Friday, May 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


May 2020

"No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way."
--Robert Baden-Powell.

The terrible virus that has impacted the world causing many areas to declare total lockdowns has apparently provided a new subject and the time to get things written down because we have the largest number of poetry submissions for one issue that we've had for several years. Some are actually comical, and some very emotional such as one not submitted to us but linked by our "Irish Eyes" columnist Mattie Lennon to the poem "When" by published author John O'Donnell imagining human reactions once the isolation periods are over.

Surprisingly, no Memorial Day tales, mentions, or poems arrived, so here are a couple of links to your editor's previously published tributes: "Memorial Thoughts" and "Memorial Days"

From Headway Bristol:"This has been sent to us by one of our former Service Users, reminding us all to Be Strong and happy 😊 We think it’s lovely! Thank you Phil Hennessy! — feeling blessed." (His poem was published in Pencil Stubs Online in the October 2015 issue.)

We are also feeling blessed because Phillip Hennessy sent us five poems for this issue, written while he is healing from a violent mugging awhile back. (The reason he was at Headway Bristol.) "Nothing," "I've Gone Without," "Memory Lane," "Carry On," and "Every Day," are his May poems.

Bruce Clifford has three poems: "Is It True," "Like No Other," and "We Turned Off The Sun." Bud Lemire sent us four poems: "Safety in Stores," "An Elevator Ride for One," "I'm Always With You," and "The Monster." He included pics for all but the one about the elevator. Mattie Lennon has one poem in his column and another, "There's A Brightness," in the poems category that includes a .wav link so you can hear John Hoban perform it.

John I. Blair's poems this issue are: "To Bloom Once Again," "Nothing Lasts," and "Books in The Background." Yours truly is showing two titles: "Isolation Diligence" and "Shedding Moments."

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda Cohenour, brings updates to the "Brick Walls" of family research plus exciting new data that may unravel some mysteries that remain.

Thomas F. O'Neill --"Introspective," is an update letting us know he is back on campus and includes a couple pics of him and his students plus a glimpse of building security measures in action. Marilyn Carnell discusses "What I have learned during the Pandemic" in her column "Sifoddling Along."

Judith Kroll ("OnTrek") with an injured knee keeping her preoccupied is absent while Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes," keeping his news gathering nose to the grindstone, reports on the status of various artists and pens a poem commiserating with the inactive status of a popular Men's Group that can be found in many communities in Ireland. Other artistic news and a joke or two with a classic John Fitzgerald circus poem keep us informed.

Rod Cohenour ("Cooking with Rod") joins wife Melinda (they refer to their shared cooking as "Cohenour Culinary Creations) to entice us to try their Southwest Beef Stew. LC Van Savage gives us a peak into her current writing experiences well laced with her brand of humor for "Questionable Advice" in her "Consider This" column.

Here's to Summertime, Mike! Whenever I think of you, I feel blessed and happy for our successful endeavor and your expertise, friendship, and support for this eZine.

See you in June.

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


Still Tearing at the Mortar on those Brick Walls!

Perhaps every genealogist spends an inordinate time attempting to solve the mysteries that brick up those walls in every family tree. It occupies a great deal of one’s time, going over every clue, re-reading every bit of saved material seeking a new insight that just MIGHT lead to a name – a date – a document that PROVES the identity of a long lost ancestor. Your author has been poring over all those saved tidbits for the past two months, concentrating on the key mysteries that block a clear and uninterrupted line of descent for specific surnames.

This column is an update on the ongoing work dedicated to resolving those mysteries. In our March column, a list of key brick walls was created. Follows now the update for each.

Brick Wall One: William “P. R.” Joslyn:

This most frustrating mystery continues. Earliest confirmed parent to DNA match to my maternal uncle, Westcott Campbell Joslin, Sr. was Edward S. Joslin (who often spelled his surname “Joyslin” – believed to be tied to his New Jersey accent). Latest effort has been concentrated on flushing out the shadow tree begun for the relative with the same name (Lt. Col. Edward Swain Joslyn, a contemporary of our Westcott father who distinguished himself in the Civil War). Edward Swain Joslyn is undoubtedly of our line – but his exact relationship is as of yet not confirmed. This Edward S also fathered a daughter given the SAME name as our Westcott father – Harriet L. More to the point, he lived in Kaine County, Illinois – the birthplace for our William Henry Joslin, immediate Great-Grandfather to sister Mary and your author. The DNA matches. The missing brick – still missing.

Brick Wall Two: Earl Allen Carroll:

Excited to report we may have some promising news on this front. This very week a young Carroll male cousin contacted your author, concerning his own efforts to build his Carroll tree on Ancestry. We have begun a dialogue and, if this young man concurs, he will submit a DNA test to Ancestry linking his public tree. This will be the FIRST MALE CARROLL of our line to submit a DNA test. With any luck at all, his matches will be shared and we can work in concert to determine the parentage of Earl Allen Carroll – our earliest CONFIRMED Carroll ancestor.

Brick Wall Three: James Sylvester Anderson:

Since Earl Allen Carroll was wed to Laura Isabel Anderson (Guinn) Carroll, any shared DNA matches to our Carroll cousin will – likewise – help to track back to this ancestor. We know James Sylvester Anderson wed Nancy Jane Gilstrap and that he was a wagon maker. We know both James Sylvester and Nancy lived during the Civil War. There are a number of James S. Andersons listed as participants in that grievous War. Given his occupation as wagon maker, it is likely James was involved actively. We know their youngest child, our Great Grandmother Laura Isabel Anderson was born 8 April 1865, which presumes James was alive yet in late 1864 and had occasion to return home. The window for linking him to a Civil War casualty, therefore, narrows. By 9 June 1870, Nancy Jane Gilstrap Anderson had succumbed to an early death. We believe both parents were deceased by the enumeration of the 1870 Census as Laura and her siblings are living in the home of their grandfather, Jeremiah Milam Gilstrap.

