Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Editor's Corner


 

August 2017

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.” - John Muir.
 
Offering a renewing source of beauty is what we attempt with each issue of this little ezine. The columns, articles, stories, and poems are filled with lovely thoughts, which will be inspirational to many of our readers. Even when admonitions are voiced, the intent is to be uplifting. This month's compositions have been a joy for your editor to work with while preparing for publication. May each of you find something memorable to tuck within your heart.

"And All His Songs Were Sad" captured the attention and the column "Irish Eyes" by Mattie Lennon this month. Thomas F. Neill's column "Introspective" gives some insight into his teaching technique at the school in Suchow, China, as he tells his students about gratitude.

Dayvid Clarkson in his "Reflections of the Day," focuses on what Love isn't and is. Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" has memories of her late father and the joys they shared, including their way of looking at and reacting to challenges.

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda Cohenour, continues her research and compilation on Sidney Washington Creek with a fourth chapter. She feels one more chapter in September will wrap up his dramatic and historical tale. Rod Cohenour ("Cooking With Rod") calls up some of his helpmate's favorite recipes. He and wife Melinda often share the kitchen while preparing lucious meals. This month's highlights are their Original Southwestern Breakfast Dishes.

LC Van Savage of Maine, enjoyed her visit to Burnt Island so much that she fills her column ("Consider This") with all the info needed for others to visit there. She also has an article "Statues High Up" this month. The other article, reprinted from the author Bethany Whitaker's blog "Altogether Beautiful" shares her "First Year Lessons" while celebrating her anniversary in July. The single story is by your editor's late aunt Linnie Jane (Joslin) Burks, who with her husband (the late Dr. Edgar Burks) served as Nigerian Missionaries for 34 years through the Southern Baptist services. Her story "My Most Unforgettable Character" is about one of the people met during that time.

One of the poems, "New Home in Louisville, Kentucky" was written by Linnie Jane Burks also, and precedes the Nigerian service, as it falls in the time of her husband Edgar Burks being named as a minister in Kentucky. They both had just graduated from the Baylor Seminary in Texas with multiple degrees.

Your editor with Mother and two sisters spent the summer in 1945, at the Island featured in three of the following poems. The island mentioned was formed when the river split on its way to the Elk River near Pineville, Missouri. One branch was thus named Big Sugar Creek and the other Little Sugar Creek. Access to the island, with its home perched high above many huge boulders leading down to the rivers, was only by a Swinging Bridge, at the time the longest such bridge in use in the USA.

It was a fascinating summer and the pic below shows Mother (Lena May Joslin Carroll) with her brothers Jackie and Rex, her parents Artie and Carrie, and her sister Linnie Jane, close to that time. The poems "The Old Pike Road," "Beautiful Island," "Rain Drops and Rivers," and "Beautiful Island of Dreams" are by Carrie E. Joslin, Linnie Jane's mother and the maternal grandmother of your editor and Melinda Cohenour, author of "Armchair Genealogy."

Bud Lemire's poem is written as though his late brother were the author, expressing what Bud hopes his brother has found "In Spirit." Bruce Clifford's poems this month are "Hold on Tight" and "Don't Stand in The Rain." John I. Blair's half dozen are "Fine Leaves," "Fifty Years," "Waco Zoo July 2017," "A Time for Goodbyes," "Pain 2017" and "Old Moon." Judith Kroll penned the poignant "The Couple Who Stole The Night."

Mike Craner, without whom this ezine would have never made the web, deserves many bouquets for his expertise and patience. Thank you again, Mike.
See you in September !!!

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





A Much Maligned Man: Sidney Washington Creek


Born: 13 January 1832 in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri
Died: 12 September 1892 in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri
Chapter 4 in the Life of the Much Maligned Man
 

      In August of 1862, Missouri was fully embroiled in the violence and unrest that had fomented the great and horrible Civil War that would result in the greatest loss of life yet seen by Americans in any armed conflict. Within the borders of Missouri and its neighboring state of Kansas, factions were sharply divided and loyalties split between the abolitionist views and the established lifestyles of the Southern pioneers. Missouri’s Governor in 1861 was Claiborne Jackson, a neutralist who discouraged enlistment of Missourians to Federal service. In June of 1861 Federal authorities supported the formation of Unionist Home Guard regiments Federally controlled; however, these units were largely disbanded by the end of 1861 and replaced by six-month service state controlled militia whose responsibilities were severely limited and loosely managed. By January of 1862, these units had also disbanded and been replaced by the Missouri State Militia, a force of mostly cavalry units still state controlled.

      As discussed in the previous installment of Sid Creek’s story, the Red Legs of Kansas continued to organize deadly thieving raids across the border of Northwestern Missouri. Almost all the hale and hearty men folk were either engaged by the Confederate Army or had enlisted as Union soldiers, leaving the farms and homesteads occupied only by women, children and elderly men vulnerable to attack and destruction. Those young men left behind oftimes joined with guerilla forces to protect their homesteads and remaining family from those vicious attacks.

      Following the disastrous Battle of Pea Ridge, Confederate forces had withdrawn from Northern Arkansas and flooded into Missouri to recruit those loyal to the Southern cause. The success of this recruiting effort, coupled with the failed state militia efforts to date, resulted in Confederate Jefferson Davis choosing to legitimize the burgeoning guerilla bands by encouraging them to “follow the rules of war” and later be folded into the Confederate Army. This was not acceptable, of course, to the Union Army and Brigadier General John Schofield would respond by issuing Order No. 18 to the Missouri State Militia which read, in part, "When caught in arms, engaged in their unlawful warfare, they will be shot down upon the spot." (SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrolled_Missouri_Militia )

      This Order, though strongly worded, had little effect given the dwindling forces of the Missouri State Militia and the success of the Confederate recruitment efforts. In a move to counter these issues, on 22 July 1862 Schofield, aided by the provisional Governor, Hamilton Rowan Gamble (who had served 4 Mar 1822 as circuit attorney in the trial where Sidney’s grandfather, Abraham Creek, served as a juror), issued an order requiring compulsory enrollment.

      General Order No. 19 requiring loyal men to enroll in the militia, required registration of all who had previously taken up arms against the United States, and for them to surrender their weapons. The disloyal and Confederate sympathizers would not be required to enroll in the militia, but would have to declare their sympathies, which many were unwilling to do and instead enrolled.

      On 12 April 1862, Sidney Washington Creek, under duress, signed the Oath of allegiance before Col. M. B. Pennick, Liberty Missouri Command Post and gave bond.


        1862-4-12 - Sidney Creek sworn oath to Pennick certificate
 
      His allegiance, however, was definitely to the cause of the Confederacy. As subsequent tightening of restrictions against Southern sympathizers began to be exerted, Sid chose to make plans to protect his family and serve according to his conscience. In early August of 1862, he delivered his wife (Lucinda) and children (Georgia, Charles, Emma, Lamira, and Beau) to the estate of his father-in-law, Henry H. Estes. Estes would later, in a deposition prompted by the forfeiture of Sid’s allegiance bond, state that he urged Sid to stay and not give up his bond by leaving. Sid stated fervently that he “valued his life more than property” and was “going to the bush.” Later that same month, Sid was sworn into the Confederate service at Jackson, Missouri, enlisting for “three years or the war” and was assigned to the Confederate 9th Regiment, Missouri Cavalry, Company B (Elliott’s battalion, Capt. Walton’s company).

