Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Editor's Corner

February 2017


"Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."--Will Rogers
The month of Love and Valentines burst into really erratic weather across the North American Continent varying from record low temps and snowfall to record high temps and enough rain to erase drought status across much of the USA. What else marks this month for the current year, especially for some sports enthusiasts, is the Super Bowl featuring once again Patriots vs not so often Falcons. Even the Pro Bowl played in late January did not turn out the way this editor wanted. Now looking forward to the MLB baseball season that is right around the corner. 

Bud Lemire, who has his own poetry webpage with over 700 poems by him, is sharing a half dozen with us. Only one really hints at Valentines Day, "Love, And In Love." The others are "A New Beginning," "Age Is Just A Number," "My Own Bible," "A Book to Read," and the lovely "Snow Light."

John Blair's poems also six submitted are "Reading with My Granddaughters," "Feed And Thrive," "Night Sky," "Damned if You Do..." and one you may have to look up references on the title, "Procyon Lotor."
Four more poets, and or lyricists, add a composition each: Barbara Irvin with "Skating;" Bruce Clifford with "Counting The Seasons;" Adam Bradshaw with "Robbed;" John Bradshaw with "The Vulture." Like Phillip Hennessy, another poet often featured, the Bradshaws are musicians -- the father, John, has had several bands and played with others while his son Adam has not been as much in performing until more recently. They call their preference mostly Christian Rock, and just Rock.

Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" shares her special fondness for country roads. Rod Cohenour's "Cooking with Rod," blesses us with his magic recipe for Cornbread with several variations.

Thomas F. O'Neill, "Introspective," makes some timely observations and "Relections of the Day" by Dayvid Clarkson gives his own sobriety story, stressing it is his path and not perhaps for others -- their own choices must be made. "Irish Eyes" the column by Mattie Lennon of Dublin, tells us some inside info on the author who published the book "Ragland Road" and recalls another poet's "Ragland Lane."

Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" rings forth with the "Shady Characters" on and around her family tree with some well known names like Belle Starr. LC Van Savage's column "Consider This" tells how she feels about the trend ot making apologies here, there, and to whomever. She also is responsible for the only article  titled "Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow." The other article, "Beloved," is by an author you've seen here before as Bethany Davis now uses her married name Bethany Whitaker.

Mike Craner, without whom this ezine would have never made the web, deserves many bouquets for his expertise and patience. The fact that this issue begins the 20th year online gives a hint of how involved he has been--keepingthis little ezine able to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading.

See you 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.

Irish Eyes

On Raglan Road

“Only in you my song begins and ends.” 
So wrote Philip Sidney. 

When we are intrigued, uplifted or moved by a song how often do we know where it began?

Most Irish love-songs were inspired by women. But who were these women? When you listened to Luke Kelly belting out “Raglan Road” or Brendan O Dowda’s rendition of the haunting “Gortnamona” did you wonder who the objects of the composition were? Gerry Hanberry’s latest book “On Raglan Road – Great Irish Love Songs and the Women Who Inspired Them” gives the story of the unrequited love in Patrick Kavanagh’s life when the Medical Student, Hilda Moriarty admired his talent but didn’t want any romantic involvement with the 40 year old poet. But they remained friends and much later he told her, in a letter, that he liked her,” . . . because of your enchanting selfishness.” That “relationship” inspired the poem “Raglan Road”. The book also tells the stories behind thirteen other Irish love songs and in-depth biographical accounts of their authors..

Galway Girl

We are told in great detail who the real “Galway Girl”, “Nancy Spain” and “Grace” were. Thin Lizzy’s “Sarah”, Mick Hanly’s “Past the Point Of Rescue” and Johnny Duhan’s “The Voyage” all have strong and beautiful women behind them. The devastating death of Percy’s Frenh’s first wife at a young age prompted him, in his grief, to compose “Gortnamona”. Whatever about every good man having a woman behind him does every good song have a woman behind it?

Gerry Hanberry (above pic)has published four collections of poetry to date and also a biography of the Wilde family, “More Lives Than One - The Remarkable Wilde Family Through the Generations” and four collections of poetry . In 2000 he won the prestigious Originals Short Story prize in Listowel Writers' Week. Having won the Sunday Tribune/Hennessy Award in 2000 he went on to win the Strokestown Prize 2003 and RTÉ’s Rattlebag Poetry Slam also in 2003. In the Summer of 2004 he won the Brendan Kennelly*/Sunday Tribune Poetry Award and he also won the Galway City and Co. Council's Poetry Award for National Poetry Day 2009 and he has been shortlisted for many of Ireland’s top poetry prizes . Apart from his writing he is acoustic guitarist and vocalist with the great Rock, Country, Blues band The Atlantic Rhythm Section.

He has been invited to read and deliver workshops at many literature festivals and been broadcast on Lyric FM, Galway Bay FM, Newstalk, Midwest Radio, Cape Cod Radio in the US, Ireland's RTÉ and in Australia. He holds an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he teaches a Creative Writing course to undergraduates. He is also a teacher of English at St. Enda's College, Salthill. He was a journalist during the 1980s and 1990s, writing a weekly column for the Galway Observer under the name "Joe Barry". In addition he performs regularly as a singer-songwriter. He runs creative writing and poetry appreciation workshops and delivers talks on his non-fiction works around them . “Raglan Road” is published by Collins Press and its author is available to give a reading or talk, sing or play and can be contacted at ;

Patrick Kavanagh
*P.S. I hope Gerry doesn’t mind me using the following; In 2004 Brendan Kennelly wrote “ Raglan Lane “, a celebratory “poemsong “ that gives Patrick Kavanagh a moment of happy fulfilment rather than a climax of disappointment.


In Raglan Lane, in the gentle rain, I saw dark love again,
Beyond belief, beyond all grief, I felt the ancient pain,
The joyful thrust of holy lust, I stretched on heaven’s floor,
One moment burned what the years had learned and I was wild once more.
The years’ deep cries in her sad eyes became a source of light,
The heavy gloom and sense of doom changed to pure delight,
And as we walked and talked we knew one thing for sure,
That love is blessed togetherness and loneliness is poor.
Then I grew rich with every touch, we loved the whole night long,
Her midnight hair bon the pillow there became an angel’s song,
Her happy skin, beyond all sin, was heaven opened wide,
But as the dawn came slyly on, I slept and she left my side.
Why did she go? I’ll never know, nor will the gentle rain,
Her up and go was a cruel blow, and yet I felt no pain
For I had known her body and soul, in my own loving way,
So I lay and thanked the God of love at the dawning of the day.

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



    My Dear Beloved,

    Don’t you know you are worth more than the numbers on the scale? You are more than the size of your jeans, or the measurement of your waist. You are more than the time spent placing each piece of hair where it needs to be. You are more than the hours standing before a mirror, painting brush strokes on your face to hide each blemish and the things you think are mistakes.

    I see you sitting on the closet floor; weeping from the feelings of worthlessness.

    You truly don’t see how lovely you are?

    Hush now lovely one, because I do. I see straight through to the true you.

    You may not perceive or comprehend it, but you are esteemed, valued, chosen, set apart and loved. So radically loved by God you couldn’t possibly fathom it. He calls you beautiful one.

    There is no room, no person, that can tell you what you are made of. But look to the Holy One and try your best to understand it.

    You are a woman of noble courage. A gentle spirit that flows through each person you encounter. You are a living, breathing example of endless, boundless grace. There is beauty in your simplicity, not just in your face.

    You are a Masterpiece, but simultaneously, an ever changing art of progression. An unraveling mystery of hope, love, and brilliancy.

    Tell me, when did you learn that beauty lies in your skin, and not from what’s within? You define your worth through a mirror, instead of through the people you’ve made better by simply being here. You’ve left pieces of yourself in every person you’ve embraced. They think of you everyday and you’ve left your love in every heart you’ve ever touched.

    It’s high time for you to just believe. Truthfully, beautiful is an apathetic way to describe you because you are beloved. Cherished. Adored.

    Open up your eyes and behold your true worth.
From author's blog "Altogether Beautiful."
©January 26, 2017 Bethany Whitaker
Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Armchair Genealogy


Oh, Those Shady Characters!

