.

      In short time, Adam, George, and Marguerite made their plans. In the absence of the Baron’s blessings, there was no means by which they could fund their adventure other than by selling themselves into a state of indenture in exchange for the price of their fare aboard the ship. Upon arrival, they were collected by their respective new masters and transported to the plantation where they would begin to pay off the debt.

      A poem was written about this pair which I will provide here:

Our Noble Ancestors by Winifred Weaver Wilkinson
Read by author at annual Hempleman-Weaver Reunion
Springfield, OH Aug 12, 1914
From a frowning German castle
To an humble peasant’s cot.
Once Cupid sped an arrow
To the one of lowly lot;
But the unrelenting parent
Of that titled German boy
Sought to stay the hand of Cupid
Sought his visions to destroy.

“Blue blood shall not be mingled
With a lowly peasant strain!”
Declared that German scion
Of that house of ancient fame;
“You shall wed as I have chosen!”
Was the mandate of that lord,
Who ruled in Hesse-Cassel
By his word and by his sword.

Now the maiden, sweet and winsome,
Fair of hair and blue of eye,
Pledged her troth to the young noble -
Heart and hand, to live or die.
Did he give her up for title?
Money, land, and castles bare?
Leave her to some plodding peasant,
Just his common lot to share?

To his elder more-staid brother, {Adam}
Turned he in that hour of trial,
He who, too, had felt the burden
Of that rock-ribbed German style;
He had longed to cross the water,
“Why not come and go with me?
Bring your gentle, low-born maiden:
Marry her across the sea.”

These two youths and one lone maiden
Worked their way from place to place,
Reached the seaboard where they bartered
Future freedom with good grace.
They would take them ‘cross the waters,
In steerage they must ride:
And to pay for travel westward
They in bondage must abide.

They quaffed the cup to its bitter dregs!
When they reached the land of gold,
Forced onto the block with the nervous herd
And into slavery sold.
He to the Carolinas,
She to Virginia soil:

He with his soft hands hardened
With a pitiful life of toil:
Worn to tatters his shoes,
Fallen to rags his clothes,
Weary, overburdened and hunger
Were among his lesser woes;
Tortured by thoughts of her,
Alone, he knew not where;
Should her beauty be a curse
And her innocence a snare?

And she had never a word
Through all those years of woe;
“Will I find him true and waiting
Or has life yet a deeper blow?”
She had given up home and country:
“Oh! He cannot fail me now”’
She has served her time as a bound-maid,
“He’ll not forget his vow.”

Four long years of servitude,
Each in their separate sphere
Had brought to common equality
The maid and the titled peer.
Back, to the little church-house
Where they pledged in the end to meet;
Back, went Margarette Duffe
Her lover of years to greet;

She sat through many a service
With watchful eyes on the door,
Like her sex for generations
She could wait, but nothing more.
And just a few weeks later,
Back, to her side for life —
Whom she saw last a stripling
Grown a man hardened by strife.

And where later Patrick Henry
Gave that church immortal fame
Romance triumphed o’er hardships –
Margarette Duffe bore his name.
George Hempleman faced his future
With the long-sought maid of his choice,
May his sturdy brood inhabit the earth
And in him and his deeds rejoice.

He was our soldier-hero
Our source of glowing pride.
God grant us the courage and honor
He showed toward his promised bride.
May our boys place love before mammon
May our girls be as steadfast and true,
May the blood of our German ancestors
Inspire us to dare and to do
{Hempleman Family by George Whitefield}

      This book by George Whitefield I also purchased to add to my genealogical library. The story is, indeed, a romantic tale which has been retold a number of ways. There was even a movie produced which used this tale as the basis for the hero and heroine’s own love story. And, although this is truly a tale of true love, I believe the story of the Hempleman brothers is worthy of relating here as well.

      Adam Hempleman, the elder brother, was indentured to a plantation owner in Pennsylvania. After his term of indenture was paid, he first settled in Kentucky where he married and ultimately moved to Adams County, Ohio. George and Marguerite after their reunion and marriage had settled in Clark County, Ohio, by a complete quirk of fate (if you believe all such coincidences to be merely coincidental.) The brothers, who had each served their new country (*) during the Revolutionary War, had not seen one another since their arrival in the New World. Many decades had passed with no word being exchanged between them. George and his love, Marguerite had made plans to meet at the church but Adam and George had not made any such plans leaving their future to fate. In another tale related by descendant George Whitley, in his book, A History of the Hempleman Family in America, 1912, Higginson, authored by George Whiteley]:

      “…by chance a neighbor of Adam Hempleman was traveling north and stopped with George Hempleman Jr., over night, remarked that there was a man in his county by the same name of Hempleman that resembled him very much and later George Hempleman, Sr., in the company with his son George, visited Adam Hempleman at his home in Adams County. What a reunion that must have been....... “

      To my mind, that is the third most romantic tale I’ve uncovered in my travels through my family’s lineage – my armchair cruises that have provided me with stories as fabulous and enriching as any I might encounter in some library written about other people in other families.

      We are related to George F. Hempleman in this manner: George F. Hempleman (1732-1842) married Marguerite Duffey and named a son George F. Hempleman, Jr. (1778-1853). George Hempleman, Jr. married Ruth Howell (1785-1825) and they had a daughter named Susan. Susan Hempleman (1806-1884) married Richard Alexander (1789-1857) and they named one of their sons George Hempleman Alexander (1830-1894). George H. Alexander married Margaret Lowe (1833-1921) and they had a son they named Lewis Wallace “Wall” Alexander who is noted above as the first husband of Flutie Creek. Their daughter, Nora Viola Alexander, was the mother of my father, John Edward “Jack” Carroll.
(*) Revolutionary service:

      George was a private, 1781, in Capt. William Johnson's company, 10th battalion, Lancaster Co., PA [p.173] militia.

      Adam was a private in Capt. Thomas Robinson’s company, 10th February 1781, raised in Northumberland Co., PA. [‘Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution: battalions and line, 1775-1783; Vol. II, Muster rolls of ranging companies, etc., with lists of Pennsylvania pensioners in 1789 and 1813.’]

Researched and Compiled by author.
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Cooking with Rod

Roast Beef ala Rod

      Well, the first month of the year has come and gone. Wow, how time flies! Makes me want to eat things that might stick with me for a little while. One of the things I love best is beef and roast beef is one of the most fabulous, decadent meals in the world. Here’s my take on a relatively simple but utterly delicious roast beef that I guarantee will make your taste buds jump for joy!

      One of the advantages of modern food stuffs is the availability of ready mix spice blends and gravy preps. These cut down on the time involved and, many times, reduces the fat content that would be required for a good gravy. I’ve listed the spice blends I prefer, but feel free to substitute your favorite mixes if these are not available in your area.

Bon appetit!

Bottom round rump with a good fat sheath

  • 3 lb boneless rump roast
  • Butter Flavored Pam spray or vegetable oil (not olive oil)
  • 2-3 cups water
For Dry Rub:
  • 2 Tbsp Aldi’s Steak seasoning (or steak seasoning of your choice)
  • ½ Tbsp Weber’s Gourmet Burger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ Tbsp Seasoned Meat Tenderizer
  • 1 packet Aldi’s Onion Soup Mix (can use Lipton’s if you prefer)
For Gravy:
  • 2 pkgs brown gravy mix (or make a flour/water slurry seasoned with pepper)
  • 2 cups liquid drained from roasting pan (add water or broth if needed to make 2 cups)
Blend all rub ingredients with whisk. Preheat oven to 400º

Wash roast under cold water and pat completely dry. Score fat on the roast. Spray roast with butter flavored Pam. Apply dry rub using hands on all surfaces of the roast.

Using small (green speckled) roasting pan, place roast in pan, fat side up. Add water. Add all remaining rub mix to top side of the roast. Place in 400º oven, covered, for 2 ½ hours if frozen, only 1 ½ hours if fully defrosted. Turn heat off, leaving roast covered in oven while preparing gravy (about 30 minutes or so).

Prepare gravy. Place drained liquid from roast (2 cups, adding canned broth or water if necessary) to small saucepan. Whisk in gravy mix. Following package directions, bring mixture to a boil whisking occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand a minute or so to finish thickening.