      The morning of 8 January 1863, would find Sid marching with the Confederate troops assigned to Col. Joseph Orville Shelby on the outskirts of Springfield, Missouri. The mission was to augment the two regiments marching in under Brig Gen. John S. Marmaduke who was driving forces up from Pocahontas and Lewisburg, Arkansas, into the area where the Union forces per scout reports had been weakened. In this series of skirmishes, Sid would bear arms. Timing became a critical factor for the rebel troops, as columns commanded by Col. Joseph C. Porter and Col. Emmett MacDonald failed to arrive in time to make a coordinated pincer attack against the embedded Union troops. Ultimately, the Confederate troops were forced to withdraw, suffering losses greater than those of their Union counterparts.

      Immediately following Marmaduke’s retreat from Springfield, his troops met up with Col. Porter. They engaged Union forces over three days (January 9 to 11, 1863) at Hartville, Missouri. As part of Col. Ben Elliott’s 1st Bttn., Missouri Cavalry, under command of Col. J. O. Shelby, Sidney Creek was assigned to picket duty. This consisted of a fixed position scouting operation where the advance location of the pickets could relay word of opposing forces’ movements to their commanders, thus, directing the most opportune strategic moves for the troops. This three-day operation resulted in mixed successes. The Union forces were disrupted, forced to abandon some key positions and permitted Marmaduke to set up a field hospital for a time; however, the resultant loss of several Confederate leaders (among them Brigade Commander Porter and Col. MacDonald) dealt a serious blow to the Confederate troops.
This is a charcoal sketch done by Anna Lee (Dillenbeck) Stacey.
Charcoal portrait of General Joseph Orville Shelby in suit coat, vest, shirt, and tie.
The drawing is signed by the artist. Below the signature,
"Genl. Jos. Orvill Shelby" is written in different hand
From State of Missouri website Archives covering the Civil War.

      Following the days long skirmishes at Hartville, Missouri, Marmaduke marched his troops back south to Arkansas. Sid, as part of Col. Shelby’s command, was encamped south of the White River at the farm of Franklin Desha. It was bitterly cold. Union Col. George Waring, 4th Missouri Cavalry, along with his 600 troops was given permission to engage the Confederate forces at Batesville, Arkansas. It is reported that a CSA scout who rushed to Marmaduke to warn of the impending foray was disbelieved. (Your author, given knowledge of Sidney Creek’s canny abilities, recent duties as an advance scout, and family lore that he served as a spy for the rebels, wonders if this scout was, indeed, our Sid.) At any rate, many of the rebel troops managed to move by ferry across the White River ahead of Waring’s approach. Knowing he was badly outnumbered by the troops under Marmaduke’s command, Waring employed a few slick tricks to delude his enemy as to the size of his own command. He ordered small groups to deploy over a wide area, setting up fake campfires to indicate a wide-ranging group of men. He also employed misinformation techniques by use of the local rumor mill, dropping hints that his was merely a small detachment of a much larger force soon to arrive. This strategy served to deter Marmaduke from crossing back over the river and engaging the much smaller force with his some 3,000 plus soldiers. Early the following morning, 4 February 1863; however, Shelby gave chase.

      The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture (website) reports:encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=6690

      The Union troops wasted no time packing and preparing to move at dawn; as Waring reported: “We levied such contributions of supplies as were necessary for our return march, and, in order that the return might not look like a retreat, we loaded two wagons with hogsheads of sugar, which would be welcome in Davidson’s commissariat.” Local resident Emily Weaver noted, “Towards day-break, the whole command moved swiftly north, and a few hours later, Gen. Shelby crossed the river with about three thousand men, and followed them a short distance.”
      Waring led his men, their prisoners, and their supplies as rapidly as possible through the snow back north. One historian summarized the end of the story succinctly. “The command then marched to Evening Shade, Arkansas, twenty-five miles north of Batesville, where Waring paroled and released most of his badly frostbitten prisoners.”

That February of 1863, Sidney Washington Creek became one of Gen. Waring’s unfortunate prisoners of war.
He was captured, and detailed to care for the sick and wounded.
The bitter cold, lack of food, exhaustion and ragged clothing had taken its toll.
Within a few days, Waring paroled his prisoners, partly to avoid having to care for them as well as his own troops.
      
      Sid managed to find a sympathetic farmer who permitted him to stay there, work the farm, rest up, heal and recover sufficiently to start for home as soon as the weather broke. Spring finally brought warmth for travel and on 20 May 1863, Sid set off, finally, for his home. On 31st May 1863, Cyrus Peroman, a private with the EMM, spotted him in Johnson County, Missouri. Sid was behind enemy lines, dressed in the uniform of a Union soldier. He gave his name as Peter West, but was soon identified as one Sidney Washington Creek, Confederate Spy.


                              Sidney Creek alias Peter West.

      Although your author believes the Provost Marshal General took the statement of one “Peter West” extensive searching has only turned up the cover used for the evidentiary file. We do, however, have the statement provided under the true name of Sidney Creek:

      “I was taken prisoner by Col. Warren’s (*) forces near Batesville, Ark. about 6th day of Feb’y 1863, & was paroled. I remained in Arkansas from that time (working on a farm) until about May 20th 1863 when I started for my home in Clay Co. Mo. I was making my way through Johnson Co. when arrested. I got the Federal Clothing I had on when arrested from a Confederate Soldier who was arrested & paroled at the same time I was, & who afterwards died. I think he got them at Springfield. I have no leave of absence or furlough, but was coming home intending to deliver myself up to the Federal authorities for trial for breaking my oath & bond. I was run off from home at the time of the enrollment of the EMM, because I would not join the loyal EMM. I was a Southern man and did not want to do it.”

(*) Sidney incorrectly gives the name of “Col. Warren” rather than the actual name of GEN. WARING, whose troops actually captured him and who provided paroles for all captured prisoners shortly thereafter as shown above. The prisoner he refers to, one Peter West, was reported as “slightly wounded” in the battle of Springfield, Mo. on 8 January 1863 and is not known to have died. Several of Sid’s responses were designed to obfuscate the truth and provide protection to his fellow comrades in arms in the Confederate cause. He avoids indicating that he had any military duty associated with his capture by Waring’s troops, as well. Probably because he was acting as a spy or, at minimum, a scout for Shelby. (As an interesting aside here, the officer to whom his statement was made was none other than Samuel Swinfin Burdett, lawyer, later Congressman from Missouri, who would become the Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic 1885-1886.)

Hon. S. S. Burdett was a member of the First Iowa Cavalry; served, during the war of the rebellion, as Provost Marshal General, with headquarters at St. Louis, Mo.; was afterward Member of Congress for two terms from Missouri; also, was Commissioner of the General Land Office, which he resigned, and is now practicing his profession in Washington City.
SOURCE: The History of Clinton County, Iowa: Containing a History of the County, Its Cities, Towns & Biographical Sketches of Citizens, January 1, 1879, Western Historical Company, publisher.
Portrait created 1 Jan 1880 by L. Weiser,
National Portrait Gallery
Samuel Swinfin Burdett

      Following his capture in Johnson County, Sid was under intense scrutiny. His true identity was discovered and depositions taken to confirm not only his identity, but his allegiance to the “Southern” cause, and his “disloyalty” which would result in the forfeiture of his loyalty bond in the amount of $1,500 (a large sum of money in 1863!) Those deposed to establish his identity were a childhood friend, William Doniphan, and his father-in-law, Henry Harris Estes. Additionally, one Robert W. Fleming, a 2d Lieut. in 4th Pro Reg’t with ties to Clay County, Missouri, wrote a venomous letter suggesting Sidney Creek deserved no less than death as punishment! His claim, undoubtedly, referred back to the 1860 incident involving the killing of Bernard Mosby in an altercation with Sid over lumber. No charges were filed; it being assumed the authorities investigating the matter deemed it a matter of self-defense. Bernard Mosby was first cousin to John Singleton Mosby, known more famously as The Gray Ghost during the Civil War for his daring exploits and flamboyant attire. Given Fleming’s Union affiliation and unyielding devotion to its cause, it must be assumed his outrage was vented to Sid as a “bushwhacker” and not related to any partiality to the Mosby family known for its devotion to the Confederate cause. Our appreciation for Fleming’s letter lies only in the fact that he supplies the one description of Sid Creek that exists beyond the family lore: a “stout man with black eyes” and “when dressed up, is a good looking man.” No photo of Sid has surfaced but his sister, Virginia Adolphus Creek, described him as being very tall, a fiercely loyal man, “a brave and wonderful person,” devoted to the protection of his family and his homeland.

