Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


January 2020

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’”- —Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Words cannot convey how sincerely moi places Hope in the quote chosen to open this new decade of the New Year. It has been a "2019 what can go wrong, quit, break, disappear, dissolve, crater, etc. period of time around these parts." We did have a lovely family trip/visit to North Texas for Christmas. See pic below.

We are fortunate to get a glimpse into what is most likely to occur or not from the expertise of the Numerologist Michael John Fierro in his forecast for "2020- 4 Universal Year ..." As he puts it: Reconstruction and Building a Strong Foundation or, Destruction and Chaos. This editor shall continue to hope for the most excellent of outcomes.

Meanwhile Mattie Lennon regales us with tales from the past by revered Irish authors then skips ahead to catch the highlights of the first Tractor Pull event for kids in this issue's "Irish Eyes." Judith Kroll ("OnTrek") shares her vision for an ideal approach to stepping into the well heralded 2020.

The Genealogist among us (Melinda Cohenour in "Armchair Genealogy") seeks even further into the past with part one on Pierre Cresson, “Le Jardiniere” a 7th Great Grandfather in her tree. But husband Rod Cohenour with a more current agenda shares with her permission a cherished and carefully developed Pollo Poblano in "Cooking with Rod."

Thomas F. O'Neill --"Introspective," discusses goals for the lessons for his students while Marilyn Carnell -- "Sifoddling Along," decries the loss of intrinsic values as the less hurried, less frantic lifestyles flow into the past.

John I. Blair sent three poems for January: "Undeliverable," "Perennial," and "The Glass Door." Bruce Clifford penned two poems "Listen to Me" and "Inside You've Grown." "Her Last Years Alone," "Waiting for the Blue," "On The Threshold," "A Private Poem," and "The Christmas Beat" are the five poems from Bud Lemire.

Michael Craner, our co-founder and webmaster, who resembles a certain fabled entity from the North Pole when he wants to, is the key to our well being, our equilibrium, our dreams. Thanks again, Mike!
See you in February!

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Armchair Genealogy


Pierre “Le Jardiniere” Cresson
7th Great-Grandfather

      Pierre Cresson was a French Huguenot, who escaped persecution in France at the time of the Reformation by relocating to the Netherlands before making the long voyage to the New World – known then as New Netherland and now called New York. His story encompasses the intrigue of religious persecution and the impact that had on the lives of many brilliant and talented Protestant French citizens.

       Pierre Cresson was born by all accounts in 1609 in Aisne, Abbeville, Picardy, France, at the family manor (Mesnil la Cresson). At that time, Picardy was one of the hotbeds of Protestant Reformation which began in earnest about 1555 and continued through 1562. From that year until 1572, Huguenots gained some ground and then lost freedoms in the political tug-a-war between the ruling Catholics and those embracing the Protestant faith. The culmination of this political rivalry was the horrific Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day that resulted in the deaths of thousands of French Huguenots in Paris in the day-long slaughter occurring August 24th through the 25th 1572 in Paris. Catherine de Medicis was the strategist and principal instigator with her plans being carried out by Roman Catholic nobles and citizens who became a part of the killing mob.

      King Henry IV (Henry of Navarre) a Huguenot leader became King of France in 1589. He brought about peace by accepting Catholicism upon his rise to power. The King was quoted as saying, “Paris is well worth a Mass,” an indication that his acceptance of the Catholic faith was a military and political strategy and not a true change of heart. After a tumultuous reign, filled with romantic intrigues with his several mistresses, assassination attempts, and military strife with Spain and political foes within his own country, King Henry IV was working to attain peace and settle the country. In pursuit of this noble endeavor, he entertained the deputies of the Protestant movement and sought to incorporate their just desires into an acceptable framework of law. The result was the Edict of Nantes, signed in April of 1598. The Edict did not grant full and complete parity for French Protestants, though it did provide freedom of worship in the towns in which their creed prevailed. It restored civil rights including the “right to work in any field or for the state and to bring grievances directly to the king.” [SOURCE: ) Though granting these desired accommodations, the Protestants were still required to pay a tithe to the Catholic church, any suit at law was to be heard by a panel of judges half of which was to be Catholic and half Protestant, among other things.

      It was into this uncertain and stressful period that Pierre Cresson was born. (Interestingly, John Calvin, the Protestant reformer who carried on the work of Martin Luther, was born almost 100 years earlier, 10 July 1509, in Noyon, Picardy, France. The century since his birth and the impact of his teachings would have a lifelong impact on our Pierre Cresson.) It has been noted that the Cressons of Burgundy in France counted among their family ranks a number of Reformer ministers.

      The early years of Pierre Cresson’s life are not known as the earliest record of his history appeared in the Revised History of Harlem (City of New York): Its Origins and Early Annals .. by James Riker, and Henry Pennington Toler. Their history indicates Pierre fled from Picardy, France, with his young but numerous family members to Sluis, Flanders while yet in his early 30’s. Soon thereafter, however, he moved further north, “…in 1640 is found (with Nicholas and Venant Cresson, both married) among the refugees at Leyden.” He remained in Holland for some 17 years, noted as living at Ryswyk and Delft. During that period of time he was employed as the gardener for William, Prince of Orange, and was forever after known by the sobriquet of The Gardener (“Le Jardiniere”.)

      Thus, we must explore the historical events that affected our ancestor. He had escaped persecution in France seeking a peaceable existence, a life where he was free to worship as he pleased and to enjoy gainful employment. The Huguenots of France were drawn to The Netherlands, where the leaders were more prone to permit their citizenry greater choices. The background story of those rulers is important to understand in order to learn as much as possible about Pierre Cresson.

