Thursday, March 1, 2018

Editor's Corner


March 2018


"An attitude of positive expectation is the mark of the superior personality. " -–Brian Tracy
So shall we expect the very best of March? With February we already are experiencing a diverse scale of temperatures and the accompanying weather displays. Snow that is measured by the foot instead of inches, and a heat wave in another area on the same day is an example of March in action. Already there's a forecast for the Sierra's  for a blizzard to blow in at 125 mph. (See pic below)  May your weather be tolerable and pleasant, and your life be filled with positive expectation.
Bruce Clifford shares "Here I Go Again" and Bud Lemire illustrates his poem "The Ice Shack," with a photo from his hobby of photography. John I. Blair sent his half dozen poems, including one called "Epiphany on Davis Drive" which shows how he views his world. "Toadsong in February," "Still Feeding Birds," "Vampire," "Smile," and "Dry Eyes" are his other ones for this issue. "Tribulation" is the result of a father-son collaboration by John and Adam Bradshaw, and "Living Legends" is also by Adam Bradshaw. Both are musicians and these are lyrics to some of the songs they have performed, having also composed the music.

Thomas F. O'Neill's column "Introspective" tells that the fake news tales in America are treated and reported in China as true news. "On Trek" by Judith Kroll, aka Featherwind, discusses Near Death experiences and her insight on the subject.

Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" features an interesting look at the play "Sive" being done for 2018 back to when it originated as one of John B. Keane's stories in 1959. Producer of that was Brendan Carroll, which ties right in to a search being conducted by the "Armchair Genealogy" columnist Melinda Cohenour. She has Part 1 of how to trace the DNA ethnicity reports backward into one's tree which for her includes Carrolls of Ireland.

Rod Cohenour in"Cooking With Rod," brings the recipe treat of Chicken Cacciatore as prepared by his wife. He calls it "Mi Amore Cooks – Ms Chicken Cacciatore!" Dayvid Clarkson's "Reflections on the Day" includes a pic with words also by him.

LC Van Savage's column "Consider This," talks about how being lazy might not be as deplorable as it sounds. Her article "Glorious Succulents Galore" requests input from readers.

See you in April !!!

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 Mystery: Who Sourced the Ethnicity Story of 

My DNA? Part I

    For those of you who read my column often, you probably know it was my choice to submit my DNA for testing by Ancestry a year or so ago. The results were, for the most part, what I had expected although the percentages of ethnic derivation were surprising. At the time those results were received, I determined to attempt to review my family tree and to pin the actual ancestors to the countries of origin suggested by the ethnic percentages received. Having spent a great deal of time researching my father’s lineage, it had become quite apparent we had a fairly strong Germanic ancestry. Mother’s lines seemed to be associated more with England, Ireland, Scotland, and then the Franco-Germanic lines extending through the Joslin family derivation. To my astonishment, the German bloodlines were not nearly as strong as I had expected. My results were as follows:

Ireland/Scotland/Wales 38%
Great Britain 20%
Scandinavia 17%
Europe West 14%

    But, wait a minute! That is not 100%. What was missing? Well, here was the part that rather amazed me and the impetus that spurred my decision to rationalize and confirm the findings – that remaining block that makes me ME. These were the results as indicated by comparing my DNA makeup with that of hundreds of thousands (if not millions?) of other persons around the world who kindly submitted their DNA to provide the scientists with samples that could be tied to specific locations worldwide not just today but for hundreds of years through time. It is a complex study, one befitting a lengthy education in how DNA works and in making astute observations based on empirical evidence. When certain strands of DNA matches closely the same strands of others, the scientists plot the origin of those genes. They developed a matrix that is not dissimilar to what is used to determine parentage but which is far more complex and, honestly, a bit speculative in nature. For each person throughout time has inherited 50% of their DNA from one parent and 50% from the other. Thus, when a person has a great-grandmother, let’s say, who was Native American, that person MIGHT show up with DNA that confirms a 12.5% (1/8th birthright) bloodline tied to a specific tribe. That assumes, of course, the individual inherited that portion of their parent’s DNA that was the Native American bit and that strand had survived intact from the generations before. That part of tracking lineage is rather basic and much less complex than the worldwide study undertaken by Ancestry (and now other DNA testing groups) – that part that compares not a single family but a community of persons whose DNA has matching elements tied to a specific country or localized region of origin.

    The balance of my DNA ethnicity contained a few more surprises and required a bit of research to try to determine the countries of origin associated with the areas identified by Ancestry. Thus, the remaining percentages making up the 100% whole of my DNA was revealed as shown below:

Iberian Peninsula 4%
Europe East 3%
Europe South 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia 1%
European Jewish < 1%

    The delineation of ancestors who are believed to have contributed this portion of my DNA will be discussed in next month’s column. Now on to the larger portion and my exploration of my genetic history.

Who donated the DNA that, apparently, defines my ethnicity?

    Attempting to go about this in an orderly fashion, the first segment of ethnic origin to explore will be that large 38% segment identified as Ireland/Scotland/Wales. Ancestry offers a neat Search method when reviewing the DNA Shared Ancestor matches that show up on the DNA Home Page. One can search all Matches by Surname or by Birth Location. Tada! If only it were that easy, for as your author attempted this “easy” method of locating those birth locations she discovered the information may be buried within the trees of the Shared Match and oft-times is not readily apparent. Ah, well…let’s go with what we know.