      The other part of Fleming’s letter that may provide valuable information, if accurate, is that Sid served with Gen. Sterling “Pap” Price’s Army (actually a state militia) before giving bond in April of 1862. That would place Sid alongside Old Pap Price’s forces as they challenged pro-Union forces attempting to oust sitting Governor Claiborne Jackson. That time frame would have been from April 1861 through about August of 1861 when Price’s troops were forced southward into Arkansas, leaving Missouri a majority pro-Union state for most of the War. Fleming states Sid returned and “joined the Bushwhackers.” Records show he actually enlisted in the C.S.A. in August of 1862, so any time served alongside his kinfolk with Quantrill’s Raiders would have been brief, although more than one publication lists his name as one of Quantrill’s men.

                               

                                  
                                 Robert W Fleming Letter of 16 Jun 1863.

      After his arrest 31 May 1863, Sid was remanded to Warrensburg where he was held for some 10 days during which time evidence was collected to enforce the forfeiture of his bond. By 13 Jun 1863, Sid had been transferred to Gratiot (pronounced “grass-shut”) Street Military Prison in St. Louis, Missouri, where on the 15th of June he was examined by S. S. Burdett, Acting Provost Marshal General where he gave the statement previously referenced. He was held at Gratiot along with a variety of inmates: citizens who were arrested for “hallooing for Jefferson Davis” or being drunk or disorderly, gunrunners, bootleggers who served liquor to slaves, Confederate prisoners, spies and those suspected of disloyal actions or treasonous statements. Formerly the McDowell Medical College, Gratiot was a large, multi-story, rambling building including a dank and dreary basement. Its transmogrification to a prison was prompted by the over crowding of nearby Myrtle Street Prison and the impending influx of thousands more prisoners. The unique mix of inmates made for an unruly situation with occasional escapes effected without much apparent effort. It was a miserable place to be although its inmates were spared the horrific conditions experienced by many in other prison camps such as Andersonville.

Absalom Grimes, who spent the majority of 1864 in these rooms, said, “In those stirring war days no man was of importance or standing until he had been locked up in Gratiot Street prison at least a few days… The citizens referred to would be rounded up about town and locked up without charges, apology, or explanation and after being boarded for from one week to two months they would be called before the provost marshal and presented with the oath of allegiance to the United States, which they had to sign without question, no matter how great the effort.”
Gratiot Street Military Prison - St. Louis Mo. 1861-1864
      It was in this prison Sid would linger while the wheels of “justice” ground along. On 30 July 1863, the formalities were dispensed with and the formal Forfeiture of Bond occurred:

      “Sidney Creek, Pvt. – Cpt. Walton’s Co., Elliott’s Bn. – Clav. Mo. Vol., St. Lewis (sic) “being a Confederate soldier in disguise within our lines as a spy” has forfeited his bond to the U.S. Government.
 

This was soon followed by the report on 8 August 1863 that “after arrest on the 12th day of April 1862 Sidney Creek gave $1,500 for ‘future loyalty’ and received a parole to the limits of the said Clay Co.” Things were beginning to wind down. August 12, 1863, the official action to forfeit the bond was taken by U S Attorney Richard A. Barrett. This having been accomplished, Sid’s parole was soon thereafter effected. (SOURCE: "Confiscated and Contraband Property - Richard A. Barrett, Aug.8, 1863” paper.)

      On 26 August 1863, Sidney Washington Creek was paroled from the Gratiot Street Military Prison. He would once again begin the arduous trek home from St. Louis to the Northwestern edge of the state. No more materials have been located which would indicate Sid returned to action of any kind in the “War of the Rebellion.” All indications are that he returned to his home, reunited with his wife and family and undertook the task of rebuilding a life on the farm. He and Lucinda would add to their family with the birth of Susan Ludicia 25 May 1865, followed in fairly short order by Lucinda Agnes in 1868, Virginia Darlisco (known affectionately as Jennie) in 1869, Sarah Lee in 1872 and, finally, little Lillie in 1873.

      The final chapter in the life of Sidney Washington Creek will be published in the September issue of PencilStubs. For many folks, a simple recitation of the date and cause of death will suffice – perhaps, even the location where their final remains lie at rest. But not for our Sid. His was a life filled from start to finish with drama. That dramatic ending to his life comes next month. Stay tuned.

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

Irish Eyes



    
      And All His Songs Were Sad, is a play with music about the Irish songwriter Sean McCarthy and his complex relationship with the singer Peggy Sweeney. Her gorgeous, definitive recordings of McCarthy’s folk tunes about death and unrequited love were responsible for cementing his fame throughout Ireland.

      Irish singer/ songwriter, Sean McCarthy wrote 164 songs. Many of them were recorded by singers worldwide but for years he pestered one award-winning, female recording artist to record his works because he claimed that she was the only one who could “do it right.” Peggy Sweeney eventually made two albums of his songs but he was dead before they were released.



 Sean McCarthy, the late composer

      From Fort Worth Weekly: “Their collaboration was so intense, many people wanted to know: w6320as there any funny business going on?... The more intriguing thing about their ‘artistic friendship’ was that Peggy seemed to be the artist, while Sean was her muse. That’s an interesting reversal of the typical singer-songwriter arrangement.”



Lead Female: Ella Kearney

      This brand new musical; produced by CBS Portlaoise student Richard Mansworth; telling Sean & Peggy’s story is set to make you laugh and cry. A visually stunning production and a cast of some of Ireland’s most talented performers make this a show not to be missed this summer! (See pic below)

      Richard is no stranger to the stage. Since the young age of 5, Richard has performed in many shows as the lead soloist as well as being featured in the chorus and ensemble for various other shows.

      This is Richard's seventh show to direct and produce. His show last year was described by many as the highlight of their year and last summer’s show on this stage, ‘West End Fever’ was a great success and received a standing ovation from a sold out theatre.

      Richard has performed in many local shows including ‘The Addams Family’ last year with Portlaoise Musical Society in Dunamaise Arts Centre for 8 consecutive sold out nights & 9 Shows. He also performed in the Kellyville Park School of Music end of year productions in 2013 and 2014, a Magical Christmas Tale, The Little Mermaid, Class Act, Peter Pan, Oliver and Mulan, to name but a few! Richard has also appeared in some professional stage productions in Dublin, including West Side Story in the helix last August & being cast in Phantom Of The Opera.

      Richard has competed in many well known competitions such as the famous Britain's Got Talent and he achieved first place in Foroige's Got Talent!

      Richard has appeared many times on television and radio including elev8, Clue Crew and an appearance on a National Lottery advertisement & Lidl Advertisement.

      He was a guest presenter in the RDS for the Cycle Against Suicide campaign and was interviewed about this on Irish TV.

      Richard is currently busy running his new production company Dressing Room 1 Marketing & Productions.

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

 

Cooking With Rod


 

Original Southwestern Breakfast Dishes

 

Getting back to basics, we are going to take a look at the incredible, edible EGG! This month we will feature a couple of very special breakfast dishes created by none other than my beautiful bride.  In New Mexico, the Frito Bandito Scramble would be prepared with migas (or homemade tortillas fried, cooled, shredded and tossed in) – but my bride is from West Texas – so Fritos it is!

