Thursday, August 1, 2019

Editor's Corner


August 2019

“This morning, the sun endures past dawn.
I realise that it is August:
the summer's last stand.”

-Sara Baume, A Line Made by Walking

August has beckoned since April as some sort of goal to be reached, a promise of some sort. What do you suppose lies in store for all of us? Fall is shortly ahead on the horizon with the hope for an abatement of absolute heat such as July produced across the nation if not the world. Cool breezes, a dream to keep dreaming.

When the authors get their work in for publication in time to relax and enjoy seeing their thoughts, somehow the urgency to get all edited and published evaporates in the heat and what do you suppose happens? The deadline arrives and editing is still being done, slowly but surely and actually with a heavy heart. The loss of friends and relatives of friends has marked July so that perhaps the promise of August is surcease from news of those deceased.

Because of such losses, we are presenting the story authored by Ben Swett, US Air Force Colonel, retired, who passed away July 20. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, August 3 at Bethany Christian Church, with burial at a future date in Arlington National Cemetery. Memorials may be sent to Bethany Christian Church at 7128 Allentown Road, Fort Washington, MD 20744. For those who loved and knew him from his Spirit Web days and his insightful web page, may wish to tender their thoughts of him to comfort his family so here is the link to do so: Ben-Swett/#!/Obituary

Marilyn Carnell (Sifoddling Along) speaks about the importance of food and how its importance and availability helped sustain the Ozarks, and perhaps has been an influence in what it is yet today. LC Van Savage (Consider This) also had her mind on memories with "Antimacassars and Ottomans" while Judith Kroll (On Trek) focuses on the beauty of life and shows what she means. Melinda Cohenour (Armchair Genealogy) zeroes in on explaining how to get the most out of the reports on your DNA matches from Ancestry which can seem quite overwhelming.

Thomas F. O'Neill (Introspective) writes to us just before his return to China resuming his teaching career there. Mattie Lennon, with tongue firmly in cheek, peppers his recognition of drama personages and happenings with a little humor, and shares a recent photo of himself with John Cassidy. Rod Cohenour's column helps the harried cooks with a meal that is simple, filling, and bound to be a favorite - his own Sloppy Joes.

Bud Lemire has four poems this issue: "You Don't Want Your Picture Taken," "What Do You See?," "The Kitty," and "I Love Music." John I. Blair's trio of poems are "Sitting on The Steps," "SmallWonder," and "Speaking." Bruce Clifford shared "The Wind" and "The Loss." Phillip Hennessy's poems for August are: "We Pause," "I've Been Waiting," and "Speak to Me."

Once more we realize how important Michael Craner, our co-founder and webmaster is to our well being, our equilibrium, our dreams. Thanks again, Mike!

See you in September!

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: Back To Basics – Organization Is Key

      As in all genealogical research, organization and methodology is key to transforming Data into Information. This month your author will try to set out a few more tidbits of knowledge gleaned through study, research, and our first toddling steps toward bending DNA facts into Family Tree Knowledge – breaking down those Brick Walls, hopefully! Bear with me, DNA is a complex, scientific study – the very basis of all life and life forms, animal, vegetable or mineral in our galaxy! It is both simple (you match a sufficient number of cMs or centimorgans across “x” number of segments and VOILA! you are related) and complex (the higher number of cMs across a broader range of segments indicates a closer match), and here is where it gets more complex because that RELATIONSHIP can equate to a variety of possible kinships. We shall explore those possibilities this month.

      Periodically, I receive an email that advises I have New DNA Matches. These are always greeted with expectations of new discoveries. My sisters and I and our offspring are very lucky. Our mother, her sister and mother (my maternal grandmother), and my paternal grandmother all had above average interest in our family histories. They collected letters, Bibles containing lists of births and deaths, marriages and sometimes even divorces. They documented conversations in numerous notebooks. They wrote on backs of photographs or notated the space beneath them in photo albums. They visited libraries and other relatives and either hand-copied family information or used the closest copy machines to capture the knowledge. My Grandmother Joslin routinely visited cemeteries and made hand-rubbed copies of headstones, carefully fixing the chalk or graphite pencil to prevent blurring and shared with genealogy groups at home. We inherited photocopied family history books for several of our major lines: Joslin, Bullard, Hopper, and Godwin compiled by a variety of family researchers. And, let us not forget, the age-old oral history method whereby oft-told tales were handed down generation to generation. By these methods, we had a huge advantage over so many others in creating our Family Tree. These formed the basis for our initial efforts at transferring all these arcane items from the cachepot into the very first of our digitized Family Trees.

      Our initial transfer of all this data took the form of mere profile sheets with the barest of vital statistics: birth dates and places, marriage dates and places, children’s names along with dates and places of birth, (in far too many instances also the too early deaths of those children), and of course the dates of death and places of burial. We kept the initial input to direct family lines and the barest of information. We forced ourselves to refrain from getting too far afield reading the “extras” in those documents. We would mark the page and kept to our avowed process of merely marking the page for later review. (Of course, some of these pages were simply too interesting not to dally and read and discuss, you know.) After entering this skeleton of a tree, we then went back through the material to those pages we had marked that contained the real treasures – the STORIES that made these ancestors come to life and become known to us! These stories were then painstakingly entered to capture the history for later generations.

      Later, we discovered the infant Ancestry site. Your author subscribed initially some 30 or so years ago (?) when the available documents were rather scarce, actually. However, the demand for the vast amounts of knowledge to be had pushed Ancestry to send more into the archives of NARA, local libraries, church repositories, county clerk’s offices, and around the world to photocopy or scan documents with dates reaching back into the ages! Ancestry now has millions and millions of documents that can be perused from the comfort of one’s own home – documents that provide intimate details about our ancestors, granting us the opportunity to get to know them, the hardships they faced and overcame, and the tragedies that befell them.

