Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Editor's Corner


November 2017


“A woman is like a tea bag -
you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."
- Eleanor Roosevelt 
The 11th of this month is a significant American, indeed World wide originally, date which marked the Armistice of WWI. Since having WWII, and the Korean Action and the Viet Nam Conflict, the date has been reassigned Veteran's Day to commemorate and recognize America's veterans, living and deceased.

Your editor grew up during WWII, was ten yrs old on VE Day (Victory over Europe) in a dedicated to Patriotism family. Greatgrandmother Flutie nee Creek Alexander Kendrick's second husband fought in the Spanish American War with Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders in 1898. At the age of 44 he signed registration for WWI, but was not called up. When he and Grandmother wed, they prospected in the West and ended up working in the Colorado copper strip mines where he lost one eye to a pick flung loose over his co-worker's shoulder. They then returned to Missouri, where Grandmother carefully guarded against any reference to her infamous relation to the Younger Gang (her father was cousin to the Younger boys), and the two thrived on a farm near Elk River at Pineville.

Grandmother, who once confided she slept with a small, all metal ball peen hammer beneath her pillow for protection and had done so since they lived in the rugged Colorado area, outlived her husband Russell, and came to Texas to live with her daughter, our paternal grandmother Nora Viola Alexander Carroll Fisher King. She was very petite, standing just over 5ft, and her hair which she rinsed with black tea was almost as long as her height reaching the floor when let down and she was seated. She enjoyed her life, and even attended your editor's Sophomore Class Party and Dance held in the Carroll home, where she sat smiling and tapping her toe to the music. An avid fisher-woman, she and your editor who was only 8 at the time, tracked a neighbor alongside the Pecos River, to find his special fishing hole where he kept catching fish that out-weighed her own catches. She had nodded and whispered "I remember this place." That night at the supper table where said neighbor was guest, she casually described the location, commenting that she had probably 'fished out' that spot a few years back but would likely check it out again soon. He just ducked his head and kept eating.
Poem:Tribute to Grandma Kendrick By Mary E. Adair
Grandfather Kendrick, who patriotically raised the American Flag every morning, lowered it before sunset each day, planted and tended to a rose bush which carefully pruned and treated with India ink injected in its stem produced a single large blue rose each Memorial Day. He had a vineyard on the side of the mountain that you faced across a small meadow vale when you stood on the east porch, and an apple orchard, cherry trees, gooseberry vines, wild huckleberries, black walnut trees, and even utilized the dandelion and elderberries in his cordials, bounces, and ciders, while Grandmother who had marched with the Suffragettes was a teetotaler. He also grew a few stalks of tobacco in a small lot beside his blacksmith shop, and hung them to dry 'neath its shed roof, bringing one long leaf at a time inside to finish curing behind the wood burning stove in the kitchen, to at length be crumbled, mixed with a drop or two of pure vanilla, and stored in a hand carved humidor, until it found its way to his pipe of an evening.

So in his honor, and remembering Uncle Jackie Joslin, AG Adair, Leo Helmer, thanking Uncle Rex Joslin, brother in laws Rod Cohenour and Clyde R. MacGibbon, and recalling Grandmother's half brother Tommy Alexander's sons, and many others, this column is dedicated to veterans and those who did their patriotic duty where and how they could. Not in the army, your editor served as enlisted then officer in the Texas State Guard, 403d MP Bn, where AG Adair was first a Company Cdr, then the Battalion Cdr, and was the first, perhaps the only TSG officer to formally retire then be recalled to the Cdr post on the death of that officer.

The column pic shows your editor in her summer uniform while the one at the bottom of the page is the dressier winter uniform that she received as a gift from her mother Lena May (Joslin) Carroll. Mother and Daddy both worked in the shipyards at Vancouver, WA., during the war, leasing the family home in west Texas to officers stationed at Pyote Air Base. That base, nicknamed Rattlesnake Bomber Base for obvious reasons, is most famous perhaps as the base that the Enola Gay returned to for storage. Later, when the base was downsized to serve as a radar installation, two of the Air Force soldiers deployed there married two of your editor's sisters. Melinda wed Johnny Bradshaw and Jacqui wed Clyde R. MacGibbon.

Crew of the American B29 bomber Enola Gay who dropped the A-bomb
One of this issue's poems is by the late Jacqui MacGibbon aka K'am Treshelle, expressing her delight in her first grandchild, "Suddenly Ashley." Bud Lemire's poems "Where Did The Time Go?" "You Don't See, You Don't Know," and "Don't Live With Regret" show Bud's common sense and wise reminders.

Bruce Clifford's poems for October are "Before It's Too Late" and "The Spark." Dayvid Clarkson, offers a poem filled with memories, "Aunt's Piano Player." John I. Blair's poems are "October Rain," "October," "Autumn Arriving," "The Gifts," and "November 1."

LC Van Savage in her column "Consider This," remembers the freedom and joys of childhood and playing in "The Sky House." She also has a article "The Saga of The Lowly Napkin" this month. "Introspective" has its author Thomas F. O'Neill in Suchou, China answering queries from readers about family life in China. Dayvid Clarkson writes about personal conceptions, his and ours, in his column "Reflections of the Day." Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" brings forth her feelings about respecting women in "The Woman in the Moon."

Mattie Lennon's column "Irish Eyes" gives insight (and sights) on the unique fund raising efforts of Bare To Care Dare to benefit Irish Cancer Society. Rod Cohenour in"Cooking With Rod" tempts the taste buds with Sesame Soy Ginger Chicken. This is one to add to your list of favorites.

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda Cohenour brings a story of an Indian and Irish lady,  Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson who became a leader and advocate for Indian rights.  No direct family connection as she was the sister-in-law of Uncle Edgar's aunt Elva Mouck Muskrat.  Our uncle because our maternal aunt Linnie Jane (Joslin) Burks was married to him.

See you in December !!!

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


Armchair Genealogy

A Remarkable Life – The Story of
Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson

Born: 3 October 1897, Grove, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)
Died: 12 June 1982, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona

      The story of Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson is intertwined with the history of the Indian Territory where she was born. Her heritage – the land where she was born and its history – inspired her life’s work. The Indian Territory was an area of land known by a number of differing titles as its use and various Acts of Congress as well as treaties affected its boundaries, the laws governing its use, and the indigenous peoples of our country who would become its inhabitants.

History of the Indian Territory, in part:

      The land encompassing the Indian Territory was originally a much larger tract of land “the British government set aside for indigenous tribes between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River in the time before the American Revolutionary War.” (SOURCE: https//

      Use of this area of land mirrored the concept of aboriginal peoples who were present in America at the time of European immigration and for thousands of years preceding that time as being “savages” or “barbarians” incapable of governing themselves, a danger to all settlers, and a scourge to be wiped out or, at minimum, isolated, defanged, and tightly controlled. Thus, these Native Americans were systematically ill treated by colonists and their governing countries, their land routinely taken from them by negotiating treaties (that were never honored), and their peoples prompted to move from their traditional homelands to the as yet unpopulated or sparsely populated territory “out West.”

