Saturday, June 1, 2019

Editor's Corner


June 2019

"It is the month of June,
The month of leaves and roses,
When pleasant sights salute the eyes
and pleasant scents the noses."
--Nathaniel Parker Willis .

Long heralded as the month for brides, your editor's first jump across the marital broomstick was in the direct center of the month - June 15 - but the legality didn't last as many years as the days counted down from the first of the month to the wedding sunrise. It should have been perfect! Parents had married in June and sailed a steady matrimonial vessel as did many other couples too numerous to recount. So, what rocked our boat? Another thing June is known for - remorse, recriminations, roses that have lost their petals, reading. And that's where Pencil Stubs Online saves the day.

Our authors have done their part to cheer you up if you have the June jitters. Sixteen poems have been composed to set your mind into other pathways. There is a story by Barbara Irvin ("Marital Mishap"), and columns from around the world to bring new perspectives to peruse.

Both Bud Lemire and John I. Blair submitted six poems. Bud Lemire's are "Things We Need to Let Go" "The Free Items Table," "Journey in A Song," "The Island," "Polish Poker," and "Cribbage." Those last two are illustrated.

John I Blair's half dozen are: "Blackie", "Ants," "Dreams," "Drive By," "Primroses in The Grass," and "Waiting for Tornadoes."

Phillip Hennessey said this poem jumped into his mind and had to be shared: "It May As Well Be Me." Bruce Clifford penned a couple: "The Land" and "Time Flash." Barbara Irvin's poem for June is "About to Go On." Also in this issue, as mentioned above, her short story "Marital Mishap."  

Marilyn Carnell (Sifoddling Along) discloses the history and celebration of Pineville's Earthquake Day. LC Van Savage (Consider This) confesses how and just how much board games leave her boredl Judith Kroll (On Trek) comments on Free Will and gaining serenity from relaxing in a lovely setting.

Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) shares the info from the newspaper concerning his getting his Bachelor's Degree. When clicking the link he shared, the newspaper pops up a survey which requires one answer as the key to seeing the article about O'Neill and a great photo of him with some of his Chinese students. Mattie Lennon sends his column (Irish Eyes) from the annual Writer's Week in Listowel, while mingling among fellow playrights and authors. Rod Cohenour's at it again with some suggestions for one of his cherished recipes - M's Polynesian Beef Tips with Cilantro Lime Rice.

Melinda Cohenour (Armchair Genealogy) devotes her column this month to doing a tutorial to help our readers struggling on not only what does all the DNA info mean, but how to employ the data into their own genealogy Family Trees.

We appreciate Michael Craner, our co-founder and the webmaster who keeps us in our place in order to bring you the eZine each month. Thanks again, Mike!

See you in July!

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


DNA: Advances in Aid of Research

      In continuance of the search for the adoptive parents of my first husband (found the father, need the bio mother’s identity confirmed now) and the mystery grandfather of my firstborn grandson, Adam, your author has discovered some new aids in that quest.

      Hip! Hip! Hooray! Ancestry has added some new features to its DNA application. So far these features are useful only in the organization of the matches to a DNA test. However, given that my own DNA test has now resulted in literally thousands and thousands of matches (mostly, of course, cousins), any improvement in organizing those bits of data will help turn the data into information. (In case you are not a statistician or analyst who has been tasked with absorbing tons of DATA and trying to make sense of it in such a manner that it INFORMS your management group, organization and analysis is the key. Mere collection of bits and pieces of facts and statistics does not help to form cohesive understanding of WHAT IT ALL MEANS. One must find a way to massage the data, make comparisons, draw conclusions, confirm suspicions, and emerge successfully with INFORMATION!)

      To that end, Ancestry has just revealed the new applications that should help make sense of all those DNA matches! Where did they come from? How are we related? How does this data help me make sense of my ultimate goal – WHO AM I?

      First of all, FINALLY, a way to sort the useless matches from those destined to provide clues: [Straight from Ancestry’s introduction to the new applications:]

      Filter and sort your matches
• Common ancestors - see matches who may share a common ancestor with you based on Ancestry trees (formerly Shared Ancestor Hints).
• New - people that have been matched to you in the last 14 days.
• Tree status - sort your matches by just those with public, private or unlinked trees.
• Messaged - see matches who you've sent messages to.
• Notes - see matches you've written notes about.

      COMMON ANCESTORS: These matches will typically provide a quick, down and dirty “look-see” to aid in building the tree. These folks have done their own research (usually – unless they blindly add every “Hint” or copy others’ trees without discretion) and Ancestry has been able to identify the MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor). This helps in determining relationships. I frequently add the match’s tree data in. That, of course, expands my tree, but why bother with DNA testing if you don’t?

      NEW: These are the ones you will want to check first. There may be a real pearl among these matches – the very match that confirms a relative you suspected was in your line but had no proof. What better proof than DNA, SO LONG as the other person’s tree is well-documented. Otherwise, they may have simply added a (famous?) person’s name into their tree in hopes of that being true. Can’t say it enough – do your own research, regardless.

      PUBLIC, PRIVATE, UNLINKED TREES: For those new to the process, folks who take a DNA test do serve a highly valuable purpose: their DNA helps to further the science of discovering how ALL humans relate to one another. It helps with building profiles of our earliest ancestors, who they lived near, how they interacted even to the merging of their “tribes” and so forth. However, for the researcher seeking to locate a missing link by confirmation of “known” facts from suspected facts, those who fail to link their DNA to a specific tree, or to a Private tree, are defeating the purpose. There simply is NO information to be gained from the research into that person’s documented (paper trails, folks, Bibles, Census records, local, state, and federal documents that are tirelessly scanned and then made available via the Internet) family history. This new sort key permits a researcher to quickly eliminate those matches with little to no chance of providing new INFORMATION. Thus, the serious researcher will want to check those PUBLIC trees linked to Matches first to glean the most data to INFORM their search.

