Sunday, March 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


March 2020

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time — 
a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.” -– Adrienne Cook.
March has always been foremost about Saint Patrick's Day in the heart and mind of yours truly. And likely in the taste buds which were blessed when Leo C. Helmer, last beloved husband, would begin doing his many recipes that celebrated the event.

Here are a couple links to some of those specialties:
Making Good Irish Cream.
A Tall Irish Paddy Day Tale And An Old Irish Recipe From My Ancient Irish Relatives for Leg of Lamb.
If you are more concerned about Lent than St Paddy's then here is one of his recipes for that annual period:
Lent Stuff, So Y'all Don't Get Too Fat Before Easter Arrives - Rice Soup.

And here is a link to a poem of your editor's in honor of Saint Patrick's Day:
Leprechaun Lament.

Thomas F. O'Neill --"Introspective," sends his column from within his self-imposed quarantine due to the prevalence of the Coronavirus in China. Marilyn Carnell -- "Sifoddling Along," shares the tales of the various transportation used by her family and herself through the years.

Judith Kroll ("OnTrek") instructs how to overcome Fear in her unique poetic style. Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" brings us a saga by John B. Keane, and information on an innovative manner of alternate final choices.

"Armchair Genealogy" the column by Melinda Cohenour discusses disparate searches to find possible leads to a few family members whose background has reached a "brick wall." Her husband Rod Cohenour ("Cooking with Rod") finally shares his special, much requested, gravy recipe which can be used with "Hobo Casserole by M" -- a much loved recipe by wife.

We welcome Roger Frank to our publication this month with his Song Lyrics, "Swirling Thoughts." Be sure to click his byline to see his photo and biography. We anticipate being able to present more of Roger's compositions.

John I. Blair's poems are "Moving Moon," "Daffodil," and "Deaf Love." "Without a Plan" is by Bruce Clifford. Bud Lemire's four poems are "One Foot In," "From Album To CD," "Phlegmboyant," and "Mind Your Own Business." "Future" by yours truly finishes the poetry section for March.

Enjoy March, St Patrick's Day, this issue, and your life and family, Michael Craner, dear co-founder and webmaster, the key to our well being, our equilibrium, our dreams. Thanks again, Mike! I am forever grateful for your expertise as well as your friendship and support in this endeavor.

We close with another lovely Irish blessing:

“May the best day of your past. Be the worst day of your future."
See you in April!.

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


Armchair Genealogy


Those Horrible Brick Walls!

    Nothing is more aggravating and frustrating than to encounter a seemingly impermeable BRICK WALL in your research. It is annoying when it is encountered in a peripheral line, but when it involves your direct line ancestor, it is heartbreaking. My two primary lines of descent – paternal and maternal – involve critical brick walls. One of these has been featured in two prior columns: the William “P. R.” Joslyn parentage proof on my maternal ancestral line. On the paternal line, there are two stumbling blocks: the Carroll parentage of Earl Allen Carroll, my Great-Grandfather and the Anderson line extending back from his wife, Laura Isabel Anderson Carroll. Earl Allen Carroll was born in Greenfield, Dade County, Missouri in 1863. The birth records for that county are non-existent for that period of time. Earl Allen was born 25 April 1863. The Dade County Courthouse burned on 6 October 1863. No census records include a potential Carroll family in that area for 1860. The first Census recording Earl Allen Carroll is 1900. Aaaaargh!!! This column discusses the various brick walls your author has encountered, and the various methods being utilized in her attempt to BREAK DOWN THOSE WALLS!
Brick Wall ONE: William “P. R.” Joslyn:

     Previously in this column, the various attempts to break down the P. R. Joslyn brick wall has been recounted. In columns published December 2016 and January 2017, information garnered in this exercise appeared. which related the DNA research in this quest and which then recounted the various items of research tracking P. R. Joslyn’s travels and a bit of insight into his character. Interesting stuff – but no firm link to confirm his parents. The DNA proves this line extends to either his father or grandfather being Col. William of Deerfield, William Joslin (1701-1771) and, thus, to the Immigrant Ancestor, Thomas Josselyn and wife Rachel Marlow (or Jude, depending upon your choice of “proofs”) born 1591 Bollinghatch, Roxwell, Essex, England and died 3 November 1660 in Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, Colonial America. This prestigious line leads all the way back to Charlemagne whose antecedents are widely published back into the mists of time.

    Years ago, your author enlisted the aid of her beloved maternal uncle, Rex Edward Joslin, who agreed to supply a DNA test in the effort to identify known relatives and, hopefully, the “missing link” in the line of descent. The closest DNA match proved to be one Westcott Campbell Joslyn, Jr. born in New Jersey. This research led to the discovery of new cousins, provided proof of heroism rather than villainy (related to his giving up children for adoption after the loss of his wife) for Westcott Campbell Joslyn, Sr., and an intriguing “mirror” personage. The father of Westcott was Walter F. Joslyn whose father was Edward S. Joslyn (who often spelled his surname phonetically, given the New Jersey accent perhaps, as “Joyslin”). This Edward S. Joslin had several children: Harriett Leeds Joslin (later Forby), Julia Ann Joslin Brown, Louisa L Joslin Farrow, Walter F Joslin, Mary E. Joslin who died as a young child, Lelia (alternately Lily, Lilia) Joslin whose marriages and other vital records have thus far eluded me, and Nancy L Joslin Smith.  Walter was the father of Westcott, Sr. through his marriage to Mary Campbell. Research into these children resulted in a most tantalizing mystery. Another Edward S. Joslyn – a contemporary of our line here – had a daughter named … Harriet L. Joslin. This Edward S. Joslyn was born in New York but lived most of his life in Illinois. Early records show OUR Edward S. Joslyn was born (May of 1826) in Cohansey Township (later Bridgeton), Cumberland County, New Jersey; however, our Joslin line has extensive connections to Illinois.

