Thursday, November 1, 2018

Editor's Corner


November 2018

“November is auspicious in so many parts of the country: the rice harvest is already in, the weather starts to cool, and the festive glow which precedes Christmas has began to brighten the landscape. " — F. Sionil Jose, Filipino writer.

November! Another month, another issue! And Yes! Your editor takes this publication online as a labor of love. It was dedicated, and still is, to AG Adair, my late husband who started in newspaper while still in High School - as a Jr, he and a friend, leased and operated a local newspaper publishing twice weekly, and were recognized by the Associated Press as the youngest owner-operators of a news publication. He went on to learn linotype at the Uvalde News in TX, then after his service in WWII, returned to newspaper work, owning his own paper in Crane, TX for a few years then becoming News Editor for the Monahans News in 1963, where he continued, adding photography and printing pictures after changing over the plant to digital type and installing and operating a 4 unit Goss Press with full 4-color capability, and was working on a story in 1996 when he suffered a fatal heart attack. During our marriage we also owned and published several different small monthly newspapers..Cross Trails for square dancers and callers, Hobbie$, Etc -which went to 7 countries and 43 states including Alaska and Hawaii by mail subscriptions. That evolved into this online ezine Pencil Stubs Online after his death when I could no longer afford the rising cost of publication, supplies, and overseas postage to continue actual print work, thanks to the assistance by Mike Craner who did/does the web work. I also worked as Circulation mgr for the Monahans News, reporter and staff member to do layouts for another area newspaper, and when a department head in Fedway at Longview, prepared my own quarter page of the double truck ad run weekly in that city's newspaper (hot press, using rubber mats for photos in ads.)

Bruce Clifford's song lyrics are "Over and Out" and "The Limit" for this month. Bud Lemire has two poems, "I'm Afraid of Needles" and "Tennis Elbow." John I. Blair sent three new poems: "Beneath My Feet," "Like A Tiny Dinosaur," and "As Days Grow Dark."

One of our laid back authors Mark Crowder (he sometimes writes as Lexie, the cat, sometimes as Rabbo, the super rabbit) researched and prepared "For the Fallen" an Armistice Poem written at the close of WWI in 1914, Source: The London Times (1914) ©1914 By Laurence Binyon.

Linnie Jane Joslin Burks, late aunt of your editor and the author of the column "Armchair Genealogy" left many poems along her way while serving 32 years as a Southern Baptist Missionary with her husband Dr. Edgar Burks in Nigeria. Four of those poems found their way for this issue: "She Loved Me," "On President Kennedy's Funeral," "Snow," and "My Work," the latter the true focus of her life.

Marilyn Carnell with aplomb, tells of her Driver Licenses, for several different states, not always the easiest task. Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" adds to the tale of the Traitor, Benedict Arnold V, beginning to tie into family origins of her own.

Thomas F. O'Neill in his "Introspective," reveals an early friendship with an amazing celebrity, and how it helped shape his future. Judith Kroll aka Featherwind uses her "On Trek" column to emphasize "Lovelights," and includes an eye opening photo for which she penned a few lines.

"Cooking with Rod" by Rod Cohenour introducing a Chocolate Raspberry Mousse, a stunning and delicious addition to his repertoire. Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" subtitled "Scalpels, Skulls, and Rigor Mortis," blends reviews of a couple of recent publications and their authors with a few jokes and a personally pleased announcement.

LC Van Savage "Consider This" recalls an uncle who was "A Veteran" and how he coped being home again. She also has one of the articles, in which she tells about "Hallowe'en Then" and the many differences from today.

Bunny Dunn graciously gave permission to print her tale "My Experience with a Possessed Person" which has echoes of a Halloween type encounter. Many readers may recognize this author as being one of the leading chatters in the former chat site based in Switzerland, "SpiritWeb Org • An Approach of Spiritual Consciousness, Spiritual Web Chat" hosted by Rene (TheFire) .

Thanking our webmaster Mike Craner without whose patience and expertise this ezine would not have been in its 21rst year, is a heartfelt appreciation.

See you in December!!!

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

Armchair Genealogy


The Arnold Family - England to America
A Patriot and A Traitor – Cousins

      Last month, we began the exploration of Benedict Arnold’s military career – one that led both to great admiration from General George Washington and to eventual disgrace as America’s most infamous traitors. This month we shall attempt to understand the forces at play in his life. We shall also trace the distant relationship of Benedict Arnold to our family. Through his Westcott ancestral line, we may ultimately find a closer relationship than now known.

      In his first outing in command of troops in March of 1775, Benedict, as Captain, commanded a unit tasked to gain control of Fort Ticonderoga. Although successful, we find our young Benedict was frustrated after losing his personal battle with Ethan Allen who had marched from Massachusetts with his rowdy troop of Green Mountain Boys. This was a militia unit formed in the 1760’s in a back area bounded by the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, an area which would later become the State of Vermont. It was a family affair with units commanded by Ethan and by members of his extended family. The troops held deep ties and loyalty to Ethan Allen’s family and to him, personally.

      “Arnold was surprised and a little angered because Ethan Allen did not care if Arnold had permission from the Committee of Safety and Arnold couldn't talk Allen out of relinquishing command. Arnold had to concede to accompanying Allen and his rowdy, rough and tumble fighters. On May 10, 1775, they surprised the British garrison and the Green Mountain Boys celebrated by invading the rum stores of the British and getting totally sloshed. They virtually ignored Benedict Arnold except when they were teasing and jeering him. Arnold had an argument with Colonel James Easton, who was to deliver the missive announcing the victory of the capture to Massachusetts. In his regimental memorandum book, Arnold wrote:
“I took the liberty of breaking his head, and on his refusing to draw like a gentleman, he having a hanger [short sword] by his side and a case of loaded pistols in his pocket. I kicked him very heartily and ordered him from the Point immediately.”

      The enmity between Ethan Allen, his related commanders, and Colonel James Easton was but one festering wound upon Benedict Arnold’s soul. He may have found quick satisfaction in manhandling Colonel Easton, but that was short-lived. The two strong-willed and bullheaded men, Allen and Arnold, would begin planning the first assault on British troops garrisoned in Canada. Meanwhile, Fort Ticonderoga was being held by their dual command.

      “Easton returned from his mission to Massachusetts while Arnold and Allen were planning the Canadian Invasion. Easton had done his best to diminish Arnold's participation in the capture of Ticonderoga and the two were arguing once more. The hot-tempered Arnold soon had some more people to fight with: Connecticut governor Johnathan Trumbull appointed Colonel Benjamin Hinman to command the Fort. Ethan Allen relinquished his command. Arnold did not, instead threatening to sail two ships under his command directly to a nearby British outpost and surrender them. Hinman then enlisted the treasonous Arnold's soldiers, took command of his ships, and dissolved his command. Completely affronted, Arnold went to Albany and there sent off a statement of the situation at Ticonderoga to the Continental Congress.

      “Arnold had been caught in the middle of the political machinations of Connecticut and Massachusetts, both vying for the glory that would accompany the capture of the British stores at Fort Ticonderoga. When Massachusetts acquiesced to Connecticut's preeminence in the territory, Arnold most certainly felt abandoned.”

      Here we witness the first evidence of Benedict Arnold’s thought process which would presage his ultimate treasonous acts. In a fit of pique, rather than think calmly and enlist the aid of those who actually respected and supported him, he rashly threatened an act certain to bring down wrath upon him.

      We now know that upon returning home, Benedict would learn of the death of his young wife. Coupled with the anger still fomented by his embarrassing and frustrating confrontation following his successful taking of Fort Ticonderoga, was the anguish of his deep personal loss, topped by the inability of the Continental Army to remunerate him properly for his personal expenditures in support of the cause. The Massachusetts Committee of Safety repaid him only a small portion of his total bill, nowhere near the total. It would be some time before he was fully recompensed.

