Thursday, October 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

October 2020

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all." --Stanley Horowitz

So many clever utterances have been and should be said of this season of the year. Even where it makes little difference, still the trees scatter their leaves recklessly, those same leaves they clung to tightly when summer storms drenched them and the winds whipped them mercilessly. And our gracious God showed someone how to make rakes.

We welcome the poetry from an author new to our pages but well practiced in the art of weaving words. Walt Perryman whose bio made this editor chuckle, and whose rhymes bear truth and serenity in their meters, has shared these for October: "Worry," "West Texas," and "Without My Cell Phone."

Bruce Clifford, with more hours at home has sent three poems: "What Are We Missing Here," "Within the Inside," and "The Cost." Bud Lemire has included pictures with his poems:"My Photo Book," "The Year of the Passing,"and "The Kitchen Tool." John Blair calls one of his poems "Another Cat and 'Window Poem," and the other is "Little Miracles." Your editor offers her status update titled "Another Day in Isolation."

We are missing the "Armchair Genealogy" column from Melinda Cohenour who is a bit under the weather and thus abed, but we have a delicious sounding recipe of hers for Italian Pork Chops that her husband shares in his column, "Cooking with Rod." The columns by Melinda may be accessed with this link:

Melinda Cohenour

Other columnists are Marilyn Carnell, "Sifoddling Along," with a focus on names and pronunciation of same; LC Van Savage, "Consider This," penned a "Final Wishes" verse. Mattie Lennon, in "Irish Eyes" gives us an interesting introduction to the author of "Why the Moon Travels." He includes a vintage explanation of the ages of man (and woman) and announces his home town is in the news again.

Judy Kroll's column "On Trek" declares though now safe that the Oregon fires had forced evacuation and much concern. Thomas F. O'Neill, like the teacher he is, has much to say about the students past and present and expresses in his column, "Introspective," his satisfaction with having the opportunity to begin a new school year with eager new students. John Blair notices the least of creatures and gives a sensitive report on some that share his garden, car, and home in "View from My Back Steps."

"Mike Craner Ramblings" discuss some deeper meanings on viewing a brick and its author may cause you to look at such common items differently. He also wears the Webmaster hat and is co-founder of this eZine for which this person is thankful. So we are winding up and putting in motion October days, and not a single Halloween remembrance or poem in the issue.

Look for us here again in November!

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.

Cooking with Rod


By Rod Cohenour

If anyone in the world knows how to "eat well," it's the Italians. My lovely bride shared a recipe with me that I still tout as one of the most delicious and most decadent one could ask for. She just calls it Italian Pork Chops by M. It is impossible to go wrong using this recipe. Once you've tried it, you'll agree and just keep coming back for more.

Surprisingly, the use of tomato soup rather than standard spaghetti sauce makes for a perfect flavor ... with the soup approximating a rich, thick and flavorful base as would result from simmering fresh tomatoes all day long. Add the spices, Bell pepper and green onions and you've got a great Italian sauce.

Serve with a nice crusty bread, a simple salad and Italian dressing. Try it ... You'll LOVE IT.

Bon appetit~!



  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, about 1" thick
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup seasoned flour ( just sprinkle with ground black pepper, and a sprinkle of Italian Seasoning, whisk)
  • 1 large bell pepper, deseeded, cut in 1/2" pieces
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced (use green tops as well as bulbs)
  • 1 large (14.5 oz) can tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Fresh sweet basil leaves, chiffonade cut
  • 1 lb spaghetti, prepared per direction on pkg
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • Fresh grated or prepared parmesan cheese


    1. Heat oil in heavy skillet. Rinse chops to remove any bone dust. Dredge chops in seasoned flour. Brown quickly on both sides on medium high heat. Lower heat.
    2. Mix soup, water (used to rinse out can), Italian seasoning, and spices. Pour over chops in skillet.
    3. Top chops with Bell pepper and green onions. Bring just to a simmer and cover tightly. Cook, without stirring on low heat for about 45 minutes.
    4 Prepare spaghetti, drain, add butter and stir to coat pasta. Cover and keep warm.
    5. Check chops to see if tender. If not cooked through and tender, may need to continue cooking for up to 15 minutes
    6. Toss spaghetti with parsley.
    7. To plate: top spaghetti on individual plates with a chop and then sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and garnish with sweet basil.

Best served with hot crusty bread, a crisp salad and creamy Italian dressing.

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                                 By Thomas F. O'Neill

The fall semester of teaching here in China started quite early due to the low cases of the coronavirus. The Chinese government is however worried that a second wave of the virus might hit China this fall. That being said, the semesters go by very quickly and all my classes take on a personality of their own due to the students in my classes, every class becomes uniquely different

The new students seem quite curious and somewhat reserved when they first appear in my classroom but within a few weeks, they open-up and are full of questions. They each hold various opinions about everything under the sun. I enjoy the lively discussions about culture in general and the role language plays in our cultural development.

When foreigners like me enter a foreign land where English is not the native vernacular a part of ourself seems somewhat cut off and I mean that literally. This is especially true in China because the Chinese do not use a written alphabet, they use symbols that go back thousands of years. Long before us, Schuylkill County coal cracker folk in Northeastern Pennsylvania walked the earth.

We take our native language for granted each time we turn on the radio or the TV. When we go out to see a movie or watch a live performance in a theater part of the enjoyment comes from our language.

I tell my students at the beginning of each semester, “When I first arrived in your country; I was an illiterate immigrant because I could not speak or read your language. I still have difficulties, but I have learned enough Chinese to overcome some of the language barriers.”

My students always asked me when I first arrived in China how I get around the City not being able to speak Chinese fluently. I explained to them, some technological tricks I used in communicating with the Suzhou locals. “I use the Google translator on my Blackberry Cell phone,” I would tell them, “but sometimes I still stumble because Suzhou people have their native dialect and simplified Chinese doesn’t always cut it.”

Ten years ago, I told my students a story about a frustrating experience I had at a China Mobile office. “No one at that office could speak a word of English,” I told them. “I got so frustrated that I called a China Unicom customer service number that has an English support line. I politely asked the woman on the phone if she could please translate for me. The woman I was speaking with was 2,900 kilometers away in Beijing, China.”

When the students stopped laughing, I continued the story. “What made the situation even more amusing, China Unicom, as you all know is China Mobile’s major competitor. I politely told the woman on the phone what I needed from China Mobile. What I needed was China Mobile’s office address in Chinese. So that the next time I needed to put money on my phone I could just show the taxi driver the Chinese address. That would be the most simplified way of getting there. I talked slowly to the China Unicom English customer service woman. Then I handed my phone to the woman sitting in front of me at the China Mobile office. The woman doing the translating was quite helpful but somewhat confused as to why I was asking her to translate for me I was after all in Suzhou China, in a China Mobile office of all places.”

The students laughed at that story and various other stories of my inability to communicate in Chinese. A hand shot up, “Teacher” a female student asked, “why don’t you take the time to learn Chinese?”

“I realize now,” I said to her, “I need a tutor to help me with my language impediment.”

“I don’t see why you don’t learn Chinese” Donna my prized student said to me.

“The number one cause of failure in life is procrastination,” I said to the class, “I need to stop procrastinating and take the time to study Chinese, especially, when I consider the fact that I want to remain living here.”

On my last day of teaching for that school year back in 2010, Donna came up to me after class, “Mr. Tom,” she said, “you are the fattest teacher I ever had and the funniest person I’ve ever known. I’m going to miss you very much.”

I said to her, “you have such a bright future because your personality shines.”

She was truly my prized student for that year. Her term paper was written on the cultural differences between the Pennsylvania Coal Region and the Jiangsu Province in China. Every evening she read various Newspapers, the Standard-Speaker, the Republican Herald, and the News Item online - Newspapers that cover the Pennsylvania Coal Region.

One day she came up to me before class all frustrated with printed pages of online Blog Comments, “I don’t understand,” she said to me on the verge of tears.

“What don’t you understand?” I asked.