Ireland/Scotland/Wales 38% - THE IRISH GROUP:

    The only surprise associated with this ethnicity estimate is merely that of the high percentage. Also, the fact that my sister’s percentage differed from mine showing me to have inherited a greater amount of DNA from our Irish, Scottish and Welsh ancestors. My known forebears who derived from these countries are quite numerous:

Carroll surname derivation – Paternal Line:

    As a beginning, we have always known that our Carroll lineage derived from Ireland, “…the counties Cork and Kerry, my dearie” as my grandmother King was wont to say. Two declarations by my father come to mind: “The O’Carroll clan was Irish, the MacCarroll clan was of Scots descent” and “Remember when Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed the Declaration of Independence he added ‘of Carrollton’ because the Carrolls were already so numerous in Colonial America they had to distinguish themselves by location.” We were also admonished by Grandmother King on St. Patrick’s Day that no Protestant Irish EVER wore GREEN! (Horror of horrors!) but should be appropriately signified as ruling class by the wearing of ULSTER ORANGE. As a child I never understood this distinction and forever donned the green of the Leprechauns in honor of the day. Perhaps this is now a clue to go forward in my attempt to pin down the Carroll clan of my personal origin in good ole Ireland. Suppose?

    The surname Carroll goes back many centuries to the ancient Clan O Cearbhail, whose ancestral lands were known as Eile Ui Chearbhail or the Isle of O’Carroll. The name means “fierce warrior,” “warlike champion,” or “valorous in battle.” From the website, Irelandroots/carroll.htm:

“The O'Cearbhaills were prominent in the Province of Leinster. There were six separate O'Carroll clans in Ireland, in Counties Kerry, Offaly, Monaghan, Tipperary, Leitrim and Louth. Carrolls of Northern origin descend from the MacCearbhaill clan who were located in Ulster particularly near the town of Derry. There is also a MacCarroll family (anglized to MacCarvill) from the province of Ulster.
In 1014, after constant war and invasion by the Vikings, Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, enlisted a powerful army to fight them in battle at Clontarf. A division of Boru's army, the Eilians, was led by the Prince Cearbhaill of the Carroll race. Brian Boru's principal confessor throughout his reign was Maolsuthian O'Carroll, who never left his side. In 1005 Brian Boru visited Armagh and had O'Carroll write into the famouse 'Book of Armagh'.
The Coat of Arms most associated with the Carroll name is on a silver shield two red lions combatant supporting a sword erect in pale proper in the dexter chief point a black cross flory, the Crest being on the stump of a tree a falcon rising billed proper charged on the breast with a black cross flory.
Alternate Surname Spellings - O'Carroll, Carrol, Karrel, Carol.”

O'Carroll Coat of Arms. Courtesy Glasshouse using elements by Sodadan - Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. 1907; rpt. New York: Crest Publishing Co, 1962, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Joseph Alexander (1756-1839), b. County Tyrone, Northern Ireland – 4th Great-Grandfather (Paternal Line)

    When Joseph Alexander was about nine years of age, he and his brother accompanied their father to America. They came first to Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. Nothing is discovered concerning the father or the brother. Much is known about our Joseph because of his distinguished service in the Revolutionary War. One of my earlier columns concerned his service as a Patriot. Many hardships were experienced by this family including the burning of their homestead in Pennsylvania by the Indians in one of the many uprisings, the capture of his son by the Indians (later released and reunited with his family after searching for their new location), and extensive battles in the effort to create a new and independent homeland. This is certainly an ancestor in whom to find great pride.

Memorial Service provided by the William Henry Harrison Chapter of the SAR in West Lafayette, Indiana. Sugar Grove Cemetery, Jackson Township, Tippecanoe County, Indiana
Richard Malone (1736-1801) b. County Cork, Ireland - 5th Great Grandfather (Paternal Line)

    Richard was the father of Francis Malone who wed Joseph Alexander about 1785 in Pennsylvania after the Revolutionary War. It is known Richard Malone played a big part in the formation of strategies for Patriots as he placed himself and his family in danger by hosting the meetings held in secret at his home. Concerning Richard Malone, the following is taken from the History of Centre County, Pennsylvania:

“According to a diary kept by Richard Miles, Richard Malone lived in April, 1775, six miles from Fort Augusta (Sunbury), up the West Branch, which would be about two miles above the mouth of Chillipueppe Creek. His home was a prominent place for meetings, notably those of the County Committee of Safety during the Revolution. The slight remains of an old account book show Major John Lee, Dr. Plunket, John Hambright, Weitzel, McCord, and other old settlers about the mouth of the West branch as his Guest, in charges for rum, toddy, cordial, etc., and indicate his occupation.”
Joseph Bullard (1732-1788) – Scots-Irish (Maternal line)

    One of my favorite ancestors is Joseph Bullard. His life has been chronicled by another Bullard researcher who has generously provided his extensive findings pro gratis for use by family historians on his marvelous website: The assumption is made that this line of Bullards, like others who migrated concurrently across the ocean to this remote area, were Scots-Irish. This then is a portion of his thumbnail sketch of my 5th Great-Grandfather, Joseph Bullard, from that website:

Joseph Bullard’s birth place is unknown. He was born ~1732. It is reasonable to assume he and his siblings were Scots-Irish and migrated to the American colonies in the early to mid 1700’s from Northern Ireland. What is known is that Joseph Bullard was one of the early pioneers who settled in central North Carolina. He later migrated to the Watauga and Nolichucky River area located in eastern Tennessee sometime between 1775 and 1776. Joseph’s migration route into eastern Tennessee crossed over the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. There is documentation that Joseph Bullard lived for a time in central North Carolina before migrating to eastern Tennessee. Joseph Bullard was a self made man, possibly an indentured servant , who made passage to America sometime around 1750. He was not a man of letters. He had no known privileged lineage. He was a man of humble origin. He was the quintessential frontiersman. 
It is well documented Joseph lived and fought alongside many well known military and pioneer leaders of eastern Tennessee. As this chronicle unfolds, it will attest to the fact that Joseph Bullard established himself among his peers as a courageous Indian fighter and Revolutionary War soldier. He ascended the ranks of the patriot militia on his strength of purpose and fortitude to protect his family and liberties. On many occasions, he demonstrated hardship and courage in the name of freedom and justice. He owned large tracts of land given to him through land grants bestowed upon veterans of the Revolutionary War. There is sufficient documented evidence and historical events surrounding Joseph Bullard’s life to chronicle a reasonable account of his life as a frontiersman and Indian fighter. Although Joseph is mentioned in many early eastern Tennessee court sessions and tax lists, neither fame nor notoriety is attached to his name. Yet, he is typical of the fiercely independent Scots-Irish pioneers who first settled in North Carolina and the great western wilderness west of the Appalachian Mountains. He not only was a witness to the formative years of the revolution, but also contributed greatly to the annals of American history.

    The research into the direct line ancestors by attempting to identify how they contributed to my ethnic diversity will be a long and arduous journey, but one that is fascinating to me. With nearly 14,000 names in my family tree at this point in time, it is truly a challenging effort. The fruits of my labour shall be the fodder for future columns in the hope that others may benefit from the effort. It is also an invitation for other family historians to contribute to the pool of knowledge.

    Looking forward to next month’s column which will continue this journey of discovery.

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Cooking with Rod


Mi Amore Cooks – Ms Chicken Cacciatore!

     Valentine’s Day is past, but the theme of LOVE remains. This month it’s time to feature an original dish whipped up by mi amore, my darling M, my Melinda in (what else?) the classic Italian manner.

     A few years ago, my little ole wife discovered an application that allowed her to whip up original dishes, then enter the ingredients in their respective amounts, cook it up, see how many it would feed and then – Ta da! – let that marvelous application figure out the nutritional data. Boy! Being a computer geek of the first order (that should read Computer Geek Of the First Order as though it came with a certificate and, possibly a desktop trophy…?) that wife of mine went to town making up new recipes just so she could labor over that diet and recipe application and spit out nutritional facts and data ‘til the world turned rosy. This ole boy never complained. It was a new and exciting dish at least once a week, complete with a whipping boy towel if one desired more than one of those healthy helpings. Oh well, what cannot be changed must be tolerated, right?

     So, for this month our own little Tour of Italy …( and being the loving wife she is, she never even complained when I painstakingly removed every single mushroom from my plate. After all, she would say, she loves mushrooms.)

     Bon appetit!

M’s Chicken Cacciatore

  • 6 chicken breasts, boneless (skinless also if preferred)
  • Small amount oil to brown chicken quickly in hot skillet
  • Dash of Mrs. Dash (original) or salt (if you MUST)
  • Dash pepper to season (prefer cracked peppercorns)
  • 1 small can chicken broth (or ½ cup cooking wine and ½ cup broth)
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp from jar)
  • 1 large onion, diced (or 1 can drained pearl onions)
  • 1 carrot, stemmed, pared and cut into thin dimes
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, rinsed, stemmed and cut up
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, juice and all (can use stewed)
  • 2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar (good salad variety)
  • 1 Tbsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Parsley
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 1 can sliced black olives, drained thoroughly
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf Italian parsley or fresh Basil, chopped or snipped
1. Add cooking oil or lard to skillet and heat quickly to sizzle when water flicked in. Sprinkle chicken breasts with Mrs. Dash (salt, if you MUST) and cracked peppercorns to season. Add boneless chicken breasts to skillet (if with skin-on place skin side down). Brown quickly on all sides and remove from skillet. Pour chicken broth (or broth and wine) into pan to loosen pan brownies, whisk to mix. Add carrots, onions and bell pepper to skillet, cook until liquid is reduced and vegetables have begun to carmelize. Retain juices.

2. Place browned chicken breasts in large stewpot, pour liquid from skillet over. Add caramelized vegetables and remaining liquid to stewpot. Add minced garlic and mushrooms. Add tomatoes. Season with Oregano, dried parsley, Italian seasoning, a bit more black pepper (make sure not to make too hot with pepper – this is Italian, not Mexican!). Bring to low simmer and allow to simmer in stewpot about 20-25 minutes until chicken is done and carrots are soft.
3. Add Balsamic vinegar and cook 3-5 minutes more to infuse flavor.
4. Garnish with drained, sliced olives and snipped parsley or basil to dish.