      More recently, scientific research has advanced to the point that the very web of human creation has, largely, been dissected. Scientists first began to isolate strands of DNA and begin the excruciating and decades long study to identify which strands or segments contribute to what formation of the human creature. The work is ongoing, but such incredible advances have been made that DNA is a topic of discussion worldwide, in every form of communication – on air, in print, by word of mouth, by law enforcement and, of course, by those of us hungry to know our own origins. Numerous firms offer testing and a variety of analyses to convey the information thus gained. Ancestry’s DNA testing offers the advantage of tying your DNA tests to a family tree that has been documented and carefully researched to contain names and dates as nearly accurate as possible.

      Early on, after my very first DNA test (my own, in this case) results came back, I was eager to discover HOW these folks were related to me. I discovered the most practical application offered by Ancestry – the NOTE. When you see the name of a Match, click on the name. A screen pulls up that now reads You and “John Doe” at the top. Beneath that: Predicted Relationship: 4th to 6th cousin (or whatever as shown below), depending upon the next bit of information on the next line down which reads Shared DNA: (Example) 72 cMs across 4 segments. Beneath that is a Plus sign Add to group and finally, at the bottom of this heading appears an icon that looks like a page with a corner turned down and the words Add note. (See sample below)

You and henry saldana

Predicted relationship: 4th–6th Cousin
Shared DNA: 72 cM across 4 segments
(+) Add to group
(Note icon) Add note

      This icon for the note (unfortunately, Ancestry does not permit me to copy that icon) should be stored in your memory for this will provide valuable information from this point forward about this DNA Match. In a listing of your matches, those names with the Note icon can be examined by clicking on the icon to bring up a dialog box showing whatever you’ve entered. I always try to enter the Shared Ancestors info if it is available. Otherwise, I examine the tree data to see if I recognize names (which may not have shown up as a Shared Ancestor if either you or your match has entered differing dates for birth and death). For instance, one of my Notes is for a close cousin and reads as follows:

      Marsha Mouck Dearinger, daughter of Billy Mouck and Opal Horton Mouck. SHARED: William Henry Bullard, Great-Grandfather and wife Malinda Ellen Hopper, Great-Grandmother, parents of both our grandmother, Carrie Bullard and her sister Lilvia Acenith BULLARD, our Grand aunt. Many common surnames, of course.
This information appears when I click on the name shown on the revealed Match (there may be initials, a full name, a fanciful name, or a number depending upon how that person chose to have their DNA test show up in a public forum). In this instance, Ancestry clarifies their choice of proposed relationship as shown below:

When two people have a DNA match, it means they inherited DNA from one or more recent common ancestors. The length of DNA they have in common is estimated in centimorgans (cM). The higher the number, the closer the relationship.
DNA Relationship
You and (Test Name) share 255 cM. This table shows the percentage of the time people sharing 255 cM have the following relationships:
Percent & Relationship

69% Relationship
2nd cousin
1st cousin 2x removed
Half 1st cousin 1x removed
Half 2nd great-aunt/uncle
Half 2nd great-niece/nephew 17% Relationship
1st cousin 1x removed
Half 1st cousin
2nd great-grandparent
2nd great-grandchild
2nd great aunt/uncle
2nd great-niece/nephew
Half great-aunt/uncle
Half grand-niece/nephew
13% Relationship
2nd cousin 1x removed
Half 2nd cousin
1st cousin 3x removed
Half 1st cousin 2x removed
<1 br="" relationship=""> 3rd cousin
2nd cousin 2x removed
Half 2nd cousin 1x removed
Half 1st cousin 3x removed

Evaluating DNA Evidence
DNA evidence may support or contradict other forms of evidence and may point to different sources of evidence. Other possible relationships between people should also be considered.

      This section, advising the POSSIBLE relationship shared with your DNA match is the most confusing for most folks. The table above shows HOW OFTEN two people sharing the number of centiMorgans shown actually share the relationship POSSIBILITIES shown after the percentage. In other words, this person is most probably my 2nd cousin, 1st cousin 2x removed, my Half 1st cousin 1x removed, and so on. If I do not recognize the name (typical case since I have nearly 100,000 cousin matches now!!), my next step is to see if Ancestry has supplied Shared Surnames. Click on each Shared Surname and a new dialog box pops up. Look at the names for your match and for your own tree. Any look really close, with maybe dates varying? May be the same ancestor, entered with differing dates of birth and/or death. If I am unable to discern our possible relationship from this review, I move next to Shared Matches.

      Shared Matches shows where you and this particular DNA Match have ALSO matched to other test results. Many of mine now have those helpful NOTES attached. Ancestry displays the DNA Match lists differently on the phone versus on the computer. Either way, to read the entire text of the NOTE, you will need to click the Note icon. On the computer, Ancestry now lists the DNA Matches in a handy table format and to the far right appears the first two lines of text of any Note you have entered for that Match. I can go down the list, clicking on the Note icon where it shows up and try to find a common piece of information. For instance, on the first Match I examined today, I found it highly probable this person with NO PUBLIC TREE (or linked tree) matched to a lot of DNA test results proven to link back to George Hempleman Alexander, my 2nd Great Grandfather and his wife. Now I used the NOTE dialog box to enter that valuable clue. “Shared Matches indicate we are related through George Hempleman Alexander and wife…” From now on, when I see that name all I have to do to refresh my memory is click on the Note Icon to see what information I’ve stored. Unfortunately, since this person chose not to link to a tree shared with the public, I am unable to enter the name, parents, and back through his line to link to our shared ancestors. However, since Ancestry added that neat little sorting mechanism, the customized GROUP with a colored dot, I can add this cousin to my Hempleman Family Line Group with its Blue dot icon.

      Occasionally, the Match is managed by another who does have a tree that is public. Your author will try to find a tree for the Match, either a tree not linked but that appears when the profile of the Match is examined, or the Manager of the DNA test for that Match may have a tree. Take a peek at the tree. Try to find familiar surnames. Make notes if anything causes you to believe you may be on the trail of the relationship. Those notes can always be changed – just make sure the note you leave for yourself makes it clear nothing was set in stone.

      In some instances, Ancestry compares trees to provide suggested common ancestors. In one such instance today, one of my most recent Matches provided this:

Common Ancestors

According to Ancestry member trees, these are the common ancestors that connect you and fre_fas.
View a common ancestor to see the relationship path that connects you. fre_fas could be your 5th cousin 1x removed through:
James Rutledge or Matthew (?) Russell
4th great-grandfather
View Relationship
Ann (Annie) Bryant
4th great-grandmother
View Relationship
Clicking on the View Relationship link opens up a dual path revealing how my Match and I descend from what Ancestry believes to be our Common Ancestor. A very helpful clue, indeed.