    Researching one’s family is certainly a fascinating exercise. It is always exhilarating to find that heroic fellow who made history through a brave and courageous act – saved the world, so to speak. But, the path to that hero (or “shero” as is becoming popular in ModernSpeak) can be littered with those not-so-heroic folks, you know – the shady characters.

    My family tree is certainly filled with a bit of both – the heroes and those others, the ones polite families may condemn to the shadows, never to see the light of day.

    It may have been merely a quirk of fate that caused my own family tree to have branched out with an abundance of those infamous rather than famous folks. I’d like to believe if the winds of fate had blown a bit differently many of those adorned with the label Outlaw, or Gunslinger, or Horse Thief, even Murderer might have led a life much more engaged in mundane, every day events and not condemned to endless chastisement for the vagaries of their industry that led to their becoming – those shady characters.

    Let us consider, for starters, the most infamous (I believe) on my father’s side of the branch: The Youngers and The Daltons. The climate of northwest Missouri, Clay County, bordering the Kansas state line was the impetus that fired passions among the locals that eventually erupted into Civil War.

    This branch of the family tree did not begin so ignominiously. In fact, both the Youngers and the Creeks (my line) sprang from historically heroic fellows. Joshua Logan Younger, the father of Colonel Charles Lee Younger, was with George Washington at Valley Forge, wounded at Brandywine according to his pension papers – an injury that would end his military career and lead to remuneration. From the diary of another Younger relative, Jessie Jean Ginn, the following appears:
Family records say of Joshua Younger, "He first fought in the Battle of Boston, was wounded and sent home. He re-enlisted under Col. James Wood and fought in the battle of Quebec under the command of General Montgomery. Was wounded early in the battle and taken a prisoner and later exchanged to his regiment just in time to take part in the Battle of Germantown and the Surrender of Burgoyne. He was with Washington at Valley Forge in the winter of 1778 and 1779. He was in the Battle of Monmouth and others, was wounded in the Battle of Bertheson Bay, served four years and was honorably discharged early in 1770. He was a close friend of Daniel Boone."
    The mother of Colonel Charles Lee Younger was Elizabeth Virginia Lee, reputed by Cole Younger to be the daughter of the famous Richard Henry Lee. The Lee Family disputes this fact; however, having recently submitted DNA for analysis, this relationship has been validated by a number of cousin matches whose documented family trees tie back to Richard Henry Lee and to his forebears. The apparent foundation for the Lee family’s claim of no relationship lies in the fact Elizabeth was not named in her father’s will; however, she had predeceased Richard Henry Lee and moved far from the home estate in Virginia. Your author’s research shows the Younger family held land adjacent to the Lee land in Virginia – the proximity begging a closer relationship than typically reported. Some researchers attribute Elizabeth Lee’s heritage to be as sister to Robert E. Lee; some to daughter of Richard Henry Lee and Ann Aylett. The DNA results seem to bear out a familial relationship, yet to be documented in any more traditional way. Richard Henry Lee, if in fact our 6th Great Grandfather, certainly would fall on the Hero Line. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, he served in the House of Burgesses for many years, and was reputed to have a more golden flare for oratory than even one Patrick Henry. His voice was said to be “most mellifluous,” his posture and carriage majestic, his visage handsome and austere. He was tall for the time, graceful, and influential. These characteristics so match those of my father there is little doubt of the genetic lineage in my mind.

Richard Henry Lee - Standing
.    The trouble seems to have begun with the son: Colonel Charles Lee Younger. A handsome rascal, but one prone to lascivious tastes. He fathered some 19 to 22 children by two wives and a slew of mistresses and slaves. His first wife he wed when he was a mere fifteen years of age and she a year younger by most records. Back in that day, lives were shorter and women were considered spinsters if not “affianced” or wed by the age of 17 or so. Nancy Toney would bear Charles two children before her early death aged 29 at oldest reckoning, 18 by the youngest: Milton Toney Younger (1802-1852) and Elizabeth Darlisco Younger (1805-1892). Having been left single with two young children, Charles soon wed Sarah Sullivan Purcell who would bear him numerous children, including my 3rd Great-Grandmother, Virginia Lee Younger. While yet married to Sarah, Charles would begin a long-term relationship with his mistress, Paremelia Dorcus Wilson, by whom he would sire an additional nine children. We note only two here for their contribution to the cast of “shady characters”: first-born Adeline Lee Younger who would wed James Lewis Dalton and birth the boys who would become the Dalton Gang; and last-born Bruce Arthur Wilson Younger who would wed one Myra Maybelle Shirley, better known as “Belle Starr.”

    Not to leave anyone out, ole Charlie also managed to hook up with one or more of his mulatto slaves. Many attribute two children, Nathan and Washington by a slave named Fanny to him as well, by virtue of this portion of his will:

    “ ITEM 4th. I will and bequeath that after my death the following slaves belonging to me be manumitted and forever set free from slavery or service or bondage to any man, to wit: Elizabeth, aged 22 of mulatto color and her two children named Catherine and Simpson. Also Fany, aged between 35 and 40 years, and her two children named Nathan and Washington, and that their freedom commence at my death. ITEM 5th. I give and bequeath to said Elizabeth, Fanny, Catherine, Simpson, Nathan and Washington, named in the 4th Item, jointly, the 300 acre tract of land situated on Little Blue in Jackson County, which I bought in part from John Ross and from Hawkins Estate and in part from the U.S. Land Office, all which land is easily ascertained by reference to the deeds from the last named parties to me and from the land office Certificate. To Have and To Hold the same to said last mentioned legatees after their freedom, Forever. “

    Your author believes, without particular reason, that Fanny may have been the “mother figure” to Elizabeth; although many have opined she was the mother of Elizabeth as well as Nathan and Washington and that Charles then fell in love with his own offspring! I prefer to believe not. Other researchers believe Elizabeth was the daughter of Solomon Simpson and Sarah “Sallie” Boone. She was half white and half black. Elizabeth Rose Simpson Younger was, without doubt, a real beauty. She held Charles’ heart as he abandoned his legal spouse and spent his waning years in her company. In fact, when he died Elizabeth had him buried, but wife Sarah had his body disinterred, re-housed in a “fitting” casket (in fact it would require a second temporary casket for his removal before residing in his final third casket and third location of burial!) and finally buried on her home turf. Their daughter Catherine was a beauty along the lines of Vivian Leigh in Gone With the Wind.

Catherine Simpson Younger.

    Not only did Charles Lee Younger spread his genes far and wide, he also dabbled in a number of entrepreneurial activities: horse racing, ranching, farming, a ferry, “Injun fightin’” with Daniel Boone, and land speculation, among others. His offspring may not have been quite as colorful, but they were accomplished in many ways as well.

    Son of Charles Lee Younger and Sarah Sullivan Purcell, and brother to my 3rd Great-Grandmother Virginia Lee Younger, was Henry Washington Younger. A very successful plantation owner, he had a number of additional interests: a mercantile, race horses, and he successfully managed his town as Mayor. Henry Washington Younger attempted to quell the flames that would erupt into the Civil War. He invited Union soldiers to join local citizens at a large ball on his plantation. This attempt backfired, very fatefully. There, one Capt. Walley, a married Union soldier, would affront one of the Younger daughters. Cole Younger invited Walley outside where he proceeded to introduce the Yankee to Southern comfort – a sound thrashing for insulting a Southern lady. Walley was embittered and vowed to get even. Get even he did, in a big and horrible way. He and a few of his Union cohorts ambushed Henry Washington Younger on one of his many business trips. They waylaid him, killed and robbed him and left his body in the dirt. This was the incentive to set Cole Younger off. Cole, several of his siblings and his Creek cousins (including my 2nd Great-Grandfather Absalom Creek, siblings Jacob Creth and Sidney Washington Creek) would join up with Quantrill’s Raiders. In fact, Cole and brother-in-law John Jarrette would become Quantrill’s most trusted lieutenants – and the ones most feared and hated by their Union opposition.

    Our list of shady characters even includes, by remote and not blood relationships the James brothers, Johnny Ringo, Belle Starr and, of course, the in-laws. Although many references have been made to the James-Younger Gang, there was not, in fact, such a cohesive group. Frank and Jesse James also fought with Quantrill’s Raiders. They resided in Missouri. They knew Cole, Jim, Bob and John Younger but there was always a bit of competition between Cole Younger and Jesse James.