The Siege of Montreal:

      General George Washington had been much impressed by Benedict Arnold’s daring actions and saw value where others merely saw arrogance. He let it be known he wanted Benedict to take a commanding role in the campaign which would be led by Gen. Philip Schuyler. Benedict’s long years of trade with the Quebecois made his knowledge of the people and the terrain valuable. In advance of the trek Benedict Arnold sought to gain some knowledge from a long-time acquaintance, John Dyer Mercier. Mercier made a most unfortunate decision. He handed off Benedict’s letter to two Abenaki tribesmen who were in concert with John Hall, a French-speaking British deserter. Somehow that letter fell into the hands of the British command who, now alerted to the impending invasion, had time to buttress their garrison. The entire campaign seemed fated from the start. Of the 1,100 troops marched northward by Arnold, only 600 made the trip due to the horrific cold of the winter, disease, and starvation. Upon arrival, they found a much larger defense amassed in advance. The weather also did not help. Rain poured down upon the troops, a cold and chilling rain. Montgomery was killed, Benedict suffered his first leg wound, and Daniel Morgan was called upon to salvage what he could of the effort. In spite of Morgan’s heroic efforts, the Americans were ultimately forced to surrender. From his sickbed, Benedict refused to surrender – “bellowing commands” to his troops, not merely reluctant but determined not to leave absent triumph. It was to no avail, but word of his actions reached Washington who marked this up in his favor as well. Washington named Benedict Arnold the rank of Brigadier General.

      We touched upon the rough and tumble nature of Benedict Arnold’s character in last month’s column. Here again that came to the forefront:

      “Arnold became involved in a dispute with Moses Hazen, an officer under his command, whom he accused of insubordination for failing to carry out Arnold's orders to seize supplies from Merchants in Montreal during the American army's retreat. Hazen issued counter-charges against Arnold for issuing the order to plunder in the first place. Hazen was acquitted at his court-martial, and Arnold was ordered to apologize, an order he indignantly refused. General Horatio Gates intervened on behalf of Arnold, who was given charge of a small fleet of ships and ordered to Ticonderoga.”

      Benedict Arnold was mounting up enemies among the officers with whom he would be tasked to fight the cause of America’s revolution. The very attributes which made him a strong commander in battle were negative faults in his personal interactions. These feuds would cost him a most desirable promotion to Major General. While he defended multiple complaints brought by his peers and senior officers, Benedict watched junior officers being promoted ahead of him to Major General. He was embittered. Once again, his admirer and defender, General George Washington, would intervene behind the scenes to investigate why he had not been consulted in connection with the promotions handed out by Congress.

      This promotion, however, was granted without the seniority both Washington and Arnold felt he deserved. He would be standing in an inferior capacity to many junior officers who served under his command previously. He sent a letter of resignation to Washington. Washington, unbeknownst to Arnold, was working behind the scenes to secure a position of command on a second Siege of Montreal. He refused Arnold’s resignation, instead placing him in a substantial role in the second Siege of Montreal.

      In a letter to John Hancock in Congress, Washington defended Arnold thusly:

      “If General Arnold has settled his Affairs & can be spared from Philadelphia, I would recommend him for this business & that he should immediately set out for the Northern department. He is active-judicious & brave, and an Officer in whom the Militia will repose great confidence. Besides this, he is well acquainted with that Country and with the Routs and most important passes and defiles in it. I do not think he can render more signal services or be more usefully employed at this time than in this way-I am persuaded his presence & activity will animate the Militia greatly & spur them on to a becoming conduct. I could wish him to be engaged in a more agreeable service-to be with better Troops, but circumstances call for his exertions in this way, and I have no doubt of his adding much to the Honors he has already acquired.”

      When he learned of this opportunity, Arnold asked to put his resignation on hold. He immediately took off for the north. On August 8, Congress voted not to reinstate Arnold's seniority and he would never forgive them for the slight.

      Arnold exhibited an innate strategic sense in battle. He crossed horns with Generals Schuyler and Gates on more than one occasion, even when his tactical plans were accepted and proven successful. Again, the hostility he faced reared its ugly head when his contributions to both strategic plans and tactical execution failed to be mentioned in the official reports to Congress. He exhibited bravery on more than one occasion, even when injured. These efforts failed to be recognized by those whose disapprobation of him surmounted any level of respect they might otherwise have felt.

      Even after Gates relieved Arnold of his command for insubordination, Arnold charged onto the field of battle astride his horse, reinvigorating his troops and others at Bemis Heights. After leading two separate onslaughts, Arnold along with Daniel Morgan’s troops were able to push open the center of the British line, ensuring ultimate success. In the final assault, Arnold’s horse was shot and it fell upon the very leg Arnold had injured in prior battle. The bravado of the Continental troops was so great, Burgoyne surrendered not ten days later. Now, the French were willing to enter the fray in support of the American rebel’s cause. Benedict “Arnold’s actions, perhaps more than any other officer there, led to the American’s success.”

      Even though Arnold’s seniority was later restored, the damage had been done. He was now forever lame, had been discredited by his superior officers, ignored by members of Congress, and was now a widower with young children and felt the sting of being alone to raise them. He returned home with enmity in his heart.


      While recuperating from his wounds at his home in Philadelphia, 38 year old Benedict met and began wooing Margaret “Peggy” Shippen, the youngest daughter of Judge Edward Shippen. A mere 18 years of age, Peggy was vivacious, strong-willed, and deeply involved in the Loyalist’s cause. They wed in April of 1779.

Peggy Shippen Arnold and daughter Sophia, by Daniel Gardner, circa 1787–1789.

      The Shippen family was upper crust society, wealthy, educated, and well respected. Arnold was once again thrust into a life of social status, but without the means to support the lifestyle. He, once again, resorted to the old street savvy ways. He engaged in real estate speculation, a capital-intensive industry. In support of his needs, Arnold began utilizing government assets as his own. He used his position to approve the use of a ship and later invested in it in clear contravention of propriety. He was brought up on charges and court-martialed in June of 1779.

      By this time, he had already begun negotiating with the British to sell military secrets and to use his position to weaken the defenses of West Point. He had been given command in spite of his peer’s opposition. Now he bartered that command for filthy lucre! Through the intermediary Major John Andre, a friend and possible former lover of now wife Peggy Shippen Arnold, Benedict funneled information to the British in return for money. He even gave vital information on the movements of his old mentor George Washington.

      In a letter dated 12 July 1780, directed to Major John Andre and Sir Henry Clinton, Benedict outlined critical information about American troop movements, specifically a plan of disinformation revealed to Benedict by his old friend and trusting mentor, George Washington. Benedict shamelessly betrayed Washington, providing full and complete information that could have brought death to General Washington. In the letter, he also revealed this was not the first information provided the Brits for money. He apparently reiterated his prior betrayals as a reminder of his monetary value to them. In the final paragraphs of that letter, Arnold reveals his motivations and belief as to the ultimate failure of the Revolutionary cause:

      “He disclosed his general feeling about the impact of the war on American resolve and morale. He thought that Americans were tired of the war and would give up soon if they did not see any substantial benefit. He thought that the last few struggles were futile and showed American weakness and discouragement. Furthermore, Arnold again emphasized that he expected substantial and urgent payment for his services.”

A portrait of the Capture of Major John Andre, British spy

      When Benedict Arnold learned of the capture of Major John Andre and the discovery of his betrayal, he escaped aboard the very ship that had brought Andre to American shores, the Vulture. His betrayal must have brought to Benedict the ultimate sting of defeat. As reported by US (see Source information above):

      “Arnold defected to the British and received substantial remuneration for his defection. These included pay, land in Canada, pensions for himself, his wife and his children (five surviving from Peggy and three from his first marriage to Margaret) and a military commission as a British Provincial brigadier general.