Serves 4-6. Serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles or rice; green salad, crisp bread.

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Consider This

Cheesecake Scramble

      Do you know that story about things moving in slow motion during a crisis? Well, do not doubt it. It happens, and I’m living proof. Here’s the sordid tale;

      It seems over the last many years when Mongo and I have been invited to dine at friends’ homes, and I’ve made the offer to “bring something” not really meaning it, I’m asked if I’d prepare and bring my World Famous Geoffrey’s Cheesecake. And I always accept the challenge. It is a cherished recipe reluctantly given to me by my beloved cousin Geoffrey Richardson when I was a young bride (56 years ago) and years before my darling Geoff died. I have made many dozens over the years and absolutely all earned high praise, even though I’d pretty much convinced myself that it was my glorious personality and not the cake that was so desirable. Once a couple who did not even speak English pantomimed to me to share the recipe so of course I gave it to them. I’ve never understood the idiocy of keeping good recipes a secret. What is that?? And yes, if you email me I’ll send the recipe to you gladly if you promise to always call it “Geoffrey’s World Famous Cheesecake.”

      Anyway, I’d been asked to bring my GWFC as my contribution to a small gathering of just women a few days ago. I agreed and prepared it. It takes two days to make it and except for one tiny ooops, it was as usual, perfection. It’s a big, heavy cake and after it bakes, the oven is turned off while it is allowed to sit for hours until completely cooled.

      When I pulled it from the oven, it was perfect as usual, and then, uh oh, the springform pan suddenly and unexpectedly popped apart and the contents somersaulted in the air and landed SPLAT, face down on the open oven door. It truly flipped slowly thru space, end over end if round things have ends and everything in the room also went into slowmo, just like in the movies. Damndest thing ever. My poor GWFC was pancaked, top side down with its butter-rich Graham cracker crust facing the ceiling. Smasho.

      It seemed a dream. A really bad one. I just stood still and silently stared at it for a while, and then calmly told Mongo what happened and bless his heart, he ran over to hug and kiss me. I guess he thought I’d begin weeping. No, not my MO. Then, looking down at the mess Mongo began to laugh and choke until I feared for his life. He just would not stop. I did not cry but I did seriously consider killing him.

      I said “There’s much to save” and I began to spatula up all the parts that were not on the floor and dumped it all into a big bowl. Mongo suggested I throw it out. Was he serious!!?? Yes he was---and then he stuck a spoon into the mess, ate some and --- well, swoon is a good word to use here. Mongo swooned. My GWFC always causes swoons.

      So, I brought the mess to the dinner party, renaming it Cheesecake Scramble. I had strawberries for the top, wherever the top was. Not pretty, but delish! The oven door was clean and the cake never hit the floor so it really was safe to eat, but I will admit it did look kind of gross. Ugly, but still a neato dessert even though a bit unconventional. My lady companions happily dug in, not minding the appearance of the strawberry topped mangled cheesecake mess and confirmed its worth by eating a whole lot of it.

      And what lesson did we learn here, folks? Well, I’ll tell you since I’m so very seriously into Life Lessons. We learned that even if something or someone looks a little smashed, out of shape, weird, perhaps even gross and ugly, they can still be pretty fabulous inwardly, and still worthy of our unconditional love, still be delicious and adored. For me the inspirational happening on that evening was my World Famous Geoffrey’s Cheese Cake Scramble.

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On Trek

Time Machine

My mind is my own personal time machine…
I can travel anywhere I have been or even haven’t seen.

I can make up travels in or out of the planet
A wild ride, not to take for granted…

For in reality, I can create my own
With friends and family, or all alone.

If I go back in time what can I learn?
There are things I might even yearn!

There are no limits to my mind,
whether in the present or ahead of time,

It is my head, my thoughts my dreams
I keep them pleasant, and positive with no extremes.

I visualize all I want to be,
and there it is happening for me.

So use your time machine, , because the universe sees,
And all your dreams can become realities.

©2016 Judith Kroll

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   "Xinnian Kuaile" in Chinese means "Happy New Year" (Xīnnián kuàilè!) (新年快乐) By the way, the Chinese pronounce it, "sshin-nyen kwhy-luh."

   Many foreigners like me living in Suzhou, China, enjoy the experience of going to Shiquan Street. It is due to the many western bars and restaurants there. Two years ago I spent a portion of the Chinese New Year at an extremely popular place on that street called Jane's Pub Bar.

   I wasn't aware at the time, though, that a huge firework display was going to be set off in front of Jane's Pub Bar to usher in the Chinese New Year. I got more enjoyment, though, from watching how excited the locals got when setting those fireworks off. I quickly pulled out my BlackBerry phone to capture part of the moment on film.

   In America we rely heavily on public safety so it was quite amusing seeing the fireworks going off while the street was still open for traffic. No one seemed to mind, though, and we really enjoyed watching the night sky light up with booming bursts of exploding energy.

   When the show ended and the smoke cleared a very attractive Chinese woman ran up and gave me a big kiss and yelled "Happy new year, Tom." That was quite exhilarating, too, and since that moment I've become a huge fan of the Chinese New Year.

   I would have to say that the biggest holiday in China is the Chinese New year. The date varies though but it always falls between January 21 and February 20, determined by the Chinese lunar calendar.

   The Chinese call the Chinese New year the spring festival. I was always a bit confused by that fact because the Chinese New year is in the middle of winter. I was told however they call it the spring festival to celebrate the coming of spring.

   Every Chinese New Year starts a new animal's zodiac year in China. This year 2016 is the year of the monkey. The animal zodiac is a very old custom in China. They name the years by one of 12 animals in their zodiac cycle. Many Chinese still believe in astrology and other New Year superstitions.

   The Chinese New year is a time for making amends, reconciling with people, avoiding offence, and re-establishing old ties. They buy and wear new clothes, give gifts, and clean house.

   The spring festival in China is a time where people travel to be with family and friends. It's China's winter vacation week, like between Christmas and New Year's Day in other countries. Schools in China get about a month off, and universities even more. China, Hong Kong and Macau, and nine other Asian countries have public holidays as well.

   4% of the world's population is now on the move. Train stations in China are extremely crowded with commuters. 200 million Mainland Chinese travel long distances for the spring festival, and it is estimated that there are 3.5 billion people journeying in China at this time. For comparison, less than 100 million people travel more than 50 miles during the Christmas holidays in the US according to the American Automobile Association.

   Billions of red envelopes are also exchanged at this time of year. Red envelopes with cash inside are given out from the older generation to the younger, from bosses to employees, and from leaders to underlings. It’s a special New Year's bonus.

   China has the largest firework displays during the Chinese New year than in any other country. No single hour in any other country sees as many tons of fireworks lighted as in China. The firework displays begin around midnight at the beginning of the Chinese New Year. China produces about 90% of the world's fireworks! Many in mainland China believe that the flash and bang of firecrackers and fireworks scare away demons and evil ghosts.

   The Chinese celebrate ‘the Lantern Festival’ it ends 16 days of festivities. Traditionally, the 16 days from New Year's Eve until the Lantern Festival - each of these 16 days has a special celebration activity. In the evening of the 15th day of the first lunar month, on the night of the full moon, families gather for dinner and go out and see fireworks and light lanterns. Lanterns are put up for decoration, let loose to fly, and floated in rivers. Ice lanterns shine in Harbin City China and High-tech giant ones glow with beautiful colors. Thousands of traditional smaller ones are lit also.

   This year will mark my 7th Chinese New Year celebration here in Suzhou, China and I am looking forward to the majestic bursts of glowing energy light up the Suzhou sky.

   It is a wonderful feeling to witness this time of year, especially, with close friends. So I would like to wish all of you a happy Chinese New Year and many more to come …….
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
    Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Irish Eyes

An Obstacle Confusion

BARNEY: When is the baby due?
BARNEY: This December?

“Formalism, by being an 'ism,' kills form by hugging it to death", so said Peter Viereck but there are “isms” worth saving. Formalism is defined as, ”the practice or the doctrine of strict adherence to prescribed or external forms.”

       Barney McKenna couldn’t be accused of such adherence.