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

The arduous task of sifting through the records tied to the now-identified biological father of my first husband and the father of my children continues. Through an exhaustive task of scrutinizing DNA matches to a male grandson who kindly contributed his DNA, another shadow tree has been built. This tree concentrates on the highest shared centimorgan matches and their public trees. Tracing through each potential lead, adding to the shadow tree, evaluating dates and locations that might provide the clue is difficult at best. Oh, to have the resources of Who Do You Think You Are? and their team of researchers!

Brick Wall Five: Father of Roxanne Marie LeTourneau Bradshaw:

The same shadow tree referred to above is relevant to this search, as the grandson who contributed his DNA is descended from both John Bradshaw and Roxanne. Here again, the shadow tree compares Shared Matches to known relatives of Roxanne in order to eliminate those known biological relatives from the descendants of the potential father. This process will result in a unique tree for this grandson – separated from the massive overall tree that includes peripheral lines rather than direct blood lines.


And, finally, a bit of fun. Tiring of all that repetitive work creating and tracing and poring over records related to brick walls that has occupied uncountable hours over decades – we decided to take a look at a line not explored in depth previously: Our WADE line.

Great-Grandmother Flutie Creek (Alexander) Kendrick was the daughter of Absalom Creek (first cousin to all of the Younger and first half-cousin to the Dalton gang members) and his first wife, Martha Ann Wade. I well remember sitting by beautiful Flutie’s bedside when yet a pre-schooler and asking, “Aunt Flutie (she always said – at age 90 plus – she was far too young to be my Grandma!), what was your daddy’s name?” She said very sweetly, “My daddy’s name was Absalom.” In the complete candor of a very young child, I replied, “That is a weird name! Absalom. What was your mommy’s name?” She replied, “My mother’s name was Martha.” “Martha? That is a very weird name, Aunt Flutie!” Silly, silly me.

The Marriage Records of Clay County, Missouri, 1852-1900; Three Volumes, Volume I document the marriage of Martha and Absalom thusly: Marriage Date: 12 Aug 1866, Name: Absalem Creek, Spouse: Martha Ann Wade. Officiator: T. Montgomery, M. G. Date: 15 Aug 1866.

The daughter of Peyton Wade (1808-1887) and wife, Elizabeth Wilhoite Wade (1814-1893), Martha, born in 1847, was the fifth daughter born to the couple. Peyton Wade was the son of John Wade (1784-1840) and wife, Prudence Ellington Wade (1788-1860). Peyton and Elizabeth were wed 26 Oct 1832 in Clay County, Missouri. Prudence was born in Amelia County, Virginia, the daughter of David Motley Ellington (his exploits in the Revolutionary War were covered in two sequential columns, May and June of 2016) and his wife, Mary Malone DuPuy (the ancestor who links our line to my 23rd Great-Grandfather, Hugues dePayens DuPuy:

Here is the new exciting research: John Wade (1784-1840) is shown by a number of our family researchers to have been the son of Col. Nathaniel Wade and his wife, Mary Taylor Wade. This Col. Wade was a close confidante of General George Washington and of the Marquis LaFayette. His heirs have published a letter handwritten to him by George Washington on the eve following Benedict Arnold’s betrayal, ordering Col. Wade to march “forthwith” to West Point with his troops and take control, expected to be called upon to defend the Fort West Point that very evening.

The vital document tying our John Wade to this distinguished Revolutionary War hero is contained among the papers known as The Douglas Register. This compilation is heralded as one of the most notable collections of vital facts for historians concerned with ancestors deriving from Colonial Virginia. Following is a description of the source document:

The celebrated Douglas Register is an indispensable compilation of births, marriages, and deaths covering the period from about 1750 to 1797, with some miscellaneous records going back to 1705. The registers are for the parishes of St. James Northam (Dover Church) and King William, but they concern individuals who were residents of the Virginia counties of Fluvanna, Goochland, Louisa, Orange, and Spotsylvania. Entries under the headings of births, marriages, and deaths are arranged alphabetically, with marriages broken into separate lists for husbands and wives. Altogether the entries exceed several thousand in number. The book further consists of lists of Huguenot settlers at Manakin-Town (King William Parish) and an index of Goochland County wills, 1728-1840, containing about 1,000 names with references to dates and locations. (The early records of Goochland County are inseparable from the early records of Henrico and Powhatan counties, from which Goochland derived.)

“The register is of particular interest since the mother’s name is shown in each birth entry. Since the records cover a period of almost fifty years and an area of considerable extent in central Virginia, the book is of wide usefulness.”–The Virginia Genealogist (April-June 1967)

And, the notation which many family historians believe tie our John Wade (1784-1840) to the illustrious Col. Nathaniel Wade? “The Douglas Register: Nathaniel Wade & Mary Taylor, a son, John, born Mar: 7, 1784. Baptized May 30, 1784. p. 111”

Of course, we do not merely attach names to our tree without in depth research to identify vital documents that make sense. Did the person actually live in the same area where our ancestor is reported to have been born? Are the years correct? Do we have absolute documentary proof? A Bible listing, a Census record, a Will? Therefore, our new project is to scour records online in an attempt to prove or disprove this connection. Exciting, yes?

