Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair


September 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you in October.

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

Armchair Genealogy


By Melinda Cohenour

Thoughts on DNA in the News

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

View From My Back Steps

By John I. Blair

The Night The Tree Fell

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

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

The Ash Tree Before Storm

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

And then came the call in the night.

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

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

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

My 2011 Caliber with massive multiple limbs across the car.

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

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

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

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

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


Cooking with Rod


By Rod Cohenour


Triple Onion Infused Beef Rump Roast

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

      Bon appetit~!



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

Gardens, Writers, and Sundry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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


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

Guided Walk a journey to 1870's Lacken

See you in October.

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

Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell 


Summer's End


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

Photo by Linda Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


On Trek

By Judith Kroll

Our Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider This


By LC Van Savage 





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

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

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

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

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

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

©circa 1990's LC Van Savage

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



By Thomas F. O'Neill


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
    Phone: (800) 272-6464
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (410) 925-9334
    China Mobile: 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Email: introspective7@hotmail.com
    Facebook: http://facebook.com/thomasf.oneill.3/

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


By Michael L. Craner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©August 3, 2020 Michael Craner

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


Perception Of The Soul

By Bud Lemire

As I get older, the way I see things change
The way I once saw them, seem kind of strange
I know it's my perception, and who I am today
When I was younger, I saw them a different way

Things that I valued, through the many years
Can be gotten rid of, without causing any tears
I also realize, how short life can be
You can always look, but you can't always see

Take a closer look, see it with your soul
Understand what's there, let it make you whole
You live your life, and you need to make a living
With your soul, you share what you are giving

It's how I feel, with nature all around
That's why the Island, is a place I'm usually found
Birds singing in the trees, boats going by
The beauty in each day, is the reason why

It use to be, my younger self's way of seeing
As an older man, I've learned how it is just being
I see things this way, now it is all that I know
It must be that I'm seeing, through the Perception Of The Soul

August 13, 2020 Bud Lemire

                        Author Note:

It's life that changes us. Life is changing all around us.
As we grow older we see things differently. Example: You
can read a book 40 years ago, and read it again today, and
see it in a totally different way. Yet, it is the same book. Or
you might not even want to read that book, because it doesn't
interest you. You may be reading something totally different,
that you never thought you'd ever read. Life is full of changes.
The life around us changes, we change, and people we know change.
In return, through these changes, our perceptions change as well. .

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




By Mary E. Adair

Since Time insists on sprinting by
    Since Summer days are oft' asizzle
Since newborns ceaselessly gurgle and cry
    Since Winter days are oft' adrizzle
Since children may require schooling
    Since elders may rock their days away
Since news reports may just be fooling
    Since when do teens hear what you say
Since water may simply bubble and flow
    Since water may freeze and turn into ice
Since therefore one's life may define one so
    Since one always tries just to be nice
Since seconds coagulate into hours
    Since hours coalesce from then to thence
Since bumble bees buzz betwixt beauteous bowers
    Since when do my words make Sense

©August 30, 2020 Mary E. Adair

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

My Brother, Rich

 By Bud Lemire

Another brother has left this plane
No longer sick, no longer in pain
I'm taken back to a time long ago
To this same brother, who I came to know

We called him Dick, and each time he'd come to stay
With John and I, he had a nickname to say
John was Pauncho Villa, and he called me Deadhead
He would pick us each up, and that's what he said

Athletic, sports was always his aim
He'd take us occasionally, to a baseball game
When he was in Escanaba, he'd get together with Mark
He'd be off with his friends, until long after dark

He's hang out at the Meisner's, where he would stay
Any time he happened, to come up this way
When he attended a Class Reunion, a few years ago
He stopped by to see me, it was a special hello

I recall through the peep hole, I saw a fist
It was my brother Rich, who belonged to that wrist
A gathering at Stonington, was the next place he'd be
Surrounded by family, he was so good to see

A coach and a health teacher, he touched quite a few
He was a brother, that I was so glad I knew
Now he's been taken home, to be with his Mother
I'm proud to say, that he was my brother

August 9, 2020 Bud Lemire

                      Author Note:

He always called me Deadhead when I was young. He
really came a long way in life and accomplished so much.
I'm so happy he stopped to see me at the Harbor Tower.
Now as he makes the transition into spirit. I shall say a prayer
to carry him further into the light, in the presence of his
loved ones there. To know he will be watching over his
loved ones here on Earth, and guiding them with his spiritual
presence. Be aware, a smell, a sound, a memory, that is him..

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


Midnight Bathers



By John I. Blair

When I glance out
My kitchen window
Late at night
I spy beneath a lamp
A plastic bowl.