 Few foods are as flexible, adaptable, and nutritious as eggs. We love them for breakfast! We love them for lunch, brunch, or dinner. We love them with bacon, ham, sausage. We love them on bagels, with hot buttered biscuits, soft warm flour tortillas, breakfast cornbread, or toast. The greatest thing about eggs is they provide one of the lowest cost, most nutritious choices for the value, varied taste, and the essential proteins that we need to keep our bodies strong and healthy. 

Bon appetit~



Frito Bandito Scramble
By Melinda Cohenour


To serve 4-6 people:
 

(If you plan to fry bacon, do that first, retaining the grease to prepare the scrambled eggs, while permitting the bacon to drain on paper towels. The same advice goes for any other breakfast meat you may wish to add: thick baked ham slices, spicy chorizo, or even a nice sage sausage. These meats will take longer than your egg dishes so should be ready to serve, kept warm while you whisk up the huevos! Same advice goes for any sides or hot breads you wish to serve. Prepare them in advance.)

12 eggs
1-2 tsp black pepper
½ cup cream, fresh or sour
2 Tbsp butter and/or butter and bacon grease
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, deseeded, minced
1 brick cheddar cheese, grated fresh
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup chunky Salsa Roja (you can substitute a can of Rotel, but it won’t taste as fresh)
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin (green and bulb)
1 bunch cilantro, remove stems and coarse chop leaves
2 cups Fritos – regular or break King (dipping) size
1 lime, sliced (make sure it is heavy with juice)
1 avocado - diced

Do the prep work on the vegetables first. Also grate that cheese, measure out the cream. Have all the ingredients arranged near your cooking surface so you can keep those eggs fluffy once you begin cooking.

Heat skillet to melt butter and bring to low heat. Add diced onion and peppers to permit them to carmelize.

Break eggs in a bowl and whisk gently. Whisk in black pepper and cream (your choice – fresh or sour cream – both make the scramble rich, the sour cream adds a piquancy to the dish.) Just when the onions become transparent and the peppers are softened, add the whisked eggs and lower heat. Gently stir to lift the eggs and begin the scramble.

Just as the eggs begin to set up properly, still fluffy and a bit moist, add the cheese. Toss to gently mix, letting the cheese melt into the eggs.

Remove from heat: Add tomato, salsa, onions and cilantro – stir gently. Toss in Fritos, toss to mix and remove mixture to a large bowl. Reserve some of each to sprinkle as garnish over the bowl. A sprig or two of cilantro, intact, adds aroma and freshness.

Serve with a crisp salad either tossed or fruit based, fresh hot bread, and breakfast meat if you so choose. Be sure to offer extra salsa, tomatoes, green onions, lime slices and fresh-diced avocado to add to the finished scramble.
(Hot tortillas, buttered are an excellent choice for the hot bread to serve with this dish.)


Melinda’s Eggs Jalapeno
By Melinda Cohenour
 
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced in ¼ to ½ inch rings
  • Pickled jalapeno slices, drained
  • 1 brick cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups grated cheese)
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Butter for casserole dish
Butter 9”x13”x2” casserole dish. Make one layer of onion slices over bottom of buttered pan. Dot jalapeno slices over the onions (For the faint of heart, just top each onion slice with one jalapeno pepper slice.) Layer shredded cheese over all.

In mixing bowl, whip eggs with whisk, adding milk and Bisquick, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
Pour evenly over cheese in casserole dish.

Bake in preheated 325° oven about 45 minutes to one hour, or until nicely browned, and egg/milk mixture has set.

This meal is especially delicious paired with chilled cantaloupe wedges, lovely baked ham prepared with a pineapple glaze, chilled juice and fresh hot baked artisan bread served up with sweet creamery butter.

(NOTE: This recipe serves 6 easily. For 2 people, halve the ingredients and prepare in an 8” square oven-proof casserole dish.)




Melinda's Eggs Jalapeno Plated


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

Reflections on the Day



July 3 at 9:57pm ·

      The wonder of synchronicity is when those forces pull the pieces of the puzzle together to fit for one moment in time. I savour those times. It is as if everything comes into alignment and we perceive a world that is so different. Colours seem brighter, silence seems quieter, and my very soul vibrates with astonishment.

      If we would simply pause, every now and then, we will find them. As you go to your nightly rest hold dear to your heart we are all just finding our way home. Be grateful for your day, let everything unresolved melt away, and look to the Divine that holds arms wide open and bids you enter.
Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid.



July 6 at 10:20pm ·

      It is the time of the evening for me when the entire universe seems to rest. As I reflect upon the day I have watched Folks get together, Folks fall apart, and singular Folks feeling incomplete. I have seen Friendships flounder because they were of the opposite sex. We have so much to unlearn as to what Love really is. There is no physicality within Love. There is no attachment within Love. No one can love you. No one can generate love for you. You cannot command another’s full attention nor can you be possessed by another. We are unique individual beings. There are no rules for how and why we should Love.

      We chase the movie story concept of Love and we seem to miss the quiet understanding that first, we must love ourselves. I will never leave you, I would die for you, I would cross the hottest deserts and the deepest seas for you. Bullshit; that is what you were taught and what you see and read. Love does not tear you apart nor does it require ultimate sacrifice; that is a romance novel.

      First, love yourself then open your heart to all around you. You will find your love and your friendships start moving towards you and provide the nourishment your soul requires. Regardless of what society portrays, your authentic self knows how to Love, quietly let the bindings drop and allow yourself to Love.
Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid

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

Consider This

Go to Live in the 1950s on Burnt Island in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

       It was a perfect Maine day, breezy and cool, and we, “my TV crew” and I gathered at the Boothbay Harbor Aquarium (do not miss it—it’s small but simply delightful) so that we could do a day’s shoot at the charming Burnt Island Light. The island and lighthouse are located at the western entrance of Boothbay Harbor. Our show was, and still is called “incredibleMAINE.” It seen at 10:30 AM on Saturday mornings on MPBN. Yes, I am without shame.

      Our motor boat showed up just below the aquarium, we donned life jackets and headed off to Burnt Island. There is very little to compare with being on the water on a fabulous Maine summer day, moving toward a beautiful Island named Burnt, so called because of the past practice of burning off all vegetation to keep the land clear for grazing sheep.

       We landed, and lugging our heavy camera equipment, all trooped through woods and pastures toward the lighthouse. It was built in 1821, not to warn sailors away from rocks and danger but instead to attract traffic to the harbor. It even gained a fog bell in 1895 which was eventually moved to a metal frame and was rung with an electric striker. After many trials and errors, the light became final and fixed in 1901, with a rotating beacon consisting of a square box with a lens on each face. This, from all reports, worked perfectly until 1962 when the light house and the keeper’s cottage were all designated as a museum, the last lighthouse in Maine to be converted from kerosene, and that’s where we, the mighty crew of incredibleMAINE came in.

      We filmed that remarkable place and it was a day to remember. The buildings on Burnt Island had all been restored to their 1950s condition and in 2003, the Living History Program began, and please, readers of this, don’t miss the chance to get out to Burnt Island to see what they offer. It is a marvelous experience!

       There are actors there in the summers, portraying family life at the Burnt Island Lighthouse who are so good at what they do that as an observer, one is simply swept up into the mood and times. Their clothing is straight out of the 50s, hair styles, manner of speaking, the chores they had to perform that no modern child of today could even think of doing, much less tolerate. Their fun and education and daytime activities were all in place and governed by parents, and all had to participate.

