Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


April 2020


"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers.
Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul."

-– Luther Burbank.
Easter is the hopeful thought and celebration of Life in the midst of all the unsettling news concerning the Coronavirus. Our authors have approached each subject, both seriously and with a hint of humor. All in all, this issue hits the mark with both information and alternative methods to lift one's heart and soul.

Delighted is definitely the word describing your editor's feelings when LC Van Savage popped in with new content for her long standing column "Consider This." Although she has been busy elsewhere, getting her latest novel introduced ("Queenie") and setting up her new domain, her name dot com (of course), she is also hosting a radio show, AMAZING MAINERS, on WJTO 730 & 105.3 – The Memories Station. She seeks out people who were born there, or live there and they talk about what they do, why they do it and if they’re happy doing it. She asks, "Are you an AMAZING MAINER? Let me know."

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda Cohenour, takes on some pressing matters with the desire that when handled, everyone's genealogy will be properly documented despite current travel restrictions.

Thomas F. O'Neill --"Introspective," gives a link in his column for an interview which can be seen on UTube about how the quarantine due to the Coronavirus in China has affected him and his students. Marilyn Carnell -- "Sifoddling Along," lets us see what she has found to occupy her time and of course involes helping others. She manages to find humor in her tasks.

Judith Kroll ("OnTrek") has a lovely essay, "Today I Dusted off My Soul," in her column "On Trek." Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" suffers a different type loss: the cancellation of the famous Listowel Writer's Week due to Ireland's "Total Lockdown." His ebullient sense of fun still pops into his column here and there.

Rod Cohenour ("Cooking with Rod") joins wife Melinda and as a team they developed their Southwest Poblano Brisket which he shares just in time for Easter. This will be a memorable meal.

Nice additions to the table of contents for April are the three articles: "Safeguards Against COVID-19" by Bud Lemire whose occupation is caring for patients who are housebound and otherwise incapacitated. He is not involved caring for anyone with the virus thus far but as a trained Senior Companion has to be current on warning signs.

Easter season prompted us to have an Encore Presentation by the late Leo C. Helmer whose historical knowledge was seemingly boundless. Here we offer his "Easter Commentary" which has info on into 2024.

When John Blair learned we were seeking Easter themed material, he came up with a wonderful reminisence about Camargo, Oklahoma, and his youth. The photos shared from that era are keepers.

Blair also has one poem for "Easter 2020" and two others: "First Butterfly," and "Coronavirus 2020." Bruce Clifford's single poem for April is "Lost." Your editor has one poem for this issue, "Wishing."

Bud Lemire's poems this month are: "Social Distancing," "That Damn Virus," and "Toilet Paper," and "The COVID-19 Pandemic." He includes a pic with some of his poems. "My Nineteenth Birthday" is from your editor's very first cousin Alice Anne Burks whose passing in February is mourned by all the family.

Thanks again, Mike! I can never express how grateful I am for your expertise as well as your friendship and support in this endeavor. May the tough times treat you tenderly and you and your loved ones stay safe. That is my wish for all our associates in this eZine and their loved ones.

See you in May.

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


Reflections, Hope, and A Brighter Future

      This is a difficult column to write. Our world is topsy-turvy and it seems only appropriate to document the current events affecting, literally, billions of people on all continents. Three events compete for your author’s attention: The world is dealing with a pandemic. The first true pandemic in just over 100 years. A century ago, the Spanish flu took millions of lives. Although called the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the ravages of that viral outbreak lasted three years, the last deaths attributed to it taking place in 1921.

      And this is the year of the United States Federal Census. Taken every decade since 1790, it is a keynote event for all genealogists. It is hoped every person in the country will, indeed, take the time to respond to the questionnaire. The results of the census will not be released for public review for 70 years. Thus, this year also marks the release of the 1950 US Federal Census – the first year many of us will appear in that historic document.

      Additionally, this month Christians the world over will celebrate Easter. Easter Sunday this year occurs 12 April 2020. The celebration coincides with the vernal equinox.

The Coronavirus Pandemic:

      This is a scary time. The world is held hostage, it seems, by a microscopic virus which has been named COVID-19. Countries all around the globe have enacted restrictions of varying degrees upon their own citizenry and upon foreign travelers in a bid to stop the transmission of this dread disease.

      From time to time, throughout history, viral epidemics have erupted. The virus is a rather unique biologic, possessing the ability to mutate in response to its environment and its host. Each mutation is designed to permit the viral invader to take over the host’s body, its very basic cellular function, in order to transmogrify the host’s cells to become … the virus. This process, it appears, has been part and parcel of the Earth’s experience since the very beginning of time. Each time a virus is successfully fought off by a human host, the process of battle imparts a “memory” – antibodies developed in response to the viral invasion that defeated the enemy. Astonishingly, the human species has the ability – through its genetic structure – to develop what scientists refer to as “herd immunity” to each specific type of viral agent. You may be most familiar with this through the annual flu vaccination process. Each year, medical experts attempt to prognosticate – to prophesize as to the variation of flu that will be prevalent in the coming season. Vaccinations are prepared and offered to every person in the hope of preventing the agony and potential for death faced by flu victims. These vaccinations utilize the antibodies harvested from experimental subjects that successfully fought off that strain of influenza, among other things.

      What makes the coronavirus so deadly is that the coronavirus is not native to human hosts. The various types of coronavirus infections are ones that have for millenia infected other creatures: birds, swine, ovine, canine, feline, and reptilian creatures. Therefore, no “herd immunity” has been developed by humankind. The virus, somehow, modifies and becomes able to infect a human host. Once in that single human host, the virus “learns” to mutate and transmit from human host to human victim. When that process begins, scientists race to find a way to stop the virus.

      Many humans are able to develop their own immune response to viral infections. They experience the typical series of symptoms, from aches and pains, muscle soreness, cough and sneeze reactions, volumes of mucosal reaction, often even vomiting and diarrhea. The one marked and constant symptom is fever, as the human body attempts to “burn” out the viral invader. Although fever is most uncomfortable and millions of dollars are spent on NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, and the like) to reduce the fever, that fever is actually the best natural defense our bodies can provide. Yes. Fever can kill, but if permitted to go untreated until the thermometer reflects a temperature higher than … (doctors will advise, but often 102 or 103 degrees is when fever reducing medications are prescribed), the body is working to fight that disease!

      It should be noted that one of the ways viral invaders mutate is when your doctor prescribes medication for an illness and you fail to take ALL the prescribed dosages. Often, we feel better and don’t like the process of taking medications, so we stop taking the meds. MISTAKE! This permits the wily, evil little buggers to figure out a way to SURVIVE that particular medication. Next time, next year, next person, the virus is now immune to that cure. Another cure bites the dust.

      COVID-19 has been traced to what is believed to have been Host One who visited a live animal market in Wuhan, China. There, live creatures are sold for food sources. Somehow, one of those creatures was handled, slaughtered, or prepared for a meal in a manner that permitted the infected host’s viral invader to attach itself to the human. Once within that human host, it rapidly mutated and within a week, it is believed, had developed the ability to transmit from human host to human victim. The symptoms were, as reported, marked by rapid onset and – for far too many – rapid death. The cause of the fatalities appears to be a very quick acting pneumonia where the mucosa in the body becomes so thickened and voluminous the patient is asphyxiated. This location was particularly dangerous, as it was within close proximity to an international airport.

