Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Editor's Corner


May 2018

"Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. 
There's no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving."  
--Gail Tsukiyama, Dreaming Water.
So, May brings another birthday to your editor,  and also to many of her friends. Surprising how many May and/or Taureans are not only friends but family members. One can only surmise that the Fall of the Year must consistently be a very romantic period. This birthday girl was the first born of her Mother Lena May Joslin Carroll - oldest child of her parents Arthur and Carrie E. Bullard Joslin - and of her Father John (Jack) Edward Carroll - himself an only child of Nora Viola Alexander Carroll Fisher King - only child of Flutie Creek Alexander Kendrick. Having such young parents, Daddy Jack turned 22 in October that year, meant lots of grandparents and great grandparents and even one great-great grandparent Malinda Bullard Joslin, as well as extra's because of additional marriages adding step-grands and step great-grands, and to all of them - Mary Elizabeth was their first, and as such, spoiled rotten. Your editor avows to all that she has sufficiently matured in 83 years.

Happy Birthday to fellow May celebrants.

Rod Cohenour springs into action again this month with his column "Cooking with Rod" sharing his timely recipe for Cinco de Mayo featuring Rod's Chicken Tortilla Soup. To honor our mothers this Mother's Day, Judith Kroll, aka Featherwind, presents her poem "Our Mothers" in her column "On Trek."

Melinda Cohenour's column "Armchair Genealogy" focus is on DNA and how Science has recently used it in the case of a long sought after criminal, the Golden State Killer.

Thomas F. O'Neill's column "Introspective" from China employs an article just published in the South China Morning Post International Edition about the capture of a huge mosquito.

Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" updates include the annual celebration of the life of noted Irish author of Myles na gCopaleen/ Flann O’Brien/ Brian O’Nolan is held in The Palace Bar, Dublin, on the 1st of April. He also reminds writers of the Listowel Writer's Week and applauds the “alternative biography” of Kavanagh “Love’s Doorway to Life” by Una Agnew and her brother Art Agnew.

Dayvid Clarkson's "Reflections on the Day" plus a pic with words also by him with a selection of daily reflections. Soothing thoughts to usher one to dreamland.

LC Van Savage's column "Consider This," voices a pet peeve on the usage of a few selected words. Her article tells us all about "Queenie."

Bruce Clifford's poems for April are "If Only I Knew" and "When There's Nothing Left That Matters." Bud Lemire submitted these three: "Challenges," "My Pinard Family," and "Signals from Spirit." John I. Blair poems are "I Brake for Squirrels," "Idea," "Miracle," "Spider in the Bathtub," "The Dead Finch," and "Concentrated" for May. That last one is a new Editor's favorite of Blair's poems.

See you in June!!!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.
See pic below of Mother who turned 17 the day before my birth, and me in May 1935.


Armchair Genealogy


Advances in DNA – Science is Amazing!

      As your author continues her exploration research into the ancestors who sourced her personal DNA Story, the news is filled with an incredible story tied directly to the latest advances in DNA technology. Just this week one of the oldest cold cases in the history of California was solved – using DNA in a very clever and controversial manner. To tell this story, a bit of background is essential.

      If you are a fan of crime and forensics real life television, you may well be aware of the hair-raising tale of the Golden State Killer whose evolution from prowler to home invader to thief to rapist to serial killer has been documented in a number of shows and even a few books. The story of this one-man all purpose criminal “gang” began, as far as is now known, 19 March 1974 in the little town of Visalia in California. Police were puzzled by the increasing reports of what almost seemed like teenage pranks – break-ins where the entire home was ransacked but where very little of value was taken. Always the same story; a family member arrived home to find almost every room in the house tumbled and tossed with clothing and silverware, dishes, trash, and miscellany strewn about haphazardly. Upon close examination, the homeowner would find that only cheap and rather meaningless items had been taken: here a plastic ring, there a cheap bauble, somewhere else souvenir cups, coins from a piggy bank or similar cheap but unique items. The break-ins escalated, occurring with increasing frequency until after a couple of years nearly 150 homes had been so vandalized. The modus operandi was so similar that the press tied the crimes and tagged the perp as the “Visalia Ransacker.”

      Those crimes were not a laughing matter, however, for the crimes also held the element of a deeply deranged individual, whose antics held the element of sexual perversion. For, in almost every home, where the intimate clothing of the occupants were strewn about it was readily apparent the intruder had left the most noxious proof of his sexual persuasion – semen covering the bed, the intimate apparel and sometimes in the most bizarre locations in the home. It was clear to the seasoned detectives tasked with finding and stopping this man that with each break-in his behaviour became more and more bizarre. This was a sick mind in the early stages of erratic and deviant growth, a foretaste of evil to come.

      Before the approximate two-year reign of annoying yet creepy invasions, on 11 September 1975, Claude Snelling confronted the invader in his attempt to remove Snelling’s young daughter from their home. Snelling was shot, staggered back inside and lost his life. The Visalia Ransacker had taken his first known victim. Soon after this murder, the reign of the Visalia Ransacker ended. After a final confrontation by a police officer at one of the homes that had previously been burgled, in December of 1975, the perp removed his mask and gloves and pretended to surrender, only to then shoot at the officer. His shot struck the officer’s powerful maglite, shattering the lens and blinding the man. The Ransacker made his escape but would commit no more crimes in Visalia.