     Serve with good cold salad, antipasto dish (if desired) and baked hot bread.

     Serves 6 at about 350 calories per for Chicken entrée.

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Irish Eyes



     “There’s a book in everyone. It’s not always necessary to publish it and if you can’t write it yourself, you should let it be drawn out of you by somebody. Afterwards, the world will have a fuller understanding of you and many things about you will be explained in a way that is not possible by expiring silently with the whole secret of your life locked up within you and the whole complicated and monumental tale on its way to total decay, for bones don’t speak and the dust is also silent.” (John B. Keane.)

    One night, sixty years ago, 30 year old John B. Keane went, with his wife Mary, to the Listowel Drama Group’s production of All Souls Night by Joseph Tomelty. On the way home he said to Mary, “I could write as good a play as that.” On arriving home he reached for his favourite Biro. By 6.30 next mornings, as dawn was breaking over Gurtenard wood, he had completed Scene One of Sive. (The idea for the play came to him some time previously when he had an experience as a haggard old man entered the bar, ordered a drink, and told everybody in earshot that a match had been made for him and that he would be getting married soon. He asked John B. to accompany him to the jewellers to choose a ring for his new bride. The ever-obliging young publican, who through no fault of his own was not in possession of all the facts, went with him. Months later John B. learned that the old man had married a very young girl who had since had a nervous breakdown and was in an institution. John B’s daughter Joanna says it, "Troubled my father for a long time after.")

    A fortnight later he had finished the first draft of Sive. He showed it to a few close friends and, as if with one voice, they told him that it wouldn’t work. He was given different reasons by different people; the names of the characters were ridicules. The theme was outgrown. The language was too flowery. He re-wrote it and submitted it to the Abbey Theatre. The script was returned to him without any comment. It was first staged by the Listowel Drama Group in Walshe’s Ballroom, Listowel on February 02nd 1959. They later put it on in the Abbey Theatre for one week. (When the Abbey Company eventually produced the play in 1985 John B. said,” They got the harshness, the bitterness, the poverty of the period . . . At long last a few elderly and semi-elderly playwrights are getting *Cothrom na Feinne “)

    There was an Off-Broadway production but John B. was probably more impressed when the Listowel Drama Group won the All Ireland Drama Final in Athlone with it. When the group was touring north Kerry with the play the playwright was playing Carthalawn, the singing tinker. He gave an unforgettable performance in Ballylongford. One unscripted scene drew mixed reaction from the audience. As the slender John B. was about to exit at the end of Act two his borrowed trousers, which were several sizes too big for him, headed towards Australia. Despite frantic, whispered, instructions to “get off ye eejit” he stood his ground and sang an additional verse of the theme-song with his trousers around his ankles.

    John B. once wrote, “Whatever chance a writer has of getting a good review in the London Times or the Herald Tribune he has no chance at all in a provincial paper.” He was on the ball at the time but the provincial press has for many decades been forced to change its mind.

Original cast for Sive

    Sive has been playing to packed houses at the Gaiety Theatre since 26th January. The current run is due to finish on 03rd March. In the original script the two tinker characters are a father and son. In this Druid production they are a mother and daughter. A couple of reviewers, who can’t ever be pleased with any play, have been critical with this gender change. But in my humble opinion it certainly doesn’t take from the drama.

1959 Sive at Abbey

    Sive tells a story lust, greed conniving and deceit. John B. always had his finger on the pulse of human nature and used his native Kerry as a blackboard to explain universal emotions and especially the role of women in society. Every character in Sive is a complex individual who displays all the emotions to which the human race is heir. It has long won a place in the country’s literary history, cited in The Irish Times’ ‘Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks’ in 2015. The play has stood the test of time over the decades and has remained popular with amateur and professional drama groups and it would be hard to find a parish hall in Ireland where it hasn’t been staged. The time-proof dialogue is still relevant after almost sixty years; like when Mike Glavin points out to his mother that it is very difficult to be a good son and a good husband, “under the one roof.” Everything about this production is first class. Thanks to the digital revolution in the theatre, which some call “tecnodrama” as a sort of mixed compliment, a computer-generated scene in the final act transports the audience to the bog hole so central to the plot.

     In 1964 Listowel’s favourite son wrote, ”I am a kind of writer. Nobody knows what kind of writer I am, least of all myself. My ambition is that people will say, ‘He was a kind of writer. He said things a different way from others’ ”. In the past fifty-four years that modest ambition has been realised many, many, times.
1959 pic of producer Brendan Carroll; Nora Relihan who played the role of Mena Glavin; author John B. Keane
    John B’s son Billy, a literary giant in his own right, who was a nominee for the Kerry Person of the Year 2018, put out a call on RTE radio asking any actress, amateur or professional, who played Sive at any time in the last fifty-nine years to make contact. This search for Sives resulted in an assembly of 50 “Sives” in the Gaiety Theatre on Sunday 11th February. They ranged in ages from . . . Well! This national gathering of Sives met each other over a cup of tea in the John B. Bar and had a group photograph taken on the Gaiety stage. The group included Margaret Ward (pic below courtesy of Nick Bradshaw) who played Sive in that very first production and Gráinne Good who plays the role in the Druid’s latest production.