It sits there so the birds
And other animals
Can slake their thirst
On baking
Summer noons.

But after dark
It morphs into a footbath,
A wading pool, a place
For water dancing,
Splashing, washing off,

For liquid larking
In the moonlight.
And little owls
In nearby trees,

Sad they cannot
Chance damp fun
With possums,

©2020 John I. Blair, 8/30/2020

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


It Happens All The Time

 By Bruce Clifford 

I wanted to be sure
I wanted you to be mine
I hear your voice in my head
It happens all the time

Something I’ve ignored
Invisible to the naked eye
The oceans I’ve explored
Emotions I’ve learned to hide

There was no master plan
I woke up in the garden
Essential air to breathe
Memories have come over me

There was no space in time
I wanted to survive
The key to an unlocked door
I’ve been through this before

I wanted to be sure
I wanted to redefine
Believing in what I know now
It happens all the time

I wanted to be sure
I wanted you to be mine
I hear your voice in my head
It happens all the time

© 8/01/2020 Bruce Clifford

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

Believers And Unbelievers

By Bud Lemire

The world as you know, has gone away
We've awakened to a new world today
Believers and Unbelievers are all around
Where is the truth to be found

Politics versus Medical, get it right
Lies and truth, step into the light
Which one will you choose
Pick the wrong one, and you lose

Wearing masks
is all the Governor asks
Be safe, be well
COVID is hell

You want your freedom, I understand
Unmasked, will see you under a Doctor's hand
Do you really want to take that chance?
It'll be on the Hospital bed, you will dance

The freedom you choose
May cause someone else to lose
Someone who can't breathe
Will be brought to their knees
Then onto their death bed
This is where your choices lead

It could be your brother who passed
COVID won him over at last
Whatever you believe, believe me
The Governor wants everyone to be safe and free

August 1, 2020 Bud Lemire

                      Author Note:

Do you really think the Governor would issue orders
that have no meaning. She thought it over and picked
the best course of action. In her place we would do the
same thing. You choose not to wear a mask, you put
those you love most at risk. I choose to be cautious,
and I'll wear my mask. Because I value my life./H5>.

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



All the Noise

By Bruce Clifford

All the noise in a parking lot
The memories are all we’ve got
Each warning sign we once forgot
Pick your nose and enjoy, or not

Mending fences and broken dreams
Flying the sky on broken wings
Breaking down each song she sings
Listening to the voices from rivers and streams

Can we get there from here
Will things ever again seem crystal clear
Can we get there from here
Can we get there from here

Deceptive sounds in an empty space
Endless keepsakes and relentless parades
Facts and figures, a faulty promise made
The leading edge of quiet and rage

Will things ever again seem crystal clear
Is there a way to step away from the fear
Can we get there from here
Can we get there from here

All the noise in a quiet spot
The faded dreams are all we’ve got
We set aside the hope we forgot
All the noise in a parking lot

©8/27/2020 Bruce Clifford

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



By John I. Blair

Looming high over Natchez
Longwood lifts its shining dome
Into the Mississippi sky,

Shows rows of arching windows,
Lace-trimmed galleries,
Massive chimneys.

What overweening pride
Wrought this octagon
Of brick and wood?

How many sweating
Black bodies strained, died
To pile it all together,

Slaved painfully in cotton fields
To raise the cash that paid
To build this final excess?

The raw inside, unfinished,
Echoes now to tourist steps,
Greets gaping stares,

But has no answer
To the thought
Was this ever worth the cost?

©2020 John I. Blair, 8/23/2020

Author Note:

I wrote this after watching the series “Many Rivers to Cross” on PBS. One bit of the documentary was about Natchez, built on cotton fortunes and the scarred backs of thousands of slave laborers. One of the sights of Natchez today is the enormous octagonal mansion named “Longwood”, intended to be the biggest mansion of them all in the antebellum South. Started but never finished. Dazzling on the outside, hollow on the inside.

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


Long Lost Days

By Bruce Clifford

With these ups and downs
The shapes, the views, the sounds
Take this all away
Go back to a long lost day

These monuments out of tune
We left the earth so soon
Make this go away
Remind me of long lost days

Long lost days
The cost of the mistakes we’ve made
All I want to do is remember
Those long lost days

Each mystery survives
The space, the winds, the tides
Take this all away
Remind me of a long lost day

The memory on the divide
We used to walk these streets with pride
Nobody wants to stay
Remind us of long lost days

Long lost days
The cost of the mistakes we’ve made
All I want to do is remembe
r Those long lost days

There was once a place where we could go
There were so many memories to make and pictures to show
Now we are living with the choices we’ve made
All I want to do is remember those long lost days

© 8/6/2020 Bruce Clifford

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