Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Editor's Corner

November 2016

"Why not go out on a limb?
Isn’t that where the fruit is?"--
Frank Scully
Or perhaps we could each strive to be bigger in our life, our thought, our generosity, our forgiveness. What if we each put forth the effort the single wild Sunflower, in the pic at the bottom of the page, expended making its way to the rooftop amidst an overgrowth of thickly leaved and stemmed and blossomed Princess Vine. We could shine out as an example.

The month for Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving, brings to mind the sacrifices made to bring both into being named as observances. We honor our Veterans and celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends in a large part due to what the veterans have preserved of our way of life. Be certain that you read "Last Ride" which is about the only reference we have this issue to veterans.

For some interesting and detailed info into the subject, we have chosen to reprint the article "ASTROLOGY: Defined, Historical Background, Principles, and Anything Else You Wanted to Know but Didn't Ask" as it was simply defined by Leo C. Helmer in an issue several years ago.

John Blair, usually upbeat, adds "Headache" to his other poems for November. They are: "The Moon Wanes," "Another Night without A Moon," "Aledo's Faith," "Mars by Starlight," and "Two Poems."
"Last Ride" by Terry Finley, a veteran's tribute to veterans previously published in January 2003, is reprinted this issue in recognition of Veteran's Day. Bud Lemire's three are "Dark Clouds," "Halloween," and "Hear, I Can Not."

"Moments of Regret" and "Monuments and Extremes" are by Bruce Clifford. New to our ezine, Barbara Irvin, lets us join her for "A Theatrical Thrill." Welcome, Barbara. Judith Kroll's "Mama, How Will I Know" is our final poem for November.

Thomas F. O'Neill, "Introspective," called on his students recently for their opinions of America's election year which made for interesting viewpoints."Reflections of the Day" by Dayvid Clarkson, is good reading thaat could be beneficial for everyone.  He closes his column with an example of one of his nightly "good nights" to friends and family on Facebook.

From Dublin, Mattie Lennon pens two tributes in his column "Irish Eyes" for Brandon Kennelly and Billy Keane. Both are famous for their literary achievements. He adds an updated link to the interesting data on Ireland's Famine Pots.
Rod Cohenour's "Cooking With Rod," brings some cold weather cooking that can be modified with a neat twist to the recipe, and Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" touches close to home, dedicating the column to our shared ancestor, famous in her own way, Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard, as her voice lives on in national archives.

Here is a link to your editor's own poem about the Ozarks. Ozark Born and Bred .

A tale for children, "The Red Purse in the Trunk in the Old House" by LC Van Savage will delight them. However, her other tale this issue, "The Gift of The Intercom" is strictly for adults.

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.

Watch for us in December!

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


Armchair Genealogy

Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard – or
Linnie Bullard, the Songbird of the Ozarks

    This column is devoted to the story of my namesake, Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard, a remarkable woman whose years on this earth were chronicled, in part, by the United States Census where her existence was documented from the year 1850 (when she was just a five-year-old girl) to the year 1930 (the last Census taken before her death in 1937) a total of NINE Census enumerations. Unfortunately, as all seasoned genealogists are aware, the 1890 US Census records were damaged in a fire, but destroyed by the water damage caused in attempts to salvage those very records.

    Malinda Ellen Hopper was born 21 December 1845, almost exactly one hundred years before the birth of the child who would be granted use of her name – her great-granddaughter, the author, who was born 6 January 1946. My mother was blessed to have the opportunity of knowing her grandparents on both sides: Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard and William Henry Bullard, maternal, and Sarah Jane Godwin Joslin and William Henry Joslin, paternal.

    My inspiration for chronicling the life and times of Malinda Hopper Bullard was the chance viewing of a movie, Songcatcher, released in 2000 but not viewed by your author until last night. The parallels of the story line of the movie and the life and times of my great grandmother were amazing and the inclusion of two of her folksong ballads, Pretty Saro, moved me to tears. My night was a restless one, seeking out the soundtrack of the movie, listening endlessly to the songs of the mountains, then dreaming of the bits and pieces known about the remarkable woman, Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard. Rosanne Cash performs another of her ballads, Fair and Tender Ladies.

    Malinda was the second child and second daughter of John David Hopper, Jr. (b. 27 Jul 1823, Hamilton County, Tennessee; d. 19 Jul 1895, Jane, McDonald County, Missouri) and his wife, Mary Johnson Young (b. 11 Apr 1821, Lafayette County, Missouri, d. 22 Jun 1896, Jane, McDonald County, Missouri). Her mother, Mary Johnson Young was the daughter of John Young (b. 1792, Burke County, North Carolina, d. 1850, McDonald County, Missouri) and Sarah “Sally” Hopper (b. 1796, Burke County, North Carolina, d. 1854, Lafayette County, Missouri) who was the sister to Napa Charlie Hopper who led the Bartleson-Bidwell party in 1842 from Missouri to California, an historic journey memorialized in several State’s history books.

    Malinda’s grandmother, Mary “Polly” Davenport Hopper (b. 24 Feb 1793, Chattanooga, Tennessee d. 3 Mar 1876, Brushy Knob, Johnson County, Missouri) was the daughter of Capt. Martin Thomas Davenport, Jr. one of the Heroes of King’s Mountain and the subject of one of the author’s in-depth research studies provided in an earlier column. Mary “Polly” was Martin’s daughter by his second wife, Martha Jane Browning (b. 1755 in Virginia, d. 1821, presumably in North Carolina).

    Mary “Polly” Davenport was a strong influence on Malinda Hopper Bullard. She was a midwife of great esteem and a courageous woman. From another family historian’s book, the following story was told about her:

    “Ida Hopper Cox has this to say about her G-Grandmother, Mary Davenport. “My G-Grandmother was a mid-wife and used to ride all over the country on horseback and attend to the sick. We often heard my mother tell of her starting to confine some woman and an awful snowstorm came up and she lost her way. They expected to find her frozen to death. She had taken off the saddle and blankets and laid down and covered up with them the best she could, and the poor horse stood over her all night and blew his breath on her feet…she came through unharmed.”
SOURCE: Source This story was also related to our Aunt, Linnie Jane Joslin Burks, who had included the story in her handwritten family tree records.

    Like her grandmother before her, Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard would become an herbalist, Ozark midwife, and provide medicinal care to friends, family, and neighbors.

    Malinda lived a hard and demanding life. In her early teens, the conflicts preceding the Civil War would disrupt her life. Her father was a member of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and, therefore, a conscientious objector. At that time, no man was granted that right. Soldiers for either side upon finding an able man not committed to one side of the conflict or the other considered him a traitor and rendered judgment immediately. The only punishment for treason was death. Thus, John David Hopper, Jr., spent a good portion of his time in hiding in a cave near the family farm. That left the job of running the farm to Malinda. The family legend is told that early in the conflict a group of Union sympathizers or soldiers arrived at the farm. Such a visit was typically prompted by need of food, water, shelter or even care for their horses. On this occasion, the young officer in charge of the small group “took a shine” to young Malinda who was reputed to be not yet 15 years of age. After having their demands acquiesced, the Lieutenant ordered his men to “burn it.” Alarmed, Malinda pled with the Lieutenant not to destroy their farm, her mother and young siblings and all their livelihood. “Well, let’s see…a pretty young thing like you, begging for this favor, must be willing to give a favor in return, right?” With that, Malinda responded, “I’ll give ye not more than a Yankee dime, as that’s what’s said you barter in.” The Lieutenant, rather than be angered found her retort to be charmingly na├»ve. He said, “Well, if that’s what you have to offer, guess we just may have struck a bargain.” With that, Malinda put a boot toe into his stirrups, pulled herself up and planted a kiss upon his cheek. The soldiers were ordered to pass the farm by – and to pass the word on that it should not be harmed in future visits.

    The Census for 1860 shows the family in Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri, but the 1870 Census enumerates the family in nearby Jane, McDonald County, Missouri. The entire area of McDonald County at that time was filled with Hopper, Young, Russell, Davenport, Coffee and Bullard families. In 1880, Malinda Ellen, now age 34 was found yet to be faithfully caring for her aged parents on the family farm in Jane.

    Malinda grew up in a community largely populated by relatives. Two of her best friends were Susan Caudill, about two years younger, and her just older cousin, Eliza Coffee (Pitts) whose parents were her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth “Betsy” Hopper (elder sister to her father) and Meredith Coffee. Just after the War, the family legend is that one day the three friends were coming back from market when they saw a handsome young man with rich auburn hair and a lush auburn beard came riding by on a fine horse whose color closely matched his hair and beard. His saddle was not the ordinary “every day” saddle, but a very fancy one of leather adorned with brass fittings. The three girls each said, almost as one, “Oh, my! I think I must marry that very man one day!” And, as luck would have it – all three would, indeed, be wed to William Henry Bullard, Confederate hero of the Civil War.