“The comments,” she said in a flustered voice.

“I hope this didn’t keep you up all night,” I said with some amusement in my voice.

I then read over some of the highlighted comments. I could not help but laugh not at her but the comments.

“See,” she said in an upset voice, “you understand them.”

“Those comments don’t make any sense to you because they are not proper English,” I said to her.

I pointed out to her the atrocious spelling, the bad grammar, the run-on sentences, and not to mention the lack of cohesive thought in most of the comments.

“Ignore the comments you don’t understand,” I said to her, “and use the comments you do understand.”

Most of my students have mastered formal English and they try extremely hard to learn English slang and American Idioms. They enjoy watching American and British movies and television programs, they love our western culture.

Donna said to me, in the first week of class, “Mr. Tom, you don’t have a typical American accent.”

“I know,” I said, “I have a typical coal cracker accent.” I then went on to explain to the class about the Pennsylvania Coal Region. Donna later told me that was the reason she chose to do her term paper on that area of the world. She said my manner of speech got her interested in the area.

Her term paper was extremely well-written. She was blunt about the coal region’s attitude toward illegal immigration. She compared the negative online comments about illegal immigration to the China government’s attitude toward North Korean defectors.

China before the Beijing Olympics (2008) gave North Koreans asylum in China. North Korea, however, made an issue of it and China did not want the issue raised during the 2008 Olympics. All the North Korean defectors that were caught were deported along with their family members. They were sent back to their home country to face years of hard labor.

Some North Koreans are lucky enough to make it across the China border undetected. They then cross over into Laos’ they pay people to transport them into Vietnam in riverboats. They then cross the ocean in barges to seek asylum in South Korea. This is a long and treacherous journey for many North Koreans seeking a better existence. They choose to make the journey with an undeterred determination so that their children can have better lives and better opportunities in South Korea ….. “Many Latin American immigrants cross over into America with similar dreams for their children,” Donna wrote in her paper.

I received a text message 5 years ago from Donna via the internet. She had been awarded a scholarship to Princeton University for graduate studies in International affairs. She said jokingly my class prepared her for Princeton University’s way of talking.

No words could ever express the feeling that came over me when I heard an audio message from her that said, “Thank you, Mr. Tom, for being our teacher.”

My Chinese has improved a great deal from 10 years ago and the advancements in technology have also made my life a little easier. Especially, with the advancements of WeChat, Google, and the internet in general.

I will from time to time post some other reflections about my experiences here in China ……..

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (800) 272-6464
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (410) 925-9334
    China Mobile: 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

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View from My Back Steps


By John I. Blair

There was a tragedy last week – one that could have been avoided with a bit more care.

It’s the time of year when days are warm and nights are chilly. And in these conditions one of the least visible of my year-round residents becomes more visible, starts taking risks. And sometimes meets a bad end.

There are many kinds of gecko in the world, but one that commonly occurs here in north Texas is the Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus). The Mediterranean gecko is a relatively small, 4 - 5 in (10 - 13 cm), species that has become ubiquitous in certain areas of the United States. Unlike any native lizard, geckos have sticky toe pads, vertical pupils, and their large eyes lack eyelids. These geckos are generally light gray or almost white in color (they look like tiny “ghost lizards”) but may have some darker mottling. The Mediterranean gecko can usually be found preying on insects near external houselights or other forms of lighting on warm nights. When it gets cold, they creep into warmer areas like crawl spaces under houses through foundation cracks or vents. On my church building we often see them over the entry door, catching bugs attracted by the light. My son has often found them hiding under the cover of an outside electrical outlet next to his garage door that has a floodlight immediately overhead.

Due to their ability to breed rapidly and strong resistance to pesticides, the Mediterranean gecko has been able to establish steady populations all along the Southern United States. Throughout Texas there are strong breeding populations of Mediterranean geckos found around cities, especially the Houston area, but there are major gaps in the population range through the western parts of Texas and into the panhandle. This leads scientists to believe that the Mediterranean gecko may need human structures and possibly cannot survive in dense native forests.

A nocturnal species, Hemidactylus turcicus can be found in cracks and crevices, either man-made or natural, throughout the day, emerging at night to feed on insects and other invertebrates. But when chilly nights come along, they like to sun themselves mornings on warm walls or masonry surfaces like patios and steps.


Bottom line is, geckos here in Texas may exist in your house and surroundings for years and not even be seen. Unless you have cats. Cats respond to motion. And when geckos come out of their hiding crevices (as narrow as a quarter of an inch or even smaller) cats see the movement and pounce. And play.

Also a Hemidactylus_turcicus

My introduction to the geckos in my house was years ago when I found a wriggling bit of “stuff” in my hallway – a gecko tail that had been shed in the manner many lizards have – shedding their tails to distract predators, then fleeing while the predator is dealing with the still-wriggling tail. Later (if they survive) they grow a new tail. Presumably there had been a cat encounter, although the cats weren’t talking.

So I’ve known for at least 20 years that I have geckos in my house, but they’re so secretive and small I tend to forget them – until they draw attention to themselves without meaning to. Last week on Wednesday I opened my car door and found a gecko running way across the floor mat in front. How it got inside I don’t know, but suspect there was a crack around the door seal large enough for it to squeeze through. Having sticky toes, it would have had no difficult climbing up onto the car from the concrete driveway. I spent several minutes peering under seats and turning up floor mats, but failed to find it, so I just went on my errand, figuring it would eventually find its way out the same way it got in.

An unnamed, common Gecko

When I got home, I searched a bit more before giving up, then went into the house and decided it was time to replenish my hummingbird feeder. That involves going down the steps to my patio, walking carefully into a narrow disused flower bed next to the house wall, reaching down the feeder from an overhead hook, then reversing my path.

But when I reversed path, looking carefully where I was stepping so as not to fall down, I saw something wriggling on the concrete patio surface. I was greatly saddened to discover I had inadvertently trod on a gecko and it was “beyond repair”. Even the gecko’s powers of tail shedding and regrowing part of its body wouldn’t save it this time.

I’m very sensitive to my relationship with the world around me. This accident really “got” to me. Carelessness about another life form while on a mission to help yet another life form had led to my causing a death in the world that could have been avoided.

I did the only thing I could think of at the time – I placed the still moving body on some loamy soil in the flower bed and gently covered it with loose loam. Nature would take care of the rest.

I can only hope the gecko in my car managed a safe getaway. And stayed away from cats and errant human feet.

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Mike Craner Ramblings

By Michael L. Craner


"That which does not kill me makes me stronger," someone once said. We know now that is not entirely true. I can still weaken you even if it doesn't defeat you.

Yet, consider a landscaping brick. You place it, give it a moderate foundation...

Rain can erode that foundation, making it weak. However, it can also erode the ground around it making the earth move in the cracks and flaws of the foundation and eventually support the brick more than it ever was before.

Now, the brick may no longer be pretty, or level... but it IS now firmly established in its new foundation and much harder to move than before.

A well-placed brick, level, and supported can STILL lose its stability and foundation because of the trials it faces. That doesn't mean the brick is no longer useful, it just needs to start over.

The difference between a stepping stone and a stumbling block is how you use them.

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Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell


I have a lot of time on my hands these days and somehow my mind led me to think about names – especially place names. There is a plethora of names given to remember somewhere in the old country – New York, New Brunswick and so forth. There is no shortage of names given in honor of famous people like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, et al. But what about those that are frankly, just odd?

One of my college roommates was from Peculiar, Missouri. I asked how it got named and she said her grandfather was the post master who wrote to the Post Master General for suggestions. He said he wanted an unusual or peculiar name. The response was prompt. Name it Peculiar.

McDonald County has no shortage of unusual names. Post offices had names like Abo, Cowskin, Cyclone Gotham, Jacket, Looniesville, Noel, Moral, Nubia, Moral, Nubia, Pack, Rocky Comfort, Splitlog, Tiff City, Tribulation (my favorite).