      MESSAGED: Unless a response has been cordially provided, those we’ve spent time messaging in the past are highly unlikely to now help. Forget them.

      NOTES: I am a firm believer in Notating the matches after I investigate them. Why bother to do the work and then have no reminder of what that search turned up?

      Updated relationship likelihood chart Click on the 'i' icon next to the amount of DNA you share with a match (cM) to see the possible relationships and the percentage of time they appear between people who share that amount of DNA.

      This is a helpful little tool. The greater the cMs shared, the closer the relationship; however, the length of the segments, number of segments matched, and cMs shared can be confusing because the relationships indicated could be Cousins OR Nieces/Nephews or Aunts/Uncles. Just another hint to help you figure it all out. (Might be time to make a NOTE)

      Custom groups Click 'add to group' to add any of your matches to a custom group. You can create up to 24 groups, which can each be assigned a color. This is a great way to organize your matches by family line.

      All righty now! Here is where your author got excited. The old Starred match tool was helpful – to a degree – until one had more than one line of curiosity. Then, the Stars sort of lost their significance. NOW you can color code the known lines. I believe I shall code closest Maternal line (Joslin here) with PINK and the closest Paternal line (Carroll) BLUE. Then next will be the grandparents and greats: Bullard, Hopper, Godwin, Alexander, Anderson – divided into diluted color matches to the Maternal and Paternal lines. That, at least, is my initial plan. This may take some playing around to best utilize those 24 custom groups – but WOW! So happy to see this new tool!

      Mother's side and father's side labels Maternal or paternal labels for matches you share with your mother or father (if your parents have taken an AncestryDNA test).

      Unfortunately, DNA testing did not come about early enough to permit my parents to be tested. This still MIGHT provide a bit of help – if I can figure a wise way to fake the data. For instance, having been given some really excellent family histories upon which to build my initial tree, I have a really sound idea of which MRCAs go to which parental line. Stay tuned.

      Updated compare features Click on a match to preview the public trees, surnames and birth locations for your matches. You can also see how your ethnicity estimate compares and which other DNA matches you share.

      Now, this is publicized as though it is a new app; however, your author has been checking these clues when no other info is available. It is marginally helpful and totally dependent upon how well you confirm what you suspect by hard, classic research methods.

      Hide a match Click 'tools' in the upper right corner of the match compare page to hide a match.

      It is possible, I suppose, for a match to be a mistake. Without having encountered a need to do so, I cannot fathom another reason for choosing to hide a match. ??

      Last logged in Click on a match's name from the match compare page to see when they last logged in to Ancestry.

      The most obvious use of this tool is to gauge how “into it” your match might be and, therefore, how likely they might be useful in providing additional insights.

      Interesting how this works in my own family. The tests that match most closely to my own are my sister (Unlinked tree), my daughter (Unlinked tree), my niece (Unlinked tree) and a 1st cousin (Unlinked tree).

      Ah, well. It is a good thing I KNOW those folks. It is NOT a good thing that any DNA secrets their own tests might reveal will be much, much harder to zero in on.

      And that, dear readers, is the DNA tutorial for this month. Keep seeking the leaves and roots to your own trees via Armchair Genealogy!

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

Cooking with Rod


June – Springing into Summer

      Oh, all right. I know. A bit cheesy “ SPRINGing into Summer”, but it appears that is what is about to happen. Oklahoma and surrounding states have been faced with horrific weather challenges this Spring: floods, tornadoes, high winds, HUGE hailstones resulting in lots and lots of damage. We need something to brighten our outlook even if that means more Oklahoma HEAT. 

      This great recipe created by my sweet M should do the trick. It will put a smile on your face while it fills the tummy! And, it has just enough heat to make you reach for that icy sweet tea or tangy lemonade.

      Bon appetit~!

Melinda Cohenour
April 9, 2009

• 5 lbs. lean stew meat
• ½ cup Non-fat chicken broth
• 1 large red bell pepper, cubed
• 1 large green bell pepper, cubed
• 1 medium-large Bermuda onion, diced
• 2 cans Pineapple cubes and juice (about 20 oz)
• 2 cans diced tomatoes (about 16 oz.)
• 1 tomato can of water (use to rinse out both cans)
• Garlic powder
• Onion powder
• Black pepper
• Parsley flakes
• Chile pepper, ground fine (New Mexico style, preferred)
• ½ bottle Ken’s Asian Ginger-Soy dressing

    1. Rinse stew meat. Heat electric skillet to 350ยบ. Add stew meat. Season with garlic and onion powders, pepper and chile powder. Pour chicken broth into skillet. Close steam vent completely. Permit meat to slowly steam and brown. Stir to break into separate cubed pieces. Continue to cook with steam vent closed for about 30 minutes, until meat is evenly cooked.
    2. Open steam vent and continue to cook, permitting gathered liquids to cook down and tenderize meat pieces. After about another 15-20 minutes, add juice from one can of pineapple chunks to meat. Stir well, remove skillet lid and permit meat to continue to simmer in liquids, letting liquids evaporate and meat to begin to brown.
    3. When properly browned on one side, stir well. Add diced fresh peppers and onions. Add both cans of diced tomatoes. Fill one can with water and use that 1 can to rinse out both tomato cans to use all the juice. DO NOT ADD PINEAPPLE YET. Bring to a good steam again with skillet lid back on and steam vent closed. When vegetables have steamed and onions are almost translucent, add pineapple cubes and sprinkle liberally with parsley flakes. Let cook with steam vent only partially open for about 5-10 minutes. Add ½ bottle Ken’s Asian Ginger-Soy dressing. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes. Stir well, turn off skillet heat and cover with lid.
    4. Serve over prepared Cilantro-Lime Rice. Serves 10. 