      William, the first Prince of Orange not blood related to the old House of Orange, inherited the title upon the death of his childless first paternal cousin, Rene’ of Chalon. (This William is the first of his line to enjoy the title, Prince of Orange.) He would become known as the Father of the Fatherland in The Netherlands.) William being only eleven years of age at the time, Emperor Charles V, overlord of most of these estates, served as Regent until William was deemed of age and wisdom fit to serve as head of state. Born in Flanders, Charles V had a powerful history, having served as Lord of the Netherlands (Duke of Burgundy) from 1506, King of Spain from 1516, and then Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria from 1519. Charles was an avowed Catholic and “spent most of his life defending the integrity of the Holy Roman Empire from the Protestant Reformation…” [Wikipedia]

      Conversely, William was brought up as a Protestant and only schooled in Catholicism as a requirement for his rule of The Netherlands. As a ward of Charles V and his wife Isabella, William was a favorite of the couple and at the ripe young age of 22 was named by Charles as Commander of one of his armies. (This William, known as William the Silent, was the father of Frederick Henry, his youngest son by his fourth wife, Louise de Coligny, the daughter of the Huguenot leader, Gaspard de Coligny.) Thus, we see the conflict of religious aspirations between Charles V, the avowed Catholic, and his ward, William The Silent, who embraced the Protestant beliefs and would in later life refuse to permit persecution of the Huguenots in his realm.

      Frederick Henry, the youngest son of William The Silent and Louise de Coligny, served as stadtholder of the Netherlands from 1625 until his death in 1647. (Stadtholder means regent or steward of the state, the titular head of the government. Although each state or area was permitted to name their own stadtholder, most of these regents ruled over multiple provinces.) Frederick Henry inherited the reign upon the death of his elder brother, Maurice, who was noted as one of the finest military generals in the history of The Netherlands. Maurice trained Frederick, who became almost as adept at the art of war as his mentor. His reign was extensive: “On the death of Maurice in 1625 without legitimate issue, Frederick Henry succeeded him in his paternal dignities and estates, and also in the stadtholderates of the five provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overijssel and Guelders, and in the important posts of captain and admiral-general of the Union (commander-in-chief of the Dutch States Army and of the Dutch navy).” [SOURCE: Wikipedia,,_Prince_of_Orange]

       “William II (b. 27 May 1626 – d. 6 November 1650) was sovereign Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, Overijssel and Groningen in the United Provinces of the Netherlands from 14 March 1647 until his death three years later. His only child, William III, reigned as King of England, Ireland, and Scotland.” [Stet]

       William III was born only one week after the death of his illustrious father. He was named titular head of all the states listed above from his birth; however, he only attained practical rule in the 1670’s when he reached the age of approximately 21. This Prince of Orange, along with his wife, Queen Mary II, co-ruled and that period would become known as the Reign of William and Mary. He became King of England, Ireland, and Scotland in 1689 until his death 8 March 1702.

      This period of leadership of The Netherlands by the various Princes of Orange represent a time of upheaval in many areas of life with numerous wars and political intrigue as various groups attempted to achieve dominance. It was in this atmosphere that representatives of the City of Amsterdam in the New World approached various masters of their trade in The Netherlands with an enticing offer. Thus, Pierre Cresson chose to leave his adopted country behind and relocate to The New World. He would make his mark on his new country. That part of his story shall be the subject of next month’s column.

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Cooking with Rod


Pollo Poblano Relleno

Melinda Cohenour – 1990

    The New Year is HERE. So is the new decade! It seems almost like a cliché to say some things will stand the test of time – beautiful songs, wonderful food, loving relationships. And, in terms of food, this is one that definitely will stand the test of time. It took M a while -probably three or four years actually, experimenting and trying different combinations until she finally hit one that could hold its own with Mariano’s “Especiale.” There are very few things in the world more varied and more wonderful than Mexican dishes. And I can speak from personal experience that Chile in any form is one of the most – if not THE most – wonderful and variable food in the world. Just as an aside, I recall an incident where our grandson, Adam, requested Stuffed Peppers for his birthday meal and Melinda gladly prepared stuffed peppers – BELL peppers, that is, complete with a salad, mashed potatoes and baked beans. Adam took one look and asked, “What is this? I thought you were going to fix my favorite dish – you know with chicken and guacamole and stuff?” She realized he had meant Pollo Poblano Rellenos! It is still one of his favorite meals and it certainly is one of ours. So, start the new decade off right and spice up your life. Guaranteed this one will help you do it! (And, yes, she prepared the RIGHT dish the next night for our birthday boy.)

    Bon appetit~!

Poblano Chicken

    This recipe was adapted from a magnificent dish served to Rod and me in downtown Dallas Texas at Mariano’s about 1986. The elder Mr. Martinez was enjoying his birthday when we arrived for a late lunch. He graciously insisted we join him at his table. He then hailed the waitress and asked that the chef prepare three of his “special dishes”. This was my introduction to Pollo Poblano. This is my version.

FIRST SIDE DISH: Guacamole: First prepare guacamole. Mash 3-4 large ripe avocados. Add 1-2 Tbsp chunky tomato salsa, dash of garlic powder and a squirt of lemon juice. Mash, mix, chill. You will want a lot of guacamole for this dish.