    First, Susan D. Caudill, the youngest of the trio would be married to William Henry, and come to bear three sons: Jacob Alexander Bullard who would survive a mere 13 years, James Russell Bullard who would succumb as an infant, and Thomas Jeremiah Bullard who would survive to adulthood. Only two years following that third birth, Susan Caudill Bullard passed away. It is believed she did not survive a fourth pregnancy, but records have not been located to prove that to be true.

    After the death of his first wife, William Henry Bullard would take his second wife, this time wedding the recently widowed Eliza Coffee (Pitts) in 1875. By May of 1880, this second wife would die, leaving William Henry a second time widower. In June the US Census would record William Henry Bullard and his young son, Thomas just 9 years old, living in White Rock, McDonald County, Missouri. By October of 1880, William Henry Bullard and Malinda Ellen Hopper would be wed, “sitting horseback in front of Parson Scogg’s cabin.” Malinda and William Henry Bullard would have seven children of their own: Stella Lee Anice “Stell” Bullard, Vincil Clarence “Vince” Bullard, Lilvia Acenith “Lil” Bullard, Azalia Lovethia “Zail” Bullard, Mary Ester Zenobia “Nobe” Bullard, Evan Ones Bullard and Carrie Edyth Bullard.

    When Carrie married James Arthur Joslin it raised eyebrows around town. For Carrie had remained home to care for her aging parents much as her mother before her. And James Arthur Joslin was, perhaps, THE most eligible bachelor in town, dapper, tall, handsome, charming, and several years her elder. But, that was not the biggest reason for the townfolk’s interest in this prospective union but the history of the two fathers: William Henry Bullard, Confederate veteran, Democrat, Methodist and William Henry Joslin, Union veteran, Republican, Baptist. In spite of this, the wedding proceeded, but it was always said a family reunion was more like a reenactment of the Big War!

    Malinda Ellen was widowed in 1911. By 1920, the US Census would find her heading the household that included son Evan (who never married) her daughter Carrie and her little family, husband Artie and new baby daughter, Lena May.
Malinda Ellen in mourning attire – circa 1911

    The household was filled with music, as always had been true. The families of Hoppers, Russells, Youngs, Davenports and even the Bullards came from the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee – the Appalachian Mountains. And those mountains were filled with immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The music of the Appalachian Mountain range is renowned as the origins of Bluegrass. Plaintive songs of life: struggles, unrequited love, and loss, war and conflict, and the inevitability of death. Those songs were carried down in the family by oral tradition, each generation learning the tunes and the lyrics of age-old ballads. And Malinda, known to all as “Linnie”, was born to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother and her mother before her – midwife, herbalist, medicine woman and bard. Her fame was widespread as one who knew more of the old tunes and lyrics than any other around.

    Thus, it was, that Vance Randolph would seek her out in 1926 to document what he believed to be a vanishing treasure – the folksongs of the Old Country, carried to the Appalachians and now beyond. Ironically, it is now believed the mountains of the Ozark are merely a continuation of that largest and most extensive of all American mountain ranges, beginning in the far North in New York state, to Alabama, and extending to what is now believed by some geologists to be a continuation on the Ozark Plateau. An extract from Appalachia and the Ozarks reads as follows:


The Appalachian Uplands, stretching from New York to Alabama, and the area of the Ozark-Ouachita mountains are separated by some 400 kilometers of land. They are actually two parts of a single physiographic province that have a strong topographic similarity and an unusually close association between topography and human settlement. Early settlers, when they reached the shores of colonial America, heard tales of a vast range of high mountains to the west. As they moved into those mountains, they discovered that their elevation had been exaggerated. Only in a few small areas do the Appalachians or Ozarks approach the dramatic vistas so common in the West.
Nevertheless, most who concern themselves with such questions would agree that much of the Appalachian and Ozark topography should be called mountainous. Local relief is greater than 500 meters in many areas, and it is sometimes greater than 1,000 meters. Slopes are often steep.
The human geography of Appalachia remains closely intertwined with its topography. Without the mountains, the area would merely be a part of several adjoining areas, such as the Deep South. With them, Appalachia and the Ozarks exist as a distinctive and identifiable American region. Source

    “Vance Randolph was a folklorist and professional writer” begins the biography of this extraordinary man SOURCE His story alone is remarkable. He fell in love with the unique quality of life in the Ozarks, the incredibly beautiful landscape, and the equally unique people who had settled the area. To quote from the bio again: ‘He had first visited nearby Noel, Missouri, in 1899 as a boy while on vacation with his parents. It was then at the age of seven that he came to believe ‘the Ozark country was the garden spot of all creation.” It was the beginning of Randolph’s life-long love affair with the Ozarks of southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas.’

    He moved to Pineville, Missouri, in 1919 and in the course of his research and documentation of the Ozarks and the way of life, learned of Mrs. Linnie Bullard, bard extraordinaire. He began visiting Linnie on her front porch and soon obtained her agreement to let him capture her ballads and folksongs on the wax cylinders he had created for this purpose.

    And, here, if you have seen Songcatcher you will recognize the incredible parallels between that movie, the musicologist heroine, Dr. Lily Penleric and our Linnie Bullard and her own musicologist, Vance Randolph. In the film, Dr. Lily visits her sister in the Appalachian Mountains and ends up falling in love with the land, the people and, most importantly, the MUSIC. She visits various people who are known to “have the music” and documents their songs by handwriting the notes and lyrics but also on a machine she creates, thus the title Songcatcher.

    Over the course of time, Vance Randolph would record Linnie Bullard’s version of many Old Country folk songs and ballads: The following is a list of songs recorded by Vance Randolph on handmade wax recording cylinders in 1926 by my great-grandmother, Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard identified by the name by which she was normally called Mrs. Linnie Bullard. These recordings now reside in the Library of Congress. The index created originally by the University of Missouri and included by Jane Keefer in her Index.]

    Bullard, Linnie - Appearance as principal performer:
  • 1. Banks of the Nile - I (Men's Clothes I Will Put On), Ozark Folksongs. Volume I, British Ballads and Songs, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p216/# 42A [1926]
  • 2. Becky at the Loom, Ozark Folksongs. Volume IV, Religious Songs and Other Items, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p123/#677 [1926]
  • 3. Brown Girl and Fair Ellen/Eleanor (Brown Girl IV), Ozark Folksongs. Volume I, British Ballads and Songs, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p 97/# 15C [1927]
  • 4. Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies/Maidens (You Fair and Pretty Ladies), Ozark Folksongs. Volume I, British Ballads and Songs, Univ. of Missouri, Bk
  • 5. Green Bed/Beds (Johnny the Sailor), Ozark Folksongs. Volume I, British Ballads and Songs, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p251/# 53B [1926]
  • 6. Homespun Dress, Ozark Folksongs. Volume II, Songs of the South and West, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p263/#215 [1928]
  • 7. Hunters of Kentucky (Hunter from Kentucky), Ozark Folksongs. Volume IV, Religious Songs and Other Items, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p104/#666 [1926]
  • 8. Lonesome Grove (Lonesome Dove - I), Ozark Folksongs. Volume IV, Religious Songs and Other Items, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p 39/#607 [1926]
  • 9. Lord Lovel/Lovelle/Loven/Lover, Ozark Folksongs. Volume I, British Ballads and Songs, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p115/# 17B [1925]
  • 10. Mary Hamilton (Four Marys/Maries), Ozark Folksongs. Volume I, British Ballads and Songs, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p151/# 26 [1926]
  • 11. Ocean Is Wide, Ozark Folksongs. Volume III, Humorous & Play-Party Songs, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p390/#580 [1926]
  • 12. Pretty Saro, Ozark Folksongs. Volume IV, Religious Songs and Other Items, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), p222/#744A [1926]
  • 13. Southern Encampment, Ozark Folksongs. Volume II, Songs of the South and West, Univ. of Missouri, Bk (1980/1946), P275/#223 [1926]

    For my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I urge you to listen to the soundtrack from this movie, Songcatcher, which includes a version of Pretty Saro by Iris Dement that is what I believe to be closest to the song my grandmother Carrie Bullard Joslin sang to me. Grandmother Carrie never believed she had the voice that her mother was blessed with, but strove to keep alive the oral tradition of this historic music. ‘Pretty Saro” has been recorded by Bob Dylan, by Doc Watson, by Judy Collins and many, many more. The current best link to hear it is a rendition on YouTube by Iris DeMent singing Pretty Saro from Songcatcher Here is the link: Pretty Saro on YouTube ris DeMent singing Pretty Saro from Songcatcher/B> I youtube.com
    Notable artists who have recorded Pretty Saro include: (Artist and Album)
    Derroll Adams – 65th Birthday Concert
    Sam Amidon – All is Well
    Judy Collins – A Maid of Constant Sorrow
    Shirley Collins and Davy Graham – Folk Roots, New Routes
    Iris Dement – Songcatcher
    Jay Munly – Galvanized Yankee
    Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series Vol 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)
    Pete Seeger – God Bless the Grass
    Doc Watson – Home Again
    Chris Jones – Cloud of Dust
    Ashley Monroe featuring Aubrey Haynie – Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War
    “During his Self Portrait sessions in March 1970 at Columbia Records' New York studio, Bob Dylan ran through "Pretty Saro" six consecutive times. While none of those versions made the final cut for the album, the song remained in Columbia's vault, until it was released on Another Self Portrait, a 35-track box set of songs cut for Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning.”
    SOURCE:This is an excellent link for it provides links to the artist’s actual music.