    Thus, your author’s latest strategy: a new tree exploring the life and times of one Edward Swain Joslyn, born 1827 in New York state, the son of Lindsey Joslin and wife, Mary “Polly” Waite Joslin. Yet to be confirmed, but memory serves that one Lindsey Joslin had extensive land ownership in Kane County, Illinois – our paternal family line home area. Also, the siblings of this Edward Swain Joslyn have names quite familiar to our tree: Isaac, Daniel, and Merritt. The mission here will be to attempt to locate parallel family members in the same location at the same point in time and, hopefully, determine whether these two Edward S Joslin fellows were, perhaps, cousins named for a common ancestor.

    Along this stream of reasoning, several years ago, a tree was formed isolating facts relating to Westcott Campbell Joslin, Sr., his father, grandfather, wives and children in an attempt to find the MRCA (most recent common ancestor) for Westcott Campbell Joslin, Jr. and my maternal uncle who shared extensive strings of DNA data. Thus far, this line stops at Edward S. Joslin (1826-Abt. 1900) the silversmith/jeweler/watchmaker.

    (As a footnote to this line: two sons of one Lt. Col. Edward Swain Joslyn were Rudolphus Waite and Frank Wilbur Joslyn. These two became lawyers (like their father) and published a series of books recounting the History of Kane County, Illinois. Pertinent factual data concerning William “P.R.” Joslyn was obtained from the first of these history accounts. No relationship between the families, however, was documented.)

Brick Wall TWO: Earl Allen Carroll:

    This brick wall has left your author banging her head against those bricks without loosening one single chunk of mortar! The loss of the documents in the courthouse fire in October of 1863 seemingly destroyed all evidence of Great-Grandfather Carroll’s mommy and daddy. Family records (scant as they were) indicate his father was one Stephen Carroll, alternately recorded as having been a native of Ireland or born in New York. The mother was listed on the death certificate for Great-Grandmother Laura Isabel Anderson Carroll as being Elizabeth Lewis, born in Tennessee. Records have been painstakingly researched for marriages or Census records reflecting a Stephen and Elizabeth Carroll in any state from New York to Missouri, with focus on Tennessee. No luck as the only possible union proved to have no connection to our family. There are records of possible Civil War deaths which might ultimately relate to our Stephen.

    DNA has, thus far, not provided firm connections with sufficiently strong centimorgan values to even provide impetus for further research. Hints provided by Ancestry’s ThruLines computerized tree search do not, thus far, seem dependable. Continued exploration may finally provide proof of this line’s origins in Ireland in accordance with family lore.

Brick Wall THREE: James Sylvester Anderson:

     This brick wall also relates to my father’s line. His grandmother, Laura Isabel Anderson Carroll was the youngest daughter of James Sylvester Anderson and Nancy Jane Gilstrap Anderson. We know from Census records that James was a wagonmaker. He disappears from all records between the end of the Civil War and the 1870 Census. Their daughter, Laura Isabel was born 8 April 1865 leading to the presumption James was still alive and in touch with Nancy nine months prior. Nancy died 9 Jun 1870 and is buried in the Burkhart Cemetery, Racine, Newton County, Missouri.

    Nancy’s Gilstrap family features prominently in your author’s research, as there have been many stories indicating DaddyJack Carroll had three lines of Native American blood: Cherokee, Apache, and Comanche. None of those stories are borne out by DNA nor by old fashioned genealogical research. However, since Nancy’s father, Jeremiah Milam Gilstrap, was married not once but twice to Cherokee women (widowed twice) and Nancy was brought up in the home with Cherokee half-siblings there was a firm basis for the belief in Native American ancestry. We know that Nancy’s mother was Jeremiah’s first wife, Rachel Copple (proven many times over through DNA matches to my own tests) whose family originally immigrated from Schwartzwald, Altotting, Bayern, Germany.

    The following information comes from a family researcher, J Black Owens, who has granted permission for its use on

    “Nicholas Copple and his son Daniel were drafted into the German Army by the King of Germany. The German King in turn sold the services of his army to the King of England. The King of England sent the German troops to the U.S. to fight for land possession on behalf of England. Nicholas and son Daniel deserted the German-English army because they didn't feel it right that England take the land away from the colonists. Nicholas then enlisted in the German Colonial Army in Maryland as a Corporal in Captain Andrew Porter’s Company, 4th Pennsylvania Artillery. After the war, Nicholas first settled in Maryland. He then received land grants from the U.S. Govt. in North Carolina. He settled there with his wife and children. Nicholas died in 1808 and is buried near the Winston Salem Cemetery in Rowan County, North Carolina. His wife, Maria, is also buried there.