      The British provided handsomely for Arnold, but never completely trusted him. He was never given an important military command. They moved to London where he found no job, some admiration and even some contempt. He moved his family to Canada where he reentered the shipping business. The Tories there disliked him and had no use for him, and eventually he returned his family to London. When the fighting began between France and England, he tried again for military service, but to no avail. His shipping ventures eventually failed and he died in 1801, virtually unknown, his wife joining him in death three years later.”

Gen. Benedict Arnold V, The Traitor (1740 - 1801)2nd great-nephew of husband of 8th great-aunt
Benedict Arnold III (1683 - 1761)Father of Gen. Benedict Arnold V, The Traitor
Benedict Arnold II (1641 - 1727)Father of Benedict Arnold III
Damaris Westcott (Arnold) (1620 - 1679)Mother of Benedict Arnold II
Stukely Westcott (1592 - 1677)Father of Damaris Westcott (Arnold)
Jeremiah Westcott (1633 - 1686)Son of Stukely Westcott
Eleanor England (Westcott)(1643 - 1692)Wife of Jeremiah Westcott
Hugh Parsons (1612 - 1684)Father of Eleanor England (Westcott)
Hannah Parsons (1646 - 1685)Daughter of Hugh Parsons
Thomas Matteson (1673 - 1739)Son of Hannah Parsons
Mary Matteson (1651 - 1701)Daughter of Thomas Matteson
William (of Deerfield) Joslin Col. (1701 - 1771)Son of Mary Matteson
William "P.R." Joslin (1757 - 1846)Son of William (of Deerfield) Joslin Col.
William (James) Riley Joslin (1792 - 1871)Son of William "P.R." Joslin
William Henry Joslin (1837 - 1921)Son of William (James) Riley Joslin
James Arthur Joslin (1874 - 1956)Son of William Henry Joslin
Lena May Joslin (1918 - 2010)Daughter of James Arthur Joslin
Your author and her siblings - the four Daughters of Lena May Joslin Carroll.

      Interestingly, our relationship to General Benedict Arnold V, the Traitor, may be closer. By DNA testing, we discovered our maternal uncle on the Joslin line had his closest match to one Westcott Campbell Joslin, Sr. Your author is still researching that line to determine our Shared Ancestor and, perhaps, break down the brick wall that still exists between William “P.R.” Joslin and the Colonel William (of Deerfield) Joslin. For it is our belief that P. R. was the grandson, not the son. When and if we chip away successfully at that wall, it is believed the Shared Ancestor with Westcott Campbell Joslin will provide the parental line that is missing – that ONE generation. Clearly, Westcott was named for his Westcott relatives, but we have yet to ascertain exactly how that interrelates to our line.

      Next month, we cover the Arnold Family – the heroes. That line intersects directly with my husband’s, Rod Cohenour. It should be interesting!

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

Cooking with Rod


Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Well, it's the Fall season, Halloween just past and Thanksgiving just around the corner. My better half and I have been scratching our heads trying to figure out great new desserts. Our challenge? To find a recipe with no eggs to accommodate a nephew with severe egg allergies. We played around for awhile and came up with an absolutely fabulous dessert: Chocolate Raspberry Mousse that will knock your socks off!

Most chocolate mousse desserts are based on a frothy mixture of rich chocolate thickened with egg yolks beaten to a creamy blend with melted butter using egg whites whipped to firm peaks to fold into the mousse. This would not work for our needs.

My sweet mate did her research, then reached into her old recipe box to create a good way to achieve the rich flavor, the foamy texture, and a diverse blend of tastes to excite both the eyes and the palate. I think she did a great job. One source of inspiration came from a blog that featured a traditional chocolate mousse enriched with espresso. If you can add espresso, surely you can add raspberry puree, right?

Here's where we found the inspiration: Dark Chocolate Mousse with Expresso. Jen Reviews

Try both methods, but most important, dare to test your own creativity and ...

Bon appetit~!!
Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
Melinda Cohenour – October 2018

  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. Almond extract (use 1 tsp. for whipped milk and 1 tsp. for puree)
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 6 oz. pkg. Sugar Free Raspberry Jell-O
  • 8 0z. Pkg. Cream cheese, softened
  • 12 oz. Pkg. Semi-sweet chocolate chips to melt
  • 2 Tbsp. Milk
  • 12 oz. Fresh or frozen sweetened raspberries (must have nice, firm berries for garnish)
  • 8 oz. Pkg. Toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 bottle Hershey’s Chocolate sauce
  • Ground Cinnamon

    1. Make raspberry Jell-O per box instructions. Allow to thicken and firm without being fully set (but not watery). Chill evaporated milk in large mixing bowl in freezer for at least thirty minutes and chill beaters in freezer. The milk should have formed a few ice crystals around the edge and bowl and beaters should be quite cold. Do not remove until ready to whip (see instructions below.)
    2. Fresh raspberries: Place half in saucepan with sugar, cook and stir until they break down into a puree. Put puree through strainer to remove all seeds. Save best raspberries for garnish.
    3. OR Frozen sweetened raspberries: Thaw, strain to remove all seeds. Retain all pureed berries, mashing if necessary. Save best berries for garnish.
    4. Melt chocolate chips or pieces in microwave with small amount of milk. Stir occasionally. When melted stir in raspberry puree and almond extract. Set aside.
    5. Remove slightly frozen evaporated milk, bowl and beaters from freezer. Beat evaporated milk in large mixing bowl. It will whip like whipped cream and will almost triple in volume so be sure to use your large mixing bowl. After beating with chilled beaters for about 30 seconds, add half of powdered sugar and 1 tsp almond extract. (Powdered sugar contains a small amount of cornstarch which helps to firm up the whipped cream.) Evaporated milk should whip to form firm, soft peaks and resemble a good whipped cream. Jell-O should be just set and neither hard nor watery. Begin adding small amounts of the Jell-O to whipped evaporated milk. Continue until all has been added. Set this in fridge until ready to fold in chocolate mixture.
    6. Chocolate-raspberry-almond mixture should still be warm. If not, microwave until just warm. Whip softened cream cheese and fold into chocolate mixture.
    7. Now fold chocolate almond mixture into Jell-O/whipped evaporated milk mixture. When beautifully blended, spoon into parfait glasses. Sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon.
    8. Garnish with fresh raspberries, drizzle with chocolate sauce. Sprinkle toasted slivered almonds on top. Serve chilled or warm, but only garnish just before serving.

Look for us in December! See pic below.

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


Sifoddling Along

Driver’s License Stories

       For most people getting a driver’s license is a pretty mundane task. Oh, the first one is usually special. If you are a teen, eager to get through a rite of passage, but usually after a move is one of the first tasks is to get a driver’s license as it is usually necessary to have a current i.d. to sign up for utilities or cable, etc. For several different reasons I have had to take tests 10 different times in 7 states. I speak from experience.

      My first test was shortly after my 16th birthday. I was agog at the prospect of driving the family car once in a while. I had practiced behind the wheel and studied for the written test. The Missouri driving test was supervised by a State Trooper; a tall scary man wearing a Smoky the Bear hat. After surprising him that I could easily parallel park, he said “Let’s go see what is happening with the flood.” There had been a lot of rain that week and the creeks were coming up. Off we went to the highway bridge where we could observe the muddy water overtopping the creek banks. I passed the test.

       It was several years before I had to take another test. This time it was in Iowa City where my new husband and I were attending the University of Iowa. It went pretty smoothly although I recall that as a new driver of a stick shift car, the hills were a challenge.