Margaret Ward, 1959 Sive and Grainne Good who plays the current Sive. Pic courtesy of Nick Bradshaw
Close up pic of 1959 guests of Dan Moloney for Sive held by Margaret Ward in previous pic .

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Reflections on the Day

February 13 at 10:00pm ·
I bask in the clear crisp sky time. The night sounds calm my heart in a gentle caress. The evening creatures stir, especially the owls challenging those that enter the night. I look forward to once again sitting with my Teachers. I am gently reminded that learning is finding out what I already know. Doing is demonstrating that I know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as I do. We are all learners, doers, and teachers. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid.

February 14 at 10:00pm ·
Today there were feelings of humility leading to a great sense of gratitude. I took time to pay attention to these strong feelings. What wonder and what confirmation. I am blessed to be able to have a ringside seat as this journey unfolds. As you retire this eve please look to the sky. Look to all that you have and all that surrounds you. It is a miracle and we are the cause. Thank you Creator… Off now to whisper secrets with Grand Mother Moon. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

February 15 at 10:00pm ·
Grand Father Sun has gone to rest. Sweet Grand Mother Moon takes over the brood. She shines her light to reveal the stars. At the end of the day, I like to Dusk Walk. A state between awake and dream. I wander the sky; imagine the star patterns connecting the path toward my lessons. It is a most pleasant time, drifting in and out, swaying to the Divine rhythm. I listen to my heart as to an ancient drum leading me forward until I peacefully great my Elders for another class. I am eternally grateful for every moment, every bit of serendipity, that gives my journey a magical synchronicity. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

February 16 at 10:18pm ·
On a clear evening night, I watch as the clouds gather about Grand Mother Moon and the wind whispers to the clouds, shush. It will soon be time to join that mystical circle and join in listening to the stories. The stories unravel like a ball of multicoloured yarn rolling across the skies. Seeking the answer yet never wanting it to end. The tales will return me to the source remembering who I am. May your rest be serene. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid.

February 21 at 9:49pm ·
The silence of the night seduces me like a wily mistress. The cares of the day melt away as I prepare to be enfolded by the arms of sleep. I take a few moments of gratitude for lessons learned. And then we will dream the dreams of Seekers. We will soar through the heavens allowing the starlight to cleanse and refresh our spirits. We will sit humbly at the feet of Compassion and remember who we are. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

February 27
Words are like dried flowers, brittle, surrendering as they are crushed flat between the pages. Words can take us on great adventures, yet never come close to conveying what truly lies within us. Your thoughts are the words you speak to yourself. Take the time to rest in silence and listen for your heart song whispering to your soul. Quiet your mind and slow your breath. You deserve the sanctuary of your spirit. Invoke the four directions, stop the words, stop the thoughts and listen to the serenity that is yours. You are worthy of these rewards. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

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Consider This


The Virtue of Laziness

       The word “lazy” is so negative and to be called that is incredibly insulting, or at least it’s certainly meant to be. But guess what folks, I think sometimes the so-called “bad” things of which we’re accused might possibly be, well, maybe not so bad after all. And being called “lazy” might just be one of them. Maybe not a good thing to be, but hey, not the worst, not by a long chalk, no indeed.

       I was certainly accused of being lazy as a kid---what kid isn’t? ---and I know it to be true where I’m concerned, especially today at age 80. I can easily sit and make pretend animals out of clouds from morning to nightfall, except for the fact that I’m too lazy to get up early to check on those morning clouds. I think it’s genetic. Laziness isn’t a choice or a preference; we’re born that way. I am utterly convinced of it. I can sit at complete ease, and rest while my home and life are piled with things I ought to be doing. I can see them. I am unmoved. I’ll get to them when I ‘m ready, but I don’t plan on being ready for a while yet. If ever.

       I am surrounded by family members and friends for whom the adjective “driven” is a given. That is their complete and proud description and they actually flaunt it. They are always roaring about accomplishing lots of things while I don’t, because I’m busy thinking about stuff. They’re so tired all the time. I’m usually just getting going and am rarely fatigued.

       I can even recall the first time I heard the word “lazy” used as an admirable appellation. Do you remember that wonderful British actor named Stewart Granger? Swashbuckler type, from the 40s on, deep sexy voice, great thighs, star of King Solomon’s Mines and other films? His second wife was Jean Simmons. No, not that gross member of KISS dude with the 2-foot-long grotesque tongue. He is Gene and she was Jean. But I digress. Granger was married to the beautiful Brit Jean Simmons, and I recall reading a story about him in one of those hide-under-your-mattress movie magazines back in the day, where Granger announced to America that his beloved wife Jean Simmons was as “lazy as a cat!” I thought that was just so incredibly cool. She was beautiful, talented sweet and it became immediately obvious to me that she spent her days, when not on camera, stretched out in the sun, purring, waiting to be stroked and fed. Living the good life. That was for me! I related! Jean Simmons became my role model that very day. Well night, since I wasn’t permitted to read those movie magazines and had to hide under my covers with them, with a flashlight. Oh come on, you did that too, and with other kinds reading materials, right? Be honest.

