Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Editor's Corner

By Mary E. Adair

June 2021

“Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.”
– Al Bernstein

Here we are with a lessening of the cautions for the Pandemic which seems to have encouraged our authors to reach for their pens or keyboards! It is a pleasure to bring our readers new authors this month of heat and thunderstorm warnings, so let's mention Linda Tate who wrote the article "How We Love Things with Pockets." Linda had shared her thoughts in the group page (Writings of Life) of another of our regular authors - Judith Kroll. We are pleased Linda agreed to publish it with us.

Judith's column "On Trek" is titled "Unity" for June and presents her loving anticipation of what could be. John I. Blair's column "View from My Back Steps" announces his dismay in how his garden view has become more like peering into a jungle. Mattie Lennon tells us how the virtual Writer's Week of Listowel is being conducted, while sharing fond memories by several writers about past sessions there.

Marilyn Carnell launches into archaelogical explanations and some surprising facts about Missouri in "Sifoddling Along," while Thomas F. O'Neill in "Introspective" tells how his students are studying about new inventions of the Space age. Rod Cohenour in "Cooking with Rod" presents a recipe to span the ages, with his Midwest Country Cut Barbecue Ribs.

Melinda Cohenour, "Armchair Genealogy" is on hand with an announcement and a brief discussion to herald the increasing number of tree residents in her family. Pauline Evanosky's column "Woo Woo" has some valuable tips and explanations concerning meditation.

Poems in this issue set the pace with new-to-our-pages Randy Jackson who is from your editor's stomping grounds but has had a much greater view of the world than afforded her. Be sure to read his bio when you view his two poems: "To My Daughter" and "The Old Oak Tree."

Our poets offer many viewpoints: "Retirement," "Rambling on This Fine Morning," and "Major and Minor Worries" by Walt Perryman; "A Distant Bell," "I Caught Myself," and "Like Every Other Day" by Bruce Clifford; and these four by Bud Lemire --"The 45's," "Fear of Things to Come," "You're A Hero," and "I Don't Use Make Up."

Returning writer Barbara Irvin sent the small poem with the big title "Emptiness And Entitlement" (I want to be treated in a special way.) John I. Blair added these two poems to his nearly a thousand we have published through the years, "Sugar Ants" and "On Turning 80."

Once again we offer praise and appreciation to our webmaster and co-founder of this eZine, Mike Craner, who keeps everything functioning with his ingenuity and consideration. Thanks, Mike!

We will see you in July!

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

My, my, my. Our tree is growing by leaps and bounds!!

This month's column is all about the joy of New Life. Your author has had several sleepless days and nights as we welcome our newest great grandbaby. He and his mommy had a difficult time after a rather pleasant pregnancy. Our tiny precious boy must stay and entertain the NICU team for several more days as he catches up in development. But our hearts are filled with joy!

Our newest edition is but one of the next generation to be welcomed to the family. I am absolutely positive my beloved sister Jacquie is looking down with love from Heaven as her latest great-grandchild arrived just this past month. Another beautiful child with proud and loving parents.

And the editor of our E-zine (my beloved sister) is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her latest great-great-grandchild, scheduled to arrive a few months hence.

With all this excitement and, I must admit, anxiety and stress over the well-being of our own great-grandchild and his mommy, I shall not even attempt to distance myself from the joy, the prayers, and the anticipation surrounding his achieving a healthy weight while his little body learns to balance his blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate and breathing triggers.

In the meantime, I sincerely hope my readers of this column will take the time to browse through some of the many articles and columns I've published on Pencil Stubs Online. To check out prior works, simply click on my name in blue. That hyperlink will bring up a comprehensive listing of all the articles and columns published previously. The columns are listed by date. That requires the reader to click the date to see the featured subject of that month's publication.

As always, I encourage my readers to continue to reap the benefits our modern age provides: research via Armchair Genealogy. If you are new to the joy of genealogical research, many of the early columns published provide hints and tips for successful online research. They include the very basics of how to build your tree, the best and most useful online sites to bolster your research, and ways to organize the materials gathered.

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


The View from My Back Steps


By John I. Blair

The Jungle at My Door

There was a time, not that many years ago, when my backyard garden was a lovely, organized, manicured place, with a hundred feet of colorful brick pathways and three restful patio areas where visitors could sit in deck chairs and enjoy the well-tended greenery and floral color. I had spent, likely, thousands of man-hours working on that scene, and enjoyed every visit to it. The small showplace of the block.

But time passed, and things inexorably changed. As anyone who has gardened knows, at least in their heart, gardens are ephemeral places that change literally by the minute and change greatly over the passing of years. Famous ancient gardens are just memories. Even more recent gardens, begun some of them within the lifetime of people still living, are often no longer what they were at the start.

Photo illustrates what a true jungle the garden is in many areas – impossible to walk through and difficult to see through.