    Further, we find this reference to Nicholas Copple:

    There is a book written by Oscar A. Copple titled "The Copple Family" that is on microfilm at LDS.

Following is an excerpt from this book (misspellings, typos intact):

"Nichoulas Copple and his son Daniel, had been later conscriptedf by the King of Germant (sic), Vogtei. Sold to the King of Englany (sic), sent over to fight the Colonies. They when they arrived (this I found to be English War Ships.) Deserted, and reinlisted in the Colonial Army. Nicklas (sic) near Boston and Daniel, near New York. Daniel as a Private, Nicholas (sic) as a Matteross (one who assist in loading, aiming and fireing the Cannon. Also in moving these guns.) Of the Advance Army. In Pennsylvania (Archives of the Contintal (sic) Army, lines 5th series Vol. 32 pg 809 Daniel Copple enlisted in Philadelphia, July 28, 1776- In Maryland Nichoulas (pg 1014) Enlisted as a Corpal (sic) June 1776, Pg 1031 and again pg 1071. Lost an eye in Germantown Pa. Listed as in Hospital from June to Nov 1780. Mustered out in 1781. There were 4 Battalions of Germans that were raised from Maryland and Pa. They did not like seeing the Colonist enslaved under a King. Nichoulas either went back to Germany or anyway he is seen taking a land grant. His land was along the Uharrie River in Rowan Co. N. Carolina. 1797-1785 Daniel took a pension and than (sic) he later moved to Adams Co. Ohio. Nicklas (sic) a grant of 2,000 acres near Hodges Fork Deed 16-12, 12-25 1798. Nicklas (sic) Copple 200 A on bank Uhary to Jacob Copple (Rowan Co. N.C. 85A. By Nicklas (sic) other land, Phillip Copple's land the said Nichoulas (sic) having been granted tract by N. Car. 1793, July 16th, Deed 18;491 Apr. 16, 1802 Proved 1803; Nichoulas (sic) Copple Sr. to John Copple Jr. both of Rowan Co. 200 A Fork of Yuharris Above Ann Wright's field and adjacent to Garron's other land. (Yaharren).”

    Documented in our family tree is a marriage between Jacob “Peter” Copple, Jr. (grandson of Immigrant Ancestor Nicholas) to Elizabeth “Betsy” Wright in Rowan County, North Carolina, in about the year 1800. 1800 US Federal Census record verification: Jacob Copple Jr ([Jacob Copple Junior]; Home in 1800: Salisbury, Rowan, North Carolina; Free White Persons - Males - 16 thru 25: 1; Free White Persons - Females - 16 thru 25: 1; Number of Household Members: 2.

    We know that Nancy was related to Bob Gilstrap, the gunslinger, (a half-cousin to your author) who gained infamy by his marriage to Julia Ann Johnson, Whiteturkey, Gilstrap, Lewis, Dalton, Johnson, the oft-wed widow of Emmett Dalton (another half-cousin to yours truly). Bob Gilstrap was gunned down in an ambush by the Lenape Indian, Frank Lenno 29 December 1889 as Bob entered the local Bartlesville, Indian Territory, general store to do his Christmas shopping. Bob Gilstrap was a registered Cherokee Indian, whose father Andrew Jackson Gilstrap wed Sarah Jane “Jennie” Blythe, the daughter of Nancy “Nannie” Fields of the illustrious Cherokee Fields line. Bob Gilstrap was related to Nancy Jane Gilstrap through Richard Gilstrap, father of Jeremiah Milam Gilstrap and his half-brother, Peter Gilstrap (Bob Gilstrap’s grandfather). In spite of the strong relationship with Cherokee cousins and tribal members, no direct line ancestors from our Gilstrap line appear to have been recorded as Cherokee or other Native American tribal members.

    As you can see, extensive research has been invested in the Gilstrap – Anderson lineage. In spite of all this research, no record exists to identify a date of death or location of burial of James Sylvester Anderson. It is presumed he lost his life in the final days of the Civil War in 1864 preceding the birth of his last child, great-grandmother Laura Isabel on 8 April 1865.

    Adding to this quandary is the fact we have no parental lineage identified for James Sylvester Anderson. His father was reputed to be Keene, or Kean, or Quinn or possibly even Quincy Anderson who wed a Native American woman named Nancy Shorlin. The Quincy name as a distinct possibility bears up since Nancy Jane Gilstrap Anderson named her youngest son Alphius Quincy Anderson. The name Quincy was carried through the Carroll line to Edward Quincy Carroll, my father’s cousin.

    Thus far, no Carroll male relative has been willing to offer a DNA test to help find links to identify the Carroll or Anderson parentage. The Carroll male cousins have been reluctant to contribute their DNA. My own DNA, the tests of my daughter and a grandson have, so far, offered no strong Carroll connections.