     Frank and Jesse James’ mother was Zarelda Cole who wed Robert Salle James after meeting him at a religious outing. He would become an ordained Baptist minister, move his wife to Missouri and work a farm when not preaching. (He was also one of the founders of the William and Mary College.) Their farm was in Excelsior Springs in Clay County. The Youngers resided, primarily, in Liberty, nearby Paradise and its surrounds, although Col. Charles had other plantations scattered about the state. Perhaps part of Jesse James’ jealousy of Cole Younger arose from the disparate economic status they enjoyed. In 1850 Robert James journeyed to California in search of gold and wealth. Instead, he met his fate only some four months along his sojourn. After his death, Zarelda would wed Benjamin Simms. Simms’ niece, Augusta Innskeep married one of Charles and Sarah Younger’s sons, Coleman Purcell Younger of Clay County, Missouri before he moved out to California. Augusta’s younger sister, Mary, married Martin Ringo. The son of Mary and Martin Ringo was John Peters Ringo, who would become known as “Johnny Ringo” and forever be associated with Tombstone, Arizona. Thus, the James Boys, the Youngers, Johnny Ringo and the Dalton Gang were distant cousins by marriage.

    The story, though brief, of Bruce Arthur Wilson Younger and Myra Maybelle Reed, nee Shirley, does not lack in flair, intrigue, and Mystery with a capital “M”. The recently widowed Mrs. Reed wed Bruce Younger, as documented: One Bruce Younger, a Male aged 27 whose birth date was recorded as “abt 1853” on 15 May 1880 in Labette, Kansas wed one Maibelle Reed, documented by microfiche Film Number 001433307. 

    No one seems to know what happened in the few weeks ‘twixt this date of wedded bliss and “Maibelle” Shirley Reed Younger’s next marriage which would be documented a mere three weeks later when, according to “U. S. and International Marriage Records” one Myra Maybelle Shirley, a female born in Missouri about 1848 wed Samuel Starr, born in Indiana in about 1857. This marriage to a Cherokee Indian of the infamous Starr tribe was reputed to have taken place a mere three weeks or so later, in 1880. Bruce Younger, for reasons unknown, had hightailed it out of town and would disappear into the dust of history for many years, arising – as it were – like the phoenix from the ashes…or, well, from the dust of a cave where many believe his petrified remains had lain, so well preserved the “rictus of agony” surrounding his death was plainly writ upon his desicated visage.

    Petrified Man Is Not the Body of Bruce Younger, as Alleged (News). The Galveston Daily News (Houston, TX) Tuesday, March 14, 1893; pg. 6; Issue 355; col E . . . . . . . . . . Dallas Morning News, February 28, 1943. Fifty Years Ago Today. Gainesville. -- The identification of the petrified man by Mrs. John T. Biffle, wife of a prominent cattleman of this county, as the body of Bruce Younger is the sole topic of conversation again today. Nobody doubts the lady's sincerity, but a great many think she might be mistaken. Joshua Garham, an old and well-known citizen of Cooke County, thinks the body is that of John Lankston, who left here for California in 1848. . . . . . . . . . .
    A sister of those ideal outlaws, the Younger brothers, lives in Kansas City [i.e., Sophronia Kirkpatrick nee Younger]. She is married and few know her identity. Even I did not know it until she addressed me a letter yesterday, caused by the publication of a story that a fossilized body supposed to be that of Bruce Younger had been found in a cave in the Guadaloupe mountains, and had been identified by a sister of Bruce living in Gainesville, Texas. The sister in Kansas City denies the existence of such a woman. Bruce, says the sister, emphatically, was never associated with the James Boys, and even if alive, Frank James would not know him. But she claims that Bruce Younger died in Colorado City and was buried in Colorado Springs 3 years ago last September. The winter of 1885, she says, he was in Kansas City, and made his home with her, under an assumed name, of course. Then he went west. The sister has a postal card written by Bruce when he was first taken sick in Colorado, and from his illness she says he never recovered. "I know what I am saying" she says, "and if Bruce were alive now, he would only be 42 years old. I don't want to see my name in print, but if necessary you may reveal my identity for the sake of the dead. As to Bruce, he never was an outlaw. Bucks County Gazette, Bristol, Pennsylvania, Thursday, April 27, 1893. Watertown Times, New York. Wednesday, May 10, 1893 . . . . . . . . . .
    There are a few, however, who know that one of the Younger Boys is buried in Evergreen Cemetery this city. Bruce Younger, the youngest of the family, died at Colorado City and was buried in September, 1880. He had been living at Colorado City for a year or two and was a prominent character among the sporting fraternity. He used his proper name and it is said, he was never mixed up in the wrong doing of his brothers. He was a powerful man physically and was notorious among his acquaintances for the amount of whisky he could drink. At the time of his death, he was without money, and the sporting people of Colorado City supplied the funds for the burial, a notorious woman of the town supplying the most. Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 23,1893. . . . . . . . . . . .

Bruce Arthur Wilson Younger

A very Young Belle Starr

News Clipping - Petrified Man

    I guess the morale of this story is to be careful when you stir those bones for you never know what ghostly (or ghastly, as it may be) apparitions may arise.
Researched and Compiled by Melinda Cohenour

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Cooking With Rod

What Goes Best with Soup? With Chili? With Stews?
Cornbread, Of Course!

Our family enjoys breads and bread items very much. It can be tortillas, artisan breads, crackers, bagels, and – of course – the quintessentially ever-perfect side dish (or just snack)

This is a quick and simple way to take the basics and then fix them up just any ole way you wish. First of all, there is no need to try to do this all from scratch, unless you truly have the time and desire to do so. All you really need is a good solid mix like those you can buy at the grocery, eggs, milk, oil, and your choice of special additions.

One of my favorites is a Southwest style cornbread which would involve adding to the batter some fresh corn kernels, a touch of Jack cheese, some black beans if you wish and some green chiles (Hatch, of course~!) Just mix the batter according to the box mix instructions, then fold in the additional ingredients. Pour this into an appropriately sized baking dish that has been liberally buttered to help the finished product to be removed without crumbling.

Another variation which tickles my palate is jalapeno-cheddar cornbread. As the name implies, you simply prepare the batter per instructions then add grated sharp cheddar cheese and jalapenos that have been seeded and diced. If you wish, crumble some crisp bacon bits into the batter along with some green onions, both white and green parts.

Most recipes for homemade or boxed mixes indicate a preheated oven set to about 400º is perfect, with the cornbread only requiring some 12 to 15 minutes to cook. Be sure to check so that your delectable pan of golden goodness does not become overly browned. (A nice crisp brown edge is desirable, however. To achieve this, merely preheat the baking pan with a bit of bacon grease or corn oil and butter mixture before pouring in the batter. That sizzle tells you the batter is being quickly browned to a golden perfection before you even get the pan in the oven!)

Another variation which we all love and which is more or less a Southern staple is the Johnnycake. What you do here is quite simple: mix the batter, add a touch of regular sugar, a touch of brown sugar, perhaps a drop of honey or maple syrup. Bake in cupcake tins, lined and properly greased. I guarantee you, even folks who would inexplicably shy away from this food item will be won over once they taste it. It is like your bread side and a dessert all rolled into one.

This Johnnycake can be made into a breakfast item by the addition of browned, breakfast sausage that has been well-drained before adding it to the mix.

Did I just mention dessert cornbread? Those cornbread muffins can be made into a taste-tantalizing treat by adding such things as dried cranberries and orange sections along with a teaspoon or so of grated orange zest. Serve with a honey-orange butter blend to make your guests’ mouths water. Toss in pecans or walnuts for a nice change of pace. Even a few grated or finely diced apples make a delightful new offering.
The fact of the matter is, cornbread seems to be infinitely variable. Everything from dressing for the holidays, to muffins for breakfast, or an appetizer, all the way to the main side for those hearty cold weather soups, stews, and chilis, cornbread is the ticket.

