Monday, March 1, 2021

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

March 2021

“March, when days are getting long,
Let thy growing hours be strong
to set right some wintry wrong.”

― Caroline May.

Many people in the USA will likely be happy that February is a short month as weather-wise it really 'packed a wallop' this year. With record breaking sub-freezing, even sub-zero temps in some locales, shocking residents and thwarting travelers, it embittered many and will, no doubt, be a blight in the history books.

"View from My Back Steps" includes one "snow pic" and a personal record of how the weather affected John I. Blair's usual activities within his view. Marilyn Carnell presents a humorous tale of the hazards of politics in her column "Sifoddling Along."

Mattie Lennon, in "Irish Eyes" focuses on the holiday of the month built around legends about Saint Patrick, then moves quickly into the future to discus a new book by Richard Kearney. Judy Kroll's column "On Trek" gives her opinion on how we can use our words more effectvely for a kinder, gentler world.

Thomas F. O'Neill in "Introspective" delineates the way cultural dilemnas develop in various lifestyles, and how geography may play a part. Melinda Cohenour is still mired in relocation difficulties so we present her wearing a different hat, namely when she served as guest cook in "Cooking With Leo" a few years ago, as an alternative "Armchair Genealogy."

Once again "Cooking with Rod" yields to an Encore Presentation. This time the guest cook of Leo C. Helmer's column is yours truly with a spicy rendition for Brunch.

Bud Lemire composed "Never Assume" and a remembrance poem titled "Harold." Both have illustrations.

Walt Perryman hs four poems: "My Birthday," "Don't Google Your Meds," "Passwords," and "Why Do Grown-ups Cry?" John Blair stuck to one poem for the month, "Blizzard 2021."

"Searching for Answers," "Stand UpTall," and "Live Without," come to us from Bruce Clifford. Phillip Hennessy (see pic)sent his poem for March with the comment it came from personal mistakes in being 'overly generous' and hopes it will serve as good advice when "You Are Strong" is read.

Mike Craner, Webmaster and co-founder of this eZine, keeps this eZine functioning with his ingenuity and consideration. Thanks, Mike!

We will see you in April!

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This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy: Encore Guest

By Melinda Cohenour

Because our Armchair Genealogy author is still detained during relocation, here she is in a different role when she served as Guest Cook in the December 2009 issue.

* * * * *

Sister in Law as Guest Cook on Cooking with Leo

Since I'm still a bit under the weather...plague take this rain, anyway! is my guest cook for the month. Melinda is the baby sister of editor, Mary E. Adair, and both she and husband Rod Cohenour are excellent cooks. Ain’t it great to have so much talent in one family? I guess I could take off more time and nobody would ever miss me… forget it. I ain’t ready to give it all up yet. Anyway speaking of talent, just make sure you read this special way to cook a Ham, no not me, a bone-in ham that is.

Rod bought a bone-in ham on sale. I baked it -- with a mustard, brown sugar, and pineapple marinade. We sliced it and ate a couple of meals. We had a very large leg bone remaining with lots of meaty ham left on it, but not where you could slice it.

I decided to try my hand at a new dish I'd never prepared, but had always thought sounded delicious -- a ham chowder. It turned out really lucious, so I thought I'd share my recipe with you. Of course, I cook for a houseful -- and we don't mind leftovers (it makes my cooking chore easier if I have a couple of meals ready to just heat and eat with fresh salad and fresh fruit added........) We just finished off the chowder tonight, with a large fresh fruit tray (strawberries, grapes, sliced oranges, cheddar and pepper Jack cheese cubes and some low carb crackers......)

Anyway -- new recipe is here. You can cut the recipe down for your households since most of you are cooking for only a couple (Pat is solo; Melissa and Erin; Mary and Leo, but Kim may be able to utilize the full recipe with the bunch that shows up at her house all the time! Ruben, you might like something a little different.......

Melinda’s Cheesy Ham Chowder

    Meaty ham bone
    Water to easily submerge bone

    4 Irish potatoes – peeled and sliced in ½ “ thick slices

    3 carrots – peeled and sliced in ½ “ slices
    3 spines celery – de-stringed, sliced lengthwise and finely chopped
    1 large Bermuda or Spanish onion, sliced and diced
    Pepper to taste
    Celery salt – scarce ¼ teaspoon for this quantity

    1 cup butter

    2 cups flour
    Pepper to taste
    4 cups milk
    Shredded cheese, preferably cheddar – Monterey Jack blend – full 8 oz bag for this quantity chowder.

    1 can corn, drained

    2 Tbsp dried parsley (less for fresh)

Prepare ham stock:

Simmer ham bone in water until tender and stock looks hearty. Remove ham bone, cool until capable of being safely handled. Remove ham from bone and cut in ¾ “ chunks. Stock should be poured into tall, narrow pitcher and refrigerated until fat rises to top and congeals. Remove fat.