    To add just one more bit to the mystique that seemed to surround Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard, several years ago while researching the Bullard family, I found among thousands of entries one intriguing hit on the search engine. A lady named Marilyn Carnell living in California had obtained, by chance, a series of letters among members of the Bullard family written in the Civil War era. She did not want those letters to be lost so had posted online. I responded to her post and after a series of emails she determined I had sufficient documentation to be entrusted with the letters. She mailed a package to me of the original letters and I was, ultimately, able to identify the writers and recipients of each letter. During the course of our email correspondence, I was amazed to learn that Marilyn Carnell had a link to Pineville. In fact, when my great-grandmother Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard passed away, the undertaker who crossed the swinging bridge to the island home where she had lived was Lee Carnell – Marilyn Carnell’s great-grandfather!

    Our great grandmother lived long enough to see the birth of my eldest sister, the Editor of PencilStubs.Online. There is a wonderful four-generation photograph of Malinda Ellen, her daughter Carrie, her granddaughter Lena May and her great-granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Carroll. (See pic below)

    On the 4th of February in 1937, Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard watched her last sunrise, looking out the window of her room across the wide river from the island home she shared with her daughter, Carrie. She was buried beside her husband in the Pineville Cemetery, Pineville, Missouri, among the graves of so many family members.
Compiled and Researched by Melinda Ellen (Carroll) Cohenour
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Cooking with Rod

Braised Polska, Cabbage and Potatoes by Rod

(Be sure to check out the twist at the end, particularly good with cold weather)

      This time of the year is great! Crisp, clear blue skies are the norm, colorful leaves dress the trees, and many homes are dressed with yellow, purple and gold mums and a scattering of pumpkins.

      One of my favorite things is to create a recipe that can be adapted to one’s personal taste and this recipe certainly fits the bill in that regard. It is versatile, hearty, tasty and satisfying.

      Be sure to check out the twist at the end of the recipe. You will see what I mean when I say VERSATILE.

      Best of all, enjoy the process. Invite friends or family to break bread with you – that always ensures the meal is even tastier.

      Bon appetit!

    1 package of Polska sausage, sliced into rounds
    1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    5 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
    1 small head cabbage, remove outer leaves and core, then chop remaining head into chunks of about 1 inch each
    Corn Oil or Vegetable Oil
    Salt to taste (or use Mrs. Dash for sodium restricted diets)
    Freshly ground black pepper
    Chili Pepper flakes (dried hot peppers from New Mexico)
    Caraway Seeds
    Celery Seeds
    A handful of grated Pepperjack cheese
    Preheat the oven to 400*F.
    Line a large baking tray (with sides) with several sheets of foil, and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
    Put the sausage rounds, onions, cabbage chunks and potatoes into a large bowl.
    Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of oil and season to taste with the seasonings.
    Add the pepper flakes according to your personal taste for heat.
    Toss together with your hands until everything is evenly seasoned.
    Spread on the foil-lined baking sheet, trying to achieve an even surface to ensure even browning.
    Place into the pre-heated oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes are golden brown and tender.
    Remove from oven to spread shredded Pepperjack cheese across the top. (See suggestion below before performing this step.)
For a different twist, reserve the cheese but add a large can of unsalted Tomato Juice and a can of unsalted Stewed or Whole Tomatoes to a large pot. Add the Polksa, cabbage and potatoes. Slowly heat the stewpot so that the hearty stew is thoroughly heated through.

This is a hearty meal best served with a salad and lighter vegetables. A crusty artisan bread is really good and might even be used to make sandwiches. A tasty brown and spicy mustard is excellent for the spread! For the stew, I recommend a cheesy cornbread that has whole kernel corn added to the mix. Top your stew with fresh cilantro and green onions for a piquant flavor.

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Reflections on the Day

    Mary Oliver wrote,
      Instructions for Living a Life
        Pay Attention
        Be Astonished
        Tell About It
      I wrote this in my journal as I wanted to spend some time pondering these words. They seemed to touch a part of me that I had been working on for some time.

      A number of years ago I made a self-commitment to pay more attention to what was happening both internally and externally. It has been a worthwhile experiment and I am still practicing. What does one do to pay more attention? There are many things we can do and many exercises we can engage in to develop our ability to be more attentive. To develop an attentive attitude is like anything else it takes practice and exercise. Internally when I was feeling certain emotions rather than just accepting them as the ‘mood of the day’ I started questioning why I was feeling a certain way. Even when I was feeling ‘on top of the world’, I would examine the apparent, and at times not so apparent, reason why. When I was feeling great it was usually caused by events, thoughts, or circumstances that were positive. Sounds simplistic but it held true. When I wasn’t feeling well it was caused by the negativity in my life that I soon discovered I had invited. When I was feeling physically unbalanced is usually had something to do with what I ingested. Fast food, alcohol, drugs, sweets, nicotine, and just too much of anything always contributed to my physical imbalance. If I had a medical condition I seemed to make it worse by dwelling on it and falling into the negative imbalance. Some folks just love to be sick. If I was experiencing negative spiritual/mental imbalance I could trace it back to some event, thought, or circumstance that I had invited into my journey. I would spend the afternoon at Suzie/Sammy’s house and listen for hours about ‘She cheated on him’, ‘He drinks too much’, ‘Their kids are rotten’, ‘Their house is a pig sty’, and on it would go. That afternoon would drain my energy, set into motion a negative imbalance, and I can attribute some physical reactions as well. Why the hell did I go there? They are family. I don’t freaking care. Pay attention! These situations are unhealthy, mentally and physically. Stay away.

      Awhile back I discovered Hidden Object Games on line. Hey, we all need a ‘no mind’ break every now and then. Activities like Crossword Puzzles, Solitaire, and Sudoku are great for escaping for a bit and doing something completely different. Hidden Object Games are essentially everyday items hidden in a scene so as not to be readily visible, but identifiable never the less. Big Fish Games has a number of these games and you can play free for an hour. At first looking at a one dimensional screen and trying to find these objects was completely frustrating. I then started to learn how to see past the scene. Even a one dimensional scene has depth and layers that we don’t often see, unless of course we are looking for them. It was a great exercise in paying attention. As I improved I noticed that I was applying this ability to my external world. When travelling down the same road and seeing the trees go by I would notice a small meadow or stream behind the trees that I hadn’t noticed before. Seeing a young child in a department store, I now also saw that shy smile when they noticed me. How many times have we had a friend or loved one call us for no apparent reason and after the conversation is over you have thought to yourself, “What the hell was that all about?” Then ask yourself if you missed something or was there another reason for the call? “Oh well, if they really want to talk they will call me back.” We weren’t paying attention.

      Each morning I make a self-commitment to ‘Pay Attention’. Look beyond the one dimension, the apparent scene, and the situation you find yourself in. Have the courage to remove yourself from events or circumstances that are not positive regardless of who is involved or what they will think of you. This journey is about you. Be aware of your sixth sense and peripheral vision. Catch the eagle that just landed in the tree, see the squirrel that just scampered along the fence, and see the meadow beyond the trees. See that shy young smile when the child doesn’t think you are looking. Be open when others need you and go to them rather than them coming to you. Simply pay attention. Think before you speak or act. How will this affect those around me? What can I do to make another’s journey just that little bit better? Simply pay attention.

      Be astonished. When we pay attention we go beyond the mundane day to day observations and truly start to see. How does a small acorn grow into a mighty oak? Better still where did those tons of material come from that make up the tree and why is there no huge crater around the tree from where the material was used? Pay attention to that inner voice that tells you to phone a friend and be astonished when that friend says I have been thinking about you all day. Take time to pay attention to that hummingbird hovering. Be astonished. Purposely find things that will astonish you. Personally a dog engaging in conversation would astonish the hell out of me. There are many things that want to astonish us. Set the alarm for early morning and watch the sunrise. Don’t hold on to the old adage, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ Try this one; ‘If I believe I will see it’. And when you are astonished don’t put it aside. It’s raining and you have to go to the store and just as you get there a parking space just in front of the entrance opens up. You would have missed it if you weren’t paying attention and now you explain your astonishment by coincidence. Be astonished. There is no such thing as coincidence.

      Celebrate the miracles in your life.

      And finally ‘Tell About It’. Well I’ve done my part now what are you going to do?