      After the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States dealt with the Native Americans in varying ways – dependent upon the allegiances shown by each tribe during that war. Those who aligned themselves with the Brits became the target of vengeance. However, those tribes who had fought alongside the rebellious colonists were, likewise, mistreated. For, in fact, few of the European immigrants were willing to permit the indigenous tribes to continue life as usual.

      The solution for the problem of “how to deal with the Indians” became that of “Indian Removal” – the systematic stripping of each tribe’s land, their farms, livestock, and goods and various means of forcing their removal to the Indian Territory. The United States took control of the ownership of lands by legislating the need for governmental approval of any sale thereof. From the time of the Revolution until 1834, this was accomplished by Acts of Congress. Five such Acts were passed between 1790 and 1802, and then the almost identically worded Act passed in 1834:

      The 1834 Act, currently codified at 25 U.S.C. § 177, provides: No purchase, grant, lease, or other conveyance of land, or of any title or claim thereto, from any Indian nation or tribe of Indians, shall be of any validity in law or equity, unless the same be made by treaty or convention entered into pursuant to the constitution.

      The first of these Acts passed in 1790 prompted this promise from President George Washington to the Seneca Nation of New York:

      “I am not uninformed that the six Nations have been led into some difficulties with respect to the sale of their lands since the peace. But I must inform you that these evils arose before the present government of the United States was established, when the separate States and individuals under their authority, undertook to treat with the Indian tribes respecting the sale of their lands. But the case is now entirely altered. The general Government only has the power, to treat with the Indian Nations, and any treaty formed and held without its authority will not be binding. Here then is the security for the remainder of your lands. No State nor person can purchase your lands, unless at some public treaty held under the authority of the United States. The general government will never consent to your being defrauded. But it will protect you in all your just rights.”

      This promise, as would almost every single future assurance by the United States government to the various tribes of Native Americans, would not be honored.

Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson’s family history:

      Ruth Muskrat was the fourth child of seven children, and second daughter of four daughters of James Ezekiel Muskrat (b. 2 Jul 1856, Delaware District, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory and d. 15 Jun 1944, Grove, Delaware County, Oklahoma, United States) and his wife Ida Lenore Kelly (b. 31 Mar 1870, Vernon County, Missouri and d. 23 Jun 1956, Grove, Delaware County, Oklahoma). Of this union, the seven children were: Maud Dorcas Elizabeth “Maudie” (1890-1970); Jacob Claude “Jake” (1892-1939); Harvey Robert (1895-1980); Ruth Margaret (1897-1982); Ruby Jewel (1900-1987); Thelma (1902-2005); and Truman (1904-1907).

Photograph of James Ezekiel Muskrat and wife Ida Lenora Kelly Muskrat, taken about 1887.

      Ruth’s great-great-grandfather was known as Wa-sa-tee or Wu-so-di, also called Muskrat (Muskrat, in the original Cherokee or Tsalagi syllabary created by Sequoia, was spelled se-la-gi-s-qua or se-la-qui-s-gi). He is believed to have been born in the lands of the Eastern Cherokee, now known as the State of Georgia. When gold was discovered on the lands occupied by the Eastern Cherokee, there was immediately a move to take the land and cheat the Cherokee of what was rightfully theirs. Thus, the forcible removal of all households known by various Census enumerations to be headed by a Native American male, whether or not the wife was Cherokee or White. (Interestingly, those households headed by White males with Cherokee wives and mixed blood children were permitted to stay; thus, forming the initial population of the Eastern Cherokee.

      This event would have long-lasting repercussions for the Cherokee. The disagreement as to strategic planning that arose between tribal members faced with the prospect of being forced from their tribal lands led, eventually, to an internal civil war and the Muskrat families were right in the midst of it all.

      On one of the many Indian census enumeration that occurred through the decades, the Drennen Roll taken 1851, the family of Jackson Muskrat (Group number 131, former Dawes family identification number 4270), appears on the same page, opposite column as the family of the very famous Cherokee, Stand Watie, (Group number 123.) For those steeped in Cherokee history, the name of Stand Watie signals the stuff of legends, along with such names as John Ross and Ned Christie.

      Stand Watie and John Ross supported opposing strategies for dealing with the United States government’s intent to forcibly remove the Eastern Cherokee from their homes. Watie felt it was expedient to negotiate and secure treaty considerations that would provide legal standing for the tribe. John Ross wished to refuse to negotiate and confront the government forces directly. Ultimately, many of the Cherokee families sided with Watie and ceded their lands (the Treaty of New Echota signed in 1835). They were paid ridiculously small amounts and the future considerations failed to equal the value of the properties ceded. This resulted in a split in the tribe and lingering hatred. Those Cherokee who sided with John Ross refused to ratify the Treaty. Watie and his group removed peaceably to the Indian Territory, joining with those who had relocated in 1820 (known as the “Old Settlers”). In 1838, the government forcibly removed those remaining in a journey fraught with horrors, known as the “Trail of Tears.” This group of Cherokee were forced from their homes and permitted to take only a few items of their household treasures with them. Their farms, homes, barns, livestock, household goods, monies were left behind. They were forced to walk without regard for their age (very young or very old), their health, or their abilities. They were provided inadequate food and water and no suitable cold weather gear. Many starved, froze to death, or fell prey to fatal illness. More than 4,000 died.

       In 1839, a group of those opposing the Treaty mounted an assassination attempt and managed to kill all the leaders who supported the Treaty except for Stand Watie. In 1842, Stand encountered one of the men who had killed his uncle. Watie killed him. In 1845, Stand’s brother Thomas was killed in retaliation. (SOURCE:

      The Civil War renewed the festering hostilities when Stand Watie joined the Confederacy and John Ross fought with the Union. (Stand Watie was one of only two Native Americans to attain the rank of General during that war, and he was the only Native American Brigadier General.) Post-War, the government was faced with a request by Stand Watie, who had served as Principal Chief during the hostilities, to affirm his position and work to mend peacefully the fracture between the warring Cherokee factions. The government chose to support John Ross since he had fought for the Union. Watie was defeated, Ross was named Principal Chief, and the controversies merely lay dormant and not finally settled.