Prepare chowder vegetables:

When stock has been de-fatted, pour into bottom of large Dutch oven and add sliced and chopped vegetables. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook until vegetables are crisp tender.

Prepare classic béchamel sauce:

When chowder vegetables are cooked, prepare cheese sauce. Place butter in sauce pan and melt. When butter is completely melted, whisk in flour, season with pepper and dash celery salt. Permit to cook 1 minute while stirring to prevent scorching. This prepares the roux and rids the flour mixture of its “raw” taste. Begin adding milk slowly, whisking while adding. Bring mixture back to boil, stirring constantly. Do not permit to scorch. When béchamel sauce has thickened, remove from heat, add cheese and whisk briskly. This creates a thickened cheese sauce.

Add the cheese sauce to the hot stock and vegetables. Add the cubed ham, can of drained corn and parsley, then taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir until liquid is evenly velvety.

Serve hot with crisp salad, hot bread and fresh fruit for dessert. Serves 12 easily. To prepare for four reduce ingredient list as appropriate.

©September 2006 Melinda Ellen Cohenour

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Encore Presentation: Cooking with Leo

Encore Presentation: Cooking with Leo

By Encore

(Encore Presentation)

Mary’s Weekend Breakfast

Although I do most of the cooking around here, on Sunday morning Mary usually takes over and puts her own ideas to work and does her own thing. Well that’s great because by Sunday I get up late and I usually run out of ideas. Not that bacon and eggs or sausage and eggs are new ideas, but when I do them sometimes they are. Do so try to make such uninteresting items the interest of the moment. But doing that 6 days a week tends to make you run out of ideas. But on Sunday Mary goes to it and makes something very special and here is one of her weekend specials. My Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother nor Aztec Annie never bother her. I suppose they figure she knows more than they do anyway. Maybe so but in any event Sunday Breakfasts ala Mary are the best of the week.

Weekend Sunrise

Sunrise Quiche - Crust

    3 Corn Tortilla’s 6”
    1 wedge or square of left over Cornbread, may be jalapeno or green chile cornbread
    ½ stick of Butter

Sunrise Quiche – Filling

    1 or two strips Bacon
    3 extra lg or 4 lg eggs
    3 to 4 oz Swiss Cheese
    1 oz Mozzarella w/jalapeno String Cheese
    2 cups loosely torn Romaine Lettuce
    3 Tbpns Half and Half
    1 Tablespoon canned or fresh diced tomatoes, drained
    Garnish: 1 heaping Tablespoon Sour Cream

Serves two to four.

For Crust:

In food processor, add the 3 tortilla’s torn into 8th’s or smaller, pulse on high ‘til crumbed, add cold butter and pulse ‘til loose dough begins to come together. Press into 11” pie plate thinly and up the sides. (Set processor bowl aside, no need to wash before doing the filling.) Crumble the cold cornbread and press into the butter-tortilla mixture and up the sides to form a crust. Bake at 400º's ‘til edges begin to firm, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, lower heat to 350º, and let crust cool slightly.

For Filling:

While crust is baking, put bacon strips in microwave on bacon cooker with paper towel on top, or microwave safe plate with paper towel below and on top of strips, for 2 minutes, adding another minute if slices are not crispy looking. Meanwhile, in same processor bowl, add Cubed cheeses and process ‘til finely shredded, in crumbs actually, then crumble and add in the cooked, cooled bacon and pulse ‘til crumbed. Add the torn Romaine to mixture in processor and pulse ‘til also in a crumb state, not ‘til wet.

Place all the cheese, bacon, romaine blend into pie shell, sprinkling to the edges in even layer.

In same processor bowl, (no need to wash) add eggs and half and half, and run on low ‘til blended. Pour carefully over the cheese mixture in shell. Place tomatoes in a narrow ring on top of mixture about 1/3 of distance from center to edges. (This is your ‘sun’ ring.) Bake 25 to 30 minutes in 350º oven until puffed and edges of crust are browned gently.

Remove from oven and serve with a dollop of Sour Cream (your ‘sun’) in center of Tomato ring. Cut in wedges and enjoy with your Sunrise Drink.

Sunrise Drink:

  • 2 jiggers Tequilla
  • 2 jiggers Jose Cuervo™ Margarita Mix
  • 4 jiggers Chardonnay Wine
  • 2 tsps Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • 7-Up or Canada Dry
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnishes: Thin Lime slices, maraschino cherries

Use 2 lg or 4 reg margarita glasses.

Split the liquid mixture between the glasses, with a couple ice cubes in each, add 7-Up or Canada Dry to fill. Garnish with a cherry and lime slice per glass. Top edges of glasses may be wet then dipped in sugar crystals if desired, before filling. Lavender sugar flakes are nice.