* * * * *

      The night approaches and rolls over me like a velvet fog. Certain events, as they are happening, you realize will take some time to fully digest and you know you will remember them for eternity. The other day I was visiting a Gentleman who is ninety-six years old currently living in an extended care lodge. He is an old rugged Scot still voicing plain words in a gruff brogue. Alex is definitely not a very tactile person. As I was leaving he shakily rose and asked for a hug. This took me by total surprise yet my higher self did not hesitate, but immediately gave him a big yet gentle hug, at the same time consciously transferring every bit of positive energy I had.
      He then looked me straight in the eye and said, “Thank you, I needed that.”

      No more was said as he shook my hand in a firm grip and smiled. The emotional wave filled me fully. I am still digesting these moments as well as savouring the treasures contained within. The lesson I confirmed was to always try and put yourself in positions where love can find you. Take this to your pillow tonight and ponder where you will find your next hidden gem. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.

      Humble bow,

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Consider This

Say Thank You, Please

      Hey folks, sorry if this column is a little too goody-two-shoes, but do you ever think about certain vanished people of your life? I’ve been thinking about mine, people who have floated into my life and then out, who have done me kindnesses and never hung around to be thanked. I remember them.

       One day not too long ago, a rather small man was watching me as I stood in a store line waiting to make payment on an appliance I’d managed to wedge into my cart. I’d put the box into the cart with the bar code on the bottom and was having a difficult time pulling it up so the check-out lady could ring it up. It was hopeless. But not to the little man. Grinning, he stood on tiptoe, reached into the cart, wrenched the huge box out, showed the cashier the bar code and balanced it back in for me. He smiled, walked away and was gone before I could thank him. Thank you sir.

       I know I’ve told this story before but it means much to me. There were some hunters, a bunch of grizzled, rough and tough guys with guns in their truck, wearing flame-orange outfits, on their way to get their family’s yearly supply of venison. I was in our van driving down a hill, and a misting rain suddenly turned everything to black ice. The van went completely out of control, spun, and slid rapidly sideways into a ditch. I got out and stood looking helplessly at the van, its butt almost straight in the air. The men in their truck stopped, all got out and wordlessly walked over, literally picked up the van and set it back on the road for me. I stammered my thanks, offered money, began to babble, but they just silently got back into their truck and drove off, heroes all to me. Thank you, guys.

      There was the man in a variety store. I was very young and not having a particularly good day for a range of reasons. He stood by and watched me struggle with my problem, then waited ‘til the coast was clear and came up to me, grinned down at me and said, “Please, try to be patient. This will all go away and you will be happy, I promise you. Be patient! Trust me. I promise!” He left the store, and I never forgot his words. But I did trust that kind stranger, and as it turns out, he was right. Today I’m remembering him. Thank you, sir.

       A woman once ran over my beloved dog Punch, scooped him up, heaved him into her car and sped off to a local vet’s, where she paid for his recovery and had the veterinarian call my home from the number on Punch’s tags, and then she disappeared. I realized she could not put me into her car too, being a stranger, so she did the next best thing and saved my beloved dog. I never got to thank her. Thank you, kind lady.

      In my early teens, I was once caught by a teacher doing something so egregious, so against the rules that had she told my parents, I’d still be grounded. But she smiled and believed me when I said I’d never done it before and never would again, and she not only didn’t tell on me, she didn’t get me expelled. I well remember her! Thank you, kind teacher

       Thus at the risk of sounding awfully schmaltzy, too good for my own good, too preachy, I’d suggest that today, when it’s not a special day, not Christmas, not your birthday, a religious or patriotic holiday, to go through your heart and memories and pull up those forgotten people who’ve helped you along the way, and thank them. I get to do it in this column but you please go find some stranger who needs a favor, give it, and don’t hang around to be thanked. After all, would you not agree that we can best repay those who bestowed anonymous kindnesses on us when we needed them by paying them forward to someone else? Yeah, I knew you would. Good job!

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Irish Eyes

Brendan And Billy

After a quadruple heart bypass Brendan Kennelly felt so thankful to God that he wrote this poem before he left the hospital.

     Birthday celebration for Brendan Kennelly was held in the Abbey Theatre on the afternoon of Sunday 23 October, from 3pm – 6pm. Family, friends and fellow artists joined Brendan in an afternoon of words, songs and acclamations of one of Ireland’s greatest poets who is now 80.


Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing though with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
(Brendan Kennelly.)

    Brendan Kennelly is an Irish poet and novelist. Now retired from teaching, he was Professor of Modern Literature at Trinity College, Dublin until 2005. Since his retirement he has been titled ‘Professor Emeritus’ by Trinity College. Galway poet, the late, Paddy Finnegan, always had a story, like the day he was chatting to Brendan at the gate of Trinity College as dark clouds hung overhead. “I feared that rain was imminent for all the portents, for a deluge seemed to be there, low dark clouds and the wind from the Scartaglen direction. Anyhow, I asked the Ballylongford wizard for a meteorological prognostication. He replied in the immortal words: ‘ There’ll be no rain; it’ll be as dhry, as dhry as a witch’s tit.’ He wasn’t gone fifteen minutes when amazingly the cloud dispersed and as our old friend Pythagoras used to say: ‘ Phoebus played a blinder for the rest of the day.”

    In the decades that I worked on the streets of Dublin, no matter what the weather was doing, meeting Brendan Kennelly always brightened my day. When President Michael D. Higgins reminded a packed Abbey Theatre of how frequently Brendan used the word “love” in his poems I was reminded of the day that he gave me an explanation of love. He said, “Me mother always said, if you were in love with a heap of dung you wouldn’t see a rotten straw in it.” The man from Ballylongford was always ahead of his time. How many Irishmen born in 1936, if asked by a radio interviewer about the love between their parents, would say, “My mother, God rest her, used to say, ‘ Yerra, whenever your father wants another child in the house sure all he has to do is shake his oul trousers at me.’ I never questioned the validity of that.” When Brendan retired in Pat Boran wrote that the great poet , “has largely withdrawn from public life; he is no longer on our television screens as the ever-engaging, verbally dexterous, popular face of Irish poetry, smiling or not, and we are all the poorer for that.”

     He once told me that in parts of Kerry he is not known as Professor Kennelly but, “The little fucker that lost the all-Ireland on us.” There’s a story behind that. Brendan comes from a family with a long tradition of Gaelic football. He played on what was in many experts' opinions the best Kerry minor team never to win an All-Ireland. They met Dublin in that 1954 final, one of the most dramatic ever played. Dublin won 3-3-/1-8. Kerry were five points ahead with one minute to go. Farnan got a Dublin goal and then in injury time Brendan Kennelly, wing back, was alleged to have fouled Vinnie Bell. A free to Dublin near the corner flag was given amid great dissent. Vinnie Bell centered and Kavanagh fisted it into the Kerry net and the better side had lost. Referee Bill Jackson (Roscommon) was blamed for the long injury time added. To this day Brendan, who has great difficulty saying an unkind word about anyone, says, “I still wake up in the middle of the night shouting ‘Fuck you Jackson’” . He then added with that wonderful lilt of his, “You can overcome a bad marriage, you can grapple with and overcome alcoholism, but you'll never get over losing an All-Ireland Final.”

     Back to the spectacular celebration in our National Theatre. The cast of luminaries included Listowel natives Dr Bryan McMahon, Jimmy Deenihan and Sean Ahern . Councillor Mannix Flynn , in the course of a brilliant tribute said that Brendan , “ . . . was the first Kerryman I ever met who wasn’t a guard.” Some of Brendan’s poems were read by Aisling O’Sullivan, P.J. Brady and Katie Donovan.

     Leitrim poet Stephen Murphy recited a very moving poem abou depression, in the oral narrative tradition. President Higgins compared it to Ginsberg’s Howl. John Sheahan ( who must have a portrait in the attic) on fiddle and Michael Howard on guitar performed “Among Friends.” Lisa Lambe gave a wonderful rendition of “All Around My Hat”, accompanied by Drazen Derek and the eternally young Mary Black sang “No Frontiers” accompanied by Bill Shanley on guitar. Noel O ‘Grady chief organiser of the event and five-time winner of Oireachtas na Gaeilge for traditional singing in Irish, sang several of Brendan’s favourite songs including “The Rose of Tralee.”

     Fr. Pat Aherne accompanied his troupe of dancers on the fiddle as they performed “The Molyneaux Blackbird.” World famous photographer John Minihan was clicking away on his “non-digital “ camera. Minihan’s photos of Beckett are some of his best known, one in particular is described as one of the greatest photos of the twentieth century. William S. Burroughs once referred to Minihan as "a painless photographer".

    The great man himself ,who now walks with the aid of a stick, was helped on to the stage by Jimmy Deenihan. But if you closed your eyes and listened to the musical voice you would be transported back to the sixties . . . or even 1954 and that lost All-Ireland.

     He regaled the audience with stories about Ballylongford, his parents, Kerry football and many colourful observations from his four score years. He read and recited from his own work. To date he has published more than thirty books of poetry. With titles as diverse as, “Up and At It”, “Poetry My Arse” and “The Man Made of Rain.”