      Ruth Muskrat Bronson’s grandfather, Jacob Ezekiel Muskrat, fought with Stand Watie’s Confederate troops. (U. S. Confederate Service Records, 1861-1865: Name: J Muskrat Military Unit: First Cherokee Mounted Volunteers (Watie's Regiment, Cherokee Mounted Volunteers; 2d Regiment, Cherokee Mounted Rifles, Arkansas; 1st Regiment, Cherokee Mounted Rifles or Riflemen)

Jacob Ezekiel “Di-ti-sky” Muskrat, in Confederate uniform.] Ruth's great grandfather fought in Stand Watie's Confederate regiment. First Cherokee Mounted Volunteers (Watie's Regiment, Cherokee Mounted Volunteers; 2d Regiment, Cherokee Mounted Rifles, Arkansas; 1st Regiment, Cherokee Mounted Rifles or Riflemen
Ruth Muskrat Bronson’s Personal History:

      Ruth was born in White Water, Delaware District, Indian Territory (now Grove, Delaware County, Oklahoma) on 3 October 1897. The 1900 US Census for District 0016, Township 24, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory shows Ruth’s father to be farming, born in Indian Territory, her mother keeping house and born in Missouri. Her younger sister Ruby just four months of age.

      The next Census, enumerated 1st September 1902 was one of the routine Native American Enrollments which documented her to be “Cherokee by blood,” Census Card number 4137, and assigned Dawes roll number 24438.

      Ruth was fortunate in being born in the Cherokee Nation for this tribe valued education. The elders, recognizing the value of the missionary schools established in the 1820’s, wrote into their Constitution the funding and organization of a school system. According to the website “By 1845, the Cherokee National Council had three Indian schools operating in the Delaware District.”

      The first public school was built in 1904. Every few years the town’s council managed to add to the school and improve its facilities. This provided an excellent grounding in the basics: math, English, literature, an introduction to the arts, and fuel for the hungry and eager mind of Ruth Muskrat! For Ruth was geared to learn, to achieve, to improve, and to hone her skills.

      By 1911, her elementary, middle and high school education had been completed successfully and Ruth had moved on to her first level of higher education. At age fourteen, she was an avid and popular student at the University Preparatory School at Tonkawa, Oklahoma. In 1916, Ruth took first prize in the Poetry Contest with a poem that would speak to the love she held for her tribe:

The Warrior’s Dance

Ruth Muskrat, ‘17 First Prize in Poetry Contest
With the droning hum
Of the low tom-tom,
And the steady beat of the many feet,
With the wild weird cry
Of the owl nearby
       Came the night of the warrior’s dance.

With dark bronze faces,
And gorgeous laces,
With body straight and stately gait,
With black hair streaming,
And black eyes gleaming,
       Came the warriors to the dance.

The moonlight beams,
The camp fire gleams,
The tall trees sigh as the wind rushes by;
The squaws smile in pride.
At their slow solemn stride,
       As the warriors march in the dance.

There is happiness there,
Joy fills the air,
They have forgot their hapless lot,
They are kings once more,
As in days of yore,
       As they swing to the warriors dance.

      Another of her literary efforts was an ode to the new State of Oklahoma, which she entitled, “Oklahoma as a Background for Literature.” This essay speaks of her love of the land, its diversity of topography, wildlife, the numerous waterways – lakes, creeks, and streams – and the inspiration this beauty provides to writers. One can get lost merely researching this young woman’s literary works; for at the young age of nineteen, Ruth had already found her voice.

      Ruth had a well-rounded personality. Her school record is filled with her achievements: poetess, author, Vice-President of her YWCA and an active member involved in donating Christmas gifts to needy children, traveling as a delegate to assist in formulating activities and the direction for the organization in the following year. She also served as President of the Sorosis sorority in the same year.

      Through her work for the Young Women’s Christian Association, Ruth was chosen to spend a summer working with Mescalero Apache youth in New Mexico. She had two years’ student teaching under her belt by this time and was a vocal and enthusiastic advocate for not merely memorializing the native culture, but a devotion to nurturing and maintaining that culture in a harmonious blend with modern ways. This would become Ruth’s life’s work: advocacy for the rights of Indians to be Indians, yet to become flexible and knowledgeable of every advance in education, philosophy, or methodology in all aspects of life.

      Having exhibited her ability to absorb knowledge and utilize that knowledge in innovative ways, Ruth received a scholarship for the University of Kansas, where she attended for three semesters, before accepting a scholarship for the University of Oklahoma. At Lawrence, she was a member of the Pen and Scroll Club, a literary organization. Her time at university was well spent. She forged ahead, hungry for more knowledge and solidifying her philosophy concerning her beloved Indian culture. Ruth’s successes with the Apache youth prompted the YWCA to select her in the Fall of 1922 to be their envoy and representative of the North American Indian at a conference held in Peiping, China.

Ruth Muskrat Bronson - AP News article re Trip to China for YWCA 31 Mar 1922, p5-1

      Upon her return from China, she was granted yet another scholarship – this time to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, which she attended from 1923 until her graduation in 1925. She is recognized as one of the school’s most honored and distinguished alumna. From the book, Heritage of the Hills – A Delaware County History, comes the following:

      During her junior year at Mount Holyoke, she was chosen to present President Coolidge with a copy of a book entitled "The Red Man in the United States" by G.E. Lindquist. The book is the story of the Red Man's struggles, tragedies, victories and developments. The beaded book cover symbolizes the story of the old type Indian and the new. It was beaded by a Cheyenne woman Na-Nah-Na whose name means Fish Woman. The buckskin costume Ruth wore was fashioned by Fish Woman in Oklahoma under the direction of Rose Kincaide, Supertintendent of Mohonn Lodge at Colony, established to encourage Indian crafts. Alice Antelope made the beaded moccasins. Alice Lester, a Mescalero-Apache, wove the head band. There was also a book mark made of tiny arrowheads, a proud gift of Jim Wilson of Tahlequah.

      The presentation was made with such force and clarity that the Chief Executive invited her to take lunch with him and Mrs. Coolidge.

      Mount Holyoke chose to honor Ruth in 2016 as one of their most competent alumna, one who best utilized the knowledge and skills gained through her time at that institution of learning. The following excerpt was published on their website and may best verbalize one of Ruth’s crowning achievements:

      For the upcoming Indigenous Peoples Day, the Archives and Special Collections has decided to feature Ruth Muskrat, a Cherokee Indian-Irish student from the class of 1925. (An excerpt):

      At the age of ten, she witnessed an Oklahoma statehood movement that dissolved Cherokee national institutions, divided up the Cherokee estate, and replaced Cherokee citizenship with United States citizenship. This experience would solidify her philosophy of Indian cultural survival–she insisted that American Indians had a legitimate, legal claim to both a tribal identity and an American identity. She strongly believed in cultivating a new generation of Indian leaders and that viable solutions to Indian problems could only be found by Indians themselves. She presented her philosophy of Indian leadership to a prominent Committee of Indian rights activists known as the Committee of One Hundred during their meeting with President Calvin Coolidge in 1923. (SOURCE: Mount Holyoke College archives:

Portrait of Ruth Muskrat in Cherokee Indian attire: Five College Compass Digital Collections: circa 1923-1925

      From Wikipedia:
The trip, which also included stops in "Hawaii, Manchuria, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong" brought Muskrat to the attention of the international press and awoke in her a desire for racial equality. The following year, she delivered an appeal to the United States government for better educational facilities for Native Americans. The presentation was part of a gathering of Native American leaders, known as the "Committee of One Hundred" to advise the president on American Indian policy. Muskrat advocated for Indians to be involved in solving their own problems. Moved by her speech, President Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, invited Muskrat to lunch with them.