SECOND SIDE DISH: Mexican Rice: Cook white long-grain rice, adding butter and a couple tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro to the water before cooking. When cooked, fluff rice, add one can Mexican tomatoes and their juice, 2 Tbsp chili powder (or to taste), dash garlic powder. Separately sauté 1 bell pepper, diced, and one diced white onion until tender. Stir vegetables into rice mixture. Keep warm on stove. Burner OFF to prevent scorching.

6 large poblano peppers, stem in, seeded
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Lime juice or lemon juice
Fajita seasoning mix
1 brick Monterey Jack cheese, freshly grated
1-2 tsp garlic from minced garlic in oil
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro, de-stemmed, leaves loosely chopped

Rinse chicken thoroughly under cold water. Lay on prep sheet. Squeeze lemon or lime juice over chicken breasts and sprinkle with Fajita seasoning mix. Broil until lightly golden on both sides and cooked thoroughly.

Remove, cool, cube chicken.

Heat electric skillet to about 350°. Heat oil to sizzling. Add garlic and stir to release perfume. Quickly add diced chicken and stir to coat evenly. Begin adding a little cilantro (leaves only).

Split poblano peppers and remove seeds, leaving stems intact. Rinse and shake dry. Put on cookie sheet or grill pan and broil until outer skin is blackened and begins to split. Turn and repeat. Remove pan of peppers to location near skillet. Continue adding cheese to chicken mixture in skillet. Toss, add oil as necessary to prevent sticking, control heat to prevent scorching. Add fresh cilantro (no stems) and toss. Turn off heat.

Stuff peppers, using all of chicken mixture. Work quickly.

THIRD SIDE DISH: Refried beans (I prefer no fat). Heat just before preparing plates. (You can microwave with a sprinkle of grated Mexican blend cheese and some chopped onions while you are stuffing the poblanos.)

PREPARE PLATES: To make a beautiful presentation, use colorful plates. Place large leaf of Kale (purple with curled edges) on one side of platter and use for the guacamole “dish”. Spoon rice onto plate, then beans and place one large beautiful stuffed poblano pepper in center stage.

Serve with tortilla chips and cold drink. Cold, crisp radish slices and green onions are always a nice addition, and some traditional pico de gallo.

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Sifoddling Along


Things Lost With Time


The New Year makes me nostalgic about things that have changed in my lifetime. Customs that were as natural as breathing have died out, almost without notice.

Take Charivari for example: Defined as a noisy mock serenade made by banging pans and kettles to call out a newly married couple. Pronounced “shivaree” it usually started with a demand to see the couple and often a temporary kidnapping of the bride ensues. The bride and groom were expected to provide refreshments for this supposedly impromptu event. The last one I heard about in Pineville was in 1958 when my friends Betty and Raymond Thompson were married. Betty’s parents lived next door to us, so I knew about it.

Thinking of weddings led to thoughts of how showers or gifts were given before a wedding and usually soon thereafter a shower for a baby. Most people had little money and so the custom of “going in on” a gift was the solution. I can remember going with my Mom to the local dry goods store so she could “go in on” linens or towels or to the hardware store to “go in on” a toaster, a mixer or a set of pots and pans. Gifts were usually limited to the very practical as most couples were starting out with very little. I recall that when I got married, we both had the following items: a typewriter, an iron and a clock-radio. The shower gifts allowed us to set up housekeeping (as it was called).

Music has always been an integral part of Ozark entertainment. I grew up going to “singings” on Sunday afternoons. They were held at local churches, the court room or any place big enough to hold a crowd. It was an opportunity for anyone who wished to perform. A quartet singing four-part harmony was usually the most professional and I still love to hear that kind of music. Gospel and folk tunes were the usual fare. I soaked it up in my bones. I rarely was brave enough to perform, but I did a few times. The last time was in the 1970’s when I sang “The House of the Rising Sun” accompanied by my limited guitar playing. I think there is still a group that meets in the old Bunker Hill School house, but not for sure.

Hiking and walking have given way to modern transportation. In my youth, if I attended Sunday School, I could go on a hike led by the teacher. We walked for miles in every direction from town – usually for about four hours. We explored streams and bluffs played hide and seek and had a wonderful time. Fences were no barrier; we climbed over or through the barbed wire and went on our way. No one worried about trespassing as we did no harm and left only our tracks. Such freedom is unthinkable today. My Mom and her sisters would walk 6 miles each way to visit their parents on Big Sugar Creek. They packed cheese and crackers and cups. They would stop at springs to get a drink. It was safe to do so in those days. They didn’t travel alone. My sister, brother and several cousins would go too. By the time I came along, we had a car, so I didn’t have that experience, but have heard about it many times.

I recently read an article about the need to let children get bored. When left to their own devices, they found ways to invent games and other kinds of play. I think it is a good idea. Too often, we are entertained when we could be using our own imaginations and creativity.

Marilyn Carnell
December 29, 2019

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Irish Eyes



Regular readers will be aware of my love of Listowel, the culture capital of Ireland. Now I have dug out a story written by the great Listowel writer, Sean McCarthy in 1986 four years before he died.

The Christmas Coat
By Sean McCarthy.

Oh fleeting time, oh, fleeting time
You raced my youth away;
You took from me the boyhood dreams
That started each new day.

My father, Ned McCarthy found the blanket in the Market Place in Listowel two months before Christmas. The blanket was spanking new of a rich kelly green hue with fancy white stitching round the edges. Ned, as honest a man as hard times would allow, did the right thing. He bundled this exotic looking comforter inside his overcoat and brought it home to our manse on the edge of Sandes bog.