If you really want to make your own cornbread, here is my master recipe:
  •   2 cups cornmeal, white or yellow
  •   ¼ cup all purpose flour
  •    ½ cups buttermilk (*)
  •   1 egg
  •   ½ tsp sugar (optional)
  •   3 Tablespoons butter

  • Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, buttermilk and egg. Don’t over mix, those lumps permit the cornbread to rise. Use 1 tablespoon butter, melted, to mix into your batter, the other 2 tablespoons should go into your baking dish. A cast iron skillet or cast iron cornbread forms are perfect. If you don’t have this, use your regular 9x12 baking dish or 4x4x8 loaf pan. Preheat the dish in your oven before adding the batter to aid the browning of the edges. (Take care with those glass dishes, too rapid a temperature change can lead to breakage!)

    To use the variations, merely fold in the added ingredients after the basic batter has been whisked together.

    (*) Buttermilk: If you don’t have this on hand you can always sour sweet milk by the addition of 1Tablespoon vinegar to 1 ½ cups milk. Just give it a moment after stirring to curdle a bit.

    Bon appetit!

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    On Trek

          I love an old country road, with uneven ruts and holes and rocks here and there. Why? Because it forces us to slow down, and by so doing, we see the beauty of the country.

          I have seen butterfly's cover a field, I have had to stop for a mama bird and her little babies cross the road, while papa bird flew overhead and was being a very protective parent.

          I had to stop for a black snake as he criss crossed across the road, stopping as I beeped the horn for him to keep moving right along.

          I noticed deer, and fawns, squirrels, fox, bear etc. Everything tends to live on an old country road.

          Many times I spotted an old barn, with half a roof, unpainted, badly broken, but still standing proud because at one time the barn was the center of hubbub of the property. If you listened carefully you could still see and smell and feel the animals around the handsome structure if you had enough imagination.

          Sometimes an old rock foundation peeked thru tall grass, and in the middle was a dilapidated chimney.

          If you haven't experienced these treasures of the country, I suggest you make it a goal to travel an out of the way country road. The wild flowers are to live for. Judith 12/30/16

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    Reflections on the Day

    Alcohol, Addiction, Oh My!

    Dayvid, you are about to walk through a minefield.
    I know, I know….sadly I know.

        What I am about to present is “MY” take on alcoholism and addiction. I am not a Drug and Alcohol Counselor, a Preacher, a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, or a MD. I do not pretend to know anything about alcoholism or addiction. There is so much we collectively do not know. The subject is huge, filled with a myriad of different aspects and so many levels of alcoholism. What are my credentials? I have been there, done that, and BEAT THE BASTARD! I don’t present this article for debate or argument and won’t engage as such. I present this as “My Story”. Read it or don’t. Like it or not. But by all means do not tell me I am wrong, I continue to choose not to drink. As with any story it is simply a story. If you get something out of it and it helps you, fantastic. If not, just move on.

        Was I an Alcoholic?
        Am I an Alcoholic?
        Do I have a problem with Alcohol?
        Am I in recovery?
        Have I recovered?

        I simply choose not to drink alcohol.

     Society’s take on alcoholism truly amazes me. It’s as if the whole world wants you to fail in your choice not to drink. The word sober gives rise to rather mundane ideas.

        Encarta Dictionary – Sober:

  • Not intoxicated – not under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • ◾Tending not to drink – not in the habit of drinking much alcohol or using drugs
  • Serious – serious and thoughtful in demeanor or quality
  • Dull – lacking vitality or brightness in appearance – ‘He always dresses in sober colours.’
  • Not fanciful or speculative – based on facts and rational thinking rather than on speculation. – ‘A sober assessment of the situation.’

  •     Sober doesn’t sound like much fun, it sounds serious and dull. What is society trying to tell us?

        If a person is obese and loses a lot of weight are they still obese? Do we call them Fataholics?
        Do we hide the cake and cookies when they come to our homes? Do we avoid discussing our favourite foods in front of them? No. We celebrate their successes, we encourage them to keep the weight off, and we complement them on their self-discipline. We commend them on their choice to live a healthier life style. They are champions. Yes there are some eating disorders that cannot be corrected by mere dieting and exercise. I trust you are getting my point.
        The biggest hurdle I had to overcome, in my choice not to drink, was of course me. If I admitted I had a problem then I believed that alcohol had beaten me. But more on that hurdle later. Another huge hurdle I had to overcome, in choosing not to drink, was the people around me. They were my wife, my children, my family, friends, colleagues and the rest of the world. They would judge me as weak, useless, a failure, unable to control myself, a man beaten by alcohol. For some reason most people require validation by having another be less than they are. This somehow makes them feel better about themselves. All of my accomplishments appeared to be wiped out and replaced by their ‘holier than thou’ attitude. I must admit some were supportive but even their attitudes were skewed towards alcoholism. I was at a family dinner after recently choosing not to drink. Desert time came and my sister offered the choices but omitted the plum pudding choice. I said, “I’ll have some of the plum pudding please.”
         She replied, “You know the sauce has rum in it.” What the hell was she thinking? I was going to have a spoonful of sauce that started out with about an ounce of rum in a quart of sauce and then cooked so most of the alcohol evaporated, and go ape shit. Was she afraid I was going to tear apart her house, beat up the guests, and piss in her sink? Friends would come to the house and bring non-alcoholic wine. Have you ever tasted that crap? What are you people thinking and who do we have to thank for this? They are the purveyors of misinformation surrounding alcoholism.
        What are we most familiar with? It is Alcoholics Anonymous. Dayvid! Here comes another mine. I know, I know… In my opinion Alcoholics Anonymous are purveyors of misinformation regarding alcohol. The next are the Churches by stating that only by accepting God and redemption through Jesus Christ will you be able to stop drinking but you will always be an alcoholic because you are powerless against alcohol. I will freely admit there are some exceptions. If you have attended AA and are still attending, and this program works for you, fantastic. I admire and applaud you, don’t stop. If you have accepted redemption through Jesus Christ and you are sober and happy, wonderful. I admire and applaud you as well. Please don’t stop. Both of these options are faith based. AA thought it prudent to change from the term “God” to “Higher Power”. However in some cases the ‘Serenity Prayer’ opens the AA meetings and the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ closes the meeting.
        There does not appear to be any studies that have gauged recidivism rates for those turning to the church for help. There appears to be a number of studies examining the recidivism rate among those who choose the AA option. These studies claim there is a 90% recidivism rate in the first year and might be as high as 95%. I can’t say whether this is true or not but there are a number of credible studies that claim the foregoing. These same studies show the highest rate of success is when one chooses not to drink on their own without the support of the foregoing programs.
        My concern with these programs is they teach and enforce the concept that one is powerless over alcohol, you will always be an alcoholic, and you will always be in recovery. In other words you will spend the rest of your life as a victim. These concepts are so universally accepted that the ‘Non Alcoholics’ around you believe this of you as well. You are an alcoholic, that relapse is waiting around every corner, you are powerless and you will always be in recovery. First Step of the 12 Step Program; “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.” I agree that your life will be unmanageable if you choose to continue drinking.
        Quite frankly; Screw you, I am not powerless and I refuse to be a victim.

        So what did you do Dayvid?

        Before we continue please hear me. Whatever it takes for you to come to a place where you choose not to drink for your own wellbeing please take it. I don’t care if it’s AA, Salvation Army, Your Church, some fancy dance $1000.00 a day rehab, or on your own initiative. Just do something. You are far too wonderful an individual with so much to give to yourself and those around you. I can truly say I have never been happier or more fulfilled on my journey. Namaste.

        Here is what I did.

        Drinking was a very large part of my life. I started drinking when I was 13 years old. I remember the first night I got drunk. I’d seen other people in a drunken state before. I remember thinking so this is what it’s like, man this is fantastic. Remembering those years of drinking they were mostly great times. My drinking increased and would become a problem. Fights with my Wife, passing out, and forgetting what I did. I would then quit drinking for a period of time, always going back thinking I could be a social drinker. To make a long story short my problem did not culminate until quite a few years of this roller coaster ride had passed. I was drinking, not drinking, and binge drinking on the weekends. Finally I reached a point where I realized I had to stop. The main reason for stopping was I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. The hours wasted were enormous. All I did was work and drink.

        This is my story of sobriety.