      The actual range of crimes attributed to the Visalia Ransacker is subject to question as well, it appearing that some voyeuristic crimes and petty home break-ins prior to the 1974 date given above may have been his work as well. It is also believed by some that two rape-murders of high school girls in the same area were the earliest murders so far committed by the killer.

      Some of the earmarks of this killer’s playbook connected the crimes: the wearing of gloves, entering the home after trying numerous entry points, leaving windows open with screens removed during the execution of the crime, various dishes left by doors to give warning and permit escape, the wearing of a variety of ski masks, coats, and caps to obscure recognition. The perpetrator was also intimately familiar with escape routes, utilizing paths for bicycles or hikers, ditches, trails and the like.

      After the shooting of the police officer, McGowen, the activity moved north about 200 miles to an area near Sacramento. These crimes showed an escalation of the sexual nature of the perp. Not content to merely break into homes in the middle of the night, some while the occupants slept, now the focus appeared to be on single family homes where single women were the sole occupants. Many were raped with a methodology that marked the crimes as having been committed by the same man. Awakened with a flashlight shining in their eyes, blinding the victims, the rapist held a knife and rapidly bound his victims, often using shoelaces or other similar items that appeared to have been prepared in advance. Officer McGowen, still on the case, attempted to tie together the rapes and break-ins in the Sacramento area with those of the Visalia perpetrator. Many elements of the crimes were very similar. One newspaper reporter dubbed the attacker in these Sacramento area crimes the East Area Rapist. The crimes committed under this moniker spanned the time frame of June 1976 through July 1979.

      Following the three year period of crimes detailed for the East Area Rapist, similar crimes began to occur in Southern California, in and around Orange County. Because of his prevalence for attacking single women in the middle of the night, binding and raping them, for this period of his criminal life he was called the Night Stalker. This was before Richard Ramirez was captured in 1985 and his series of crimes tied to the Night Stalker name. As a result, the crimes committed by our one-man gang were re-titled as the work of the Original Night Stalker.

      One other name was tied to the same man: the Diamond Knot Killer as a result of the use of an unusual Chinese knot known as the Diamond Knot being used to secure victims both in the East Area Rapist assaults and in the Southern California assaults. The name by which he will always be known, however, the Golden State Killer, was assigned by an author who recognized the broad scope of his crimes and came up with the truly defining name. That author? Michelle McNamara, a true crime writer who delved deeply into the crimes attributed to these various monikers.

      As neighborhoods under attack began to experience fear, neighborhood meetings began where police officials, psychologists, and local government leaders offered advice and attempted to pass along tips for prevention. It was apparent the crimes were preceded by a period of reconnaissance where potential victims were watched, their homes were entered while they were away, strange phone calls occurred (believed to be another way in which the perp profiled the activities of the home’s occupants) with hang-ups and occasional “wrong number” excuses given. At one of these meetings, a man stood and made a claim that the man committing these crimes was a coward and would NEVER enter a home where a man lived to attack his mate. Soon thereafter, this man’s home was the scene of a terrifying assault. This marked the assimilation of new and more frightening methods by the killer. The new mode of assault was to enter a bedroom shared by a couple, shine the flashlight in their eyes while holding a knife. He then forced the woman to tie up her male partner and admonished her to “make it tight, make it right, or die.” He then stacked dishes (usually a cup on a saucer) on the male’s back while he removed the female to another room, raping her repeatedly. During the prolonged assaults, he would roam the house, prepare food, eat, drink beer, ransack the home, befoul personal objects, take photographs and cheap personal objects, returning often to rape the female again and again. Many surviving victims reported the demented chants uttered by their tormentor. He would often pace the floors muttering, “I’ll kill‘em, I’ll kill’em, I’ll kill’em.” He was quoted by one survivor as rasping out “I HATE you Bonnie, I HATE you!” When asked if he had, in fact, said “Mommie” she said it was definitely Bonnie. Another survivor quoted him as breaking down and crying, “Mommy! Don’t make me! Momma, please!” or words to that effect. One aspect of his physical identification remained the same, however. All rape victims reported he had a very small male sexual organ.

      This was the typical assault – until the night when one of the men managed to escape and bolt outside. While the rapist ran after him to retrieve him, the female managed to break free and run outside the front door screaming. As the Original Night Stalker attempted to force her back inside a neighbor heard the commotion and came outside, armed. The rapist barely escaped. This would mark the last time he permitted his victims to live.

      After this the rapist-voyeur-burglar-terrorist-sadist would take twelve lives, five couples would die and two more individuals. And the violence increased. No longer satisfied with merely shooting his victims, the killer now sated his blood lust by bludgeoning his victims to death where their facial features were often completely obscured.

      Interestingly, the end of this killer’s reign occurred shortly after the first crime was solved utilizing the brand new scientific breakthrough – DNA technology. The first case to utilize DNA to convict a killer was in 1986. The Golden State Killer took his last victim, young Janelle Cruz, an 18 year old restaurant worker, who was raped and bludgeoned to death in her home while her parents were away. This killing took place 3 May 1986. The DNA from her case, carefully preserved by crime scene investigators, would be used to finally and definitively tie together many cases of rape and murder throughout the state.

      “DNA was first used to aid a criminal investigation by Professor Jeffreys in 1986. This investigation used DNA fingerprinting techniques to link semen stain samples, collected from two rapes/murders that had occurred three years apart in 1983 and1986, in a small village in Leicestershire, UK.”
SOURCE: History of DNA profiling — University of Leicester

Who actually discovered DNA?