      This sums up my hints for this issue concerning translating the DNA Match list for maximum assistance in confirming your ancestral line, and, possibly being able to break down a few brick walls. All this possible from the comfort of your own Armchair!

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

Cooking with Rod

Back to School –
Quick n Easy is the Word

      It’s almost Fall and the kids’ schedules will rule the household, running late to school, it’s football practice, cheerleading practice, soccer, on and on and on. That means it is time for quick and easy meals that taste good and please the palate.
This is one of my favorites –
my version of Sloppy Joes.

      Bon appetit~!

  • 2 lbs ground beef, lean
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced large
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced large
  • 1 large onion, Spanish or Bermuda, diced small
  • ¼ cup raw oats (Oatmeal but not the microwave or quick type)
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ tsp prepared mustard
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 8 large hamburger buns, toasted
    1. Begin browning ground beef in skillet. Season with a bit of the black pepper and top with onion and bell peppers. Cover and permit to smother cook until veggies begin to soften. Add in raw oats to help absorb and hold moisture.
    2. Add chili powder, a bit more pepper, and garlic powder to the beef mixture. Stir well and continue cooking. Allow the meat to brown a bit to enhance flavor.
    3. Add barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well, heat thoroughly.
    4. Cover and permit flavors to blend well.

      Serve beef mixture over open face, toasted hamburger buns. You can offer toppings of cheese slices, sour cream, grated cheese, and the like, but we like them as open face meat on buns.

      Delicious served with baked beans and a tasty potato salad. Potato chips, radishes, corn chips are the traditional sides. Be sure to offer ice cold tea, lemonade, or soft drinks. The kids will love it!

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


Irish Eyes


Chicken, An Anvil
and “The Old Bog Road”

Valleymount & Ballyknockan Forum presented "The Old Bog Road". An evening of music, musing, song and tales in the community hall, Valleymount on Friday 19th July. (See Valleymount Stage at bottom of page.) Local artists included Noel Nolan, Harry Farrington, Al and Zoe Stout, Noel Kennedy Pat and Eugene Flanagan and Niall Kelly.

Local singer/songwriter Barry Kinane opened the programme with a selection of his own songs.

* * * * * *

      Overheard in Ballinastockan during the Tour de France; “Would ye wonder at thim lads giving themselves such hardship. Ridin’ bikes up hills an’ down hills.”

      “Listen. The winner of that will be world famous and will become a multi-millionaire."

      “I know that. But what’s the rest of them doing it for.”

* * * * * *

      The Annual Sean McCarthy Memorial Weekend will be held from Thursday 01st to Monday 05th August. It starts on Thursday with an Art exhibition.

      On Friday, among other events, there is a concert with Ann Marie O Riordan.

      The wonderfully distinctive singing voice of Ann Marie has become so superbly recognisable not only at national level here in Ireland but increasingly on a much wider international scale. Her five albums- "Harmony Handed Down", "Melody in Harmony", "Ireland - Love of my Heart", "Song for the Journey" and ''The Joy's of my Heart'' have proven hugely popular and receive consistent airplay on radio worldwide. She has toured throughout Europe, America and Canada with her band. She felt honoured to perform Ireland's National Anthem "Ámhrán na bhFiann" in Croke Park for an All-Ireland football semi-final in August 2013. She is currently recording her sixth album including songs she penned herself as well as many old Irish favourites.

Details on:
Thatched House in Finuge

* * * * * *

      Overheard at funeral in Tallaght;
“What killed him?”
“He sneezed.”
“You don’t die from sneezing.”
“You do if you’re hiding in a wardrobe and a husband comes home early.”

* * * * * *

      A young Ballinastockan man went into Blessington and in a well- known hardware store he bought a bucket and an anvil. He stopped at the feed store/ livestock dealer and picked up a couple of chickens and a goose. However, he had a problem. How to carry his entire purchase home.
      The feed store owner said, "Why don't you put the anvil in the bucket, carry the bucket in one hand, put a chicken under each arm and carry the goose in your other hand?" " I didn’t f*in’ think of that " says yer man, and out the door he went.
      As he was heading out the Lacken road, he was approached by a little old lady who told him she was lost and asked if he could tell her the way to Ballinastockan.
      “I’m walkin’ to Ballinastockan” says yer man, "ye can come wit’ me an’ we’ll be there in no time".
      The little old lady looked him over cautiously, and then said, "I am a lonely widow without a husband to defend me. How do I know that when we get on the lonely part of the road you won't hold me up against the wall, pull up my skirt, and ravish me?"
      “Now” says yer man “I'm carrying a bucket, an anvil, two chickens, and a goose. How the hoorin H'll could I possibly hold you up against a wall and do that?"
      The lady said, "Set the goose down, cover him with the bucket, put the anvil on top of the bucket, and I'll hold the chickens."

* * * * * *

      Thursday 15th August will be the last working day for John Cassidy from Clogher, County Donegal. An Operational Support Supervisor with Dublin Bus, he will hang up his headphones and leave Central Control after almost four decades. One of the most colourful and versatile employees in the history of CIE he was described by one of his former Divisional Managers, as, “ A most dedicated supervisor. He could grasp the finer points of any situation, was tenacious, logical and innovative and always applied rules and regulations with common sense.”

            John Busy in Central Control
      One of John’s many talents is writing. Patrick Kavanagh said that the Ascot Gold Cup was the only sporting event mentioned in Ulysses so Joyce mustn’t have considered sport very important. But he also said that no one could write a comprehensive account of Irish life that ignored the Gaelic Athletic Association. John Cassidy reckoned that nobody could write a history of CIE and ignore Gaelic games so he brought out a book, “Buses, Trains and Gaelic Games” which records the contribution that transport workers made to the GAA. Where did John’s interest in Gaelic games start? There wasn’t a great tradition of hurling around Clogher, Barnasmore or Clar and even his neighbour Packie Bonner couldn’t interest him in soccer.