• 8 cups chicken broth (add water, if necessary, to broth to make an even 8 cups)
• 4 cups white long-grain rice
• Lime juice (best to use the little lime filled with juice found in the Produce Department
• Cilantro, washed, dried, bulk of stems cut off and leaves and top stems chopped roughly.

Prepare rice per manufacturer’s instructions (usually heat broth/water to boiling, add rice, stir, lower heat, cook about 5 minutes.) Turn heat off and permit to sit for 30 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked tender. Add lime juice and a goodly amount of the cilantro (to taste).
Serve rice topped with Polynesian Beef Tips, hot.
Delicious with a simple tossed salad and a baguette of fresh French or Sourdough bread.

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Irish Eyes


Writers week 2019

       It’s that time of year again, I’m writing from Listowel Writers’ Week. Listowel is this year’s tidiest town. The festival began on Wednesday 29th with this year’s festival officially opened by award winning author Joseph O’Connor, one of our most prominent authors in Ireland today. In 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. His nine novels include Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls and Ghost Light. His new novel Shadowplay will be published in June. Amongst his very successful novels is Star of the Sea which was a choice of Richard and Judy and was the highest selling literary novel in the UK in 2002, selling more than a million copies has now been published in almost 40 languages.

       His novels have won many prizes and accolades around the world. Joseph received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin in 2011 and he received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. Joseph gave a funny and uplifting reading of his own work and opened the festival to thunderous applause. President Colm Toibin brought the house down with his eloquent contribution and additional entertainment was provided by “the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion” Liam O’ Connor and songwriter Emma Langford from Limerick. That Listowel legend Danny Hannon affectionately known as “the old pro” was presented with the “John B. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award 2019.” At 86 years of age the great champion of new writing for theatre hasn’t lost any of his wit or drive.

President Higgins at Listowel

      (Michael D. Higgins visited Listowel ahead of Writers’ Week. The President praised Listowel’s sense of community in winning the National Tidy Towns Competition. President Higgins and his wife Sabina were welcomed in The Square, Listowel on May 25th by the Presentation School Band and received a guard of honour from the Girl Guides, Brownies and Ladybirds.)

* * * * *

      Thursday started with a Yoga session, in which I didn’t participate. But the river walk narrated by Owen McMahon covered every aspect of Listowel past and present. The day included book launches too numerous to mention and two dramas The Curse of the Button Accordion and Inisfallen Fare Thee Well were not to be missed. Both were one-person performances; Comedian, Sharon Mannion gave a brilliant performance in “The Curse . . .” and veteran actor Ronan Wilmot was his usual star self in "In Inisfallen Fare Thee Well."

      The Michael Harthett Memorial Poetry Event was a wonderful session. The night finished (late!) with  Poets’ Corner , and open mic session in Christy’s Bar.

* * * * *

      Today, Friday, I once again skipped the yoga in the morning. But the Town Walk with local historian, Vincent Carboy wasn’t something to be missed. Vincent is a walking library on all matters past and present pertaining to Listowel . He brought us in the footsteps of bell-ringers, blacksmiths, painters and shoemakers. Stories of weavers and harness-makers were woven seamlessly into tales of great writers like John B. Keane and Bryan McMahon.
      Two dramas, Red Noise with Owen O ‘Neill, and Life Sucks were both flawless productions. The former is a mixture of storytelling and poetry. The true stories from his own life include an account of how he was struck by lightening at the age of nine. And how he was interrogated by an IRA man with a stammer, (“It was the longest two hours of my life.” )

      Author Christine Dwyer Hickey, as usual, gave a great account of herself, in her interview with Niall Macmonagle. Her latest novel, The Narrow Land, was published to great acclaim earlier this year.

       At the time of writing the festival (one of the greatest literary events in the world) is only halfway through. ( Apart from workshops and fringe proceedings I have counted eighty one events .)

      But before I close the laptop let me tell you about the launch of Farewell to Poetry; Selected Poems and Translations, by prolific poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice. I won’t tell you Gabriel’s age but let me say that I believe he has a portrait in his attic. He pretends that he doesn’t know how many books of poetry he has written but I lost count at sixty. “The poems picked themselves,” Gabriel says of the 164 poems that make up what he threatens to be this final poetry collection.

       “These are the poems that speak to me,” he says and in his introduction, explains how he came to the conclusion that “the job is done”. I hope he changes his mind about saying “Goodbye.”

      I’ll fill you in on other aspects of the festival in next month.. Billy Keane once described Writers’ Week, the first literary festival in Ireland, as, “ . . . a kind of modern day version of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1960s, where everybody is chilled and into peace on earth and the flourishing of the arts and of writing.”

      Which reminds me; “The annual “ Healing Session”, the greatest open-mic session in Europe, if not the world, will be held again in John B. Keane’s on Sunday.

      See you in July with a full account.

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Consider This


Board or Bored, I Hate Those Games

      Were you a good parent to your children? Did you play with them when they asked? Were you a good and attentive buddy? I hope I was. I mean if our boys have been in therapy all their adult lives because they were stuck with a whackbird mother,they at least have had the decency to not tell us. I believe in the no-news-is-good-news apothegm, and I don’t exactly know what that word means either nor how to pronounce it.

      What I wish to discuss today is the board game issue. I simply cannot endure them. I know what you’re thinking;“Well LC is just too stupid to learn how to play board games so she announces she hates them to cover the fact that she’s too dumb to learn them. ”

      Could be. I think it’s safe to say that barring maybe two games of checkers, I have never ever won a single board game in my entire 81 years. Honestly, I just don’t remember anyone ever congratulating me on a smashing board game victory. I know our young sons granted me the occasional mercy win at Tic Tac Toe, but they don’t count.

      Checkers is a bit daunting. I have one of those gigantic cloth checker boards with checkers the size of mayonnaise jar tops, so my never winning can’t be blamed on poor eyesight. One of my perpetually bored grandchildren will sigh and ask me if I’d like to play, I sigh and agree, we set up this table sized checkerboard and after a while my opponent wanders off, tired of waiting for me to make my second move. They hate playing board games with me and I hate playing bored games with anyone.