      Back to Missouri so my husband could take a job with a State Health Department regional office. New baby in tow, we set off for a new life. There was some drama when our much driven Falcon started sputtering on our way to our new home. We limped into town and promptly went shopping for a new car as responsible parents had to have responsible transportation. We decided we could afford a new car now that we would have an income to make the payments. A sporty new blue Mustang was our choice, but to our chagrin we found we had no credit rating. We had taken great pride that we had both got our college degrees without debt. We found out that it wasn’t an asset in the real world. “Go charge the baby a pair of shoes at Sears.” was the advice given by the salesman. “Get a credit history.” He sold us the car anyway.

      Next was Minnesota. My husband had a new job with the U.S. Public Health Service and was sent to liaison with the state Health Department to implement their growing immunization program. Polio vaccine was newly available. Jerry got his license handily. When it was my turn, I drove to the testing site as I had to take both a written and a driving test on a special short course that required quicker reaction times than ordinary streets. I checked in with the clerk, who said

      “Do you have a current driver’s license?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“May I see it?”
“Of course.”

       I handed over my Missouri license. She took a pair of scissors and cut it up. Almost immediately after I began the driving test, I turned left into the far lane. “Pull over, the tester barked. You just flunked the test. It is Minnesota law to turn into the nearest lane. You will have to come back tomorrow and try again.”

      Back to the clerk. “What am I to do? I need to get home.”
“I don’t know” she said callously “You don’t have a license.”

      I called my husband and he and his brand new boss had to come rescue me. I lived in Minnesota for 12 years. An average sentence, I thought.

       Back to my home town where I could attend the nearby University and earn a PhD. Only the written test was required. No big deal.

      My next move was to Illinois (Again, only a written test. Easy peasy.) I got one speeding ticket while living there, but learned that if you go to court and ask for court supervision, after three months the charge is expunged. I went for that.

       I took a job in Kansas. My Illinois automobile license expired one day before the move and I decided to not renew it for one day; what were the chances of getting caught? Of course, I got stopped by a policeman whose eagle eyes spotted that my license was out of date. I pled my case that I was moving to Kansas as we spoke and after looking over my packed car, he observed “I believe you because you have plants in the back seat.” Replacing my license in my wallet, I gratefully drove away to another beginning.

       When I arrived at the Kansas DMV I discovered that my Illinois driver’s license was missing. “No problem, “said the clerk. If you will pay for the call, we will contact Illinois and verify that you have a valid license.” It worked.

      After taking the written test, I went to pay for my new license. The woman ahead of me in line stepped up to the clerk. “How long have you lived in Kansas? "
“About a year.”
Without missing a beat, the clerk said “In Kansas there is a substantial financial penalty if you apply for a license after 6 months. Now, how long have you lived in Kansas?”
‘Three months.” The woman promptly replied.
“Fine” said the clerk said. Just pay the fee.”

      About six months later, I found my Illinois license hiding in a wallet slot I seldom used. Kansas will always be my favorite state for welcoming a newcomer.

       I then got a job with the Campbell Soup Company in New Jersey. It was relatively easy to pass the written test. A car is a luxury in the east. Public transportation is available – scheduled frequently and convenient to use. Parking a car is a nuisance in a major city and my second husband hadn’t had a car or a driver’s license in years. After arriving at the DMV we were told that as our new Thunderbird had a console, we would have to come back with a car designed to make it possible for the Officer to reach the brake. We rented a car and he and I got our licenses.

      We moved to Pennsylvania and encountered a new problem. Computers were relatively new in 1989, and the test was computerized. I am one of those people who takes tests by answering the easy questions first and then go back for the puzzlers. Not possible with the new system. I flunked the test. I think it was because I didn’t know the difference between twilight and sundown when it came to turning on my lights. Of course, I couldn’t take it again that day. I had to come back the next.

      Upon my husband’s retirement I moved Missouri for the third time. I had it down pat .Studied the manual and took a written test. No problem.

      Then fate determined that we move again to Minnesota as we lost our home in a flash flood and had no place to live. If you recall, Minnesota was a difficult experience the first time. It hadn’t changed. Still difficult, but different circumstances. Because we had lost our vital papers in the flood we found that we had to present birth certificates, marriage licenses and my divorce papers to prove my name. This took three months to acquire for both of us as incorrect prices cited and staff cuts in various states slowed the processes. Meanwhile we had to return to the DMV every 30 days to keep our applications “alive”.

      What have I learned from all this? Most states do not recognize the importance of using the License Bureau as a marvelous opportunity in public relations. This early introduction into a new home can be a pleasant one or a big pain. It can be one more onerous task required by a move, or it could be a warm welcome with information about the new state and community and would make the transition much easier.

      It is my understanding that I will not need a license when I cross over to the other side, so I don’t have to worry about that problem anymore. It wouldn’t be a problem if it were required. In my next move, I will be too old to drive.

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



      I’m going to tell you a story about an extraordinary human being - who I met in September of 1978. I truly admired this person because he was an amazing person.

      His name was Muhammad Ali and in September of 1978, he was the first heavy weight boxer to regain the world championship title for the third time.

      Ali’s training camp was in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania, approximately 12 miles from my home in Shenandoah.

      In February 1978, Ali went up against Leon Spinks it was Spinks 7th professional fight and he captured the world heavy weight title from Ali. Ali began training hard for the rematch in Deer Lake.

      My hometown’s mortician was a boxing manager and he was managing a young boxer that trained at Ali’s camp. The mortician was friends with a man who was a friend of my father. One day they took me to see Muhammad Ali.

      When I walked in to one of the cabins at the training camp there was a large boxing ring there. Ali was bigger than life inside that ring and he joked to reporters who were snapping photos of him. He joked about how ugly Leon Spinks was and pulverizing him in the ring might improve his looks. He was funny, and he was extremely aware of how people like me saw him as a boxing legend.

      One day I took the public transportation bus from Shenandoah to Deer Lake and I ran from the bus-stop up to his camp. I saw Ali running along a path in the woods. I ran up to him, but I was unaware of the champ’s security detail. One of Ali’s security guys tackled me to the ground.

      All I heard was, “Hey, Hey, what are you, a cop, he’s just a kid!!!” those angry words came from Ali himself. He then pulled me up by my arm and said, “look go over to that cabin I’ll be over there later.” This became a regular thing for me, not getting tackled, but going to Ali’s camp.

      Ali could never remember my name he just called me “Kid.” I started hitting the punching bags and jumping rope there. I got to know the members of his entourage. One of the boxers there was from Shenandoah and I would get a ride home from him.

      One day Ali yelled over to me, “hey, Kid, are there any good movies playing.” I told him the Capital theater in my hometown was playing Superman. After Ali’s workout four cars pulled up in front of the cabin. One of Ali’s entourage people asked me to get in one of the cars.

      When we arrived at the theater a man in the ticket booth said to the Champ, “hey did anyone ever tell you how much you look like Ali?” My only response from that statement was a sarcastic “Duuuaa.”

      Muhammad Ali bought every seat in the house and when the ticket booth guy asked “Why?” Ali said, “I want to watch the movie.”

      When we sat down before the start of the film. The champ looked at me and asked, “hey kid have you ever noticed how all the superheroes are white?”

      “I never thought about that” I said.

      He then asked, “have you ever thought about how all the angels are white?” he then paused for a second, “how come there aren’t any black angels?”

      My reply was, “I think angels are spiritual … kind of color neutral.”

      Ali then asked, “have you ever thought about how your god is white? All the twelve apostles were white.”

      “I never thought about that either,” I said, “was Muhammad black?” I asked.

      “Of course, he was black and so was Jesus” he said.