Brick Wall FOUR: Mother of John Raymond Bradshaw, Sr.:

    The strategy for this search is underway. DNA testing for my daughter and for a grandson, comparing their Shared Matches and compared against my own DNA test results to identify the matches that show up when they relate to a known family line. So far this has resulted in the identification of a number of half-siblings to my daughter and son, sired by their father with one of his later wives. We have proven that my husband was adopted by the woman who claimed to be his biological mother. His sister has also been shown to have been adopted. We have been able to identify the father through the DNA testing results but, so far, have not zeroed in on the mother.

    The state of birth is not absolutely known, nor is the state where the adoption occurred although it is believed to have been Florida. We are currently exploring the means to obtain the closed adoption documentation from that State.

Brick Wall FIVE: Father of Roxanne Marie LeTourneau Bradshaw:

    Roxanne was wed to my son, John Raymond Bradshaw, Jr. She had a son by a former relationship at the time they met. They produced one child together. That grandson has contributed DNA for help in identifying Roxanne’s biological father. It has been determined her mother and the man to whom she was married, thus granting her two daughters the LeTourneau surname, were separated for some seven years after he abandoned his wife. This search is ongoing. The DNA results that are not Shared Matches between the grandson, my daughter, and myself can be assumed to be related to the as yet unknown biological grandfather. We have a number of close cousins whose strong sharing of centimorgans indicate a shared great-grandparent but, unfortunately, many folks who offer up DNA do not include an attached, well researched family tree. This leads to many disappointments for the genealogist.

    The method adopted by Ancestry’s own DNA guru, Cece Moore, is to track the tree profiles of those closest cousin matches, building “shadow trees” from data shared by the cousins. This is a great idea but proves to be extremely difficult. In spite of the difficulty, your author has recently started a shadow tree, seeking to identify the relationship of those highest centimorgan matches. Of course, Ms. Moore has a crew of DNA scientists and professional genealogists at her disposal – as well as extensive access to Ancestry records which the average person may not share.

    This shadow tree, at present, is being used to break down Brick Walls Four and Five. Wish me luck!

    Any success in the stratagems outlined above will, most certainly, be reported upon in a future column. In the meantime, continue your own Armchair Genealogy!

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

Cooking with Rod

We're heading into Spring! It's always great to have a versatile meal that is easy to prepare whether it's a "picnic sunny" or "tuck in rainy" type of day. This recipe is easy to prepare, no fault cooking, and absolutely "DEElishus"!! My sweet wife has been whipping up this dish with rave reviews for decades now. It is about as fool-proof as they come!

Bon appetit~!

Hobo Casserole by M
* 4 lbs very lean ground round (can use chuck or sirloin, but LEAN)
* 4 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced thick, 1/2"
* 2 large Bermuda onions, sliced thick 1/4 - 1/2"
* 2 large Bell peppers, seeded, chopped in big chunks
* Ground black pepper, to taste
* Celery seed
* Mrs Dash instead of salt

    1. Butter a 13"x9" casserole dish.
    2. Use half the potatoes to line the baking dish. Season lightly with pepper, celery seed, Mrs Dash.
    3. Use half the Bell pepper over potatoes.
    4. Use half the onion rings evenly over pepper.
    5. Prep lean ground meat by mixing in pepper, celery seeds, and Mrs Dash. (If desired, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, but not required). Make 4 to 6 rectangular loaves, about 1" thick. Fit in casserole with a bit of a border around each side (to permit flavor to permeate and meat to steam.)
    6. Top with layers of onion, peppers, and Potato slices, being sure to cover meat thoroughly. Important bottom layer and top layer of casserole is potato ... to cook properly.
    7. Cover casserole dish with aluminum foil, making sure it is sufficient to seal tightly.
    8. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check for doneness. Potatoes should be cooked soft, and may have a bit of brown. Meat should be cooked through center. If not ready, cover tightly, return to oven and cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

This photo shows how the top layer of potatoes should appear after baking.

This casserole makes its own delicious meaty sauce, but a gravy or meat sauce can be served if desired. It serves 4 to 8 depending on appetites. Fresh salad, green vegetable, crusty bread and iced drink completes the meal.(Pic at bottom of page.)
Beefy gravy by Rod
* 1 family size can Cream of Chicken soup
* 1 15 oz can French Onion soup
* 1 tsp Ground black pepper

    1. Whisk ingredients together until well blended.
    2. Heat in saucepan, SLOWLY, over medium-low heat to prevent scorching, stirring constantly.
    3. Allow to simmer, not boil, until slightly thickened and heated through.
    4. Serve immediately.

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


Sifoddling Along


Transportation Stories

My family seems to love transportation. It starts with my grandfather Bunch’s love of fast horses. He was apparently quite good at it and won some silver pieces as prizes.

My dad loved trains. He wanted to be an engineer, but polio put that dream out of reach. He was very clever and invented a way to drive a car using only his hands when he was 16. It was a lever with springs connected to the gas pedal controlled by the left hand and a twisted rod that was inserted in the brake pedal on the right. A local blacksmith constructed it from his instructions. The only permanent change to the car was a dime-sized hole in the brake pedal. The rod could be removed so that other drivers could use the car conventionally. He should have patented the system.