      “It's commonly believed that James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix shape of DNA. But in fact, they based their work on one of their colleagues at King's College in London - Rosalind Franklin, an x-ray diffraction expert whose images of DNA proteins in the early 1950s revealed a helix shape. “ Feb 15, 2011
SOURCE: The Unsung Hero Who Discovered The Double Helix - io9 - Gizmodo

      It would appear from this very fact that the Golden State Killer was aware of crime and punishment. He was savvy to investigatory methods and ways in which to obscure his identity – until this startling new development arose. Stymied at last and fearful of being arrested for a similar crime lest his DNA be taken and matched? Perhaps so.

      Having such disdain for investigators, taunting them by leaving clues, writing a poem, calling them to announce pending assaults, spreading his semen and spit and other bodily fluids around his hundreds of crime scenes the Golden State Killer was ultimately tripped up by that very bravado. For one investigator, Contra Costra’s Paul Holes, having not one single hit for four decades on the typical DNA profiles used around the nation, decided to try a long shot. Noting the prevalence for the newly advanced methods of identifying relatives for long lost family members, he decided to use the full DNA sample that had been available for decades but which had found no match. It was submitted to GEDMatch.com, a website used by many genealogical researchers around the world. On this site, one can submit – anonymously if desired – a DNA sample and the scientists employed by the website will painstakingly match that sample to others submitted by the public. After a short wait, the police were rewarded by news of a close match. A relative, but not THE man.

      Then the genealogical work began. Having the name of the relative who had not made his sample private, the researchers began combing through other available sites online and sources of documentation to find a killer.

      They searched for a man whose age would match up to the now advanced age of that ruthless and vicious young man some forty years after his final violent killing. They looked for a close relative whose height and physical characteristics from those sightings nearly half a century before would be right. They searched for a man whose work or family connections would place him in the right areas at the times of those many, many crimes. And after they felt certain they had zeroed in on the right man, they began police surveillance. They followed Joseph James DeAngelo, now aged 72, for days waiting for him to discard a usable item from which they could obtain a full DNA profile. And after they collected that sample, a rush was put on the testing to ensure he did not alert to their interest and run.

      When the sample came back as a perfect match, they moved to quickly arrest him as he left his home. One of the team members on this task force was Paul Holes, the retired investigator with the Contra Costa police force who had sought the killer for decades. It was Holes who submitted the DNA to GEDMatch.com. It was Holes who confirmed the discarded DNA sample matched the long-held DNA from the killer. But it was not Holes who got the honor of being in on the final capture. On the day before his retirement, Holes sat outside DeAngelo’s home with the confirmation of the DNA match in his possession and contemplated moving in for the arrest. But, he was alone and it was known that the Golden State Killer was an intuitive and desperate murderer who would stop at nothing to escape. That decision – NOT to make the arrest – probably saved Holes’ life. He can now go into retirement knowing his decision to make the risky move to submit that DNA resulted in the end of a lifetime of violent crime for the Golden State Killer.

      Now we know DeAngelo was a former cop in at least two towns adjacent to the crimes: Auburn and Exeter. His parents lived in Auburn. He investigated property crimes as a part of his job. That is, until another local police department advised his Auburn police chief that he had been caught – shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent from a local store. Alas! Foiled by such a lowlife crime. Not the notoriety he desired, was it?

      Next month, it will be back to the traditional research. The information contained in this article has been compiled from memory from the many news reports and online stories concerning this fascinating capture. But your author could not pass up the opportunity to report on the Breaking NEWS! concerning DNA and its many uses.

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

Cooking with Rod


A New Twist to an Old Favorite
Cinco de Mayo

      You just can’t beat the taste of New Mexico Hatch Green Chiles. It is one of my life’s great pleasures to find new and tasty ways to incorporate them into my recipes.

This is one that pleases the palate. Perfect to serve as the piece de resistance for Cinco de Mayo along with ice cold drinks and warm companionship.

      Bon appetit~!

Rod’s Green Chile Chicken Tortilla Soup


For the chicken:
  • • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • • 1 Tbsp. cumin
For the rice base:
  • • 3 cups Instant white rice
  • • 1 can Rotel (tomatoes and peppers)
  • • 2 Tbsp. cumin
  • • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
For the sauce:
  • • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • • 3 cans Hatch green chile chicken enchilada sauce
  • • 1 can milk
  • • 24 oz. can Hatch roasted chopped green chiles
  • • 1 can stewed Italian Style tomatoes (with oregano and basil)
For soup:
  • • 1 can whole kernel sweet corn
  • • 1 can black beans (optional)
For garnish and optional sides:
  • • Tortilla chips
  • • Crisp, cold, radish slices
  • • Wedges of ripe avocado
  • • Chopped, de-stemmed cilantro leaves
  • • Grated cheddar cheese or Mexican blend
  • • Sour cream
  • • Fresh wedges of cold lime

1. Rinse chicken breasts with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season with chile powder and cumin. Place on broiling rack under high heat, middle shelf. Bring to a golden brown and turn, continue broiling on reverse side. When golden brown and fully cooked, remove and let cool before cutting into about one inch (1”) cubes.
2. Prepare rice as directed on package or box. When fluffy and fully cooked, add Rotel, and spices. Cover and set aside.
3. Prepare sauce by whisking together the soup, enchilada sauce and milk in large stew pot until blended thoroughly, add green chiles and tomatoes. Stir.
4. Heat sauce mixture but do not boil. Add rice mixture and stir. Heat but do not permit rice to get over cooked.
5. Add corn and beans, stir and serve. Garnishes should be arranged in individual bowls or in a divided tray that may be passed to dinner guests. Remember, much of one’s taste involves a pleasing presentation.