      “I wouldn’t know, I never met them,” I said, “Is your god black?”

      “God is god kid, only people are black and white” he said.

      “Well,” I said, “you’re a superhero for many people and you're black.”

      “Well, Kid,” he said, “I won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic games, and I couldn’t get a hamburger in a diner, because I’m black.”

      “Maybe they heard about you stealing those bikes” I said.

      “What are talking about?” the champ asked.

      “Howard Cosell said, you started your career stealing bikes,” I went on to say, “he also said you’re not the man you were ten years ago.”

      “Hey, Kid, every time Howard opens his mouth he should get arrested for air pollution.” Ali went on to say, “besides, I talked to Howard’s wife,” Ali paused for a second because the movie started, “and she told me Howard’s not the man he was two years ago.”

      He then put his index finger up to his lips to let me know the movie started.

      When the movie ended the guy in the ticket booth looked at me and asked, “What does he do?” pointing to Ali, my only response was a sarcastic “duaaaa” I then said, “he will soon be the only heavy weight boxer to regain the world title three times.”

      The ticket booth guy’s eye widened, “you mean he’s the guy?” he said in a surprised tone of voice.

      Well, Ali did go on to regain his title for the third time but for me that was just a foot note to his greatness. His abilities in the ring captured the imagination of children and adults all over the world. He was truly a champion with a bombastic way of expressing himself. He wasn’t just a great athlete in many ways he was also a great entertainer. But most of all, his capacity for kindness transcended, race, religion, and one’s economic standing in the world.

      What he taught me 40 years ago is how to reach out and treat others the way you would want to be treated. You can also define the true character of Muhammad Ali by how well he reached-out to those of the least influence.

      Ali in 1978, reached out to the grandson of a coal miner. He revealed to me, that the true measure of Ali’s worth was revealed by what he gave to others and his true legacy will not consist in his athletic abilities alone.

      Ali liked to tell people, “I’m the greatest,” his greatness, however, will not be defined by the ring. His true greatness consisted in his capacity for kindness and the kindness that he bestowed on me will truly be his greatest legacy in my heart and soul.
    Always with love,
    Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (800) 272-6464
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Facebook: https:/

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On Trek

Share your Lovelight

I was having a colorful dream,
my body tingling,
my light shining a steady stream.
Each beautiful furry pet I've known,
stole my heart. They came home.
                               Reunion time .
I could feel their kisses and their hugs,
unconditional love steamed the dream.
Each personality was still intact,
my laughter rippled thruout
time and space.
What a race.

Then a horse I hadn't known,
came into my sight.
The energy he sent my way,
helped me remember who he is.
Traveling the road from my home,
there was this lonely horse all alone.

He walked in mud and looked underfed
I cried many a tear when I passed his shed.
He came to me and I heard him say
“ I felt your love everyday.
You encouraged me and kept me strong,
I come to you to let you know,

every love light sent our way,
was remembered, felt and cherished.
Always know love never stops,
travels with the wind, ripples on the sea,
shines thru the sun, and rains gently on our souls.
It works for people too. Share your Lovelight.”

As the night passed my fur babies left,
we were all filled with love.
The horse whinnied one last time,
and assured me once again,
Love never fails.
We are all blessed.
©10/26/18 Judith Kroll

Someone posted the pic, I wrote this story..

      She sings her love

      The little birdie wrapped her claws around the frozen twig.

      The air was crisp, and the sky was blue.

      She took a breath and started to sing. Her trill formed puffs of mist, thus all could SEE her song.

      She sang and sang all the tunes she knew, encouraging us to become aware.

      She sings her love.

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Irish Eyes


Scalpels, Skulls And Rigor Mortis


“The dead don’t hide the truth and they never lie. Through me they can speak." - Dr Richard Shepherd.

      London born Dr Richard Shepherd is the forensic pathologist in the UK, who investigates and solves mysteries of unexplained or sudden death. He is a visiting professor at City University London, Honorary Consultant at The Royal Liverpool Hospital and a registered UK Home Office Forensic Pathologist.

       He has been involved in the investigation of many high profile deaths He advised on the management of UK fatalities following 9/11, and was the forensic pathologist expert for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. He is a member of the Ministerial Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody and also of the Restraint Accreditation Board, and has been a member of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel.

      He appears on Channel Five's Autopsy, where he investigates the mystery and intrigue behind the deaths of high profile celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Michael Hutchence.

      His first book Unnatural Causes was published, by Penguin, in September. In it he brings the reader on a, step by step, journey through his career. His literary prowess is evident from page 1, where he mentions the North Downs, “ . . .bearing an odd similarity to the rise and fall of the human body.” In almost every one of the 392 pages I asked myself why this wordsmith waited until he was sixty five to write his first book.

      He first became interested in “bodies” at age thirteen when a book was smuggled into his school. Yes. I know what you’re thinking! But. . . No. The book was a textbook on forensic medicine and the young Richard was immediately hooked.

      In the course of his career his work has put killers behind bars and ensured that the innocent walked free. His evidence has overturned what appeared to be water-tight cases. He is to all intents and purposes, a detective whose question is, “How did this person die?”

       Dr Shepherd has faced serial killers, natural disaster, 'perfect murders' and freak accidents, all in the pursuit of the truth. And while he's been involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times, it's often the less well-known encounters that prove the most perplexing, intriguing and even bizarre.

      Like Rumpole of the Bailey, I’m sure, he at times annoyed his spouse at home in the kitchen while carrying out experiments on joints of meat. "I didn't stab every Sunday roast with a variety of knives, but the children definitely did see me do it sometimes," he once said.

       But a working life in death, dealing with some of humanity's darkest corners is sure to take its toll. Shepherd doesn't flinch from counting the cost to him and his family. Exposure to stomach-churning violence meant that he was eventually diagnosed with PTSD. He felt that he wouldn’t ever be able to practice at the chosen profession, which he loved, again. But, “Gradually the world of colour and beauty began to reform itself around me.” He once again was able to wield the scalpel over his “patients” who neither complain or tell lies. He sums up his return to practice in the final six words of this book, “I did care. I still do.”

      Laurence J. Peter said, "Before publisher’s blurbs were invented, authors had to make their reputations by writing.” Perhaps he was right.

      The blurb on this book states, "Unnatural Causes is an unputdownable record of an extraordinary life, a unique insight into a remarkable profession, and above all a powerful and reassuring testament to lives cut short.” This is an understatement, in the words of a more able interviewer than I , "Dr Shepherd , ” . . . 'Puts the reader at his elbow as he wields the scalpel'."

* * * * *

Jimmy Norton was at a wake in Ballyknockan where the daughter of the house was a member of the caring profession who insisted in giving a detailed, chronological account of her father’s last hours. When she got to, “ . . And about four o’ Clock Rigor Mortis set in”, Jimmy asked, “Is that what kilt him.”

* * * * *

A reporter from East coast radio was interviewing an 80 year old west Wicklow woman who had just got married for the fourth time. The interviewer asked her numerous questions about her life and about what it was like to be married again at 80 and then about her new husband’s occupation. “He’s a funeral undertaker”, she said.
The newsman became very interested and asked her about her first three husbands and what they did for a living. She paused, smiled and told him that she had married a banker in her twenties, a circus ringmaster in her forties and a preacher in her sixties.
The reporter was astonished and asked her why she had married four men with such diverse careers. He got his answer;
“ I married one for money, two for show, three to get ready and four to go.”

* * * * *

A Warsaw man who was married to a Wicklow woman felt that a meeting with the local undertaker was imminent. He believed that his wife had poisoned him when he found, on her dressing-table, a small empty bottle bearing the label, POLISH REMOVER.