My siblings and cousins also loved speed, but of different kinds. One cousin was a superb horseman, another raced cars and his brother owned a trucking company. My brother didn’t race, but he did love a fast car or truck. My sister was (and is) in love with airplanes. I remember in 1951 when she was getting ready to go to her wedding, she could hardly stay in the house to get dressed as wave after wave of B-36 bombers flew overhead. They were being relocated to another base and it seems like hundreds of them kept perfect formation as they went to their new home.

I have a more checkered relationship with transportation. I like good cars but could never afford the little Mercedes coupe of my dreams. My first commercial flight was on a converted C-47 for civilian use. It was about 1960. Later my business career led to many flights. For one year I commuted weekly from Minneapolis to Omaha to teach a class. I managed to visit most states with the exceptions of Alaska and Maine. I hope to see them sometime. They are on my bucket list.

This familiarity with planes led to me a less than stellar courter. I met Al Williams when we both worked at Campbell’s Soup in New Jersey. He asked me out to dinner at a nearby restaurant and on our return walk a plane flew over destined for the Philadelphia airport. He said, “Look, there goes a 747.” I promptly said, “No, it is a L-1011. I’m surprised he asked me out a second time.

When I lived on the East Coast I fell in love with trains. It was so convenient to go to work, take day trips to New York or Washington, D.C. Now I live in a Minneapolis suburb and a light rail system is under construction and will have a stop nearby.

Meanwhile, I scooter about in my 2nd bright red Prius. It may not be a race car, but it makes me feel good to think I am helping the environment a teeny bit.

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

On Trek


Where is our joy today? Joy comes from within, our attitude. If we see the antics of a kitten, we smile, we find joy. If we wake up to a cup of coffee, we find joy. We FIND? Joy? Joy is always there, the joy finds us, because we are open to it. We allow it in.

If we are in a crabby mood, all the kitten’s and their antics won’t matter one bit. We will miss all the joy.

I feel joy in my heart, I feel joy in my soul, I feel joy in the first color of spring to pop thru the soil. The first bud on the trees, the first spotting of the Robin. We make our own happiness, and joy by accepting all the joy the world gives us. The sunrises and sunsets. The snow that sparkles in the sun and brings cleanliness to our mother earth.

Who can not find joy in the newborns, man and animals? The joy that comes from accomplishment no matter how trivial, like mastering the instant pot? :) I see your smiles. Love like sun that never quits giving. Love like the waterfall that never ceases. Love like the stars that are forever there on a clear night sky, mesmerizing us constantly.

Open our arms, hearts and souls to always let in the joy that never sleeps.
Judith 2/29/20

The Power

If we speak like
we are already doomed,
or soon will be doomed,
or just plain doomed...
then we will be.
The will of the people is
where the power lies.

There is no fear from God.
Never Never Never...
only man,.. if we show fear,
they keep making us fearful.

Override the fear,
and think, talk, type, text, and doodle
"We the people have the power
and we shall prevail."
Act like it already has happened..
And you will see changes.
Love never fears.
Love throws fear out,
throws it out,
stomps it out,
chews it up and
spits it out!
©Feb 01,2020 Judith Kroll

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

Irish Eyes


“Recompose” and an Unofficial Exhumation

And speaking of Kerry. In 1978 a man in Munster was buried twice. The late Great John B. Keane wrote a ballad , to the air of Skibbereen, on the subject, titled The Ballad of Con Carey. There is a radio documentary on the subject which is well worth listening to. Here is the link:

In the meantime here’s John B’s take on it:

The Ballad of Con Carey
  Come all ye loyal heroes and listen to my lay
’Tis all about Con Carey who was taken from the clay
The papers all, they had a ball and the guards made up a case
Not since the time of Lazarus did such a thing take place
At the tender age of sixty nine Con Carey’s final breath
Was drawn within a building site upon his native heath
He fell to foul exposure as he homeward made his way
But alas the clothes he wore that night were only work-a-day
With these upon his unwashed frame, Con Carey was interred
And from the sealed-up ashen lips, no hostile word was heard
But round the grave, his comrades brave were conscious of his plight
And silently they did resolve to set the matter right
The sun was high in the mid-day sky when the cars drew to a halt
Out stepped the crew that then did view each mound and cross and vault
With eyes so keen, they swept the scene where the long green grass did wave
Until they found the latest mound that was Con Carey’s grave
This fearless troop of volunteers marched through the church-yard gate
With single aim it was their game Con’s corpse to decorate
They lay him down in habit brown without a scratch or tear
To shave his mien and make him clean for his trip to Peter’s chair
Yes, to shave his mien and to make him clean so that he’d be no disgrace
To Brosna town of such great renown and to all the Irish race
So that Peter and Paul and the good saints all might take poor Con in tow
And that all cadavers from now on might be dressed before they go
“Bury me dacent, “ Con once said to his comrades loyal and true
“See that I’m shod for the road to God since I’d do the same for you
See that I’m dressed as good as the best but without a flounce or frill
Then lay me down in Mountcollins town where I’ve plenty of time to kill.”
When the deed was done, the guards came on and faced our gallant crew
Out spoke the chief grave-digger saying, “ what were we to do
Could we look on and see poor Con in such a bad repose
And send him straight to Heaven’s gate dressed up in dirty clothes.”