      In his memoir “From McGettigan’s Field to Gaelic Park” John wrote , “Like most young people growing up in Donegal in the early nineteen sixties, I dreamt of one day playing for my county in an All-Ireland Football Final. We would listen to the late, great, Michael O ‘Heir as he gave a blow by blow account of games one hundred and fifty miles away. Once the match was over we would assemble in McGettigan’s field and replay the game. Two older boys would select the opposing teams: every one present was included which meant we often played twenty a side. As our pitch consisted of the entire field this was no problem. With the goalposts (four jackets) in place the game would begin. It would end for one of the following reasons: Hunger, darkness or a pitch invasion by McGettigan’s cattle.” And John did play in Croke Park not in an All-Ireland final but in the 125th Anniversary games on 8th October 2011. He was aged 58 at the time.

      There were four charity matches played on that historic day on behalf of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Special Olympics Ireland. And who do you think procured the hallowed ground? Transport Gaels PRO, John Cassidy.
John Cassidy with Mattie Lennon

      He produced a DVD, “ Transport Gaels G.F.C. 125” to record the achievements of various transport teams involved in the GAA since 1886.

      A founder member of CIE Writers’ Group he was contributed to the two collections of transport workers writings, “There’s Love and There’s Sex and There’s the 46A” and “It Happens Between Stops.” In the mid-90s, with colleagues John Brady and Kevin Fitzpatrick, they set up a recycling programme which raised funds to purchase two computers for The National Council for the Blind of Ireland. Later with Kevin Fitzpatrick they rescued from the jaws of obscurity every in-house publication of CIE from 1945 until 2000. This project resulted in a DVD “Down the Decades with Link and Nuacht.”

      Happy retirement, John.
See you in September.

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


Sifoddling Along


Food To Grow On – The Role Food Played
in Survival in The Ozarks

Recently I realized that my parents grew up on farms that were much like the customs of the 1700’s when their ancestors came to the colonies. It took me a while to understand that I was reared in a way that was not all that different – at least in the way we ate.

My maternal grandparents, Lee and Mary Bunch were almost totally out of the money economy – they grew or foraged to meet most of their family needs. Three generations lived together on the farm. My great-grandmother Nancy Miller Bunch and grandpa’s bachelor brother Sam also lived with their burgeoning family. My mother was the youngest of seven children so there were a lot of mouths to feed. They had an 80-acre farm on Big Sugar Creek in McDonald County Missouri. The nearest store was about 3 miles up stream at the well-named Cyclone Post Office.

My grandmother would catch a ride with the mail hack and go to Cyclone to trade eggs, butter and milk for items like coffee, sugar and a few spices. The farm produced chickens, eggs, hogs, cattle (beef and milk cows), sheep, a huge garden, a tobacco patch, (Granny Bunch liked a chew occasionally; Grandpa had a pipe.) fruit trees, greens, berries, nuts and sassafras from the forest.

Their perishable food was kept in a spring house or dangled close to the water in the well. Knowing the winter would be long, major efforts were made to preserve food to keep them healthy. Wheat and corn were taken by a horse-drawn wagon to a distant grist mill. They canned fruits and vegetable, sausage sealed in by lard, smoked hams and bacon, dried fruit on the roof of the house, cracked black walnuts, hazel nuts and pecans for candy and pies.

So how was my early life different?

Not as much as I originally thought. My daddy had a good job as the Superintendent of Schools, but even a good job didn’t pay much. He hunted and fished for a lot of our food. Mom was the farmer of the family and loved it. We also were largely out of the money economy, but did buy a few more items at the grocery store. More items were available due to improved transportation and refrigerated rail cars – coffee, sugar, flour, spices, dried pinto beans, lunch meat, cheese (American and rat-trap), chili that was chilled in a form that made about a 1# brick, occasionally bananas and oranges. We got a mechanical orange squeezer when I was about 6 years old. It thrilled the whole family. Strawberries, cantaloupes, watermelon, apples and peaches were bought in season. Soda pop was a rare treat.

My mom had a big garden and kept chickens for meat and eggs, a cow for milk and butter. She canned and later froze food for year around consumption – We all looked forward to the first hints of green in her garden – leaf lettuce, green onions, radishes (the basis of delicious wilted lettuce in a sauce of vinegar, bacon grease and sugar), tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, cabbage, corn, onions, turnips – even popcorn and peanuts. In addition to the garden, she raised steers (one to sell and one to butcher) and hogs (she smoked hams and bacon in a little smokehouse in the garage.)

Our diets were rounded out by pies baked every week and biscuits, cornbread and other baked goods.

I saved the best for last. Almost every summer weekend, we gathered the whole family for a feast at my grandparents. Mom’s two sisters would prepare the meal; usually fried fish, fried chicken or a beef roast with all the fixin’s. Before the meal, a 6 quart freezer of ice cream was prepared and churned. Daddy’s favorite was banana, but when others got weary of that, a second freezer was prepared with other flavors – vanilla, red hot cinnamon, sour cream peach or nectarines. Those family gatherings are long in the past with the members scattered around the United States, but they remain some of my best memories.

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

On Trek

Listen to the children cry
Listen to the birds sing
The crying children ask for help
While the birdies sing their love.
Listen to the people in despair
Listen to the winds that blow
The people mourn for better times
The wind whistles hope for all

Listen to the animals that hurt
Watch the baby fox play
The animals wait for love to come
The baby fox shows true content
©July 15, 2019 Judith Kroll
                         Author Note:
We the people must stand up now and shout our love
for all to hear. We love enough to make a stand,
yes,change is needed to make man free,
and help the children and animals..BE
Peace and love must cover our earth,
Human-kindness is our inheritance.

* * * * *

Horse and Rider
  The dusk swayed over the ocean,
leaving the waves
covered in sun and shadow.
Each shimmering wave carried
its own voice as it crashed onto the dirt.
Ripples of glitter stood their ground before
heading back to wavedom.