* * * * *


       Lisdoonvarna, County Clare is famous for its annual Matchmaking Festival. It is the location where, in many people’s lives, love-stories began. Now Dublin author and poet Michael Lacey, currently living in Lisdoonvarna, has taken the matchmaking to a new level. In his latest publication "The Proud Chamber Pot" he matches up a chamber pot named Helaine with a jam pot called Sam. I won’t spoil it for you with any more details because you see this is actually a children’s story. It is beautifully illustrated by Italian artist Lucia Tripepi.

      Oh yes . . .they all lived happily ever after.


* * * * *

Left: Mattie Lennon; Right: Michael D. Higgins

      I am delighted to report that Michael D. Higgins will be our president for another seven years.

      See you in December.

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Consider This


A Veteran

      He was my step-mother’s brother and no one really liked him. He was mean, bad tempered and consistently unpleasant, but he worked hard at his job to keep his long-suffering wife and three young children well fed and healthy.

      His name was Richard, and I called him Uncle Richie and like everyone else I avoided him whenever I could. He’s been gone for decades now, as has his sweet wife Dot.

      But I now have a huge amount of respect and admiration for that man because when his country called, he went off to fight in WW II, leaving his family in the care of his ageing parents.

       Uncle Richie was in a glider plane somewhere over Germany in the darkest days of that terrible war, and was shot down.The enemy fire came straight up through the underbelly of the glider with some bullets landing in Uncle Richie’s upper thigh, seriously shattering his femur. As luck would have it he survived the glider crash and was rescued by his American compatriots. In terrible agony he was immediately taken to a make-shift hospital where they patched him together and told him he’d be sent home. Uncle Ritchie wanted to stay and fight but was unable to walk and so was of no use to his comrades in arms.So back he went to a state-side hospital near his anxious family and was confined to a bed, in traction.He was told the broken bone may or may not knit together, so he must not move.

       I occasionally went to see Uncle Richie when I could catch a ride to the hospital, and I remember being amazed at the man’s patience.There was no TV back then of course but at least he had a small radio next to his bed where he could hear his beloved Red Barber broadcast the Brooklyn Dodgers games. Uncle Richie had lost a lot of his sharp edge because of his war experiences and would actually chat with me as he lay there, his grotesquely injured leg suspended in the air.I recall it appearing yellow and wet, greasy, and covered in plaster and gauze and it had a terrible odor. I asked him how he managed the boredom and he said he read a lot, dictated letters to the nurses and that he was being taught to knit.Knit! I remember thinking this was a woman’s thing to do (that’s how it was back then) but I didn’t say it.

      And one day I visited the ward and all the wounded WW II men in there were knitting, and really enjoying it.They were chatting and laughing as they lay there healing from the terrible wounds they’d received while fighting for a cause in which they dearly believed. I remember thinking that perhaps these shattered men could maybe be happy again.

      Uncle Richie got quite good at knitting and took lessons from the nurses without ever being crabby, and they obviously liked him.He made beautiful sweaters for his family, even in intricate Irish knit patterns. I don’t know who supplied the wool (back then it was called “wool” and not “yarn”) but the men had enough to keep on knitting beautiful garments until they were able to leave the hospital or until they died, and many did.

      But not Uncle Richie. After five long years the doctors told him his bone had healed well enough for his wife Dot to take him home for good, and so she did. He would need crutches for the rest of his life, they told him, but it turned out they were wrong. Uncle Richie was home for one week when he tripped over a hanger left on the floor, fell and rebroke that fragile bone.He knew in the ambulance that when he next came home he’d be without the leg they’d all tried so hard to save.

      Uncle Richie took great pleasure in showing us his “wooden leg” over the years, laughing when he used thumb tacks to hold his sock up. He found it to be hilariously funny to have that leg with shoe and sock propped up in the corner during their dinner or Bridge parties. We all knew the leg was painful to wear and his limp was pronounced and awful and his gait very slow when he did wear it, but he struggled along on just a cane and sometimes he didn’t even use that. He loved to garden and did not mind dragging himself around his small yard on his stomach by his elbows to put in his plants and to pull the weeds. Uncle Richie never knitted again but surprisingly became a talented jewelry maker.Lying for so long in that hospital had taught him great patience and his jewelry pieces were beautiful, intricate and in great demand.

      All this mellowed Uncle Richie to an extent.He still had his moments of temper, but not as often.He was to be forgiven however, because he went Over There and fought and did what he thought was right.He believed in what he and his war buddies went to do. He never complained, not ever.Uncle Richie was always a proud United States Veteran of World War II.I will never be able to comprehend how much he suffered, but I know I will always be proud of him.

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For the Fallen

(Author:  ©1914 By Laurence Binyon; Researched, Prepared By Mark Crocker.)

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Source: The London Times (1914)
©1914 By Laurence Binyon
Researched, prepared by Mark Crocker

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She Loved Me

(Grandma Sarah Jane Joslin)

Foot piece on an old wheelchair--

     Oft there, I'd fly,

Hiding from taunting words or jeers.

     I'd wipe my eyes.

Seething like fire, in childish breast

     Self-pity blazed--

Hatred for friends who'd disagreed

     Grew in this maze!

Foot piece on an old wheelchair--

     Grand place to pout;

But, wait! Wise old Grandma's eyes

     Soon found me out!

She loved enough to stop

     Such evils ere they'd root and grow.

"Up and out with you!" she'd snap,

     "You have a better side than this to show."

©circa 1950's  Linnie Jane Joslin Burks

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Tennis Elbow

They say I have Tennis Elbow, but I never played Tennis before
I can tell you one thing, my arm sure is sore
It feels like a snake bit me, and that snake is still there
Constant pain down my arm, as for pain, I've had my share

I went to see my Doctor, she sent me to therapy
Now I am exercising, and putting ice on me
I wonder if I'll have to eat Elbow Macaroni too
I wonder how long it'll take, before I'm through

I can feel that pain in the back of my shoulder
With that ice that I'm using, it sure is colder
They gave me a list of things I'm suppose to do
I never played Tennis, at least not that I knew

People have told me, you can get it from many things
Life and its activities, and whatever it brings
Maybe I took too many pictures, and now I'm paying the price
Or played too many games, where I was throwing the dice

I thought I did this, while asleep one night
Woke up and felt pain, like someone beat me in a fight
Or maybe while grocery shopping, my heavy backpack did this to me
Whatever the case, I wish to set this pain free

©Oct 4, 2018 Bud Lemire
                     Author Note:
Not really sure how I got this.
It's been told many people get this.
So now I'm dealing with it. I can still do most things I do, and I am
keeping the pain under control. I just need to learn to rest often,
and keep following what the therapists are telling me. The pain
seems to be lessening to some degree, so it must be working.
Anyone for Tennis? Forget it, I'm taking up Ping Pong.

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Like A Tiny Dinosaur

Like a tiny dinosaur
With fur instead of skin,
A possum wanders
Through its day
Waving a naked tail
Behind it in the air,
Poking a narrow nose
In places food might be.

Not finicky about its fare,
Yet a possum takes great care
At cleanliness, washing
Thoroughly with paws
And tongue when it
Has eaten, grooming
Every hair into its spot.

Possum forebears
Roamed the Earth
When real dinosaurs
Had newly disappeared,
Surviving fifty times as long
As we naked apes can claim.

And yet we sneer at them,
We who may
Their home
And ours.

©2018 John I. Blair, 10/13/2018

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On President Kennedy's Funeral

The drums, the drums
     The muffled drums.
Move on, move on
     The muffled drums.
Death walks ahead,
     Grief rides behind.
Move on, move on
     The muffled drums.