Barney was one of the founder members of The Dubliners, arguably the most popular ballad group in the world. The group, which entertained audiences all over the world, stood the test of time for half a century. They will be remembered for generations to come as will Barney’s “spakes” known as “Barneyisms.” One member of the group described Barney as “living in a parallel universe.” He had a habit of saying things arse-ways and even those closest to him were unable to fathom if the barneyisms were deliberate or accidental. Perhaps a little of both. Another friend referred to his, “surreal use of the English language.” In the world of “isms” Donnycarney’s most famous son could hold his own with Reverend William Archibold Spooner or Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s Mrs Malaprop. Over the years I have heard many “Barneyisms” from the eternally young John Sheahan and in his poem Banjo Barney, John sums up every appearance that Barney made with the line, “ Barneyisms embellish the craic.”

       Thanks to former “Dubliner”, Jim McCann the “Barneyisms “ are now between the covers of An Obstacle Confusion, published by Liberties Press. (The title comes from a Barneyism so bizarre that if I shared it with you you’d accuse me of making it up.) Jim McCann didn’t live to see the publication of his work. After a long battle with cancer he died on 05th March 2015 but thank God he didn’t take this marvellous collection of barneyisms to the grave with him.

       Once on a concert tour in Germany his fellow artists were waxing lyrical about the panoramic view of the vine-covered hills and valleys. Barney’s contribution to the conversation? “Jaysus, there’s a fair few hangovers growin’ up there.”

      One summer when the Dubliners were at the height of their fame Barney said, “I don’t care what’s in the diary, I want two months off in August to go fishing. “ And what other boat-owner would ask directions with, “When you come out of Howth harbour, do you turn left or right for France?”

      Did you know that Barney was a vegetarian? I didn’t and neither did classical guitarist, Michael Howard. That is until the banjo- player explained to him “I only eat animals that don’t eat meat.”

      One day, in a recording studio, Barney gazed at the dials and lights flashing rhythmically in time to the music being played back through the speakers. Suddenly the sound engineer was startled by a shout, “Which one of those is the rev-counter for the banjo.” All this from a man who was so considerate that, when locked out of his hotel room, removed his shoes so that he could,” . . .kick the door in quietly.”

      The easy going Barney could, at times, be assertive. Like the time, on a plane, that Danny Doyle suggested, subtly, to him that he should change his T-shirt because there was stale vomit on the one he was wearing. Barney addressed him as “Mister Doyle” and stiffly pointed out, “ . . .for your information this is not my puke.”

      The author doesn’t neglect to acquaint the reader with Barney the Philosopher. By way of illustration he tells the story of Barney’s concern when he ascertained that there were a billion people in China. “ Can you imagine the traffic jam around Stephen’s Green if they all wanted to get into O’Donoghue’s for a pint at the same time.”

      One morning on tour he told John Sheahan at breakfast “I didn’t go to bed until about three this morning.” The ever patient John pointed out, “It was nearly six o‘clock ! You passed my room and woke me up.” Barney’s reply? “You shouldn’t have told me that. Now I’ll be knackered all day.”

In the foreword Jim McCann says, “On one occasion when I was regaling friends with some of the stories, Barney (who was laughing as hard as anyone) said the me: “’Tell them about the time I said that thing in Australia’ “. “That thing” referred to an Australian tour in 1968. Barney, on noticing the difference in temperature between Donnycarney and Melbourne commented , “Jaysus, it’s very hot over here.” When his friend pointed that it was only early morning and that by midday it would be a hundred degrees in the shade Barney had a plan. “In that case I’m staying out of the shade.”

The book is illustrated by Wendy Shea, a long-time friend of Barney. Wendy has illustrated for The Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Irish Press, Sunday Tribune , The Irish Times any many more prestigious publications. And Sean O Keefe of Liberties Press told me, "We're delighted to have published An Obstacle Confusion, and are thrilled with the reception the book is getting. It's a fitting tribute to Barney McKenna, and a wonderful celebration of The Dubliners overall. Wendy Shea's illustrations really bring the stories to life."

The older I get the more I quote one particular Barneyism, “My future is behind me.” I haven’t space to tell you much more but as the man himself might say, “If you haven’t heard this one before this will be your first time to hear it”; when Barney was complimented on his storytelling prowess by a fan who told him, “Barney, they’re great stories. You should write them down.” “It’s Ok” says Barney, “I don’t need to write them down. I’ve got them all in my head.”

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      AN OBSTACLE CONFUSION is available from;

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I never thought I’d see your face again
And then each time I think of You, it’s just the same
All I have to do is close my eyes, (and Smile)
And there you Are , right Here with me, just for the while

And now you’re here, I just can’t let you go
This feeling here, (within my Heart), it warms me so
That Ray of Sunshine in your Smile, still remains
I see the World within Your smile, here on my face

Now don’t you ever, ever think, you’re gonna leave me
‘cause I will never, never, ever let you go
and then each time I think of You, it’s just the same
you know ?, I never thought I’d see your face again

You’re staying Here, (within my Heart), you know
for every Tear I’ve cried, a Thousand Smiles glow
They shine Your Light, upon each person that I see
(you know ?) I think you gave -Your Happiness- to Me…!

©1/25/16 Phil Hennessy

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Into My Father’s Eyes

I remember looking up to see
My Daddy’s eyes looking down at me
Standing 10 foot tall, with his head in the trees
It was so hard to see the giant looking back at me
Kneeling down to inspect my knees
With his concerned eyes looking across to me
Wiping my tears and dusting me off
I was happy to see his blue eyes smiling back at me

As I grew the eyes looking down to me
Seemed closer and easier to see
The love and tenderness that watched over me
With his head no longer as high as the tree

Many times he held my hand
As we walked about our pasture land
Our topics were from A to Z
Or a simple song we would sing

As a teen we all know
We want to shake that tree from head to toe
In those loving eyes today, I see
Teary eyes now looking back to me.

No longer does Dad look down at me
Now his blue eyes are looking up to see
My loving eyes looking right back at his
Now that I have grown tall, that is

With a smile and a shake of his head
Where has time flown is said
My how you’ve grown I am pleased to say
You are a beautiful woman standing here today.

Daddy you will always be
The loving eyes looking back at me
Gave me strength to carry on
Gave me love to face each new dawn.

Now time has passed and so shall I
Praying as I look to heavens above
I see Dad’s loving blue eyes looking down to me
His out stretched hand from above still guiding me.

I thank you each and every day
I am honored to say
I love you Daddy
Forever and always!

©Jan 04, 2016 Kay Roy Jones

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I’d always thought of these
As pesky weeds,
Twining vines that climb
On every plant I grow
And give me hours of work
Untwisting them,
Uprooting them.

But this morning
I saw the brilliance
Of their crimson berries
Glowing in the winter sun,
A mockingbird
Feeding on them eagerly
In frigid January air.

©John I. Blair 2016

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Ships That Pass By My Window

Out my window, on the water is the Joseph L. Block
I see those ships coming in, around the clock
The Wilfred Sykes comes and goes a lot too
Every now and then, I see one I never knew
There's two ships named Tregurtha, the Paul and the Lee
And the Arthur M. Anderson, is another one to see
The Burns Harbor, and the Cason J. Callaway
Can be expected here, on almost any day

What is that ship? Oh it's the H. Lee White
I see it moving to dock, oh what a sight
Here comes the Hon. James L. Oberstar
Shining in the sunlight, it must have come far

I never know what ship I'll see when I awake
I grab my camera, to see what's on the lake
Here it comes, the Mesabi Miner
From the 15th floor, nothing could be finer

If I can't see the name of the ship that I see
Dave has strong binoculars, so he'll tell me
It's enjoyable to see those ships come and go
When you're by the water, it's a Great Lakes Ship Show
Ships that pass by, carrying Iron ore
What a great view, I couldn't ask for more
©Jan 18, 2016 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
There are many more ships that pass by, those
are just a few. Back as a kid we called
them Ore Boats and they carried Ore and unloaded
them and made the big Ore piles. They would be
all over the Train Tracks too. I love watching the Ships
come in and look out my window to see them.