As the sounds of the ocean filled the void,
a muffled clip and clop could be heard in the distance.
Rider and horse became one with the wind,
barely making tracks on a damp sandy beach.
Each being becoming one with the universe
at that moment in time. Their moment,
their time, their center of life.

May we each find our center of life moments.
Horse and rider are forever etched
with the energy they share.
©July 23, 2019 Judith Kroll
                         Author Note:
This is a picture of Christine Cline VanOeveren,
our neighbor, and her beautiful horse, Amir.
They are on a Beach in Oregon.
When I saw the picture, I had
to write a description.
The horses hooves don't look like
they touch the ground. She says,
"I felt like I was flying".

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

Photo by Martin Schuurmans

Consider This


On Antimacassars and Ottomans

      The furnishings we creatures live with, use and own can be very odd indeed. They can look, feel, and even smell peculiar and often can be very queerly named.

      Like “antimacassar,” for example. As I was growing up in a world embellished with antimacassari, I just could never connect that word to those things lying on the backs and arms of people’s chairs like crazy flat flowers. I thought they should just be called “those things on the backs and arms of people’s chairs.”

      I don’t know why they were so prolific back in the olden days—which to someone of my seasoning was the days of bustles and stereopticons. Perhaps people back then weren’t as prone to washing their hair every day as many of us do now. (And from the old photographs I’ve seen, I think that’s a pretty sure bet.) And, perhaps housewives (yes, back then there were housewives, defined I guess as women happily married to their houses) disliked scrubbing the stuff of The Master’s head off the back of The Master’s chair. And so to avoid having to do that, women, being the enterprising beings they were then and certainly are now, invented antimacassars.

      Back then, the more imaginative housewives created hand-made lace or crocheted antimacassars, often pure white large lacey circles of intricate design placed where The Master’s head would rest after a hard day’s toil, with smaller antimacassar progeny for the chair’s arms. I never could understand how a man with a head covered with “bear grease” as my uncles always called it, could possibly lean back on those works of art, but hey, back then a man was Master of his domain and was allowed to stain anything he jolly well pleased, do absolutely nothing about it, and to complain if it wasn’t cleaned up behind him. Men really had it knocked back then.

      Now, just in case you’re interested, I’ll bet you thought “antimacassar” was a word of some foreign ancestry, right? You’d be wrong. “Anti” of course, means against. “Macassar” was the name of a brand of somewhat viscus hair oil back in the day. So, you get it? It meant being against Macassar bear grease that stained the overstuffed furnishings in the good and bad parlours.

      In the less creative households, antimacassars were made from the extra yardage left over after the little woman had finished re-upholstering The Master’s chair. Now lest you think I’m suggesting everything back then was male dominated, you should know that women were allowed to have antimacassars on their chairs too, and they did. But these kinds of made-to-match antimacassars could be removed and washed when the bear grease became so soaked into them it could first be squeezed into a jar and used to oil those annoying squeaking screen door hinges. Back then, a good housewife was only doled so much lucre by The Master and thus squirreled away what she could, enough to secretly squander a bit for a bottle of something French to share during a spirited weekly game of Whist or Mahjong with the girls. Getting one’s self a bit bibulous on those afternoons could be forgiven the ladies back then, considering their staggering daily work load and, of course, having to deal with the dude they’d married.

      And there was another piece of home furnishing whose name I always puzzled about; the ottoman. It was a big, square stool for the feet, usually positioned in front of The Master’s chair, (you know, the one with the antimacassars all over it.) Or it was an extra seat usually for the younger people in the room, a backless, armless, upholstered square cube often on rollers. They were wonderful projectiles when shoved violently with the soles of the feet from a sitting position into the path of an approaching sibling. But during those brief periods when sibling rivalry was in a state of truce, ottomans were fabulous carts upon which to take turns throwing one’s self, belly down, arms spread, to careen wildly across the room and crash into something preferably valuable. They were great toys when the adults were absent the room, but “ottomans?” Wasn’t that an empire or something? I wonder if back then it was what the people in that empire liked to sit upon, as for example, the Japanese used to and still do enjoy dining while seated on the floor about the table. Did the Ottomans prefer to be seated on those low, padded stools while they dined? Or chatted? Or thought deep thoughts? Actually, were there any Ottomen ever? I looked it all up.

      Here’s the definition; spelled with a small o, ottoman means the footstool indeed, but it’s a French word. However, change that o to O and it means a Turk from the tribe of Osman. Add the word “Empire” to Ottoman and you have a vast Turkish sultanate of southwest Asia, northeast Africa and southeast Europe, founded in the thirteenth century by Osman I, who I guess enjoyed resting upon the things. Maybe he even invented them. I’m afraid that piece of information has been lost to the mists.

      So there you have two furnishings with strange sounding names, although they’re useful things to own, I guess. I mean it’s comforting after a hard day at the mines to lean one’s greasy head back on an ottoman and put one’s feet up on an antimacassar, right? No, wait---that’s---never mind.

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I have always attributed my sense of humor to the experiences of growing up and listening to my paternal Grandfather’s numerous and not to mention humorous stories. Like him I too love making people laugh, especially, when it comes to my students.

My late Grandfather had many gifts, and one of his great gifts was his ability to bond with others through his remarkable talent of storytelling. His stories were extremely entertaining and as a teacher I try to incorporate humor in my lesson plans. It’s a great way of engaging my students and helping them focus on whatever lesson is before them.

I like to tell people “those who laugh well live well” and “laughter is the shortest distance between people.” People who are humorous seem to be more successful in life. I am including a link to an article I came across that explains the benefits of having a well-developed sense of humor - I think you will enjoy reading it: A sense of humor could mean you're healthier happier and smarter 2017
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (410) 925-9334
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    Skype: Thomas_F_ONeill

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Tribute to Honor Ben Swett

This is an encore piece in honor and as tribute to Ben Swett, its author. Ben passed away suddenly this July, leaving many grieving his absence. A brilliant man, retired military, will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery this Fall. When my late sister Jacquelyn MacGibbon and my late mother Lena Carroll travelled to Ontario, we went thru the D.C. area, and Ben facilitated a get together with other former SWC chatters so that we were able to meet in person many we had chatted with online for years. He was caring in that way, wanting people to relax and share memories. He will always be a large part of my memories.