The excitement was fierce to behold that night when all the McCarthy clan sat round the table. Pandy, flour dip and yolla meal pointers, washed down with buttermilk disappeared down hungry throats. All eyes were on the green blanket airing in front of the turf fire. Where would the blanket rest?

The winter was creeping in fast and the cold winds were starting to whisper round Healy’s Wood; a time for the robin to shelter in the barn. I was excited about the blanket too but the cold nights never bothered me. By the time I had stepped over my four brothers to get to my own place against the wall, no puff of wind, no matter however fierce could find me.

After much arguing and a few fist fights (for we were a very democratic family) it was my sister, Anna who came up with the right and proper solution. That lovely blanket, she said was too fancy, too new and too beautiful to be wasted on any bed. Wasn’t she going to England, in a year's time and the blanket would make her a lovely coat! Brains to burn that girl has. Didn’t she prove it years later when she married an engineer and him a pillar of the church and a teetotaler? Well maybe a slight correction here. He used to be a pillar of the pub and a total abstainer from church but she changed all that. Brains to burn!

The tailor Roche lived in a little house on the Greenville Road with his brother Paddy and a dog with no tail and only one eye. Rumours abounded around the locality about the tailor’s magic stitching fingers and his work for the English royal family. Every man, woman and child in our locality went in awe of the Tailor Roche. Hadn’t he made a coat for the Queen of England when he was domiciled in London, a smoking jacket for the Prince of Wales and several pairs of pyjamas for Princess Flavia?

The only sour note I ever heard against the tailor’s achievements came from The Whisper Hogan, an itinerant ploughman who came from the west of Kerry.

“ if he’s such a famous tailor,” said Whisper, “why is it that his arse is always peeping out through a hole in his trousers?.

Hogan was an awful begrudger. We didn’t pay him any heed. Tailor Roche was the man chosen to make the coat from the green blanket. Even though it was a “God spare you the health” job, a lot of thought went into the final choice of a tailor.

The first fitting took place of a Sunday afternoon on the mud floor of the McCarthy manse. The blanket was spread out evenly and Anna was ordered to lie very still on top of it. Even I, who had never seen a tailor at work thought this a little strange. But my father soon put me to rights when he said, “Stop fidgeting, Seáinín , you are watching a genius at work.” Chalk, scissors, green thread and plenty of sweet tea with a little bit of bacon and cabbage when we had it. A tailor can’t work on an empty stomach.

The conversion went apace through Christmas and into the New Year. Snip snip, stitch, stich, sweet tea and fat bacon, floury spuds. I couldn’t see much shape in the coat but there was one thing for sure – it no longer looked like a blanket. Spring raced into summer and summer rained its way into autumn. Hitler invaded Poland and the British army fled Dunkirk, the men of Sande’s Bog and Greenville gathered together shoulder to shoulder to defend the Ballybunion coastline and to bring home the turf.

Then six weeks before Christmas disaster struck the McCarthy clan and to hell with Hitler, the British Army, and Herman Goering. We got the news at convent mass on Sunday morning the Tailor Roche had broken his stitching hand when he fell over his dog, the one with the one eye and no tail. Fourteen months of stitching, cutting, tea drinking and bacon eating down the drain. Even a genius cannot work with one hand.

Anna looked very nice in her thirty shilling coat from Carroll Heneghan’s in Listowel as we walked to the train. Coming home alone in the January twilight I tried hard to hold back the tears. She would be missed. The Tailor was sitting by the fire, a mug of sweet tea in his left hand and a large white sling holding his right-hand. I didn’t feel like talking so I made my way across the bed to my place by the wall. It was beginning to turn cold so I drew the shapeless green bindle up around my shoulders. It was awkward enough to get it settled with the two sleeves sticking out sideways and a long split up the middle. Still, it helped keep out the frost. Every bed needs a good green blanket and every boyhood needs a time to rest.

The ghosts of night will vanish soon
When winter fades away
The lark will taste the buds of June
Mid the scent of new mown hay.

* * * * *

Psychologists tell us about “Christmas Regression.” It happens when we go home for Christmas or reunite somewhere else with the friends of our childhood. It is then that we attempt to revert to the roles played when we were young. But what if some of those roles are now almost non-existent? Over to that other great authority on all Listowel matters past and present, Vincent Carmody.
Wren Boys

By Vincent Carmody
The wren-boy tradition on St. Stephen's Day is unfortunately, now nearly a thing of the past. Now, only a few small groups, or individuals carry on a tradition, the origins of which, are lost in the mists of time. In the time of the big batches of wren-boys, under the leadership of their King, these groups would traverse the country roads all day, and as evening and night approached, they would head for the larger urban areas to avail of the richer pickings in the public houses.

The North Kerry area was well catered for, with two large groupings in the Killocrim/Enismore and Dirha West areas, There was also a strong tradition in the Clounmacon side of the parish.

Some time after the wrens-day, it was the custom to organise a wren-dance. When the date was picked, a house offered to host the dance. The dances were all night affairs, with liberal quantities of food and drink provided.