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Take a retrospective
Of every day you live
See how far life's taken you
Think of all the people you knew
Friends and lovers, they come and go
But aren't you happy, that you came to know
People close, have touched you the most
Passing into spirit, they've become a ghost
Gone from the physical, yet in spirit they are near
They watch your journey, as you travel here

A retrospective of all that you've learned
A lifetime achievement that is well earned
For all the bumps that were in the road
There was always some help to carry that load
Friends along life's highway, had come along
To guide you right, and shared their life's song

In photos, in journals, or even in a poem
A retrospective of all places, that I have called home
Are shown in everything that I do
The love I share openly with you
A retrospective of my life here on Earth
The years that taught me, beginning with my birth
©Jan 25, 2016 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
When we look back on where we started and where we
are now, so many things have changed, especially you.
You have grown in so many ways, and changed with the
changes. If your “Present” Me would meet up with your
“Past” me, you'd hardly know it was you. Age and life
does that to a person. A retrospective is a look back on
all you've done and the changes along the way.

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Dreams And Wishes

I knew that there had to be Changes.
I knew that this could not go on.
I knew there would be many pages,
and I knew, upon Each, was a Song.

I know that it's hard, to get going, sometimes
When everything seems, to be Fine
When it's Warm, in the House, and it's Raining, out there,
Are we Crazy for goin' Outside...?

My Dreams, and my Wishes, my Hopes, and my Ambitions,
I Always knew, would come True.
When you take things for Granted,
What you're Granted, gets Taken,
Then, all that is You.

The one that you Dance with,
the One you Romance with,
can capture your Heart, and your Mind.
At the End of it all, when Emotions are Raw,
You hold on, to the parts, that were Kind.

©March 27, 2014 Phillip Hennessy

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January Roses

Seeing roses,
Fragrant, pink,
In January, late,

Fools me
Into thinking
This is spring.

I’m already
So inclined;
The need is great.

But the forecast
Calls for snow,

To fragile petals,
Sweet scents,

So I stand behind
The cool panes
Gazing at the blooms,

Their twined stems
Miracles of grace
And green,

Living in the now,
Finding life
Where life is seen.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Must Go

When the leftovers have outstayed their welcome on the shelf
It's time for someone to take action, possibly yourself
Eat it up quickly, surely you should know
Before the food goes bad, it “Must Go”
Do it before you have anything new
Or the food will look gross, and smell awful too
Then you'll have wasted the food that you bought
Better to think wisely, and act with that thought

It's time to have a “Must Go” meal tonight
Down to your stomach, out of mind, out of sight
That wasn't so bad, and what a great taste
The food that had sat there, didn't go to waste

Check the expiration date, in case it “Must Go”
Eat it for supper, before the mold starts to show
Don't fill up your garbage with food that's gone bad
Have a “Must Go” meal, that's what I just had

Look through your refrigerator, see what is there
Look closely at what is wrapped everywhere
If you see something that needs attention, you'll know
It's time to have a supper, with another “Must Go”

©Dec 28, 2015 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
We always called them leftovers, but recently I've heard
people calling them “Must Go.” I decided it would make
a great poem. We all have thrown out food that could have
been saved if only we remembered and noticed it was there.
Sometimes I think we spend more money than we need to,
and there is always something that “Must Go.” So go look
over your refrigerator and see if there is something that
“Must Go” tonight.

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Alaska Under the Sun

When the snow and ice are gone
Alaska under the sun
The radiation would have won
Alaska under the sun
Carry us on

When the white caps turn to rain
And icebergs fall down the drain
When the polar bears are gone
Alaska under the sun
Carry us on

We’re shooting ourselves in the foot
Thinking we’ve done all we could

When the snow and ice are gone
When winter nights are dark and warm
When the fire burns in the sky
When the sun bakes you and I

When the white caps turn to rain
And the icebergs do just the same
When there’s nothing left for the walrus to hold on
Alaska under the sun
Carry us on

©1/21/16 Bruce Clifford

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Nothing to be Said

Change is good when a change is grand
Read a book and take a stand
All the real ones stand in a line
It’s been this way since the dawn of time

It’s not so bad when the falling is out
Sing a song and begin to shout
The chaos of the nightmare that turns to grey
We never knew any other way

What can I say when there’s nothing to be said
The silence is golden, but rings true in my head
What can I do when there’s nothing to be done
The ghosts of the past sit with the rising sun

How do we fit in when the chemicals are blocked
Take a stand and beat the clock
All the fake ones take up all of our time
All the goose ones are doing just fine

What can I say when there’s nothing to be said
The silence is golden, but rings true in my head
What can I do when there’s nothing to be done
The ghosts of the past sit with the rising sun

Change is good when a change is to be made
Write the words of the promises we’ve made
All the real ones stand in a line
It’s been this way since the dawn of time

©1/2/16 Bruce Clifford

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Bitterness at Life

Bitterness at life
Taints everything
You touch:

The sweetest food
Tastes acrid;
Rain that drops

A blessing
On your head
Chills instead;

A warm embrace
Feels like
Painful prison;

And existence
Has no grace.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Self-Confrontation, Anger, and God’s Grace

   Self-Confrontation: We run away from it because it’s scary. Because we want to believe that we are so much better than everyone around us. We are a selfish, narcissistic people by nature. That’s a consequence of a fallen world. God never wanted us to be this way but it was all changed with one bite of a fruit. And now we have to deal with the repercussions.

   I’ve always prided myself on being compassionate, and caring more for my friends than myself. Mistake number 1. Don’t pride yourself on anything. We’re supposed to be humble. That’s a lot harder than it sounds. Yes, we are supposed to be compassionate and selfless and love the way God loves and see people the way He sees. But if you are bragging, or constantly telling yourself that you haven’t done anything wrong because you have those traits you are just as much in the wrong as anybody else. That’s where I’ve failed. I’ve made myself believe a big lie. I self justify myself. That my anger with other people, the problems I’ve had to deal with are not my fault at all. Because you know how could they be when I’m such a good friend, when I care so much for other people…right? I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

   So I’ve had to confront my own ego in the past couple of days. My own misgivings. Because I am not a perfect person. I am not a perfect friend. I am not a perfect fiancée. I am the result of a fallen world. That all sounds harsh and I promise I will be a little optimistic at the end of this so just hang with me.

   See up until about 2 days ago, I thought my anger at a friend was extremely justified. This friend has made mistakes. Caused conflict. And on and on and on I went justifying my own anger. BUT, then I changed my tune a little. And I was then angry with God. Yikes. I was angry that there is so much conflict in this world. Everywhere we turn there is conflict and sin and anger. There is depression and anxiety and turmoil. There is chaos and honestly, it’s really hard to see past all that sometimes. So I was angry with God.

   Brick wall.

   Isn’t it ironic that when we start blaming other people and God, that He has a way of turning it all around?

   Enter this quote: “The world doesn’t need any more finger-pointers. It needs more people to honestly point out their own sins, and humbly point up to everyone’s Savior.”

   That hurt, and honestly when I read that quote, I prayed and begged God to remove it from my memory. Because, “God, I know what that quote means. And I really don’t think that’s what I was supposed to read. Where’s the quote or the verse that say’s I am justified in my anger? That I have every right to be mad at someone who has done me wrong?”

   It’s not there. I’ll tell you that right now. It’s not. So don’t go searching for it.

   So I am not angry with my friend, I am not angry with God. Those are just cover-ups for the fact that I am so angry with myself. For making myself believe that lie of self-justification.

   Alright, optimism time!

   We are a selfish people, we are a sinful people. Because we are not perfect. There has only been one perfect man to ever walk this earth. His name is Jesus. Messiah. Emmanuel.

   He gives us grace. Even when we don’t deserve it. The mercies of God won’t ever fail. We can strive to be compassionate, and selfless. God just wants us to show up and try. But even when we fail, He will be there to catch us in His unwavering grace and mercy.

   So I’ve come to realize that sometimes it helps to think that people aren’t being difficult, maybe they are having difficulties and maybe there isn’t a need to show anyone how great we are and how right we are. We only need to point to the One who mends all our brokenness and all our shame and all our anger.

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From Author's Blog "Altogether Beautiful."


Thank you, Dr. Dyer

      A month before Dr. Wayne Dyer had passed, he was in a dream I had one evening. In the dream we were having a conversation, and from what I can recall, it was as if he was giving me advice, about my work. He was speaking and also sharing advice, about not giving up, at any time, no matter how difficult it can be at times.