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Irish Eyes



      Every year since 2011 a celebration of the life noted Irish author of Myles na gCopaleen/ Flann O’Brien/ Brian O’Nolan is held in The Palace Bar, Dublin, on the 1st of April. This year, once again organised by John Clarke, it happened on Monday the 2nd of April just to make things easier and so it didn’t coincide with a rugby game.
       Myles was the author of ‘An Béal Bocht’, The Third Policeman, ‘At Swim Two Birds’, and other literary works as well as a wildly popular column in The Irish Times. He died on April 1st 1966, hence the date of the celebration.
       Myles, along with other noted literary figures of the day was a very frequent visitor to The Palace Bar on Fleet Street. The pub was one of several pub associated with the literary types of the day, including The Pearl, McDaid’s, The Bailey, and Davy Byrnes. While McDaid’s was the sawdust on the floor type of place, The Palace was considered a deal more refined and respectable. Myles seemed to enjoy and frequent The Palace more so than the other pubs.
      From 3-6pm there was a celebration of the life and work of Myles na gCopaleen in The Palace Bar in the form of readings and performances of some of his work in costume. Entrance was free and it was packed to the rafters.

      The contributors were all fans of Myles/ Flann/Brian.
Val O’Donnell
Racker Donnelly

      There were Val O’Donnell, Racker Donnelly, Tim Casey, Louis O ‘Brien, Jim Butler, Henry Mitchel, Vincent Kenny, Jack Lynch, Peter Prior, Frank Swords and Andrew Basquille. Andrew graced the company with original renditions of his own. This all had a Mylseian flavour.

       I have to tell you about Myles and a certain theatre reviewer who was writing for a national newspaper at the time. Myles’s play Faustus Kelly was running at the abbey Theatre. Myles asked the reviewer “Will you give my play a good review?” The answer was, “I will . . . I’m not that honest.”
      The reviewer was none other than Patrick Kavanagh.

      And speaking of Kavanagh, I have been a fan of Kavanagh’s works and stories about him for many decades. From his “Great Hunger” to tales by others such as the following.

       One day about sixty years ago in “The Duke” pub in Duke Street, Dublin Paddy put the hammer on Donal Foley, a respected and prolific journalist, for a loan of a pound. A pound was a lot of money at the time and Donal couldn’t afford to part with that much. But he gave the Inniskeen poet ten shillings. A short while later as Foley was making his way towards Grafton Street he heard Kavanagh mumbling behind him. The following dialogue took place;
      “Donal, Donal, will you do me another favour.”
      “I suppose I will Paddy, what is it?”
      “Don’t tell anybody that I’m in the ten-bob bracket.”

       Much informative and entertaining biographical material has been written about Kavanagh over the years.

      Now two County Louth people Una Agnew and her brother Art have brought out an “alternative biography” of Kavanagh “Love’s Doorway to Life”. It is a 3 CD compilation of Kavanagh’s work and traces the story of his life from birth in Mucker on 21st October 1904 to his death in his adopted Dublin on 30th November 1967 having collapsed at a performance of Tarry Flynn, in Dundalk Town Hall, eight days earlier. This collection containing snippets of information on Kavanagh which were touched on very lightly if not ignored completely by previous biographers. For instance how many people know that he sold his Shancoduff farm for €450 in 1949? He got much inspiration from this little farm even if, at times, he was,”writing poetry instead of digging drills.” The hedges of those small hilly fields were “the shelves of his library.” A poem or prose piece on a crumpled scrap of paper could be found hidden under almost every bush.

      Yet he had mixed feelings towards Shancoduff as the final stanza of this poem Shancoduff shows:

The sleety winds fondle the rushy beards of Shancoduff
While the cattle-drovers sheltering in the Featherna Bush
Look up and say: "Who owns them hungry hills
That the water-hen and snipe must have forsaken?
A poet? Then by heavens he must be poor."
I hear, and is my heart not badly shaken

       It is evident from this collection that Una Agnew has been a lifelong student of Kavanagh and has left no stone unturned in her research. When her brother Art recited a Kavanagh poem it comes to life. It’s almost possible to see the dead wasp floating in the barrel of potato or hear the canal water “niagarously roaring ” as it flows over a lock.

      Those two siblings, with their “across the Boyne” accents bring the Mucker poet to life. Listening to them both it is possible, like Kavanagh, to find yourself, “ . . . standing above the world of Drumnay and Miskin and looking far into the east where the dark fields of Cavan fanned out through a gap in the hills into the green fertile plains of Louth.”

Love’s Doorway to Life can be found on www.eist.ie and is not to be missed.
      I’ll see you in June. In the meantime I’ll listen, listen and listen to the Agnews.

 A Reminder: Listowel's Writers' Week begins May 30 through June 3rd.

       I have just learned through an article by top journalist Billy Keane that a seven-year-old Anna Brown in County Cork, who suffers from cerebral palsy, needs an operation to help her walk. The operation is only available in the United States and will cost about €100,000. Billy Keane has started the ball rolling himself and has already being instrumental in raising several thousand euro. But more is needed. You can contribute through Anna's GoFundMe page; https:www.gofundme.com/annasdream-to-dance

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

Reflections on the Day

Our visit to this planet is short, so we should use our time meaningfully, which we can do by helping others wherever possible.
 And if we cannot help others, at least we should try not to create pain and suffering for them.