In the early 1960's I spent three years in London, during which, I worked in a pub, The Devonshire Arms, in Kensington, for a year or so. At this time, The Harvest Festival Committee, under Dr. Johnny Walsh, organised the wren-boy competitions in Listowel. Mr Johnny Muldoon, of London, had met Dr Johnny in Listowel and told him that he would organise two dances in his Dance Halls in London, provided that the Listowel committee send over three or four wren-boys to be in attendance. During their stay in London, Dan Maher, who managed the Devonshire, invited the Listowel contingent to the pub. On the particular evening I was serving in the lounge bar. (the pub was a gathering place for many film and TV actors who would have lived nearby). Suddenly Dr.Johnny threw the double door open, and in came the Listowel wren-boys, led by the leader, Jimmy Hennessy. Jimmy, wearing a colourful pants, had only some fur skin over his shoulders and chest and a headpiece with two horns. The others followed, faces blackened, and wearing similar outfits, all beating bodhrans. To say the least, those present did not have an idea what was happening. To this day, I can hear the remark which one man, Sir Bruce Setan, (he, of Fabian of the Yard) at the counter said to the other, Christopher Trace (of Blue Peter fame), Blimey, they're coming in from the jungle. They will kill us all.

There was no one killed, and I think that Jimmy Hennessy enjoyed drinking pints of Guinness and pressing the flesh, surrounded by people he usually saw, only in the Plaza and Astor.

Listowel Wren Boys of Yester Year.

* * * * *

Our area of west Wicklow is a favourite venue for

Tractor Balance
Tractor Runs.
But on Sunday 29th December there was a new departure, The Lacken Community Junior Tractor & Trike Run. As night fell on the mild post-Christmas evening twenty five children decked out in colourful clothing took to the road with their mini tractors and mini trikes.

One Family Ready

All vehicles were adequately lit and the event, which was organised by local man Theo Clarke, was well supervised by adult volunteers. Theo gives a big thank-you to, “everybody who helped out.”

Organiser Theo Clarke and his wife.

The event is described here by Diana Gallagher

On Sunday evening just after 6pm in the little village of Lacken, a rumble was heard, this was the rumble of plastic wheels against the normally quiet road. It was the first Lacken Kiddies tractor run!!!

Ready to go.

The pedal powered vehicles consisted of John Deere tractors, scooters, bicycles and go-karts, a few motorised vehicles took part also, but leg power proved the better as not all battery operated vehicles finished, as one didnt even start the run!!The adults shouted, encouraged and even pushed some of the kids towards the finish line!!

The Future on Wheels.

Each "vehicle" was lit up with Christmas lights, tinsel and some even had christmas trees attached!!

Well lit Lacken.

The registration only took a few minutes, and each child got a numbered sticker for their mode of transport. It was a great event, the craic was good and the kids loved it! They have seen plenty of tractor runs and now it was their turn to shine!! There was already talk amongst the kids of attending the run next year and so we look forward to a bigger Kiddies Tractor Run 2020.

* * * * *

Irish New Year Blessing
“Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo arís.”
"May we be alive this time next year."
Have a great 2020. Don’t eat any yellow snow and I’ll see you in February.

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In order to graduate high school students must complete 100 hours of community service. Community service for them is more than something that will look good on their resume. It can point them to new interests, new friends, and if their lucky, maybe even a lifelong career. And yeah, okay, it’ll also look good on their resume.

I like to tell my students that part of being human is to feel useful and offering a helping hand to those in need is a way of feeling purposeful and everyone from time to time needs that helping hand. Learning to extend ours a little further will help us build a reputation as a reliable, and helpful person.

For you, the students out there “Volunteering” is a big word. How can you be sure you’re finding opportunities that are right for you? There are always easy entry points, like the service clubs at your high school or civic organizations, but beyond that, the options can get overwhelming.

When families volunteer their time to reach out to help others, they are also helping one another become more humane. After all, the word “humane” is a variant of the word “human.” Volunteering your time also includes demonstrating better aspects of the human character such as kindness and compassion and showing respect for other people’s views.

When I was in high school back during the stone age, I enjoyed visiting the elderly in nursing homes, or at assisted living facilities, and in my own neighborhood. I enjoyed listening to their stories but I also found that the elderly can teach students new skills. Another way to show the older folks that you care is to deliver meals to them. This would be a perfect way to show that you care for their wellbeing. Doing errands, cooking for them or for a neighbor who is sick are also ways of volunteering your time to help out a person in need.

Here are some other ways of volunteering your time and being helpful:

You may never read some of your used books again so why not donate them to people who are in need of them. Other people can gain knowledge from reading your used books so donating them to others is a great act of kindness.

Pick up litter and beautify your neighborhood or wildlife area. It’s safest to do this wearing gloves and using a pickup tool or a Reacher. Put each piece of trash in a box or garbage bag, then recycle or throw the garbage away when you’re done.

Beautify your neighborhood by planting flowers. That is a great way to show others that you care about your neighborhood and where you live.

Be kind and take an evening to watch a neighbor’s child. Your neighbor may need a night out from parenting so step up and volunteer your time to meet the challenge. Working with people much younger than you are truly ways to make a difference in your community and to show others all that you have to offer.

People throughout the world cannot afford to purchase the clothes you ware. So donating your used clothes will help other children in a far off land live a better life.

Another way of being helpful is to learn to anticipate the needs of others by listening closely to what people say, and how to share your time in the most helpful ways possible. Being around is one of the underrated requirements of being a helpful person. If you want to be helpful for your friends and family, you've got to be available to be helpful and give them the gift of your time. Try and make time for the important people in your life and be willing to do things you might not normally want to do, to be as helpful as possible.

If you schedule a time to visit those in need in your free time by putting off a computer game with friends, remind yourself, it’s the right thing to do. Especially, when it comes to helping out others, even when you'd rather not. A simple act of visiting your elderly neighbor can be the kindest gesture in your neighbor’s life. No one wants to be lonely in the world so you can surely make a difference by becoming a friend to an elderly person.

Want to know if you can be of some assistance? Ask. The best way to figure out quickly and efficiently if and what you can do to help out is to just ask, flat-out.