        I had admitted to myself for years that I had a problem. I should have known then that if I thought I had a problem then for sure everyone around me knew I had a problem. I thought I was hiding it well. It was the elephant in the room that everyone tip toed around and never acknowledged was in the room. Those first couple of drinks I had was fantastic. I was confident, outgoing, and having a blast. I kept wondering why I couldn’t I feel this way without the booze. The next thing I knew it was taking two to three days to fully recover physically and mentally from a weekend binge. Mondays became ‘Hell on Wheels’. I started drinking in the morning, not much, just enough to get over the sickness. I even got to the point of DTs and hallucinations. Never thought it would happen to me. If it hasn’t happened to you and you don’t choose not to drink then, trust me, it will. It was then I decided I had to stop.
        The first thing I realized was that I had to prepare myself for choosing not to drink. I had meditated most of my life and realized the benefits of controlling the ‘Monkey Mind’. That is the mind that allows thoughts to jump around uncontrolled like a rambunctious monkey. I put more focus into my practice to increase control of my mind. There is other sections on this site that might help; ‘Gate Keeper’ & Taming the Mind’. Just because I was an alcoholic didn’t mean I wasn’t spiritual. I came to realize that choosing not to drink did not mean that alcohol had beaten me. I came to realize that alcohol was my adversary and I was going to beat it. That was a huge mind shift for me. I no longer felt weak. I no longer felt like a victim. I felt empowered and quite frankly pissed off that an inanimate substance could exert such control over me. I now knew my adversary. If you do not know your adversary you have nothing to fight. I now had an attitude, I knew my enemy, and I was going to Beat the Bastard.
        I also understood that I would have to take care of my body and the changes it was about to go through. After years of filling my body with alcohol I knew there would be consequences of depriving my body of alcohol. Alcohol is literally a neurotoxin, (nerve poison) that affects every cell in the body; it kills brain cells. I dramatically increased my water intake, stayed away from coffee, sugar, and other carbohydrates. I started a vitamin regimen; thousands of milligrams of vitamin C a day, in divided doses; all the B-vitamins, especially thiamin, in a B-complex supplement, five times a day; niacin, and about three grams of L-glutamine. Remember I am not a Doctor and this is not medical advice it is simply what I did. I started walking 30 minutes to an hour per day which led me to other forms of exercise. Body and mind were being prepared.
        My spirit was always alive. I had been on a spiritual quest for most of my life. The drinking did not seem to get in my way. As a matter of fact I felt more spiritual when I drank. I wrote some of my best poetry when I was blitzed. My explanation to others of the spiritual journey was lucid and from the feedback helped many in starting their spiritual journey. With the alcohol I wasn’t confined or worried by what others thought and I was free to share those deepest parts of me. I continued to read voraciously and would eat up any spiritual book I could get my hands on. In the early years books like Illusions by Richard Bach, Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, the Bible, the Quran, and many others.

        The triad of Body, Mind, and Spirit had to be addressed if I was to succeed.

        I was now ready to bungee jump, scared shitless. I also realized that I would have to remove all the safety nets. Admitting to myself I had a problem was one thing and committing to myself I was going to choose not to drink was another. However, what would happen if I didn’t follow through? Actually nothing would happen. Just crawl back inside the same old hamster wheel. So I removed the nets. First I went to my Doctor and said, “I have finally come to the full realization that I am an alcoholic and I need help.” My Doctor replied, “I know. There was nothing I could do until you came to the realization.” We discussed many things during that visit including my vitamin regimen which he agreed with. We also discussed what was causing the behavior. What I came to understand was that I was self-medicating myself for anxiety and depression. I was very successful in my career. I received many accolades and awards. Yet I would go to an awards banquet and take the top prizes and on my way to work the next day worry about getting fired. I worried constantly that I was not measuring up as a husband, a father, and a friend. I couldn’t do enough for anybody. I was living my life for everyone else. I was so afraid of failing. My blood pressure was through the roof. I was a heart attack waiting for a place to happen.
        We decided on a full physical, medication to control my blood pressure until we could get it under control, and a mild anti-depressant. Anti-Depressant !!! You must be out of your mind if I was going to start taking meds. I never took medication not even aspirin. To take any kind of medication was a sign of weakness. My Doctor explained it was a very mild, non-addictive medication. Some of us do not produce enough of one or all of the following; serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. If your body is lacking in one area we should supplement these areas. My Doctor also recommended a book, ‘Mood Over Mind’ by Greenberger and Padesky. I agreed and to return in three months. One safety net down.
        Next I uttered those words, “I am an alcoholic and I know I have a problem”, to every one of my family. They all knew of course but were overwhelmed and pleased that I had finally admitted there was an elephant in the room. The safety nets were tumbling down. That day I choose not to drink. I was scared. I saved one net. I told myself and no one else that I would do this for six months and re-evaluate whether I wanted to continue to abstain from drinking. I couldn’t bring myself to committing to something forever. It would just set me up for failure. But I could do it for six months. I felt for the first time in many years of drinking and trying to quit this time was going to be different. I went out that weekend and got wasted.
        I was so sick and confused. “Why?” I asked my God. “Take this curse away from me.” “I have acknowledged that I have a problem, I have asked you to remove alcohol from my life, why won’t you help me?”
         The answer came to me very clearly. “I will help you, I will guide you, I will mentor you, and when necessary I will intervene. I will not carry you.” The foregoing might not be relevant to your belief system but I think you get the idea. There is no easy way out. Nobody is going to baby you through this process; Not family, not friends, nobody. You have to want it enough to do it for yourself. Take ownership.
        I now had a choice. I could give up, admit defeat, and stay in this place for the rest of my life. Or I could try again. Yesterday is gone. I am not the person I was yesterday. Every day I arise I can and will progress along my path.
        I focused on my body by exercising and watching what I was eating. I stayed away from processed food. I eventually joined a gym. I lost weight. I am not saying that everyone should do this but please acknowledge that your body requires exercise. When you care for your body it will reward you.
        I focused on my meditation. I built up to twice and day, twenty minutes each. I was ‘Taming the Mind.’ I found I also ‘Tamed the Mind’ during the day. When thoughts entered my head that I didn’t want I allowed them to pass through and told them not to come back. I started to question my impressions of the world around me. What was influencing me? I stopped involving myself in drama. Why do we watch the pain and suffering of others on TV? Why do we read books that are full of drama? Why do we engage in gossip? Like my body, my mind did not need to be stuffed with junk. If I thought negatively about myself in any way I simply reversed it and uttered it as an affirmation. I eventually synthesized the affirmation to I AM, I CAN, I WILL.
        I fed my Spirit. I surrounded myself with positive people. I focused on me. I acknowledged that I was the most important person on this journey. I refused to associate or engage with any person or situation that was negative in any way. I lost a lot of friends, some family, and associates. At times I felt very lonely until I realized how great I was starting to feel. I refused what I had been taught about my needs and desires. The world around me was looking brighter. I was seeing things in a different way. I was starting to stop and smell the roses. I found I was an incredible soul with so much to offer.
        The most important realization came when I stopped blaming everything around me for what was wrong in my world. I dropped the preface ‘if only’. If my Aunt had balls she’d be my Uncle.
        The ‘poor me’ persona amplifies to everyone around you and you will find yourself alone. Quit singing that song, for every time you sing it, you will continue to believe it. Suck it up Buttercup. You choose. How do you want the rest of this journey to play out?

        So, what happened next Dayvid?

        I was over the moon. I was feeling joyous; I was experiencing that feeling without alcohol that I had experienced with alcohol. I remember sitting on the deck watching the sun go down and trying to understand why all those addicted could not experience this. If they did they would choose not to be addicted. My last safety net of six months abstinence seemed to be falling away. I remember saying to myself why would anyone give up this joy and serenity for even one glass of wine?
        That weekend I bought a bottle and drank the entire bottle. I also bought a bottle of wine knowing that I would need it in the morning to fight the sickness. “Damm, shit, F***, bastard, asshole, prick, dumb ass, pond scum.” What the hell just happened? I don’t know. Just a few nights before I remember saying, “why would anyone give up this joy and serenity for even one glass of wine?” I have never been so sick. The wine helped but I knew just postponed the sickness. This time the hallucinations were scarier than ever. I knew I had to get well.
        Maybe it was my God teaching me that I hadn’t hit bottom yet. Maybe it was a re-enforcement that I had to have an attitude and take full ownership of my being.
        What did I do? I let go of yesterday, I suffered through three days of incredible sickness, depression, and anxiety. What got me through? I remembered the joy and serenity. I was going back to that place.
        I am back in that place and my God be willing I am going to continue progressing from that place. People sometimes ask, “Are you a non-drinker? Do you know Bill W.? When did you discover sobriety? How long have you been sober? I appreciate their interest if their interest is not self- serving. However, your questions are not relevant. I am not an alcoholic, I am not in recovery, and I am not a victim. I have chosen not to drink. The rest is immaterial. I will not be defined by alcohol. I Beat the Bastard, hear me roar.