       To quote directly from the brochure, “the restored buildings serve as a living history museum where interpreters portray a lighthouse family who once called Burnt Island home. The keeper was Joseph Muise, wife Annie and their children who recount their daily activities and share their stories of joy, sorrow, dedication and survival.”

      We got to film and watch “The Muise family” in action. Annie showed us how she did the family wash but hauling a huge tub of soapy water outside and scrubbing the clothes on a washboard, rinsing and wringing them all out and hanging them on a line to snap and wave dry in the bright sunlight. Oh what a sight! Annie would talk to all of us observing, and tell us how she managed to live there, how hard but rewarding the work was, how they coped in winters. It was mesmerizing.

       All the furnishings throughout the keeper’s home were vintage 1950s, comfortable and simple. Nothing jarring jumped out at the observers, like computers or, heaven help us, iPhones.

      The kitchen was exactly like the ones I spent time in growing up, with all the products on view—Rinso White Soap Flakes, remember?—things like that. Putting on a daily meal was a huge chore but they all managed, all helped. No one could ever say “oh, we’re out of bread? I’ll just zip on down to the store and get a loaf. Be back in a jiffy.” No zips, no jiffies, when one is completely encircled by the Atlantic Ocean.

      We all got to meet the keeper, in full captain’s costume and that actor was seriously overheated, standing about in his dark blue wool blazer and white pants and captain’s hat in the blazing sun, but he carried it off so well we all got into the spirit of the thing and hammered questions at him, all of which he answered satisfactorily, with good humor and lots of knowledge. Naturally everyone wanted to know how a family lived without plumbing but he explained that they all had adjusted and did well anyway.

      The garden on the island gave up food for the family, and they canned and saved and dried and planned. A “Flying Santa” would fly over the island at Christmas and drop presents for the family. Can you imagine the sight of everyone rushing out into the snow in winter garb to gather up their gifts? What a visual! Everyone back then liked the Muises, and Joseph, a famously kind man, would help local fishermen whenever he could. In turn, they willingly supplied him with fresh catches of lobsters and fish.

      Joseph Muise took us up into the tower and of course there are no words to describe the glorious views from up there. One could also see the many plans for other educational buildings around the island to encourage future visitors to gather on the island and to learn how it was to live like that 70 odd years ago. Romantic? Beautiful? Yes, but lonely at times, hard work all the time, low pay, invented fun and games, learning to cope in all situations.

      I hated our day of filming to end---those actors really brought me back to my childhood and made me and likely the other visitors yearn to have lived that life on Burnt Island, at least for a little while. Back into our life jackets, we stood on the small boat, looking back at the island for the too short 15-minute voyage back to Boothbay Harbor.

      Please think about doing this sometime soon, folks. You’ll never forget the experience whether you lived through the 1950s or did not. Your memories will smile when you think back about taking the time to go to Burnt Island on a beautiful summer day in Maine.

      2017 Summer Schedule
      Beginning July 6th and ending August 24th
      Mondays and Thursdays
      Departure at 1:45 PM
      Return at 4:45 PM
      Tickets / prices call:
      Balmy Days II Cruises
      (207) 633-2284
      www.balmydayscruises.com
      Private group tours available
      For information and fees call:
      (207) 633-9444
      Email: keepersofburntislandlight@gmail.com
      http://www.keepersofburntislandlight.com/index.html

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On Trek

Memories of Dad

January 12 ·

      Watching the last embers of a fire continue their fight to extinction…, Watching a precious beautifully colored leaf taking it’s final ride to become part of the universe. Wiping a tear from my eye as we did our dad’s last tear, as he ascended to become part of the universe..

      I was privileged to be with my Dad for 69 years. On my 69th bd, dad passed ten days later. I was with him in hospice his last month on this earth. I didn’t know what to expect, and he didn’t know what to expect, but we decided to do it together.

      Dad would smile and then say, “it’s my turn next and I don’t know what is going to happen but I want to experience every part of it.”

       Dad was always up to trying new things. I guess I earned that trait from him as I am always up for a new experience. The “bucket list”. I do believe everyone has a bucket list, and I do believe everyone won’t get to do everything that is on that list, but everyone will have a good time trying.

      Dad played pool in his later years. I do mean later years as he was in his 80’s when he retired fully from his job. Then it was his turn to play. To go on vacation and not worry about everyone. To spend money he finally had to spend on HIMSELF., and his companion. Dad had a beautiful woman friend and companion and they did everything together.

      Their spark together was always creating more sparks daily. Their laughter spiraled up and around everywhere they went. People would smile watching them, secretly admiring that unconditional love. They had no responsibility for anyone else but themselves, it was a free , fun, enjoyable time for them . Kids were grown, no pets, the world was theirs just for the doing. They both had their physical embers burned out within 6 months of each other., Now their spirits soar the universe .

      I sense them in a meal we shared, in a tear I shed, in a smile that comes into my heart and swells to my lips. They fly on the wings of birds, and sing their tunes, they rush thru the trees with the winds, they stand behind all their loved ones still here on earth, cheering them on. Their spiritual embers roar with a magnificent light that glows to unimaginable heights, and will never be distinguished. The zenith of happiness fills my soul once again.
Judith 1/12/2017 from "Writings of Judith."

My Bucket List
  Bare feet in the grass, warmth of the sun
Cool waters from the stream, listen to the trees blowin' in the wind.
Children laughing, fur babies snugglin'
Smiles to strangers, sunrise and sunsets
Walk in the forest feeling the energy in the trees
Taste different foods, plant a garden
Share my smiles and hugs
Rejoice at life
Stop judging and love all peoples
Love my self.
Free my soul to BE.
 
© 01/19/2017 Judith Kroll

 
From "Writings of Judith" June 18, 2017

      Today is father's day. I went to bed and laying there thinking I remembered something I needed to do in the AM. So I grabbed by dad's wallet that I keep on the bed shelf, and layed it on the stand next to my bed. That helps me remember. I had a dream later to Check out the wallet for money. When I first got the wallet I went thru every nook and cranny just because. It was empty, but it made me feel good to touch it and look at it. After the shower I remembered what I had to do, so I put the wallet back in its place..Then I heard, check the wallet. Ok, so I checked it..There was a quarter in it.. Now I KNOW there was nothing in it.. I said if it is 2015 (the year my dad passed), I know it is a gift from him. The date..Yep you guessed it...2015. What a great father's day gift from my POP. Wow I am on cloud TEN. Judith

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Introspective


      Every semester at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School, in Suzhou, China, I do a lesson plan on gratitude. Because, most people take the things in their lives for granted. We don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone and that includes the people in our lives.

      Psychologists, have discovered, that people who show their gratitude are much happier than those who do not express their gratitude. Because, it’s not happiness, that leads to gratitude, it’s gratitude that leads to happiness.

      I like to tell my students, - "let the people in your life know how much you appreciate them. It will not only boost their self-esteem but it will also boost their overall respect for you."

      When you give people a sincere compliment, words of encouragement or just a warm smile, you are making their world a better place. You are making them feel appreciated and valuable.

      When you express your approval or gratitude for something others have done, you will not only enhance their life, but you will enrich yours as well. You will feel more fulfilled because you have done something to make life for someone else better.

      I also tell my students here in Suzhou, China, that starting each day with a sense of gratitude will have a positive influence on the rest of their day.

      Ending each day with a sense of gratitude will also bring us back to a place of appreciation no matter what happened during our day.

      Gratitude is also a powerful affirmation it brings more of what we want into our life.

      If we are grateful for the things we have we will attract more goodness into our life and into the lives of those around us.

      Every semester, I tell my students, write down at least 3 things you are grateful for and share them with a trusted friend. I also ask them to keep a daily journal because a journal is a great way of bringing out on paper all the things we are thankful for.