For the students out there, you should know that everyone at some point needs a helping hand and why should homework be an exception? If you are a wiz in one subject, why not help out a young student who can’t seem to grasp the subject matter. Put away your phone and give the person you're helping your full attention. Really listen to the person and evaluate the situation as objectively as possible. Digging deeper, asking questions and staying engaged in the person's issues will make you the most helpful presence possible. Don't look for the easy help, look for the real help.

I like to tell my students that our self-worth will not be measured by what we amassed in a lifetime but by what we give in the present moment. Our greatest achievements will not consist of fame or glory but in the unremembered, unrecognized, and undetected acts of loving-kindness that were bestowed on others.

We make our living in life but what we give makes our life worth living.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (410) 925-9334
    China Mobile: 011 (86) 13405757231
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On Trek


2020 Vision

We all want hope, good fortune,better relationships, etc etc in the coming year.

The grass always looks greener on the new calendar. Our happiness comes from within. We cannot expect others to make us happy. Our future, is our own journey. We help others along the way, and they help us, but in the end it is our responsibility.

Wanna lose weight? Do it. Wanna sing? Do it. Wanna help the homeless? Do it. Wanna help animals? Do it. Resolutions are good, but motivation of love is a real enforcer of good.

Start with ourselves first. What do I want? What do I need? What do I love?

Don't settle for less, keep your goals in your heart and move those mountains. Encourage one another, be kind, loving, and true to self. What more do we need? 2019 had both good and bad times.

2020 is a fresh start. Moving forward many times takes baby steps..We don't stay babies for long. We move to big strides. Smiling all the while. Let your smile be that rainbow that floats above you always.
Judith 12/31/2019 Bye 2019.

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2020 is the 4th year in the current Universal nine-year cycle which began in 2017. As with all years, there are positive and negative aspects, and it is my belief, considering the current worldwide situation that once again, there may be extremes on both sides. Much will be determined by the actions and activities of the year that ends on December 31, 2019 (a THREE Universal year). The 20th Century brought us a series of 22/4 Universal Years from 1939-1993. These were years filled with vision, change, progress and, so many things that changed dynamics worldwide across the board. During the 22/4 Years we created and experienced a great many things that changed the world as we knew it. All the other 4 Universal Years in the 20th Century were 13/4s. A 13/4 Year carries with it a strong element of karma especially in the realm of changes and transitions, life and death, although not necessarily actual physical death, the passing of the old making way for the new. The choices that are made in a 13/4 Year can carry great influence on the world in which we live. After this brief series of 4 Universal Years that were 2002, 2011, and 2020 in 2029, the 4 Universal Years will once again be under the influence of the 13/4. We can anticipate during 2020 a trend that takes us back to the basics, with a focus on actually doing the work of truly building for the future. 2020 includes two zeroes. In my work, the 0, while not considered a number in Numerology, shows transition on the level of the preceding number. In this case, that number is 2 and it happens twice which will magnify and amplify the lessons that will appear. This year will provide an ongoing series of events and circumstances that will require co-operation of all sides in finding resolutions, solutions and, answers. This is a major year for growth on this level. We must all take the time to examine, study and, understand opposing points of view so that we may better work together on coming together, to work on what must be done. This year brings with it a need to define and, bring order to things.

On the positive side, 2020 can be a year of concrete action directed towards creating and building a more stable world for the future. Some of the stronger aspects of the FOUR represent structure, foundations, and organization. This year has potential to be a ground-breaking year in the re-creation of a world that accommodates and cares for everyone. When one considers the breakdown of systems and establishments in the preceding three years (beginning in 2017), it can be understood how these systems must be rebuilt, and how they must be reconstructed to benefit the many, and not the few. The seeds that were sown in 2017 will take on clearer form in the world. This should be a year of slow and careful building resulting in permanent and useful conditions that benefit the greater good and not just the few. The 4 demands organization and structure in the construction of a strong foundation for all things and all people. These demands come with a responsibility to enact things properly. The result of not acting responsibly and in an orderly fashion will be chaos.

2020 should see an increase in construction projects and in government projects related to infrastructure and commerce. If world leaders act in a manner that is beneficial to everyone, there can be a reversal of the recent trend of neglecting that which is important and serves the greater good. There may be a renewed interest and participation in farming, both on a large scale and in an increased interest in home gardens. The 4 Universal Year is a good year for farming. Perhaps we will see a turn-around in the ongoing crisis that is wreaking havoc on many portions of the agriculture and dairy farming segments of society. A portion of this interest will emanate from a greater desire by people to exercise thrift and economy in their personal lives. The FOUR vibration is also beneficial for the sectors concerning manufacturing and education. Another positive aspect of a FOUR Universal year is a greater desire toward tact and cooperation between people; citizenry and their governments; and, between countries on a global scale. There may be a challenge to traditions and recently accepted modes of behavior which can have great potential to re-establish the bond between governments and their citizens on a more cooperative and equitable level.

While it is true that the American economy is doing well, it is not really doing well for everyone. Being as top-heavy as it currently is, we must be aware of the events of 1929, the end of the Roaring 20s (a 3 Universal Year) and be cautious that we do not experience a similar type of downturn brought about by the behavior of the very wealthy and governments that cater to them at the expense of the general population. Even if it isn't as dramatic, it could still create greater societal problems than we currently have. With that in mind, it is also a possibility that there may develop a shortage of liquidity in business, government, and on a personal level. This would be a direct result of the excesses of the “good times” and the failure of individuals, nations and corporate entities to realize the errors of their ways. We have seen this first-hand with corporations that benefited from great tax cuts taking the money saved and not turning around and using it to build business. Rather, they have taken that money and pocketed it. Great for the stockholders...not so great for the overall health of the economy. Just as Icarus flew too close to the sun and crashed back to earth, so may the economy find that it too “flew too high only to fall hard, back to reality”. Hard times may become a reality for many. If too many people feel as though they are increasingly being marginalized, we may see protests of a large scale. In many ways, this is the case in numerous countries around the world.