        Please remember this is my story.

         This is not advice or counseling. Some might say, “It’s easy for you to say because you have beaten it.” It is not easy for me to say and it was not an easy leg of my journey. It was a very difficult part of my life but I chose this path and the lessons that I would encounter. The external influences that pressure us during our journey are enormous. I found it hard to accept how society orbits around alcohol. Most social gatherings include alcohol. And you are the ‘odd man’ out. I have found that most people, after a certain number of drinks, are people I really do not want to engage with. It also applies to other areas. Most folks don’t want you to succeed because if you do they lose their own validation.
        “Illegitimus non carborundum” — Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
        Not really Latin but you get the point.

        In summary;
        Recognize the place you are in.


  • Alcoholic
  • Addict
  • Workaholic
  • Gambler
  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Any negative place
  • Admit you are in a negative place

  •     Decide if you want to change.

  • Examine the place you are in
  • Write down the pros and cons
  • What will it look like if I change
  • Journaling is a great tool
  • Make the decision
  • Prepare for the change.
  • Body, Mind, and Spirit
  • Tame the mind first. Meditation seems to help
  • Choose to be positive, remove negative influences
  • The body requires attention and maintenance.
  • Talk to your Doctor
  • If medication is recommended take it.
  • Vitamins and supplements are important as you detoxify
  • Garbage in, Garbage out.
  • Exercise, you have muscles for a reason, use them.
  • Spirit also needs attention
  • Surround yourself with positive energy.
  • Positive books, positive affirmations, look in the mirror; tell that person you love them.
  • Start telling your story to those around you with head held high.
  • Work without safety nets.

  •     Make the change

  • You might not get it right the first time
  • You might not get it right the second time
  • If you fall off the bike get back on
  • Recognize that you did travel forward before you fell off
  • Affirm that it felt great while you were peddling
  • If you need help look into Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Talk to your Pastor, Minister, Preacher. Turn to your faith.
  • Look into rehab programs
  • Do not give up and remain a victim

  •     Well that is my story and a few humble suggestions. I don’t pretend that I am the authority on changing negative behaviors. I am just a being trying to be.
        With all the love and compassion that is within me I wish you well on your journey. It is not an easy path at times and it does require you to be alive. Please don’t stay in places you don’t want to be. I don’t wish you numbness and inertia. I wish you life. A glorious life filled with joy and serenity. The greatest rewards are often the most difficult to obtain. They are truly worth the effort.
    Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.’ --Jedi Master Yoda

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          Our President, has been in office since January 20th of this year. I find that some of the policies, Donald Trump, implemented by executive order are questionable. Such as, his banning of people from entering the US from seven Islamic nations. That goes against everything, America, stands for and not to mention it’s unconstitutional.
          Lawsuits have been filed, against Trump, by the ACLU. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will overturn Trump’s executive order.
          Donald Trump is also disregarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) a trade agreement with twelve of the Pacific Rim countries. Economist are saying such an act will cause the price of goods to go up hurting consumers in the US.
          The President also insulted the head of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, by stating that Mexico must pay for a 14-Billion-dollar wall separating our two countries. When Enrique Peña Nieto, stated that his country is not going to pay for the Wall. Trump threatened him with a 20% entry tax on all goods entering our country from Mexico. American consumers are the ones who will be paying the higher prices on goods from Mexico.
          What is interesting - much of the Trump brand products entering America are being made in Mexico and China. Donald Trump, has also threatened China with higher tariffs and labeled them a currency manipulator. The President is correct, China, is manipulating its currency - to strengthen the yuan. If China stops at Trump’s request, the yuan will get weaker, and Trump, doesn't want that to happen.
          Most economists would also agree that Trump's protectionist inauguration delivery shows that he knows very little about the virtues of globalization. His isolationist and ‘America-first’ stance on trade would be a serious mistake that will only hurt America.
          I do agree with the President that the American economy needs to be strengthened domestically. Our skeptical Congress must come on board to help bring about large-scale fiscal plans.
          Trump with the help of Congress also needs to proceed with cornerstone ideas such as large-scale tax cuts. But, not just for the top 1% but for the middle class as well.
          In America, 82% of our nation’s wealth, is controlled by the top 1% of our nation’s wealthiest. Our middle class is shrinking and that is having the biggest negative impact on our domestic economy.
          Many economists bring up the fact that a $4 trillion federal deficit had occurred under the last Republican President – George W. Bush. Bush’s fiscal measures to stimulate our domestic economy weakened the value of the American dollar. President Bush’s series of wide-ranging measures to boost domestic growth can't be allowed to happen again under the Trump administration. It will only increase our federal deficit and decrease the value of the American dollar - globally.
          Donald Trump’s overall plan is to make imports more expensive than American made products by implementing large-scale taxes and tariffs on all imports. There will, however, be many setbacks to Trump's widely heralded domestic economic plans. Economists point out that the existing labor dynamic here in America would see demand outpace supply under Trump’s agenda. That would most likely lead to inflation and fail to achieve the hoped-for growth result.
          I like to remind my students that Trump is a brand name onto himself and what he is selling to the American people is voodoo economics. Not to mention, his own brand of bigotry and prejudice. I am hoping that as time goes by Congress and the Supreme Court will reel Trump into reality.
          Congress has the power to un-fund Trump’s unrealistic agenda such as a two-thousand-mile wall. The Supreme Court also has the power to overturn, Trump’s, religious bigotry and allow people of the Islamic faith to enter our country.
          Our nation is much bigger than Trump’s ego and America’s altruistic spirit will in the end ‘out-shine’ and ‘out-Trump’ the Donald.
          I also like to tell my students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School here in Suzhou, China, that polished glass can sparkle like a diamond. But unlike a diamond glass will shatter under-pressure. Trump is like polished glass that gives the appearance of something of great value. But, in reality, Trump doesn’t have the substance nor the emotional temperament to withstand the pressures that come with his elected office. It’s unfortunate, but the American people are going to see Trump for what he truly is - a person of no substance.
      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
      Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
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    Consider This

          Funny isn’t it, how apologies are the Big Band-Aids these days. Seems like we humans can commit the worst of offenses but if we show remorse or say we’re sorry for doing it, whatever “it” is, we often get, or worse, expect, a sort of pass. If bad guys are in jail because they have committed egregious trespasses, they sometimes get a lighter sentence if they turn toward their accusers with a sincere, head-bowed mea culpa.

          I wish to suggest that a forced apology is not an apology. It’s a form of buying freedom from the committed crime or a desperate attempt to make it all go away. I remember once being in the back car seat of a long-married couple who were rather ticked off at each other for recent past offenses. They began to verbally tear at each other while I gradually began to fear for my life since with each snarl my host’s foot pressed heavily on the accelerator. The fight was seriously escalating when finally, the husband suddenly announced that this deadlock could end amicably if, he said to his wife, “you maybe offered me an apology.”

          What?? Now, the rule is to never interfere in other’s domestic pickles but there I was, stuck in that car with little to lose since my life was already in danger, so I went for it. Completely outraged at the husband’s demand, I shouted out my opinion about forced apologies not being real apologies. I’m pretty sure this commentary from me did not change the couple’s loathing of one another, but I certainly felt superior.

          So you see, and I know no one’s asked, I think to just say “I’m sorry” does not fix the problem at all. I get it that we should, and we can always “act as if,” but while saying the “sorry” word may temporarily end the torture, it doesn’t fix the problem. I understand too that old rituals such as apologizing can do a lot to make things right between warring factions, but do people say “I’m sorry” because they mean it or because they just want the unpleasantness to vanish? Who knows? I sort of think the “vanish” part of that question is what happens.