April 19 at 9:45pm ·
Tonight as I retire I will contemplate on the following, taken in part, from a prayer of Tecumseh. ‘Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their views, and ask that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a stranger if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.’ Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid.

April 20 at 10:09pm ·
Those who believe there is only one way of knowing the right path or only one way of understanding this journey will surely miss out on many wondrous moments in this life. The richness of each moment lies in the diversity all around us. An open heart and an open mind will provide you with an extraordinary experience full of synchronicity, amazing coincidences, and a depth of compassion that will fill your soul to the brim. Leave your everyday world behind, leave the negativity behind, and simply embrace a positive mindset. Have faith in the Divine. You are entitled to the life you truly deserve, full of laughter, contentment, and love. It is your choice. Humble bow, Dayvid

April 21 at 10:04pm ·
I imagine you slipping out of your skin.
Preparing to retire for this day.
Ready to chase the stars, soul naked.
Unafraid of the unknown.
I will meet you there and we will view the heavens.
We will sit before the Elders, and listen to ancient stories.
We will rest awhile and greet the morrow.
With renewed strength and resolve we will arise.
You have earned this.
Sleep well, dream deep. Humble bow, Dayvid

April 22 at 9:48pm ·
The Night slips the shadows of the day and arrives at exactly the precise moment we need to travel to the depths of our souls. We will enter the sacred grove, drawn ever inward by the warmth of the fire. Our Elders are open to receiving us, always prepared to share their esoteric knowledge subtly as we sleep. We will only remember that our spirit has grown, that we are accompanied by wise guides, and that we are closer to home. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow Dayvid

April 23 at 9:56pm ·
This night I celebrate myself. Taking a few steps back and donning the robes of the Observer I lovingly view this humble soul. The challenges, the travails, and the questions this one has faced, with varying degrees of success, all across the stage like unknown actors in a grand play of mystery and intrigue. The journey at times seems ambiguous, with an infinite number of possibilities on the eventual outcome. Yet this mortal being, with a deep comprehension of compassion and kindness has found self here, in this precise moment. Still not fully found and approaching each day with slight trepidation, anxious of missteps, this one still embodies a remarkable faith that this is the path home. As I remove the robes I understand this peaceful warrior is someone I love. Above all else, our empathy must start with ourselves. Give yourself a hug and be the best friend you can be. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

April 24 at 9:53pm ·
It is time to once again waltz with the clouds. We will glide and sway along the night path listening to the silence between our breaths. To rest beside the pond reflecting on the moon. The winged folk will pay visits and whisper wisdoms. The four-legged will join us. By nature, it is a circle. You will awaken anew my fellow Star Walkers. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid

April 25 at 10:02pm ·
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 greet 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.

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On Trek

Our Mothers

Our mothers left this earth, and all her family too,
Keep this in mind, as I explain it to you.

Her cooking will forever be the fragrance of your soul
The wisdom she shared you will always hold.

Her beauty, her smile, her love for life
will be your survival in times of strife.

As the breezes flow, and the ocean roars
her spirit will always be at our doors.

Every flower you plant, every song you sing
Mom sees and hears those treasures you bring

Know it, believe it, cuddle this truth. 
The woman who bore us, who felt us within
knows our souls melded, conceives we are kin,
she will NEVER forsake us, no matter what realm she's in.

©3/22/18 Judith Kroll

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      Well, spring has sprung here in Suzhou, China and with the spring comes those little pestering mosquitoes. One thing I hate the most about mosquitoes is there bites which makes them extremely annoying. They seem to enjoy biting me too at all hours of the night and day.

      I just learned that scientist here in China discovered a certain species of a mosquito that can grow to a very large size with an 11-inch wing span. That is one scary mosquito and I certainly would not want to be bitten by one of those supper sized insects.

      I will let an article that was published in the South China Morning Post International Edition explain in more detail about this new discovery here in China.

South China Morning Post International Edition

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2018, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 3:18pm

   World’s biggest’ mosquito with 11cm wing span found in southwest China.
   The specimen with the 11.15cm wing span will go on display at a museum next month.
   A giant insect, said to be the world’s biggest mosquito, will go on display at a museum in southwest China next month.

   The supersized insect was discovered by Chinese entomologist Zhao Li during a field inspection at Qingcheng mountain in Sichuan province in August. Zhao said he had since spent time confirming that it was the largest mosquito found in the world before revealing his discovery.
   With a 5cm long body and a wing span of 11.15cm, it is 10 times longer than an average mosquito and a third longer than is typical for its species, holorusia mikado.

   That species is the largest of the mosquitoes with an average wing span of 8cm, and was discovered in Japan in 1876. Zhao’s specimen is from the Tipulidae family.
   With a body length of 5cm and a wing span of 11.15cm, the insect is 10 times longer than the average mosquito.
   After catching the giant insect and researching online, Zhao – who has been collecting specimens of the species for over a decade – said other collectors claiming to have the biggest mosquito were either referring to models kept in museums, or the specimens were smaller than his.
   “I confirmed it was the world’s largest mosquito around the beginning of the year,” said Zhao, director of the Insect Museum of West China in Chengdu.

   “The mosquito was collected in August last year. After I caught it I quickly made it into a specimen, by killing and freezing it. This may sound cruel, but for insects it is a painless death.”