     Brendan spent three quarters of his life in his adopted city. He loves Dublin and its people. He said the Rosary every day as he walked its streets. He says, “Instead of saying ‘Good day’ to each other, a lot of Dubs prefer the greeting ‘any scandal me aul’ flower?’ sure where would we be without it?”

     You could almost see the Gaelic football rivalery evaporate on the Abbey stage as Dubliner Mary Black presented Ballylongford’s favourite son with a red rose. The grand finale to a wonderful tribute to a great man.

Brendan Kennelly and President Higgins
Photo credit:Eric Luke, Irish Times

Still on matters Kerry/Literary; “The Best of Billy Keane”, published BY Ballpoint Press, will be launched by Stephen Rea, in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin on Wednesday 02nd November at 06.30 PM . The Listowel journalist, author wit, after-dinner speaker and all- rounder writes his columns and books with a wonderful mix of innocence, forgiveness and understated perception. He has been described as an ”. . . observer at the front door looking out on middle Ireland and beyond." Be it a family sadness, a quirky day in the pub or a national issue of suicide ( he has written articles on suicide which, in my opinion, have saved lives.) or gay marriage, Keane’s inimitable style is always insightful and thought-provoking. I have absolutely no interest in sport. You are wondering why I put that in. But I read Billy Keane’s columns on the subject because like all his writing, his commentary is often arrived at following a journey on the road less travelled - he approaches subjects from different directions before fleshing out his views with uncanny empirical understanding.
He writes not to preach but as the discerning sinner turned confessor. Billy finds extraordinary deeds in day-to-day living and shares them with an equal mix of humour and empathy.

    This man of many parts is also, like his father before him, the late John. B., a thoroughly decent man. (See pic below)

    For those who have been frustrated trying to read the info about Famine Pots, here is the updated link: Irish Famine Pots

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      A few days ago, I asked my students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China to watch the third Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I was very curious to see their reaction because such political debates are rare in China.

      My students were impressed with the fact that a woman may soon hold the highest elected office in America. Many of my students commented that there may never be a woman president in China. They stated that it would be near impossible for a woman to be even considered for that high an honor in their country’s one party system.

      None of my students were impressed with Donald Trump. They feel he was insulting during the three debates and not very polished as a politician.

      Some of my students are under the opinion that our two presidential candidates lack moral leadership and they seem to be degrading the American political process. A prevailing sentiment among most of my students is that Americans are being forced to vote for the candidate they feel is the less of the two evils.

      What is interesting is that here in China the Chinese government regularly criticizes U.S. presidential elections to legitimize its one-party system. My students seem to be echoing what is being said in China’s mainstream media.

      The scandals and intense competition between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now the focal points for the Chinese media. Some of my students feel that the American political process especially in the 2016 presidential race is making America look weak due to its lack of moral standing in the world.

      Many Chinese commentators viewed the three presidential debates between our two White-house contenders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump as the nastiest debates in modern US history. They reflect the decay of our American political system and the dumbing down of our American society.

      The Chinese media is using this election year to force the Chinese people to rethink the value of the democratic process. The media here in China is portraying America as extremely self-confident but arrogant in its preaching for a democratic world order. Most people here view the American political process as dysfunctional. They point out that the 2016 presidential election is highlighting the chaotic defects within our American electoral process.

      The Chinese news agencies are also reporting that money and party elites can and have manipulated the American presidential elections. They also point out that regardless of whether Trump wins or loses, he has irreversibly damaged US democracy and our country’s standing in the world. In other words, nations throughout the world will have a hard time taking America seriously.

      The debates became a platform for personal attacks rather than substance or addressing the serous issues facing our country.

      The Chinese media has become very effective in portraying the American political process as a race to the bottom with a systemic moral decay. “The 2016 presidential election has made one thing clear,” one government official was quoted as saying, “the U.S. needs political reform.” The comment mirrors our American sentiment advocating for political reform in China.

      There are still many people, in China, that would like to see their country become more democratic and open to a multiparty system. That growing sentiment is what the Chinese Government fears the most. The Government in China is using our 2016 Presidential election as a means of propaganda to curb the growing democratic enthusiasm among the Chinese people.

      America is not a perfect country, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton are flawed individuals but our democracy will always be the best form of government.

      America was and still is a great country, a beacon of hope, and a land of great opportunity. If that were not the case, immigrants, from across the globe would not be coming to America to fulfill their dreams for a better life and future. There is still room for reform in America but democracy will always be the cornerstone to our country’s greatness.

      The 2016 presidential election is truly an historical event because, in my opinion, on November the 8th America will elect its first woman president.

      What kind of leader will our first woman President be?

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

a veteran's tribute to veterans
Circling high above the earth
I wait eagerly for my birth
Too warm inside, like a heated womb
Too cold outside, like a sealed up tomb
All around me, my peers stand ready
Full of fear, breathless and heady
A sheen of sweat on my upper lip
Wiped away quick as a zip
Nervous fingers clutch my life-line
Inside my head, I trace my go-sign
Above the door before which I stand
The light turns green, I raise my hand
Eyes are drawn to the new tableau
The breast of the earth, so far below
The zone is beneath - a shining light
Outside it's day - cold and bright
The wind whips by two hundred fifty knots
Other soldiers fly, becoming tiny spots
My turn comes round it's time to go
I stare at the ground so far below
I leap hard from my fragile shelter
I'm suddenly flying helter skelter
Then things light up inside my head
I breathe again, no I'm not dead
I look all about and everythings clear
I think of all I've ever held dear
The sun shines hard on my aching back
The ground rushes up, ready to attack
Never before a sky so blue
Or the taste of thrill quite so true
To fly, is this how the angels feel?
Only sad I know it's not for real
Soon enough my ride will end
Back to earth, my soul will tend.
2500 feet, time to pull my chute
I feel a snap and see my boot
I pull my body into proper formation
Prevent always crazy gyration
I drift about so far from home
And know inside I'm not alone
The earth comes to meet me gently now
I think of my mother and then know how
She must have felt when I came along
So very weak but immensely strong
I hit the ground and start to run
Up ahead there's someone with a gun
I see men go down and lay there still
Is this fear I feel or just lack of will?
Where's my weapon--where's my knife?
I'll do anything to save my life.
I look around for a place to hide
I want to scream but keep it inside
I suddenly recall why I'm here
All those things that I hold dear
Are threatened now by insidious evil
Face of a madman over the heart of a devil
So I run for the rendezvous quick as I can
Must get to the rear and pick up the plan
My fallen brothers behind me I leave
There's no time now, later I'll grieve
Up ahead I see a bright shining light
Break through the forest like firelight
"strange" I think, as nearer I run
"That young man looks like the Son."
Then something flutters over my head
I see my parachute and cry with dread
I look up now from where I've lain
and know inside that I've been slain
I roll me over in the deep wet sand
Look up at the Son and raise my hand
"My heart won't let me fail at my task
But if I die here I've one thing to ask -
On this ground where my brothers have bled
Please color each sunset vivid blood red."
©Sept 2000 Terry Riley
Reprinted Pencilstubs Poem

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As Witches fly by the windows, at the Harbor Tower
The Ghosts come to life earlier than that midnight hour
Dave is looking over papers, as a Ghoul passes by
Rob is wearing his favorite Halloween Tie
Mark, Tom, & Shawn have maintenance under control
I glance and see a Ghost enter an invisible hole
Trick Or Treaters are out on the streets
Hoping for some really good treats
I notice a lot of pale people walking around here near the light
They sure do look strange, it's giving me quite a fright
I'm thinking they could be The Walking Dead
All I want to do right now, is crawl into bed
No one is in the lobby, that's pretty odd
Dracula passes me in the hall, I give a nod
Someone is dressed like the Flash, but he's moving way too slow
I turn to see where he went, where the heck did he go

A Wizard appears, right in front of me
It looks like Gandolf, as far as I could see
He points his wand at me, and we disappear
I end up at the Shire, so far away from here
He turns to me and says “There's Trouble in the Shire”
“A Crazy dark Wraith has set the whole place on fire”
Did he think I was a Wizard, that I could help him here?
Could it be he found me, because he was in despair?
I look down at my clothes, I was dressed in a Wizard's cloak
What was this, some kind of a Halloween joke?
I notice the fire, oh what can I do?
I see that my cloak is a Rainbow hue

I remember all the water down at the lake
I envision it to be flowing through a large snake
Then I envision the snake spitting it all over the flames
Hobbits are running everywhere, I forgot all their names
Suddenly I'm at the Tower, and up in my room
The fire must be out, at least I would assume
I must be the Rainbow Wizard on this Halloween
I traveled to the Shire, and boy, what a scene
I am home now, time to relax and unwind
It'll take awhile, I have so much on my mind
©Oct 29, 2016 Bud Lemire

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The Moon Wanes

Each night I wait
Minutes later
For the moon to rise
Behind the elm.

It’s waning;
And I tell myself
This too will pass;
It will return.