      China has a history of purposefully obscuring news of negative import. In spite of historical evidence that early acknowledgment and broad publication of such horrific illnesses helps to contain the outbreak, the negative impact to the international repute or economic impact has contributed to the tendency to cover up such outbreaks. The world first learned in January of the COVID-19 outbreak in China that occurred in December of 2019. However, there is emerging rumor that the earliest case was discovered in November. Whether or not that is true, is of little use now – other than as an educational tool for future response.

      Your author has two very dear connections to China: one, another PencilStubs columnist, Thomas F. O’Neill, author of Introspective. (Thomas gave a firsthand account of his personal experiences with China’s reaction to the outbreak in last month’s issue.) The second is actually family: our cousin, Gary Bullard, who traveled to China years ago in connection with his career in the petroleum industry, fell in love with the country and, more importantly, with the woman who would become his wife, and has made China his home for many years. For this reason, my attention was captured by the early news. Contact was made to both Gary and Thomas, queries as to the distance from Wuhan to their homes, whether or not their communities seemed to be affected, and prayers for their safety. From time to time, news of their personal experiences have been shared through social media. (What an incredible tool we have at our fingertips!)

      At any rate, America was made aware of the outbreak of this new and deadly strain of virus as early as January 2020. Little was done in this country, however, to prepare for what has become a monstrous death-dealing pandemic. In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, China, of course, was the epicenter for infections and deaths. Soon, Italy became the country with the greatest number of infections and, sadly, deaths. Before long, countries around the world had their own outbreaks of the virus. Medical and scientific experts the world over have been working day and night to identify a vaccination, treatment, or – God willing! – a cure. One of the greatest trials has been the development of the most basic tool in the armament: a TEST that works. For without the data to identify known infections, recoveries, treatments that do or do not work, and causes of the many deaths attributed to COVID-19, no hope exists for its defeat. Sadly, today the greatest number of cases reported worldwide is in our own country, here in the United States.

      America’s response has been a mixed bag. No over-arching governmental decrees or use, thus far, of the extensive factories to modify their production efforts to the most basic protections for our healthcare workers: PPE – Personal Protective Equipment: masks with breathing apparatus made of materials with the ability to block out the microscopic coronavirus cell; standard gloves and gowns and foot and hair coverings, even! The country has relied upon a healthcare system that has an economic oversight: too few hospitals, too few hospital beds, far too few ICU units and beds for the onslaught of this pandemic. Even the healthcare professionals are facing daily stresses with double and triple shifts, no contact with their own families in many cases, and far too many falling victim to the infection, themselves.

      Further, each state’s response has varied. For instance, the pandemic was announced coincident with annual Spring break for colleges. Florida’s governor failed to close the beaches. In spite of news announcements, droves of college youth appeared on the Florida sands. Those youngsters returned to their dorms, utilizing public transportation: airplanes, buses, trains, or private cars where many stayed in hotels or motels on the trip home. It has been shown that COVID-19 in a host body is asymptomatic for TWO WEEKS. So, an unsuspecting host can be spreading the virus to everyone with whom they come in contact for that incubation period. Some of those infected may die. Now Florida’s numbers have soared. In Louisiana, the governor (mindful of the enormous economic impact) failed to call off Mardi Gras celebrations. The number of cases are soaring in that state and among Mardi Gras attendees now in their home states, spreading the disease. Other states’ governors have been egregiously ignorant of the need for precautions. Notably, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas even called for seniors to be willing to sacrifice their lives so that the youth could “get back to work.”

      In New York, where a core outbreak at a nursing home seems to have been the source of the initial cases, the numbers are frightening. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been giving daily Coronavirus updates on air. The state has rushed to utilize a Navy hospital ship docked in Manhattan to isolate COVID-19 patients. News less than an hour old shows New York CITY alone has over 38,000 cases and has reported 914 dead. In one six-hour period, the City was experiencing a death every 2.9 minutes. Governor Cuomo is desperately attempting to locate the PPE essential to keeping the state’s healthcare professionals alive and working. Some nurses have resorted to cutting up plastic trash bags to fashion make-shift “gowns” and “footwear.” Christian Siriano, a top fashion designer, has directed his team to the production of life-saving masks. Central Park has been closed off from the public; a temporary hospital tent facility erected. Times Square is empty. Broadway is closed. No restaurants are open for seating; only take-out and delivery.

      The evidence collected worldwide seems to reflect a frightening ease of transmission through droplets spread by sneezing or coughing. The cells of COVID-19 have a “shelf life” of extensive duration: up to 17 days on hard surfaces of a cruise ship whose passengers became infected. It appears to last for a shorter period of time on cloth, cardboard and the like. Those most direly affected are, of course, the elderly or immune-suppressed, or with other health issues such as diabetes, lupus, heart ailments and the like. There have been, however, deaths among infants and the young. A number of celebrity infections and even deaths have attracted attention through the news media recently.

      Our home state of Oklahoma, like so many other states, has called for personal quarantine, restricted travel outside our homes for any but essential needs (groceries, medications, doctor’s visits). Schools have been closed for the past two weeks; now, the directive is that school will not resume until the Fall. People are working from their homes when remote work is possible. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs are permitted to operate only delivery or pick up distribution. Casinos have been closed statewide. No assembly of persons larger than 10 is permitted. Churches have resorted to live video services when possible.

      Videos are found online offering tutorials in hand washing, how to protect food stuffs, how to sanitize the counter where groceries will be unpacked and stored, how to maintain a personal separation of 6 foot from others, how to cough into your elbow, the need to leave shoes outside (walking through those droplets), shower and launder clothes upon return, and other helpful precautions.

      Personally, our household consists of four persons all of whom are immune suppressed by a variety of health issues and age concerns. We have been practicing self-quarantine for weeks now. Our only contact to the outside world takes place when our Chief Forager (hubby) emerges from our cave to grocery shop. He wears a mask, showers before and after, groceries are subjected to special care to remove any contamination before going into the fridge or pantry, fruits are washed … still I worry. My last trip out of the house was an essential trip to my anti coagulation clinic. We both wore masks (bought last year when I had Type A flu and pneumonia) for the visit. No valet parking was available. Rod wiped down the wheelchair handles before transporting me inside. The staff had a table set up with nurses to take temps with sterile wipes there to immediately handle the thermometer (forehead touch technology). Questions: have you been out of the country in the past 14 days? Have you had contact with anyone who has been out of the country over the past 14 days? Have you had any symptoms of the flu? Fever, coughs, sneezes, aches, pains, vomiting or diarrhea? To add “interest” to the visit, a couple (homeless? It appeared so) had called the police to report a theft of her purse – as they sat on the bench outside the hospital complex. They were tracking the GPS on her cellphone and there were Hospital Security guards and a number of police present. Goodness.

      It is sincerely hoped that by next month’s issue, this pandemic has been contained, cured, eradicated! The prior coronavirus scares were MERS and SARS and those were quickly dealt with. In the meantime, life seems other-worldly: schools, restaurants, workplaces, stores, casinos closed. Travel restrictions in place all over the world in a helter-skelter fashion, as different municipalities, states, or countries’ leaders react in different ways. Fear dominant in many, but countered by those who have chosen to take the “this is a hoax” attitude. Some really far-out-there theories, even suggesting this is the work of the Illuminati while they engage 5G cell technology to (1) spy on all communities; or (2) spread biologics… Oh, my.