Ya’all Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Getting in touch with touching
and Saint Patrick’s days of yore

Saint Patrick was a gentleman, he came from decent people,
In Dublin town he built a church and on it put a steeple
His father was a Callahan, his mother was a Grady,
His aunt was an O'Shaughnessy and uncle he was Brady.

So says Christy Moore.

At this time of year, my mind always flies back to the 5th century. And to my own native heath of West Wicklow. You see, according to one legend, our area was Christianised before Saint Patrick; we were converted by Palladius. (One local wag said that we were Christianised sometime B.C.)

Other historians claim that Palladius was repulsed by the inhabitants of Wicklow, where he landed. ... One way or the other it’s generally accepted that Naomh Padraig didn’t set foot in our neck of the woods.

But the late Jimmy Freeman of Ballyknockan, had a more down-to-earth explanation. He told me, and I quote, “Saint Patrick stood at Burgage an’ he come no farther. An’ he pointed his staff up at Lacken, Kylebeg an’ Ballinastockan an’ he sed ‘Let that be a den of thieves an’ robbers forever more’ .

I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought, perhaps, he was indulging in a bit of, good-natured, inter-Townland rivalry. Being well aware of the God-fearing and law-abiding nature of the inhabitants of the places in question it looked like our National Apostle was out beside it. Oh, sure enough, a Ballinastockan man was once fined sixpence for riding an unlit bicycle in Blessington during the hours of darkness. And it was rumoured that (before my time) a farmer on the Kylebeg/Lacken border was prosecuted under the 1910 Noxious Weeds Act, but nothing serious.

You see, as a community, we were always as honest as hard times would. But the inhabitants or more progressive areas used to say that we only knew that Christmas was over when we saw people wearing shamrock. We know that Saint Patrick is buried in Downpatrick, Having died at Nearby Saul in 561. March 17th is the supposed date of his death. We can’t check. RIP.IE doesn’t go back that far. He was born in 486 and journalist, Billy Keane, has done a lot of genealogical research but failed to find any evidence of an exact date for the saint’s birth. Consequently, Billy suggests that his feast day (Saint Patrick’s not Billy’s) should be moved to September.

Any date in September save 19th to 25th inclusive. Because that would clash with Listowel races. However, it looks like we will be stuck with the current date for the foreseeable future. Of course the nostalgia associated with our National holiday varies from person to person. As children, if we were abstaining from penny toffees and Fizz bags for Lent there was an exemption on Saint Patrick’s Day. Adults off the booze and /or the fags got a one-day reprieve. Retailers have always loved it. Even the most humble huckster’s emporiums look like Carroll’s souvenir shops there’s so much green. You see, psychologists have established that green is the easiest colour on human vision, projecting a relaxed image and environment; it indicates a friendly approach and prompts shoppers to buy.

For my own part my olfactory sense goes back ever the decades whenever my nostrils detect the exhaust fumes, however tentative, given off by a forty to one fuel mix. Immediately I am back on any Saint Patrick’s Day in the 1950s When Ireland’s top scramblers are negotiating rough terrain at Templeboden Bridge. Despite muck-splattered helmets and goggles, older spectators were able to point out to us some of the all-time greats. Harry Lynsdsney, Ernie Lyons and Stanley Woods, Harry Lambert et al. And, in my mind's ear, I can hear the frantic revving of Nortons, BSAs and Bultaco bikes as the aforementioned and competitors from all over this island would halt for a time-check. In 2001 in the bitter New York wind I marched up Fifth Avenue as part of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. It was my first visit to the Big Apple. I still have the costume that I wore that day **** Saint Patrick’s name features in everything from Cathedrals to football clubs to middle names taken at Confirmation.

And . . . in 1757 the owners of Rowes Distillery, in Thomas Street, Dublin built the highest smock windmill in Europe on their 17-acre site, to power their distillery. The tower still stands to this day. Because of the shape of its dome it has been known to generations of Dubliners as “The Onion Tower” but its official name is Saint Patrick’s Tower but . . . did Saint Patrick turn back at Burgage? The jury is still out. Perhaps in the future through carbon dating, DNA of some other science yet unknown, Jimmy Freeman will be proved wrong . . . or right.

* * * * *

Sir Walter Scott referred to, “ . . . the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting.”

In the Ireland of my youth there wasn’t a great tradition of touching as a gesture of affection. A “Toucher” was a fellow who usually had his hand out for the price of a drink. Richard Kearney is an Irishman, who holds the Charles Seeling Chair of Philosophy at Boston College. He jokingly writes that people in Ireland to which I refer, “ Only touched when they were drunk ( south of the border) or trying to kill each order (north of the border .) Although he has a wonderful turn of phrase he is not joking in the 202 pages of his latest book, Touch, in which he agrees with Freud that, “No mortal is ever silent. If he does not speak with his mouth he stammers with his fingers.”

Because of social distancing, there is less touching, in Ireland than ever before. Strange as it might seem there are people on this island who haven’t shook hands with another human being for a year.