But as the darkness
As the disk dims,
Dread whelms my mind:

This might be the time
I learn the eons lied,
The time
It really dies.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Moments of Regret

There’s a war in my heart
Like the burst of a star
There’s no time to reflect
Moments of regret

There are walls around our conscience
Hiding between two molds
Seeing between the lines and battlefields
Waiting for just one moment to unfold

Wetlands, oceans, river of grass
The atmosphere’s so thin
The air is harder to breath
The city encompassed by the sea

There’s a war that’s raging on
Like the burst if a distant sun
It’s becoming harder to forget
Moments of regret

Decisions we make
The monuments we leave
What will be here tomorrow
It’s too hard to believe

©10/15/16 Bruce Clifford

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Aledo's Faith

Late at night
When I go out
To scan the stars
My neighbor’s dog,
Growls in the dark
At someone
He can’t see
Or smell.

I say softly
“It’s all right
And my voice
Soothes him
With remembrance
Of the treats
I gave him
In the daylight.

He trusts my voice
Even though
He cannot see my face.

It’s like religion:
You trust a force
You cannot view
As good things seem
To come
And lives are saved
By trusting.
©2016 John I. Blair

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Hear, I Can Not

How would you feel if suddenly your world went quiet
Your TV was up loud, you couldn't hear when you walked by it
The every day sounds would all disappear 
You'll wonder what has gone wrong with your ear
Sometimes it's age, the loss as we get old
Chemo treatments will do it, is what I'm told
Some were born with this, at the very start
It's hard to imagine no music, but that's only a part

There's the little things daily, like the song of a bird
You can see its beak moving, yet nothing was heard
People talking down at the end of the hall
Were as silent as if listening to a wall

A door shutting, a toilet flushing, an every day sound
Was not heard at all, not anywhere around
How different would your world be
In silence you'd live quite differently

When the hearing is taken, you have no choice
Yet to continue doing your best, not hearing their voice
When nothing is heard, with all that you've got
Then listening won't happen, and Hear, You Can Not
©Oct 22, 2016 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
I know one thing for sure, I am so happy I can hear
everything I can hear. Can you even imagine what it
is like for those who can not hear a thing? I think that
is another reason we should appreciate the music, and
every day sounds that we hear, because one never knows
when it might be taken from us.

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Mars by Starlight

It’s after midnight, late;
And looking through the trees
Beyond my garden

I see the dot of Mars
Accentuate an open space
Between their limbs.

How can an entire world
Whirl through time
Six billion years

And yet be just a dot?
As with the stars around it
The answer is, perspective.

©2016 John I. Blair

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A Theatrical Thrill

I sit in the audience,
waiting for the first scene of the play to begin.
The setting is inviting.

It looks like a kitchen I would want to spend time in.
The actors take their places.
With the show underway, I am transported to another world;

One which is make-believe and yet seems very lifelike.
The action I am witnessing is so dreamlike
That I never want to return to reality.

©2016 Barbara Irvin

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Monuments and Extremes

Green rays of light
Ships passing in the night
Solid lines of broken dreams
Monuments and extremes

The ticking of the clock
Steaming in towards the dock
Lasting memories of what exceeds
Monuments and extremes

Hold on tight
I remember you
Like I remember you

Faded lights and time
Watching everyone unwind
Nautical slides and pots of tea
Monuments and extremes

Hold on tight
Don't let me go
How could you know
How could you know

Red rays of light
Time passes through the night
Hold on to what could have been
Monuments and extremes

©10/9/16 Bruce Clifford

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Another Night without A Moon

Another night without a moon,
Without a breeze,
Only shadows of the trees
And a star or two to view.

I know if I would wait
Till my eyes adjust,
Ears attune,
The night would fill,

For then I’d hear the insects,
The rustle of a bat,
See the hanging leaves,
Perhaps an owl or two.

But I no longer trust myself
To balance in the dark,
Walk securely on the deck,
Stand safely by the garden edge.

Age will cut me off
From the mysteries of night
As it has denied the joys
Of sun-blazed days.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Dark Clouds

Dark Clouds stop the sunshine from getting through
Right now you need the light to reach you
Dark Clouds pass over, but won't be there tomorrow
Your smile will return, diminishing the sorrow

 Let them pass on by
And if you need to cry
Let my love embrace you
With this, you'll get through

Dark Clouds bring on rain
Depression brings on pain
 The Sun cries for you
Knowing that you'll get through

It may be frightening
When there's a lot of lightning
And the thunder
 May make you wonder

There's a Rainbow waiting for you
And a love that is forever true
The Dark Clouds will pass on by
Your happiness will be at an all time high
©Sept 29, 2016 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
This is for the love of my life, Vicki. She's
been having dark clouds at where she is now.
I also wrote this for everyone who seems to
have dark clouds passing over. They will
pass, and the sun will shine again. Hang
in there, and don't let go of the hope that
will carry you through into sunshine.

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Two Poems

By John I. BlairThen there were two poems
Where before there’d been but one.

The second hid its sounds,
Its rhymes, within the first

Until that trick
No longer could be kept.

This was no train
Behind another at a crossing;

That took a Kenneth Koch
To catch.

I simply looked beyond
The words I saw before me,

Found alternatives
Had been there all the time.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Mama, How Will I Know

MaMa, how will I know if I'm in love?

 Darlin, it is not a matter of words,
it is more like feelings and thoughts

The joy, the love, the goodness of life
comes invading your open heart.

You will sing and dance and feel the sun during a rain
Live thru love, live thru pain. Nothing to lose, all to gain.

When you got your puppy you loved him so,
you couldn't find anything wrong
your smile was wide and your eyes would smile,
and you would burst into song.

Yes, a touch, a smile, a knowing within,
keeps you constantly wearing a grin
The colors of earth will be pure,
the winds will carry your love,
every moment will be like
the sound of the morning's dove.

You will sing and dance and feel the sun during a rain
Live thru love, live thru pain. Nothing to lose, all to gain.

When you know you'r in love the moon will shine brighter,
your footsteps be lighter
and your laughter will carry thru the universe.

Nothing to lose, all to gain...
Darling, your life will never be the same...:)
©10/2/16 Judith Kroll

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I once wrote
Of feeling numb
But did not anticipate
Some day I’d gladly choose
To be numb
Instead of in this pain.

My head aches
And yet I have to use
The part that hurts
To think
About the pain;
Things get confused.

It’s hard to muse
On patience
And philosophy
When pain
Is the status
Of my brain.

©2016 John I. Blair

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The Red Purse in the Trunk in the Old House

      When Mr. and Mrs. Wilder, two little brown mice, chewed a hole through the bottom corner of the dusty old trunk in the basement of the ancient house, they made a great discovery. The long-abandoned building was far out in the woods and they were so happy to find it filled with many things that would protect them when winter came. They squirmed though the tiny hole they’d made and right away discovered a large red canvas purse abandoned in that trunk.

       “Oh Mr. Wilder!” exclaimed Mrs. Wilder. “Just look! We can live inside this old red purse for as long as we wish and our babies can be born in it too!” Mrs. Wilder was pregnant with her first litter. The two tiny mice jumped up and down and squeaked happily. They had always wanted to have a big family, and soon they would.

      And so Mr. and Mrs. Wilder began bringing soft things like hay and wood shavings and bits of cloth, carpet and string into the old red purse to make things soft and warm for their babies because they knew they’d all be pink and hairless and cold. They also brought in lots of plant seeds, berries, acorns and other nuts to store in one corner of the trunk making certain they’d have lots of food for the long cold winter. Soon they were all ready for their babies to be born.

       “Oh Mr. Wilder, won’t it be wonderful to have our precious babies born here? How I hope no one ever finds this old house and wants to move in and maybe even take the trunk away. What would we do then?” And Mrs. Wilder looked so worried and sad that Mr. Wilder curled his tail around her to comfort her.

       “Don’t worry, dear Mrs. Wilder. This house is so old and falling down no one will ever want it, and the trunk and purse? Long long forgotten.” And he pulled little Mrs. Wilder close to him with his tail and licked her worried frown with his tiny pink tongue.

       When their babies were born, the Wilders were so happy. There were 13 of them, all squirming and fat and pink. Mrs. Wilder nursed them and they grew fast. They named them all for the first 13 letters of the alphabet; Alma, Betsy, Charlie, Donny, Eleanor, Frankie, Greg, Hannah, Isabelle, Jenny, Kenneth and Leila. The little brown mouse parents loved them so much and taught them how to find food and to hide from cats, foxes and owls, and to find safe places to live. And as time passed they had more babies and went through the alphabet letters over and over because mouse parents can have up to 50 babies a year.

      The Wilders continued to have new babies inside the old red purse in the old trunk in the old house and they contentedly sent all their children out into the world after they’d learned all their mouse lessons. But one day to their great concerns they heard the sounds of humans talking and they peeked out of one of the old home’s broken windows and saw men, lots of them, wearing hard yellow hats. They were pointing up at the old house and there were trucks there too, and the Wilders heard the word “condos” repeated a lot. Even though they could not understand English they just knew it was not good and that their time at the old house in the old trunk in the old red purse would soon end.