To this end, every Wade record that appears to be related is being reviewed. One detailed work is “The Wade Genealogy” by Stuart C. Wade, published in 1900. Mentioned in that book are but a few of the distinguished Wade personages throughout the centuries, the underlined name is the cornerstone of our current research:

“A family which has produced Armigel Waad, Secretary of the Privy Council to King Henry VIII Of England and one of the first English men to land in America; his son, Sir William Waad, who had so leading a part in the colonization Of Virginia, and whose activity as Lieutenant Governor of the Tower of London procured for him the epithet of “that villain Wade, from his prisoners, Sir Walter Raleigh and Cobham; Colonel Nathaniel Wade, the ill -fated Monmouth’s companion at Sedgmoor; Field Marshal General George Wade, Commander—in Chief of the British Army in early Georgian days and builder Of the famous Highland Roads; Colonel Nathaniel Wade, of Massachusetts, who held West Point the night after Arnold’s treason and who was the friend and confidant of Washington and Lafayette…”

Thus, we embark on another month’s cruise pursuing Armchair Genealogy. Stay tuned. We hope to have exciting news in our next column. In the interim, please take advantage of this historic and often frightening period of social isolation to pursue your own family history.

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

Cooking With Rod

Mexican spices are universally renowned and loved for providing exquisite flavors to just about any meal imaginable. This stew that M and I concocted turned out to be one of the most wonderful combinations of foods.

It is hearty.

It is healthy.

And, above all else, it TASTES GREAT! 

Have fun with it. 

Bon appetit~!

Southwest Ground Beef Stew

By Cohenour Culinary Creations


    * 2 lbs. low-fat ground beef
    * 2 pkgs. Taco seasoning mix
    * 1 tsp. ground black pepper
    * 1 Tbsp chili powder (add later per instructions)
    * 1 large onion, diced
    * 1 large bell pepper, 1" chunks
    * 2 large potatoes, diced in large 1.5" chunks
    * 2 large carrots, diced
    * 1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
    * 1 (15.5 oz) can pinto beans
    * 1 (14.5 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
    * 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
    * 1 (32 oz) can tomato juice, low salt
    * 1 (32 oz) container beef stock, low or no salt
    * 2 large Poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, deveined, deseeded, diced into large chunks

Garnishes, optional choices:

    * Tortilla strips
    * Flour Tortillas, warm
    * Chilled butter
    * Corn bread, plain or Jalapeno
    * Sour cream
    * Grated cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican Blend cheese
    * Cilantro leaves, chopped
    * Radishes, whole or sliced, chilled
    * Green onions, chilled
    * Bell pepper strips
    * Guacamole
    * Pico de Gallo


  • 1. Brown ground beef over medium heat in skillet, stirring with wooden spoon to break up. Sprinkle taco seasoning mix evenly over the browning beef. Stir well. Sprinkle with ground black pepper, stir well. When evenly browned, remove beef to waiting large 8 qt. stew pot, using slotted spoon.
  • 2. Add to same skillet (without cleaning, using retained juices and crumbles) the onion and bell pepper. Cook until onion is transparent. Add to stew pot. Be sure to add all the scrapings from the skillet. Using very low fat beef means little grease but a flavorful addition to your stew.
  • 3. Add potatoes and carrots to stew pot. Turn burner on to medium high to begin the simmering stage. Stir well.
  • 4. Add canned vegetables, tomato juice, and beef stock. Stir well.
  • 5. Add chili powder and stir well. Continue cooking stew, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Cook until potatoes and carrots are tender.
  • 6. Add poblano pepper to stew. Reduce heat to medium. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 7. Serve with your choice of suggested accompaniments or garnishes.

A crisp salad and iced tea or lemonade make a great meal.

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


Sifoddling Along


Things I have learned during the Pandemic

In this time of epic changes in our lives, I can only focus on small things that are within my control. I have been confined to my house since March 7 and don’t see escaping in the foreseeable future. I live in Minnesota and so far, we have not experienced anything like New York and other large cities in the US, but we have had a lot of snow. Go figure

So what have I learned?

I have learned that it is possible to be alone for long periods of time, but it is necessary to connect with others. For the first time in about 30 years, I don’t have a pet to indulge and this is not the time to acquire one, though it would be nice to have a cuddly companion.

The first thing I learned was how nice the app Zoom is. I have used FaceTime to keep up with family and friends but Zoom allows groups of people to “meet”. So far, I have Zoomed (yes, it has morphed into a verb) with my sewing group, my book club and social hours with members of my church. It is wonderful to feel connected to others, even in personal isolation.

Next, I learned how to make masks for others. As I said last month, I can manage to make a simple task complicated. Not only did I manage countless mistakes, I managed to run my serger into a pin and wrecked it. For the second time, I slipped away from my house to get it repaired while maintaining the proper distance from others. That wasn’t easy as when I picked it up 3 days later, the clerk forgot to include the cord. In all, it took 3 hours of driving time to get my sewing projects back on track. Another slow down was my search for the “best” mask. I finally decided it was the pattern from the University of Minnesota…/diy-face-masks-during-covid-19.

The best thing was the discovery of Dalgado (whipped) coffee. It has been immensely popular in the last month as people have time to experiment in the kitchen.

It is incredibly simple: 1 tablespoon each of instant coffee, sugar and hot water.

Mix or whip until it forms soft peaks and use it as a topping for hot or icy cold milk. It is delicious and since it is the equivalent of three cups of coffee, wakes me right up.

Now we face months of wrenching changes in our lives. This morning (April 17) to paraphrase Governor Cuomo: if something is destroyed, we must build it back better. I like that attitude.
We must all work together to make this a better world. My best wishes to all.

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

Irish Eyes

Pat Ingoldsby in Russia and More

The question is often asked in the past few weeks why has Ireland been less affected by Coronavirus than the UK, USA Spain, Italy and other countries? This is what Stephen Clandillon, Head of Mapping at the University of Strasburg has to say about it, "Perhaps the answer lies in a responsible, non-populist, care-taker leader who is a doctor in medicine and who took the whole thing seriously. Ireland implemented measures ahead of the curve and therefore cut it off earlier than others. The Irish are still listening to experts who throughout the recent years have been listened to far more than elsewhere." It would appear that we are world leaders once again.