      President Calvin Coolidge presented with a book written by G. E. E. Linquist titled “The Red Man In The United States” (1919). Ruth Muskrat Bronson (center) making the presentation to President Calvin Coolidge on behalf of “The Committee of One Hundred” with Rev. Sherman Coolidge (right), December, 1923. // Credit: Public Domain RuthwPresidentCalvinCoolidge-Dec-1923

Ruth Muskrat with President Calvin Coolidge Dec 1923

      Upon graduation from Mount Holyoke, Ruth accepted a position at Haskell Indian Institute in Lawrence, where she taught English and Literature and served one year as Registrar. At the end of her first year there, she was awarded the Henry G. Morgenthau $1,000 award for the senior who had accomplished the most their first year out of college. (SOURCE: Heritage of the Hills, ibid)

      Ruth’s distinguished career is detailed in Wikipedia. It is the summation of this remarkable woman’s remarkable life: After marrying John F. Bronson in 1928, they adopted a native girl. This is the only child of their union. Ruth continued to be active in her career, steadily gaining more recognition for her outstanding talents and her passion for the causes she championed. When the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) created a new program “to improve educational opportunities for Native Americans,” Bronson was appointed its first Guidance and Placement Officer. From 1931 to 1943, Ruth served in this capacity at the BIA. During her tenure she received numerous awards. In 1937, the Indian Achievement Medal of the Indian Council Fire, first nominated for the award in its inaugural year (1933), she was only the second woman to receive the award.

"Ruth Muskrat, ’25. Holyoke alumna who has been appointed as a Guidance and Placement Officer on the Bureau of Indian Affairs with a territory of eight mid-West states."

      Along with the numerous poems published by Ruth, she also wrote and published a number of books and articles, including her most famous Indians are People Too (1944), The Church in Indian Life (1945) and Shall We Repeat Indian History in Alaska? (1947).

Ruth Muskrat Bronson - 1947

      From Wikipedia:
“In 1945, Bronson began working with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and soon emerged as a leader. She was appointed as the executive secretary of the organization and spent a decade monitoring legislative issues. She established the NCAI's legislative news service and spoke at various tribal meetings throughout the country, promoting Native American progress. Some of the issues Bronson was involved with at the NCAI were the debates over native water rights along the Colorado River, native rights in the Territory of Alaska, and medical care for American Indians. After ten years of serving as executive secretary, in 1955, Bronson was elected as treasurer of the NCAI ,  but she was tired of the contentiousness of national politics and began focusing more on ways to work with local communities.
Ruth Muskrat Bronson - Exec Secretary, National Congress of American Indians, founded 1944
       In 1957, Bronson moved to Arizona and became a health education specialist at the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation for the Indian Health Service. During the same period, she served as a vice president of the philanthropic ARROW Organization. She managed the education loan and scholarship fund of the organization, as well as advising tribes on community development. In 1962, Bronson was awarded the Oveta Culp Hobby Service Award from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare for her work serving Native Americans and retired from government service, moving to Tucson. In 1963, Bronson became the national program chairman of the Community Development Foundation’s American Indian section. The organization operated under the umbrella of the Save the Children Federation. After a stroke in 1972, Bronson slowed, but did not stop her activism for Native Americans to be allowed to determine their own development and leadership programs. In 1978, Bronson was one of the recipients of the National Indian Child Conference's merit award for commitment to improving children's quality of life.”

      On 12 June 1982, Ruth Margaret Muskrat Bronson departed this life to return to the spiritual world of her ancestors. She was in a nursing home in Tucson, Arizona, when she passed beyond the veil. Newspapers around the world carried the news of this passionate advocate’s death, one of them being The New York Times. A link for the obituary published by The Times on 24 June 1982 follows:
Researched and Compiled by Melinda Cohenour

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

Cooking With Rod


A Plate from My Mate – One of M’s Original Recipes

      This month you are being treated to one of my most favorite dishes – one my lovely wife originated about ten years ago. It is perfect for this time of year – warm, colorful, tummy-filling but easy on the diet! Asian food is always healthy and strongly seasoned, and that fits me Just Fine! 

The science is in the preparation – follow the directions for all those “good cook” hints that my wife peppers her recipes with. She really talks you through it so each part of the recipe is cooked to perfection – Absolutely Deliciousness!

      Bon appetit!

M’s Sesame Ginger Soy Chicken
November 5, 2006
  • 3 lbs. boneless chicken breast tenders
  • ¼ cup margarine
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ head cabbage, shredded
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning
  • Ground black peppercorns
  • Dash 5-Spice Seasoning
  • 1 can (5 oz.) sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • ½ bottle Ken’s Low-Calorie Asian Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped (reserve)

      Set electric skillet to 350° and add 1 lg. spoon of tub margarine, such as Country Crock. Rinse and drain chicken tenders. Add to melted butter. Season with garlic powder, Mrs. Dash and ground pepper. Cover and permit to cook for about 5 minutes. Turn chicken pieces, season as above, cover and permit to cook about 10 minutes.

      Carefully sprinkle with one dash 5-Spice Powder. (Careful! This goes a long way! Perhaps sprinkle into your hand and then evenly spread over chicken pieces.) Drizzle Asian dressing over chicken. Turn chicken pieces (or stir with soft rubber spatula, being careful not to tear) and drizzle a bit more Asian dressing. Cover and close steam vent. Permit to cook about 3 minutes.

      Add chopped vegetables and drizzle with more Asian dressing and add water. Cover tightly, closing steam vent on lid of skillet. Lower heat to 300° to 325° and permit to steam cook for about 30 minutes, checking occasionally. Cabbage should be limp and peppers should be just beyond crisp tender when done. Add water chestnuts and permit to heat through, just a minute or two. Add ¾ chopped green onions and stir through. Remove to serving bowl and top with remaining green onions for garnish.

      Should serve 8-10 people served over rice or salad greens or served alone.

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Reflections on the Day

      Tonight is very long and if you don’t have time to read then sleep well, dream deep my Friends.

      I remember the first time I heard my ‘recorded voice’. When I was about ten or eleven a friend of mine brought over a cassette tape recorder. We were going to record songs off the radio. Yea, Yea, and dinosaurs lived just a few houses down. The point is, we obviously recorded our own voices and even tried to sing a little. When I heard my recorded voice for the first time I was absolutely shocked. That was not my voice. It sounded nothing like my voice. I asked my friend if that sounded like me and he responded in the affirmative. There was no way that was my voice or even remotely how I sounded. Later on, I would play and sing, mostly backup, in a number of bands. Again every time I heard my voice an overwhelming wellspring of cognitive dissonance would wash over me. That is not how I sound.