Con Carey

(The twelve people who carried out the charitable task became known as the Twelve Apostles and John B’s son Billy said, “There was no Judas among those Twelve Apostles.”)

* * * * * *

Forward Planning

Is that enough death and disarter for now? Ah . . . we’ll keep going! Whether speaking of ourselves or others the phrase “Pushing up the daisies” rolls off our tongue. The term now has a literal meaning in the USA and it is likely to happen on this island.

Recompose is a very small team who are working hard towards the opening their first location in Seattle in spring 2021. According to Anna Swenson, Communications Manager, their aim is to turn corpses into compost suitable for fertilising garden soil. Last May Washington State legalised the composting of human bodies. Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation allowing the practice of “aboveground decomposition,” making Washington the first state in the USA — and likely the first place in the world, legal experts said — to explicitly allow human remains to become compost…

And Recompose will manufacture composting pods in which the corpse will be placed. Wood chips and straw will be added and oxygen pumped in to accelerate decomposition. After about one month the body will be composted ready to, "grow new life."

I don’t know if the “new life” is superior to what is produced by ordinary compost. But I do know that in my schooldays there was a profusion of blackthorns, Prunus spinosa (I’m showing off now) in Templeboden graveyard. And the sloes from them was more succulent and juicy than anything in the surrounding fields.

According to Recompose a human body will yield a cubic yard of compost. One of the team says, “By allowing organic processes to transform our bodies into a useful amendment we help to strengthen our relationship to the material cycles while enriching the Earth.” Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation on Wednesday allowing the practice of “aboveground decomposition,” making Washington the first state in the America and possibly likely the first place in the world, legal experts said — to explicitly allow human remains to become compost…

The process involves placing unembalmed human remains wrapped in a shroud in a 5-foot-by-10-foot cylindrical vessel with a bed of organic material such as wood chips, alfalfa and straw,” NBC reports. “Air is then periodically pulled into the vessel, providing oxygen to accelerate microbial activity. Within approximately one month, the remains are reduced to a cubic yard of compost.”

What are the chances of the powers that be on this island, north and south, taking a leaf out of Washington State’s book?

* * * * * *

Message for the Lacken Diaspora; The Lacken Community Development Association have erected an interpretive panel in our native village.

See you in April.

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


Well, I’m being self-quarantined due to the coronavirus outbreak here in China. It’s quite difficult having to stay in my apartment with all the businesses here being closed. I am only allowed to go out of my apartment twice a week, in order to go to a local store that has been authorized to stay open. When I enter the store, they take my temperature to make sure I don’t have a fever.

I must also go to a certain exit wearing a facemask when I leave my apartment complex and enter it at a certain entrance point, where they take my temperature before entering. No one can come to visit my apartment complex without proof that they live there. I feel as though I’ve been placed under house arrest. This is something I will never get used to and it makes me more appreciative of all the freedoms I had before the outbreak.

My students are now taking online classes here and the start date of the school where I was teaching is still undetermined. Under the law, all teachers throughout China must show proof they were self-quarantined for 14 days before we can return to school. But the start date as I mentioned is still undetermined.

I’m glad that two years ago, I put together a Facebook page because I felt I was somewhat disconnected from people in the US. I have always used WeChat here in China to communicate with others, but few people use it in the US. Almost everyone I know in America uses Facebook so now I find myself using both WeChat and Facebook to communicate with others.

When I sat down to write this, I was interrupted by a text message from a friend of mine in America. I am 13 hours ahead of the East Coast in the US; when it is midnight here, it is only 11 in the morning in my hometown of Shenandoah. It amazes me, though, how I can instantly communicate with people thousands of miles away on the opposite side of the world.

Before I came to China, I never imagined that my students here would have smartphones and their own personal computers - the things I didn't have when I was their age. Their papers are e-mailed or text to me for correcting, and they are always texting me with questions. The text messages and e-mails are a constant reminder of how this technology is permeating all facets of our lives. This technology is also being utilized more so now than ever before in China because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Every semester I like telling my students, "I can look back at my youth and remember the age of the manual typewriter before computers and the Internet was our communication lifeline."

A hand went up and a young female face looked at me with such curiosity. She asked, "What is a typewriter, Teacher?"

I tried my best at that moment to simulate a typewriter with a paper adjuster and return carriage. Unfortunately, it only enhanced their confusion, so I used the Internet browser on my cell phone and found a picture of a manual typewriter. My cell phone was then passed around the room so that my students could understand what I was saying.

I also told them, "I am old enough to remember the era before VCRs and the cell phone."

Another hand shot up. "Teacher," the young man asked, "how old are you?"

"Very old," I replied. "The first cell phone I had I could only talk on; no pictures."

"No, you not that old, teacher," he said with some sincerity in his voice. "But how old are you?"

"I'm 57," I told them. At that moment, another hand shot up.

"My mother 43," a young female said excitedly.

"Age is just a number," I said to them. "But now imagine where technology will be when you become my age."

That got them thinking about not just their individual lives, but about the future of China.

A hand shot up. "Does this phone have GPS?" a young male student asked with my cell phone in his hand. "Nice phone!"

"It's an old BlackBerry," I said, "like the one Obama had, but I only use it to text and talk."