After twelve months of such deprivation it’s interesting to be reminded of what we are missing.

The author advises us to “get back in touch with touch." Kearney, a true philosopher gives us some frightening statistics about loneliness and points out how lack of touching leads to “excarnation.” His advice? “ . . .we have learned from Covid how much we miss touch “ . . .it is no accident that skin is our largest organ and that we are born and die naked. We need computers but we also need carnality.” Touch is a wonderful and informative pick-me-up in a world in turmoil.
A must-read.

See you in April

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Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell

Politics is a Hazardous Game

Politics has dominated our news this year. Sometimes drowning out information about the COVID pandemic. Thank heaven, for now, things have calmed down a little bit and I can sleep through the night most of the time. But it does remind me of some experiences my family has had in running for office. Someday, I may even write about my own experience as a public servant but after nearly 25 years it is still a sore subject.

This is a tale about my brother-in-law, Earl Spears running for Sheriff. It could only happen in a small, inbred town like Pineville, Missouri.

Earl was a good campaigner and was elected for three terms. I don’t recall the years of this event and don’t remember the name of this particular opponent, but it went like this:

My Mom and Dad lived in the north addition to Pineville, one block off Dog Hollow Road. The street didn’t have a name until about 1950 when it was named King Street to honor its origin from the King farm. Houses were hastily constructed in the 1920s and my parents bought a house and a few acres in the early 1930s.

What Earl’s opponent didn't know was how close and complex families were.

He first stopped at my Grandma Annie Epperson Carnell’s house to leave his card and pitch for her vote. My Mom was visiting her as she conveniently lived next door. Mom assured him that there were no votes for him at that house. He went across the street to meet another potential voter, hoping he had seen the last of my Mom.

Meanwhile, Mom went home to pick up some fresh tomatoes to share with family members. He knocked on their door and was met by my Mom who once again said she was not going to vote for him.

He proceeded up the east side of the street to the end, two blocks away uneventfully, but he may have been a little shaken. Working his way down the west side of the street, he got to my Aunt Ruth Taylor Clemons. Aunt Ruth was my great aunt on my paternal side. My Grandmother was Florence Mahala Clemons Carnell. He was once again greeted by my Mom who had stopped by for a minute.

Two doors down he was greeted by my Aunt Fannie Bunch Legore, Mom’s sister. Mom and Aunt Fannie were catching up on family news. Next door was the Campbell family and while he was talking with them, Mom passed him by and was visiting my Aunt Florence Carnell Laughlin, Daddy’s sister.

Apparently, he abandoned his efforts to gain support on the north side of town and worked his way to the southern end of Main Street – less than a mile from that nest of voters for Earl.

Of course, by then Mom had driven down to see another sister, Etta Bunch Lines and they were sitting in the yard drinking iced tea.

Mom said she thought he gave up on politics that day and probably still has nightmares about being haunted by a slim auburn-haired woman who vigorously opposed his candidacy.

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By Thomas F. O'Neill

The clash between Republicans and Democrats is culturally evident in the U.S. along with the war between conservatism and liberalism. Other nations around the globe view this dichotomy as a cultural phenomenon in America.

Being a liberal, conservative, or moderate reveals how we as individuals identify ourselves in society. In today's, political arena Democrats and Republicans also view their party affiliation in a fundamentally different way too. My students like to bring up these ideological differences in my classes because it is not something they experience on the Chinese mainland.

On a global scale, I like to explain to my students how Westerners and Asians see themselves in a fundamentally different way. I always understood that we Americans view ourselves as being individualistic, independent, and analytical, it’s due to our cultural history. The Asian cultures take a more holistic view of life, emphasizing interdependence which I find intriguing.

Each year, I conduct a word game for my Cultural Diversity students, where the students must pair off a series of words to reveal their cultural views and their relationship with society.

For instance, if the words are train, bus, and tracks, an American with an individualistic mindset would pair train and bus since they belong to the same category (modes of transportation). In contrast, a Chinese person with a culturally holistic mindset is more likely to pair train with tracks since they share a functional relationship.

China’s history has influenced its cultural perceptions and for thousands of years working the land led to their interdependence with nature. People of Asia, have a higher percentage of farmland devoted to rice paddies they think more holistically than your average American.

If you were to ask a Chinese person to draw a diagram of their social network, they would draw a circle emphasizing their friends and acquaintances. In contrast, most Americans would emphasize themselves concerning others due to our cultural perceptions and assumptions.

Unconsciously, Americans stress the importance of the self and westerners will self-inflate their importance more so than those from Asian cultures. On the most part, people born in China won’t inflate their self-worth but on average people born in western cultures do.

For thousands of years growing rice was a labor-intensive crop in Asian countries, dependent upon a complex infrastructure of dikes and canals. This influenced or created a culture that recognizes human interdependence. Most Asians would also view the importance of society over their individual needs.