* * * * *

      It has long been said that every man needed a shed as a place of refuge where he could retreat for a few hours, mess around at DIY jobs of his own choosing, or simply sit on a stool or box and contemplate the meaning of life. This has changed in Ireland and even further afield. Now nearly every village in Ireland has a Men’s’ Shed where groups of men who can come together in communal 'sheds' to work on a project, learn a new skill or simply spend time together.

      There is a group in Ireland which I won’t attempt to describe to you because I couldn’t do it justice. It is Irish Men’s Sheds Group and here is what Gerry Walsh has to say about it, “We have decided to make our group public to enable the content to be shareable. Feel free to spread the word with your shed mates to come join us. If you’re not in a men’s shed and want to help start a men’s shed to get in touch- we have the experience of doing the heavy lifting when it comes to starting men’s sheds - having helped start hundreds men’s sheds in Ireland since 2010.”

      And here is the link:

By Mattie Lennon

Were you born since nineteen fifty four?
Then listen to my tale.
Since now I can’t go past the door
It’s worse than being in jail.

The Men’s Shed basks in silence now
Dead ashes in the grate.
The powers that be will not allow
Us meet or congregate.

Trips to historic places
Postponed till God knows when
And absence of the faces
Of jolly Men’s- Shed men.

Restrictions with good reason
Our precious lives to save,
But it’s Limbo land this season
No wooden beams we’ll shave.

Sans banter, cakes or mugs o’ tay
The shedders felt marooned
Spin-doctors soon came into play
‘Twas simply called “cocooned.”

The sound of saws and lathe no more
No smoke or leaping flames.
We miss the sawdust on the floor
And elders calling names.

No forty verses now from Jack
Or the Micks with Niall and Noel.
No poems or songs or mighty craic
To elevate the soul.

Poor remedy for culture shocks
Are Zoom and mobile phones.
We’ll have to take our stumbling blocks
And make them stepping stones.
©2020 Mattie Lennon

* * * * *

      For generations the coming of the circus to town was a welcome event. Because of the lockdown it won’t be happening in Ireland this year. The following poem was penned by Listowel native John Fitzgerald.
By John Fitzgerald

Out from the pastures in early Spring
On trucks and on trailers, the loading begins
The tents and the tigers, the bright coloured ring
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Travellin’ the highways and tourin’ the towns
Ringmaster, jugglers, the cats and the clowns
The posters are printed so word gets around
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

They drive the long nights without any sleep
Wire walkers, tight ropers, all hands to the wheel
Each dawn a’peggin’ the circle of steel
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

They ring round our market, wagons galore
Tractors and trailers, the canvas and more
With riggin’ and cages, ropes by the score
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

Four beats to a bar, the sledges ring
Four men of iron their music to sing
The canvas is spread,” the heave-ho” begins
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

It’s haul down the ropes, and let the tent rise
Like clockwork they know, each cog to prise
They heave and they haul ‘til the tent is full size
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

The brass band of old is pipe music new
Monkeys are scarce and the elephants few
The trapeze has nets and the safe rope has too
John Duffy, the circus is callin’

The circus, alas, is not that of old
The magic, the music, the laughs and the roars
See a child’s face when the sparkle’s gone cold
John Duffy will soon not be callin’

* * * * *

      Before the total lockdown I attended a wake in what is known locally as “the Latin-quarter of Ballinastockan." A female mourner lamented, “Poor Miley has gone to his eternal reward after decades of celibacy.” I knew that Miley was married and had several offspring and since I left school two days before my fourteenth birthday the lady’s statement was a conundrum that I wasn’t in a position to solve. Luckily enough I was seated beside an erudite gentleman who was married to a local woman. He could see my confusion and explained, “Celibacy can be a choice in life, or a condition imposed by circumstances. While attending a "Harmony for Couples" weekend, in Naas, Miley and his wife Kate listened to the instructor declare, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other."He then addressed the men, "Can you name and describe your wife's favourite flower?" Miley leaned over, touched Kate’s arm gently, and whispered, ‘It's Odlums, isn't it?’ Thus began Miley’s life of celibacy."

* * * * *

      The link here is to a poem "When" by John O'Donnell whose collection of short stories, "Almost the Same Blue," will be published by Doire Press in May. Dedalus Press published "Sunlight: New and Selected Poems" in 2018.

* * * * *

I ate my way through last week,
As I waited for covid to peak
I must try harder
To bypass the larder,
Or I’ll never regain my physique.

      Róisín Meaney wrote the above and then a few days later she turned over a new leaf and wrote the following:

The start of a new lockdown week,
And a better plan for my physique
I’ll yoga like crazy
I’ll stop being so lazy
And of chocolate, you won’t hear a squeak.

* * * * *

      I recently told you about a forthcoming documentary of the Dublin poet, Pat Ingoldsby. Well there’s more good news for Pat. His book of poems "Beautiful Cracked Eyes" has been translated into Russian and published in the land of Leo Tolstoy. Pat is delighted and there is another one of his works "The Peculiar Sense of Being Irish," being translated right now about which more anon...

      John Sheahan of “Dubliners” fame will be 81 on May19th . He just recorded his first solo album Flirting Fiddles. It has been described by one critic as, “A revelatory collection to be relished as a long player.”

* * * * *

      Before Covid19 struck I told you about the planned Dolly Parton Lookalike day in Listowel. Well Billy Keane, hardly ever stuck for an alternative, put the following post on Facebook; “As Dollyday is postponed to 2021 we had a bit of fun today, with #bakeforkerryhospice please click the link to donate, every little (amount) helps this worthy cause.“

      See you in June!

  to view larger photo.