And my garden certainly is no longer the same as it was twenty or thirty years ago, or even five years ago. It’s become a jungle. An often beautiful jungle, but wild and a little dangerous in places.

Photo shows more of the wisteria where it begins climbing up the fence and the adjacent trees to as much as 30 feet above the ground.

Where once there were groups of tea roses growing out of carefully tended beds of soil, compost, and mulch now there is a scattering of arching wild roses (offspring of the tea roses’ grafted roots), rising out of tangles of honeysuckle and coralberry and lined with dark red blossoms for a month in April and May. One-time areas of lacy ferns have become masses of volunteer goldenrod, mock orange, mustang grapevines. A large bed of hollies and cherry laurels is so dense and overgrown now it’s impossible to walk there without a machete to clear the way. (Songbirds love to shelter there from hawks and cats.)

One of the wild rambler roses in bloom, surrounded by masses of vines and trees and shrubs.

Several times a year I hire a yardman to travel down the brick paths, clearing them of all the volunteer plants that thrive with their roots sheltered under the cooling masonry, set originally in loose soil. Oxalis, ajuga, spiderwort, and even columbines.

Here is a bit of old garden path with oxalis and other plants growing through the bricks – a few pink oxalis blooms showing.

It’s still possible to sit in the deck chairs, but first, they have to be vigorously dusted. And moved a bit away from the masses of wisteria, spirea, vinca, jasmine, and honeysuckle that constantly strive to bury them in leaves and stems. And don’t venture far from the pavers, as you’ll find your ankles grabbed almost as if consciously by the strong and twining vegetation on all sides.

An old garden bench with a massive wisteria trailing across the end.

But there’s always life going on – not just the plants, but the birds, lizards, tiny snakes, furry squirrels, and (hidden away in the daylight) at least a couple of opossums and raccoons. And who knows what else?

Manicured gardens are definitely beautiful. But so are jungles. And it’s jungle time now in my backyard.

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

Cooking with Rod

By Rod Cohenour

Here's an excellent recipe I learned from my best friend, Dennis Conover (may he rest in peace). Denny's family-owned and operated a famous Steakhouse near Chicago. Denny grew up in the place and, Boy! Could he cook!

My sweet wife and I ended up putting our own touches on the original recipe that just made it better. I think you'll totally agree. What's that saying? "Laugh. Eat. Love."

Bon appetit~!

Midwest Country Cut Barbecue Ribs


  • 3-4 lbs country cut pork ribs (also called butcher cut), rinse but don't remove fat
  • 2 large or 3-4 medium onions sliced thick
  • Cracked black peppercorns, ground medium
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-2 bottles CHEAP barbecue sauce (buy the $1 brand as it will be used to tenderize, but will be discarded)
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 medium or 1 large poblano peppers, de-seeded, stems and membranes removed, sliced thick
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Big bottle Head Country Barbecue Sauce (2 if you really love saucy ribs)

This is authentic Country Cut Ribs and has the tiny rib bone showing.


    1. Put half the sliced onions aside. With the remaining half, make one layer in an aluminum discardable roast pan.
    2. Dry ribs with paper towels. Whisk together 1/4 cup brown sugar and ground peppercorns. Rub into all surfaces of ribs. Layer ribs over bottom onion layer. Put remaining half onions over ribs. Pour CHEAP BARBECUE SAUCE overall. Seal tightly with aluminum foil. (May need to make more than one layer if ribs are large. Just split the onions accordingly.)
    3. Pop roasting pan into preheated oven at 250-275°. Roast 2-4 hours until ribs are cooked through, reducing oven heat after the first hour to 200° to smother cook. Remove from oven when ribs are fully cooked through. Discard fatty juices, retain onions, and set them aside to serve later with ribs.
    4. Now you can prepare to grill or broil the ribs. If you want to broil, splash Worcestershire sauce on ribs for smoky flavor. Not needed if grilling.
    5. Whisk garlic powder, onion powder, and last brown sugar portion together in loaf pan or dish big enough to roll ribs in spices. Cover all surfaces.
    6. Put spiced ribs on broiler pan or grill. Sauce liberally with some of the HEAD COUNTRY BARBECUE SAUCE (feel free to use your favorite BBQ sauce here). Brown first side. Turn, top with poblano pepper strips. Sauce liberally again.
    7. Grill or broil to your desired degree of char to create that fabulous leather sheaf that brings the taste up a notch or three.

Cooked and ready to eat!

Serve with delicious sides: those tender carmelized onions, the grilled poblanos, mashed potatoes, a potato and/or macaroni salad, baked beans, fried okra, a crisp green salad, crusty French bread, or buns. Choose your favorite BBQ sides. Icy cold lemonade or tea finishes the meal perfectly.