         We say those two words so casually these days that they have become weakened over the years. I say them far more often than I should, and I have certain relatives who apologize for absolutely everything; bad weather, the demise of dinosaurs, Brussels sprouts, acne. I’ve advised them that they needn’t say that all the time, that they are not responsible for all the world’s problems, but who listens to a 79-year-old know-it-all grannie? Not they.

          I also think it’s often incorrect to ask someone’s forgiveness for something we’ve said or done. Why should they forgive us? Oh I get the whole forgiveness thing, how allegedly the forgiver and the forgivee can only move on in life if they go through that drill, but really, I think it’s rude to expect people to suffer through the anguish of having to forgive us. I mean it make us feel better, but why should we demand that?
    “Please please forgive me for deliberately destroying your prize-winning roses with my Weed Whacker on that moonless night last month when you were out of town because I was annoyed with you for showing off your vulgar new Ferrari.”

          No, they do not have to forgive him. Forgiving people too often lets them off the hook. But I do think the Weed Whacker guy has to say he apologizes for a transgression like that. There’s a difference in apologizing and asking forgiveness I think. We should perhaps do the former, but I opine, it’s often presumptuous to demand the latter.

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    The Vulture

    To walk hand in hand with death,
    A constant battle within your soul.
    Paranoia with every breath,
    As you play another role.
    Your destiny has been chosen,
    Do not stray from the path.
    The path that others offer
    Could be a mind trap.

    Mourn not of weakness
    As others would have you do,
    Yet bask in your wisdom
    Over paths your heart has refused.

    Chorus: The vulture needs a victim,
    Seeks the wounded and the dead,
    Do not feed the vulture
    For the vulture is in your head.

    The Vulture

    Refuse to bend your heart
    For your heart will save your soul.
    Listen to your heart
    For your heart will surely know.

    The Vulture…Vulture…Vulture

    ©2016 Lyrics by John Bradshaw

    Pic Below: John Bradshaw with guitar, 2011

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    A Book To Read

    As I pick up a book to read
    I'm always amazed at where it will lead
    Those authors take us for quite a ride
    Between the covers, on the inside

     The words, they flow, and off we go
    And where we go, only the authors know
    They write it with their readers in mind
    It's up to us, in what we find

    Imagination is a creative force
    With lots of magic, of course
    A quest for a magic ring
    A powerful Wizard, or anything

    The images that come to our mind
    Are written there, for us to find
    They come to life, within our brain
    All because of what those words contain

    Let's read the next chapter, before we go to bed
    Everything that's happening, is going through my head
    What will happen next, I need to know
    I'll read another chapter, before I go

    I can't put this book down
    As it gets later, I wear a frown
    I fall asleep, with a dreamy look on my face
    The book falls from my hands, and I lose my place
    ©Jan 30, 2017 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
    And normally when it falls from your hands, it wakes
    you up from your nap. It's all because of great authors,
    that we find ourselves up late into the early morning
    hours reading a great book. Because of their great
    imagination, we get to explore a wonderful book.

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    Reading With My Granddaughters

    What time sweeter could I find
    Than an hour with my granddaughters
    Reading together on the sofa?

    It doesn’t really matter what the book;
    What counts is that we share it,
    Laughing at the same lines,
    Snuggling close in body and in mind.

    ©2016 John I. Blair, 9/12/2016

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    My Own Bible

    I've got my own Bible, it's written in my soul
    It is what guides me, in everything I know
    I don't need a verse, to know what's wrong or right
    We were in made in God's image, made from his light

     Energy is the soul, inside each of us
    Beyond or normal bodies, which is a plus
    Many of us, don't even have the faintest clue
    Of how to use this energy, while others do

    I don't need a Bible, to be a good man
    Because I know I'm good, because of who I am
    If some people think, that I am going to Hell
    Then it is time, they come out of their shell

    I don't live by the Bible, I live by the love
    That God gave to us, when we came from above
    You're no better than I, because you go to church
    I don't need to go there, I don't need to search

    God is everywhere, wherever resides your soul
    And this life on Earth, is your only role
    Don't put limitations, and chains on your soul
    There's much more than verses, that you'll need to know

    He doesn't punish us, if we think we sin
    We are our worst enemies, what's true is under our skin
    Our spirits in these bodies, knows what is right
    I've got my own Bible, and it is always God's Light
    ©Jan 30, 2017 Bud Lemire
                           Author Note:
    Just because one doesn't read the Bible, or go to Church,
    doesn't make them any less better than those who do.
    There is much more to life here, and we can be connected
    to God in other ways. In fact, sometimes we may think we
    aren't, yet we are. Nature, beauty, music, living life, and
    enjoying every moment. Helping others. I hear people say
    they sinned and are afraid that God will punish them. In my
    belief, there are no sins. If you use common sense, you already
    know right from wrong. God instilled that in most of us. So
    just keep on living, because God is watching over you, and
    loves you for being who you are.

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    We cry at birth
    From our first breath.
    Separation from love
    Inflicting pain to our death.
    Madness haunts our future.
    How can you take me away?
    Dreams of the past now gone
    With the wake of dawn.

    Yearning for what once was.
    Remembering warmth
    Of love now lost.
    Like rays of sunshine Before the frost.

    (Chorus: The yoke I carry
    Cross, halo, and chain -
    Your sacrifice
    Is not in vain.)

    Tracing our way
    To where it all went wrong.
    This road carries on
    For far too long.

    A painful reminder.
    Behind your back and in your face.
    So bitter the taste.
    The toll of this world.

    (Repeat Chorus)

    What fills this emptiness?
    What do I do without you?
    My life plays out like notes of a song.
    So many paths, all but one are wrong.

    (Repeat Chorus)

    Focus on today with hope for tomorrow (spoken, not sung)
    ©2016 Lyrics by Adam Bradshaw
    Pic below: Adam with new guitar

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    Rose Pavonia,

    Pleased to meet you
    Miss Rose Pavonia,
    Greeting the breeze in dance,

    Most delicate of blooms
    Yet tough withal,
    Surviving as you do,

    Thriving in fact,
    Sprouted by chance
    In pots meant for another.

    Each tiny, fragile flower
    Tinged with pink,
    Magenta cored,

    Kissed by the hot sun,
    Demands butterfly
    And hummingbird attention.

    Like a mallow done in miniature
    Your leaves, your blossoms
    Stand tall for close inspection,

    Challenge my belief
    That perfect beauty
    Desires assistance
    ©2016 John I. Blair, 10/10/2016

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    Age Is Just A Number

    It's not about age, or how old you may be
    It's about your personality, and what others will see
    Age truly is just a number, but no one will know
    If you're acting much younger, your age won't show

     Don't act your age, act how you feel
    For only then will your feelings be real
    Just be who you are, you must remain true
    In all things you say, and all that you do

    Let your spirit out, let the real you free
    Don't be just the body that people see
    Be full of life, and dance all around
    Be the light for others, wherever you're found

    Some people act older, than they need to
    When the dance is still there, more than they knew
    I know there are those, whose bodies were injured at an earlier time
    In those cases, it's having the right frame of mind

    I think what helps, is enjoying what you do
    So you can feel complete, by just being you
    Be all you can be, let your personality shine
    Age is only a number, when you're part of the divine
    ©Nov 20, 2014 Bud Lemire
                            Author Note:
    We all age. But it's how we act as we age that really
    counts. We can act like life has passed us by, or we
    can live and take each moment to be the best that we
    can be. Dance, sing, enjoy each and every day. If
    our bodies have stopped us, then our minds shouldn't.
    Life is about living, not dying.

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    Feed And Thrive

    Am I atoning for the possums, raccoons,
    Squirrels my ancestors of old have eaten
    By indulging fantasies of friendship
    And giving seed to untamed animals?

    Or have I merely recognized
    These are my little brothers, sisters,
    Behaving boldly, as sisters, brothers
    Are wont to do at times,

    Assuming, as must we all,
    Our Mother/Father
    Puts good things in our lives
    And we would be foolish
    Not to take them, feed, and thrive?