      To complicated matters further throughout my life I have been told, on numerous occasions, that I have a ‘radio’ voice. I have been approached to do audio books and guided meditation tapes. One particular instance stands out. During my banking life, I would speak to a number of different people in office hierarchies. I had been conversing on a regular basis with one particular woman who worked at an office that provided us with appraisals. The normal course was to fax a copy of an appraisal followed by the original via snail mail. This one particular time she insisted on hand delivering the appraisal. When she arrived at the office she asked to speak to me. As I approached her she said, “You are not Clarkson.” I assured her I was. She was quite flustered at this point. She stammered, “No, your voice. You are supposed to be tall, dark, and handsome.” Well to her dismay I wasn’t but the voice.

      I did not hear what others heard in my voice. To me, my recorded voice was alien to me. Now there might be some scientific reasons for the difference such as how our ears receive our own voice or resonance within the cranium. Regardless I did not hear myself as others hear me. And I did not hold my voice with any esteem as others did.

      Now I know this is getting long but bear with me. The foregoing also applies to our physical appearance.

      When we look in a mirror or see our reflections in windows what we are seeing is not what others see. As the recording is a mirror of our voices so are the reflections we use to assess our appearance. Now add the filters of 'ideal' that have been ingrained by the media. We do not measure up. Keep in mind these images you see of ‘ideal’ are presented after hours of makeup, custom tailored expensive clothing, great photographers, and great photoshoppers. This is your measuring stick. This is not the norm. Hell Tom Cruise is 5’5” he’s shorter than me for fack sakes. I have never seen myself as ‘good looking’. The filters that I have acquired have left me unable to see my true inner beauty. And likewise, these same filters have hindered me in seeing the inner beauty of others. The filters have become so ingrained. I see a man wearing old loafers and no socks then think homeless or poor. I see a native and think dirty and drunk. I see a woman with purple hair, tattoos, and piercing and think weirdo or slut. These notions are so deeply rooted that they appear unannounced and uninvited. And do not tell the world you are not judgmental; at very best you will judge and hopefully correct yourself, but you will judge first.

      Sadly some will accept the first impression as they have been taught. Through an open heart and open mind, the ‘Observer’ corrects these impressions and I work to see the inner beauty. I listen to folks say such platitudes that appear to discard the physical impression or judgement yet I suspect the first impressions would be similar to mine. “I don’t care what a person looks like on the outside!” As they hurry to comb their hair or put on makeup. Wear the latest trends and don’t forget to show the labels. “I buy all my clothes at the Thrift Store!” That’s wonderful as you look for the latest styles to be able to afford them.

      I guess I really don’t have a point nor do I have any answers. What I am working on is trying to remove the filters that society has put over my eyes. These filters lead me to uninformed and often incorrect judgements. They preclude me from getting to know folks on a truly spiritual level.

      And some will say, ‘You are singing to the Choir.” and others will say, “You are not telling me anything new.”. That’s okay as well. I have heard it all before as well it is just now that I am starting to understand that I have a lot more work to do than I originally thought. Maybe someday I will see my inner beauty and hear that wonderful voice. May you as well.

      Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid.
Dayvid Bruce Clarkson's post.
Oct 26, 2017 12:23am

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Consider This

Our Sky House

       Have you ever dreamed of living in a tree house? I have, and I spent a lot of time in them as a kid, but of course never lived in one. I know there’s now a TV show called Tree House Masters, about a team of guys who make luxurious tree houses for wealthy people, edifices that have more creature comforts than some homes in Dubai. They’re nice, but come on, those aren’t real tree houses.

      Back in my tree house days, the only builders of them were kids, friends, not pros. My pals and I once hammered a make-shift ladder from the ground to the very top of my father’s favorite Spruce tree to begin construction. We climbed it with sacks of written plans, cookies, nails, hammers, and wooden boards slung onto our backs. The careful selection of that important tree took days of serious discussions before it was chosen. It had to be a pine tree because we knew we’d want to climb up and hang out all year ‘round, and we’d need thick pine needles and branches to keep us up hidden and up as high as possible. We selected an enormous old, very tall and thickly branched Spruce.

       Eventually we knew we’d have to coax my father into letting us build the tree house because we realized we would be unable to muffle the sounds of our hammering and sawing. Thus, once he was persuaded, our task was obvious. Build! Preferably without his great pearls of tree house building wisdom, and we knew he harbored a whole lot of those boring pearls. We knew how to do it by ourselves. All kids instinctively know how to build a tree house.

       After we nailed reasonably same-sized ladder boards up the trunk of our conscripted tree to the sturdiest branches, we all agreed that the first order of architectural business was the installation of the floor. Even we knew that without a floor there could be no house. We set to it, allowing a huge hole in its middle for the tree’s trunk so it could comfortably “get fatter” over the years. The floor was installed without use of a level, meaning anything round dropped on it, pencils, marbles, baseballs and the like, quickly rolled away.

      Next came the four walls. We nailed and sawed and hammered and suddenly found ourselves trapped within, with no means of egress. So down came one wall into which we sawed a door and windows and over which we stapled patches of old window screen, and back up it went. The door was a large piece of thin chip board hung precariously from 2 unmatched hinges. The roof was last, slanted to let the snow slide off, or so we said, when in fact, slanted was the only way we could manage to build it.

       Finally, the first summer night to sleep in our palace in the sky. Obviously at this point, knowing his favorite tree had been usurped for this project, my father was actually stunned at our architectural expertise. He even showed us how to run a rope from our crude 2-foot-wide “balcony” with a bucket tied at one end so we could haul things up and down without having to endlessly climb the “ladder”, aka those short boards nailed at odd intervals up the tree’s trunk.

       Nightfall. Three of us lay on old blankets, pillows and rugs we’d cadged from the basements and attics of our homes, knowing they’d not be missed, and not noticing the ancient moldy odors emanating from them. It was the smell of Magnolias to us. Lying there also breathing in the scent of the raw, unpainted pine wood of our home in the tree, staring up at the stars easily seen in between the unevenly nailed roof slats, hoping it would not rain, not much caring if it did, was the closest thing to heaven we knew we’d ever experience. The tree house swayed in the wind like an ancient galleon, creaked and groaned, but the thousands of nails and screws and yards of rope held it together and we knew this wondrous place we’d built would be able to withstand hurricanes. We slept happily, drying crusts of PBJs surrounding us, empty soda bottles rolling gently against our heads with each whispered, sweep of wind, our forbidden magazines in plain sight, no longer hidden under our at-home bedroom mattresses. If mosquitoes dined on us, we never noticed.