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

Consider This




Recently I was approached to be an Advice Columnist for an area publication, which was something I'd never done in my professional writing career. Nonetheless, I responded with some off the cuff answers to some queries they had included with their request that I consider their offer. I wasn't foul mouthed, but a bit obnoxious with the answers, but to my surprise, they loved the responses! So here are some excerpts from a couple of the new columns that I have done.

I love going to the movies, and my new boyfriend does, too. But the problem is, he’s a talker. He’ll ask me questions all the time, and it ruins the show for me. Is he just trying to connect with me, or is this an actual problem?

When's the last time he visited an ophthalmologist? Have you made him aware of that big screen at the front of the theater? Can he see it or does he only have eyes for you? You could always ignore him and let the others in the audience tell him to shut the blank up. Or you could get an usher to come armed with a large club-like flashlight if they still have ushers these days, and have him removed. Lastly, and this one has my vote, he's figured out a clever way to thoroughly annoy you thinking you won't make a scene in a public place. Disabuse him of that plan at once.

* * * * * *

I have a bit of a confession: I (accidentally, I swear!) ate a coworker’s homemade sesame noodle salad from the fridge for lunch. When I found out whose it was, I apologized and offered to buy her lunch to make up for it, and she just laughed and said it was fine. Still, I feel awkward about it. How can I make it up to her?

Personally I'd start by no longer pretending you "accidentally" ate someone's sesame noodle salad. I mean who would accidentally or even purposefully eat that? It's not exactly your typical brown bag lunch, am i right? You could probably sling the “accidentally” bunkum if you scarfed down someone’s PB&J, but sesame noodle salad? Nice try. And, "make it up to her?" you're kidding. You got busted, she knows it, she laughed and said it was fine because she's now officially afraid of you. I know I'd be.

* * * * * *

Every day, I take my keys, purse, and phone to work. And every day, the next morning, I find I’d misplaced my keys the night before. Each time I find them in a different place around the house or in coat pockets. I’m getting tired of looking for my keys for fifteen minutes every morning. Help!

Have yourself medically examined immediately for a possible nightly alien abduction. But first, somehow make certain the doctor isn't one of them.

* * * * * *

I do drawings and illustrations on commission, as a freelancer. My friends have found out, and now several of them are trying to get some of my work, at a “friend discount.” I need to earn money! How can I let them know that they’re going to have to pay full price?

Ummmm--by saying so?

* * * * * *

And from another date for this Questionable Advice:

Do you think that close, committed couples should have separate or joint checking accounts, or some combination of the two? My husband and I have tried it both ways, with the goal of minimizing friction and conflict, but I’m never able to get a clear fix on which path has the most upsides and fewest downsides.

That's because in all of life and especially where money is concerned, downsides and upsides frequently cancel each other out, often accompanied with a little bloodshed. Consider consulting with financial advisors if you can understand what they are actually saying. My advice is to stick with joint checking accounts. This way if one of you suddenly conks, the other is not left holding the (empty) bag and hearing bankers sorrowfully saying "gee, sorry, your money is frozen until you go on welfare" while handing you six stapled pages of applications for food stamps.

* * * * * *

After work, I like to talk about my day, just to unwind and process whatever has occurred—good, bad, or in between. My roommate has indicated that she finds this kind of talk annoying and boring, an occasion for tuning out. I have mostly stopped doing it, but then I feel silenced. What are some workarounds to this problem?

Go to Amazon and order, used, 2 books called "how to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie. You and your roommate read every word, highlighting and underlining. Put on each other's pillows, discuss. Make promises you know neither of you will keep. Throw the books into the hall. Make whoopee.

* * * * * *

My husband keeps comparing me to his stepsister and stepmother, who are, without doubt, flawed and troubled individuals. I am not saying I am perfect, but I want my flaws to be my own flaws, not his relatives' flaws. To short circuit these unfair (and to me, inaccurate) comparisons, what are ways to be assertive but not sound shrill and defensive.

Remind him that comparisons are odious and so is he, and in your softest, sweetest, sexiest and most gentle voice, assertively advise him to knock it the hail off or he’ll quickly find himself the recipient of the iron skillet application. Demonstrate.

* * * * * *

I love to read, but my reading time is limited. In choosing books to read, do you think it is better to go more towards the classics or to read from among the many new "bestseller" books?

There are book snobs breeding out there who think all best sellers are poorly written, stupid and belong only in recycle bins. There are those out there who think ditto about the Greek and any kind of classics and who can't even define "classic" anyway. So---what's your fave genre? Books on building locomotives? History? Biography? (never read "auto" biography--those are all packs of lies. I mean would you tell the reading public the whole truth about yourself? Neither would i.) How about books on newly invented cuss words and phrases? How-to books? Every book ever written "for dummies"? Hoarding; yes or no? Donkeys; yes or no? Children; yes or no? Whatever your favorites, go to that section of the library or bookstore. If there is a curtain pulled across certain sections, be proud and walk through it if that’s what rocks your boat, but maybe work the slouch hat and big sunglasses thing. Who cares if you choose one and only one genre and stay with it forever? Do it. You own your own preferences.

* * * * * *

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I’m back to teaching in the classroom, but here in China the students and teachers must wear facemasks. I don’t like wearing them because they are uncomfortable but it’s the law. China is worried that a second wave of the virus might hit and that it will be worse than the first wave.

I’ve been hearing from friends back home and watching the news about how bad the virus is in America. I know it’s scary, I never thought America would get hit so hard from the virus especially my home state of Pennsylvania. I’ve also been following the news about how fast the virus is spreading in the U.S.