I’m sure each of them has an interesting story behind their name. For a complete list and short descriptions of location and origin, go to the website “A directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets Past and Present of McDonald County, Missouri” compiled by Arthur Paul Moser.

Missourians cannot agree on how to pronounce the name of their own state. I grew up saying “Missou rah”, others insist on “Misou ree”. I confess I slip back and forth between the two. A few other slippery names are:

    “Ne VAY da” not like the state of “Ne VAD a”.
    “Ver SAILS” not “Ver SIGH” (Long i).
    “HAY tie” not “HAY tee”
    “Kearney” is pronounced “CAR nee”
    “Pomme de Terre is “Puhm duh TAHR”
    Bois D’Arc is Bo Dark
    Milan is MY-lun

Then we get to names of people. Actual names, not nicknames. I have known a Phoenix, Smoky Day, Sumer Dawn and I’m sure others that will come to mind too late. Names have been modified to suit local ways, like the pronunciation of “Billy Walter Bridgewater“ got compressed to “Bee Wah Toe Bee Wah” and Poindexter morphed to “PON dexter. My own surname was usually pronounced “ker NELL” not “CAR nell” as we said it.

Last there are some other names I have read that took a long time to learn to pronounce:

    Beauchamp = BEE cham
    Taliaferro = TOL a ver
    St. John = Sin GIN
    Mackinac Island = MAC in naw Island
    Antigua = an TEE gah

All in all, besides the grammar, English is a very peculiar language that takes a lifetime to learn.

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On Trek


By Judith Kroll

Rising from the Ashes

Everyday we wake up and find ourselves in circumstances we don’t expect. This one morning, life changed instantly for all of us living in the beautiful forest covered Oregon.

The sun was blocked by a smokey mist. The air felt like half the oxygen was sucked out. Alerts were being sounded, and our human alert system went into action.

For years I would watch the burning of acres and acres of forests, homes, in California, etc. My heart melted to watch the destruction, misplacement of our animals, the hazy smoke that ruins lungs.

I'd never experienced it myself, but in 2020, we felt the fear, watching the bright red sun, slowly get choked out with charcoal smoke, and ashes falling all over the ground, trying to pack our pets and a few things we can fit in a car, and leave before we are trapped. A very humbling experience to leave it all, never knowing what we would see coming home.

Friends and neighbors were working day and night to fight the fires, to protect our homes, people were volunteering to help truck animals away from the danger zone. People were bringing food to those risking their lives, bringing all sorts of supplies to help their loving efforts of fighting fires. Keeping us informed and safe. What a treasure to watch people helping people. Love in Action.

The experience is very emotional on so many counts, wanting to shed tears of joy, tears of anxiety. Watching our pets showing their love, not understanding what is happening, loyally trusting. I do not wish this on anyone, but stronger prayers and thoughts of love will forever come from my lips!!! We the people always rise from the ashes!!!!
Judith 2020

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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Why the Moon Travels is a beautifully turned out hardback which has between its covers twenty Travellers tales (literally.) It was written by Oein DeBhairduin.

Oein is an Irish Traveller. He is also a trained folk herbalist, syndicated astrologer and metal worker. As head of a Traveller community based education centre, he has for long time been a collector of elder tales and community customs. A practitioner of indigenous healing and celebratory practices are also under his belt. He is, of course, a philosopher. And why wouldn’t he? Didn’t his mother tell him that there were three things that no man understands, “ . . . the sharp edges of a broken heart, the mind of a woman and the value of the dandelion.”

Oein is from Galway, and has been living in Dublin for number of years. As a community employment supervisor with the Clondalkin Travellers Training he set many young Travellers on the road to a higher level of education, training and personal empowerment.

His own educational background was in developmental psychology and as a trained herbalist he set up an online herbal store called “The Irish Apothecary”. In which he sold urban harvested resins, oils and blends. Alongside this he also runs an online blog called “Barefoot Pavee” (which was shortlisted in last year’s Irish Blog Awards) in which he actively promotes traditional skills, craftsmanship, recipes, lore and many of the interesting and beautiful aspects of Traveller’s language and community.

Why the Moon Travels came as no surprise to readers of his columns in national magazines and regional newspapers . As a core member of the LGBT Pavee Support Group, he works to, “. . . cultivate safe places in which LGBT individuals can chat openly, seek and give peer based advice, influence policy development through identification of needs and provide a platform in which this aspect of our community can express their views publicly.”

Passionately proud of his own cultural background, he says “ I feel that pride should never be just a word or a statement but an act of will and manifestation that produces a positive and discernible presence within our lives.”

In the introduction Oein says, “Gammon . . .is used freely and openly in the stories as this collection is not only for reading, but for sharing out loud, an act that not only helps keep the stories alive but but also respect the ancient oral traditions of travellers.” Or somebody like me who spent decades learning bits and pieces of Gammon from members of the Travelling community the glossary of Gammon words is a welcome bonus. The title story was told to Oein by his father and his reason for including it in the collection is, “ . . . that Travellers are part of the world and the world is part of travellers.” He goes on to say, “Among other thing, this story reminds me of the fragility of trust and the innate desire to love in all people.” When you read the story you will see exactly what he means.

Leanne McDonagh, a Traveller, with an Honours degree in fine art and and a higher diploma in art and design education, who illustrated the book says,”I’ve alway seen Oein as a fellow artist, always knew he had an amazing way with words,”

Grainne O’Toole who, with Fionnuala Cloke, established Shein Press wrote, “I had known of Oein’s work and his interest in education and cultural development through my own background in community and human rights. I also became aware of his beautiful writing, and we reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in working on the collection.” That invitation has resulted in a masterpiece.

Stor Seanfhocal

Seanfhocal is the Irish word for proverb. In Ireland we are very proud of those simple, concrete, traditional saying that express a perceived truth based on common sense or experience. Everyone from Confucius the John B. Keane who uttered words of wisdom, is quoted by the populace. Now Ballaghaderreen man Tomás P. Moráin has now brought out a collection of the most common proverbs that he has collected over the years. He has written down each proverb in Irish, explained it in simple Irish and then goes on to elaborate its meaning in English. Every one of the 82 entries is accompanied by an appropriate illustration buy Marita O’ Hanlon.

We all know that there are proverbs that don’t hold water,” Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies” and many more that don’t stand up to scrutiny but fair play to the Balaghaderreen man he doesn’t use any of those in his collection.

Details from;

* * * * *

They say that 70 is the new 50. Maybe it is but try telling that to a speed-camera. In the meantime have a read of this which was published 182 years ago. "Periods of Human Life," from the Wexford Conservative, 1 August 1838.

Decrepitude – From 71 to 77: The age of avarice, jealousy, and envy.

Caducity- (Senility) From 78 to 84. The age of distrust, vain-boasting, unfeelingness, suspicion.

Age of Favour – From 81 to 91. The age of insensibility, love of flattery, of attention and indulgence.

Age of Wonder- From 92 to 98. The age of indifference and love of praise.

Phenomenon – From 99 to 105. The age of insensibility, hope and the last sigh."

* * * * *

My local town Blessington, four miles from Lacken, has been shortlisted as one of two finalists (the other one is Kinsale) in the Population 3 Category (4001-7000) in the Bank of Ireland Begin Together Awards. Final judging is now under way and the overall awards will be announced on October 06th.

Everybody in Lacken and the surrounding wishes them well and we hope they win.

See you in November.  