      I also recall the conversation, was very pleasant. One that two colleagues would be speaking of their experiences of their work over the years. The final feeling was that I could speak to him at any time, if I needed advice.

      And I woke up that morning, saying why would he visit me in a dream? I mean how that could have even happened in the first place. Some friends said it was as if your souls knew each other, and you were speaking Soul to Soul. I thought but surely why his soul would want to speak to my soul?

      Sunday, August 30th, was a calm day. My husband and I drove up to Kittery, Maine, to the Rockport Shoe outlet store. They had a fantastic sale and he was able to get a great pair of shoes, at a fantastic bargain. We stopped at a few more stores, along the road, and then decided to take the back roads home. The sun began to set, and I noticed the interesting way, the sun rays were shining their light through the clouds.

      I wanted to take some pictures, but we were going too fast, to get a good picture. So I gave up and eventually we traveled back to the highway. I noticed the sky again, and how the light was shining through. I took some pictures and thought they were pretty cool. One looked like a guy wearing a hat and being a bit silly, I thought to myself. “Oh maybe it’s God, wearing a hat today.”

      Within 20 minutes, we arrived to our home. I was on a call with some friends, and as we were speaking, I was checking out Facebook. I saw a post, on my feed page, which said Dr Wayne Dyer had passed on Saturday Night. I saw this and thought is this really true? The others on my call were able to confirm that he had passed. We were all very much in shock over this news. We were all relaying stories of Dr Dyer for a few minutes, then we said our goodbyes, a few minutes later.

      I had a feeling I needed to go back to the pictures, I had taken earlier, on my iPhone. So I went back and checked out the pictures, I had taken earlier. As I was looking at the pictures, I saw the man with a hat in the picture was Dr. Wayne Dyer!! Or maybe a likeness of to him, because of the hat and the way the eyes were and the shape of the head. Then I received the message, in a very subtle way.

       “I am always here, and I am doing well”

       “I am free.”

       “I am free to help those I may not had been able to work with before.”

       “I can work with many now at any time.”

       And then days later, I saw others were getting the same messages

      “I am here and I will help you when you ask, you just have to ask for help or guidance.”

      Here is the picture that I took hours, before I realized, Dr. Dyer had passed.

      If you look almost mid line of where the trees and sky come together, with the light showing, you can the likeness of Dr. Wayne Dyer. As the week progressed, I was able to see other spirits in the picture, and some symbols, a heart and a star, and also two angels above his hat in mid picture. I feel this was a true gift from Dr. Wayne Dyer, for me to share with the world. He is still among us, and he really wants to help us too. As others have pointed out, “He is off on his next adventure.” I believe that to be so true.

      I have been trying to recall when I first heard about Dr Wayne Dyer. I think it was late 80’s, early 90’s. I had his paperback book Your Erroneous Zones, and read it in the early 90’s. I liked the book, but I am not sure I really understood what he had written about.

      In the fall of 2002, I had just finished watching his lecture on PBS, and started to reread his first book Your Erroneous Zones. I decided I wanted to purchase a few other of his books over the year and also purchased, his CD, 101 Ways to transform your life. I listened to this cassette tape on morning, noon and night, as I was cleaning and cooking or folding the laundry at times. The cassette had 101 quotes of what spirituality is for us. This cd helped me to understand the difference between spirituality and religion. To be honest, it took me quite a while to truly understand the words, he was sharing with us. It was so calming for me and helped me to understand who God is and how he can assist us and also how much he truly loves us too. I was learning about how we are spiritual and physical beings at the same time. It was the beginning of my spiritual awakening.

      In 2004, I had the opportunity to go to Boston, to the Empire Theatre on Tremont Street, to see Wayne Dyer, perform his lecture for a PBS show, The Power of Intention, which was to be published by Hay House, the spring of 2005. I was in line, waiting to go, in to the theatre, Dr Dyer, was passing us and saying hello to us, as he was walking down the sidewalk.

      From 2005 untill the spring of 2007, I continued reading his books, and continued to purchase his CDs and listen to his lectures on PBS. That winter of 2007, I found out he was going to be in Boston, for a weekend Seminar, in April of that year. I bought a ticket for the weekend seminar. The name of the weekend was The Morning and the Afternoon of your life. He spoke of how the morning of your life is in your 20’s and 30’s, possibly going into your 40’s and The Afternoon of your life from your mid 40’s to your 60’s and beyond. It was a wonderful weekend. I had this idea that I wanted to write Dr Dyer a letter, to thank him for the weekend of possibilities, presented to us. I was able to get his address and I sent him a letter to his place in Maui. A few months later, a package came in the mail for me, from Dr Dyer. He sent me a card with a short note and two cds, some note cards and few other goodies…. I was quite thrilled to say that he took the time at least, to send this package and to let me receive a personal note from him too.

      His message on the front of the card with a large oak tree on the front part of the card "There is an ancient simple truth that the mighty oak was once a little nu that held its ground. We’re all a mighty oak in the making and it’s all right to be a little nutty as long as we hold our ground.” Dr. Wayne Dyer.

      I thought it was a perfect description for what I was going through: searching for answers but also in line with my life’s work as a preschool teacher at the time. The acorns and tree reminded me of the song, “I am a little acorn nut” I use to teach my preschoolers every Fall. On the inside of the card, he wrote, Peg-
I so enjoyed your deeply honest letter- Stay connected to Your Source- You are Divinity Itself.
Wayne Dyer.

      I was a giddy school girl for weeks and thrilled he had responded back to me.

      And so the years continued and I continued to work as a teacher and case manager. I also started my work with angels and enrolled in my coach certification class and then persuing my writing and mentoring and teaching. I read his book Wishes Fulfilled and would listen to his show on Hay House Radio occasionally.

      In the Fall of 2014, I was listening to his show, and I had the opportunity to speak to him for a few minutes. It was a wonderful conversation, about children, as he was writing his last book, and a few other things and then he said “Well I could talk to you all day, but I better go.”
I said, Thank you for the conversation and have a nice day. After the conversation, I was thinking, it would be wonderful to speak some more, sometime.

      And I guess I can speak to him anytime I am able or need to.

      You can speak to him too, because he really wants to help all that he can.

      Two weeks after I had spoken to Dr Dyer on his show, he sent me his newest book, written by his Daughter Serena and Dr. Dyer together. Don’t Die With Your Music still in You.

      I so resonate with that title, because I feel this is what we are all called to do in our own way. No matter what your skills are or abilities are, we need to be empowered to be in a place of doing this for ourselves and for others. Because as Dr. Dyer says “The only true emotion is Love.” The rest comes from ego. And you all know what you do with the committee in the head, i.e. ego. You fire that committee.

      Don’t forget to look at the sky, you never know who may be stopping by.

      It could be an angel, or a symbol that may have some meaning for you, on this day

      When looking for a sign or some validation, sometimes you can receive this by looking up at the sky. ©October 2015 Peg Jones

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Emeralds for Emma - Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter Five

Tatiana’s Journal

My name is Tatiana. I hope that you who are reading this are a descendant of mine, and that you have made a happy life for yourself and your loved ones. It is not an easy task, I know. If I had a family coat of arms to bequeath to you, its motto would be “Life is not easy, nor joy free.” But I would also add this: "Love is the most precious thing."

I was born in Moscow in 1855 to Emeraude-Marie Romanov and Daniel Shlomo Lelko. From early childhood I learned the value and cost of love. Both my parents were disowned by their families – she for “consorting with a Jew” and he for loving a woman who was not a Jew. They became each other’s family, and they were blessed with the strength, courage and talent to make a far more satisfying life together than either could have had, had they obeyed their families.

An only child, I grew up pampered by my parents and by their many kind and generous friends. My mother was soft-spoken but strong. She was also beautiful, had the voice of a nightingale and the vision of an artist. She was my father’s true companion, looking never back to what she had given up but always forward to what they would accomplish together. While she could have been a performer or painted for commissions, she chose to make her life her art. Joy filled our home, peace and security in the knowledge of my parents’ mutual devotion and fidelity.