A Warning

During the last semester of my senior year at the University of Arkansas, I arranged my schedule to have no classes on Saturdays or after 3 pm on Fridays, so I would have enough time go see my fiancée on weekends. Wyn had graduated the year before and was working in Houston, so these trips were three hundred fifty miles each way. I didn't go every weekend, but I did go fairly often.

One Friday afternoon when I came home to change clothes and pick up my things before leaving, Mom seemed a bit glum as I went through the kitchen to my room. I got cleaned up and came back to the kitchen with my shaving kit and overnight bag in hand. She said, "There's something about this trip..."

All of a sudden I wasn't in such a hurry.

She said, "I had a dream. And I keep thinking it's about this trip. There's a crash. It's bad. I don't think you're in it, but you easily could be." She paused for a moment, gazing into the distance with that smooth expression she gets when she turns her mind in on itself. "It's like this: You can't see. It's very dark and you can't see. That's where the danger is. The dark isn't the danger, itself, but they come together. There's a crash ... several crashes ... brakes squealing ... and a bus where it doesn't belong. There is a bus that is somehow ... out of place."

I said, "It's going to be dark before I get there."

"No ... it's more than that. I can't think why it should be so dark ... worse than fog ... but anyway, that's the sign. Be careful, and have a good time. Tell Wyn hello for me."

"Okay," I echoed the universal chant of youth-in-a-hurry, "I'll be careful." I gave her a hug and headed for my car.

All the way from Fayetteville to Fort Smith, I kept Mom's warning in mind, easing my way around the serpentine twistings of U.S. Highway 7l considerably slower than usual. After that I forgot about it for longer and longer periods, and eased up to my normal cruising speed. I had made this trip enough times to have it down to an art. I knew the top safe speed for every turn and just where to start closing on the guy ahead to be ready to pass him when the road straightened out.

I was well aware of the little town where a sign said the speed limit was sixty, and half a mile farther, around a tree-blind curve, sat a stop sign and a bloodthirsty cop in a souped-up Oldsmobile. That little set-up cost me a night in jail once. And I knew I could make the trip with only one stop for gasoline, toilet, a hamburger and coffee at the state-line station in Texarkana.

Twilight and then darkness caught me just out of Texarkana. The moon came up to my left ... a full moon ... a big, fat, gold lamé moon ... and right about then my mind went skittering along the miles ahead, outracing the eighty miles per hour shown on the speedometer. I was not thinking about my mother.

It was easy driving. The road was as straight as a pool cue, with wide ditches on both sides, bordered by the Big Piney woods. Like a study in perspective, every line went to the vanishing point, just to the left of the car's hood ornament. A good place to get yourself hypnotized if you're not careful.
Suddenly, without knowing why, I popped out of the reverie. My right foot came down hard on the brake pedal. Something was wrong. What? The sky was clear. No other cars were close to me. Still seeing no reason for alarm, I held pressure on the brake just below enough to make the wheels skid.
Then I saw it. Across the road, spoiling the symmetry of the lines of perspective, was something dark gray ... like a curtain. I saw the tail-lights of a car ahead of me go into that curtain and disappear. This is it! Danger! I did not want to go into that curtain. I pulled off the road onto the shoulder and came to a complete stop.

Why? What is this? It looked like something out of a science-fiction story: a curtain hanging across the road. The top of it was at the same level as the tops of the trees. I could see stars above the top of that dark gray area, but nothing at all through it ... no tail-lights and no oncoming headlights.

A wisp of gray reached out and swirled around my car. Smoke! Wood smoke. But Mom said the dark was not the danger, only the sign. Should I go on now, slowly?

Just then, out of the darkness ahead of me came the terrible sounds Mom must have heard in her dream: a screech of brakes, a death squall of tires, terminated by a crash whose concussion was almost visible. Then another squeal of brakes, higher than the first -- a short, shrill sound that ended with a metallic explosion. "Good God!" My mind flicked out the words: "Chain collision."

The next squall was tortured, staccato, the mark of an expert driver popping his brakes and letting them off to break the skid. It stopped as abruptly as the others, but with no crash. "Made it!" I thought. "He made it!"

In the next second, a great dark shape hurtled up out of the ditch on my right, across in front of my car, slewed onto the highway, and lurched to a stop. I jerked my head back so hard I nearly broke my neck. It was a huge Greyhound bus.

The realization flashed in my mind of what that bus driver must have done. With the weight of his bus and the speed he was traveling, he had no chance to stop when he heard the chain collision happening right in front of him. He went to his left, somehow got a glimpse of the wreckage filling the road, and made a split-second decision. With his own life and the lives of his passengers depending on him, he turned farther left, off the road into the ditch, went through the bottom of the ditch, made a skidding right turn on the far bank, and came roaring back through the bottom of the ditch and up onto the road.

"God bless him," I thought, "He played guts ball on that one!"

I met the shaken, teeth-chattering driver half-way between his bus and my car. "You were stopped!" He yelled.

"When I saw you I thought you were gonna hit me for sure." I pointed past him and yelled, "Run! Stop traffic!"

He went that way and I went the other, as hard as we could run. I went into the smoke, to my right around the piles of smashed vehicles -- the truck carrying logs that stopped when he ran into the smoke, the second log-truck jammed into the logs on the first truck and nearly buried under its own logs, and the sedan stuffed under the logs on the second truck -- and then out of the narrow band of smoke into the moonlight.

I sprinted about a hundred yards before the next car came along. He managed to stop short of the smoke -- after making me jump out of the way as he skidded past. The bus driver did as well on the other side of the smoke-screen, and there were no more tragedies on that particular stretch of Texas highway that night.

Pretty soon there were a lot of people around, plus several police cars, wreckers and ambulances. The passenger in the sedan was killed instantly, but the driver was alive. A state policeman crawled under the second truck and cut the chain with a hacksaw to release the logs before the medics could get the two men out of that truck. They were badly injured but alive.