       “I’ll never see our children again,” cried Mrs. Wilder. “Oh I know they’ve all gone away to have their own families and we probably have hundreds of grandmice now, but the idea of not seeing them again---well it’s just too much.” And she curled into a tiny ball and shook and cried.

       But Mr. Wilder understood how the Mouse Grapevine worked and he got word out to all his children, from A to Z and back again and back again, and one day, just before the men in yellow hats arrived with their trucks to knock down the ancient home and build the condos, all the Wilder mice came for a huge mouse farewell party and they all brought food stuffed into their cheeks and they shared it. All the children and grandmice and great grandmice and cousins played, laughed and ran through the old house and the old dusty trunk and finally, squeaking their goodbyes, scattered and scampered out into the woods and back to their own homes. The Wilders followed them and quickly found a new home in the bottom of an old hollow log where they began to plan their new future. ©2016 LC Van Savage

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Defined, Historical Background, Principles, and Anything Else You Wanted to Know but Didn't Ask

Simply Defined

      ASTROLOGY - The use of Astronomical Phenomena to predict earthly and human events, in terms of an assumed theoretical system. In its earliest forms it consisted of simple omens that Seers read from the sky. In its mature form it analyzes the supposed effects of the Sun, Moon, Planets, and Stars, on Earth for a specific time and place.

      Although earlier, sometimes the meanings of astrology and astronomy overlapped, Astronomy now concerns itself only with determining the positions and physical properties of celestial bodies. Astrology, on the other hand, assumed that a generalized celestial influence affected weather, crops and other phenomena related to whole nations of people.

      ASTROLOGERS - Make specific predictions for an individual (for instance) based on planetary positions about an individual.


      Humans have looked to the sky for guidance on earthly matters since the Third Millennium BC. Astrology probably started with the Phoenicians who explored the Mediterranean Sea using the stars as their guide and began naming Constellations of stars that looked like figures of gods. They read good or bad omens in them by what happened on their voyages.

      The ancient Babylonians named their gods by the seasons and by the activities of the sun, moon and stars. They knew of five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) in ancient Babylon. Seers were consulted by the rulers to determine good or bad times based on planetary and stellar observations. They associated seasonal changes with groups of stars (Constellations).

       Up until about 300 BC, Astrology was used to make general predictions not for individual horoscopes, except for royalty. The earliest known horoscope incorporating the principles of mature astrology dates from 409 BC.

      From Babylon Astrology spread to India and China where different but related traditions grew up.

      Astrology reached Greece about 500 BC but didn't flourish until after the death of Alexander (323 BC). During that time of great u ncertainty Aeno founded the Stoic School, believing that man was powerless in the face of his personal fate. Zeno said, "If man can understand how the universe works, he can live in time with it."

      Astrology flourished in Imperial Rome under the reign of Tiberius. The Roman names of the planets and signs of the Zodiac are still used today. In the 2nd century AD the astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy, prefaced his "Tetrabiblos" with a defense of Astrology that proved influential. He also is credited with refining Astrological calculations. Early Christians were not opposed to the study, but later rejected it because of its pagan roots.

      After the fall of the Roman Empire, Astrology declined in the Latin West but flourished in the hands of the conquerors of the Eastern Empire. In Europe, with the establishment of the Roman Church, Astrology was rejected. (St.) Ignatius viewed both Astronomy and Astrology, indeed all science, as an enemy of belief. His influence kept Astrology out of Europe until the 12th century. Though banned, it continued to be practiced and developed by non-Christians and Arabs.

      In the Middle Ages when Western Europe was strongly affected by Islamac Science, Astrology regained its popularity. Among its many adherents were Thomas Aquinas and Dante.

      By the time of the Renaissance, the first Chancellor of the new University of Oxford, Roberto Grosseteste, thought Astrology could be used for almost anything from agriculture to alchemy to medicine to weather forecasting. Chaucer was well-versed in the Zodiac, and even Martin Luther wrote about it favorably. In the 15th and 16th centuries Roman Popes consulted Astrologers.

       At the end of the 17th century, Astrology was considered a pseudo-science by almost all learned people. Scientific knowledge in the 18th century began to shake superstition off its heels. New planets were discovered, Uranus in 1781, Neptune in 1846 and Pluto in 1930. Though these planets were given Roman names to match those of their heavenly cousins, they were associated with modern inventions such as the industrial age (Uranus) and nuclear weapons (Pluto).

      Since the 18th century, new discoveries and technologies have raised doubts about whether the heavens were created to direct changes on earth. No longer is there a Sun-centered Universe. Today, Astrology is opposed to the Modern Christian Doctrine of divine intervention and human free will.

      Evangeline Adams, who brought Astrology to the masses in the 20th century and counseled Enrico Caruso, Mary Pickford, and J. P. Morgan, was arrested in 1904 for Fortune Telling. After hearing her conduct her own defense, a New York judge ruled to raise Astrology to the "dignity of an exact science." Nowadays, no one gets burned at the stake for believing in Astrology, but the Church still isn't very keen on it.

      In 1928 the American Federation of Astrologers was founded with the intention of disassociating Astrology with Magic. Newspaper star columns were launched in the U.S. and Europe during the 1930s. Today Astrology continues to be disdained by some, while others use it either to make important decisions, or simply as a form of entertainment.


      In addition to the purported effects of planets on the weather, body types and personality, Astrology also has to take into account the new relationships continually being set up among celestial bodies. To do this it uses the 12 SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC.

      ASPECTS are special angles that allow for a discontinuity in astrological influences. For example, there is supposed to be an effect when two planets are 60 degrees apart, but then of relatively little effect until a separation of 90 degrees occurs. Ptolemaic Astrology recognized four aspects: 180 degrees, 120 degrees, 90 degrees, and 60 degrees. More were added by Johanas Kepler and other astronomers.

      An Astrological column in a newspaper today is generally based on the Sign of the Zodiac in which the sun was located when a person was born. A simplified form of Astrology, it implies that all people born under the same sign anywhere in the world at any time, share common characteristics and that their daily activities should be so guided. A more individual analysis is possible when casting the Horoscope by noting the relationship of the Sun, Moon, Planets and Signs of the Zodiac to the time and place of one's birth.

      Starting with the ascendant, the ecliptic is divided into twelve divisions called HOUSES. Unlike the Zodiacal signs which represent the annual cycle of the Sun, the heavens rotate behind the imaginary grid of houses once every day )reflecting the Earth's daily rotation), and in a unique manner for every place on Earth. Each of the twelve houses is significant for some phase of human existence. The Astrological judgment is rendered by examining what celestial bodies fall into which houses. Only individuals born at the same place and at the same time would have exactly the same Astrological inheritance.

      Horoscopes can be cast on numerous occasions to decide the fate of both nations and individuals. Most familiar is the casting of a Horoscope based on the conception or birth of a child, the so-called Natal Horoscope.

      From a Horoscope the Astrologer may determine, through a technique known as directing, when a predicted event may befall the subject. In all methods of directing a point on the ecliptic is chosen, and an arc related to it is used to give a time span. For example, one degree of arc may be taken to mean one year of life.

       Through the technique of election, an Astrologer counsels an individual on the choice of propitious moments. The election is usually related in some way to the person's nativity. Even without knowing his or her nativity, a person could supposedly come to some understanding of the effect of the heavens on his or her life through hoary questions. For example, a Horoscope is cast at a time when a pressing question arises, such as whether a business enterprise will be successful.


      For centuries, critics have attacked Astrology on scientific grounds, questioning the means by which celestial influences could occur; and on moral grounds, since many view humans as creatures of free will.

       On their side, Astrologers, past and present, have often sought to imply that empirical evidence establishes the existence of heavenly influences. They held that erroneous predictions could be attributed to the complexity of the study. Some practitioners have even thought that Astrological Theories should be modified.

      Although Astrology has persisted to the present day, enjoying greater popularity in some countries than in others, it has never attracted more than an occasional scientist to its ranks since the 17th century. Periods of resurgence may correspond with times of uncertainty, especially when science and technology seem unable to provide acceptable solutions to pressing problems and when many people seem to seek a more mystical and spiritual mode of understanding the world. Many contemporary works of Astrology use the terminology of recent psychological theories.


      If you have seen your star chart or that of a friend and then want to know "But what does it all mean?" A good reference for interpreting Horoscopes and Aspects is Heaven Knows What by Grant Lewis. Its companion volume for transits and planetary sign positions is Astrology For The Millions. Two other fine books for interpretations are Planets In Aspect and Planets In Houses by Robert Pelletier. A detailed book on synestry and relationships is The Astrology of Human Relationships by Frances Sakoian & Louis Acker. A recent comprehensive book of transit interpretations is Robert Hand's Planets In Transit. History and background: The World Book Encyclopedia.

Glossary of Basic Astrology Terms

      Ascendant: The ZODIAC SIGN rising on the eastern horizon at the time and place of birth, also the longitude (in degrees) of the point on the eastern horizon.