2020 United States Federal Census:

      This once-a-decade event should be the central theme for a column dedicated to genealogy, family history, and research. But, in this year of the pandemic, the Census certainly takes a back seat in the news. Our Census this year is to be completed online, with households receiving a mailing that contains an identifying code to be input once the online site is accessed. This ensures each household is enumerated. There will be reminders and – if no response is received – a team of door-to-door enumeration specialists will be dispatched. Libraries (if ever allowed to open again!) will have computer access for those who have none at home.

      The questions are very simplistic: names (first, middle, and last), ages, Race (offering a pre-set list of possibilities to be checked, including both White Hispanic and White, not Hispanic), and then Origin. In hindsight, having responded White, English for those two questions, I now wonder if I should have reported origin based on country of BIRTH, not ancestor’s derivation. No questions about value of real property, personal property, occupation, military record … no personal insights to tickle the imagination of future genealogists who, 70 years hence, get to review the Census data. After the big stir over really unnecessary and politically-motivated potential inquiries, this was both a relief and a disappointment. Relief that the simple queries may result in a greater response. Disappointment that future historians will have little personal insight into their families’ snapshot of their daily lives.

      PLEASE! DO respond to the Census. It is required, but so many ignore the enumeration. For your kids, grandkids, great grandkids – even later generations, your response may provide the critical brick-buster they need to identify a “lost” (to them) ancestor. Take your place in history. Fill in your household Census.

Easter 2020 – 12 April:

      In the midst of this horrific pandemic, the bright light for Christians the world over is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s victory over death. Yes, there will be colored eggs and bunnies, baskets of fruits and candies SURELY (?) even if those traditional celebrations must be limited to our backyard or even, within the apartment or home.

      For all of us who are devout believers, this is the penultimate celebration of our faith. Spring, itself, is a reminder of life after death as trees – long dormant over the winter months – bring forth fresh green leaves and, for many varieties, a floral tribute that brightens our landscape. The emerging bulbs of crocus, hyacinth, daylilies, tulips, jonquils – in their riot of colors paint our world with the glories of Nature. Gone are the dry brown fields of last year’s grasses, awakened to the splendor of new life – new birth – new fresh flowers and the warm breezes that chase away the cold and gloom.

      HE LIVES! And, therefore, we have the promise of victory over death. May this Easter bring news of a cure for this latest assault on mankind. Amen, so may it be.

      In the meantime, our household lifts prayers daily – for the good health of our family, near and extended, our friends around the world, our nation and our world.

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

Cooking with Rod


Southwest Poblano Brisket


My sweet wife and I love to cook and we love trying new twists on old favorites. We like spice and this delicious brisket provides just the right bite. This one's a great recipe. It takes a little bit of time to cook, but Ooooh, it is worth it! The good part is, it's an inexpensive cut but tastes like a million bucks.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay separate now so we can be together later.

Bon appetit~!

Southwest Poblano Brisket
by the Cohenour Team
* 5 to 6 lb brisket. Ask your butcher to leave about 1/4" of the fat cap (that provides the moist flavor that makes brisket so good)
* 2 large poblano peppers, stem and seeds removed. Rinse and slice to leave long, flat strips
* Barbecue sauce, use your favorite bottled sauce or make your own. Your choice. Our recipe is included.

* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 2 Tbsp chili powder
* 1 Tbsp garlic powder
* 2 tsp onion powder
* 2 tsp cumin
* 1 tsp ground oregano
* 1 tsp smoky paprika
* 1 tsp ground black pepper

1. Prepare brisket. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Check fat cap to make sure it is about 1/4 inch thick. Check direction of the grain. When serving, you will cut ACROSS the grain to sever long fibers and provide the most tender slices.
2. Rub all surfaces of the brisket liberally with the rub.
3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
4. Prepare a a foil packet to completely envelope the brisket. Using a baking sheet (broiler proof) with a rim or a large roasting pan, place the brisket, fat side up to permit it to self baste. It is important to make sure the foil pack will contain all the meat juices that will cook out. Place strips of one large poblano pepper on foil before positioning the brisket. Top the brisket with strips of second poblano. Seal the foil pack well but not too tightly. Leave room for the steam. Top with an additional sheet of foil over entire pan.
5. Roast brisket for about 1 hour per pound in the medium oven (300 degrees). Slow cooking leads to a more tender brisket.
6. Remove pan from the oven. Permit brisket to rest until cool enough to handle, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove brisket from foil pack but DO NOT lose any meat juices. Pour juices into a saucepan.
7. Brush brisket with some of the meat juices and return to the oven to broil until the fat pack is made crisp, 2 to 5 minutes as necessary.
8. Slice against the grain. Serve with the au jus or a barbecue sauce.
Delicious with baked beans or jalapeno pintos, a cool potato salad or pan-fried potatoes, and a crisp salad. Warm buns or crusty bread make a great accompaniment to sop up all those delicious spicy juices!

Our House Barbecue Sauce:
* 3 cups tomato catsup
* 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
* 2 Tbsp yellow mustard (like French's bottled mustard)
* 2 Tbsp brown sugar
* 1 tsp smoky paprika
* 1 tsp Chili powder
* 1 large onion, diced, carmelized
* Poblano pepper strips retained from roasted brisket, diced
* Retained meat juices (fat removed if you wish). To remove the fat, pour up meat juices in a narrow container, making sure they have cooled enough not to break your glass. Place container in the fridge while you chop and carmelize the onions (brisket resting at this point). Fat should congeal slightly and rise to the top. Skim off.

In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent lumps or scorching. Sauce should simmer and thicken as it reduces slightly. Slow cooking permits the flavors to blend.
Serve in a bowl or gravy boat with a ladle.

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

Consider This

My Sister's Friends


      In spite of being a fallen WASP, I still well remember the preachings of my youth advising me that forgiveness is healthy, not only for the forgivee but also for the forgiver. Not sure I buy into all that but whatever, I’m still wondering today if my sister Betsy has ever forgiven me for the variety of wildlife to which I joyfully subjected her for years. Yes, years.

      We are both in our 80s now, she’s 2 years older, and yet still the subject comes up, again and again. Come on, after eight decades, shouldn’t we all just move on? Apparently not. I’m not so sure that “forgiveness,” at least on this issue, is in her lexicon.

      Here’s the deal; I love animals, ALL animals, slimy, unidentifiable, legless, wild, domestic, dangerous, gross, hairy, toothy, bald, roaring, or malodorous. Betsy? Not so much. She knows they are out there, but she’d prefer they stay out there, preferably hidden. Me? I invite them all in.

      We grew up sharing a bedroom, and attended the same high school for a while. There was a lab in that school, and in that lab were cages of white rats; big sweet funny loving squirmy white rats, all on death row, placed there by our teacher, Mr. Bissell. We obedient students were expected to murder them, slice them open from butt to chin, pin their hides open in wax-filled pans that looked suspiciously like cookie pans, and we’d all get to play with their wet, warm innards. Sorry folks. It’s how it was back then. To this day I still have no clue how doing all that furthered my education, but I felt precisely the same way about Home Ec, too. But we knew we had to do it, so with apologies to those beautiful rodents, we shut our eyes, chloroformed, sliced and pinned them, and learned, like it or not, where rats’ livers, lungs, bellies, intestines, personal parts etc. etc. were located. Hey, we didn’t have Google back then---everything was hands-on.

      But—LC of Arc that I was, I would sneak into the lab when Mr. Bissell was canoodling with Miss Yardley in the small Bunsen-burners, beakers, test tubes storage closet, and I’d kidnap a lot of those rats. It became my life’s cause to save as many as possible. Alas, because I’d have to sneak them onto the school bus in my bra, I could only take the small ones. Yes, I absconded with the grateful creatures but the condition of my undergarment at the end of the day was a little---well, let’s say nasty. But, did I care? No. I was on a crusade.