In contrast, our American history of the frontiersman, hunting, fishing, and growing simple crops have shaped our perception of independence and the rugged- individualistic mindset.

The relationship between people and land helped shape our cultural assumptions, which are then passed down from generation to generation. This is certainly true when it comes to the contrast between the western and eastern cultures.

Our western influence, however, is beginning to have an impact on China and their perceptions about the west. It’s mostly due to the popularity of American films and western music. I am witnessing, among my students and Chinese teenagers in general. That they want to become like their counterparts in western countries.

There are regions mostly in the large cities of China that have populations that share many basic assumptions with westerners. Many others, though, are much closer in the mindset of people in other rice-cultivating countries such as Japan and Korea.

Cultural differences between the East and West, especially, as China’s influence expands, our relationship with the nation will only continue to grow. Many foreign exchange students are also bringing western ideals, and customs, back to China with the hope of bridging the differences through a growing cultural understanding.

A simpler way of understanding our cultural differences is to understand that Chinese society is all about the group, while Americans celebrate the individual. The United States is a meritocracy in which individuals can shine, while in China, any success is regarded as a success for the company, or the family, or the team. A Chinese person will consider how their actions may affect the group rather than looking out only for themselves.

One thing I noticed when I came to China is that the hierarchy is important to the Chinese and respect will be shown to those higher up in the structure. American companies tend to have much flatter structures, with workers at all levels having access to those at the top. In China, a worker low down the pay scale would not expect to have direct contact with their superiors. Everybody knows their place in the structure and abides by the rules that come with it. The company at times will reward the employees through a means of profit-sharing when the company does will everyone reaps the benefits.

I found that conversations with my students can often make westerners feel intruded upon. A conversation in China can feel direct to Americans. Even though Americans like to place people in the context toward the common ground, small talk about age, income, and marital status, all favored by the Chinese, can feel intrusive and overly personal to an American. Having said this, Chinese visitors to the United States can find the language and tone used in American workplaces rude and uncomfortable. Thinking before you speak is important to the Chinese, as is showing respect for those higher in the hierarchy. Communication style is indirect and Americans doing business with Chinese counterparts will need to learn to read between the lines.

Some of my students that traveled to America as exchange students bring up the differences in how the elderly are treated in the US. China treats its seniors differently than we in the West. Elders are held in greater respect and treated as such, both in business and socially. Many families live with several generations under one roof. Even the dead are honored. Americans, on the other hand, expect their offspring to be independent. The older generation can live hundreds of miles away from their children, and the isolation of older adults is a social issue. The American workplace can seem ageist to older people, too, as youth culture is celebrated. On the opposite end of the spectrum though some provinces in China have a mandatory retirement age that we westerners would find discriminatory not to mention illegal in America.

Many Americans I have worked with over the years have brought up the differences between the concept of friendship between Americans and Chinese coworkers. Chinese people are inclined to foster deeper friendships than we Americans are accustomed to. They may see Americans as initially gregarious but difficult to get to know on a deeper personal level. A friend in China is someone to whom you feel deeply obligated and for whom you will do favors when necessary. This translates into business, where the Chinese will try to forge relationships and connections, known as guanxi. Trust is essential before doing business. Colleagues tend to socialize together as part of relationship building and business entertainment is lavish. Americans, on the other hand, tend to keep work and personal life separate. I have attended lavash parties with Chinese people and it is their way of building trust while forging a deeper relationship.

When I first arrived in China, I noticed that Chinese urban areas lack personal space. Cities in China are densely populated, and crowded, especially when it comes to public transportation. Americans are more accustomed to physical space and will become territorial if they feel crowded, snapping at people who push in line and staking out little kingdoms for themselves, whether it’s their car, desk, or airplane seat. That being said, many major cities in China are, clean, especially, when it comes to restaurants. The streets, subways, and public transportation, in general, are also much cleaner than many cities in the US which China prides itself on. However, as everyone knows, air and water pollution are a huge problem for all inhabitants on the Chinese mainland.

I, like most westerners, see the ability to express oneself and to access information as a basic human right. When I came to China, I noticed how heavily censored the media is, especially, when it comes to the internet. Social media networks that Americans take for granted, like Instagram, YouTube and Facebook are not accessible in China, while many Western newspapers are blocked online. You must apply for a license to use a VPN Router that gives you access to everything that the Chinese government has censored. Getting a VPN was the first thing I did when I arrived here. In Chinese companies, information is shared on a need-to-know basis, rarely filtering down from the top, while American corporate culture is much more open, with considerable effort being made to embrace transparency.