My father was a truly gifted musician. Whether with reed, strings or piano, he could flood a listener’s soul with beauty. Cast out from the Jewish community, he was accepted by others because of his talent and gentle wit. We lived well in a spacious house in the city, a gift from one of his patrons.
Emeraude had flaxen hair and violet-blue eyes, wore pastel colors and lace. Even when I was grown up, she had kept her willowy figure. She loved to work in our garden, and her kitchen produced feasts the Czar himself would have praised whether she was entertaining my father’s patrons, friends and neighbors, or just the three of us. She wore around her neck a golden chain from which she had removed a cross when she left her parents’ house. The cross she gave to her brother’s wife, who remained her steadfast friend.

Papa had bright auburn hair, as I did when I was young, and the same moss-green eyes. He was a well-educated man, far more intelligent than many of the wealthy he worked for. Perhaps this is just a loving daughter’s opinion, but Papa seemed comfortable in any company and always made others feel comfortable as well. This was a gift of his that my mother taught me is the truest form of courtesy, the essence of good manners. He was always kind, generous and fair.

Because of the unique social position my parents had earned, I was raised almost like a nobleman’s daughter. I learned needlework and, of course, the piano. I was also happy working in the garden with my mother and climbing trees with the stable boys, but my parents hired tutors so I would learn mathematics, history and science. I can’t remember a time when I did not know how to read and write, and I grew up speaking French and Russian at home. In spite of himself, Papa taught me bits of Yiddish, mostly exclamations of dismay and words I should not use before company.

I learned to ride horses when I was very, very young. Some of Papa’s wealthy friends were amazed that I showed no fear, and it amused them to watch little Tati, with her flaming hair, riding a pony as if I had been born on one. As I grew, the horses became larger, too. Some of the ladies were slightly scandalized when they realized that a fifteen-year-old girl was riding astride like a boy, but attempts to make me change to a sidesaddle were abandoned when I somehow kept falling off. Propriety was not so important, after all, for “Lelko’s little girl.” It was not as if I were destined to be a lady.

Mama designed special riding garb for me – a split skirt that the French call culottes. They were quite satisfactory, though not as practical as the trousers I could wear while I was a child, and the ladies reluctantly approved. No one could have known what an important role horses would play in my life.

Our home was a wonderful place filled with art, music and conversation. Among my parents’ friends were poets, writers, painters, musicians and intellectuals who reveled in the mutual respect and curiosity that were part of the very air we breathed. The privileges of “Lelko’s little girl” were also enjoyed by Lelko’s friends. Mama and Papa created an atmosphere around them that encouraged questions and debate. Books were everywhere. Life was filled with possibilities. The ideal of freedom was tempered only with the importance of accepting the consequences of one’s actions.

It was heaven for a girl who hungered to know “why.” I had a remarkably happy childhood, and it was supposed – I guess – that I would one day find a suitable mate among the children of our friends. But that was not what happened.

After I’ve told you how idyllic my childhood was, how compassionate and understanding my parents were, you must wonder that I could have left them as I did. Looking back over all these years, I can only conclude that they taught me too well to follow my heart.

The trouble began, if I could identify its beginning in relationship to the early part of my life, with a horse. There is a saying you’ve probably heard: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Good advice, perhaps, but I would not have done anything differently.

For my eighteenth birthday, one of Papa’s patrons – a duke, I believe – decided to make a gift to me of my very own riding horse. “Lelko’s girl,” no longer so little, would have her very own thoroughbred mare from no less than the finest stables in eastern Europe. He presented me with letters of credit and introduction to Carl Eduard Josef Albrecht Baron von Willensky, whose horses were known for their soundness, strength, grace and presence.

Spoiled as I was, I was dumbstruck by the generosity of the gift. But Papa sided with his great friend and said to me, “Tati, don’t be rude. Accept this lovely gift and make this kind man happy.”

And so it was that I traveled alone by rail and coach from Moscow to Vilnius. The duke had arranged first-class accommodations for me, and the soft leather seats and fine wood paneling made the coaches seem like drawing rooms on wheels. But the trip was a long one and tiring. I was not used to sitting still for very long, and there was not much to do besides read and watch the scenery. I chatted with some of the ladies in the dining car and avoided the uninvited attentions of several men who were also traveling alone.

Fortunately there was much to see as the train passed from the familiar woodlands surrounding Moscow to the more open spaces of Lithuania. I had never seen so many farms and fields as the forests, cut back for the railroad easements, gave way to open agricultural land and rolling meadows dotted with cattle and horses.

When we finally arrived in Vilnius, I was struck by the size and age of the city, but there was no time to explore it, for I was met at the station by representatives of the von Willensky family and brought to visit their country house and stables. At eighteen I was a grown woman and had, superficially at least, the sophistication and self-possession of many noblewomen twice my age. The Lelko family was considered above reproach in the circles we occupied in Moscow, and my singular arrival was accepted as the way “city people” allowed their unmarried daughters liberty that was not the norm around Vilnius.

It was a short and comfortable ride to the von Willensky’s country house, but the carriage driver and footman spoke only German. I was treated with respect but unable to ask questions. When we reached the great house, I was relieved to be greeted in Russian. The manor and stables were large, substantial structures of wood and stone. A deep porch sheltered the front of the house, and there I first met the baron, his wife and their daughter.

The baron was a very impressive man, the kind I doubt would have bowed to the Czar. A click of his Prussian leather boots would have had to suffice. Just about everything that had to do with horses in Russia at the time was heavily influenced by the Prussians and other Germans who were renowned for raising the finest, best-trained dogs and horses. His great moustache failed to detract from the effect of his dark brown eyes – so dark I found it difficult to discern the iris. He was tall and broad but not at all fat or soft. He seemed to me like a mountain, and his deep voice rumbled heavily accented Russian as he welcomed me to his home. His wife was almost as formidable as he, but remained quiet and diffident in her husband’s presence. She said little as she directed household servants to take my travel cases to a guest room. Their daughter appeared delicate, unlike her parents, and greeted me softly in French.

Dinner was served late that first evening, in my honor it seemed. Slabs of beef, great bowls of potatoes and basins of spicy-sweet red cabbage were served with chilled tankards of beer. Dessert included an amazing chocolate torte and preserved cherries in syrup served with cups of strong dark coffee and sweet cream for those who wanted it. Only the baron’s youngest son, Josef, was absent from the table. The two older ones, Carl and Franz, looked like younger versions of their father and behaved like obedient children in his presence. Their sister, Berta, was a slender young woman with pale hair and eyes, for whom Mama would have prescribed fresh air, sunshine and dancing.
Next morning I awoke early, dressed for the stables in one of my culottes and went downstairs for breakfast. The baroness set a hearty table. The baron, Carl and Franz were finishing their coffee when I arrived. Cook brought me a plate of cheese, eggs and dark bread that was more than I could finish, along with a tempting array of preserved berries. I was drinking coffee and pushing the last of the eggs around my plate when I was joined by Berta, who instructed the cook to bring her tea and toast with a bit of applesauce.


Berta was surprisingly fluent in French, which made it easy to converse with her. Her Russian was less intelligible than her father’s and I knew no German but bits of Yiddish. We made small talk about the weather and she asked about life in Moscow. She had little interest in horses and seemed reluctant to speak of her father. She told me that her mother worried too much about things that were not important, but that she herself had yet to learn what was really important.

Although Berta was several years older than I, her life had been extremely sheltered compared to mine. Her father determined where she could go and with whom. Most of the books in the house were religious or had to do with horses and general agriculture. Berta enjoyed needlework but dreaded the required piano lessons. Because of her father’s status and attitudes, she had few friends and confidants. She feared that one day he would arrange a marriage for her and she would spend her whole life bound by duty and obedience, just as her mother had.

It was difficult to find the words to answer her. I was a guest in her father’s house. Daughters of even the most pious and class-conscious Russians had more personal freedom than Berta had. I told her about the museums I had visited, the concerts and the poetry readings. Then she asked me whether it was true that my parents had married for love against their parents’ wishes. Had they really been disinherited and shunned? How could they live and be happy cut off from their families?

French is a language of subtlety, and I spoke softly to her of my life and the home my parents had made together. Keeping watch on the two doorways so that no one would surprise us in this dangerous conversation, Berta told me my story filled her with admiration and fear. She envied my courage and freedom – two things I had always taken for granted – and hoped that I would always be so fortunate. Even joining a convent and submitting to the order of religious life seemed preferable to being given in marriage to a man like her father.