      However, where to stash the dear rodents? In a desk drawer with food and water of course, where they’d wait for my return. But you see I shared that desk with Betsy, and when she’d pull open a drawer to find tumbling, roiling white rats in there and leaping out at her to play---well the sound that came from her can only be described and a kind of slow, deafening, keening sort of noise. A sort of long, thin sword to the ear. Oh, it was simply delicious. I’ll never forget it and still smile at the memory.

      Recognizing I’d hit on a good one, my next adoptions were of course the occasional garter snake in her bed, and then came the great jars of thick, umber slime from a nearby brackish pond that was loaded with pollywogs and snails and lots of unidentifiable wriggling creatures. Oh, the smell—wonderful! Up they went on Betsy’s closet shelves. I quickly realized if the closet door was kept closed the smell would somehow quadruple, and get richer by the hour. I’d prop myself up on my bed, engrossed in the latest Confidential magazine, and I’d wait. And wait. Eventually my poor sister would go to the closet to get her outfit ready for the next school day, (I know my eyes were glittering like a snake’s) I’d watch her innocent hand turn our closet’s doorknob and then, oh that fabulous, fabulous scream. Like no other anywhere! How happy my sister could make me by emitting that sound. A symphony!

      Forgiveness? We have a wary relationship now. She never mentions these things, I mean unless we’ve invited a lot of people over for dinner, and then of course these old boring memories of hers bubble up. She does have a rather nervous tic in her right eye that I notice gathers speed when she starts to babble about all this. She really should see someone about that.

      Has she forgiven me? Hmmm—not sure. But when she talks about those halcyon days, she forgets my best animal incident. I used to spend part of every day in the woods as a kid and would happily bring home tons of specimens, sometimes live. Well, always live actually. One time in January I was trudging through the snow in the woods and found this sort of cocoon thing on a small twig, so I broke it off and took it home. It was so pretty. I put it into a lidless jar under our night table, and forgot about it.

      That scream came when I was sleeping. I just thought I was happily dreaming so I smiled, rolled over and ignored it. This particular keening, shrill noise got worse, louder, so I sat up and turned on the light. What to my wondering eyes should appear but my poor dear sister, in her nightgown, lying on her back, her mouth, ears, nose, hair---everything---stuffed and covered with thousands of baby Praying Mantises. That pretty cocoon thing in the jar under the night table next to her, thought the warmth of our bedroom meant that spring had arrived, so they hatched! All of them! Lots of them! Millions of them! Poor Betsy looked like a bad science fiction movie; she was simply encased in crawling, baby Praying Mantises. I mean they were everywhere on her, like tiny Biblical locusts invading Betsyland for food. Who knew that many were hiding in that cocoon awaiting their birthday?

      Betsy has never spoken of that glorious night. I think it’s a Freudian Forget thing, y’think maybe?

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Editor's Note: Be sure to check out LC's new domain at

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

Irish Eyes


Total Lockdown

The Republic of Ireland is in virtual lockdown until April 12th, at the earliest. And people of my age are “cocooned.” Theatres, pubs and many stores closed. It is a scary time but we haven't lost our interest in literature or our sense of humour. Ireland’s greatest literary festival Listowel Writers’ Week has been canceled. It was great to read about two of its stalwart contributors still in the news.

Saint Patrick’s Day parades over the island were canceled and veteran writer Mary Kenny, in the Irish Independent treated us to a few lesser known facts about our national apostle. For instance she discovered that Saint Patrick was deemed to be the founder of Irish literature. The oldest surviving text penned in Ireland was written by Saint Patrick in the fifth century. The saint wrote in Latin so his text was called a littera from which we get the word “letter” in English and “Litir” in Irish.

This “epistle” of Saint Patrick which was sent to the British ruler Coroticus is believed to be the foundation of the written word in Ireland. So before we get too carried away by our world famous literary tradition we should reflect on the fact that the founder wasn’t even Irish.
As a child Christine Dwyer Hickey (see pic below) spent much time with her father and often accompanied him to the races. She used those experiences in her 1991 short story, "Across the Excellent Grass" which won the Powers Gold Short Story Competition at Listowel Writers’ Week. She won the same competition the following year with "Birdie’s Wedding" and was also a prize winner in The Observer/short story competition with "Teatro La Fenice."

I first met the author in Listowel and it was always evident that she would go places as a writer. Her Dublin Trilogy was published between 1995-2000 as "The Dancer, The Gambler and The Gatemaker" by Marino Books and was republished by New Island in 2006-07. The trilogy tells the story of a Dublin family between the years 1913-1958. Her novel Tatty published in 2004 has been chosen as the Dublin One City One Book for city 2020.

Alison Lyons, a director of UNESCO City of Literature explains the principle behind Dublin One City One Book, “To shine a light on a particular book, to make sure it’s widely available through the library system and to encourage reading of it with lots of free events themed around the story and the author.”

In this case the author and the work are closely related. Christine explains that when started to write Tatty she was doing it,” . . . as a sort of exercise in therapy to help me get my head around my complicated childhood which after my father’s death had come back to haunt me.”

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Despite the lockdown inter-county rivalry hasn’t died a death. The following dialogue between two Meath man was overheard at a wake in Nobber.

“I hear a Cavan man is after getting’ the virus.”

“Well there’s one thing certain, he won’t give it to anyone. I heard of a couple in Mullahoran, during the lockdown an’ they were watching Mass on the television. When it came to the collection they turned it off.”

* * * * *

Social Distancing is not a new phenomenon. It’s a long time since I encountered it first. It was a harvest night in 1969. I was parallel with the perpendicular outside the Marquee in Poulaphouca with a young one (well she wasn’t that young!) The Parish Priest came on the scene and, in a stentorian voice, commanded, “You should be two feet apart.” “Be God Father” says I “I’m here for the past twenty minutes trying to get her two feet apart.”

It would appear that some young people are not taking the advice of experts seriously. I’m doing my best to stay alive anyway. Because, in the words of the late John B. Keane, “A dead man is no good to anyone except undertakers and propagandists.”

* * * * *

It was Mother‘s Day here in Ireland. Mary Adair had reminded me that the deadline was imminent. I was sitting there trying to come up with something appropriate. Then it struck me. Why not use Patrick Kavanagh’s poem,
‘In Memory of My Mother’ I do not think of you lying in the wet clay
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see
You walking down a lane among the poplars
On your way to the station, or happily
Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday
You meet me and you say:
‘Don’t forget to see about the cattle – ‘
Among your earthiest words the angels stray.
And I think of you walking along a headland
Of green oats in June,
So full of repose, so rich with life –
And I see us meeting at the end of a town.
On a fair day by accident, after
The bargains are all made and we can walk
Together through the shops and stalls and markets
Free in the oriental streets of thought.
O you are not lying in the wet clay,
For it is a harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us – eternally.

* * * * *

I saw the following in the Social and Personal section of a provincial newspaper.
“Single man with toilet rolls would like to meet female with hand sanitiser . . . for good clean fun.”

* * * * *

We are told that we should turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones. We now have a major stumbling block and converting it into a stepping stone will be difficult. But we can do our best.

The Future???

See you in May.