       And in fact, our lovely, tiny home in the sky did survive years of rain storms and blizzards, thundering lightning and searing droughts. And of course, creatures. Lots of them found shelter in our beloved tree house. Whenever I visit the home of my youth I look up at that old tree that still thrives. Much taller now, its trunk so wide it’s forced that hole in our tree house’s floor to be a splintered, much wider opening, and the boards have become part of the tree’s bark. The beautiful golden red of our old tree house wood is now grey and splintery, several of our ladder steps have disappeared and the bucket-holding rope still swings from our balcony, shorter now, and no bucket hangs from it any longer. But the sturdy, crookedy tree house is still up there, at least remnants of it, cradled gently in the old pine’s strong branches, our magical little house in the stars.

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Irish Eyes

 By Mattie Lennon


Good painters imitate nature. (Cervantes.)

      Hard to argue with that but some painters tell the story of the most poignant aspects of nature.

      John B. Keane’s pub in Listowel has been home to ventures various and unusual in the past half century but on Thursday 12th October there was a new departure. There are two body-painting events organised (for Dublin and Cork) during November, by Bare-to-Care, to raise awareness of breast cancer. Ken Hughes and Eimear Tierney came to Billy Keane with an idea for a publicity event; breast painting! Three brave women volunteered to bare all. Ann-Marie Quigley who travelled from Portrush, Bex Tolan originally from Donegal and Siobhan Heapes from Cork all had had serious health issues. All three women spoke honestly and openly about their terrible experiences. Anna had a double mastectomy and her partner, Jade, died from ovarian cancer in 2008. Bex won’t ever be able to have children because of previous painful medical conditions and Siobhan Heapes had breast and ovarian cancer.

One of the Painted Ladies
       Billy Keane is an established author and one of our great Irish journalists. His writing, about his own life, has, in my opinion, saved lives. With Billy the devilment is always close to the surface and while Ken Hughes was the event organiser Billy opened proceedings on the night with, “I want to make a clean breast of this.”

      Three artists, Stephanie Power, Ruth McMorrow and Ciara Patricia Langan, in the words of Billy Keane, ”Formed a bond with the human canvasses.” 

the Painted Ladies with Billy Keane
      Tennyson wrote of how, ” . . .blind and naked ignorance delivers crawling judgements unashamed . . ”

       “Naked” and “ignorance” were side by side in John B’s on 12th October; One couple got up and left. The female said to Billy, "What would your mother and father think of this? They are turning in their graves. " I know what Billy’s parents, who both died of cancer, would think. They would think that thank God they had reared a son who is doing something to highlight that dreadful disease. There was certainly no whirring sound in Listowel cemetery that night . John B. and Mary were not spinning in their graves. And Billy Keane was too well reared to reply to such an ignorant comment.

No turning in graves
      Bare to Care Dare will take place in Cork on Saturday November 11th and in Dublin on Saturday November 18th. Hundreds of women will come together to celebrate their bodies, their breasts and above all to support each other. To tell their own cancer survival stories. To be proud and celebrate their new post mastectomy or reconstructed breasts. To lighten their spirits while going through treatment right now. To tick something off their bucket list. To laugh and have fun, to share and to support. Those that have lost loved ones to cancer will bare all in memory, to show their thanks to the support the Irish Cancer Society give every day to thousands of women all over the country.

A Painted Lady with Billy Keane
      Eimear Tierney, Spokesperson told me, “From our perspective, we were thrilled that Billy agreed to get on board with the charity and publicize our campaign. We were elated when he suggested a promotional event in John B's. It's hard to describe the atmosphere and spirit of giving and camaraderie that Billy created that night. Not only did he manage to raise awareness and promote the campaign, he and the guest performers captured the whole ethos of Bare to Care. The volunteer canvasses were made to feel brave, beautiful and vital by every person that attended the event. He promoted our Bare to Care events as planned but he also provided a safe space for the girls to share their stories and celebrate their womanhood and survival. We are in awe of Bill's talent and generosity and we couldn't possibly have found a more worthy and appropriate advocate for what we are trying to achieve with these events. We hope that it has inspired women to be brave and register for one of our two events.” (Eimear may be contacted at:

the Painted Ladies with Billy Keane
      Anna-Marie had an eagle painted on her front but not everyone knew. One woman asked, “Where did she get that beautiful top with the eagle on it?” Of course she was in Kerry so the answer came like a shot, “Penney’s.” Where would you get it.

      I’ll leave the last word to Billy Keane, “ I learned a lot over the last few weeks. There is so much going on in women’s bodies. We need a national conversation, education and more bare, brave ladies.”

       Billy insists that the pole in the centre of the bar is there to support the roof and there will be no pole-dancing in the future!

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Pic below of Billy Keane with Mattie Lennon is owned by Tom Fitzgerald and Mattie Lennon has permission to use it


People in America will email me at times with questions regarding China’s family values and that is a topic I enjoy discussing. 
Chinese family
    If you have ever had the opportunity to visit China in recent years you would have noticed the impact the western culture is having on China. But, the traditional family structure is still highly valued and holds a prominent position in the Chinese culture. Both traditional and modern Chinese families have similar moral values, and these moral values have been a part of daily life for many centuries.
Gender Roles
    Traditionally Chinese family values are very clear-cut, different roles and rights for men and women. These gender roles are rapidly changing, the original values are still evident on some levels. But, due to the growing western influence Men and Women are sharing the household tasks and seeing themselves as equal partners.
    Traditionally in the Chinese family, the man was responsible for maintaining, providing for, and protecting his family. At the same time, he was given all the decision-making power when it came to his wife, his family, and other family members. He was also responsible for taking care of and paying for his children, including their education, until they are married. In modern families, the family members consult elders about important decisions, but the father no longer has the final say regarding his adult children's lives. What I’ve noticed from living here in China is how actively involved the grandparents are in raising their grandchildren. The grandparents take on a more traditional role when it comes to their grandchildren’s welfare.
    Traditionally Chinese mothers usually stayed in the home to take care of the household, the children, and the rest of the family. Today, however, many modern Chinese women have careers, and earn their own money. While the women of the household pursue their career goals the grandparents take on the traditional role of raising their grandchildren.
Patrilineal Descent
    Traditionally Chinese families honored the patrilineal descent system. This means that a child's lineage and descent was calculated from his father only. Men were the only ones that could inherit family membership and family land or other inheritance in this type of system. In modern times Men and Women are being viewed as equal in the eyes of the law.
    Marriage, family, and children are very important in the Chinese culture. A large portion of the Chinese population lived in rural environments, getting married and having children meant that you'd have workers and be able to create and maintain a homestead. In the past most marriages were arranged by the parents of the bride and groom. Many couples never even met one another until their wedding day. The western influence has changed most of China’s attitudes on marriage. Chinese couples can now choose their own partners, but under the law boys must be 22 years old and girls 20 years old to legally marry in China.
    As in many Asian cultures, the elders of the family are respected for their wisdom. In both traditional and modern families, elders are looked up to for their life experiences, and they are taken care of by the rest of the family. In traditional families, including those living in a rural environment, many households include five generations living together. Even in modern households, many grandparents live with their children and their kids. When elders die, they are honored by ancestor altars in homes, featuring candles, photographs, and favorite items of the deceased.
    To combat overcrowding and overpopulation, the People's Republic of China mandated a one-child-per-household policy in the late 1970s. This was later changed to a two-child policy. The law often applied to urban families, while some rural families could get away with having more than two children. This policy influenced how children were looked at, and many baby girls were placed in orphanages because they wouldn't be able to carry on the family name or inherit the family land. For many years orphanages were housing mostly girl babies due to the value placed on boys. In traditional families, all children are expected to obey their parents without discussion, and parents could use corporal punishment on their children if they disobeyed them or refused to show unquestioning obedience. In modern China, both girls and boys are usually treated equally. While many Chinese parents are strict, they are more lenient and flexible than in the past.
Changing Values
    The Chinese culture has undergone many dramatic changes mostly due to the western influence. These progressive cultural changes won’t be slowing down anytime soon. But the family structure and the importance of family values remain a focus. Families are still cherished, honored, and respected, whether you live in the traditional, rural environment, or the modern, urban city.
    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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On Trek