      Aspect: Relative position of two or more planets, such as conjunctions.

      Calendar: from the Latin, "Calendae," the first day of a Roman Month when future market days and feasts were proclaimed. A calender is a system, defined by rules, for designating the year, and assigning days to these units. It's also a way of grouping days in ways convenient to regulate civil or religious life. The rudiments of a calendric system were constructed long ago when stone alignments and stone circles (Stonehenge) were used to determine the length of the solar year by marking the progress of the Sun along the horizon.

      Early calendars (Babylonian about 2000 BC) were based on Lunar cycles, 28 to 29 days. Some had 12 or 13 months (Jewish) which later proved inaccurate. In 46 BC Julius Caesar recognized the fact that a Solar Calendar would be more accurate and developed the Julian Calendar. It had provisions for 365 or 366 days. It remained fairly accurate until the time of Pope Gregory in 1582 when a more accurate updated version (Gregorian Calendar) went into effect.

      In the 1582 Gregorian Calendar, the month October lost ten days to make up for previous inaccuracies. Since that time the calendar has remained fairly stable with only minor adjustments necessary in years ending with '00 (i.e.There was no Leap Year in 1700, 1800, or 1900, it appears in 2000, and will again in 2400.) Modern international society requires that the same calendar be used worldwide. Almost all Christian countries use the Gregorian Calendar, late comers were France 1805, Soviet Union 1918, and Turkey 1927.

      The average length of a Gregorian Year is that of a Solar Year (365.2422 days) so that the seasons begin at about the same time each year. The Gregorian Calendar is a determinate calendar; that is, it is defined solely by numerical rules and can be formed for any year in advance. This was not ture of previous calendars which depended on observational rules. Since the Gregorian Calendar, numerous proposals have been made to improve the calendar. The basic problem, however, is that the week, month and year have incommensurable ratios, and correcting some problems, causes others.

      Celestial Sphere: An imaginary sphere surrounding the earth, on which the stars seem to be placed and which seems to rotate from east to west. The earliest Star-gazers believed this to be the case, with the stars as crystal studs, or holes through which fire was observed. The distance was immaterial. The earth was put at the center, forming the so-called geocentric celestial sphere. The yearly path of the Sun across the celestial sphere is called ECLIPTIC. Because of the Earth's rotation, the celestial sphere appears to rotate once every sidereal day. This is about 4 minutes shorter than the mean solar day because of the Sun's motion.

      Conjunction: When two planets are very close to each other in the sky, as side by side.

      Constellation: Star Groupings given names in definite parts of the sky.

      Cusp: The point of division between signs or houses.

      Day: From earliest times a day began after the sun set in the West and ended just before sunset. The work day began at sunrise. It was broken down into a 24 hour period. After the Julian Calender was established days began at midnight and mid-day was at the time the sun was at its highest point in the sky. Even though, because of the changing seasons, some days seemed longer than others, the 24 hour period wasn't changed. Instead, Roman Holidays were declared around the days now associated with Christmas and Easter, the former celebrating the fact that the Sun was again moving into the northern sky and the latter, welcoming the new season of planting and fertility. The names of the days of the week still reflect the names of the Roman gods.

      Ecliptic: The ecliptic is the plane of the Earth's annual orbit around the Sun, or the intersection of this plane with the celestial sphere. The Sun appears to make a complete circuit around the ecliptic every year. The constellations around the ecliptic make up the Zodiac. The ecliptic is inclined by an angle (the obliquity of the ecliptic) of about 23.5 degrees to the equator; the inclination influences the character of the seasons. Planetary perturbations cause the ecliptic to change very slowly; for precise work the time of observation (EPOCH) relative to the ecliptic must be stated.

      Elongation: Distance, in degrees, of a body from the Sun.

      Epoch: An instant in time selected as a reference point.

      Equal Houses: The division of the ZODIAC into 12 segments of equal width (30 degrees) starting from the ascendant point.

      Ephemeris: A listing of astronomical data, typically, daily planet positions.

      Geocentric: Having the Earth as the center, the basis for most Astrology.

      Geocentric longitude: Distance of a body from the zero point of the ECLIPTIC. The zero point is where the Sun is crossing the ecliptic plane and going above the plane (direction of the Earth's North.) Occurs once each year, at the beginning of Spring, thus the early Roman practice of starting the New Year in March. Later, after the Julian Calendar was established and because newly elected officials took office on the 1st of January, that day started a New Year.

      Horoscope: Forecast of a person's future based on planetary conditions. A natal horoscope is based on planetary conditions at the time of one's birth.

      Houses: 12 divisions of the natal chart, starting from the ASCENDANT point.

      Heliocentric: Having the Sun as the center. Some Astrologers use this approach.

       Julian Day: A system where each day is assigned a sequential number. A Julian Day is the unit of a chronological system, created by Joseph Scaliger in 1582. Any date is measured by counting the number of days from an arbitrary zero day (January 1, 4713 BC, Noon, Greenwich Time). It is now used mostly in Astronomy to calculate the number of days between two widely separated periodic events, s uch as eclipses. As an example of a Julian Day (JD), at just past midnight, July 4, 1776 would be JD 2,369,915.5 and JD 2,369,916 would be July 4, 1776, Noon.

      Month: From earliest time a month meant from Moon to Moon or about a 28 day period. From observations the month was said to begin when the seer's first observed the new crescent Moon. Months were originally divided into 4 seven-day periods (weeks). This necessitated the early erroneous calendars sometimes containing 12 Months and others containing 13 Months in order for the year to begin at the proper planting and growing times. Modern Technology has determined our year to be 365.2422 days long, which means that each of the 12 months in the year should be 30.4369 days. This however, would be mass confusion, so in order for the months to adapt to the year, 7 months have 31 days, 4 have 30 days and February has 28 except in leap years when it has 29.

      Node: Where a planet crosses the ECLIPTIC either ascending or descending.

       Orbital eccentricity: The degree of roundness of a planet's orbit. (0.0 = a circle, 1.0 = very elongated.)

      Orbital inclination: The tilt of a planet's orbit in relation to The Earth's orbit.

      Opposition: When two planets are 180 degrees apart in the sky.

      Placidus Houses: The division of the ZODIAC into 12 segments, starting from the ASCENDANT. A method devised by 17th century Astrologer, Placidus de Tito. Placidus houses are unequal in degree's width.

      Sideral time: Time based upon the Earth's motion relative to the stars.

      Solar Time: Time based on the apparent motion of the Sun around The Earth; normal time.

      Space: The void and expanse between objects or bodies.

      Time: In general, Time is a facet of human consciousness felt both in psychic and physical experience, and an aspect of the environment observed metaphorically as a one-way flow, providing, together with space, the matrix of events.

      Week: The Babylonians used a non-Astronomical 7-day interval, the week, which was adopted by the Jews. The seventh day, the Sabbath was given a religious significance. The Romans associated a seven-day cycle with the Sun, Moon and the five known planets, thus the names of the days of the week. Sunday (the Sun's day) became the first day of the week.

      Year: The ealiest civilations usually began their new year when the Sun reached the Zero Point on the ECLIPTIC (about the 21st of March.) This signaled the time of Fertility (The Babylonian god Astarte, and planting of crops. In ancient calendars, years were generally numbered according to the years of a ruler's reign. About 525 AD, a monk, Dionysius Exigous, suggested that years be counted from the time of Christ's birth which was designated as 1 AD (anno Domini, the year of the Lord.) The year before 1 AD, was designated 1 BC (before Christ). This proposal came to be adopted throughout Christendom. The 1st century of the Christian era began in 1 AD, the 2nd in 101 AD, the 21st begins in 2001 AD.

      Zodiac: The Zodiac is the portion of the CELESTIAL SPHERE that lies within 8 degrees on either side of the ECLIPTIC. The apparent paths of the Sun, Moon and the principal planets, with the exception of some portions of the path of Pluto, lie within this band. Twelve divisions or signs, each 30 degrees in width, comprise the 12 Signs of the Zodiac. These signs coincided with the zodiacal constellations about 2500 years ago. Because of the procession of the Earth's axis, the vernal equinox has moved westward or about 30 degrees since that time; the signs have moved with it and thus no longer coincide with the constellations. These signs are considered to be of great importance to ASTROLOGERS.

      Zodiac Signs: Starting with the Zero Ecliptic Point, the year is divided into these twelve signs of the zodiac:

Aries - March between 19 & 22,
Taurus - April 19 to 22,
Gemini - May 19 to 22,
Cancer - June 19 to 22,
Leo - July 19 to 22,
Virgo - August 19 to 22,
Libra - September 19 to 22,
Scorpio - October 19 to 22, and
Sagittarius - November 19 to 22,
Capricorn - December 19 to 22,
Aquarius - January 19 to 22, and
Pisces - February 19 to 22.
      In any given year the Zero Ecliptic point ranges between the 19th and 22 of March.

      Researched and Compiled with Original Observations by the Author ©April 2000 Leo C. Helmer

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