It took almost three hours to clear the road so cars could get through, because the wreckers had to drag each log out of the pile endwise before it was safe for a bunch of men to roll it into the ditch.
After I was on my way again, I remembered why I stopped short of the smoke. I tried to figure out precisely where I would have been, except for Mom's warning, but there were too many variables. I also wondered -- and still do -- how a dream could preview a future event. I know it happens, but I don't know how it happens.
Ben H. Swett copyright April 1955 URL  

We Pause

We Pause,
For Thoughts…,of the Future, it seems,
For "possible Outcomes" and Beautiful Scenes,
Where the Victor retires, serenely, in Safety,
(though troubled, 'within'), Away, from the Crazy,
Away toward Sanity, so desperately expected,
as a suitable Prize, or Award, for existence,
in an Age of supposed Wisdom,
gained fruitfully and Gracefully,
from Generations Past, who Dared
to stake their entire Lives
and even Families, Friends
Forsaken, never, Well, Maybe,
Though not Forever,
and Ever, Amen….
On bright, sunny days, and wonderful nights
Our senses, amazed, such beautiful sights,
and Sounds, so enchanting, those colour-filled Dreams
and movie-star Images, such Bravery, screened,
within the multi-dimensional theatres of our Minds,
and the thunderous Applause of those we may have wished
some misfortune or other, to stumble upon the Humility
And the Humanity, Discovered, with Respectable Admiration
That when the "chips are Down", then, well at the very Least
Our Dignity remains intact, the frayed edges, of which
we tenderly flutter, like the white flags of surrender
against the Warriors, that we Imagine,
seeking our obedience to some Cause
to which we have small,
though truthful sympathy
For Ever, the Empathy,
Etching indelible scars onto Hearts,
Broken, into pieces held together only with the
Belief that Faith is the glue, the semen of the Gods, so
wondrously placed within the Womb of misconceptions,
fertilised with Courage and Trust, That, at the
END, the very, very end of our Life, we shall be
content the Achievements we Respected
(that, within the minds and the faces
of others, we detected
some kindness that we
for compassion)
were Honourable,
and Just..
©June 2009 Phillip Hennessy
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You Don’t Want Your Picture Taken

So you don’t want your picture taken
No worries, it’s not my camera you’d be breaking
Are you so caught up in your self-ego
Yet there are some other things to know
We want the picture we take of you
So we can look back on someone we knew
Try to see it from our point of view
We love you enough so we need one of you

You’re part of the family, and you’re a friend
And when it comes time for your life to end
We can look back with happy memories
Of a special person with wonderful stories

It’s not all about you, it’s about us
Giving and sharing, with a little trust
You don’t have to keep your own picture, there’s no pressure
But we’d love one to keep, because the one of you we treasure
Step outside worthlessness and see
You are part of this great family
So special and unique in your own way
In the family photo we’d like you to stay

So, you don’t want your picture taken
Think about the historic moment you’ll be making
Be a part, but don’t be apart
Everyone is their own work of art
©JULY 12, 2010 Bud Lemire
                           Author Note:
Each one of us are made special and unique,
so we aren’t the same. Beauty comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes
beauty can not be seen, but comes from the inside. Sometimes
life distorts our own view of ourselves, and
we find ourselves wanting to be left out of photos.
We must look at ourselves at these times, through the eyes of
the photographer. Why would they want a picture of me?
Could it be they see more to you than what you see as yourself?
I am sure they do. Look again at yourself, you were made to be special,
and that is how you became YOU.

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She’s speaking to me all the time,
She, her sister, and her cousin,
Using the only words they have.

She speaks not only with her mouth
But with her entire body,
Twisting it this way, that way,

Waving her tail around,
Punching her head
Into my willing side.

I don’t know what she’s saying,
Or at least I’m seldom sure, yet
I think I understand the basics:

Some directed toward
How I rub her ears, her neck,
Some a choice of snacks.

To be fair, I too am speaking
With my mouth
And with my body;

Caressing hands,
Curved back,
Crooning voice.

We’ve been doing this for years;
Our two species for millennia;
No major breakthrough yet.

But I think we manage
Well enough
For our purposes and needs.

©2019 John I. Blair, 7/6/2019

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What Do You See?

In my life, at one point, I wondered who I could be
Wandering to the Island, I asked myself “What Do You See?”
So many people never take the time to see what is there
There are so many people that go unaware
I found peace within, and myself, on one quiet day
And the beauty I found, took my breath away
In a world so rushed, no one takes time to look
It's like reading one chapter, in a very large book

You're only getting a small part, of what's really there
When, what you aren't seeing, is found everywhere
On that quiet day, I was looking for me
But I found so much more, that I could see

I let myself become one with nature, and to my eyes
Came the joy within, and that was quite a surprise
If you slow down from life, and take time to be
Wherever you go, there will be much more to see

You see, I found myself, and yet so much more
Because I saw things, that I never noticed before
If you should ever ask yourself “What Do You See?”
Ask yourself “Is There More That You Can Be?”

©July 7, 2019 Bud Lemire
                      Author Note:
Growing in many ways, is seeing more than you did
before. Noticing things, being perceptive. I was quite
surprised to see things that have always been there, but
because I wasn't paying attention to them before, I saw
them now. Because of that, I was in tune, and would
always see them from now on. Do you see what I see?
What do you see?

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Speak to Me

Don't Love the Man you think I am
Love the Man I want to be
Dont look back and see this child
Dream.  See what he can learn to be

Speak to me with your eyes
not your heart
Love me gentle with your soul
not your heart

Let me hold you
in my hand
Let me take you...

Take ME, trust ME
into your heart
speak words of Love

From your Life
and let the smell of you
blow like wildflowers
all around

©2/22/2009 Phillip Hennessy

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The Loss

The few of us who march on
Those leftovers who carry on
For those who died and left someone behind
Missing links of the sub-divide

The few of us who gained a new
Each broken trust and points of view
Many have fallen, but some marched on
Feeling the loss, yet still carry on

The loss is felt in the heart
The loss is felt by many
The loss can’t go away
The loss never comes gently

The loss is seen all around
The loss turns lives upside down
The loss won’t fade away
The loss forever stays

The few of us who knew them
Those who really got to know them
Those who were really believed in
Time never stands still

The loss is felt in the heart
The loss is felt by many
The loss can’t go away
The loss never comes gently

The loss is seen all around
The loss turns lives upside down
The loss won’t fade away
The loss forever stays

The few of us who were there
Those fortunate enough to care
For those who are gone and no longer here
The loss carries on and on I fear

©7/13/19 Bruce Clifford

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I've Been Waiting

I've been waiting
I've been waiting, for tonight
I've been waiting,
I've been waiting, for Time, to be Right

I've been dreaming,
I've been dreaming, for tonight
I've been dreaming,
I've been dreaming, (This Dream), every night.