I haven't written much of late. Just seems like I lost my ability :) then I did this...


The Woman in the Moon

The soft whispers of the morning linger peacefully.
Quiet calm touches our earth home,
and gently reaches our souls.

We softly awaken to hear the bird songs,
the leaves falling with a tuneful grace.

Women Arise
Women are the quiet warriors who peek thru
the hazy parts of life and share their worth.
No More
No more stifling of the mind
No more stifling of the soul
No more stifling of the heart

Women are uniting in the unseen presence of Love.

Hurtful disrespect is tolerated no more
Sexual harassment is tolerated no more

All women are created equal with Women
All women are created equal with Men

Women stand as an army spreading love thru-out the land

There is a woman in the moon too
She watches over for me and you
She shines her lovely light thru-out the night
Illuminating Love
So all humanity will do what is right----toward all!!

©10-18-17 Judith

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November 1

November’s here; we can pretend no longer
That winter will not come to Texas.

A touch of color tinges all the oaks;
Elm leaves are falling, falling, falling.

Squirrels pursue a potent urge
To plant pecans all over.

Goldenrod glows brilliantly
Atop its towering stalks.

Birds collect in flocks,
Grown social in the autumn weather.

Everything is getting colder
Day by day, night by night;

And we seek ways to celebrate,
To compensate for growing darkness,

Not yet convinced within our hearts
That light will soon return.

©2017 John I. Blair, 10/31/2017

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Aunt's Piano Player

      Up to about seven years ago I still had the lamp and the piano. A Gerhard Heintzman upright grand Louis 15th style and the three-legged stool had eagle talons holding crystal orbs.

©2017 Dayvid Clarkson

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Suddenly - Ashley

Suddenly -- she's here.
Standing a bit hesitant.
Carefully drawing away--
Small wisps of windblown hair.
I draw near !
A bit insecure.
And then she turns.
I see her face.
My will is gone !
Without a trace.
This must be--
A life's sweet embrace.

Yet I must be bold.
Feeling so dreadfully old.
That face, that beauty, could enslave.
How easily, I could sell my soul. Now I'm brave.
Trying not to be a knave.
Just one look in those eyes.
And inward I cave.
A thousand nights
Could not hold the darkness!

A million stars could not reflect the light!
They hold all the emotions,
That could steal my might.
Anxiously I await.
Knowing the slightest touch
Could seal my fate!
The lips of a goddess
Whose kiss could not wait.
I fear there are others,
I must be, far too late.

And then she's gone!
Leaving me faint-hearted,
But filled with song!
A small flame flickers,
Where my heart belongs!
A wish upon heaven,
To see her again.
And instantly--I begin to wait.
And wonder how long?
Before this vision
Of loveliness returns,
Whilst timid heart yearns!
©circa mid 1980's Jacqui MacGibbon

First pic: Aunt Mary holding Ashley beside G'ma Jacqui MacGibbon aka K'am Treshelle; Second pic: Ashley at five.

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October Rain

Thin clouds rush
Across the autumn moon,
Making it first dim, then bright,
Then dim again.

October rain has come,
Drenched the dry soil,
Brought late flowers to bloom,
Oxblood lilies, blue mist.

Soon enough north winds
Will blow, chill my bones,
Push me into fire-lit rooms
For warm naps in fuzzy wraps.

But tonight I walk upon the deck,
Letting the rain’s hushed touch
Remind my soft self
Where I come from.

©2017 John I. Blair, 10/4/2017

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Don't Live With Regret

Don't Live With Regret
In a tangled up net
Of things you didn't do
You had to be you

 Don't feel bad, of choices you took
You traveled the pages, to make your own book
You had to experience, you had to explore
The journey of life, so you could become more

When you chisel a sculpture, it turns out alright
A lifetime traveler, is embraced by the light
The finished product, looks pretty good
Sometimes we ponder on the “If We Could”

The role that you played
Was how you were made
Chiseled, with every moment passing by
Turning out, as beauty to the eye

You are who you are, be proud to be you
The trials of time, is what you went through
You've learned about life, love, and much more
Became much wiser, with the burdens you bore
Never look back, to what could have been
You've mastered you, and that was then
©Oct 7, 2017 Bud Lemire
                     Author Note:
You can look back on your past and think of
things you could have done and didn't, or
things you did do, but shouldn't have. But
take a good look at yourself and who you've
become. Without those trials and experiences
you wouldn't be the YOU, that you are today.
From exploring life, you have had experiences.
From your experiences, you have learned so
much. You need not regret, be proud of YOU.

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Autumn Arriving

Autumn, arriving
Surprisingly quick,
Shoved summer away
In only two days.

Leaves I thought
Were still alive
Have blown around
And littered the garden.

Made brief goodbyes
Then flew down south
To Guatemala.

And firewood bundles
I mocked last week
Are in my trunk,
Home-bound for blazes.

©2017 John I. Blair, 10/11/2017

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Where Did The Time Go?

Everyone at one time or another, knows someone in a Nursing Home
The reasons could be dementia, an illness, or not wanting to be left alone
It's hard to believe, but one day it might happen to you
And you'll be wondering, where did the time go to

 Get everything out of life, while you're in your prime
Because before long, you'll find you're out of time
We are mortal, we age as time travels pass
Our lives are precious, it goes by very fast

Nap time can come at any time, in a wheelchair
In the Dining room, or almost anywhere
“I would like a visitor, maybe a game or two”
“Sitting here like this, there's nothing I can do”

“I forget where I am, is there somewhere I need to be?”
“Sometimes I can't hear, sometimes it's hard to see”
“I can't make sense of everything, but I'll give it a try”
Give me a push somewhere, if you are passing by”

When you get old, it isn't any fun
Knowing, that our life is almost done
You'll be asking the question, that others still don't know
The years have passed on by, where did the time go
©Oct 21, 2017 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
We normally go through life, just living it. Never thinking
that one day we will be old and be frail and lose some of
our senses. But it happens to us all. Sometimes an illness
will take us away. It happens to many of us, for we can not
cheat time. Time waits for no one. It happens, and we as
mortals, must mature and grow old too. But how we treat
those who are much older than we are, is how we want to
be treated when we are old and need the understanding
that they need.