   It will now go on display at Zhao’s museum as part of an exhibition about strange insects in May.
   With nearly 700,000 samples from 40 countries around the world, it is the biggest insect museum in Asia.
   Entomologist Zhao Li, director of the Insect Museum of West China, said the mosquito will be part of a strange insects' exhibition.

   But there is debate over whether the insect is actually a mosquito or not – some say it is a crane fly.
   Zhao said “crane fly” was a general term in English for the entire mosquito family, while “mosquito” referred to only those that suck blood. His specimen was not a bloodsucker but fed on larvae, so it would be known as a crane fly in English.
   In Chinese though, he said its name translated simply as “big mosquito” – a term that includes those that do not suck blood like the holorusia mikado.
   Benoit Guénard, an assistant professor with the University of Hong Kong’s school of biological sciences, confirmed that the insect was from the Tipulidae family, known in English as the crane fly.
   But he said mosquitoes belonged to the Culicidae family, and it was “an abuse of language” to refer to the insect as a mosquito.
   A research fellow at Singapore’s National Biodiversity Centre, part of its National Parks Board, also confirmed that the insect was a crane fly. But Patrick Grootaert said it was normal to refer to the species as a mosquito. In Dutch, for example, it is called a “long-legged mosquito”, he said.
   The Insect Museum of West China in Chengdu has nearly 700,000 samples from 40 countries.
   It is not the first time Zhao has caught a supersized insect. Last year he found what he said was the world’s biggest insect – a female stick insect measuring 64cm long.
   He said finding unusually large creatures took knowledge and luck.
   “You can only find them if you are familiar with the possible environments of giant insects,” Zhao said. “But of course, they are not things you can plan to catch – you have to rely on luck a lot of the time.”
   Although he is most familiar with the environment of Sichuan, making it easier to find insects there, Zhao has explored every province in China and numerous places in Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, looking for interesting creatures.
   More than 800 species of large mosquitoes have been discovered in China, over 100 of them in Sichuan, Zhao said, and the country is home to thousands of species of smaller mosquitoes.

* * * * *

    I hope you enjoyed the article and I also hope I never meet those supper sized mosquitoes here in China. If they leave me alone I will certainly leave them alone.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Email: introspective7@hotmail.com
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

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Consider This

Do You Need to Grab?

      Two words. Do they make me crazy? No. Well, maybe a little. Am I a Great Wordsmith? No. Do I always use proper grammar and proper words? Not hardly. Do I have the right to stand in judgment of anyone on the planet for anything ever? Decidedly not. But we all can be driven nuts by the small stuff, isn’t that so? And I have lots of small stuff in my life.

       Two words that make me especially edgy. I mean amongst a few hundred others that include LAR-nix and EK-setra and REAL-ittor and suppose-aBly and VUN-erable. But the two I always wish I could unhear are “grab” and “need.” No folks, I am so not perfect, but must we use those two words all the time?

       Let’s start with “grab.” “Grab” is defined by a dictionary somewhere as:
    1. grasp or seize suddenly and roughly: "she grabbed him by the shirt collar." “Grab” is a strong word meaning to reach out and clutch at something with ferocity – some passion.

For example, when we see an urn filled the great grannie’s ashes falling off the credenza, we grab for it. Lunge, you might also say. In this instance, “grab” is correct. To go into the kitchen to “grab” a beer from the refrigerator is not correct. We reach for it, we pick it up, we take hold of it. Do we open the refrigerator door, lean down and rip the beer out of the fridge? That would definitely be grabbing and perhaps a sign of alcohol addiction. Just sayin’.
       However, people say things like “wait a second —I want to go into this candy store and grab some licorice.” Do they mean they’ll walk into the store, reach over and swipe a bunch of licorice sticks off the shelf? Maybe grab? Like hard? Kind of violently? Wouldn’t the store’s owner be alarmed if they did that? Furthermore, who would ever want to grab licorice anyway? Ugh. If any candy must be grabbed, it really should only be milk chocolate, but that’s another column.

       I heard someone say yesterday that she was “gonna grab tickets to a show.” From whom will she grab them, and won’t maybe the grabee dislike having the tickets abruptly snatched away like that? Or “Let’s swing by Starbucks and grab a hot cocoa with whipped cream on top!” Isn’t grabbing a boiling hot drink just a little dangerous? Or “I may be a little late getting home. I’m stopping at the barber’s to grab a haircut.” Tell me, exactly how does one “grab” a haircut? Further, this could be seen as a barbarous assault. Sorry.

      So can’t we stop grabbing everything and maybe try using other words, you know, like “picked up,” or “took” or “borrowed” or “bought” or “removed” or “reached for” or even simply “got”? “Grab” means something else entirely. Reserve that dramatic word for saving a drowning kitten or for when you see your great aunt’s diamond brooch disappearing down the drain. Then grab. Otherwise, use another word.

      Now let’s talk about “need.” When did that word become the most popular word in the entire lexicon? “Need,” as defined by that same dictionary means:
    1. require (something) because it is essential or very important:
    2. expressing necessity or obligation: "need I say more?"

       And yet we use the word incessantly; We need to sell our home. I need to get up early. I need to sneeze. We need to buy a new car. You need to stop doing that. You need to finish your homework. We need to fix that thing. You need to turn that down. You need to come home. I think you need to see someone.

      Folks, can’t we ever think up another word to use? Are we so lazy that we must say “need” all the time, when we could just as easily say must, want to, should, would like to, have to, ought to, have a desire, yearn, wish I could, have got to, really have to, I’d better, might be best if you, sure could use, would just love, wish, require---OK, you’re getting my drift.