Special attention must be paid to the negative aspects of the FOUR vibration of 2020, as much of this will be determined by how current situations are handled by those in power. The negative 4 is the antithesis to form, function, organization and, discipline. 2020 may see a rise in violence and violent confrontations around the world in a broad spectrum of countries. This rise may be in the form of civil disobedience and/or wars. Accompanying these events may be the fall of governments as the level and intensity of protests grow increasingly more strident. How governments and power entities react to people raising their voices will have a great effect on the behavior of those people. Dissension, and a move away from conventional behavior(s) may be the result of people's dissatisfaction with their leaders. On the most extreme level, reactions by leaders and governments could range from crackdowns, police and/or military actions, and even martial law being established. The 4 represents restrictions, confinement, obstacles and prison. Societies may exercise a greater level of offensive behavior and dissension may be expressed. Were situations to escalate, people may be surprised at the level of reaction that is exercised on both sides. Other things to be mindful of are a continuation of the ongoing series of natural disasters that are plaguing every corner of the planet. Over the past years we have certainly seen an ever-increasing number of events that seem to be growing in number and intensity on a weekly basis.

As with all vibrations in Numerology (and all situations in life), choices must be made on an individual and collective level. The negative aspects of 2020 should be impetus enough for people to work towards making this a better world in which to live. The world is changing. As can be seen by the events and situations yearly since 2008 (a ONE Universal year), nothing is immune to changes and transformations. You, the individual, must work toward bettering your personal existence and by doing that, you can help to change the collective. Be aware of your behavior, beliefs, and mind-set and pay attention to that which is going on in the world around you. Take part in making your voice heard in creating fairness and equity for all. It is imperative that we hold our leaders accountable and, failing that, they should be removed from office.

Happy New Year!
Blessings of Love & Light

Michael John Fierro
Numerologist/Author/Lecturer/Media Guest

© 2019, Michael John Fierro. Reproduction or reprints only with the express consent of the author.

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The Christmas Beat


Christmas time was coming, thought little Tommy Plummer
All he thought about, was he'd like to be a drummer
Just like his idol, Ringo, whom one day he'd meet
Because this little boy, certainly had the beat
Every year that rolled around
Christmas day brought no sound
How was he to be a drummer without a drum
It's like being a hummer without a hum

His parents he knew, he could make them proud
They kept saying, a drum would be too loud
It had to be loud, that's what made it a drum
If it was a guitar, then it would be strum
Playing his favorite drum music, nothing did change
What's wrong with them, his parents sure are strange
He had to get through to them, make them see
Of the great drummer, with practice, he could be

He prayed every night, that he'd soon get his drum
Then before going to sleep, he'd spit out his gum
His thoughts always took him, to the greatest Star of all
“Ringo, Oh Ringo, I wish I could call”
The Delivery truck arrived, a big box was here
A packaged never ordered, his parents were in fear
Inside, was a very large drum
Off in the distance, there was a hum
It was already opened, they let him try it out
They knew he sounded great, there wasn't any doubt

A big car drove up, they recognized his face
It was Ringo, and the drum came to the wrong place
He heard Tommy play, and knew he had the beat
Ringo smiled, and then took a seat
He did take his drum, but the very next year
A drum in a large box, brought Christmas cheer
Tommy went on to be a hit with his drum
He started a band, and the beat had a strum

©Dec 19, 2019 Bud Lemire

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Like magic
The fresh green comes up
From last year’s roots
Replacing the crisp brown
Of dead leaves.

Not all plants do this –
Petunias once gone
Are gone forever.

But so many, so many,
Fennel, rosemary,
Tradescantia and a world more
Seem indefatigable.

Each year a miracle happens
That is so ordinary
No one pays attention
Except me, it seems.

And I’m always there,
Waiting, watching,
Hoping for the miracle
To continue.

©2019 John I. Blair, 12/26/2019

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Her Last Years Alone

Living alone, she's barely getting by
Some days, all she wants to do is cry
When she has a bad day, where is the help in need
If nobody comes, how will she ever succeed
All she wanted, was to live her last years alone
Now she wonders, is it really safe in her home
She prays, because it's the best she can do
All she asks, is to help her through

Don't tell me, what you think she should do
In her place, you wouldn't do it too
If you put yourself, in her place
“Then you'd know everything that I face”

“Every day, my health is changing”
“Every moment, is what I'm arranging”
“Don't misunderstand me, I love it alone”
“I've got my TV, I've got my phone”

“My eyesight and hearing, is going away”
“I fear what will happen, on some future day”
“I want to enjoy my last years, here, alone”
“Because sooner or later, it'll be the Nursing Home”

©Oct 23, 2019 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
It's not easy making a living as you get older and your
health is failing. You can't see to even call someone, or
see the cards, or the see to turn channels on the TV. Or
when your hearing is going and you can't hear the people
on the phone, or in person, and hate to ask them to repeat
what they said. Yet, you want your freedom, as long as you
can have it. Because you know, sooner or later, it will
be a Nursing Home.