      I can pretty much rock at Go-Fish but it’s so juvenile for my smart-aleck grandchildren;they just throw the cards on the table and walk away leaving me holding the – well, the cards. I hate that game. It’s just too competitive.

      Monopoly?I know why it was invented; to distract the people suffering in the middle of the Great Depression. Did those sufferers think the Monopoly money was real or something?Or was it just a case of transference?And what is transference anyway?

       I did get to almost win sometimes at Monopoly because I learned that if I tricked someone by distracting him or her, say by throwing one of their shoes out of the window, I could cheat a little while they ran out to find it. Hey, cheaters can be smart too, you know. Sometimes even smarter than honest people. And another thing; have you ever stepped on one of those horrid little Monopoly tokens in your bare feet?Especially the little pointy-roofed houses?Smarts, right?That’s enough to keep me away from that game unless I wear boots.

      We had Parcheesi and even Chinese Checkers too but I was always nervous about saying those 2 words fearing I’d be accused of being politically incorrect. I could have called them Asian Checkers I guess. Regardless, it’s a boring, tedious game and our boys always ended up winging the marbles at light bulbs or at each other’s heads.

      I tried to get the boys to play Hang Man with me (I learned it from a book) but they unreasonably became infuriated just because I’d always pick “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,” as my first word. It’s just not possible to please some people.

      When I was a teenager, my parents decided it was “time” for my younger brother Stuart and me to learn how to play Bridge. So they put up the card table, got out the cards, and we all sat down to learn the famous old game. They then proceeded to get into one of the most vicious brawls I’d ever witnessed, and believe me, I’d witnessed more than a few. They fought, argued, shouted and cursed and came close to exchanging blows over the rules of Bridge. Stu and I eventually slunk away and the ‘rents never noticed. Because of that experience, I stayed with the very difficult Go Fish and Old Maid card games, refused to ever try to learn another and I have kept firmly to that personal vow. Once burned, knowhatImean?

       I’ve got an overflowing Bucket List as many of us have and I know I’ll never get to do most of the things in its interior. But one long wish of mine has been to learn how to play Dominoes. It looked so easy when I was young, always played in the movies by kindly old drowsy Italians sitting in the sun in front of their grape arbors hunched over an ancient splintery table covered with their abstract Dominoes patterns. For the great sum of one dollar, I recently purchased a full set of Dominoes at the GoodWill and brought them home. They are white with black spots and they look so good!Thick, heavy, wonderful!! I thought “oh yes, at last I’m going to learn this game. ”I’m not Italian, not a man and we don’t have a grape arbor although we have plenty of ratty old tables.

      The Dominoes came with no instructions so I thought I’d just download them from the Internet. After three pages of single-spaced directives I pretty much knew learning this ancient game was not going to happen. I mean it takes at least 2 PhDs to understand all the playing rules of Dominoes. I made it through half a page and gave up. There’s math involved I think. This is a game for mega-brainiacs and that quickly disincludes moi. But it’s not a total loss. An enterprising granddaughter made one of those “domino effect” things where she lined them up on end in designs all over the kitchen floor and then pushed the first one down. That was fun. And the delicious, magical clacking sounds they make when they bump together remind me of my beloved grandmother’s weekly mahjong games with her old lady player pals. Apparently, none of her bored game DNA passed on to me.

Contact LC at

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Sifoddling Along


Earthquake Day


I am from “fly-over” country. The Missouri Ozarks are not at the end of the world, but you can catch a glimpse of it from there.
 Being isolated physically and culturally has been both good and bad news. The bad news is that it has been described as one of the most deliberately backward areas in the world. That is an observation that I agree with wholeheartedly having personally experienced the results. The good news is that same stubborn resistance to change has preserved some charming customs and slowed the disappearance of others. In addition, it has led to creativity and innovation. If there is a problem no magician is going to appear and fix it, so it simply requires a “work around”.

Take entertainment, for example. When resources are limited, one has to think of a way to ease the boredom and liven up your life. Men who spit and whittle and women who gossip are reliable to provide titillation stories and the grapevine is so fast that the internet seems slow in comparison. There is always a cousin, aunt, uncle or other relative to spread the news. Artists and musicians are thick as ticks. If not engaged in a practical matter, there is a creative gene that is always urging one to make something beautiful out of the air. As Cousin Gene said, “We have to make our own entertainment.” Earthquake Day was such an idea.

One gray fall day in 1971 Harlan Stark and his partner, Dick Keezer had a conversation. Harlan, an always questioning newspaper man with a degree in geology and Dick a pianist and photographer were looking for an idea to do something fun in the winter doldrums. Harlan noted that there had never been proper recognition of the Great New Madrid Earthquake. By coincidence, that series of quakes began on December 16, 1811. Perfect. The ideas came thick and fast. Make a list of interesting and fun people to invite, plan a short program, find music and….the best possible venue would be Salt Peter Cave high above Big Sugar Creek in McDonald County. I did not attend the original celebration. I was living in Minnesota at the time, but I got reports from a reliable source, my sister, Zella.

The most powerful series of earthquakes known to have occurred in the United States began on December 16, 1811. There is an eerie story about how Chief Red Cloud predicted it was coming. The quake was so massive that it forced the Mississippi River to course backward for 3 days and rang church bells in Boston. The death toll is unknown, but not likely very high in number as the land was virtually empty. Since DeSoto and his men landed and explored the area in the 1500’s European diseases had decimated the Native American population and white settlers had not ventured that far inland at the time. Quakes continued into the spring of 1812, but they were less damaging. Today, the New Madrid Fault is monitored carefully and if it slips it will be a major catastrophe.