Things are slowly moving towards normalcy for me but my thoughts these days have been on the pandemic crises facing the U.S. and other parts of the world. I hope America can overcome it with the same heroic resolve and strength that China has shown in overcoming this world pandemic.

I returned to teaching in China on March 30th, but like I said the students and I must wear facemasks at school. We also must practice social distancing which is somewhat awkward. When we go to the cafeteria, we must enter it at a certain time and eat by ourselves. I find that somewhat difficult because I enjoy eating and conversing with others.

On my first day back at school, I pretended I didn't know who the students were because of the masks they were wearing.

I said jokingly, "all Chinese people look alike when wearing facemasks."

One student then said to me, "all teachers look alike when wearing a facemask."

Another student voiced her opinion, "you look like Sylvia when wearing a mask." Sylvia just so happens to be their female Chinese art teacher so as you can see things are slowly coming back to normal here.

I told my students that the last 10 weeks were trying times for me with all the restrictions on movement, but they understand that the restrictions are slowly being lifted now. We still must have our temperature taken twice a day at school. When we leave campus to enter a nearby store, we wear a facemask and have our temperature taken by a store employee. When we return to the school campus, we must have a facemask on and once again have our temperature taken.

I recently learned that two of my friends are unable to return to their teaching positions because they did not try to return to China on time. On March 26th China canceled all entry visas by foreign nationals because they claim new cases of the coronavirus were brought to China. I’m glad I remained in the country during this crisis or I too would have been unable to return to teaching here.

I don’t think America will implement the same strict guidelines as I experienced here to combat this virus. Unlike, China, America is a free society, so I don't think the American Government can take complete control of people’s lives as I experienced. I told my students that living in a free society is something we Americans take for granted. The experiences I had over the past 10 weeks has also made me more appreciative of America’s freedoms. That makes me very proud of my heritage and that is something I always try to convey to my students.

One student asked me in class after she watched a news program at her home, “what is it about Americans and toilet paper?” She saw on the news, Americans fighting over toilet paper.

I said to her, “what would you like to tell America if you could?” Her reply, “America, stay strong, but most of all don't hoard the toilet paper there is plenty to go around.”

I also told my students in class last week, “we are not just human beings on a spiritual journey. We are also spiritual beings on a human journey. This crisis can bring out the worst in people and truly the best in people. Our words and actions truly matter and what we communicate to others in times of crisis and in times of controversy is our character. I would like to tell America to stay calm and to stay strong because this too shall pass.”
    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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There's A Brightness

As a child I remember small farmers
Being depressed at some times of the year,
With climatic conditions uncertain
Turning hopes of their harvest to fear.
Whenever they cursed the bad weather
As the elements failed to rescind
My father, with wisdom, would tell them:
"There's a brightness at the butt of the wind".

When teenage ambitions got twisted:
My identity crisis would loom.
Rejection and fantasy mingled,
Resulting in pictures of doom.
Then.........the Power of Good to the rescue
To counter each negative trend.
My thoughts would somehow be diverted
To that brightness at the butt of the wind.

When the weather of life it looks hopeless;
And dark clouds with disaster seem twinned,
Remember that God will send sunshine.
There's a brightness at the butt of the wind.

When the storms of anguish are beating
And I'm lashed by the gales of defeat
When the forecast of life holds no promise
It's still not the time to retreat
A fresh glow appears in my vision
Like a night sky by bright stars sequined.
Then I know then I haven't forgotten
That brightness at the butt of the wind.

At last when I'll see the horizon
And that mist (self-deception) has cleared
I'll ponder the journey before me
And confront all the things that I've feared,
Expecting a turbulent crossing
As the Clergy point out that I've sinned
But knowing that Salvation is certain
By the brightness at the butt of the wind.


(c)2005 Mattie Lennon
Author Note:
Now and again I make a feeble attempt at songwriting. I put the following together fifteen years ago. It didn't have much relevance at the time but maybe, just maybe, it's more appropriate right now. It was put to music and sung by John Hoban. I'm attaching a rough recording sung by John Hoban.

 There's a Brightness . . .wav

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An Elevator Ride For One

With COVID19 around, life isn't fun
I'll choose an elevator ride for one
Just being cautious, so respect me please
I don't want to be around, in case you should sneeze
Anyone could have it, let's be safe for me and you
Ride the elevator alone, it's the best option to do
Yes, I'd prefer to visit, but my life is worth more
So let's be safe, when opening the elevator door

Don't be offended, if I don't want you near
This virus we're facing, has us all in fear
It's deadly, a killer to some, so please be smart
Understand what is happening, by playing your part

Let's do our best, to keep this virus away from the Tower
If you use your head, I know you have the power
Common sense, from what you have learned from it
Use the brains in your head, not the ones where you sit

I try to take the elevator, in the middle of the night
Hoping that, everyone stays out of sight
The less people, the brighter will be the sun
So I prefer, an elevator ride for one
©April 6, 2020 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
With Social Distancing, and trying to keep a safe distance
away, it's not always easy in a small elevator. We must do
what we must to ensure we stay healthy and away from what
is going around. It may seem rude, but you need to understand.
If I have it, you don't want it. If you have it, I don't want it. I
am doing you a favor as well, by keeping the distance between us.

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Is It True

Is it true that people once stood together in the same room
Is it true
Is it so that the human race used to go together to see a show
Is it so
Is this real that there was once a time when we could touch and feel
Is this real

It was a long time ago
All the things we used to know
All the places we used to go
It was a long time ago

Is it true that people once shared the same air in a room
Is it true
Is it so that there was once a time when hands were meant to hold
Is it so
Is this real that there was once a time when we could touch and feel
Is this real

It’s so different now
Life is so different now
If I ever saw another face I think my eyes would melt away
Is it true that people once stood together to howl at the moon
Is it true

©4/11/2020 Bruce Clifford

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Shedding Moments

Just the way my cat is shedding his fur
Clumps of it here, there, everywhere,
I'm shedding the moments I have left for sure,
Precious few special enough to share.