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Well, not a whole lot is going on in my neck of the woods because I’m still being self-quarantined in my apartment here in Wuxi, China. I am also continuing my two online courses and I found that my students are now used to remaining at home. But it’s still unfortunate for me because the start date for my returning to normalcy is still undetermined.

On a brighter note, I’m still maintaining a positive attitude and I recently conducted a phone interview for the television program, ‘The Sam Lesante Show’ where the host of the program talked to me about how life in China has changed for me as a teacher since the coronavirus outbreak.

I feel at the moment that this virus pandemic may get worse for the US and other regions of the world, the virus is now in 100 countries and the number of infected people is rising. But at the same time, I feel the fear of the worldwide virus is greater than the virus itself.

Here is the link to the program I participated in –
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
Editor's Note: Here is an update about the status of Thomas and his students, now in class again. Current Classes Resumed
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (410) 925-9334
    China Mobile: 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

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Sifoddling Along


Riding Out The CORONAVIRUS – Covid-19 - March 28, 2020

This is the 21st day of my incarceration. I have been confined to my house since March 7. 2020. I don’t dare violate the restriction of movement because I am a “high risk” potential patient.

I have been aware of the seriousness of the situation since early February and impetuously booked a flight home to visit friends and family for the last week of February and first week of March that I enjoyed very much. When I returned it was clear that the virus was going to spread all over the world. The cat was out of the bag. A part of my education includes a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Minnesota. Yes, I studied epidemiology. I knew what was coming so I voluntarily confined myself.

After a few days of staring blindly at the news for hours on end, I gathered myself together and came to my senses. It seemed important that I do something positive and get my head in the game.

I decided to start making surgical masks for health workers and my family. That sounds simple enough, but as usual, my path to providing a service was fraught with obstacles. For those who don’t know me, I am famous (or infamous) for finding the most difficult way to accomplish anything. I am the woman whose first Barbie doll dress was a satin ball gown. You get the idea.

First of all, my sewing machine was in the shop for repairs. Of course, it isn’t the only sewing machine I own, but the other two had not been used in many years and both had missing parts. Undaunted, I devised a way to spring my machine from repair jail. I called the shop (still open at the time) and asked if I could pay by check and if the owner would bring my machine to the car. He agreed, so I drove to Bloomington (about a half hour away) and we exchanged objects. I drove home triumphant.

Next, I decided to find the BEST pattern so I spent hours watching videos on YouTube. Soon I was overwhelmed with information and completely paralyzed. After a period of recovery, I found a pattern that looked possible. I once was a fairly skilled seamstress and unafraid to tackle anything from a garment to a complex quilt, but this little 6” x 9” rectangle was not so easy. The mask requires two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric. That was easy enough. As a quilter, I had a stash of fabric – enough to last me the rest of my life and then some. I had my sewing machine and off I went.

Then reality struck. I found I needed to wash the fabric first. I had washed all of it several years ago, so I had to wash, dry and press several yards of cotton print and plain white fabric for the lining. Elastic no wider than ¼” is suggested in most patterns, but I finally found one that used ties. It took several trials to realize that the most efficient way to put on ties was a 45” strip of fabric folded like bias tape and sewed down to secure the raw edges. Much more efficient that 4 shorter ties sewed to each corner of the mask.

I won’t bore you with the details of the various trials, but I made every known mistake and invented a few of my own. I sewed the wrong pieces together, sewed them in the wrong order, cut holes in the wrong places and created chaos in my sewing room and my mind.

After four days of flailing about, I finally settled on a pattern from that worked. They had several versions, but the one I liked best was made with a serger with a little machine top stitching.

But then the serger tension went kerflooey and I had to go to the most dreaded document in my life – the manual – to figure it out. Finally, I got it going properly and set out to make a demonstration mask.

In a matter of minutes I managed to cut into the mask with the serger blade and then I cut into another piece with my very sharp scissors. I decided to take a break.

Tomorrow I will start with a fresh mind after a strong cup of coffee and make some masks. I think I have a pretty good chance of succeeding. Wish me luck.

* * * * * *

March 23 at 1:15 PM:
After 2 days of having every thing possible go wrong, I finally finished one (1!!!) face mask. (Pic below: Finished mask.) I inserted wire over the nose to hold it down. One thing I learned, they are HOT to wear. (Pic: Marilyn models mask.)

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On Trek


Today, I Dusted off my Soul

My soul was dusty with a film of agitation, negativity, division causing upset to my soul..the real me.

It has been like a test finding who I really am? Being put in time out has given me much needed time to reflect on my personal values. When I dusted off the film of dust on my soul, I found the real me.

I love all people,all nationalities. I pray for every person on the planet,every animal, and for the our beautiful earth itself. For Clean water,air, and for each of us to become part of the earth, as we all were put here to care for her.

I shed tears of joy knowing and seeing the love taking place daily because we are all finding who we truly are. We are all dusting off our souls and making adjustments as to what we truly want and need.

All peoples are created equal. Peace, love, harmony, joy,. Let those that want to hate and divide do so. But I no longer am part of that. I stand for truth, love and life.

Let us continue to be united in life.
Judith 3/29/2020

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Social Distancing

You stay away from me, I'll stay away from you
Don't want to catch that virus, don't want to catch the Flu
Don't come too close, stay away, you hear
The COVID19 virus, has everyone living in fear
I try to stay away, from people that I see
Six feet is the distance, that the space should be
Don't touch me! You might give it to me
Neither of us want it, I'm sure you will agree

Just got back from the store, and it sure isn't packed
The Toilet Paper is missing. I didn't see any stacked
Workers wearing rubber gloves, plexiglass in place
Yet they kept their social attitude, with a smile on their face

They even have a Senior Time, early in the morning
Everywhere you look, there is some kind of a warning
Stay Home, Stay Safe! That is the key
Lockdown in places, that aren't open for me

Wear a mask, if you need one for your face
High Risk people, make sure it's properly in place
It's Essential, when it is something that we need
Social Distancing, is how we shall proceed
©Mar 29, 2020 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
When it's Social Distancing and staying home to
stay safe, you have a lot of alone time. Time to get
things done, you normally don't have time for. When
you live alone, you still have the phone, the internet, or
even a letter you can write to someone. Kick back and
watch something you enjoy, or read a book. Work on crafts.
But remember, you are not alone in this, we are aware and
doing our best to keep it away. With those words, I wish you
well, and please friends, Stay Safe.

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My Nineteenth Birthday

Since now I've lived nineteen years,
     Brought you trouble and caused you tears;
I thought that I should write you a letter
     To show you that I'm getting better.

"Better at what?" you ask, and I
     Send to you this proud reply:
Better at rising each day with the dawn.
     Better at knowing where my money's gone.

Better at cutting things up in the lab,
     Better at not wasting my time on gab.
Better at washing and ironing things, too,
     Better at keeping Ds down to a few.

Better at getting along with my profs,
     Better at treating my sniffles and coughs
Better at working hard when I'm in school,
     Better at having school spirit for Jewell.

Better at getting along with my roommate,
     Better at knowing just how to pacificate.
The last was added just for fun,
     To show you how big my vocabulary's become.

Better at doing assignments in theory,
     Better at not thinking Biology is dreary
Better at conversation on dates,
     Better at not always making boys wait.

Better at practicing piano with vim,
     Better at filling each day to the brim.
And, so you see, I've improved in these ways,
     Think what I will do with my next 365 days!

©1964 Alice Anne Burks

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Easter 2020

It’s Eastertide again
And in the wildflower meadow
Beside my church

Scores of painted eggs
Snuggle deep
In grass tufts, daisy clumps.