      It will be fun when looking back on your daily journal and reading what you wrote years from now. You will then be able to see how your ideas and attitudes mature and grow with time. A daily journal is also a great way in helping you express the things you cannot say to other people even your best friend.

      Every day, try and tell others what you're grateful for and 'why.' The 'why' explanation is the most important part of showing your gratitude to others. This expression of gratefulness will leave you feeling a lot more lifted when it comes to your mood and attitude on life.

      Be grateful even during the hard times, because, the difficult times in our lives can become opportunities for growth and understanding. Challenges can strengthen our minds and lead to greater maturity.

      Face each difficulty that comes your way with renewed vigor. But, most of all, be grateful that you have the strength to face those difficulties head on.

      Putting your gratitude into action is quite simple - a simple text message, email, or a nice phone call will accomplish your goal of letting others know that they are appreciated. A handwritten thank you note can also be a super cool surprise for those we care about in our technology dominant world.
    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:
    http://thomasfoneill.blogspot.com
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My Most Unforgettable Character


 

      Amos has a face which lights up easily with a smile that doesn't stop at his mouth, but reaches right out to you. With the smile will come all of the proper Yoruba salutations if he is speaking with a fellow Yoruba. If you are "European," he will have a pleasant greeting in English. If Hausa, he will fill the air with happy chatter in Batonu.

      Amos Aderibigbe Akano is a Christian, a cook, a steward, a farmer, a father and husband, a friend, a mimic, a historian, a clown and a philosopher. For eleven years we had the pleasure of his friendship for he worked in our home.

      "How old are you, Amos?", we asked. The answer would be a fascinating story: "I am not sure when I was born, but they knew which Okere was King of Shaki, when I would carry elephant and other bush meat where my father and other hunters would kill big game. And a boy must be 12 or 14 to do so!"

      "Amos, come quickly and see this pretty little blue bird," I whispered to him one day. "Uh-Huh," he whispered back knowingly, "this small bird cannot fight the snakes or bad boys who want to spoil her nest. So, she always builds her nest near the wasp. Then the wasp will fight for her."

      "Amos, do you make the carrot cake for visitors," I asked. "Yes, Iya, but the carrot is not enough, so I just look round and I see the sweet potato, so I use it. It looks the same color and the visitor will like the cake. I think this is better than not making the cake?"

      "Amos, who is your friend," I asked, when he came in with a stranger. "This is Bio, a Batonu, whom I found in the motor park in this Ibadan. He has no work, so I brought him home. I saw him there and I knew his facial marks, so I salute him in Batonu. He was happy to hear Batonu." And both faces were smiling.

      "Amos, come look at this big star so close to the moon," we called from the yard one night. "Ahh-h," he replied pensively as he smiled and looked up at the heavenly sight. "The dog is close to the hunter now, but soon he will go back home and the hunter will go on. If you watch tomorrow night, you will see that the dog will not follow as far as he has come tonight.--"

      "Amos, why do you want the Bible now," I asked as we were preparing food. "Please," he smiled, "It will not take long. Fili is to take her turn reading the family worship tonight and she does not remember the verses. She wants to practice!"

      "Amos! What is all of the fuss about," I asked as I came to the kitchen door. Four children had turned to go back toward their house. Amos smiled and answered, "They are playing, but they get mad and want to fight. I have told them if it is a big thing they can fight, but they must come and ask me if it is a big thing. I let them all tell me the trouble; I think about it and tell them it is not quite big enough for a fight. So, now they are happy. It is better this way."

      We have moved away and Amos is no longer in our home. But his smiling face still lights up a part of our memory and we still catch ourselves starting a question: "Amos?"
Written by Linnie Jane Joslin Burks, for writing class, taught by Dr. Georgia Bowman, Baptist Seminary, Ogbomosho, Nigeria.

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New Home in Louisville, Kentucky


When we moved to the new house,
     A terror at my heart did prey;
And clutched at every thought of mine
     Till a cold, weird feeling chilled the day
Both box and baggage to be unpacked,
     And baby needing so much care.
But, still that strangeness grew and grew,
     Where e'er I turned it crouched near.

Later, while hurrying with my work,
     I passed a window and chanced to see,
A swaying mass of beauty rare,
     A graceful weeping willow tree.
I stopped and gazed entranced--when lo!
     I felt my panic disappear,
As I listened to the rippling fronds,
     I heard, "I'm so glad to have you here!"

With conscience smitten, I bowed my head
     I had misjudged this adopted land;
I knew that here I'd find hope and love,
     And those who'd lend a helping hand.
Then, as I turned, my baby smiled,
     And sunshine tiptoed to each nook;
Why had I climbed the stair with dread,
     Approached each room with fearful look?

Now, when homesick, aching comes,
     To draw me back o'er vale and lea,
Too native land and those I love,
     I tell it to my willow tree.
With arms outstretched it seems to say,
     "Learn to be happy where you are,
Accept the blessings God has given,
     And others' burdens help to bear."

Oh, may I learn this lesson well,
     Where ever in this world I roam;
To first look for a willow tree
     Then, without fear to build a home,
I pray that God will bless that home
     And lead me where he'd have me go.
And when my burdens are hard to bear,
     God and my willow tree will know.

©circa 1945 Linnie Jane Joslin Burks

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Raindrops and Rivers


 
Rain drops started falling
     Slowly here and there;
I didn't think much rain would fall
     Because the skies were fair.

Only just a few gray clouds
     I could see them from my door;
But as they came together
     I could hear the thunder roar.

Rain drops then fell faster
     I could hear them overhead;
For all the world like little feet
     Scampering off to bed.

My island home was drenched
     With rain drops sweet and clean;
And streams of water running
     To the rivers could be seen.

The rivers, I think were jealous
     For each one wanted most;
So they gathered in the rain drops
     And then began to boast.

They quarreled with each other
     You should have seen them roar.
I watched them toss and tumble
     Going past my cottage door.

But, when they came together
     I was happy as could be;
For they joined their hands like children
     And laughed and danced with glee.

©circa 1946 Carrie Joslin

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Fine Leaves


 
Fine clothes don’t really make the man
But fine leaves sometimes make the tree.

More than twenty years ago
Among the volunteers I yank up constantly
Around my woodsy yard

A single sprout displayed five crimson leaves
One autumn day, so pleasing to my eye
I let it grow another season.

Now this December afternoon
I admire it standing there,
Thirty feet in height and beautiful.

Curious how brilliant autumn foliage,
A phenomenon of chemistry
With humans nowhere in the mix,
Contributed to natural selection.

©2016 John I. Blair, 12/8/2016

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Beautiful Island


(White Island)

My Island was covered this morning
     With a beautiful blanket of white.
Someone had tenderly tucked it in
     While I was asleep last night.
The fields and meadows were covered
     From their heads right down to their toes;
And even the little old garden
     Where in springtime bright flowers grow
I'm sure it wasn't the songbirds
     Who unfolded that blanket last night,
And smoothed it over my Island
     And tucked it in cozy and tight.
For they all came over this morning
     My beautiful Island to see;
And those birds--I know --every one of them
     Were as surprised as they could be.
They wanted their usual breakfast
     Of crumbs on the soft clean ground,
But a blanket of snowy whiteness
     Was all that the little birds found.
So away in the tall trees they gathered
     Maybe a council to hold--
There were bluebirds, redbirds and robins
     And a jay bird bossy and bold!
But, while they fussed and chattered
     Someone thoughtful and wise,
Lifted that beautiful blanket
     By hanging the sun in the skies.