I am completely open and honest with my students when I tell them that I find Chinese people to be much more polite than westerners. Unlike Americans’ Chinese people will avoid confrontation wherever possible to save face. Shouting at someone causes both parties to lose face and if a reputation is lost in business, a relationship can be permanently damaged. As such, Chinese executives will often avoid giving a straight answer to save the other person embarrassment. Americans, who tend to be very direct and literal, can find this confusing and frustrating. The worst thing you can do in negotiations with Chinese colleagues is to go out of your way to prove a point, regardless of the effect it has on others. But for Americans, the end result is more important than reputation or even relationships.

One aspect that is most apparent between our two cultures is that humility is revered in China and people tend to downplay their achievements. America is almost the exact opposite; in a meritocracy, you need to make the most of yourself and let people know about your successes. The Chinese can see this as crass and boastful, while in the United States, humility can be regarded as a sign of weakness. I found that in the teaching profession, especially, here in China it is best to let others recognize your abilities while you downplay your accomplishments. Westerners who boast about their accomplishments rarely succeed in their profession in China.

How business is conducted in China can at times lead to some frustration, for westerners. I find patience can take you quite far when it comes to business dealings. Business in the United States moves at a different pace from China. Americans focus on speed and efficiency and will hurry to get things done quickly. Time is money, and people are expected to turn up on time for meetings and to meet deadlines. The Chinese, on the other hand, can be slow decision-makers, preferring to build consensus and foster relationships before plunging into anything. Deadlines may only be met when the time is right, and the project is considered complete. Americans can find this attitude to punctuality frustrating and time-wasting, while in negotiations, the Chinese will take advantage of the American need for speed, playing a waiting game to secure a better deal for themselves. Some in the west would consider the Chinese way of doing business as quite deceptive but to them, it is business as usual, and it would be wise to read between the lines before committing yourself contractually.

I like to tell my students; I no longer view China as a developing nation because living in China has given me a unique perspective that China is on par with America as a developed country. It now has the largest domestic economy in the world and China is about to overtake the US in terms of its immense infrastructure.

I always do my best to help my students understand the importance of gaining a clearer understanding of the American way of life, and the cultural differences between our two nations; China’s rising power and influence in the world makes gaining that understanding a necessity not just for China but for America’s economic wellbeing.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Mobile: 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

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View from My Back Steps


By John I. Blair

March 2021

After decades of thinking we knew everything there was to know about Texas weather and all its vagaries, February 2021 taught us we were wrong – horribly wrong.

Starting Sunday, February 14 the strongest arctic air invasion to hit in the last century came blasting down from the north, dropping temperatures below zero Fahrenheit in little more than 24 hours. (Our normal lows here in winter are in the 20s.) Snow (a rarity here) swirled in misty tornados in the dark air, piling eventually to more than a foot on my patio, covering up flower pots, water basins, cat shelters, low shrubs. I huddled down under blankets on my bed. And then the power failed, along with my heating system. Eventually, my son managed to come to rescue me, taking me to his house where the power miraculously stayed functioning. I had left what I could in food and water for my housecats. Except for a couple of bowls of dry chow, the outdoor cats were on their own (which is where they had been much of their lives anyway). As for me, I was deeply grateful for family, hot food, and the use of a couch to sleep on. (See pic below of snow piled up behind car, license barely showing.)

Two days later I came back to a home with electricity and heat, but no water. Millions of Texans were in the same predicament, or worse – sometimes much worse. People died. Pets and farm animals died. Millions of small animals died. And the fallout in terms of property damage (from burst water lines), economic damage (from closed businesses and inability to go to work, auto wrecks – one in Fort Worth involving more than 100 cars and trucks), and political recriminations will be going on for years for why our power and water systems failed so disastrously.

Now, a week later, this being Texas, it’s sunny, warm, not a trace of snow. The water supply is back (and safe to drink). The surviving birds and squirrels are continuing as if nothing happened. All of my outdoor cats appear to have survived with little or no harm. Lots of plants are wilted, but most will recover. Nature is almost infinitely resilient. I’m not so sure about us humans though. Every time the lights blink, I flinch. I intend to start keeping a stockpile of jugs of water in the garage against another water supply failure. And maybe being a bit more frugal in my use of gas, electricity, water.

All disasters, of whatever type or magnitude, are potential learning opportunities (if you survive them). I am already thinking of what I can learn from this experience beyond keeping jugs of water in the garage and perhaps buying a pair of galoshes. My lessons could also include treasuring, even more than I always have, every bit of life. Treasuring my family and friends (I’ve taking to phoning people – especially those who live alone – every few days to check on them and just to make human contact). Being even more attentive to the moment-by-moment pleasures and treasures of being alive. For example, I’ve long enjoyed gardening, but haven’t the physical ability to kneel and dig any more, so I haven’t actually gardened in a couple of years. But two days ago I ordered a rolling, rotating garden stool so I can sit down on my patio and scoot around from flower pot to flower pot, tending plants, sniffing flowers and herbs, touching the soil with my bare fingers. Staying, literally, in contact with life.

I’ll conclude with this old poem (which I’ve shared before).