The first party was a great success. They managed to keep the celebration beneath the radar for 5 years. A secret celebration of a cataclysmic event. The guest list grew. Salt Peter cave is a local landmark with a large overhanging entrance that was used in a major scene in the 1938 movie “Jesse James” filmed in and around Pineville. It remains the single noteworthy event to occur in the area if you don’t count that little disturbance called The Civil War.

A small hitch happened the 6th year of the event. They got raided by the Sheriff and a Highway Patrolman who had been tipped off that there was likely an orgy or pot party going on when passers-by saw several cars parked near the cave. They clambered up the steep slope to the cave entrance only to find good solid citizens (and voters) having a good time. Not smoking pot, but imbibing some beverages that might have contained a tad of alcohol. No fools, they joined the party and were reported to have had a very good time. The sheriff helped carry tables down from the cave according to Harlan’s newspaper report. The years rolled by and the annual get-together was a steady draw for a hard core group determined to honor and event seldom thought of by others.

Salt Peter cave was not easily accessed, so by 1980 the party moved to Truitt’s Cave in Lanagan. It had been a very successful white table cloth restaurant in the 1950’s, but the owner’s got tired and closed it down. I attended my first Earthquake Day party that year. I brought along my guitar. Others brought various instruments and there were many enthusiastic singers and polka dancers. The years rolled by and the cave became unavailable so Earthquake Day moved to the dance floor of the Shangri La Motel and restaurant.

My husband retired and we returned to McDonald County in 1994. Of course, we were invited to the now long term celebration. I got carried away and designed Earthquake Day sweat shirts for Harlan, Dick and Zella. I ran out of steam and failed to make one for myself, but was proud of my efforts. The shirts were dark green with a profile of Missouri stitched on the front. At the epicenter of the quake (New Madrid, Missouri) I created a starburst explosion. Clever, I thought.  Eventually, the celebration moved to the community center in Neosho as Harlan and Dick lived in Newton County there and it was more convenient for them to make arrangements and the Shangri La had sold and deteriorated into a bucket of blood bar and a motel that possibly rented by the hour.

Harlan passed away from cancer in August 2009. The last Earthquake Day event was a celebration of his life. It was a sad occasion and I was honored to have been a part of a 40 year span of gathering to remember and hail a cataclysmic event and turn it into a celebration of American resilience.

It was the end of an era. The end of a grand attempt to make our own entertainment. So far as I know, no one has been able to predict the next gigantic catastrophe.

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On Trek


We All Have Free Will


The fish in the sea have free will, but we abuse their freedom by filling the oceans with plastic and other garbage.
We kill them and their right to live.
Women have free will with their own bodies - Let them face their maker with their choices...
I do NOT want to face my Maker because I took women's choices away.
If our maker sees fit to give us free will, I have NO right to squash that right from you!! from Anyone, any Animal etc.
A person is gay or straight.. So what!
I personally love ALL people and all Races.
Why do people care so much?
Our maker create only whites?
We must learn to use unconditional love in every situation..
It takes enough energy for me to become fully filled with unconditional love in ALL circumstances.
"Unconditional love moves forward not backward."

The Old Bench

The place to dream, to become who we want to be, to snuggle with kids and pets, to hold hands and share stories with friends, and older souls.
The magic bench that takes us around the world.
The place to read our books either silently or out loud, sharing the words with the trees and birds and the whole universe.
We all have our benches, our private spots, decorated with love.
A place to shake up memories and softly smile as we hit the playback button of our hearts and souls.
Shall I name the bench?
No, let it be honored for what it is and where it sits proudly.
The bench is there to serve us all.

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I just recently Graduated from Lock Haven University in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies. I will let the Lock Haven Express Newspaper explain my Journey back to completing what I started at Lock Haven University over 35 years ago.

The Newspaper article which I have included here failed to mention that I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Don Bosco College in Newton, New Jersey, back in 1989. Don Bosco College is no longer accredited as it was a Roman Catholic Seminary that closed in 1990.

Here is the Link to the Lock Haven Express Newspaper story: Local Student Returns to Complete Degree after 35 Years
    Always with love from Lock Haven University
    Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (410) 925-9334
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Facebook: https:/

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Waiting for Tornadoes

Waiting for tornadoes
Watching for wind,
Rain, hail
This stormy night.

Anticipating darkness,
I light candles,
Pursuing the illusion
Of preparedness.

But I don’t feel safe,
For in my heart I feel
That darkness laughs
At candles.

©2019 John I. Blair, 5/11/2019

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The Island

Many think of the Island, as a place of fishing
Some go there to heal, and do a lot of wishing
Many go there, to walk along the shore
Yet there are many, who do so much more

 When your soul is hurt, and broken is the feeling
The Island is a place to be, to do a lot of healing
When a loved one passes, or you've been hurt in some way
Go to the Island, and spend it there on any given day

Peace will embrace you, silence will be the mind
Let your soul heal, and comfort you will find
Your worries, and your shattered soul, will lessen
Time spent on the Island, will truly be a blessing

You can launch a boat there, or a new beginning
When you're on the Island, your soul will be grinning
I think that's the reason, birds and other creatures go there
There's something about the Island, it has a healing air

Everyone needs a place to go, to make themselves whole
After you've been shaken, and broken is your soul
Come out to the Island, and you will feel
So much better, the peace will help you heal
©May 27, 2019 Bud Lemire
Author Note:
Aronson Island is the place I am talking about. And it
has helped me and many others heal from pain, and loss,
and so much more. There's something about it that does
so much more than what you can imagine. Sure, you can
fish, swim, walk, and enjoy nature as well. But there is a
certain peace it gives you by being there, that heals any
hurt you have that has caused your soul damage. I should
know, as it has done wonders for me.