Consider This


By LC Van Savage

Final Wishes

Last week I dressed in my Sunday best
To go see an old friend laid to rest.
Not much to look at in her lifetime
And she never became a wife I'm
Sad to say they gussied her up
To look like a clown. They whirled up
Her hair in towering, frothy pouf
And covered her face with tons of stuff
Like rouge, mascara and shimm'ring gloss
Which on her looked like so much dross
Applied with a large spackle knife
She looked as if she'd led the wild life.
She looked kaleidoscopely waxy
And while she lived she wasn't saxy
They'd tried to make her like a starlet
But made her like an aging harlot.
I stared unbelieving at my old friend
And thought "how could they vilipend
"This simple woman, plain and good?
"And make her look like painted wood?"
I went home filled with resolution
To tell our sons of my solution
On what to do when I cork off;
"Cook a pot of stroganov
"And have a party in my name
"And laugh and say `she was some dame.'
"Don't bury me on precious land
"The earth's already far too jammed.
"Recycle what's still good to use
"And burn the rest, and don't abuse
"My wish to not be on display
"My face all smeared with gaudy clay
"My hair done up in ways I never
"Did it. I was just not clever
"In the ways of fashion or coiffure
"I never was la mode du jour.
"I love you kids, so please, won'tcha
"Obey my wishes, or I'll hauntcha."

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Without My Cell Phone

 By Walt Perryman

If I lose my cell phone, how would I know,
Where I have been, or I am supposed to go.

I could not call anyone that I’ve ever known,
I don’t know any numbers on my cell phone.

I would not know the time or date,
If I had an appointment, I’ll be late.

Check the stock market and how much I lost,
Check my phone bill and how much it cost.

I could not check my messages like I do,
Or check e-mail to see if there’s any new.

I could not Google and try to find,
Whatever happens to be on my mind.

Can I find my destination without my GPS?
No, I will just drive around blind and guess.

My cell phone has become an affliction,
Because, I have a bad cell phone addiction.

Because, I feel abandoned and all alone,
Anytime that I cannot access my cell phone.

©October 2020 Walt Perryman

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My Photo Book

 By Bud Lemire

Photo Memories, are captured through the years
Old ones, funny ones, and the ones through our tears
The years seem to pass so quick
Someone in the family has gotten sick

Yet in the photo, they look so well
Who would have known, Heaven would ring its bell
Cherish the memories, of the ones we hold so dear
You just never know, what will happen in each year

It's almost like, you can step back into yesterday
In your memory, it's a good place to get away
Each photo tells a story, of the person who was there
To the other people, it's special beyond compare

Grandpa, Grandma, the Uncles, the Aunts, Mom and Dad
Live on in this lifetime, because of the photos I had
Every photo that you take, becomes a historic act
We can never ever, get that moment back

Some family members are discouraged, when my camera is in my hand
I capture the special moment to keep, I wish they would understand
It's not about their ego, and how they're going to look
It's because I honor them, with a place in my Photo Book

September 14, 2020 Bud Lemire

                              Author Note:

It's true. Those pictures capture a moment in time, that we can
never get back in life. But in our memories, we do go back, by
way of each of the photos. All our relatives and friends, and us
as we looked younger. A picture of a place that is no longer there.
A picture of a time that is no longer here. It's also true, I love pictures
to remember the special people in my life. Don't worry about how old
you look, or if your hair is messed up, or you aren't wearing the right
clothes. I want to capture you being YOU, so I can remember YOU.

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Another Cat and Window Poem


By John I. Blair

Tail coiled,
Tongue tip pink,
Miss Kitty tamely sits,
Slowly winking feline eyes

At squirrels and birds;
I don’t think she has an aim,
Merely mild desire,
Fixation on the Other.

I hate to spoil her game
And don’t say a word,
But my hands are soiled
And she’s in the sink.

©2020 John I. Blair, 9/20/2020

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By Walt Perryman

Sometimes, I worry about worrying too much,
I worry about the world problems and such.

I have worried about stuff going on in outer space,
My health, money, and the wrinkles on my face.

I worry about inflation or my truck breaking down.
I worry about driving in traffic when I go downtown.

I turned it over to God, all of my worrying and such.
Now I am not worried about worrying too much.

©October 2020 Walt Perryman

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The Year Of The Passing

 By Bud Lemire

It's the year of the passing, people are passing away
But I ask “Why did it have to be today?”
Couldn't they have stayed a little longer
Tears fall, why can't I be stronger

Did someone forget to close the Gate
And this turned out to be their fate
I'm not sure why they had to go
Missing them is what I do know

I guess their journey brought them there
Exit to Heaven, spirits take flight in thin air
Angels dance in celebration, they have returned
Home again, I wonder what they had learned

“People didn't treat me like I was in a wheelchair”
“In fact, everyone liked me, and seemed unaware”
He took off his hat, and started to dance around
“I'm so grateful to be able to feel my feet on the ground”

“For me, I shared my imagination in the greatest love story ever told”
“In books, the words touched both the young and the old”
He put down his sword, and with a white Wizards robe, he smiled
“The adventure into Fantasy, can be found in every child”

“I touched many, by giving them confidence to always try”
“Keep reaching for your goal, and you shall surely fly”
“I was a coach in Texas, but I am happy to be here”
The Angels smiled, and gave him a heartwarming cheer

“I was a model, it wasn't the easiest thing to do”
“Music, especially the Beatles, helped me to get through”
“I had great friends and family, but my heart grew weak”
The Angels sang for this special soul, who was so very unique
In the year of the passing, many wonderful people left Earth
To share in their knowledge, and take part in their rebirth

September 20, 2020 Bud Lemire

                              Author Note:

For my family and friends who have brought their souls
to the Heavenly place. May your journey continue and be a
good one. Sending love to you from Earth..

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What Are We Missing Here

By Bruce Clifford

I haven’t heard from you
Like I wanted to
The sounds of make believe
Each lonely broken leaf

Nobody gets to see
Trying to break free
Moments of empty space
Lines too desperate to trace

What are we doing here
What are we fighting for
What are we seeing clear
What are we missing here

What is this all about
What is this fear and doubt
What are we seeing clear
What are we missing here

I haven’t heard from you
In a year or two
The memories that disappear
What are we missing here
What are we missing here

©9/11/2020 Bruce Clifford

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Little Miracles

 By John I. Blair

When I spot a hummingbird
Beyond the kitchen sink
I freeze in my tracks,
Wanting not to frighten it,
Hoping it returns,
Keen to watch it eat.

Seated on its perch
The hummingbird
Dips its needle beak
Deep into the feeder,
Then draws back
And slips its tiny tongue
Quickly in and out,
Stripping nectar I must think
From tongue to throat
Because it cannot sip.

How magic this appears,
Repeated every day,
A simple act, ongoing
Through the aeons trip
Of hummingbirds.

Life is made of treats like this,
Simple acts becoming miracles
Waiting to be seen.

©2020 John I. Blair, 9/19/2020

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West Texas

 By Walt Perryman

I left West Texas many years ago,
But my heart stayed there, it did not go.
I was born in Pecos, back in nineteen forty four.
I grew up on the Pecos River for twenty years or more.
I lived in a little town east of the Pecos, Grandfalls is its name.
It has changed in many ways, but in my heart it is still the same.
I roamed that old river back when I was just a little child,
To this kid it was as big as the Mississippi and just as wild.
A few times I almost drowned back when I was a lad,
I would have but that Pecos river water tasted too bad.
To me that old river always was a mighty big deal,
And I still love that old river and I always will.
I have traveled the world and I have seen many people and places,
I‘d rather be looking at West Texas sunburned, windblown, faces.
I would move back there right now if I could,
I am so homesick the golden rod looks good.
If I go to Heaven when Old St. Peter calls.
I’ll ask if I can grow up again on the Pecos and Grandfalls.
One more thing and I know what I am talking about.
Once West Texas is in your blood you can never get it out.
©October 2020 Walt Perryman
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The Cost

By Bruce Clifford

I woke up and the dream was over
A new day under the sun
I closed my eyes and this dreadful year is over
A new one has begun

I slip through the silence
I cry through the night
I hold on to the energy
Holding on for my life

I cut and I mingle
I’m lost in the fear
I search for the answers
Answers nobody could hear

I woke up and the dream was over
A new moment under the sky
I saved a wish for the endless discover
Before it’s my turn to die

I slip through the silence
I cry through the night
I sail on a river
Maybe the timing isn’t right

I search and discover
I’m divided and lost
I completed a sentence
Then I counted the cost