I cling to life when death

Surrounds this place

With reminders

That I can’t evade.

Why should I heed?

Death will find me

When my time is done

And needs no guide.

I don’t try to hide

But go on loving life,

Warming my old bones

Deep in its sweet embrace.

©2014 John I. Blair

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On Trek


By Judith Kroll

Last night I was thinking in bed. That time when you body is sleepy but the brain never quits. There is no death. That is what I concluded. When our soul leaves our body, it is instant. We go from physical to invisible in a live forever. Many who pass over watch their own deaths as they leave before they actually pass.

When my dad was in hospice, on his last day on earth, I came in to see him, and I just felt his soul had left his body. He didn't move all day. After he passed, when I called Jan to let her know, she said she already knew.., because he came to visit her in Oregon at around 1 30., 4 30 Eastern time. He said he left hospice, said hi to Jan, and said later we, back in hospice would be discussing numbers. I didn't know this, till after he finally transitioned..when I called Jan. The numbers? yes we had a discussion, the fact that he died on 8 22 AT 8 22 pm. We feel he did that on purpose. 🙂

So we as mediums don't talk to dead people. 🙂 Our language sometimes needs readjusting. Ex. When we are speaking about someone and they show up, we say, Speak of the devil. I now say angel. Love him to death.. I now say life. This food is to die for, I now say live for. Maybe there are more we can share?

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Why Do Grown-ups Cry


By Walt Perryman

Why do grown-ups cry?
Here are a few reasons why.

When one of your loved ones dies,
It makes many tears in your eyes.

A love that went all wrong,
A love that went on too long.

A pain that hurts too bad,
Many things can make you sad.

What I like are the happy tears,
That gives relief from your fears.

Tear ducts are connected to our heart,
That must be where tears get their start.

So, today if you have to cry at all,
I hope it is the happy tears that fall.

©January 2021 Walt Perryman

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Never Assume


By Bud Lemire

When reading my poems, never assume
That it's about me, it might be about whom
I write about others, if so inclined
Some of the poems, are from my Imaginative mind

If I write about a suicide, It's something I won't do
It could be something I heard, or someone I knew
Most of the time, I write about what I know
All that I learned, about the human soul

Sometimes I teach, within each word I write
So that you'll feel, some of my light
A journey in time, to learn a lesson,
To touch the heart, is the best blessing

I'll try to be funny, with humor in each
Just to see, which audience I'll reach
To see your response, to the words I wrote
I might even write one, about your new coat

So you see, there's so much to the Universe
Mostly enlightening, because it could be worse
As I take leave, and step out of the room
Remember, with my poems, Never Assume

©Feb 4 2021 Bud Lemire

Author Note:

Just a reminder that not all my poems are about
me. I write about others, or sometimes just to get
a message across to the reader. In hopes that you
will learn from what I have written. Or at least
take away something from it. So many have seen
me and ask if I was okay. I have to explain, it
wasn't about me. I try to keep my personal stuff
about me, mostly offline. I occasionally put some
on, because I know I have so many caring friends.
It came through in the prayers you each gave.
Thank you so much for them, and for reading this.


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Searching For Answers


By Bruce Clifford

I’ve seen progress everyday
I’ve seen nonsense in our way
I’ve seen melodies drifting in line
I’ve seen answers forgotten in time

Are you willing to take a chance on this life
Is this what we bargained for, the left and the right
Are you willing to let this all fade away
Searching for answers when everything went astray

I’ve seen reasons for better nights
I’ve seen seasons in emotional plights
I’ve seen harmonies getting carried away
I’ve seen hope for a much brighter day

Are you willing to take a chance on this life
Is this what we bargained for, the left and the right
Are you willing to let this all fade away
Searching for answers when everything went astray

Searching for answers with nothing to say
Searching for answers with nothing to say

©2/10/2021 Bruce Clifford

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By Walt Perryman

I have a photographic memory but the picture is dim,
I think it’s because; it’s never been loaded with film.

I can’t remember passwords and it’s driving me insane.
I can’t remember any of them and they’re all the same.

Sometimes I write it down, put it where it’s easy to find,
Later, when I can’t find it, it really blows my mind.

Next, those security questions come on the screen,
When I can’t answer them is when I start to scream.

Next the stupid puzzle security images come into sight,
Then I am locked out when I cannot guess them right.

Then when I am backed up against the wall,
I pick up the phone and make the ‘help’ call.

I would be a hacker but I’m not smart enough,
Heck, I can’t even hack into my own dang stuff.