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The Gifts

I’ve had friends
Whose actions left me angry.

One questioned how I spent my days,
Another who I was.

With years I’ve come to realize
My problems didn’t stem from them.

In fact they inadvertently
Gave gifts that I was slow to see:

I learned to look with honest eyes
At my ways and at my acts;

I learned about forgiveness
Both for them and for myself.

©2017 John I. Blair, 10/23/2017

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Before It's Too Late

How much more can you take
How many lines must he break
When you find your peace somehow
Will you pack your things and turn around
You can only take so much
So much pain, so out of touch

How much more can you stand
How many lies and broken plans
Taking it all and leave back none
Will you take off to the road and run
You can only take so much
So much hurt, so much blame

There’s little time to waste
Little fire to burn
Too much pain on your face
Lessons to learn

How much more will you bear
How much pain will you share
So many lines have been crossed
Lost love and mistrust
So much time, so much fear

There’s little time to waste
Little fire to burn
Too much pain on your face
Lessons to learn

There’s little time to waste
Before it’s too late

©10/5/17 Bruce Clifford

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In late October
Brown leaves drifting down
Put a frown upon my face.

Summer’s gone
And will not come again
Until next year.

No more midday heat
To soothe my aching bones
And bask my skin.

No more blazing sun
To purify the world
And remind us where we live.

It’s a time to think of endings,
Melancholy thoughts,

But so long as trees bear seeds
That drop in autumn
To propagate their kind

It will also be a time
Of beginnings,
A time of hope.

©2017 John I. Blair, 10/2/2017

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You Don't See, You Don't Know

If you look at me, I may not look sick
Having a good Make-Up kit, does the trick
What you don't see, is what I don't show
There is so much more, that you don't know

 To be seen in public, I need to look all right
I want everyone to see, and it look good to their sight
Underneath, my hair is falling out
Even though my appearance, may leave you doubt

Under it all, I am so very weak
My days could be better, yet they're bleak
I can't do the “Everyday” things, that are normal to you
In fact, there are many things now, that I can't do

Some people won't believe, that I am this way
They aren't in my shoes, I live with it every day
Nurses come to check on me, to see if I am all right
Many times I find it hard to sleep at night

If you look at me, I may not look sick
Having a good Make-Up kit, does the trick
I'm sick underneath, but I'll never let it show
What you don't see, is what you don't know
©Oct 22, 2017 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
When you are sick with a serious illness, you
still want to look your best. It's harder, because
we have hair falling out, and splotches on our skin,
or lumps, or various other things, that we wish to
be covered and not showing. We want to, and wish
very much to be as normal as possible. But under
it all, we are going through much more than you
will ever know. Because what you don't see, is
what you don't know about us.

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The Spark

I think there’s a change of the guard
Broken pieces not peace
There was a warning shot at the break of dawn
Together we ride to carry on

I hear there was static in the air
Shapes of sizes in disguise
Maybe the forest was a good place to hide
Together we run, together we hide

On new horizons on summer sets
The empty breeze the open seas
Shapes that glow so intricate
So quiet and still, but never forget

There must be a change in the heart
Shattered dreams not things
There was a warning shot straight through the dark
Wishing this time to ignite that spark

©10/24/17 Bruce Clifford

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The Saga of The Lowly Napkin

       Used to be I’d put nice linen or fancy paper napkins on the table when it was time to eat. Dine. Whatever. But as time has passed and the kids moved on, Mongo and I eat, dine, whatever, in front of a good TV movie and in general, I strip a couple of squares off our roll of paper towel for our napkins, and that suffices. You too? I knew it.

       You know what’s coming, right? Right. I began to wonder about the history of napkins and guess what folks? There is one. And, lucky you, I’m going to tell you about it.

      Back in the day, whatever that means, they were not paper. It is thought that napkins began to be used around 500 BC in the Near East when the meals were gigantic and hours long. So, the napkins had to be pretty big too. They were like today’s towels. Folks didn’t use utensils all those years ago, so after using 5 or even all 10 fingers for getting food into the mouth, eeeuw, huge cloth napkins were necessary.

      The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, ---you know, the folks who started lots of civilized things, wiped their greasy hands with towel-like napkins they called “serviettes” which sounds pretty French to me, but those guys came later. And along with the enormous serviettes, those three cultures also used finger bowls with water scented by rose petals and rosemary. The Egyptians however, had their finger bowls scented to complement the foods being served. They used spikenard, cassia, myrrh, orange blossom, cinnamon or almond. I don’t know what the first two are either, but the Egyptians apparently liked them. And finger bowls? Yes, the first time one was put in front of me in a fancy-shmancy restaurant I drank it. Oh come on, little kids do that. What do they know from finger bowls?

      You’ll never guess what happened during the sixth century BC during the reign of good old Tarquinius Superbus, and yes that really was his last name. He was, as we all know, the seventh and last king of Rome and he had his own ideas about napkin use. When King the Seventh threw a banquet blast, his guests were expected to wrap delicacies from the table in the big napkin and take them home. To not do that was considered bad manners. Thus was born the first doggie bags. Cave Canem.

       Jumping forward to the 1680s, we find that serviettes were things of artistic beauty; they became kind of cloth Origami. One folded in the shape of Noah’s Ark would be presented to a clergy person, small chicks for women, and shapes of fish, turtles, cattle, bears and rabbits were folded for the pleasure of the guests. Must have been hard to wipe gravy off one’s chin with something folded so artistically.

       And then came along the rollicking 1700s when the still-large serviettes were, direct quote here, used “for wiping the mouth, lips and fingers when they are greasy. Also to be used for cleaning the utensils after use.” It was suggested that if the hands were excessively greasy, proper etiquette required that one first wipe his or her hands on a piece of bread so as to not soil the serviette too much.

       I know you’re wondering when napkins began to shrink down to the size we use today. I can solve that for you. It was when forks came into everyday use in the 1800s. When forks were used to stab food and take it to the mouth, fingers remained clean, so the napkins could now be smaller since only the mouth needed de-greasing.

       And in case you’ve been wondering why those pieces of cloth became known as “napkins,” that’s easy. The word derived from the Old French “naperon,” which meant “little tablecloth.” The English got into the napkin act, gradually took the “e” out of the word and voila! The word “apron” was invented. So you see, the napkins we use from the roll of paper towel, or the packet of normal napkins, had a long and varied history; they were once table cloths, towels, aprons and even doilies. Alas, now the once venerated napkin is a piece of paper we use and toss into the trash. Interesting history, don’t you agree?

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