©circa 1940  Carrie E. Joslin

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A Time for Goodbyes


 
As with many who have reached
The age at which I find myself
I’ve had times I knew
Beyond a doubt
I faced death eye to eye;

And to my own surprise
My first reaction wasn’t fear
But rather sadness
And an overwhelming need
To say goodbye,

Goodbye to everyone I loved,
Goodbye as well to blue skies,
Green trees, shining waters,
Feathered birds and furry animals,
To all the sweetness of this place.

I have loved my life
And everything that’s in it,
Even sadness, for I recognize
In sadness the other face of joy,
In tears the other face of love.

©2017 John I. Blair, 7/12/2017

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The Old Pike Road


 
I traveled the old Pike Road one day.
     It led through the woods and far away.
'Twas a funny old road and I laughed with glee,
     For as I traveled-- this story it told to me.

I've been here for oh so many years.
     I've listened to sorrows, joys and cares.
I've carried the living and carried the dead;
     Now I am sure these words the old Pike Road said.

The Pike Road laughed and winked at me
     As it said, "I've seen sights I wish you could see--
I've seen lovers as they made their vows;
     And their secret I hid with my oak tree boughs.

I was made by the slaves in the long ago.
     Their masters were cruel to them I know.
They labored and toiled the whole day long.
When they were tired and hungry, They would sing a song."

Now this is the story it told on the way--
As I traveled from Louisville one summer day.

©1946 Carrie E. Joslin

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Fifty Years


 
Every day’s a gift they say;
But some I am reluctant
To unwrap, as I cannot guess
What they may hold.

Like today, the day
When fifty years have passed
Since we were wed.

Now you’re gone
And I’m still here, bemused
At what to do with all the time
That may remain to me
Persisting in the home we shared,
Haunted by my thoughts
Of the life we had together.

But I know you would insist
I keep on hoping, keep on loving,
Keep on being.

©2017 John I. Blair, 7/18/2017

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In Spirit

 
I was a skeptic, while on Earth
In Spirit, I have found my worth
Imagine it, I can fly!
Here I thought, I'd just die

 It's a whole new world, to explore
I'm amazed, because there's so much more
Don't you shed a tear
Dying is nothing to fear

I'm spending time with my sidekick
When my heart stopped, I came here quick
Aunt Lil was there, to help me here
Mom and other relatives, gave me a cheer

Just a reminder, keep looking up at the sky
See the beauty, in front of your eye
Get yourself a camera, capture what you see
I know in my life, it was the best for me

To those people, that I left behind
I'm fully myself now, in spirit I find
My thoughts are different, than they were before
In Spirit, our thoughts do so much more

Terry wants me to play a game of Pool, so I guess I will go
Yet I want to say something, I think you should know
If you have a Massive Stroke, go into a Coma, and are paralyzed too
Leave your body at once, is what you should do
©July 7, 2017 Bud Lemire
                                  Note:
It is so amazing here “In Spirit.” I still have some adjustments to make.
I am getting use to it already, even though I am fairly new. The things they
do over here would amaze you. They do, me. I am free to do so much more
and when it is your time, you shall experience it too.
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Waco Zoo July 2017


 
Ambling into the zoo
We hear a tiger roaring in the distance
Hidden by the trees and vines.

The torrid Texas heat
Gives credibility
To jungle animals in this place.

Paths wander here and there,
Circling ponds and palisades,
Bewildering in complexity.

One enormous compound
Draped by ropes for swinging
Hosts a sleepy group of apes.

Then, passing dik diks, gnus,
Elephants and storks
We stop to stare

At a dragon from Komodo,
Deceptively inert
But radiating risk.

Finally the heat gets overwhelming;
So after chugging down some Gatorade
To keep from passing out

We forget about aquariums
And stagger back to safety
In our air-conditioned car.

©2017 John I. Blair, 7/24/2017

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Beautiful Island of Dreams


(The Cry of a New Visitor to the Island)

Through the meadow and over the bridge
     To our beautiful Island we go
To think our thoughts and dream our dreams
     And watch the sunset glow.

But, first we clamber down a bluff,
     Then grab the cable strong;
Climb the "approach" and get the "feel"
     Of the "Swinging Bridge's Song."

Soon you are swinging up and down,
     But also back and forth.
"Come on," they call. "Do not stop,
     If we are to get back on earth!"

"I want to be on earth," I cry.
     But when I step-- well behold!
Nothing is beneath my step,
     But, there I meet it, brass and bold!

I tumble here! I tumble there!
     As I meet that bridge floor next -
But, then it's gone - as I struggle on,
     Like a preacher with his text!

©circa 1940  Carrie E. Joslin

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The Couple Who Stole The Night

 
The night air lapping up the last bits of spring, tucking them away for another year.
The mist was heavy and the clouds were abundant, but the frame of the moon was brilliant yet again.
The smoke from the chimney mixed with the mist,
and swirled around the countryside, touching everything in its path.
Peeking thru the window was a soft light, and thru the walls crept the sounds of music being played on a piano.
Glasses were clinking and people were laughing and smitten children were watching from the staircase.
One couple lovingly dancing, a slow moving of each in perfect harmony.
The tender motion of the two would mesmerize any onlookers in the group.
They, of course, were in a world of their own. They were celebrating the many lives they had spent thus far on earth.
They were neighbors, therefore, they grew up together, spent their schooling together,
Worked together on various projects until he went off to join the civil war.
They said their goodbyes with misty eyes and heartfelt throbs, and gentle touches of emotion.
Tonight was a reunion. He was finally home from war,
he grew a beard, and his eyes showed a different world he'd descended into.
She, being so much in love, held him tight, and knew he would need love and joy in his life once more.
As they melded as one, to their song, the clock chimed in. It was midnight.
He turned to the room as he held his love so close, and he said,
"Tonight, I asked my darling to marry me.
Tonight, she said yes."
Everyone's smiles lit the room with so much happiness you could almost see the fireworks of love.
A new chapter will now begin, for the couple who stole the night.

©7/18/16 Judith Kroll

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Old Moon


 
The moon’s a waning wisp tonight,
Barely visible above the trees,

Leading one to wonder
If it will vanish from our lives; but

Although its light is meager now,
I know it’s there, substantial yet,

And will return some day
As bright and full as ever.

©2017 John I. Blair, 7/26/2017

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Hold on Tight

 
Lifting up beyond the reach of a moment
Taking a second to clear out your mind
Rising above the holes in the ozone
Reaching beyond this latest rewind

Hold on straight for each passing hour
Counting the dreams hidden far far away
Creating a point of decisive distractions
Reaching beyond the sphere and fray

It’s not so
So don’t go
It’s not right
Hold on tight
Hold on tight
Hold on tight

You said you loved me when I was a child
Then you threw me out into the wild
You never gave anything without expecting something in return
All my life these are the lessons I’ve learned

You can’t just get past this when time marches through
Each second of chatter is the old and the new
You never did anything except for yourself
All my life I remembered how you made my life hell

Lifting up beyond the reach of a moment
Taking time to see the open road
Rising above the chaos and fire
These are the memories of you that I hold.

©7/3/17 Bruce Clifford

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Pain 2017


 
Pain is such a solitary thing
There’s no good way to tell of it.

Doctors have me rate my pain from 1 to 10;
And I do, but it’s a fiction.

My pain’s unique, not to be numbered,
And relates as much to moral state

As to inflamed
Or aggravated neurons.