At last two of the kitchen maids came noisily into the dining room to clear the table, joking loudly in German – I think they were used to announcing their arrival this way to avoid walking in on awkward conversations.

Berta gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and went back up the stairs. I found my coat and went out to visit the stables and begin the rest of my life.

Chapter Six


A well-kept stable has a wonderful winey smell, rather like a clean dairy barn. The smell of healthy animals has never been offensive to me, and the sweet hay and oiled leather combined with the unvarnished wood of the structure to remind me of pleasant rides in the forests and parks near home.

I could see several of the baron’s horses grazing in a fenced pasture in the distance, and several mares and foals were standing in the paddock adjoining the stables. What intrigued me more were the soft whinnies and nickering from within the stalls.

Men’s and boys’ voices rose and fell in what sounded like good-natured banter as they washed and brushed the horses. I listened from just inside the stable’s main door and wished I could speak German well enough to join them. My hushed conversation with Berta at breakfast had been very frustrating. Would everyone here think I should behave as she did? I was not one of them – I was Tatiana Lelko, come from Moscow to buy a horse. They might think me unbecomingly forward and too worldly, but I would not waste the duke’s money.

I walked to the nearest stall and peered through the gate to see if a horse was inside. I saw a full mane the color of sable and a great brown eye every bit as intimidating as the baron’s. Much to my disgust, I jumped back with a small cry, calling attention to my presence in the stable. A young man and two boys came out of one of the far stalls, surprised to see a female visitor. The boys grinned and the man began to speak gruffly to me in German. I took a step toward him and addressed him firmly in French.

“Good morning,” I said, “I am Tatiana Emeraude Lelko. I have come from Moscow to select a riding horse from the baron’s stable. Would you be so kind as to show me some of the horses that are for sale?”

He motioned the boys to go back to mucking out the stalls and began to talk to me in excellent French. “Miss Lelko, I have been told about you. They say you are an experienced rider, but I don’t think Globus there is the horse for you. He is a very aggressive stallion, and he is mine.”

“I am not interested in some docile creature,” I replied. “My father’s friend sent me here to find a horse with spirit and stamina, the kind of animal the baron’s stable is famous for. I am not afraid of horses.”

It became very quiet in the stable as the man and I glared at each other. He had to know that I was not afraid of him, either. As I watched him, a change came over his face and the scowl was replaced by a broad smile.

“Where are my manners!” he exclaimed. “Miss Lelko, I am Josef, the baron’s youngest son. I work with the horses. Hans and Gus are my helpers, two of my father’s employees.”

The boys peered around the gate of the stall, eyes wide as they listened to their master speak French in the stable, and to a woman. He began to offer me his hand, thought better of it remembering what his hand had been doing, and attempted to click his boots as his father did. This maneuver did not produce the desired effect because his boots were quite caked with mud and manure.

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance,” I managed to say before our laughter sent Hans and Gus ducking behind the gate, noisily resuming their chores.

“Let me go back to the house and make myself presentable, Miss Lelko,” he said. “Then I will be honored to show you the von Willensky horses.”

We walked back to the house in an awkward silence, and I sat on the porch with Berta while her brother went upstairs to transform himself from a stable boy into a baron’s son.

“He’s quite different from the other two,” Berta said softly – Berta said everything softly. “He reads books and listens to music. Carl and Franz are very interested in helping father manage the business of the stables, but Josef likes being with the horses. Our brothers don’t understand why he bothered to learn French and study the arts if he wants to work alongside the hired help, but that’s the way my little brother is.”

“He certainly is not afraid to get dirty,” I remarked, thinking of the joys I shared with Mama in all those earthy hours in her garden. “My father preferred his music and books. Myself, I want all of it.”

“It must be wonderful to want everything and have some hope of getting it,” Berta replied. She looked away for a moment so I could not see her face. We were silent for a while, and then Josef reemerged from the house, freshly shaved, hands scrubbed clean, and dressed for riding.

“Forgive me for taking your visitor, Bertie,” he said to her. “But the lady has come to see our horses, and see them she shall.” He kissed her forehead gently and led me back to the stables.


Josef shortened his stride for me as I lengthened mine to keep up with him. (Thank you, Mama, for the culottes!) He was not as tall as his father and brothers, but tall enough that I had to look up a bit to look into his eyes, which were a hazel-gray like Berta’s. He moved with his father’s confidence and authority, but without the menace.

“I’m afraid we have no ladies’ saddles, but I doubt that will be a problem for you,” he said with a smile that showed bright, clean teeth. Despite the humor in his voice, I sensed a challenge, just a hint of wolfishness about him.

“If by ladies’ saddles you mean those wretched side-saddles, that is no problem at all,” I replied. “I’ve been riding astride since I was a child. But I don’t think I could stay on a man’s saddle made for your father.”

“Few can,” he laughed. “No, we have some saddles with short trees that should be comfortable for you. I noticed your riding skirt – very sensible.”

I was trying to find the right words to ask him why I should not be sensible, when we arrived at the main stable door.

“Most of the horses are in the pasture now,” he said. “Globus is alone in the paddock, in solitary splendor.” His obvious pride in the stallion was boyish. “We have to keep close track of the mares he mates with to avoid inbreeding. Globus is not the only stallion we have here, but I think he is one of the finest horses I have ever known.”

As we walked through the stable to the paddock, Josef asked me whether I was looking for a mare or a gelding. I did not object to his exclusion of stallions because I knew they could be unpredictable and often demanded more physical strength to control them than I possessed. Seeing Globus in the light of day confirmed that.

In the half-light of the stall, Globus was impressive. But in the morning sunshine he was magnificent. He was huge for a horse that was not a draught animal, and I had been used to the fine-boned Polish Arabians my father’s friends kept. Globus was a Hanoverian stallion that stood more than seventeen hands high and was well-proportioned. His coat was deep sable, almost black, and his luxuriant mane and tail gleamed like burnished ebony. His eyes, though, still reminded me of the baron’s.

“He is wonderful,” I said softly. “Do you ride him often?”

“Let’s find a mount for you,” Josef replied, “and we’ll go riding together after lunch.”

Surveying the animals in the pasture was exhilarating. The von Willensky stables did seem to have only wonderful horses. Josef asked me again whether I preferred a mare or a gelding, and I told him it depended on the qualities of the individual horse.

“Then I will select three for your consideration,” he said. “I will have Hans and Gus bring the candidates in from the pasture to the paddock, and you can examine them. I will be very happy to tell you all I know about their personalities, their health and their bloodlines.”

I returned to the porch of the main house to visit with Berta until lunchtime, and Josef went off in search of Hans and Gus to select the horses. I found Berta sitting where we had left her, needlework in her lap but her gaze somewhere far off.

The baron and his wife had gone into the city with Carl and Franz, so Berta played hostess for our lunch. When Josef returned from the stables, cook brought us cold pickled herring in sour cream with freshly sliced onions and a pungent horseradish sauce, pickled beets and fragrant dark bread, still warm from the morning baking, accompanied by fresh sweet butter from their dairy. A spiced apple compote with raisins finished the meal and we lingered over coffee and tea, talking of poetry and music. Although I was eager to examine the horses, I reluctantly left Berta on the porch and accompanied Josef to the paddock.


Hans and Gus had prepared three truly beautiful horses for my examination – a reddish-gold geldimg named Cosimo, a bay gelding named Boris, and a dappled gray mare named Kismet.

Cosimo was almost as tall as Globus, but not nearly as massive. “He doesn’t always remember he’s a gelding,” Josef laughed as Hans struggled to keep the horse still. “Lots of spirit, that one. Papa brought him in from Italy and was furious when he saw the horse was no longer the stallion he’d admired in Turin. It is very unfortunate that he was gelded. Papa nearly wept for the horses Cosimo could have sired. Because of language difficulties and the legal systems involved, the lawsuit will never be settled, but Cosimo is a fine horse – a challenge for even an experienced rider.”

The big horse finally pulled free of poor Hans and trotted over to some tasty clover.

Gus looped Boris’s reins over the fencepost and went to help Hans retrieve Cosimo. Boris was dark with a blaze of white on his face and white feet, but he seemed too timid – not tame but afraid. “Why does he act like that?” I asked Josef.