    ©2016 John I. Blair, 9/17/2016

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    Snow Light

    I went to sleep by Snow Light
    That snowfall sure was bright
    In my room, all through the night
    It let up my apartment, oh what a sight

    As that snow was falling outside
    I started drifting, and started to glide
    Into my dream, I fell to sleep
    I didn't even have to count sheep

    I was up several times, to take a peek
    Then off to the bathroom, to take a leak
    I went to bed, and it was so bright
    I fell back to sleep, under Snow Light

    I dreamt of playing in the snow
    Down at Ludington Park is where I go
    As a kid, on the toboggan, down the hill
    Sliding so fast, it was quite a thrill

    Memories and dreams take you many places
    And into your mind, old familiar faces
    Oh how good it feels to take in the sight
    As I fell to sleep, by the Snow Light
    ©Jan 10, 2017 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
    My bedroom was all lit up from the bright
    snow. And as the snow fell outside, I fell
    to sleep by “Snow Light” glowing from
    the snow falling outside my window.

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    The scene in front of me
    is as lovely as a Christmas tree.

    Children glide across the ice.
    Their coats and hats are so nice.

    Their laughter is heard all around.
    Like a chorus of bells, it is a melodious sound.

    ©2017 Barbara Irvin

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    Love, And In Love

    There are many ways, to use the word Love
    It depends upon the meaning, and what you're thinking of
    Love, is how close you feel, to a relative or friend
    In Love, is a deep love, that you don't want to end

     You can be In Love with one, but love many that you know
    It's the same with each of us, no matter where we go
    Spending time with a friend, I can say “I Love You”
    It's the Love of appreciation, of a time together too

    In Love, is the kind of Love, that touches your soul deep
    This is the strongest, and the one you want to forever keep
    You can Love anyone, for what they mean to you
    Enjoyable time spent, and which really flew

    Intimate and In Love, is how you feel
    With that special person, a love that is deeply real
    “I Love You Sister,” and you know it's true
    She cares for you, and knows what you've been through

    “My dear friend, how I Love you so”
    A dedicated friend, is always good to know
    But someone you're In Love with, plays a special part
    They touch your Soul deeply, while embracing your Heart
    ©Jan 04, 2017 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
    I Love all of my friends, just for being the caring, kind,
    people that they are. I Love all my brothers and sisters, and
    cousins too. But I am In Love with that special woman from
    Texas who has captured my Heart and Soul. When using the
    word Love, know the meanings of what is behind each way
    it is used. People tend to get mixed up when they hear someone
    use it and thinking it is much more than it is.

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    Night Sky

    Feathers of foliage
    Fringe the night sky,
    Framing faint, vast stars
    In the dark of the moon.

    Their silhouettes
    Emphasize at last
    How little light there is
    For my eyes to see by.

    Without the trees as shield,
    With only sky to view,
    I know I’d be as awed
    By midnight stars as noon sun.

    ©2016 John I. Blair, 9/5/2016

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    A New Beginning

    A new beginning starts every day
    You never know what will come your way
    The day could bring you anything
    You never know what it will bring
    On every day that comes, I do not look
    I flow along in time, just like a book
    I let it take me, to where it will go
    What will be, is what it will show

    It will present itself at any time
    To pass it by would be a crime
    I look real closely at what I see
    I gather thoughts on what it means to me

    Not all things remain the same
    If it did it would be a shame
    To make each day special on its own
    It must be different, for each thing shown

    Changes in every day you live
    You must take from, but also give
    A new beginning, a new end
    A special moment that you can spend
    ©Jan 9, 2017 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
    Changes make each day different. This
    makes every start to a new day, a new
    beginning. Which makes each day
    special in its own way. This makes
    life so much more enjoyable. Never
    knowing what to expect as every day
    starts anew.

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    Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don’t

    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t
    My wife’s mother loved to say.

    And I couldn’t contradict her --
    Her side has the evidence.

    But my side keeps on doing, living,

    ©2016, John I. Blair, 9/25/2016

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    Counting the Seasons

    Island dreams
    Mass extremes
    Claiming countdowns
    Massive slowdowns

    Take the break
    Live and shake
    Missing freedoms
    Lost in seasons

    Island dreams
    Pass the streams
    Making reasons
    Counting the seasons

    ©1/16/17 Bruce Clifford

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    Procyon Lotor

    Compared to hairy you
    We humans are the new kid
    On the block.

    We’ve been here
    In this continent
    50,000 years at best.

    You’ve occupied it
    Far more than a million
    Yet we tend you no respect.

    Maybe it’s the mask you wear
    And can’t remove. Or the noise
    You make while rifling our trash.

    Your high-step locomotion
    Serves you fine on boggy soil
    (But leaves it tough to outdash cars).

    You’ll eat anything, truest
    Omnivore upon the planet
    Some folk claim.

    But I admire you nonetheless,
    Because you have a brain
    Behind that mask,

    A brain that asks what things are for
    And remembers well
    When you find out.

    If you had a thumb opposable
    You’d give us a merry run
    On this Earth we share.

    ©2016 John I. Blair, 9/2/2016

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    Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

          We’ve been blessed with 4 gorgeous, brilliant granddaughters, and after raising only boys, I had no idea what was coming. Honestly, I had absolutely no knowledge that so much introspective and boundless chatting could be devoted to the subject of hair and nails. And these girls actually read books and maintain very good grades. ’Tis a puzzlement.

          However, as you know by now, I love to learn the history of all things, however trivial, and so today I’m learning the history of hair styling. The nails will be another column.

          Some of the earliest recorded hair issues began around 1500 BC. No mention of how it started, who or what made it begin, but begin it did. Did maybe someone idly carve a comb and then, not knowing what to do with it, absently drag it through his/her hair and had a Eureka!! moment? It could’ve happenedd

         Anyway, it was somewhere in the Middle East back in the day when people began to be skilled at cutting, curling and dyeing hair. Even men. Especially men! The Assyrians cut hair in the shapes of pyramids and longer hair was made to curl by slaves using the first curling iron, a heated iron bar –ouch—and hair styling became an industry and avocation.

         Hair began to be oiled, tinted and perfumed and even beards styled into shapes and ruffles by men of high rank. Women of a certain high position would strap on fancy fake beards so they could also look a cut above. Pretty weird.

         Then came the Greeks who loved long curly hair and thought short, style-less hair was barbaric. They preferred to be described as “fragrant with divine hair,” those words apparently mentioned in Greek poetry and prose.

          And then, those rascally Greeks decided that light colored hair was a sign of superiority and high station, so they learned how to lighten their hair by covering it with yellow pollen, yellow flour and even fine gold dust, after first washing it with harsh soaps and alkaline bleaches or special ointments. They then sat in the hot sun for hours to let nature take her course. Those Grecian dudes were some serious about their tresses and it’s been written their hair glowed with golden beauty. Those guys obviously had lots of free time on their hands I’d say, and while it’s not recorded, one does wonder if after all that rather harsh blonding routine there was a lot of baldness amongst the populace.

          Speeding up to around 303 BC the clever Romans invented barbers and had lots of shops scattered about. They insisted on a well-groomed look and those with ill-kempt do’s were ostracized and even publicly insulted. It simply wasn’t done! Further, high ranking Romans sniffed at the Greeks blondness and favored dark and black hair. They also dyed their hair so those telling gray strands wouldn’t show. Oh, and to keep those grays away, they slept with their hair coated with a paste made of ground herbs and earthworms. Personally, I’d go with being gray.

         It’s been written that Saxon men favored beards and head hair dyed either blue, orange, bright red or green.

         The Brits were a bit more conservative when it came to hair color and mostly favored Queen Elizabeth’s red color, whispered in court it was a color “never made by nature.”

          The French loved a large palette of colors but as Marie Antoinette took over High Society, hair began to be powdered, piled into huge, heavy mounds and powdered again.

          I know if I tried to tell my beauteous granddaughters about all this I’d get the polite, glassy-eyed, “You do know I’m not actually listening, Grandma, right?” look, but they really should know that even with all their endless chatting about their hair and all the “work” they put into making themselves look as spectacular as possible, they have no idea how hard it was to do just a few thousand years back. But they don’t care, as long as it all ends up with our girls looking as gorgeous as they do today, and they definitely do. They can chat in perpetuum about the whole fascinating process, and life for them is delish!

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