©2017 John I. Blair, 7/26/2017

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Don't Stand in the Rain

It’s violent in the streets
The chosen ones fall at their feet
When they reconcile this hurried beat
It’s ever so violent in the streets

The monster and cesspool all have a name
Don’t stand in the rain a wise man said
Feeding the firestorm of purpose and pain
Don’t stand in the rain
Don’t stand in the rain

It’s iridescent and in indigo shades
The illuminated silence of the fears and rage
Then we reconcile this backwards jive
Young hopes are dreaming to come out of this alive

The wars that break this emotionless drain
Don’t stand in the rain a wise man said
Listening for anyone who could help us refrain
Don’t stand in the rain
Don’t stand in the rain

Don’t stand in the rain
The fire is warm
Get out in a hurry
This is not where we belong

It’s violent all around
The chosen have yet to come around
When they reach for their purpose and their blame
As I told you before don’t stand in the rain

©7/19/17 Bruce Clifford

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First Year Lessons


      I've recently taken a break from my writing to start getting more inspiration in the little things. I don't know when I'll be back to regularly writing. Later this summer probably. But for now, here is a reflection on our first year of marriage!


Bethany and Blake

      One year. How have we already been married for one full year? Honestly, it's really hard to process because we have experienced so much in this first year of marriage. So much love. Struggle & hardship. But also, so much life. We moved to a new city and this new city has given us so much. We finally got to live in an apartment, just the two of us, and not with roommates. We experienced our first holiday's together and forming new traditions for this new family of just the two of us. There was a lot of laughing, but also quite a bit of crying (mostly by me.) We experienced the joys of finding new jobs and the struggles of losing a job. We've seen the worst of each other but also the very best. We've walked through some trenches already and I know there’s a lot more to come. But, I love being married. I would choose him again and again and again. He is my best friend—no one knows me like he does. He knows my heart better than anyone else—my fears, insecurities, worries, struggles, and my joys, passions, and dreams, and he loves me still. He fights for me, for us. He protects me, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He loves me, despite my flaws and failures, because I am definitely NOT a perfect wife. He is humble and teachable and full of grace and he has taught me how to be those things.

      I am a better person because I married Blake. He helps me to be patient, more loving, more positive, and more spontaneous. He is the epitome of authenticity in a person and he makes me want to be more like Jesus every day. Marriage changes you, but in a good way, and it also challenges you. You are constantly learning.

Here are some lessons we've learned and continue to learn:
  • We can't just shove our feelings down.
  • It is most important to be best friends.
  • We need to set boundaries for our phone usage.
  • We learned the importance of rest.
  • Blake is learning how to be a better leader, and I am learning how to be a better follower.
  • We learned that we have to be present and intentional.
  • Fights, are inevitable so don't run from them.
  • Laughter really is the best medicine.
  • Routine is okay, as long as it doesn't become a set of rules.
  • We cannot read each other's minds, as much as we like to think we can.

      1 year together, and every day I seem to love him more and more, and somehow I think we are only just scratching the surface of this love.

      From hunting Pok√©mon to binge-watching 14 million shows, I cannot think of a better person to do this crazy thing with.We are so alike and so different, in all the right ways. He is the only person who wouldn’t make me feel weird for stuffing my face with 20 chicken nuggets and then five minutes later saying "I'm still hungry" just because I love chicken nuggets. He's the only person that I can stay up laughing with for an hour when we're supposed to be asleep because of the most off the wall joke. He's the only one who accepts my serious obsession with babies, coffee, pretty journals, and Harry Potter with only the occasional eye-roll and he is the only one who actually really enjoys and most of the time, laughs, at my insane weirdness. He is the only person who I feel completely comfortable around, even when I'm on the verge of a panic attack, and he is the only one who has ever been able to pull me out of a panic attack just by wrapping his arms around me.

      One year later, married life has settled into the daily routine of work and play, but I don't take any of it for granted, or at least I try not to. Every now and then, in a moment of reflection, I'll smile as I remind myself that this person I first met at 17 years old, who is so funny, generous, handsome and warm is now my husband.

      See, I didn’t realize this a year ago, but there are a lot of promises that aren’t explicitly stated in marriage vows, that would sound incredibly mundane and probably quite alarming at a wedding so you have to dive in and learn them over time. “For better or worse” sounds wonderful of course, but vague; one year later, I understand that that means “I’ll bring you medicine and water when you’re sick and make sure you aren't actually dying” and “I won’t act like a raging angry person when you, like a human being does, forget to do something,” and "We're going to get through this rough patch and come out stronger".

      One year down and a lifetime to go. You are my favorite person in the history of people, and I truly can't imagine a life without you by my side. Our love story is certainly not perfect, and it may not be as epic as the love stories in the movies, but it's ours and I would never trade it for anything else. Wherever he is, that's home. Since I ended my vows with a Ted Mosby quote one year ago, I figured it would be appropriate to end my one-year reflections with another quote.

      "Shouldn't we hold out for the person who doesn't just tolerate our little quirks but actually kinda likes them?" - Ted Mosby

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Statues High Up

The Statues of Limitations


       Ah life. So interesting, most of the time, but oh, the sweet mysteries that exist, so puzzling to think about, often impossible to understand. For example, in all my years of wandering about our spinning rock in the firmaments, I’ve never, not once, been able to understand why old statues are so often placed impossibly high above our heads. I mean way, way high up there. They stand nobly atop domes and higher stanchions, cathedrals, skyscrapers, sometimes on mountain tops, on top of huge obelisks, or they are found on the rooftops of imposing historic buildings.

      People say, “oh but you can see them up close from an airplane.” Well look, here’s the deal on that, folks--- many of these ancient statues were carved and installed way before airplanes were even built, and once built, few of them could even fly very high. Yes, the early flying machines were maybe sketched out on parchment by dreamers, but were not assembled until much later.

      So why did those sculptors place their statues up so high? Oh, and also, how?? I get the power trip of having one’s sculptured art work in a noble stance above the clouds, or maybe it’s even a religious thing —you know, their sculpts being close to God and all. Sadly, we mortals down on the sidewalks can’t see the intricate work put into those statues; you know, like the design of their togas, or buttons or eye twinkles or do’s, dimples and warts. Yes, we can use binoculars to view those statues so far above us, but I just never carry mine with me. And unless I happen to also be using a sturdy tripod, my binoculars would wobble so much I’d end up being not so enraptured by the sculptor’s work, but would instead be nauseous. And believe me, no one likes to be around me then.

      Further, I’m not a flyer, but planes aren’t allowed to fly close to statues on buildings, are they? Or even the buildings themselves? Seems as if there must be a rule.

      One of the most notable statues elevated where no one can see even a single detail, is the statue of William Penn, the man who discovered Pennsylvania, carved by Alexander Milne Calder in 1901, on top of the Philadelphia City Hall. The statue itself is 37 ft. tall and weighs 27 tons, it’s bronze and is the tallest statue on top of any building in the world. (You can google it.) But at 548 ft. high, fabulous, huge and important, it is but a blurry silhouette to geezers with glasses such as I.
From the ground view.

      And back when there were gentlemen’s agreements (meaning no lawyers involved) the agreement of the city’s fathers around Bill Penn’s statue was that no one could erect an edifice any higher than the rim of his hat. Weird, right?

      But seriously, sculpting is very labor intensive, so what’s the point of working so hard and long on a great work of art and then sticking it atop a building so high the only beings who can actually see it clearly are pigeons and migrating geese?

       And how did the workers back then get those statues up so high anyway? Did the sculptors carve them up there? Not likely. Did they haul them up on ropes piece by piece? Well, maybe, but up there where the air is rarified people could get a little light headed and there might be the risk of attaching a body part onto the wrong body part. Not good. I’ll have to read about this.

      Call me silly, but if I’m going to work that hard and long over a great statue with a hammer and chisel, spilling lots of my blood and sweat, you can be sure when it’s done, it’ll be on display in an obvious place. And, most assuredly, at eye level. (See close up pic below.)

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