I woke up and the dream was over
A new day under the sun
I closed my eyes and this dreadful year is over
A new one has begun

©9/2/2020 Bruce Clifford

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The Kitchen Tool

 By Bud Lemire

He said it's a war out there, as he handed me a kitchen tool
What was I to do with it, I certainly wasn't a fool
In the kitchen it would be useful, this I know
How can I use it, wherever I should go

Then it dawned on me, the kitchen tool meant much more
A symbol of hope, as I walked through every door
Survival is when we use every tool that we can
To make it through the years, within our lifespan

Tools can be wisdom, knowing what is right
To help us in the darkness, it can be a flashlight
The knowledge in knowing, exactly the right words to say
And using these words, to make it through each day

In knowing, the right things that I can do
Making each day, a much better you
The tools that surround you, might not be seen
Yet you have the vision, to see what's in between

When he handed me the kitchen tool, it was a lesson
To take every moment, and cherish it as a blessing
The war that we fight, is surviving each day
Using every tool that we can, in every way

August 30, 2020 Bud Lemire

                         Author Note:

A dream I had recently, influenced me to write this poem.
A man, who was my boss in the dream, handed me a kitchen
tool. I walked with it in the dark. As I looked it over, I
realized what it meant. It was a symbol, that with each moment
of our life, we learn to use the tools that we were given at birth.
All that we have learned through the years, are tools to help us
make it through our lives. That kitchen tool wasn't meant just
for the kitchen, but to help me through my life, and it has..

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Another Day in Isolation

By Mary E. Adair

Gradually I extract my mind's
Entrapment by nighttime dreams
Embarking upon the daily chores
Of accomplishment void of screams.

Nay, not of audible sounds
Do I mention
But the inner voices of
My muscles' intention

Where once I imaged my feats
To improve both speed and grace
In some sports-type endeavor
Or competition in a race

Now I review the sequence of steps
For many a simple mundane task
To be able to complete and still
Conserve my energy, if you asked.

Nor do I contemplate coompletion
Shall excite any random praise
Or the crowd's roar for a champion
Will brighten my lonely days

Just rehearsing the routine that
Making bread does require
So no ingredients are missed
Thus wasting many an hour

To plan ahead what else to do
As I move from here to there and back
So I don't need to retrace my path
To fetch whatever item I lack

To schedule my options to watch TV
Or choosing a book to read
To remember to include besides food
The meds the doctor insists I need

So contemplating all I must do
Between dawn and the end of light
Takes at most twenty minutes --
But doing it? Perhaps I might.

©September 9, 2020 Mary E. Adair

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Within the Inside

By Bruce Clifford

My phone hasn’t rung in a month or three
Unless it’s spam or make-believe
It’s a quiet world from within the inside
Not sure if this is a way to survive

I haven’t had a point of view
Nothing matters in this solitude
Like a refugee on an empty sea
This is how life seems to be

So many nights without a sign
Spinning shadows and cosmic rewind
It’s a lonely world from within the inside
It’s the only thing that’s keeping me alive

I haven’t had a welcomed glance
Not ever willing to take a stance
Like a butterfly caught in a shallow breeze
Bringing grown men to their knees

My phone hasn’t rung for a very long time
The only ones calling are pitching their signs
It’s an empty world from within the inside
Not sure if this is a way to survive

©9/1/2020 Bruce Clifford

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair


September 2020

"Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soil."-- Peggy Toney Horton.

Yes the quote says soil not soul, although you will find a poem by Bud Lemire that addresses the soul this mohth, and Mattie Lennon certainly covers the subject of "soil" in his column.

September is the harvest month in many areas, but it also means School is upon us, and Football (Yea! Football!) School is a challenge as never before with the pandemic shutdowns and social distancing creating situations like parents having to become the teachers if home school is the decision. In some places, even if actual school can be attended a couple days a week, the home lessons are mandatory on the other week days. Parents are having to brush up on the required lessons along with their children. At the very least, it should give them a new appreciation for a teacher's occupation.

Bud Lemire's poetry this issue commemorates the recent loss of a brother "My Brother, Rich" and makes an effort to see both sides of mask-wearing "Believers and Unbelievers," plus the aforementioned "Perception of The Soul." John Blair sent two very different types with "Longwood," and "Midnight Bathers." Mike Craner's free verse especially touched yours truly with his descriptive "Campfire."

Bruce Clifford, still at home from his Carnival Cruise chores, offers "It Happens All The Time," "Long Lost Days," and "All The Noise." Your editor penned the brief whimsey, "Since."

Our columnists' submissions include the tasty recipes in Rod Cohenour's "Cooking with Rod;" a poetic memory by LC Van Savage in her column "Consider This;" Marilyn Carnell, "Sifoddling Along," shares the thoughts that Fall brings; Mattie Lennon, in "Irish Eyes" has a diversified discussion from home burials to digital traveling and includes a link to uTube recording by an Irish lass, "Bury me in the Garden." He has a request for help finding a certain app.

Judy Kroll's column "On Trek" gives her a chance to remind us of some 'Our Home" facts. Thomas F. O'Neill expands a discussion on gratitude in practical matters in his column, "Introspective." John Blaie shares his personal damage from a stormy night in Texas in his column "View from My Back Steps." Melinda Cohenour, our resident Genealogist, moves into an importan area where DNA has been found extremely useful in solving crimes. Her "Armchair Genealogy" includes a way that you can help if you wish, so check it out.

Nice to have a poem from you, Mike, and it touched this heart deeply. Once again I must declare how grateful I am for your expertise as well as your friendship and support in this endeavor.

See you in October.

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This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy


By Melinda Cohenour

Thoughts on DNA in the News

This past month, Joseph DeAngelo, known most commonly as the Golden State Killer, plead Guilty to13 murders and 13 rape/ kidnappings. His DNA was matched to more than 175 crimes where samples were preserved by law enforcement officials prior to advances that made replication of minute traces capable of being used to provide a full genetic profile of the person depositing that DNA. We now know that DNA profile was uploaded under a fictitious user name to the Gedmatch website and close matches were utilized to build a family tree that, ultimately led to identification of DeAngelo as the perpetrator of these heinous crimes. (A number of his double murders involved the bludgeoning of couples who had been bound and rendered helpless to his sick rage.)

"DeAngelo pleaded guilty in Sacramento County Superior Court last week to the 26 crimes he was formally charged with. He also admitted to 161 offenses he was never formally accused of because the deadline to prosecute them had long since passed, Temple said."
SOURCE: Ventura's County Star, 4 July 2020.

The plea agreement was negotiated to serve two purposes: to avoid a public trial that would expose his still-living victims to reliving the agony and terrors he had forced upon them, and to ensure a punishment that would prevent DeAngelo from ever leaving prison for the balance of his natural life.

The crimes now proven to have been committed by this one former police officer took place in the 1970s and '80's with many of the victims who survived his attacks having died since. The monikers attributed to this prolific madman were initially associated with, first, the common locations of the crimes and, second, a descriptive term of the crimes in which he engaged.


Over a hundred break-ins were his first known criminal activity where homeowners would return to their homes to find them in complete disarray - drawers and closets open, their contents strewn throughout, items of jewelry missing having been selected, apparently, not for their marketable value but for their intrinsic nostalgic value. This series of crimes earned DeAngelo the nick of the Visalia Ransacker. A clue to his perversions, however, was evident in his tendency to paw through, select, and maliciously smear and display feminine lingerie.


His crimes quickly escalated to rapes where the lone female victims were awakened by a bright flashlight shown in their face by an intruder wearing a variety of face coverings (ski masks, typically) and gloves. The trademark knot used to bind these victims earned him the Diamond Knot Rapist nickname. He later chose to remove his unused, pre-tied bindings (often heavy shoelaces brought with him.)


Later, his propensity for targeting victims on the Eastern suburbs of Sacramento brought on the published alias of the East Area Rapist.