      Am I guilty of misusing all those words? Count on it. I hear them coming from my mouth, I see them when I write, so I really can’t judge or feel all superior because I am so not. In fact, I sometimes worry that people who truly know our American language and how to use it properly are reading my column and cringing, and I know they are, and whomever is nodding at these words, I apologize for brutalizing the English language. Perhaps it’s way too late, but I sometimes think I need to grab a good grammar book and make an effort to learn.

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I’m concentrated
Like a raisin or a prune,
Shrinking bit by bit
With my essence
Still intact.

So many years
Basking in the sun
Have had their effect,
Sucking all the juices
Out of this boy’s skin.

A life that made its start
One bright day in June
Is bent now toward its end,
But not without
Autumnal joys;

And like a grape or plum
Hanging long upon the stem,
My sweetness just gets stronger,
My flavor all the richer,
As harvest time draws near.

©2018 John I. Blair, 4/11/2018

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Earlier this year, I was presented with a choice to make
Between the two, there was only one I could take
It was tangled up necklaces, and could I take them apart
I could have easily said no, but it was a challenging piece of art
In life, there are challenges in each day
Some may seem hard, but we always find a way
We may think we can't do it, but if only we try
We will overcome them, every day until we die

It may take some time, or willpower from within
With a little patience, I am positive you can win
Don't give up, work on it and you'll see
Like a jigsaw puzzle, one piece at a time is the key

One step at a time, and soon you will be done
You thought you couldn't do it, you fooled everyone
Because you thought you could, there was no stopping you
Your positive attitude, is what got you through

Many times in life, this is what we'll find
Something that we can't comprehend, within our mind
But with a little effort, we find out something more
The Challenges are lessons, too hard to ignore

©Feb 20, 2018 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
Everyday we are faced with challenges. Some are bigger
and some are smaller, yet we still have them. We manage
to get through them all. Just when you think you can't, you
are through it and have done it. Being positive helps.

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Spider in the Bathtub

Spider in the bathtub
You looked dead.

Did I accidentally tread on you,
Stepping in and out?

For weeks I had been careful
Before I took my shower

Moving you with an envelope
To the windowsill above.

But every time I did that
You insisted on returning.

This could not end well,
I think we both knew that,

Me in my prideful human way,
For you the instincts of an eon.

I shed no tears, but picked you up
On a hasty paper bier,

Carried you in quiet state
To a resting spot in a flowerpot,

And missed you just a tiny bit
When I climbed into an empty place.

©2018 John I. Blair, 4/4/2018

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Signals From Spirit

Someone's messing with my TV
I wonder, who it could be
I was watching a Netflix show
And then I was on Amazon, I just don't know
I didn't even push a button on the remote
Someone was trying to get my goat
Then my Nexus started up
I think enough is really enough

When electronics go haywire
Bringing you places without your desire
Do you believe it is spirits who have come to say
“yes it was me, and I was with you today”
You might believe it was an electronics glitch
I believe it was spirits, and I get a happy itch
I believe they come around to let us know
In any way that they can, to show

Have you ever had a picture appear
On your computer, of someone dear
Coincidence, or could it be
A spirit at play, that you can't see
There's an energy that spirits can use
A method that they can choose

Ever hear a song on the radio
That reminds you of someone you know
They passed away, years ago
Their presence is to say hello
Next time it happens, recall what was said
Are our loved ones, really dead?
©Jan 31, 2018 Bud Lemire
                      Author Note:
They may have left this world. Yet from
the Spiritual Realm, are still able to send
signals to us in many ways. To let us know
their spirits live on. They want us to know
that. They may be dead as we know it, yet
alive in another way. The Spiritual Way!

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I Brake for Squirrels

I brake for squirrels, a lot,
Because they seldom brake for me.

Pausing in the street to stare around
They barely register the presence of my car.

I, on the other hand, am quite aware
Of where they are and where they ought to be

And try to tell them through the windshield
When to turn, how fast to run, how soon to stop.

Why is it, when you really need one,
There’s never a squirrel cop?

©2018 John I. Blair, 4/13/2018

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My Pinard Family

The first was Louis Pinard, in Canada so long ago
Then there's the Louis Pinard, that we all know
His parents and siblings, all were in Biddeford Maine
He came to Champion Michigan, and it's there he'd remain
With his wife Emily Cyr, three children he had
Oscar, Delia, and Louis, all called him Dad
Emily passed away, and he was all alone
Then he met Emilia, she had a family of her own

The Belangers were Tom, Exilia, and George, her first family
One married a Fish, and she was well known to me
Louis and Emilia married, and two more came along
Cordelia and Flora, were added to their life's song

Oscar married Zelpha Fontaine, Delia married Camille Lemire
Louis married Louise St. Jean, each family was dear
Cordelia married a Forgette, Alphonse was his name
Flora married Thomas Mager, and a family soon came

The great Pinard family, had many offspring
Even with genealogy, I still haven't collected everything
But what I do have, is a story I'll tell
They are my family, so I know them well
©Feb 22, 2018 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
Being so deep into the Pinard genealogy lately, I needed to
write a poem about them. Thanks to all my Pinard Cousins.
I want to thank those who helped me at the beginning, Leo
Pinard, & Janice Berezay. Without their help, I would not
have even had any idea how or where to get some of the
information I did. I want to also thank everyone else who
has helped me with their family information, Judy Cabral,
The Lemire Descendants, The Mager Descendants, Maryann
Belanger, and Stark (Elmo Pinard's Grandson), and so many
others. Thank you all.