We walk in dark,
     Who takes his place?
It does no good
     To stop the pace.
Move on, move on
     The muffled drums.
Keep marching, marching,
     Muffled drums.

Our terror grows
     Who'll stop it now?
Our frightened minds
     Keep wondering how.
The drums, the drums,
     The muffled drums.
They beat upon my heart
     The drums.

©November 24, 1963 Linnie Jane Joslin Burks

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Over and Out

I’ve seen much of this world
From the inside and inside out
All bundled up and curled
Voices encouraging me to shout
Over and out

I’ve stood my place in time
From the moment the sky began to cry
Living with the undefined
Keeping my place in line
Time after time

Do you think things are okay like this
Or do you think we should fight and resist
Do you think this world is in a better place
What are we leaving for the future of the human race

I’ve seen much of this world
The territories within our hearts
Spinning in this funnel and whirl
We are the makers before we depart
From the start

Climate change
Can you spare some change
The world in a rage
Coming of age

What are we leaving for the future of the human race
What is the plan for our generation to save face
Once we arrive to our new home deep in space
What will be left here that we never could replace

I’ve seen much of this world
From the inside and inside out
All bundled up and curled
Voices encouraging me to shout
Over and out

©10/18/18 Bruce Clifford

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As Days Grow Dark

As days grow dark
Air chills
And birds flock
I dream of daffodils

In my heart
There will be
Many silent nights

Before the light returns
And summer sun
Burns away the fear
We may feel at end of year.

©2018 John I. Blair 10/12/2018

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Snowflakes swirling earthward,
     Spin down silently;
Yet they weave a magic
     For the world to see.

Millions gravely labor,
     As day follows day,
Lives of men to brighten
     Cleanness to display

Yet, in half an hour,
     See, our world can be---
Tucked in with a blanket
     Of shining purity!

©circa 1940's Linnie Jane Joslin Burks

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I'm Afraid Of Needles

I'm afraid of needles, I look the other way
Wishing it was over and done, and it was yesterday
They need to take some blood, I hope they get it right
Jabbing me more than once, gives me such a fright

At first, it's just a little prick
I start a conversation, and it does the trick
Before you know it, a cotton swab is in place
You can see relief, written all over my face

I'm not the only one, who fears needles like I do
There are many of us, and I know this is true
I know, for sure, that it's all in our head
Calming words can help us, with what's being said

Distractions, keeps our mind from fear
Soothing are the words, that we always hear
Thoughts that are positive, help us make it through
These are things, that may work for you

Life can bring us many things, that can bring on fear
Some cause us so much, they bring on a tear
But if we believe, that everything will be okay
Positive thoughts, will bring us to a better day
© Sept 20, 2018 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
Yes, it's true I do have a fear of needles. But I have
learned to think positive, and it does help. I have
heard of others who I would never believed, that
are afraid of them. That is why many do not go to
the Doctor unless they really need to. I can understand
their fear. But I have found ways around it. Let your
mind wander, positive thoughts, distractions, because it
is over real quick. Then you will wonder, why did you
waste time worrying about it.

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Beneath My Feet

Beneath my feet
Oak wood spreads
Golden graining.

Ancient trees
Gave their lives
So I might tread this beauty.

Due respect
Should mean I care
With cloth and wax;

Instead I roll my chair
Across this space
Day by day

Until the oak is worn,
The graining marred,
The gold stained.

Grant me the grace
That my own glow
Will not be treated so.

©2018 John I. Blair, 10/29/2018

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My Work

Lord, let me not die until I've done for Thee
     My earthly work, whatever it may be--
Call me not hence with mission unfulfilled;
     Let me not leave my space of ground untilled.
Impress that truth upon me that not one
     Can do my portion that I leave undone.

Lord, keep me gentle, keep me still--
     Lord, keep me kind,
Lest I lose all Thy loveliness--
     Lest I be blind!

©Ogbomosho, Jan 1, 1961 Linnie Jane Joslin Burks

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The Limit

There’s a limit
Now you’ve got it
There’s a limit
How much more

There’s a limit
Now you’re on it
There’s a limit
What’s it for

I traveled down to the Southern hemisphere
The world as whole is living in fear
Even when the lions in the den are asleep
We have too far to go, and not far enough to weep

There’s a limit
Now you’ve got it
There’s a limit
How much more

I’ve seen much of the world through a wide eyed lens
Too many restrictions in the rules we bend
The next time around I might give it a shake
Every so often someone is given a break

There’s a limit
Now you’ve got it
There’s a limit
How much more

There’s a limit
Now you’re on it
There’s a limit
What’s it for

Blame it on the Government
Blame it on the deviant
Blame it on what’s relevant
Blame it on the resident

There’s a limit
Now you’ve found it
There’s a limit
There’s the door

©10/4/18 Bruce Clifford

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Hallowe’en Then


      Hallowe’en was so different back in the Mesozoic Era when I was a kid.I know everyone my age says that, but since you’re the one reading this, let’s you and I take a late October stroll down memory lane together and remember those days. Wanna?  Me too.

      For one thing, we actually dunked for apples. As I think back on that action I get a kind of eeeuuw feeling—all of us kids ducking our gross faces into a giant tub of water with floating apples to try to snag one for a promised prize, with just our teeth. The kids who hadn’t gotten braces yet on their Bugs Bunny incisors usually won that one although the rest of us complained loudly about the unfairness of it all. I had (and still do have) semi buck teeth and so learned how to shove an apple against the side of the cauldron and snag it before I drowned, and would happily haul it up and out harpooned on my front teeth, hair and shirts dripping, gakking up water and apple, all to win a bag of stale corn candies obviously saved from last year.  But, after all is said and done, it really was fun.

      Then the parents had another apple game. What was it with all those apples back then? Oh yeah, it was apple season. This time the apples were suspended on long strings from a door frame and we kids, hands behind us, had to grab the fruit with just our teeth.  Again, the pre-braces adolescents won that one hands,OK teeth, down. They just butted the apple until it swung hard and they pierced it in midair with those large teeth. Again first prize was another bag of stale candy corn.

      Next on the list of hilarious fun? Guessing how many marshmallows were stuffed into a big jar. The kid who guessed the closest won the marshmallows. Back in the day, sugar was supposed to be good for you, remember? We were expected to eat a whole lot of it so we’d have energy. Ah, those sweet-laden halcyon years.I sorely miss them.

      And oh, the crème de la crème of Hallowe’en night games was for all the kids to be blindfolded and certain things were placed beneath our noses. The one who could sniff the identity of the greatest number of those things got the best prize of all —a dollar! Some of the things under our noses would be peppermint, banana, peanutbutter, lemon, dirt, Palmolive soap, Jergen’s lotion, liver, rope, paint, Brylcreem, Dad’s Cutty Sark, an onion, Mom’s Sherry, coffee, Uncle Charlie’s beer, Rinso, and more.  By the time I’d inhaled the aroma of all of those items I quite nearly –- well, I’m sure you know. I held it in.   But all these years later, I still remember how oddly difficult it was to identify those every-day things while blindfolded.

      Oh, did I mention we were in costume? We were, and some of us were pretty creative. Lots of old sheets with holes in them so we could see and breathe of course. We wore our grandfather’s top hats and old tuxedoes, our grandmother’s old evening gowns and flowered hats, and we covered our faces with make-up and our necks and arms with costume jewelry. We made up clown outfits and put on our father’s old military uniforms---anything at all would make a good costume, only they all had to be made from things we already owned, and we worked on them for weeks.  Buying costumes? Totally unheard of.