There were the times I relished each day,
No matter what it held in its hours
The gardening I loved doing, digging away,
As I dreamed of the soon to be flowers.

But filling the month is a simple task
Social distancing is nothing new to me-
If I have wanted company, I had but to ask
And sooner or later, somebody I would see.

But now, under orders to, like a dog, "Stay!"
My independent spirit would like to rebel,
Yet my honest fears do force me to obey
And my rambunctious desires I must quell.

Confinement only affects my body, it's true,
And my thoughts are still free as the breeze.
If I went out on the town what would I do?
Possible pursuits whisper and my mind tease

Yet law-abiding has long been my choice
So chores and cooking and cleaning are my task
And if I went out I'd need to muffle my voice
By donning a sensible, maybe life-saving mask.

So these days are strange and burden my mind
Though there's plenty needs doing as I peer around
There are documents that I surely need to find
And due diligence so that clutter doesn't compound

Still slipping away is the rest of my existence
While I dwell alone, in this solitary place
And puzzle what amounts dollars, pounds, even pence
It will take the world spending to win this race

Oh! Fate, or God, or a scientific virus cure
Whichever, is beyond my control, and that hurts
Because I can't be the answer, perfect and pure,
Only watch and wait while things get worse.

I will not give in, give up, stop hoping,
But will turn my thoughts to happier times
And continue my serious attempts at coping
And perhaps jot down a few more rhymes.

©April 13, 2020 Mary E. Adair

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Books In The Background

In the background,
Ranked in rows
Wherever I look.

That’s what I see
These pandemic days
When good folk speak
While sheltered in place.

I prefer those
Whose shelves display
Worn, well-read volumes,
Not there for show.

©2020 John I. Blair, 4/29/2020

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The Monster


The Monster that took over the world, is here
So many of us everywhere, now live in fear
What happened to the life that we had led
Before this is all over, which one of us will be dead
Stay Home and Stay Safe, is what they say
Wear a mask, if you should go away
Wash your hands often, don't touch your face
The Monster is taking over, the whole Human Race

Inside your home, hoping the Monster won't find
There are many things you can do, with your mind
Write a story, work a puzzle, or read a good book
Put something together, that you've always wanted to cook

The Monster likes crowds, so stay away if you can
The person who stands alone, is not part of the plan
Six feet apart, will keep it away
Be cautious of it, and repeat every day

The Monster has killed so many to this day
We keep looking for answers, to stop it in some way
We must do our best, and not give up the fight
Even though this Monster is out of sight

©April 17, 2020 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
We must work together to win against this COVID Monster.
Those who don't believe it is happening, or that it will get
them. They are just fooling themselves. You will know, if
someone close to you passes away from it. By then it will
be too late. It is so easy to be in your little cubby hole, and
believe it is just a nightmare someone thought up. But it's
real, and it is here, and everywhere, and we need to do our
best not to let it kill any more, by taking as many precautions
as we can.

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Nothing Lasts

Nothing lasts;
Change is so fast
Before we realize
Tomorrow’s the past.

This moment’s
All else a dream;
Nothing lasts.

©2020 John I. Blair, 4/29/2020

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Safety In The Stores

Plexiglass and Rubber Gloves, to protect you and themselves
And the toilet paper, is still fast leaving the shelves
It's not from hoarding now, it's from everyone buying at the same time
Because these days, hoarding anything is a crime

Public bathrooms, are closed off to every woman and man
And you can't return any bottle, and you can't return any can
Hands off! Don't touch your face!
When in the stores, set yourself a pace

Get in, get your stuff as quickly as you can, and get out
Social Distancing and staying at home, is what it's all about
Don't browse, have a list ready on hand
Waiting for a ride, you might just have to stand

Wash your hands thoroughly, when you get home
Live your life, as if you're under a dome
Don't go out, unless you're really in need
Medicines, essentials, or a mouth to feed

Keep your distance from others, make it six feet
With everyone you come across, everyone you meet
And as you walk down the aisle
It helps to have a friendly smile
©March 31, 2020 Bud Lemire
                           Author Note:
I know in these hard times, it is hard to smile.
Especially when we live in fear for our lives.
But it helps those who see you passing by, and
inside it helps you as well. Especially if they
smile back. Even though you have to keep your
distance, a smile travels past the barrier and
lightens their weary hearts. Be safe, and smile..

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Every Day

Every day,
will be the Same,
Whatever you say,
you feel the Shame

I wish I knew then,
What I know now
I'd do it again,
With more know-how

Whatever you Say,
It don't mean a thing,
Whichever which way,
Whatever you Bring

Wherever you Are,
It won't be for Long
Whenever you get there,
You want to be Gone

Every day,
will be the Same,
the Same, the Same,
the Same,

©2020 Phillip Hennessy

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We Turned Off the Sun

We Turned Off the Sun

We turned off the sun
I can’t see the face in front of me
We turned off the sun
I forget what I was supposed to be

We shut down the lights
The air is not something you want to breathe tonight
We turned off the dreams
Feeling lost and afraid as I’m falling apart at the seams

I don’t know
Don’t go
Can’t feel
Can’t hear
Can’t see
Don’t go
I don’t know

We turned off the sun
I can’t smell the scent in front of me
We turned off the sun
I’m not sure what we were supposed to see

We shut down the schools
When I was there I broke all the rules
We turned out the lights
Spending the days and skipping the nights

I don’t know
Don’t go
Can’t feel
Can’t hear
Can’t see
Don’t go
I don’t know
I can’t believe this

We turned off the sun
I can’t hear the steps behind me
We turned off the sun
I can’t tell if you are a he or a she

We shut down time
I once thought you would become mine
We locked all the doors
I’m trying to remember what came before

©4/18/2020 Bruce Clifford

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I've Gone Without

I've gone Without,
So much, for You..
I've gone Within,
To find you, too

it's not You
I don't Trust,
it's the World
that you Live in -

it's You,
caused this Fuss
and it's You,
has to Give in

when One is too Many,
then Ten's not Enough
and When there ain't Any,
the Going, gets Tough

Your Spirit is Strong,
Your Soul is on Fire
The Journey, it's long,
Though you will not tire.