We wander gaily
Through the maze,
Peering close for prizes.

Here a hint of red’s
The clue, there
A sight of brilliant blue,

Some so neatly hid
We nearly step on them,
Which wouldn’t do.

The sun burns so bright
In the cloudless sky
We’re blinded by the light,

Warmed to our cores
By this clear reminder
Of returning life.

©2020 John I. Blair, 3/30/2020
Author Note: We had to cancel our church’s actual egg hunt in April because of the coronavirus, but here’s a poem about ones in the past.

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Toilet Paper

I looked everywhere, I looked all around
There wasn't any Toilet Paper to be found
I guess I could use kleenix, or paper towels
I need something, when I let loose my bowels
All the stores emptied out, and when that was done
I realized, that they were the uninformed one
Diarrhea was not one of the symptoms listed there
Stupid people really need to understand and be aware

You made it hard for others, who needed it more
Those who were desperate to find it at the store
Some stores limited it, to one person to buy
Hoarding something, do you even know why?

People still have to be around others, it's true
This virus will be circulating, no matter what you do
Can you really stop others, from seeing their family
Forever? It really sounds pretty stupid to me

I understand if your immune system is low or none
Then your life is at risk, and under the gun
Then you live your life in a plastic bubble, if that's the case
Because you are able to get it from anyone, in the human race

So what you really did, was not thinking at all
Greedy is what you were, and that's pretty small
Why panic, when you do, it makes for a small brain
When calm, when aware, then the Toilet Paper will remain
©JMar 14, 2020 Bud Lemire
                          Author Note:
I laugh at those who know no better. It's a virus, not the end
of the world. And if it was, what would toilet paper be good for?
My heart goes out to those who have no immune system, because
any virus is dangerous to them. The wise person follows simple
procedures, take care of yourself, wash your hands often, see your
Doctor regularly. When you use your head, you won't need so much
Toilet paper. Unless your brain is leaking. That might be a problem.

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First Butterfly

Looking out my window
I saw today
Spring’s first butterfly

Aimlessly from
Flower to flower,

Seemingly indifferent
To fears
Of predators, of storms.

And yet
I know enough
To reassure myself

It will find food,
A place to lay
Its precious eggs,

And endless futures
For butterflies
In this risky world.

©2020 John I. Blair, 3/30/2020

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Wishing not only to be a simple Sage,
But one whose words fly from the page
And into the hearts of the whole of humanity
To abjure them to cleanse their abject vanity
And be instead beacons for their fellow man
To encourage, to bless, to assist in the plan
That will focus on bringing us all together
With smiles and laughter no matter the weather.

To be who can reach out and teach each heart
Enabling strengths needed for all to do their part
Toward a peaceful and uncomplicated strategy
To avert what is propelling us into tragedy
To lift and comfort and bountifully bless
Those souls now bearing a ton of stress
To dissolve tensions and aches and pain
And see smiling faces out and about again

To offer the key that unlocks the vault
Holding the measures needed to end the assault
That has swept across lands and every sea
To threaten the existence of you and of me
To bolster endurance, ingenuity and a plan
For what will cleanse and heal our land
Combining good intentions whatever the source
Melding them together into the right course
That leads us to victory and an ultimate way forth--
Those would be words that could prove their worth!

©March 26, 2020 Mary E. Adair

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That Damn Virus

Don't want that virus, no way, no how
Whether it came from an Anteater or a Cow
Don't know why it started, just want it to end
Because that damn virus, surely ain't my friend
Don't know why it started like that
All I know is, it's a dirty rat
A killer that will leave everyone dead
Away from everyone, is where it should be lead
They said it came, from another place
If it's not stopped, it might wipe out the human race
I hope it is studied well, so soon we will all know
So we can understand it better, how to make it go
It's scary, when your life is on the line
When all you wanted, was to feel fine
How can a virus can be caught, when we don't understand
What the heck it is, that is spreading across the land

I hope all the Medical staff, can find a cure really fast
Or there will many of us, who will never last
Hope we can contain it, so it won't spread
Because I don't want to wind up dead
Put me in a plastic bubble, safe as I can be
A virus is on the loose, and it is after me
Nobody asked for this, and yet it is there
I wonder if you can catch it, by touch or by air

How quick can this virus spread
From China to the USA, we're dead
Can anyone stop it, hurry please!
Will I be safe, hiding behind trees
Don't want Corona, the virus or the beer
It better not come around here
Don't need another virus that will kill
That damn virus, don't want to be ill
©JMar 1, 2020 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
Those of us with a weak immune system are
more at risk. The medical staff is working
on it, and will let us know when they find
something that will help against it.

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Coronavirus 2020

What do I do
At world’s end,
Nothing working
As it should?

Restaurants vacant,
Stores bare,
Theaters dark,
School doors locked,
Streets near empty,
Isolation everywhere?

I stare out windows,
Weep to see
And hug my girls
Again, hear their
Sweet voices,
Smile into their eyes.

Never have I felt
With so much pain
How dear life can be
To me
And now, it seems,
How fragile.

©2020 John I. Blair, 3/29/2020

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I no longer understand this changing chaotic world
The visions we once knew are slipping beyond our view
I no longer understand this uncertainty and fear
Trying not to cry, but it’s so hard to understand why

Why are we falling deeper into space
Why are we calling this a time for prayers and faith
Why is the mainstream stopping and stopping on a dime
Why are we lost in yesterday when tomorrow is so close by

I no longer understand our willingness to believe
The dreams we once shared are now a distant memory
I no longer understand this universal plight
Trying not to disappear in the chaos of the night

Why are we falling deeper into a lapse of time
Why are we telling each other this is now how we will survive
Why is everything pausing just as the energy was right
Why are we lost in yesterday when today should have been alright

©3/14/2020 Bruce Clifford

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The COVID-19 Pandemic

It started in China, and when it did arrive
People were put into quarantine, fighting to stay alive
It's given everyone, quite a scare
When it got closer, we all became aware
It could be me, or it could be you
Those with no immune system, wondered if they'd get through
It spreads so quickly, anyone you see
Could have it, and give it to me
I try to stay calm, but I'm scared as hell
Who will survive this, only time will tell
Keep your distance from people, wipe off everything you use
Wash your hands often, keep following the health rules
Don't shake hands, in case they have it without knowing
It's invisible, but there are ways it'll be showing
Fever, shortness of breath, or even a cough can be a mild case
But if you're feeling worse, the Hospital is your place

Call your Doctor, and they'll know what to do
There will be others around, who will help you through
You are not alone, others are around
They'll guide you through, they're easily found
Relax and live your life, from day to day
Limit your public appearance, to keep it away
It's okay not to be social, in fact be a recluse
Limit yourself, to what you see or hear in the news
©JMar 19, 2020 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
The COVID-19 Virus is scary! But if you follow the rules to keep it away,
you should be okay. There is always someone around to talk to.
Online, on the phone, etc. Sit back and take the time to read, watch
some TV, call a friend or family member. Write a poem. Do some
crafts. Enjoy the time to yourself. Be at peace, and know that
you are never alone.

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Easter Picnics in Camargo

Among my earliest memories of Camargo, dating from the 1940s, were the annual Easter picnics. Because it’s been upwards of 65 to 70 years since I participated in these, details are vague, but sweet. So I will try to recall them, in the hope that other family members will be able to add information and give a fuller picture.