“This one has been ill-treated. I did not mean for the boys to bring him to you. I asked for Horus, a white Arabian that one of Papa’s friends has been considering. Unless he has been sold, I’ll have Hans get him for you.”

“Wait,” I replied. “The mare has been watching me. Tell me about her.”

The dappled gray Shagya Arabian was watching me as if waiting for a signal. She had been untethered in the paddock and approached me at the fence with much curiosity. She was a sturdy little horse, built for endurance. She leaned her nose over the fence and snuffled gently for the sugar cubes I offered her.

“Now there’s one ready to be spoiled,” Josef observed. “She’s a new arrival here. Don’t be fooled by her size or her apparent gentleness. She’s fast and she’s stubborn.”

“She also looks very sound and healthy, not broken and nervous like poor Boris,” I replied, stroking her face. “Kismet is a Turkish name, isn’t it? Fate?”

“I’m still trying to sort out her bloodlines,” Josef said. “Papá usually buys only horses with impeccable pedigrees, but this one seemed so special to me that I convinced him to buy her from the Romany who pass through here several times each year. She has never been bred, and she’s about two years old. I suspect some of her ancestors were from Asia. She is healthy and strong.”

“I would like to ride her, Josef,” I said. “She seems to want me to.”

“Very well, Miss Lelko,” he started.

“Tatiana, Josef, please. My friends call me Tati.”

“Very well, Tati,” he replied. “I will have Hans and Gus saddle her and Globus. Then we will ride.”
Soon we were astride our mounts and started side by side to put them through their paces. First a gentle walk, then a slow trot and a brisk canter, and finally a full-out gallop on the carefully kept bridle paths surrounding the manor. Because of Globus’s longer stride, Josef was soon ahead of me.

I found myself admiring the musculature and grace of the great dark stallion, then realized that I was also admiring the body of the man who was riding him. All these years later, I can still recall the blush blossoming on my face and the heat rising in other parts of my body as I watched Josef.

As the child of open-minded artists, I had heard much discussion of love and passion in my parents’ home. The workings of the human body were no mystery to me. But never before had I felt such a rush of yearning for a real person as opposed to a young girl’s fantasy. I had enjoyed the attention of suitors, I had been kissed, I had even had the occasion to slap the face of a young man who tried to make unwelcome advances. But I remained a virgin by choice, old-fashioned enough to want to save myself for my wedding night. I firmly believed it was a matter of self-respect, not prudishness.

Some would say that my arousal was one reason why respectable women rode the abominable sidesaddle, if they rode at all. But I believe I would have experienced the same feelings about Josef if I had been watching him ride while I sat on the porch sipping tea with his sister.

When he and I were young, my Josef had thick hair the color of rich, sandy loam brushed with gold. He was not as physically imposing as his father and brothers, but neither was he a gangly youth. Had he been much shorter, I might have said he had a dancer’s body. He was too tall for that, though, and was broad-shouldered and well-muscled. Perhaps he would have had narrow hips if he had not spent so much time on horseback. His face was broad and open, with a generous mouth and a straight nose of just the right proportions. His hazel eyes burned with intelligence. To me, he was magnificent.

Riding the dappled gray mare for the first time, I was confused and challenged by my situation. There I was, trying to concentrate on the performance of an expensive new horse and being tremendously distracted by the physicality of a young man riding just ahead of me – a man I had just met that day!
Tatiana, you’re a fool, I thought to myself. You don’t even know him. He may have a fiancee. Think about the horse! Kismet – fate….

While Globus’s long legs kept Josef ahead of me in the slower paces, the gallop gave Kismet the opportunity to show off. Riding her was easy, as if she could read my mind. After we began to gallop, I let her show me what she could do and we left Josef and Globus in our dust! Finally, when I could no longer see them behind us, I slowed her to a walk and dismounted under a tree near a little brook.
 She and I had both earned a rest, and I let her graze while I sat against a fir tree waiting for “the men” to show up.

As I sat there, perspiring, it occurred to me that I had given Josef ample opportunity to contemplate my derriere once I passed him on Kismet. Well, there was nothing to be done for it. I was a guest in his parents’ home, with connections to Russian aristocrats. I was not used to feeling like the ingenue in a silly novel. I was not used to feeling foolish and confused by a man.

Kismet whinnied and I looked up to see Josef and Globus come into view around the last curve in the path.

“I trust you are sitting on the ground by your own choice,” Josef said with gentle sarcasm. “You and Kismet seemed on very good terms when you passed us back there.”

“We decided to wait for you,” I responded. “We agreed that had we known we’d be traveling so far we would have brought a picnic basket.”

“My apologies, Tati,” he smiled as he dismounted and continued, “but we’ve come so far around the paths that we’re now just a short distance from the house.”

Globus walked slowly over to the brook for a drink of water, and Josef sat down by the tree, very close to me. I felt myself blush again at the smell of fresh sweat and horse. Was Josef aware of the lavender that scented my clothes and the rose water I had splashed on myself that morning? Seldom at a loss for words, I could think of nothing to say as time seemed to stretch endlessly at the base of that tree.

Josef leaned over and gently kissed me on the cheek. I started to raise my hand to slap him, but my hand went slowly to his face and pulled him closer. I kissed him on the mouth and he drew me into a soft embrace. I burned like fire and melted like spring snow as we held each other quietly, comfortably, making no demands as the warm afternoon sun sank behind the trees. Lying there together, fully clothed, I felt as though I had loved him forever.

It was difficult to end our silent encounter, but the sun kept going down, Cook was busy in the kitchen and, of course, soon many people would begin wondering where we were. Neither of us was ready to make explanations.

Josef stood first, offered me his hand to help me rise, and whistled softly to the horses. Globus and Kismet had not wandered far and walked to us with no further urging.

“Tati,” Josef said, still holding my hand, “I don’t know what to say, except that I’m not sorry and I think I’ve fallen in love with you. But this is happening too quickly. I do not want to take advantage of you. Gossip here can be quite vicious.”

“I am no stranger to gossip,” I replied, disengaging my hand to brush off my clothes. “Some things do happen quickly, though. I think I’ve fallen in love with you, too. But you’re right – we must be cautious.”

We mounted our horses and started toward the stables.

“How long will you be staying here? I may have been too hasty in recommending horses for you,”

Josef said ruefully. “Moscow is much too far away.”

“Well,” I replied, “I haven’t ridden Cosimo or Boris yet, and Horus may still be available.”

Josef laughed. “Today is Friday, so we will probably be having fried fish, potato salad and cole slaw for dinner. Are you hungry, Tati?”


When we returned the horses to the stables, Hans and Gus looked at Josef inquiringly, but neither of the boys would meet my eyes. Josef spoke to them softly in German and the two boys smiled and bowed to me, saying almost in unison, “Guten Abend, Frauelein Lelko.”

We went on to the house, where we went directly to our rooms to freshen up and change for dinner. As Josef had predicted, the main course was fish –fillets dipped in white bread crumbs and sauteed to a crispy gold with delicate white meat inside. The salads were exceptionally good, as were the ever-present beer, dark bread and creamy butter. For dessert, I think the cook had outdone herself with strawberry pie and whipped cream. There was not much conversation at the table until dessert and coffee were served.

The baron, adding sugar and cream to his coffee, seemed about to speak when Berta asked, “How was your ride this afternoon, Tati? Did my brother find a good horse for you?”

“They all look wonderful, Berta,” I replied, “but I tried the dappled gray mare today. She is a pretty thing and has amazing energy. There are several others I would like to try, though. Baron, your son mentioned an Arabian named Horus. Is he still available, or has someone already spoken for him?”

“Ah, Horus!” the baron exclaimed, warming to this subject. “He is a fine and impressive one. No, I have not yet been made an offer for him. He is a very spirited horse, one that I would not usually recommend for a young lady.”

Here he paused for a sip of coffee and a forkful of pie. “But since you were able to control that gray Romany mare, you may find Horus a suitable mount. Josef shall arrange for you to ride Horus tomorrow.”

The baron then returned his attention to coffee and pie, as did Carl and Franz. When those three were done, they retired to the baron’s study for cigars and brandy, and the baroness excused herself to consult with Cook for the next day’s meals. The kitchen maids cleared the table of plates, leaving Berta, Josef and me to linger over our coffee.

©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.