As his crimes further escalated to violent murders in connection with his rapes, he was given the name of the Original Night Stalker in a move to distinguish his killings from those of Richard Ramirez who carried out his serial killings in Los Angeles and San Francisco for about a year 1974 - 1975 and was called the Night Stalker.


It was not until homicide and major crime detectives began to suspect a lone perpetrator of all these crimes and began to share case files, evidence, and - most importantly - DNA results, that Michelle McNamara coined the term the Golden State Killer.

The last horrific bludgeoning death post-rape carried out by this monster took place in 1986. The victim, Janelle Cruz, was a gorgeous eighteen-year-old, his last known victim, but certainly not his youngest. That was a girl only a few weeks beyond her thirteenth birthday when she was raped, her life spared.


Two prominent names arise when discussing use of DNA results combined with genealogical research savvy: Paul Holes, whose long law enforcement career began as a CSI (crime scene investigation) specialist and morphed into classic criminal investigation as a detective. Paul Holes was the man who managed to use his combination of skills to identify John Joseph DeAngelo and arrange his capture.

The other name most commonly associated with this skillset is CeCe Moore whose interest in genealogy and the emerging science of DNA led to her changing careers from model, spokesperson, actress to Genetic Detective. Ms. Moore's expertise began as a researcher and consultant for such shows as Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. where her focus was on reuniting splintered families due to abandonment or adoption. More recently, she worked with Parabon NanoLabs to solve more than 150 cold case crimes of murder and rape-murder in one year. This led to a television series, Genetic Detective, which aired six shows in its first season.

Controversy surrounding the use of publicly shared DNA to identify, capture, try, and imprison these cold, violent rapists and murderers has caused Gedmatch to change their policy concerning release of results. Since many, many of these heinous crimes are committed by persons who have eluded identification through CODIS (*), this change in policy has had an extreme detrimental effect on its use to bring these criminals to justice.

Thus, we arrive at my reason for including young six-year-old victim JonBenet Ramsey in this discussion.

This high profile mystery sexual assault murder caused by instrumental suffocation (asphyxiation by employment of a garrote) has never been solved. Tens of thousands of man-hours have been expended in the attempt.

From Wikipedia we find this:
"In 2002, the DA's successor took over investigation of the case from the police and primarily pursued the theory that an intruder had committed the killing. In 2003, trace DNA that was taken from the victim's clothes was found to belong to an unknown male; each of the family's DNA had been excluded from this match. The DA sent the Ramseys a letter of apology in 2008, declaring the family "completely cleared" by the DNA results."

This finding seems to SCREAM for a Genetic Detective to solve this case!! In spite of my typical leaning toward a more liberal outlook, in this regard, my years as a paralegal in both criminal (prosecutorial) and corporate fields of law demand this roadblock to justice be removed.

Even though Gedmatch has made it far more difficult to utilize DNA results, perhaps either Paul Holes or CeCe Moore or another specialist in this emerging field of investigation will choose to take on this challenge.

(*) CODIS is the acronym for the Combined DNA Index System and is the generic term used to describe the FBI's program of support for criminal justice DNA databases as well as the software used to run these databases.
(SOURCE: website)


A public plea has been issued August 31, 2020, by CeCe Moore, the lady who does the reality TV series, The Genetic Detective, to participate in an effort to assist Parabon Nano Labs in augmenting their DNA base. Here is the announcement:
Do you want to help Parabon fight crime and advance science? If so, please consider joining the Snapshot DNA Phenotypic Trait and Ancestry Study. All you need is (1) an iPhone and (2) a little bit of uninterrupted time to complete the in-app instructions. If you have an existing genotype file from a consumer testing site (e.g., 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, etc.), you can donate it to the study too and elect to receive a free Snapshot DNA Ancestry Analysis report. To learn more visit: If you have any questions or don’t have an iPhone, please check out the FAQs. For questions not answered in the FAQ's please email:

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View From My Back Steps

By John I. Blair

The Night The Tree Fell

When we bought our house in the mid-1980s it came with a rather bare yard as the previous owners obviously weren’t gardeners. However, there was a pair of mature ash trees in front that even 30 years ago provided a lot of welcome shade in hot Texas summers. These had been part of what was once a continuous double row of ash trees on both sides of the street on this block, evidently planted when the houses were built 60 years ago. Ash trees, like American elms, were once a prominent part of the urban landscape in America – attractive trees everyone planted for quick shade. But as with elms (wiped out by the millions in the 20th century by Dutch Elm Disease), with ash trees it turned out there were problems. Despite ash wood being known for its strength (used to make baseball bats) older ash trees are very prone to heartwood rot and in recent years to attacks by borers. Even when we first moved here, many of the original trees were gone and many more were dying.

The loss of these ash trees in the neighborhood was obvious – every year another would bite the dust and have to be removed. Most recently a big specimen just a few feet west of my driveway finished slowly expiring and was carefully (and expensively) removed down to a low stump.

The Ash Tree Before Storm

Then, just four years ago, the ash tree near the house and next to my driveway dropped a huge limb onto my parked car while I was standing with a friend just inside my open-door garage, seeking shelter from a sudden squall line. Amazingly, the car only received a tiny dent. When I paid a tree service company to remove the fallen limb they warned me that both my ash trees had rotten cores and should be removed ASAP before something worse happened. As the cost was high, and because I loved their green foliage and deep shade, I decided to risk it and let them stand.

And then came the call in the night.

About a month ago my phone rang at 4:15 a.m. It was my neighbor from across the street. And he told me that my other ash tree had lost a huge section in a freak wind storm just a few minutes earlier. He didn’t want me dropping of heart failure after walking out the door in the morning and seeing that. So we investigated the situation as well as possible with flashlights, couldn’t really tell what if any damage had been done to my parked car, and returned to bed to await the dawn.

This shows my 2007 Caliber with one limb across its roof;looked bad; nodamage to car.

In the clear light of day I could see that this time the car had suffered real damage. And sure enough, the insurance inspector declared it totaled. That was followed by a day of skilled work removing the portions of tree across the car, then another day removing both ash trees to low stumps.

My 2011 Caliber with massive multiple limbs across the car.

Any major change in the environment such as this has repercussions for years afterward. And they started immediately. My previous areas of shade garden and part-shade garden are now in full, blasting sunshine most of the day. Horse herb and ajuga wilt fast; the verdict isn’t in yet on the other plants. My poor dogwood tree – the gem of my front yard – was badly injured by the falling limb and now is no longer sheltered under a tall shade tree – the natural environment for dogwoods. Only time will tell whether it recovers or even survives.

Another view of limbs across the car that did enough damage to total it.

On the bright side, I had heeded the warning four years ago to one degree – although I hadn’t removed the ash trees, I had encouraged several volunteer red oaks to grow in spots where they might eventually take over as the “climax” trees that oaks have evolved to be – the trees that are still there when a forest has fully matured. And now their turn has come. A healthy red oak in good soil with sufficient water can grow two feet a year – sometimes even faster. Some of these are already more than eight feet tall and they got almost no damage from the falling ash tree sections. So rather than mourning my ash trees, I have chosen to celebrate the futures of my oak trees – a natural succession of species that has just been speeded up a bit by this arboreal catastrophe. I’ll remember my ash trees; I’ll water my oak trees.

Later Note: I am actually watering the oak trees this afternoon in fact. And the largest of them are 12 feet tall already. A similar tree on the opposite side of the yard grew from an acorn 30 years ago to a beautiful, well-proportioned tree at least 60 feet tall at present. It’s on the line between my yard and my neighbor’s yard and I think we both claim it – half to each of us! I don’t know how much space you can allow for photos, but I could certainly provide a couple of the fallen tree and a couple of the new oaks.

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Cooking with Rod


By Rod Cohenour


Triple Onion Infused Beef Rump Roast

      Again this month, my sweet wife is sharing one of her original recipes. This recipe was created years before we met but has stood the test of time. It has a kinship to sauerbraten but is much less complicated to prepare. Try it, you'll find your dinner guests raving.

      Bon appetit~!