©december 1, 2020 Walt Perryman

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You are Strong


By Phillip Hennessy

There will be Times in your Life
When You can't go Wrong
And Times in your Life
When you Have to be Strong

There are Times of Regret
And Times to Forget
There are Times, to Rejoice,
It's a matter of Choice

You are Strong enough to be Gentle
You are Strong enough to be Kind
There's Time to be Sentimental
The Bad Times, are Best left Behind

A Friend that's in Need
Is a true Friend, indeed
If there's Loyalty there,
You know they will Share

Give what you feel is Right for You,
Don't Give it All away
Save to Share with Others, too
You'll Need some for that Rainy Day

You are Strong enough to be Gentle
You are Strong enough to be Kind
There's Time to be Sentimental
The Bad Times, are Best left Behind

© February 28, 2021 Phillip Hennessy

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My Birthday


By Walt Perryman

I have had a fantastic 77th Birthday,
And I have a few more things to say.

For my many comments, I want to answer all of you.
But as slow as I type, I’d be 78 before I am through!

I will start my ‘thank you’ earlier when I turn 78,
And that way I will not post them two days late.

So, this is a belated ‘thank you’, to everyone,
For my fantastic Birthday, it was 2nd to none!

And this is to thank each of my many friends,
For a true friendship that I hope never ends.

©Feb 26, 2021 Walt Perryman

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Live Without

By Bruce Clifford

When did you become a cartoon of yourself
So ridiculous you can’t go anywhere else
Peace and love you shout in all mysterious ways
How can you live without the passing of these days

When did you become a deviation of another mind
So out of touch with the innocent and sublime
Many who have fought through these endless Winter days
They could never be taught how to find alternate ways

Diver down
Radio on
Missing heights
Carry on

Faded out
Separate times
Climate control
Nursery rhymes

Why did you become a cartoon of these times
So insecure with each and every find
Tickets and postcards are the highlights of the day
How can you live without the words we used to say

©2/24/2021 Bruce Clifford

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Blizzard 2021


By John I. Blair

Swirling in great gusts
Snow smothers the night
Around my fragile home,
Curling high on steps,
Shrubs, potted plants.

Cold and wind,
Wind and cold;
Muffled nature everywhere
Save only moaning air
And hiss of frozen water.

I huddle behind panes
Of insulated glass,
Hoping I can feed
The shivering birds and beasts
Who’ve crept to shelter,

Praying I can feed myself
And keep my old bones warm
In this primeval dream
Of ages past when giant sloths
And woolly mammoths roamed.

©2021 John I. Blair, 2/26/2021

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Medical Advice from Walt


By Walt Perryman

I googled my medicine interactions this morning,
Three of my Meds came up and showed a warning.

Explaining my loss of memory and coordination.
But I could not remember the exact explanation.

I tried again to look up the results it had for me.
Due to my coordination, I couldn’t mash the key.

Then I Googled my symptoms to see what I had,
I am not sure what all it said, but it sounded bad.

So, I guess this is what I am really trying to say,
Don’t google your meds and mess up your day.

©2020 Walt Perryman

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By Bud Lemire

The Angels came to take him away
To the Spirit World, let us pray
A teacher at Soo Hill, that you might even know
A projectionist at the Delft Theatre, as we watch the show

Later, he and my sister became a Camp Host
Now my Brother-In-Law is a Heavenly Ghost
He battled Covid, and he did defeat
His heart only weakened, it ceased to beat

Maybe he thought “Time to leave this place”
“Too much for this old body to face”
I'm sure that many of us, feel exactly like that
Now it's a great place, where Harold is at

For years he helped me, in many a way
The computer, the taxes, and I've got to say
He gave me a ride to Elmer's, to get my fish
He was a great man, and here's what I wish

Remember this man, with a smile on your face
For he's spending his time, in a much better place
He'll not be forgotten, as long as I live
Because while he was here, he had so much to give

©January 31, 2021 Bud Lemire

                            Author Note:

And he gave a lot. He always helped me. I got to know
him really well. Although Covid kept us further apart.
He'll be remembered in my mind and in my heart. In my
memories, he'll be guiding me along. Like the Teacher
he was in life. You know, he is the one who gave me
the idea to use pictures with my poems. And I did,
and that worked out really well.
Thank you Harold! ^J^

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Refer a friend to this Poem

Stand Up Tall

By Bruce Clifford

The motor comes on
The wind blows all night long
You can’t get away with any mistakes
You can’t get by with creative heartbreaks

The slice of time is calling
The memories of tomorrow are talking
You can’t escape this emotional place
You can’t replace this eventual disgrace
Eventual disgrace

Stand up tall
They're doing us in
Stand up tall
It’s a fight ’til the end
Stand up tall
Stand up tall

The lights turn on
The emotional song
Eyes full of darkness
Lies tremble with heartlessness

Stand up tall
They're doing us in
Stand up tall
It’s a fight ’til the end
Stand up tall
Stand up tall

We’re in it to win it
We’re in it to win it
We have to begin it
Stand up tall

The motor comes on
The wind blows all night long
You can’t get away with any mistakes
You can’t get by with creative heartbreaks

©2/1/2021 Bruce Clifford

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