Evidently it was the custom back then at Easter in Camargo to have elaborate picnics out in the country. Easter is generally a sweet time of year when everything is greening up and flowers are blooming, but the air is still cool in the shade and warm in the sunshine. Eggs in an era when just about everybody was still keeping chickens were virtually a free item, and one that could easily be made both tasty and pretty. And the game of hiding decorated eggs for the little kids (like me) to find was even more popular then than now, with some important details different because we were using real, breakable, eggs, not plastic ones filled with candy.

Typically the day prior to the picnic was busy with egg boiling and coloring. I don’t remember any fancy decorations being applied – just bright colors. After all, these eggs weren’t going to last long anyway. I was too young to help with the egg dye process; I’m assuming that an older group did that, likely including Leila, Leah, Mary Ann, Geraldine, and of course the mothers as well. I’m sure dozens of eggs were involved, because there were going to be big appetites to feed at the picnic. Whether Aunt Madge’s family were also involved, I don’t recall.

What other food was prepared, I have absolutely no memory of. Likely fried chicken, potato salad, bread . . .

The two places I associate with these picnics were very different from each other. One of them was the sandpits west of town along what’s now called E0690 Road – the road west that eventually leads to the cemetery and beyond that to Turkey Creek. But the sandpits were just a short drive from town, less than a mile. Being just about Camargo’s only “safe” water attraction (the Canadian being much too unpredictable and wild), they were used, I understand, both for swimming and for simple country outings. And may still be, for all I know. To me they were a complete novelty, with the murky water, the grassy, sandy banks, and brush-covered mounds of overburden next to the water.

I must have been quite young that year, as I remember being kept under pretty close supervision near the water. But I had fun egg hunting and playing with my cousins. And basking in the springtime sunshine, no doubt in one of the sun suits my Mom used to make for me.

Swimming party at sandpits with Ellsworth Dover to the right, and the man to the left of the checked shirt, wearing a billed cap and overalls, is my beloved Uncle Ralph Wing who was almost a second father to me and a great teacher about life.

The other place used for these picnics was on the other side of town along the little creek where E0690 turns south to zigzag along the east side of the river toward Red Bluff. There is still a grove of trees in that corner, with a sandy track leading south to a corral. On the whole it was easier to reach and to park when you got there, but without the pools of water featured at the sandpits. I was a bit older by then, but still have only the vaguest memories of the day, except that I enjoyed it.

The second photo, of my mom and dad, aunts and uncles, I am quite sure, was taken at Easter 1938, a month after my parents were married. This photo, I think, is beautiful. My parents are the couple at the far left, with Mom in the polkadot dress.

After about 1950 I have no further memories of these Easter picnics. I don’t know whether they were continued or abandoned as we cousins mostly got too old for such frivolity as hunting for hidden eggs in the grass.

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Safeguards Against COVID-19

The Chinese now understand the behavior of The COVID-19 Virus, thanks to autopsies that they have carried out. This Virus is characterized by obstructing respiratory pathways, with thick mucus that solidifies and blocks the airways and lungs. So they have discovered that, in order to be able to apply a medicine, you must open and unblock these airwaves, so that the treatment can be used and take effect. However, all of this takes a number of days. The recommendations of what you can do to safeguard yourself are:
Ways to Safeguard Against Getting The COVID-19 Virus
    Drink lots of hot liquids. Coffees, Soups, Teas, warm water. In edition, take a sip of warm water every 20 minutes, because this keeps your mouth moist and washes any virus into the stomach where the gastric juices will neutralize it before it can get to the lungs.
    Gargle with an anti-septic in warm water. Like vinegar, or salt, or lemon. Every day if possible.
    The Virus attaches itself to hair and clothes. Any detergent or soap kills it, but you must take a bath or shower when you get in from the street. Avoid sitting down anywhere and go straight to the bathroom shower. If you can't wash your clothes daily, hang them in direct sunlight, which also neutralizes the Virus.
    Wash metallic surfaces very carefully, because the virus can remain viable up to 9 days. Be vigilant about touching hand rails and door knobs.
    Don't Smoke
    Wash your hands every 20 minutes using any soap that foams. Do this for 20 seconds and wash them thoroughly.
    Eat Fruits and Vegetables.
    Animals do not spread the virus. It's person to person transmission.
    Try to avoid getting the common Flu. Because this already weakens your system. Try to avoid eating and drinking cold things.
    If you feel any discomfort in your throat or a sore throat coming on, Attack it immediately using the above method. The Virus enters the system this way, and remains for 3 or 4 days within the throat before it passes into the lungs.

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Easter Commentary by Leo Helmer

An Encore Presentation About Easter by the late Leo C. Helmer aka Leothasme

I just know ya'll look forward to all this
Lent and Easter stuff every year, so here is more.
And, I promise in subsequent years from now on ya'll won't
never hear about it again.
(unless somebody asks)
[or comments on my superior intellect]
{or maybe inquisitive minds want to know (more?)}