"Obama," Chinese students repeated back and forth with amazed looks on their faces. Chinese chatter immediately filled the room.

I then told my students that I am excited about how fast technology is advancing. After all, it wasn't that long ago when it took a month for a letter to travel halfway around the world. It was also very expensive to call the U.S. from Asia. The Internet can now be used to place phone calls for free, and it’s something I have become dependent upon in my life.

I miss speaking to a person who was a very dear friend of mine, Mr. Henry Zale. He lived in my hometown in Pennsylvania. He was only 93 years young when he passed away in 2010. Prior to his death, I told him that when he calls my local number in the states the calls get forwarded to my cell phone in China. He paused for a moment and said, "Tom, when I was your age that was called science fiction."

I said, "Henry if I ever live to be your age, I can't even fathom where technology will be, or what my life will be like."

"Well, Tom," he said, "I am a World War I baby and I served in World War II, so let's hope there isn't a World War III in your lifetime, because if there is, people will be back using those manual typewriters as a sign of the aftermath. The technology in our lives can be good or bad depending on the hands that are using it." Wise words.

China has indeed witnessed amazing technological growth in a very short period. It is resulting in their country advancing very quickly. The cities here are very modern and growing very fast. People also have more money to spend because of the growing middle class.

I noticed quickly the big differences between China's growing economy and the economic condition of the Pennsylvania coal region. My hometown has been beaten down over the years due to being economically depressed.

When I arrived in China approximately 600 million people were making less than two American dollars a day; that is severe poverty in any country. Now, China has the largest domestic economy in the world. Over 600 million people – almost twice the population of America – have been moved into China’s middle class. They live much better than most of the people in the Pennsylvania coal region. It's a sad contrast, but it's also the reality of the times.

Poverty has become a worldwide pandemic, though, and it’s something that will not go away anytime soon. It is also something I have witnessed firsthand over the years. It has shaped who I am and how I relate to others. It bothers me when I see vast amounts of wealth throughout the world while people live in squalid conditions with no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing. That is how millions of people live throughout the world. Seeing it firsthand made me more appreciative of who I am and what I have. I also grew to realize that we do not truly live until we place ourselves in the service of others. When we enhance the life of another, we enhance our own lives, and that is when we truly feel alive in the world.

Working as a teacher here in China I am learning a great deal from my students. When I read my students' writings, I learn a great deal about them, personally, due to their openness and honesty. I tell my students all the time since I arrived in China that I have learned more from them than they have from me. I look at each of them as friends as well. Although my humor at times can get lost in the translation, it's the moments when I connect with them that are priceless.
    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
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

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From Album To CD

I grew up in a world, playing albums on a turntable
Some songs were better than others, now if only I were able...
To put the songs in, an orderly sort of way
Then I'd be playing, my favorites all day
Time has a way, of bringing about a change
Now we have CDs, now we can arrange
Ripping and burning, all our favorite songs
In a certain order, right where it belongs

We can take the best, and put it on a CD
That's the way, I always thought it should be
Song by song, the very best
Listen to it, while you rest

Make it the way, you want it to play
In your favorite order, on every day
Make it a variety, or one artist to hear
Created especially, to enjoy with your ear

Music to wake you up, or help you to sleep
Right by the bedside, which you always keep
I have a large selection, that I can choose
When it's my choice, I know I can't lose
©JFeb 20, 2020 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
On albums there were always songs on the album I
would love to skip over. I would play the singles and
turn them over and play the other side. I always thought
that they should have some way to be able to put it in the
order of the songs you love best. We were able to do that
with the 8 Tracks and Cassettes. Then CDs came along,
followed by MP3 Players (& iTunes). Now we can put them
in any order we want. We get to do it the way we like it best.
I love it!

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Refer a friend to this Poem

Moving Moon

Just a small half-moon
In a clear blue sky
With small curved branches
Of a post oak tree

Juxtaposed in front
Revealed to me today
The clear reality:
This Earth revolves.

I sat there, staring
At the moon, and sure
As I was breathing air
The moon appeared to move.

©2020 John I. Blair, 2/24/2020

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One Foot In

I live my life, with one foot in Reality and one foot in Fantasy
I'm a dreamer, and imagination is what I love to see
So much, goes on inside of my head
It doesn't only happen, when I'm in bed 
 I have been, to so many places in my mind
If you searched, it's me you wouldn't find
Exploring everything, takes me to another place
Where I am within, my own “inner space”
Of course I do come down to Earth, almost every day
Yet, whenever I get a chance, I usually drift away
Off to the dimension of space and time
Where everything there is so sublime
Pleasure is at its very peak
Nothing ever seems so bleak
I enjoy every moment while I'm there
Without a worry or a care
It's my home away from home
A place where I love to roam
I'm a dreamer, and imagination is what I love to see
I live my life, with one foot in Reality and one foot in Fantasy
©Jan 19, 2020 Bud Lemire
                      Author Note:
I love to let my mind take me places where the normal things
aren't normal. I love a creative mind. Reading Fantasy, and
watching Fantasy. I love a mind that goes elsewhere, and
brings us there too. Yet, I still have my feet firmly touching

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Swirling Thoughts

It feels like something sucks my soul out of me,
Keeping me from being who I want to be,
Depression has a firm grip on me,
But this is not the way I choose to be,
Swirling thoughts fill my mind,
Grief and loss are very unkind,
I claw to find a better grip,
The sand slips through my fingers like a sieve,
Glimmers of hope keep me afloat,
I try to escape myself --car, airplane, and boat,
You can run but you can not hide,
You can't fight your way out like Bonnie and Clyde,
I know better, I am very strong,
Then I hear that heartbreaking song,
I am pulled back to a happier time,
It eats at you and robs you blind,
Most of the time only the facade shows through,
Smiling, dealing is all you can do,
You pray for the day you find inner peace,
Your life signs on to a happier lease.