  • 5 to 8 lb. Beef Rump Roast
  • 1 package Green Onion dip mix (for use in a container of sour cream for a party dip)
  • 1 package Lipton Onion Soup mix
  • 1 or 2 large white onions, ½” slices
  • 1 8 oz container sour cream
  • 1 8 oz container small curd cottage cheese
  • ¼ cup corn or vegetable oil (for browning the roast)
  • 2 Tbsp Black pepper (to taste, use fresh peppercorns or prepared ground pepper, your choice)
  • 1 can beer (or substitute water or beef broth)
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup flour (reserve half for gravy)
  • 1/2 cup water (reserve half for gravy)


    1)Prepare rump roast by rinsing, patting dry, and removing any excess fat sheath.

   2)Heat oil in heavy skillet. When it sizzles when a drop of water is added, it's ready. Carefully brown roast on all sides.

   3)Remove roast to large stewpot. Cover to keep it warm.

   4)Carefully add a small amount of liquid to the skillet and stir to loosen the browned bits.

   5)Whisk water into flour to make a slurry, add to skillet and stir until slightly thickened. Add to the stewpot, making sure to get all the tasty brown bits.

   6)Use a blender or food processor to reduce the cottage cheese to a creamy consistency. Add to mixing bowl and whisk in Lipton dry Onion Soup mix packet. Add to stewpot, carefully lathering to cover all surfaces of the roast.

   7)Blend together Green Onion Dip and sour cream. Cover beef roast with this as well.

   8)Add sliced onions to the stewpot along with your choice of beer, or broth, or water and apple cider vinegar.

   9)Roast covered in 375° oven until roast is cooked to your desired doneness. We like ours well done.

      The liquids remaining after the roast is cooked should be thickened with a slurry of seasoned flour and water to make a delicious gravy.

      Serve with mashed or baked potatoes (can bake along with the roast), rice, or egg noodles. Add a crisp salad and hot, crusty bread and enjoy!

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Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

Gardens, Writers, and Sundry

The following is a link to Samara Jade singing Bury me in the Garden. Bury me in the Garden

You can listen to it at your leisure later. In the meantime do you want to be buried in your garden? Or do you want to conduct a funeral service in someone else's garden?

It’s possible and basically all you need is planning permission from your friendly local authority but make sure you apply well before your demise. And the good news that you probably won’t need a coffin. This concession is thanks to, of all people, “Big” Phil Hogan (before he got so seriously into golf). The following was given on 29th April 2013, in the Burial Ground (Amendment) Regulations, 2013, under Phil’s official seal when he was Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, “ Uncoffined burials may be permitted, unless a direction has been issued not to do so by the relevant sanitary authority or medical officer of health of the sanitary authority, in an area of a burial ground designated exclusively for that purpose. Where an uncoffined burial is permitted, any reference in these provisions to a coffin includes a reference to the wrappings of the uncoffined body.”

There are precedents. When Hugh Sacker’s wife Alma died in 1992, a doctor travelled from Dublin and issued a death certificate. Hugh and a friend dug the grave under two yew trees in the secluded garden, in Donard County Wicklow, a few feet from the door of the house. “We dug a hole and reverently laid her in it,” he said.

Mr Sacker said he successfully dealt with the enquiries of officials, gardai and churchmen about the unorthodox burial and eventually received a letter from Wicklow County Council granting retrospective permission for the grave. Yet a representative of Wicklow County Council told a newspaper, that it, “ . . . does not consent to any burials” in the gardens of properties.

However an over ground tomb erected by a Listowel family in 1995 to house the remains of their daughter had to be removed as part of settlement terms agreed between Listowel UDC and the family. The dispute, centred on a tomb built by the Barrett family at the time of the death of their daughter Elizabeth (31), in 1994. Elizabeth who was a model in New York, had asked her family to bury her above ground on the banks of the River Feale. Listowel UDC had objected to the tomb on the grounds that the site was not a designated burial ground and planning permission was refused . A High Court Order in October 1994 prevented the family burying Ms Barrett's body in the tomb and she was later cremated. Under the settlement terms agreed, Listowel UDC conveyed the freehold interest in the site to the Barrett family who were then entitled to erect a shrine where the tomb had been located.

If you are interested in a “home burial” It's highly recommended to organise all the details in advance with your local authority, as it's practically impossible to get approval following a person's death.

And speaking of such things; I have absolutely no interest in any sport. Pertaining to the game of golf in particular I don’t care if it was Mark Twain of Harry Leon Wilson who described it as “a good walk spoiled, I agree with the sentiment. I also ask myself ask where did the game start. I got a little insight into the addictive nature of the pastime the day that there was a Doctor and a barrister playing at Tulfarris. As a funeral cortege passed on its way to Baltyboys cemetery, the doctor doffed is cap, bowed his head and remained inn silent prayer for some minutes. “You have great respect for the departed Doctor,” says the barrister. The doctor replaced his cap straightened up and replied, “It’s the least I can do. I was married to her for thirty five years.”

* * * * *

Three Kerry writers, Billy, Sean and Joe, who were attending a writing convention in New York, booked a room on the 75th floor of a hotel. When they arrived back at the hotel from the convention, the receptionist told them, "I'm terribly sorry, but the elevator is broken. In the meantime, you will have to take the stairs." Now, Billy was a writer of funny stories, Sean was a writer of scary stories, and Joe was a writer of sad stories. The three of them agreed that, to make it less boring, Billy would tell the other two his funniest stories while they climbed from floors 1 to 25, Sean would tell his scariest stories from floors 26 to 50, and Joe would tell his saddest stories from floors 51 to 75. They started to climb the stairs, and Billy started to tell funny stories. By the time they reached the 25th floor, Sean and Joe were laughing hysterically. Then Sean started to tell scary stories. By the time they reached the 50th floor, Billy and Joe were hugging each other in fear. Then Joe started to tell sad stories. He stuck his hands in his pockets, thinking. "Ah, I'll tell my saddest story of all first." he said. He coughed nervously. "There once was a man named Joe, who left the hotel room key in the car..."

At the time of writing County Kildare is on lockdown. The Blessington lake borders Kildare and now they are slagging me. Look at the picture I received today.

* * * * *

In 1998 a company called RMS Titanic Inc. managed to raise a 20 ton piece of the Titanic. 98 year old Sam, in Belfast, watched every subsequent news bulletin with bated breath hoping to hear that they had raised the rest of the great ship. On the day she sailed out on her maiden voyage he was aged twelve. He remembered his father, a boiler-maker, coming home that evening and saying that he had forgotten his lunch box and left it in one of the engine rooms. Sam now hoped to retrieve it.

* * * * *

Calling on the Lacken diaspora once again. Councillor Gerry O ‘Neill has bequeathed a large collection of “Lacken-related” data to the Lacken Community Centre. Unfortunately it’s on ZIP 100 discs and they have no way of accessing it. If anyone would be kind enough to donate a USB external ZIP 100 drive please contact


Wicklow News said there are still places available for the Saturday guided walk a journey to 1870's Lacken. 

Guided Walk a journey to 1870's Lacken

See you in October.

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Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell 


Summer's End


In August Mother Nature sends signals of the summer’s end. Sumac leaves begin to turn scarlet, a random leaf falls to the earth succumbing to the relentless pull of gravity. Along rural roadsides Chicory weeds show their sparse blue blooms. The streams like Big Sugar Creek (see photo) in McDonald County, Missouri, slow and shine a bottle green color, but remain cool and soothing for an afternoon dip in a favorite swimming hole. All are accompanied by the buzzing, humming song of cicada’s warning of darkness coming soon and an impending change in the weather.

Photo by Linda Johnson

These signs continue to tell us that September will bring a change in our lives. Importantly, they remind us it will soon be time to go to school. Even in my eighth decade, I feel a surge of optimism and long to return to a learning environment. When I was young, going back to school meant preparation – a brand new Big Chief Tablet and two Number 2 lead pencils, new saddle shoes and a dress – usually the dress was a plaid gingham with a sash tied in a neat bow by my proud mother who had ironed it “slick as fly legs” to be sure I would start the day off looking tidy. I would usually return with it wilted and dusty from rowdy games of “Red Rover” at recess where we blew off excess energy in order to focus on our studies later.