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

Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

No Healing Session But A Virtual Writers’ Week
And Hawkin’s House Going

A losing trade, I assure you, sir:
literature is a drug”.

--George Borrow.

The culture addicts who have been flocking to Listowel Writers’ Week since 1971 are, in the interest of public health, about to be deprived of their fix for the second year. But there is a packed Virtual programme which includes From Altar to Halter - Based on John B. Keane's celebrated letters. St John's Theatre presents a dramatisation of humorous characters and encounters featuring: the parish priest, the postman, the successful TD, and the matchmaker. This is the perfect introduction to some of Keane's wittiest and best-loved creations - a dramatic presentation that's sure to bring a smile to your face. You will find details at: writersweek.com

I contacted a few celebs who were the hard hitters at Irelands biggest literary festival over the years. Poet Michael Gallagher had this to say,

“Saving Myself for Billy.

I don’t remember where it was held that year – maybe the Shebeen. Poet’s Corner moves from one Listowel pub to another every few years. Poet’s Corner is where the ‘real’ poets spend Writers Week; it’s a lion’s den where you have to shout to be heard, far removed from the soiree-like gatherings in the Hotel, and favoured by the ‘established’ poets.

Anyway, it was my first year as a poet, and every day I practiced my poem so I would be word perfect on the night. I went very early on Thursday night, determined to introduce myself to the world as a poet. I didn’t sign on to read at first as I wanted to drink in the atmosphere. I drank alright but the atmosphere proved too much. Everyone was brilliant. Where would I be going with my scribbling!

Friday night was the same. I actually put my name down to read but when George Rowley, the MC, called, I was ordering another pint of Dutch courage at the bar and didn’t pretend to hear.

So that was it. Poet’s Corner over and I was still a virgin poet. I had met some great new friends, though; friends who would remain constant down the years, among them, Pauline Fayne, Teri Murray, Barney Sheehan, Neil Brosnan, Paddy Phelan, P. J. Kennedy, and John Sheehan, to name a few. One of them would have told me about the Healing Session.

The Healing Session takes place in John B Keane’s pub on the Sunday morning of Writer’s Week. At that time, the MCs were George Rowley and Billy Keane. I had form with Billy. Months earlier I had been talking to him over a pint and he asked if I ‘wrote a bit’ (invariably the first question you are asked in that particular establishment!) I showed him a piece I had written and he opined that I was ‘more of a poet than a writer’. With that advice, I went off and wrote my first poem. I brought it back to Billy. Billy liked it and, more importantly, his mother, Mary, liked it. I left it with them and, unbeknown to me, Billy entered it in The Ballydonoghue Magazine. Not only was it published -it won first prize of £100, leaving me to believe (mistakenly) that this poetry writing was a great racket altogether.

So, armed with my spider poem and a couple of other scribblings, I headed off for The Healing Session. This was it. This was what I had been waiting for.

There was a queue halfway down William Street but I eventually managed to squeeze into the bar. I passed my name to George, hoping to get it over with quickly. No chance – I waited hours! And hours! By the time I was called, I was exhausted and exasperated. I struggled through the horde. Billy went into full flow. ‘This is my personal discovery’. ‘This is the new Kavanagh’. ‘Remember you heard him here first!’ A great day for Irish poetry!’

I was jelly. I looked at my foolscap and skipped the first forty lines. I said (stuttering with embarrassment), ‘I’ll do a haiku’.

In spring lambs frolic
Through the scribes romantic words
In summer poets hunger

I bolted; scuttled through the dumbfounded crowd.
Through the silence, I can still hear Billy’s searing whisper: "‘ ...TARD.’"

Colm Toibin summed it up, “ Listowel Writers’ Week is serious about literature. Everyone who comes here knows how much literature enriches our lives.”

Hilda McHugh

Here are the words of author Hilda McHugh:

"I’d heard of and read about Listowel Writers’ Week for many years, but it was not until 2010 that I managed to get there for the first time. Nothing could possibly prepare you for the phenomenon that it is. The workshops 4-hour sessions over three mornings given by world-renowned national and international authors were the best learning experiences of my life. I was hooked and LWW has been the highlight of my year ever since.

Afternoons and evenings are spent attending book launches, lectures or theatre performances minds awhirl with having to choose from the rich menu of available experiences. Later sharing with friends …sorry you missed so-and-so s/he was brilliant, I wouldn’t have missed the one I attended etc etc. and then off to Poet’s corner, or the literary pub crawl or the sing-song sessions of your choice or trying to take in all of them with friends old and new. Late to bed and early to rise to start the process all over again. Meeting and greeting my literary heroes and heroines, random conversations with the famous and the down to earth, breathing the same intoxicating air, feeling like a writer.