      The reason I’m prattling on about all this lazy stuff is that I read recently in a motivational magazine that we humans should take what is a possible negative aspect of ourselves and turn it into a positive. So since I’m so good at being lazy, I picked that and decided to make it a charming characteristic instead of the opposite. They suggest we make something splendid out of these picky little flaws of ours. “Splendid” is a bit too glorious a word for this subject but I haven’t used it in a long time, so decided to borrow it for in this column. See? I’m not entirely lazy. I’m taking a negative about myself and making it a non-negative. That obviously requires some effort, I’m sure you’ll agree.

       It seems that if we procrastinate when we can, when we stay lazy as often as we can, it really isn’t a big deal after all. At the advanced age of 80, I’m sort of, kind of, interested in my Bucket List but I’m not losing much sleep over it. If I get to it, great. If I don’t, not a problem. There are hundreds of things I should be doing, but why bother? Who cares? I am far more interested in my image of being a serious lazy person. Works for me, although it’s actually not too much work doing the lazy thing and keeping that image going. I’ve found it’s one of life’s easier pursuits, but if a lazier one is out there I’m open to checking it out. I mean if it doesn’t require too awfully much effort.

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On Trek

Should We Fear Death

All my life I was told that God, Creator, Universe, is love.
    Doesn't HAVE love, but IS love.
    To be pure love is a goal of mine, which I know will take forever, but we do have forever don't we?
I had been shown what death was like in a vision I had...
I had asked about do we suffer at death? Violent death specifically. I was working on quitting smoking, and in this vision I was shown a lighter, and the lighter was flicked. At the moment it was flicked, there was a huge flash of light. The light blew up in my face, but I didn't feel a thing. I was watching the whole scenero as an onlooker would.
Then my guide put up a sign. You are Dead.
I said, NO, I am not ready, and I could see all around, and then I felt I had no body.
Then my guide said, “That is what death is like. Your soul leaves the body before the (impact)."
That never left me, that feeling, that vision. I had always felt a loving God would not torture us in a hell and would NOT let us suffer in a violent death. After this vision, I then had a memory of when I was about 10 years old.

It was snowing out and my brothers and I, and neighbor kids, built two snow forts. We had snowballs already lined up for the next war. We were going someplace with our parents, and since our parents were not outside, my brother and I wizzed a few balls, me in one fort, him in the other. 

The balls were frozen solid as they were out all night. One hit me in the eye. Knocked me right out.. Here is what happened. My view point. I was warm and cuddley even though I was laying in snow. I saw myself all wrapped in a warm blanket, and I kept feeling that someone was trying to wake me up by pulling on my arm. I just was so comfy and happy, I wanted to be left alone. 

View from onlookers, and my mother...I was screaming and writhing on the ground. Mom had my arm and was pulling on it to get me up, but I wouldn't get up. That went on for 15 minutes, until I woke up. Then my eye hurt..head hurt, body was cold and wet. 

I had left my body before the impact.
Even though we look like we are hurting and in pain, we are not in the body. I would recommend reading Near Death experiences. They give a detailed explanation of how they leave their body before they died.

To me NDE's, near death experiences , are some the most heartwarming confirmations to prove love prevails, death is merciful and it starts a new way of life, it is not the end..but the beginning. Think of death in the positive. When my dad was in hospice, he kept saying he wanted to experience every moment before he zipped off and became one with the universe.
Judith 2/12/18

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    In March of last year, the New Yorker magazine ran a satirical story that was written by comedian Andy Borowitz. The story depicted a frantic President Trump, holding court in a bathrobe, ordering his aides to wrap the White House telephones in tinfoil to prevent his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, from eavesdropping on him. 
The story was purely satire poking fun of the paranoia of Donald Trump. However, that did not stop the Chinese news outlets from running the story as real news.

    Many satirical stories from the US about Donald Trump are being depicted in China as Newsworthy. Stories about Donald Trump running around the White House in a bathrobe looking under beds and peeking into closets mumbling “I know Obama is still here,” has been portrayed in China as an American news story.
    This was not the first time that American humor has captured the Chinese news media. In 2012, People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party, reported that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, had been named “Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.” The newspaper based its report on a satirical article in The Onion. Many news outlets in China repeated the story and people to this day believe the story to be true.
    In China fake news stories taken as satire in the US dominate the internet. Some of the stories depict Donald Trump as a child in a man’s body. The stories show Trump comparing how much bigger and better his toys are compared to the toys of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
    Another satirical column written by comedian Andy Borowitz in 2013 also went viral in China and was reported as a real news story. Mr. Borowitz’s wrote about the purchase of The Washington Post by Jeff Bezos, the Amazon chief executive. The New Yorker article stated that Mr. Bezos had bought the Washington Post newspaper by clicking on it by mistake. Many people in China to this day now believe that the Washington Post is owned and operated by Amazon.
    The satirical stories from the US are first picked up in China online and reprinted by Reference News, a newspaper that translates foreign news and is published by Xinhua.
    Fake news articles, conspiracy theories and rumors are rampant on the Chinese internet, and media analysts say it is not surprising that Chinese news outlets feed on those stories. One problem about the Chinese news outlets is that many jokes are translated literally into Chinese but what we in the west see as obvious humor gets lost in the translation and many in china see the jokes as real news.
    Many of the fake news stories here in China can be quite humorous as they are intended to be. But what is also humorous is the gullibility of those who believe the stories are real and news worthy. This is where I have fun with my students here in Suzhou, China, by explaining how humor in America can get lost in the translation for the Chinese audience. But no matter where you live Donald Trump can and will continue to be a humorously off balanced individual that just so happens to occupy America’s White House. That unfortunately is not fake news and it seems Donald Trump has now become the focal point for the world’s comic relief.
    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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Epiphany on Davis Drive

Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of
or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something,
usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace
occurrence or experience. 
Some days while driving,
Looking at the same things
I’ve seen for years,

I’m hit by fleeting visions
Of existing in the universe,
Of belonging in this world.

That wispy cloud above
Is water brought by comets
Eons in the past.

The oak trees, ashes, pines
Lining the street in shady rows
Share the same biology as me.

Crows in flocks on lawns
Are feathered cousins,
Links to distant dinosaurs.

Bees alive on flowers,
The breeze that blows,
All part of Mother Earth.

For one ecstatic moment
I know I’m not alone
And never was alone.

®2018 John I. Blair, 2/18/2018

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Still Feeding Birds


I wonder what they think of me,
The looming shadow in the window,
The tall frail form

That slowly steps outside
And fills the plastic tubes
With tasty seeds.

None looks old enough
To know what life was like
Without me here.

Most are very careful
To fly away at sight
Or hide in nearby shrubs.

But if I stand stock still,
Pretend that I’m a statue,
Not a threat,

They come back to their feast,
Filling up against the cold,
Converting my love into life.

®2018 John I. Blair, 2/25/2018

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The Ice Shack

He went fishing, out at his Ice Shack
Got to be careful, of that one large crack
Throw the line in, and see if you get a bite
See the line pulling, you can't beat that sight

 “Maybe I'll catch a perch, or a bigger fish”
“My mouth is watering, sure would look good on my dish”
“Maybe a Trout, a Whitefish, or Blue gill will take the bait”
“I'll just sit here in my shack, and I will wait”

“Inside my shack, it is warm and I can sit”
“I love being out here, and it's so hard to quit”
“A hole for my line to go in, wishing for the best luck”
“Just the other day out here, I saw a mallard duck”

“A few Canadian Geese, are also around here”
“I heard them, as I was unloading my fishing gear”
“So peaceful, as I sit waiting for a bite”
“Catching many fish, is a highlight”
“I guess I'll wrap it up, supper is on the table”
“My wife and I will watch TV, we've got cable”
©Jan 24, 2018 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
In da Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we have the
Ice Shacks, where people take their chances going
out to put up a shack or a tent, and drill a hole, in
hopes of catching a fish to their liking. Years ago,
I went to see my Dad's Ice Shack.

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Sometimes I feed off others
Like a vampire on his prey

Except instead of blood
I need companionship,

Words that I can hear
From faces I can see.

Old age alone
Is misery, is endless night.

I’ll dare the daylight
To defeat it.

©2018 John I. Blair, 2/13/2018

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Living Legends

Things not forgotten,
Fear and pain.
Callused shield of scarred hearts beating.
Flooding memories so haunting. Lessons cast into a mask, A cavern so deep and vast.

(Chorus: Living legends…
Within the present unfolding future.
Hidden echos of the past,
Revealing as they last.
Legacies of our lives.)

How far and long must I go to free my dreams?
When will this curse be broken?

So close it seems and yet so far out of reach.
So .. what .. does .. this time teach?

(Repeat Chorus)

Such forbidden fruit, harvesting agony.
Chasing the truth as specters of insanity.
Bring out the Heaven inside…
Turn the key and confide…
Swallow and bury your pride!

(Repeat Chorus)

A soul … never again to be the same. (Spoken, not sung)

(Repeat Chorus)
©2017 Lyrics by Adam Bradshaw

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Toadsong in February

Last night in this
Warm and humid February
I stepped out of my car

And heard toads singing
Softly, softly,
In the urban dark.

At first I thought
Myself mistaken;
Toads don’t sing in February.

But there they were,
Primordial eructations
That have been a part of life

For eons on this planet
We call Earth
And love with all our heart.

®2018 John I. Blair, 2/20/2018

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No matter what the color

Or condition of their skin

Everyone is beautiful

When they smile

And the smile comes

From within.

®2018 John I. Blair, 2/24/2018

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Here I Go Again

Another change in direction
Time to raise the sail
Every time looking for perfection
Never looking to fail

Another attempt at living
Islands and the waves
Each time I end up giving
With nothing left to save

Here I go again
Another trip
Another ride

Here I go again
Taking up learning
Testing my pride

Another change in seasons
Time to count the cost
Every time looking for reasons
Forgetting what’s been lost

Another attempt at giving
Sunshine and the breeze
Each time I end up forgiving
It never comes with ease

©2/6/18 Bruce Clifford

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As they vanish right before my eyes.
No longer any more doubt in my mind.
Nowhere to run – nowhere to hide.
No escape in the end of time.