I attended 12 years of classes at the Pineville, Missouri school. Most of my classmates attended the same length of time, our teachers lived in town and knew every child and his/her parents and siblings, if any. School was a safe place with no fear of potential harm from a pervert, a crazed gunman or a raging epidemic. There were dreaded illnesses and we were in the last generation to expect to have measles, German measles, whooping cough, chickenpox, and polio. I had all of them at one time or another with no serious harm except a slight limp from polio.

We focused on learning basic skills: reading, writing (the Palmer Method had exacting strokes that I wrote jerkily and abandoned as soon as possible to my present hen scratch mode), basic math (I recall my awe in learning about negative numbers) in fourth grade, but I remember playing “Jacks” on rainy days more vividly. A few years ago, a “No Child Left Behind” test was published in the local paper. One question required a complex analysis of statistics to answer. My husband was a statistician and he could not solve it. I wonder how important statistics are to the average fourth grader of today.

I got my only spanking at school from Miss Etta for wading in the little stream that ran through the playground at morning recess. I was indignant because I wore rubber boots and didn’t get my shoes wet like the other wayward kids. When I went home that afternoon, I was further disillusioned by getting a spanking from my dad for disobeying the rules at school. I learned that no one really understood me and my interpretation of events.

Today we are in the midst of the second pandemic in 100 years. There is much consternation about whether or not to open schools. In 1918, my Mother got so ill from the Spanish Flu that she was kept at home for an extra year to recover. She survived the loss of a year of “socialization with her peers” and quickly caught up on her studies.

Perhaps we should spend less time dithering and concentrate on working together to restore a safe and sensible way of life and enjoy learning at all ages. Take some time to notice the changes going on about us – a red leaf fluttering to earth, a late-blooming rose, and the reverberating twilight psalm of cicadas.

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On Trek

By Judith Kroll

Our Home

Did you know every one of us on the face of the earth are related? We all have the same source of creation. As some might say, Father.

While we reside here on earth, this planet is our home. Our home has different “rooms” occupied by different groups of people. Each room has its own personality, decorated by the use of their own traditions, tastes, likes and dislikes.

Diversity is welcomed. Or, should be welcomed. We are all responsible to care for our planet home. Not just a few, but all of us.

To destroy the earth is criminal, not only against humankind but against our creator who gifted us with this beautiful planet while we exist here.

We are all responsible to care for each other as well. Love is the key,. We can change the world by changing our views, love and light goes a long way.
Judith 8-30-2020

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Consider This


By LC Van Savage 





Could anything possibly look so fine
As the sight of lace doilies hanging out on a line?

It brings to my mind olden cozy things
Like lemonade and wicker, country fairs and brass rings

And antimacassars, pies and skittles
And old men talking softly midst the curls of their whittles.

Seeing white doilies swinging up high
Washed lovingly by hand and pinned up there to dry

And then taken down, starched, and put on plates
So things will look fetching like cookies or dates.

Is really a sight just ever so fine
As bright white lace doilies drying out on a line?

©circa 1990's LC Van Savage

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By Thomas F. O'Neill


Americans are once again extremely divided over political extremes, and my students, here in China enjoy sending me text messages about things they are hearing and seeing on social media. They ask questions about the social unrest and the protests in the streets of America. Life in the US seems chaotic, especially, in the eyes of people throughout the world. I tell my students, the media is not covering the entire story. There have been periods of social unrest throughout our country’s 244-year history and progressive changes for the better have always followed those periods.

It can be extremely difficult especially with the Coronavirus pandemic to maintain an upbeat and positive attitude during these trying times. Especially, with the rise in Coronavirus cases and deaths in US hospitals. I remind my students; America has gone through many trying times before and this too will be overcome through our American resolve because Americans can overcome any challenge that comes our way. My personal experience of being quarantined for 10 weeks in China from the middle of January to the end of March was a trying period for me as well, but it became a period of self- reflection.

I received a text message, yesterday, from one of my former students who told me she got word that she will be able to enter the US on an F1 student visa. When I received her text, it reminded me of a lesson I gave her class last semester. I conduct this particular lesson every school year it’s about showing gratitude. She did a wonderful job of letting me know how grateful she is for the teachers she had throughout the years.

I explained to my students in class one day that most of us take things in our lives for granted. For instance, the nurses and doctors on the front lines caring for those infected with the coronavirus are shown little appreciation at times. We show them little gratitude for their service in caring for the needs of others until we or a loved one falls ill.

We rarely appreciate what we have in life until it is gone and that includes the people in our lives. Since I have been living in China people in my life have passed away, Aunts, Uncles, friends, and most recently my Mother. We rarely show or take the time to show others our heartfelt gratitude for them being in our lives and we do not fully appreciate the things they have done until they are no longer around.

Psychologists have discovered, people who show their gratitude are much happier than those who do not express their gratitude. Because it is not happiness, that leads to gratitude, it’s gratitude that leads to happiness.

Let the people in your life know how much you appreciate them, it will not only boost their self-esteem, but it will also boost their overall respect for you. When you give people a sincere compliment, words of encouragement, or just a warm smile, you are making their world a better place. You are making them feel appreciated and valuable. When you express your approval or gratitude for something others have done, you will not only enhance their life, but you will enrich yours as well. You will feel more fulfilled because you have done something to make a life for someone else better.

Start each day with a sense of gratitude it will have a positive influence on the rest of your day. Ending each day with a sense of gratitude will also bring you back to a place of appreciation no matter what happened throughout the day.

Gratitude is also a powerful affirmation it brings more of what we want into our life. If we are grateful for the things, we have, we will attract more goodness into our lives and the lives of those around us.

Every school year, I tell my students, write down at least 3 things you are grateful for and share them with a trusted friend. I also ask them to keep a daily journal because a journal is a great way of bringing out on paper all the things, we are thankful for. I tell them, it will be fun when looking back on your daily journal and reading what you wrote years from now. You will be able to see how your ideas and attitudes mature and grow with time. A daily journal is also a great way in helping you express the things you cannot say to other people even your best friend.

Every day, try and tell others what you are grateful for and 'why.' The 'why' explanation is the most important part of showing your gratitude to others. This expression of gratefulness will leave you feeling a lot more lifted when it comes to your mood and attitude on life.

Be grateful even during these hard times, because these difficult times in life can become opportunities for growth and understanding. Challenges can strengthen our minds and lead to greater maturity. Face each difficulty that comes your way with renewed vigor. But, most of all, be grateful that you have the strength to face your difficulties head-on.

Putting your gratitude into action is quite simple - a simple text message, email, or a nice phone call will accomplish your goal of letting others know that they are appreciated. A handwritten thank you note can also be a super cool surprise for those we care about in our technology dominant world.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (800) 272-6464
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (410) 925-9334
    China Mobile: 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

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By Michael L. Craner

It starts with a desire,
A need for warmth, heat.
Then a spark ignites.
Small flames, tenderly licking, feeding, and growing.

The tinder flares up,
feeding on the small twigs and sticks.
In time it grows,
consuming hungrily all that it can touch.

The fire blazes, even RAGES!
Sometimes tempered by the dew or rain…
yet a good fire with a good foundation will endure.
It may falter, but it will burn brightly again.

Family and friends will gather around it…
taking warmth and comfort from it,
while feeding it with dry old wood.
Wood that is wisdom, food, and love.

One by one, the family and friends retire,
the campfire burns on watching over.
Providing warmth and security,
for those who have gone to bed.

The coals are still glowing brightly,
but their blaze is gone.
Their heat can still provide comfort,
and start the breakfast fire.

Yesterday’s campfire may be all but a memory,
but its life will renew the new day.

Life is like a campfire.
May it consume you,
May you burn bright.
May you be the light in the night.

©August 3, 2020 Michael Craner

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