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Listen To Me

Listen to me
Let yourself be
Have some faith
Feeling safe

The air that you breathe
Your will to believe
Set your heart free
Listen to me

Life makes so many changes
Bumps in the road
The happy and sad

Listen to me
All you can see
Reach for the sky
Learn how to fly

The time that you use
Each wasted excuse
Let your mind be
Listen to me

©12/1/19 Bruce Clifford

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On The Threshold

He was waiting, on the threshold of Heaven's Door
A place, that would take him to a distant shore
What lay on the other side, only God really knows
Soon he'll find out, and he'll have many hellos
Looking back on his life, it was like a song
It wasn't a short one, and it lasted quite long
He made his share of mistakes along the way
Yet he learned even more from every day

He did his best, made a living all his own
Sharing his love with his family, made it his home
Somehow things went wrong, his wife wanted out
For awhile there, it left him with some doubt

The sun would shine again, and this was to be true
He'd experience the feelings, of love anew
This love lasted a lifetime, and felt right
He beheld an amazing feeling, within the light

It was Magical, Spiritually it was known
This love he lived with, was deeply shown
He had no regrets, as he looked back
Only his final days, after the heart attack
But soon, he'd be on the other side of that door
The love that he knew, would be with him once more
©Dec 8, 2019 Bud Lemire
                     Author Note:
The trials of love and life give us the experience we need
to value everything we go through. Many times we don't
understand them at the time. Many times it takes us our
entire lifetime to understand it all. Sometimes we never
understand until we are spirits gliding in the Heavenly
World. Then we look back and smile, and understand
that we needed each moment of love, to become the being
we were meant to be.

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The Glass Door

She sits so near
The glass door
Awaiting something
Good to happen.

The frosty morning air
Must make her dream
What warmth
Might dwell within.

My indoor cat
Stares at her
As if daring any move
To enter.

Since the indoor cat
Herself was once
The one outside,

The one without
A home, security,
A spot to curl up
Safe and sound.

You’d think, you’d hope
Experience like that
Would make her feel
More generous.

©2019 John I. Blair, 12/26/2019

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Waiting For The Blue To Show

I'm waiting for the blue to show
They're coming today, this I know
When they come, they bring a smile
They make me feel good, for quite awhile
They bring me to Bingo, so I can play
Some even sit down, and they stay
I love it when I win a prize
Doesn't matter what their size

Oh yes, I'll play Cover Up too
They'll be there, the ones in blue
Guiding me as I shake the dice
I must say, they sure are nice

I like purple, but I love blue
In fact, I like everything they do
They bring a smile to a lonely heart
In this lifetime, they play a special part

Oh what a special day it will be
I watch and look and hope to see
They're coming today, this I know
I'm Waiting For The Blue To Show
©Oct 17, 2019 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
The Blue by their well known name are
Senior Companions. I'd like to think if
I was old and lived alone or in a Nursing
Home, I'd look forward to the Blue to show.
They are fun loving people, and I'd enjoy my
time with them. In fact being a Senior Companion,
I work with some of the best people in Blue.
we were meant to be..

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I sent my letter for the holidays
Again this afternoon.

I try to make it cheery as I can,
Knowing that I hide as much
As what I choose to tell,
Or more:

Smiling photos,
Cute cats,
Bright flowers
In last year’s garden.

Nothing of the pain,
The illness,
World half-crazy.

And each year
I get a certain number back
Marked “undeliverable”

Knowing that some
Future sunny afternoon
I’ll find myself
Undeliverable as well.

©2019 John I. Blair, 12/26/2019

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Inside You've Grown

I’ve been wondering what you’re made of
What you’re thinking of
What’s on your mind

I’ve been listening from the very start of
From the very part of
You’re one of a kind

It could be you fell off the path
The only road you’ve ever known
It could be love wasn’t meant to last
Times like these your heart turns to stone
But inside you’ve grown

I’ve been wondering where you were hiding
Two hearts colliding
Each passing day

I’ve been searching to see what your made of
From the very start of
The beginning of time

It could be you fell off the path
The only road you’ve ever known
It could be love wasn’t meant to last
Times like these your heart turns to stone
But inside you’ve grown

I’ve been listening from the very start of
From the very heart of
You’re one of a kind

©12/21/19 Bruce Clifford

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A Private Poem

I write the words, to a private poem
I'd tell you more, but it must remain unknown
There is so much, that I could write
Due to privacy, it'll be kept out of sight 
They say it protects, the one in regards
Yet I wonder, who's holding the cards
There's so much, that I want to say
But it's their rules, that I must play
Don't post my picture on the internet, or there will be trouble
If you post it on Facebook, it will be double
Please follow the rules, that privacy entails
Be the unknown, when all else fails
I personally think, privacy is taken too far
I think that person, should be memorialized like a star
To share their greatness, for others to see
Would make it known, of who they came to be
Don't take down the Residential Directories, people must be found
You aren't hiding them, there's always the wise bloodhound
There's always a paper trail, that is left behind
And where they are, that's who you'll find
An enhanced Drivers License with a star
Okay, now I know you've taken it too far
My current Drivers License, has all you need to know
I believe it's time, for this privacy thing to go
©Dec 19, 2019 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
I've decided to go public with this privacy thing. I truly
do believe we have become a paranoid country with so many rules
of privacy. It's totally crazy. It is scaring people.
I refuse to be scared. I refuse to be private. I have accepted
some rules, not that I agree with them. So by all means, whenever
I can, I bring privacy to the public.
Because no matter how private you think you might be,
there is someone out there who knows all about you.

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