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The Land

A faint sound came from the land
Where we walk is where we stand
Choose your things to do so wisely
You’re on the land of soul and ivory

Take a moment to choose your sound
On the land you can get around
Each time you take a step towards the sea
You're on the land emotionally

I can hear the land talk to me
I can smell the scent
Time and space are bent

A faint sound came from the land
Walking single file with our toes in the sand
I know it’s hard to find an escape
The land is here for us to take

A cry for help from a distant land
Where dreamers dream to understand
Take each day with strength and honor
The law of the land makes the heart grow fonder

A faint sound came from the land
Where we once roamed and took a stand
A new day comes as yesterday fades
Comes to the land that never betrays

©5/19/19 Bruce Clifford

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Polish Poker

Take out the Sevens, Aces, and Kings too
Deal out all the cards, until you are through
Throw the two dice, add the total of each dice
If you have that number, that'll be pretty nice
Sevens are wild, choose any card to throw in
Doubles mean another shake, and a chance you could win
Be sure to pass the dice, so the next person can throw
So it'll be easier, when it's their turn to go

If you don't have the card, of the total of dice you threw
Others with that card, throw theirs in the middle too
Set up your cards in an “easy to find” way
Whatever works for you, will be okay

It's a fast paced game, and easy to learn
Goes around fast, with each taking a turn
Don't have to be Polish to play the game
Many Nationalities play, it's just a name

Come join us for a game today
You'll enjoy it, so come on lets play
We call it Polish Poker, it's so much fun
It's a game that can be played by everyone
©May 09, 2019 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
I started playing the game with my fellow Senior
Companions, and enjoyed it so much, I had to share
it with the residents I visit weekly. They enjoy it too.
Although there are many versions of the game, this is
the one I learned, and I play it this way. It's a simple
game, and enjoyed by all who play it. Whatever you
call it, I still call it FUN, because that is what it is.

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Primroses in The Grass

Primroses in the grass,

Glowing in the brassy sun,

Blowing in the wild wind,


That whatever you may think,

Pink is not the flag of fragility.

©2019 John I. Blair, 5/11/2019

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Journey In A Song

Every music artist, shares their journey in a song
We listen to the words, and we follow along
Sometimes, it's about an experience they went through
Other times, it's about what they like to do

 It could be about something, they wish us to hear
A message in the song, that comes across so clear
Other times the melody, is worth listening to
It helps us to define, what we are going through

I find it fascinating, the story in their song
Because we listen, and are glad we came along
The song might be imagined, but still it's what was told
We learned it as a child, and we're still singing it when we're old

Sometimes the song has a meaning, that we may never know
The music artist lets us, figure it out as we go
It might mean something different, to each and everyone
Others just follow along, while the lyrics are on the run

Songs are about life, and changes it is making
As we travel in time, in the voyage that we are taking
We listen to the words, and we follow along
As every music artist, shares their Journey In A Song

©April 10, 2019 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
We like an artist because of the music we've come to enjoy.
Their lyrics tell a story, from their beginnings to their ends.
Through the years we follow what they share with us. As time
goes on, their messages change, as our lives change. The story
they were telling us at the beginning, is now a different story. In
each song, each album or CD, there is a theme in what they are
trying to get across to the listeners. What have we picked up?
Do we understand what they are telling us? Or is it a hidden
message to someone else out there in the listening audience?
All we can do is enjoy the music, as they share
their journey in a song.

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Drive By

A friend drove by my house
The other day – he said
To scope out where I dwell.

To his surprise he learned
My house is hard to find
Behind vines, shrubs, trees,

As if it tells of hidden life,
As if that life reflects mine,
Cloaked by leaves;

What was once an ordinary place
Now guarded by a verdant spell
By butterflies, birds, bees.

©2019 John I. Blair, 5/27/2019

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It May As Well Be Me

I didn't Hurt you,
All I did, …was Leave

It wasn't Me, Deserted you,

My Heart, was on my Sleeve

Someone, has to Break the Chain,

the links were Broken, …open Wide

Someone, has to take the Blame

those Words, unspoken, Choke, Inside

Someone, has to Break the Chain

it May as well be Me.

Someone, has to take the Blame

it May, as well, …be Me.
©2019 Phillip Hennessy

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Whom can I call
To share my dreams,
The mysteries
Of my sleeping world,
Frustrations, fears,
Reflected in
Surreal surroundings,
Bizarre events?

Where may I go
For understanding,
Clarity or comfort,
When I wake up in alarm,
Wondering at the harm
I’ve dreamed done,
Puzzling what was meant?

What can I do
Knowing this world exists
Some place inside me,
Knowing it will come again
Without surcease
When there I’m sent?

©2019 John I. Blair, 5/25/2019

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Time Flash

There’s never enough time in the day
Time flashes on either way
No matter what part of the world I am on
Time flashes on and on

There aren’t enough grains of sand
Not compared to a universe we can’t comprehend
There’s not enough time in the day
Time to leave time to stay

How do we get from here to there
How to we fight a war that’s unfair

There’s never enough time to see
The things slipping away from you and me
Each wave that reaches a foreign land
Time marches on where we stand

How do we from A to Z
How do we drift in the make believe

There’s never enough time in the day
Chaos and politics get in the way
No matter how far our eyes can see
Time makes this hard to believe

There aren’t enough stars in the sky
All the casual looks as each moment passes by
Each sound that reaches a desperate ear
Time makes it hard for this all to disappear

How do we get from here to there

©5/3/19 Bruce Clifford

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The Free Items Table

The Multi-Purpose room, has free items for you to see
You never know what you'll find, or what it could be
Come on down, and have yourself a look
Could be almost anything, maybe a good book
Videos, canned food, or even a good old chair
Most are in good shape, or at least they're fair
You just never know, what you're going to find
Anything can be found there, keep that thought in mind

I've placed things there, and they vanished very fast
Things put on that table, never seem to last
As they say, one person's garbage is someone elses treasure
What one person gains, is always hard to measure

If you looked in each apartment, they're as different as can be
Our tastes are our choices, because we value items differently
Just like our tastes in music, or the books we love to read
We follow our likes and interests, wherever they will lead

I think it never hurts, to at least take a look
You might see something, like a hard to find book
You never know what you'll find, or what it could be
The Multi-Purpose room, has free items for you to see
©April 11, 2019 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
I always take a look when I am passing by, just to see
what is on the Free-Items Table. Now and then there
is something that interests me. But many times there
are items that don't. But I find it interesting just to
see what people are getting rid of, and also to find
out who is the one picking it up.