 It’s far too late.

What has become of my family and friends?
Is this truly how it all ends?
Nothing anyone can do
The Word was given, if only I had listened.

(Chorus: Tribulation!
Could the answers have strayed in ignorance?
Could salvation have lain in acceptance?
Forgive me of my debt.

Prophecy set …

Fire and brimstone raining down,
Mingled with blood upon the ground
And the inhabitants of the earth.
The signs of the times

Ripe as the fruit of the vine,
Vengeance on the harlot
Drunk on the blood of the saints.
Waves of reality…overtake.

(Repeat Chorus)

The mountains and wormwood
Cast into the sea.
Blackened sun and blood moon rising.
The rising tides will subside.

No one knows the time
Like winds of howling voices crying.
All of this must take place before His second coming.

(Chorus 2: Tribulation!
Could the answers have strayed in ignorance?
Could salvation have lain in acceptance?
Forgive me of my debt.

Prophecy set …

Could there still be hope for my soul?
Could God have mercy even now?
Have I waited too long to see,
This precious reality?

©2017 Lyrics: Adam Bradshaw and John Bradshaw

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Dry Eyes

How sad when sheets
Are wet with tears
I’ve only dreamed

And I see rain drops
On the window
Though sun shines
And finches sing.

Dry waking eyes
Remember why.

©2018 John I. Blair, 2/13/2018

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Glorious Succulents Galore


       I just love houseplants. No weeding, no broiling sun while weeding, no being bitten by slithery and flying things while digging, no getting drenched while planting, no blisters while hoeing. All our houseplants do is sit in front of our windows asking for good light, a few cups of water and a few chews of a good fertilizer. And they always look great. My problem with them is that my thumb is occasionally gets too green---well maybe more chartreuse--- which means that my plants sometimes get so huge I have to give them away or we can’t get into our rooms. Fortunately, I know a wonderful woman who adopts my overgrown house plants and takes them to her home. We part, my plants and I, no tears. I say thanks to them, wave and whisper goodbye and off they go to their new homes. We never look back.

       Furthermore, house plants are ever so much better than pets. They’re not nearly as needy. You can leave house plants for long periods of time if well-watered and fed, friends do not mind coming in to check on them because plants never lunge, bite, poop or run away, and they don’t shed. Don’t get me wrong; I love all animals world-wide, and give them more respect, love and caring than I probably do my fellow humans, well sometimes, because frankly the animals in my life deserve this. I do not kill. I really don’t. OK let’s clarify; if something is going to sting me, or crush parts of me between great toothed jaws that can shred concrete slabs, or if they intend to fill me with venom that will turn me into a hugely swollen, throbbing purple blob, or if they look longingly at me as if they’d like to invite me to be supper---they get offed. Yes, by me. That is if I am able. Not so sure getting wrapped in the coils of a 30 ft Anaconda as it enthusiastically constricts my life force would be easily subdued, but I’d give it a shot. So you see, I do kill when I absolutely must.

      So that’s why I love house plants. They just don’t do bad things to people. Happily, I’ve recently discovered a sweet houseplant that doesn’t normally get huge, so I can keep it forever. It’s cute, doesn’t drip dead leaves all over my floor and many can even be planted outside although I’ve already explained my feelings about outdoor gardening.

      They are succulents. How come nobody ever told me about these little beauties? How come I didn’t pay more attention to them as I’ve stumbled through my life? How is it I always manage to come so late to things? Everyone seems to know about succulents. I, at 80, have just started to notice them. They are weird, strange, fascinating and when I talk to them I’m pretty sure they answer. Have you ever seen them? I mean all of them? Impossible. There are thousands of varieties. Google “photos of all the world’s house plant succulents” if you don’t believe me. You will be blown away at the enormous variety, endless beauty and enchanting strangeness. I am hooked for life!

      One of my many bad habits is that I fall in love with some hobby or activity or whatever, and after two years, literally to the day, first my boredom veil floats down, followed by the slamming of a great door somewhere and I move on and never look back. I’m done. This will not happen with my newfound love; pretty succulents.

      Alas we don’t live in a huge house with tons of floor to ceiling glass walls for hours of sunshine to spill in, but since I do want to collect these little gems possibly by the hundreds I may have to prevail upon Mongo to find the money for that kind of an addition to our home. And to take down a bunch of trees, too. Then I could cover those glass walls with shelves and fill them with those darling, weird succulents. I have about 10 now, just the standard kind found everywhere but idiotically, I can’t stop staring at them. Those little plants are simply gorgeous, unreal, surreal. Am I getting wiggy in my dotage? You bet.

       Have you checked out that Google info? Do it. It’s as if Someone Out There who created plants way back in the Dawn of Evolution decided “If I can imagine it, I can design it.” And so, he/she let loose and did just that. These plants come in every possible shape and design. Weirdly wonderful. Yes, I gush.

      If anyone out there can send me any good info or names of books on succulents from around the world etc., I’d be ever so grateful. I know one can buy the plants by mail but I just don’t want those little pretties to be banged around in a dark box with no air or water, even for one overnight delivery. No. They are way too precious and weird, fun, unique, adorable and maybe even too fragile. And beautiful. Did I mention that?

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