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Looking at a tiny fly today
Clinging to my window screen
I see a miracle in miniature

So right in every way with its
Compound eyes, antennae,
Wings and tail, glistening face.

I feel challenged by the thought
We humans are in any sense
The apex of existence.

For this title size is not a measure
But success; and what
Is more successful than a fly,

Here since Tyrannosaurs
Left manure all around
For them to glean?

We’re the new kids on the block
And have strayed toward another choice,
One that’s wrecked the place, I ween.

 ©2018 John I. Blair, 4/21/2018

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When There's Nothing Left That Matters

When it’s taken away
There’s not time to waste
The hole in the heart
Feeling out of place

When it’s all gone
Running our of space
Singing an lonely song
Heart begins to race

When there’s nothing left that matters
The road has been too long
When all that’s left is chatter
And the verses of a long empty song

When it’s taken away
There’s no reason to stay
Wishing there was a place
No time to waste

When there’s nothing left that matters
The road has been too long
When all that’s left is chatter
And the verses of a long empty song

When there’s nothing left that maters
There’s a hole in the heart
When all that’s left would dissipate
The feelings of the few
When there’s nothing left that matters
You step back into view

©4/15/18 Bruce Clifford

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I had an idea for a poem
But didn’t write it down
And now it’s lost forever.

So this I guess
Is what you’ll get

©2018 John I. Blair, 3/28/2018

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If I Only Knew

When the sea calls me
The ocean of blue
I can never decide the right words to say
If I only knew

When the waves are crashing
Out of the blue
I could never tell which road to take
If I only knew

If I only had the faith to believe
If I only could see what everyone sees
If I only followed my faith in dreams
If I only knew
If I only believed

When the darkness whispers
When looniness calls
All these silent defenses
Climbing up these walls
When the sea calls me
The space with a view
I can never revive this endless compromise
If I only knew

If I only had the faith to believe
If I only could see what everyone sees
If I only followed my faith in dreams
If I only knew
If I only believed

When the sea calls me
The ocean of blue
I can never decide the right words to say
If I only knew

©4/22/18 Bruce Clifford

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The Dead Finch

The dead finch
Already had begun
The aftermath of life.

I found it half immersed
In a backyard basin
Soaking in the sun’s heat,

A bloody feathered lump
Already hard to recognize
And baiting flies.

I’d smelled death in the air
Before I saw the thing
Or knew its name.

As soon as I could move
First I dumped the mess,
Sliding the bit of meat

Into Goldenrods beside the patio
So it could turn to earth again
And feed new life,

Then I poured fresh water
Into a new container
For the thirsty birds waiting.

 ©2018 John I. Blair, 4/26/2018

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Blinders, Bucket Lists and Queenie


      Sometimes I’ll walk around a library or a bookstore and stare at the kadzillions of books stored on the shelves, and I think to myself, “What chance would I have writing a book and trying to get it into readers’ hands when there are already countless millions of books out there, and many of them are really great ones?” And then I answer myself and say “not much,” and I go home.

       I did just that for a whole lot of years, far too many, and eventually decided to get over myself, to stop sulking and comparing, and to take out that bucket list, look into it, put on a pair of good heavy blinders and get on with it. Becoming 80 had a lot to do with this decision, too.

      You know what blinders are, I’m sure. They are those leather square things put on a horse’s bridle next to his eyes so that he can only see straight ahead. He cannot be distracted by anything else going on, and so can only focus on the finish line, the final objective. Blinders, to a person striving to attain success, can help to keep one's eyes on the goal. I finally decided to put on my blinders and get on with it, so I wrote a book. It is called “Queenie.”

       This is a story about a young girl in the 1950s who is suddenly, and with no explanation, torn from her well-heeled life for reasons she is never told. She is forced to leave her school, The Academy, and her friends and to go to public school with kids she had always thought were her inferiors, kids from blue collar and even poor families. She is nicknamed “Queenie” by the public school students, because of her snobby airs and accent, but what the public school kids don’t realize is that Queenie is overwhelmed with terror every day. She hides in the girl’s bathroom at lunch time. She keeps her head down and won’t engage with “those “kids. She is badly beaten up at one point. A friend dies. In short, Queenie’s “new” life is hell for her, a strange and vicious struggle, and she does not know why she was forced to endure it.

       In time these young public school kids teach Queenie about racial prejudice, homophobia, poverty and intolerance, things that had never occurred to her before. She even learns about some of the unpleasant aspects of America’s history, which until then she had not known.

       Queenie can never really know in her lifetime to which group she belongs, or which accepts her. She was educated by both. She does however, learn whom she can trust.

      In time she finds out the horrifying answer as to why she was pulled from a wealthy safe life to one quite the opposite. And yes folks, there is a bit of sex, drugs and rock & roll in Queenie. But just a bit, I promise.

      Did I have to write this book? Yes. I well know that Maine is filled with great writers. Do I presume I am one of them? Absolutely not. But write it I did and the devil take the hindmost. “Queenie” was ably edited by the editor and general manager of the Coastal Journal, Raye Leonard, and if my book flows and sings in places, that’s why.

      Queenie can be found in local bookstores as we speak, and on Amazon too. The cover is bright yellow and there’s a photo of a public high school on the front with two red painted doors at the school’s entrance; it was through these doors she, as a terrified young girl walked, and two years later walked through them again, to the outside, no longer afraid, and she was a far stronger and better person than she had been going in.

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