©2020 Phillip Hennessy

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To Bloom Once Again

I was stumbling around
Trimming the weeds
Near the corner of the house.

As I turned to the side
I suddenly saw
Hiding behind
An old mock orange

A bright flash of red
Where nothing bright
Had appeared in years,
Nothing lovely.

An amaryllis
Missed by my spade
Three decades ago
When I planted the bush

Had somehow survived,
Tucked deep in the soil,
Hiding in shade,

And thirty years later
Conditions were right
Despite utter abuse
To bloom once again,

To bloom once again.

©2020 John I. Blair, 4/29/2020

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Memory Lane

Here we are Again,
Back on Memory Lane.
Something has to Change,
this cannot stay the Same.

When All we have, are Words and Talk,
then all our Thoughts, are made of Chalk.
They wash away, each time there's Rain…
And then, we Say - the Same… Again.

Empty words, all carved in Stone
just like the Truth, they stand, Alone.
It's the Light at the end of that tunnel, you See -
the Dark, is behind you… Go forward, be Free
There's Saints and there's Sinners,
there's Losers, and Winners,
there's Fair-weather Friends -
though Love, Never Ends.

©2020 Phillip Hennessy

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Isolation Diligence

Is it do diligence, or diligence due?
Whichever it is, I have nothing to rue
As I finally get around to every task,
If something's needed, you have only to ask.

The sun rises up in the early morn
But I'm a sleepyhead since the day I was born.
Noontime for breakfast is a nice time for me
And I'm well fed as anyone with eyes can see.

I dilly dally at keeping things tidy and clean,
And I certainly am reluctant at having it seen.
But I do seek God's forgiveness for my lazy ways
And trust that He's listening throughout my days.

So easily it seems I can be distracted to stray
From the discipline needed when I just want to play
So getting around to doing what I know I should
Is simpler if begun early and I wish that I would.

I've had enough "Stay-cation" to last me forever
And I'm weary of examining my tiniest endeavor
To judge if I am really truly giving it my best
As though I were working at someone's request.

So whipping up a treat in the kitchen I adore
Is getting to be less fun and more of a chore
Because there isn't a bite prepared without a mess,
And for scrubbing dishes, you know, I couldn't care less.

So diligently pursuing this thought to its end
Means "doing the right thing" is what will mend
The lazy habits Isolation has bubbled to the top
Are the very habits I must make an effort to stop.

Will I start early? Get up with the dawn?
Exercise a little as I stifle a yawn?
Or will I just put it all off until next morrow,
And some more naptime from the day I'll borrow.

©April 29, 2020 Mary E. Adair

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Carry On

They sucked the Nice,
right Out of You
now all that's left, is Pain
There's no advice
will help you now
It's up to YOU,

So carry on being You, today,
and I'll carry on, being Me…
Let's hope that when
Tomorrow comes,
we're still around to see

What becomes of us, anyway,
Together, whatever, may be?
Cuz we're the Sum of what we say
though what we Think, is Free

We're on the same Page
the vibe is so cool
Now, who is the Sage,
and who is the Fool..?

So carry on being You, today,
and I'll carry on, being ME…
Let's hope that when
Tomorrow comes,
we're still around to see

©2020 Phillip Hennessy

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I'm Always With You

It was a tragedy, to lose their only son on this day
At sixteen years old, why did it have to end this way
It happened so fast, he left this world too soon
Yet, it was his parents, he would learn to attune
In life, there are many exit points, when we may choose to leave
Our spirits are renewed, while those left behind must grieve
As soon as that process, is over and complete
Then the time will come, that really can't be beat

Unknown to them, their son is standing near
In his spirit form, and it wasn't even a year
He touches his Dad's hand, and kisses his Mom's cheek
They still haven't acknowledged, nor do they even speak

Maybe something that he liked will be a familiar smell
If he could do it, he'd surely ring a bell
But they just carry on, thinking it's their imagination taking place
When all he wants, is for them to feel his loving embrace

If only he could tell them, “I'm right here with you” in a scream
Or come to them vividly, within their dream
Let them know somehow, that he's not really dead
It was just a body, that his soul occupied until he fled

I will come to them as a butterfly, or some kind of word
A dragonfly, a chipmunk, or something else absurd
If only I could tell them, so that they would know
“I'm always with you, wherever you may go”
©April 27, 2020 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
For those who have lost someone they love..

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When all you Want, is Nothing,

and Nothing's all you Do,

then Nothing's what you Get

and Nothing comes of You.

©2020 Phillip Hennessy

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Like No Other

These days are like no other
How could any of this be
These nights run from one to another
Sometimes I forget I’m me

These days are nothing like we’ve ever seen
These nights are the ones in the middle of every bad dream
Who would have thought we would end up sitting here
Who would have fought to break down these walls of fear

These days are like no other
Will we ever again see
These nights run from one to another
What happened to living and being free

These days are nothing we’ve expected to be
These nights are not the way things used to be
We’re separated, no longer feeling liberated
What happened to all we should have cherished and celebrated

These days are like no other
How could any of this be
These nights run from one to another
Wishing I was back out at sea

©4/4/2020 Bruce Clifford

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