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Blackie dreads the world,
The world he softly
Stalks through,

Unwont to trust,
Striking out with claws
At all he meets.

His midnight coat
Reflects his life,
Not a spot of light.

His bed
A pile of leaves,
Some rotting straw.

When he talks,
All he can say:
“I fear you; feed me.”

©2019 John I. Blair, 5/25/2019

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Things We Need To Let Go

Get rid of things, that are no longer in style
Update your way of life, and do it with a smile
Changes come along, time to change the show
All through life, there are things we need to let go
The TV doesn't work, there's no picture on the screen
Just a light comes on, and it is just green
Time to get a new one, and they're so much bigger too
It'll be nice to get another one, and it will be brand new

My stereo isn't playing, its gone on the blink
I can't play my music, and boy does that stink
Time I get rid of it, I've had it quite awhile
Maybe I can update it, to a modern style

My bed is way too small, I could use a bigger bed
My feet hang out, and I always bang my head
The pillows are good, they seem to be alright
I tend to get a good sleep, almost every night

My headphones cracked, they don't fit right any more
Ear buds are okay, but they make my ears feel sore
Time to get some new ones, this I really know
In life there's always, things we need to let go
©April 03, 2019 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
I fixed my stereo, so I am keeping it. I got rid of my
Entertainment Center, and have little tables. I find as
I get older, I prefer dealing with smaller things. I am
happy with the way things look now. Isn't it true though,
we hold onto things way too long, and we must get rid
of the things when they no longer have meaning in our
lives. Changes occur all the time throughout our lifetime.

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The ants go marching by
Along a metal tube,
Hundreds of tiny beasts,
Head to tail west,
Tail to head east.

I’ve watched them
These weeks past,
Not knowing where
They’re coming from
Or where they’re going.

Oh I can see
The caravan extends
Into a hole beneath
The house roof,
No doubt a nest

Where ant queens rule,
Laying myriad eggs,
Trusting six-legged serfs
To bring food, guard,
Build, mend, clean, dig.

And at the other end?
What deeds of foraging
Take place? Loads of seeds?
Pet chow chomped?
June bugs dismembered?

I could sit here hours,
Days, months, years
And not be noticed
Or simply be avoided
While ant life persists,

If not for each (ant lives
I think ephemeral are),
Then for their myrmex universe
Where I am merely something big
That blocks the road.

©2019 John I. Blair, 5/25/2019

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Playing Cribbage, isn't very hard
It's all about, what you'll do with each card
Will you throw away those, or the other two
What you keep and throw in the crib, is up to you
Fifteens, pairs, and runs, all help to move the peg
It's all about the cards, it's not about your leg
Getting as many points, as you can make
Pegging across the board, with every point you take

It's my Crib now, what will I throw away
Points to keep in my hand, and ones that I can play
I had to break up my hand, what else could I do
Yet, I'm hoping it will work, with the cards I threw

What will the cut be
I hope it will help me
Oh, two points for the Jack, that will work out fine
And it goes great, with this hand of mine

Oh great, my opponent threw away points for me to take
My peg is moving faster, with each point that I make
I'm ahead of her, in fact I might go out
My next hand though, leaves me with some doubt
My opponent passed me by, she's a winner in this game
Having fun in Cribbage, is my only aim
©April 18, 2019 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
Cribbage is a fun game, that depends upon what cards you get,
what you throw away, the Cut, what your opponent throws away,
and how many points you get from the combination of the above.
Some thinking choices are involved, but it is interesting to see what
shows up, and what it adds up to. It's a game that has been around
a very long time, and is still enjoyed many years later.

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About To Go On

“It is almost time to go on stage,” I hear my teacher say.
I have been practicing every night and day.
How come I feel so sick?
Like the tempo of a song, my heartbeat is quick.
This is my only chance.
I must do a perfect dance.
There is no choice but to succeed.
The crowd gives me the courage I need.

©2019 Barbara Irvin

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Marital Mishap

The memories came alive as Lillian Bennington sat in the tastefully furnished living room of her Pacific Palisades penthouse and flipped through the tattered photo album. One photograph in particular caused her to stop turning the pages and stare longingly at the nostalgic moment preserved on film forever. It was of Lillian and her current husband, Garrison Malone. Dressed in their finest formal attire, they posed with their arms around each other as they gazed into each other's eyes. Although twenty-five years had passed, she could still remember when the picture was taken. The date was December 20, 1965, their wedding day. 

Hours before their nuptials occurred, Lillian lay awake in the enormous bed she shared with Garrison and reflected on their six month courtship. The romance developed so quickly that it sometimes seemed like a mere fling rather than a serious relationship. One minute the aging actress was a guest on his nightly radio program, and they were living together the next.

Never one to make rash decisions, she found herself instantly drawn to Garrison, who was two decades younger than Lillian. One wouldn’t have guessed this from looking at him. He resembled a man who was much older. Perhaps this was why she did not mind being seen in public with Garrison. He did something Corbin Chadwick, her previous husband of fifteen years, had not been able to do. Garrison made her forget about getting old in an industry that thrived on youth and beauty.

He wasn’t the greatest lover, but this did not matter to Lillian. Victoria Valentine, a close friend and frequent costar, was shocked to hear her say one afternoon while they rehearsed their lines for a scene in their latest film, “Garrison is nowhere near as physically exhausting as Corbin was.”

“Why are you so attracted to him?” she asked Lillian.