      Back then we weren’t “kids wearing costumes”---we were “ragamuffins” which are defined as persons in ragged and dirty clothing. The definition had evolved into kids who wore crazy costumes for Hallowe’en.  A parade down Maine Street in the afternoon would have been arranged and we proudly marched, all secretly certain our home-made costumes were better than everyone else’s. The best one, decided upon by a small group of extremely cranky adults, was rewarded with a free dinner at the local hamburger joint and a whole lot of furious glares and “I’m gonna getchu” mutterings from the other contestants.

      And while we all understood that Hallowe’en was supposed to be deliciously scary, no one costumed themselves with plastic hatchets stuck in our skulls, or bloody swords piercing our hearts or as flesh devouring Zombies or famous serial killers or walking-talking-screaming tombstones or dripping bloody-toothed Great White Sharks, or murderous space aliens.  Nor did anyone wear horrifying realistic rubber face masks one could not see out of or breathe into.  I guess our costumes back then by comparison were pretty bland.

      We youngsters also didn’t take gigantic empty pails and pillow cases out into the ‘hood to get filled with candy after ringing a doorbell and demanding largesse. No, back in our day, if you wanted a reward, you had to do a trick to get the booty, and it could be almost anything. Non-destructive anything that is. Dancing, reciting a poem, showing cat-in-the-cradle string tricks, reciting the times tables, especially the 9 ones, reciting the Gettysburg Address, stuff like that.   For reasons I’ll never fully understand, I’d confront the families in their doorways holding the candy, or doughnuts, lollypops or whatever, and I’d sing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” to them.I was cute and curly-headed back then, and really milked it, letting my not-so-great singing voice wobble endearingly while grinning up at the adults with what I just knew was my most adorable Huckleberry Finn buck-toothed smile. It all paid off—these kind folks would listen to my warblings all the way to “And may all your Christmases be whiiiiiiiite!” (A tiny sob here worked well.)I’d be rewarded with taffy or chocolate kisses or Chiclets, and yes, more apples.  But best of all were the Indian Head pennies those kind folks gave out. Oh how I wish I’d saved those. Had I done so, I’d be living in ----well somewhere expensive. And warm.

      We never did any damage to homes or cars, except for soaping a few windows and maybe wrapping just one roll of TP around a tree or shed or something. Shooting out street lights with Daisy Air Rifles was for Juvenile Delinquents, but not us. Oh no.

      Some parents made their children give up their candy to kids in hospitals, but the smart ones hid a stash somewhere—pockets, an old tree trunk, shoes or boots. Not that they didn’t want to be kind to kids in the hospital, but they reasoned if those kids were sick they probably should not have been fed candy anyway, so they were actually doing them a kindness.

      We’d then head finally for our respective homes, exhausted and happy, and we’d put our ragamuffin outfits in a box in the attic for next year, even knowing we might be too big for them the following October.  And we secretly feared we might eventually even be too big ourselves for any beloved Hallowe’en shenanigans. But never in our hearts.  No, never in our hearts.

      Contact LC at Her newest book “Queenie” is at local bookstores and on Amazon.

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

My Experience with a Possessed Person

It’s the season to re-tell this experience:

    About 10 years ago I had a job which required an hour commute downtown by train one way, and an hour back. I would usually use this time to meditate, pray (silently), ponder etc.

    One day about a third of the way into my trip, I had my head bowed in silent prayer. As far as anyone around me knew, I was probably napping. After finishing prayer I would usually visualize drawing in all the positive energy I possibly could and then image that what ever my spirit didn't absorb of the energy I would shoot out around me to all those in my physical area to be able to enjoy.

    A woman came into the train at the 1/3 point and of course, even in prayer one can take in background noise etc. She sat directly behind me, back to back. As the train rolled along various people would try to interact with her but would be met with some odd remark or behavior that would cause them to find other seating. So at the end of my prayers and visualizing, I did what I usually do; imaged shooting out any excess positive energy to those around me. As I did this, I heard this woman behind me say, "Stop it! You're burning me!"

    No one on the train had a clue as to whom she was addressing. At that point I didn't know it was me but I thought, 'I wonder?' .....since it happened almost simultaneously with me sending out positive energy, 'if it might have BEEN me'. So I decide, being curious, to do it again and see if the same reaction would happen and indeed it DID. Now mind you, the woman did not look at me, didn't change positions to address me, didn't move in any way other than to once again yell out, "STOP IT! YOU ARE BURNING ME". Now I was close to being convinced that it probably was me, but to be absolutely sure I did it one more time and once again, came the same reaction but more loudly and forcefully. I was sure that in my putting positive energy out there, it was affecting her, it had to be, because she'd react each time at only that time.

    Eventually her stop came which was just before my own and since she never even looked at me or addressed me I was highly curious and got off at her stop. I was walking about 2 yards behind her and again, she didn't see me get off the train, and didn't look behind her at all but was screaming, "Don't FOLLOW ME!!!" I knew it was addressed to me, and as I quickened my pace she also yelled out that I had "Better not BURN her again". So, I ran ahead of her to actually get a look at her face (Yes, only me, most people would run AWAY but "I" chase the crazy down lol) Her eyes were literally spinning in opposite directions in her head. As soon as I saw it I knew I had looked into the face a possessed person. I had no question about it in my mind. Having satisfied my curiosity, I hung back and watched as she crossed the street. I have no idea what her destination was and I wished I had the time to have continued to watch her and her behavior but I had to get into work.

    On the way home I wondered what it was all about and I came to the following conclusions:

    That it is very difficult for evil to exist in positive energy. It literally creates a burning sensation. Knowing that God is in Glory (a place) I realized that the more we lived a life close to the spirit and our values, the more 'light' (Gods love equals light) we can hold or withstand.

    God stays in one place but where we end up depends on 'how' we live. Those who don't live up to the values we know to be true, honesty, integrity, love, kindness, compassion, etc etc aren't able to stand in the presence of God because they would literally feel a 'burning sensation'.......which would explain why the bible describes Hell, as fire and brimstone. The more you live outside of which you know to be good and true, the further it takes you from being able to stand in the presence of the divine ie: therefore darkness the absence of light. The more we develop our light in living our values the more we are capable of containing and being 'in' communion with that light. This is why the entity inside that woman was not able to endure the positive light energy I was sending out.

    Now we all know people, who just kind of glow, who really carry 'light' around with them, it just radiates and exudes. They are in a positive place, living true to their values and getting a clear channel to the divine. And conversely we have all seen people who just seem to be dark, have no soul behind their eyes.....and that doesn't mean they are possessed, just not living to the optimum of truth as they know it. Possession is different.

    When I looked into the face of that woman, the thought enveloped me, in the way I've learned to know truth, that she was possessed, that there was an entity inside her that didn't belong.

    There are entities in our earth experience who do want the experience of using our bodies for their means. It is my belief that the more we live outside of truth the more we leave ourselves susceptible (sort of hole in the protection around our souls or the thinning of it) for this dilemma to occur. It's hard for me to say that it can happen without our consent. In the case of the woman I encountered I felt like she 'allowed' the entity domain over her body. I don't know why, but that's what came to me. I do feel the possibility exists for it to happen beyond our control but I can't say and don't know how it would be possible or what causes it to happen. I think those would be very very rare cases.

    Also, having the psych background I do, I acknowledge that a lot of mental illness is mistakenly attributed to possession. It's been less than 100 years since people considered retardation demonic possession and we've come a long way and there are still many mental illnesses for which we have no direct diagnoses, that again, could be easily written off as possession.

    However, my experience on that train that day does have me 'knowing' that there are demonic entities ready and waiting for the right unfortunate circumstances to take over physical bodies.

    Moral of the story, live your life to that which you know to be positive, pure, good and true is the best way to avoid any kind of difficulty with these matters as well as being able to grow and expand in our own spirituality and closeness with the divine.

©Bunny Dunn. Used with the author's permission.

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