Now my Wait is Over,
My Dream has come True
That Time is the present
And I'm here, with You

What words can express,
what a Glance could not do,
how lovely it is, to look,
and see You.

Talking to me, and interested, too
As I am, for you, and how you, became You
This moment tonight, it is captured in Time
At least, for the Present, your attention is Mine.

Now, what should One do, at moments like these..?
Should we Follow, the Dream, should we Flow, feel at ease,
Should we Beware, of what could go Wrong,…?
Or Dance to the Music and then, sing along

Well, You're only Here Once, or so I am told,
So no Reason why, we should stay in the Cold
It's Easy, you see, when Truth, it is Out
When Spirits Arrive, then "Greetings", we shout.

The "waiting", now over, our Time has arrived
The Wisdom of Experience, never denied
The Journey continues, within, and without
The company of Friends, a shelter, no doubt.

I've been dreaming,
I've been dreaming, for tonight
I've been dreaming,
I've been dreaming, This Dream, every night.

©May 2009 Phillip Hennessy

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The Kitty

Young and playful with so much energy
Innocent and new, and so carefree
Exploring this new world with so much zest
Taking it all in and doing his best
Under the furniture, up on the chair
You’ll find this Kitty…everywhere
It won’t stop if there’s more to explore
Expect the unexpected, because you’ll get more

Going through the teething with his little bite
So little yet, that he sure feels light
But he’ll grow to be big, just like that paw
From the size of it, he’ll grow bigger than his Maw

With his appetite, he’ll stop to eat from his dish
No doubt in time he’ll be thinking of tuna fish
Will he sleep on or under the bed?
Or will he just sleep on the floor instead?

Dreaming of the adventures he’ll have as a cat
Exploring this world, wherever he’s at
Letting out a roar, but a meow is heard
He spots a creature with wings, it’s a bird

“So much to learn, so much to know”
“But I’ll learn what I can as I grow”
“These two-legged creatures have no paws like me”
“But the love they give, is the best it can be”

©July 19, 2008 Bud Lemire

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Sitting on The Steps

Sitting on the dusty steps
I feel the radiating heat
From sun-soaked cement

Toasting my body,
Soothing old bones,
Reminding me

I am the universe’s child
Like butterflies and birds,
Flowers and trees.

Everything I see
Links me to life –
Ants parading by,

Bees buzzing, finches
Foraging in feeders,
Squirrels rummaging

In goldenrods, grapevines.
Sometimes I’m moved
To water wilting plants,

Shift caterpillars
Nearer to their leaf supply,
Play at being god.

On this glowing patio
I might pass for god.
I only pray I merit trust.

©2019 John I. Blair, 7/24/2019

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I Love Music

I love music, and it’s music that I play
Helps me through, no matter what the day
And it’s music that I love to explore
It’s what you may hear when you pass my door
Music, gentle and soft as a butterfly in the air
Rock and Roll, that has your feet moving everywhere
Oldies from the past that take you back in time
I have so much music in the library of my mind

What would we do without music, I really dread to think
To us who are human, it’s the Heavenly link
It touches us deeply, right into our soul
I love hearing music wherever I go

It expresses how we feel, with the words we hear
It calms us into peacefulness, when we’re feeling fear
For me it’s like life, I want to explore everything
And feel the feelings, that each song will bring

I surround myself with music, I surround myself with love
While the music plays inside my head, the birds fly up above
I love music, it’s what I’ve always known
I grew up with music, and still love it fully grown
Listen to the music, let it take you where you want it to
I know that is what my music will always do

©May 02, 2009 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
I love music! Mom sang to us as kids, which started the music
inside of us. Grandma played the piano and taught others how to
play right here in Escanaba. She played during the silent film
days. My sister Jeannie played the piano and guitar, and even
had an album out a long time ago. My brother Clyde, played Tuba
and Bass for many years. Me, I love music of all kinds, and can
not get enough of what I love so very much. I write the poems,
which could be put to music. Poems are songs without the music.
I love sharing music and my poetry, because I think everyone
should enjoy them. Life is too short not to enjoy that which is
music to our ears. Let the music play on, and enjoy the
memories they bring.

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Small Wonder

Squirrels on an elm in the sun
See the world at their feet;
A sweet breeze blows;

Blue sky overhead
Hides no hawks,
No other threat.

Small wonder their brushy tails
Curl up boldly,
Shimmering in the sun.

Small wonder their
Seed-stuffed mouths
Seem to smile at me.

©2019 John I. Blair, 7/20/2019

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The Wind

It’s too bad you’ve never seen rain
It’s so sad with ice running through your veins
You can’t mistake all the promises we’ve made

It’s held up tight running from the day
It’s second sight in the corner of the maze
You can’t mistake all this give and take

I’ve been to the corner of the mountain
I’ve sinned, but the mountain still let me in
I’ve climbed every hill of promise
I’ve declined each refuge I could find

It’s so sad when you’re missing in the night
It’s too bad we could never get this right
You can’t create a promissory plight

I’ve been to the corner of the mountain
I’ve sinned, but the mountain still let me in
I’ve climbed every hill of promise
I’ve declined each refuge I could find

I’m in the wind
I’m in the wind
I’m in the wind
The mountain let me in

I’m doing alright
I’m ready to fight
I’m in the wind
The mountain let me in

I’ve been to the fire and the lake
I’ve discovered all the promises we once made
I’ve recognized every moment every time
I’ve centralized each memory as it arrives

I’m in the wind
I’m in the wind
I’m in the wind
Time and time again
Time and time again

©7/10/19 Bruce Clifford

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