There's a lot more life to go,
You will be guided as you grow,
You will learn the lessons you need to know,
Upon death the answers unfold,
Your loved ones to have and hold,
God and Angels will cherish you,
Until then friends will hug you.

©February 2020 Roger Frank

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Mind Your Own Business

Mind your own business, is what I say
Whatever they're doing, for them it's okay
As long as you are doing right, by what you know
That's all that matters, just let it go
You say they're just sitting there?
I'm sure the bosses are well aware
Leave it to them, leave it alone
It does no good, to complain and moan

You know your job, so do it and see
Let things pass by, just let it be
The business at hand, is yours to do
Don't worry about them, just think of you

Keep your nose away, from where it doesn't belong
You're wasting your time on someone, and that is so wrong
Do the thing, that you were put here for
Keep your mind, on your own front door

You just can't seem to understand, but you seem pretty smart
Some people are different, yet they have a big part
All have their own part to play, in the scheme of things
The people here know, all the happiness that he brings
©May 25, 2018 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
By putting your nose in someone else's business, you are taking
away a part of yourself. Let them do what they are doing, for that
is their way. The bosses are aware and have accepted him. Why
can't you? The mind is a very complex structure, and his mind works
on a different level than yours. Not accepting someone who is different
than you, is a form of prejudice. Everyone can't be like you. It is what
makes us individuals. So please, accept him, and mind your own business..

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As long as I recall
Every spring
On this bare spot of soil

A clump of green
Then a grand spray
Of gold blooms appears.

Other seasons
Nothing’s here
But rough grass.

This February sight
Is full of joy,
Reassuring me

Life returns.

©2020 John I. Blair 2/24/2020

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Future, if you haven't heard,
Is a Perfectly Possible P-Word.
Perhaps Propitious, or Placid, Plain,
Yet a P-Word, it shall remain.

Progressing from Pre-Paleolithic Phase,
Proceeding Precipitously, past Pleasant days,
Plummeting Precariously, Purely Propelled,
Despite People, Property, Prognostications Pummelled.

Oh! that it might be Pristinely Purified,
A Purview of Punctilious Positivity Plied.
May Plausible Problems rather be a Peace Preserved.
Yes, Future is a Perceptible P-Word.

©February 2020 Mary E. Adair

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Deaf Love

More than 80 years ago
My mother came to love
A deaf man,

A man who barely heard
Her spoken words,
Her tender thoughts.

How did they court?
How did they converse?
How did their hearts meet?

All I know about for sure
Are the results:
My brother, me, our family,

Our happy life together,
A family that learned
To bridge silence.

©2020 John I. Blair, 2/24/2020

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Without a Plan

Is there any wisdom in that
I think we’ve seen enough of that
We have grown, but here we stand
Out on our own without a plan

Is there any truth to what’s on the news
Are we hearing all lies in drunk alibies
Or are we all wrong, and they are all right
Hearing this song while watching newsreels all night

Are there any realists anymore
Or are we all redacted to these four walls
Have we lost our ways in old Shakespeare plays
Will we come along like the words to a song

Is there any truth to what’s on the air
Is this wishful thinking, does anyone care
Did we get this all wrong, are they always right
Trying to get along while the helpless take flight

Is there any wisdom in this
I think we’ve seen enough of this
We stood our ground, but here we stand
Out on our own, without a plan

©2/1/2020 Bruce Clifford

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Phlegmboyant, yes it's true, I have too much phlegm
The goobly gook is in me, and it's no gem
I cough and cough, all I can do is cough
I'm afraid I might, just cough my head off

 I cough at times, and then I can't stop
I like to be in control of m body, not doing a flip flop
My appetite is gone, I can hardly eat
No fish on Friday, I'm not as steady on my feet

Weak and tired, I just want to rest and sleep
I end up counting my coughs, instead of sheep
I woke up coughing, and tried to clear my head
I make it to the kitchen, at least I'm not dead

A drink of Ginger Ale, clears the passage way
It hits the spot, on almost any given day
I get my mind off myself, maybe a Facebook chat
Try to get a feel, to see where my body's at

I think today, I'll try some scrambled eggs
Hoping a little food, will put strength in my legs
Oh, it's no fun, when you feel so sick
I'm going to try to get better, I hope it happens quick
©Nov 22, 2019 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
Of course I know everything takes time. All I can do
is to do my best to get better. Rest often, drink plenty
of fluids, eat when I can. It truly makes you realize
just how vulnerable we humans are to so many things
that are out there.

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