Easter Commentary

(More Information from various Easter, Lent, and Ash Wednesday Sites)
Recently someone asked why Easter and Passover do not always fall in the same week, or day of the year (an annual anniversary, so to speak). I pulled much of this article from the Funk & Wagnall's New Encyclopedia 1988 Edition. I am including the whole article and other information gleaned from other sources because I personally found them enlightening. The reason for this is not to argue Easter and Passover (for which there is no argument) but only for information purposes. I have found very few people who even knew that the two festivals did not coincide.
The annual festival commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the principal feast of the Christian year. It is celebrated on a Sunday on varying dates between March 22 and April 25 and is therefore called the movable feast. The dates of several other ecclesiastical festivals, extending over a period between Septuagesima Sunday (the ninth Sunday before Easter) and the first Sunday of Advent (the period before Christmas), are fixed in relation to the date of Easter.
Connected with the observance of Easter is the 40-day penitential season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding at midnight of Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday; Holy week, commencing on Palm Sunday, including Good Friday, the supposed day of the crucifixion, and terminating with Holy Saturday; and the Octave of Easter, extending from Easter Sunday through the following Sunday. During the Octave of Easter in early Christian times, the newly baptized wore white garments, white being the liturgical color of Easter and signifying light, purity, and joy.
Pre-Christian Tradition:
Easter, a Christian festival, embodies many pre-Christian traditions. The origin of its name probably dates as for back as the Ancient goddess Astarte, the original Chaldean goddess of fertility. Scholars, however, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar Saint Bede, believe it probably comes from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the Vernal equinox; traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. Even this symbolism dates back as far as Astarte and later on the Babylonian celebration of spring and fertility.
Such festivals, and the stories and legends that explain their origin, were common in ancient religions. A Greek legend tells of the return of Persephone, daughter of Demeter, goddess of the earth, from the underworld to the light of day. Her return symbolized to the ancient Greeks the resurrection of life in the spring after the desolation of winter.
Many ancient peoples shared similar legends. The Phrygians believed that their omnipotent deity went to sleep at the time of the winter solstice, and they performed ceremonies with music and dancing at the spring equinox to awaken him. The Christian festival of Easter probably embodies a number of converging traditions; most scholars emphasize the original relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name for Easter. The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the prophets.
The Dating of Easter:
According to the New Testament, Christ was crucified on the day before Passover and shortly afterward rose from the dead. In consequence, the Easter festival commemorated Christ's resurrection. In time, a serious difference over the date of the Easter festival arose among Christians. Those of Jewish origin celebrated the resurrection immediately following the Passover festival, which, according to their Babylonian lunar calendar, fell on the evening of the full moon (the 14th day in the month of Nissan, the first month of the year); by their reckoning, Easter, from year to year, fell on different days of the week. Christians of Gentile origin, however, wished to commemorate the resurrection on the first day of the week, Sunday, thus Sunday became the day of the Lord. By their method, Easter occurred on the same day of the week, but from year to year, it fell on different dates. An important historical result of the difference in reckoning the date of Easter was that the Christian Churches in the East, which were closer to the birthplace of the new religion (Jerusalem), and in which old traditions were strong, observed Easter according to the date of the Passover festival. The churches of the West, descendants of Greek-Roman civilization, celebrated Easter on a Sunday.
Rulings of the Council of Nicaea on the Date of Easter:
Constantine I, Roman emperor, called together the Council of Nicaea in 325. The council unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox; and that if the full moon should occur on a Sunday and thereby coincide with the Passover festival, Easter should be commemorated on the Sunday following. Coincidence of the feast of Easter and Passover was thus avoided. The Council of Nicaea also decided that the calendar date of Easter was to be calculated at Alexandria, then the principal astronomical center of the world. The accurate determination of the date, however, proved an impossible task in view of the limited knowledge of the 4th-century world. The principal astronomical problem involved was the discrepancy, called the epact, between the solar year and the lunar year. The chief problem was a gradually increasing discrepancy between the true astronomical year and the Julian calendar then in use.
Later Dating Methods:
Ways of fixing the date of the feast tried by the church proved unsatisfactory, and Easter was celebrated on different dates in different parts of the world. In 387, for example, the dates of Easter in France and Egypt were 35 days apart. About 465, the church adopted a system of calculation proposed by the astronomer Victorinus (5th century), who had been commissioned by Pope Eilarius (461-468) to reform the calendar and fix the date of Easter. Elements of his method are still in use. Refusal of the British and Celtic Christian churches to adopt the proposed changes led to a bitter dispute between them and Rome in the 7th century.
Reform of the Julian calendar in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, eliminated much of the difficulty in fixing the date of Easter and in arranging the ecclesiastical year. Since 1752, when the Gregorian calendar was also adopted in Great Britain, the British Colonies (United States), and Ireland, Easter has been celebrated on the same day in the Western part of the Christian world. The Eastern churches, however, which did not adopt the Gregorian calendar, commemorate Easter on a Sunday either preceding or following the date observed in the West. Occasionally the dates coincide; the most recent times were in 1865 and 1963. Because the Easter holiday affects a varied number of secular affairs in many countries, it has long been urged as a matter of convenience that the movable dates of the festival be either narrowed in range or replaced by a fixed date in the manner of Christmas. In 1923, the problem was referred to the Holy See, which has found no canonical objections to the proposed reform. In 1928, the British Parliament enacted a measure allowing the Church of England to commemorate Easter on the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. Despite these steps toward reform, Easter continues to be a movable feast.
The Date for the Christian Holiday:
Easter shifts every year within the Civil Calendar. The ecclesiastical rules that determine the date of Easter trace back to 325 CE (Christian Era) at the First Council of Nicaea. At that time, most of Europe used the Julian Calendar (created by Julius Caesar).
To fix incontrovertibly the date for Easter, and to make it determinable indefinitely in advance, the Council constructed special tables to compute the date. The 6th century Abbot of Scythia, Dionysus Exiguous, revised these tables over the next few centuries resulting eventually in the tables constructed. He also is responsible for fixing the Calendar into BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domino, the year of the Lord) dates, using 1BC and 1AD as the separator for the years before or after Christ. These tables were used until 1582, when Gregory XIII (Pope of the Roman Catholic Church) completed a reconstruction of the Julian calendar and new tables were produced. Universal adoption of this Gregorian calendar occurred slowly. By the 1700's, though, most of Western Europe had adopted the Gregorian calendar. Much of Eastern Europe continued to use the Julian calendar until the early part of the 20th century. The Gregorian calendar is now the internationally accepted civil calendar.
The usual statement, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules. This full moon is not the astronomical Full Moon but an ecclesiastical moon that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical Moon.
The actual conditions that determine the date for Easter are
    · Easter falls on the first Sunday following the paschal full moon;
    · The paschal full moon is the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox; and
    · The vernal equinox is fixed as March 21. resulting in that Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25.
The civil date of Easter depends upon which calendar, Gregorian or Julian, is used. The western (Roman Catholic and Protestant) Christian churches use the Gregorian calendar; many eastern (Orthodox) Christian churches use the Julian calendar. In a congress held in 1923, the Orthodox churches adopted a modified Gregorian calendar and decided to set the date of Easter according to the astronomical Full Moon for the meridian of Jerusalem. However, these changes have not been universally implemented, and varieties of practices remain among the Orthodox churches.
There are three major differences between the ecclesiastical system and the astronomical system.
    · The times of the ecclesiastical full moons are not necessarily identical to the times of astronomical Full Moons. The ecclesiastical tables did not account for the full complexity of the lunar motion.
    · The vernal equinox has a precise astronomical definition determined by the actual motion of the Sun. The apparent longitude of the Sun is zero degrees at the precise time. This precise time shifts within the civil calendar very slightly from year to year. In the ecclesiastical system, the vernal equinox does not shift; it is fixed at March 21 regardless of the actual motion of the Sun.
    · The date of Easter is a specific calendar date. Easter starts when that date starts for your local time zone. The vernal equinox occurs at a specific date and time all over the Earth at once.
Inevitably, then, the date of Easter occasionally differs from a date that depends on the astronomical Full Moon and vernal equinox. In some cases, this difference may occur in some parts of the world and not in others because two dates separated by the International Date Line are always simultaneously in progress on the Earth. For example, take the year 1962. In 1962, the astronomical Full Moon occurred on March 21, UT=7h 55m - about six hours after astronomical equinox. The ecclesiastical full moon (taken from the tables), however, occurred on March 20, before the fixed ecclesiastical equinox at March 21. In the astronomical case, the Full Moon followed its equinox; in the ecclesiastical case, it preceded its equinox. Following the rules, Easter, therefore, was not until the Sunday that followed the next ecclesiastical full moon (Wednesday, April 18) making Easter Sunday, April 22.
Similarly, in 1954 the first ecclesiastical full moon after March 21 fell on Saturday, April 17. Thus, Easter was Sunday, April 18. The astronomical equinox also occurred on March 21. The next astronomical Full Moon occurred on April 18 at UT=5h. So in some places in the world Easter was on the same Sunday as the astronomical Full Moon.
NOTE: UT=Universal Time

The following are dates of Easter from 1990 to 2024:
1995 April 16 2010 April 4
1996 April 7 2011 April 24
1997 March 30 2012 April 8
1998 April 12 2013 March 31
1999 April 4 2014 April 20
2000 April 23 2015 April 5
2001 April 15 2016 March 27
2002 March 31 2017 April 16
2003 April 20 2018 April 1
2004 April 11 2019 April 21
2005 March 27 2020 April 12
1990 April 15 2006 April 16 2021 April 4
1991 March 31 2007 April 8 2022 April 17
1992 April 19 2008 March 23 2023 April 9
1994 April 3 2009 April 12 2024 March 31

Now that ya'll have gained so much knowledge about *Lent and Easter in the last couple of years. I think I will devote the next several years to such fun things as Mardi Grau, Saint Patrick's Day, and April Fools Day.
Ya'll take care now ya'heah.