“He makes me laugh, which Corbin never did. And when Garrison is away, I know he is either working or bowling with his buddies. I spent every day of my married life wondering where Corbin was. With Garrison, I don’t have to do that because he would never be unfaithful to me.”

This trust prompted Lillian to agree to marry him when Garrison proposed to her during a walk along the ocean just three months after they became a couple. The weeks of searching for the right caterer and sending out several hundred invitations whizzed by as the important day approached.

Still lying beside Garrison, Lillian's blood turned to ice as the realization sank in that she was about to marry for the second time.

I can get into that stunning red gown the wardrobe department at the studio was kind enough to lend me and walk down the aisle today. I’ll just think of it as a role I am playing, she told herself.

No amount of convincing Lillian did, alleviated the continuous bout of nausea she experienced that morning.

“I haven't felt this queasy since 1955, right before my last miscarriage,” she confided to Gertrude, her live-in maid and secretary of ten years, while putting on her makeup.
“I hope your being ill is not an indication of another impending birth.”

“Oh, it would be wonderful if Garrison and I were blessed with a child of our own. However, I think I am too old to bear children.”

“I should hope so. A woman your age doesn't need a baby. And that man of yours does not know anything about raising kids.”
“Garrison is about to become my husband, Gertrude. That means for life. I wish you would stop referring to him as just another person around here.”

“Forgive me if this sounds rather rude, Miss Bennington, but I'm just not that fond of Mr. Malone.”

Lillian put down her eyebrow pencil and turned to look at Gertrude. “Hasn't he always been respectful to you?” she asked.


“And wasn't Garrison the one who suggested I increase your weekly paycheck by a dollar?” Gertrude nodded. “Then, what is it about him that you don't like?”

“If you insist on knowing, I'll tell you. I do not approve of the way he moved in so suddenly and took over. And since we are on the subject of Mr. Malone, let me also add that the twenty year age difference between the two of you bothers me.”

 “I don’t see why it should bother you. You're not the one who is getting married.”

“I am afraid he will hurt you the way the playboy you picked up in that Paris pizza parlor did,” confessed Gertrude.

“Garrison is nothing like Corbin. He has values, whereas Corbin does not possess one ounce of sincerity.”

“But that didn’t stop you from marrying him, did it?” 

“I was a different person then.”

Gertrude rolled her eyes. Bored with the conversation, she said, “I think I’ll go out to the kitchen and see if the caterers need anything. I will let you know when the minister and the guests arrive.”

“Thank you, Gertrude. Sometimes I wonder what I would do without you,” Lillian replied and resumed applying her cosmetics.

Gertrude found Garrison waiting outside of the bedroom.

“I was just about to check in on my future bride, Gertie. Is she almost ready?”

“The name is Gertrude, and I don’t think she will ever be ready. You’d think she was preparing for the wedding of the century.”

“Lillian just wants to look her best for the photographers. She has an image to maintain, you know.”

“You Hollywood folks are all the same. I’m glad I never got into show business. All of that glitz and phoniness is not for me.”

“We might be glamorous, but we are not phony.”

She ignored his comment and headed for the kitchen.

“That woman is impossible!” Garrison exclaimed, entering the room and throwing his arms up in frustration.

“Is Gertrude getting on your nerves again?”

“Yes. Sometimes I think you should just fire her.”

“Oh, she’s not that bad. You just aren’t used to her yet.”

“At the rate things are going, I don’t think I’ll ever be.”

Lillian, now standing, laughed. “Put Gertrude out of your mind today, darling. In approximately one hour, you and I will finally be husband and wife.” 

“That is the best news I’ve heard all day. I love you,” Garrison said, embracing her.

“And I love you. I fell in love with you the night we met.”

"I promise you won’t want for anything. You are a star, and you shall be treated like one.”

“I am the luckiest woman in the world.”

“And by far the most beautiful,” Garrison added before taking her in his arms and kissing her passionately.

Corbin, looking dashing in a black tuxedo, tapped on the open door. When he failed to get their attention, he cleared his throat and said, “I hope I am not interrupting anything.”

“Only an intimate moment.”

“It’s alright, Corbin. Come in. Honey, why don’t you see who else is here?”

“Good idea. I suddenly have the urge to leave the room.”

“Nice to see you again, Garrison. The suit matches your greying hair.”

And your green eyes go perfectly with your jealous nature, Garrison thought as he exited the bedroom.

“Alone at last.” He shut the door. “You always did look ravishing in red. Seeing you in that gown makes me want to throw you onto the bed and make love to you.”

She blushed. “Don’t do this, Corbin.”

“Do what, my luscious Lillian?”

“Waltz in here and seduce me with your charm.”

“I have no intention of doing any such thing.”

“Then, why are you standing there with that silly smile on your face?”

“I see how happy you are, and I cannot help feeling happy for you.”

“Corbin, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. Thank you,” Lillian said, kissing him lightly on the lips.

But the kiss turned into a full liplock.

Feeling flushed, she pulled away after several minutes.

“What just happened between us?” Corbin asked.

“I don’t know. Suddenly, I’m wondering if I am doing the right thing by marrying Garrison.”

“Are you saying you still have feelings for me?”

“I’m not sure what I am saying. That kiss brought back a lot of memories.”

“For me as well. But I think what we just shared was a tender moment between good friends.”

“You’re right. It was a brief reminder of the magic that used to be. Garrison must never know about this, Corbin.”

“Hey, I’ll never tell him.”

“Good. I feel less guilty now.”

There was a knock on the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s Gertrude, Miss Bennington.”

“You may enter.”

“Everybody is here, including the minister,” she informed Lillian.

“Thanks for letting me know, Gertrude.”

“I guess that means I’d better get out there with the others.”

“Thank you for being so supportive, Corbin.”

“Anything for my Lillian,” he replied before leaving.

She smiled. Who said their love had to end?

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