All too soon it’s over and we’re bidding farewell for another year. The bittersweet experience can only be ameliorated by the ‘Healing Session’ in John B’s where Billy Keane presides over the best-run entertainment money can’t buy. The MC and always ensured the mix of songs, recitations, poems, and readings was just right. He could not be bribed or influenced he selected whose turn it was and if you were called you got to do your piece if not you appreciated the talents of the lucky ones who were. Standing room was called breathing room and is a tight squeeze the tiny performance space was the only place to properly inflate the lungs. A fitting end to a fantastic experience. I can’t wait for the real LWW to return.”

Graham Norton on Listowel

Graham Norton with the utmost brevity described it as the "Best Literary festival in the world.”

Roddy Doyle admits, “ I’ve been to many writing festivals since then but none as warm." Adding in true Dub fashion, ” Or as mad.”

Emma Donoghue loved, “ . . . the warmth and informality of this wonderful gathering.”

For many The Healing Session, mentioned by Hilda McHugh and Mike Gallagher, a marathon Open-Mic session, held in John B. Keane’s on the closing Sunday, was the highlight of the festival. As far as I know there was no laying on of hands . . . although there is a dimly-lit area in the west corner of the bar!

* * * * *

Hawkin's House and What It Will Look Like

Hawkin’s House, often described as "Dublin's ugliest building" is being demolished. The monstrosity is finally to be levelled, three years after its demolition and redevelopment was granted permission. The former Department of Health headquarters was built in 1962 on the site of the former Theatre Royal, which was a beautiful building, on the corner of Poolbeg Street and Hawkins Street.

Dublin's Theatre Royal
Years ago I wrote a one-act monologue radio play set in the security hut of that building. I’m attaching the audio.
In the Hut wav
Editor's Note: This played after choosing "Play it anyway" although it could not be scanned for viruses. If you prefer, Mattie Lennon has divided his audio into two wav parts: Part One of In the Hut
Part Two of In the Hut
Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

On Trek

By Judith Kroll


The snowflakes said, we are all so different,
yet we are all alike.
We will bring beauty to the earth.

The trees smiled and looked at each other and with amazement,
yes they chimed in we are all so unique
yet we are the same.

Echoes and nods came from the birds,
animals, fish, flowers, stars, and the angels
Yes, we truly are

all different individually,
yet the same collectively.
We all share our love in various ways.

Then....the quietness was deafening.
Everything slowly began to look at Mankind.
Thinking together they reasoned...

Mankind are all different too,
yet the same. They can think and reason.
Why are we all so fearful of them?

They are beautiful yet they haven't learned
to work together yet to bring love
to our planet that we all adore.

They act so separate. An agreement was formed that all the earth
will continue to share their love with every person on the planet,
hoping that mankind will someday join in being ONE.

© May 2021 Judith Kroll

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

Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell


This month people are getting out and about after being isolated by the COVID virus. It made me think of explorations of the countryside and my interest in the many caves in the Ozarks.

In addition to being known as the “Show Me” state, Missouri has another nickname, “The Cave State”. The Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources notes on its website there are more than 6,000 known caves in the state, averaging 52 caves per county. However, McDonald County, located in the southwest corner of the state is known to have 530 explored caves. There are bound to be more still unknown as the county sits on a karst foundation riddled with openings.

Perhaps my favorite cave is described below.

Jacobs Cavern (often misspelled as Jacob’s Cavern) was discovered by E. H. Jacobs of Bentonville, AR on land he owned on Little Sugar Creek near Pineville, MO. He and professors Charles Peabody and Warren K. Moorehead from the Archaeology Department of Phillips Academy, Andover, MA cooperated in a scientific excavation of the site.

The cavern is more a rock shelter than a cave as illustrated in this cross-section drawing.

The description from Wikipedia (also the source of illustrations) makes the findings clear.

“The ash surface was staked off into square meters, and the substance carefully removed in order. Each stalactite, stalagmite, and pilaster was measured, numbered, and removed in sections. Six human skeletons were found buried in the ashes. Seven-tenths of a cubic metre of animal bones were found: deer, bear, wolf, raccoon, opossum, beaver, buffalo, elk, turkey, woodchuck, tortoise, and hog; all contemporary with man's occupancy. Three stone Metates, one stone axe, one celt and fifteen Hammestones were found. Jacobs Cavern was peculiarly rich in flint knives and projectile points. The sum total amounts to 419 objects, besides hundreds of fragments, cores, spalls, and rejects, retained for study and comparison. Considerable numbers of bone or horn awls were found in the ashes, as well as fragments of pottery, but no ceremonial objects.

“The rude type of the implements, the absence of fine pottery, and the peculiarities of the human remains, indicate a trace of occupants more ancient than the mound-builders. The deepest implement observed was buried 50 cm under the stalagmitic surface. Dr. Hovey has proved that the rate of stalagmitic growth in Wyandotte Cave, Indiana, is .0254 cm. annually; and if that was the rate in Jacobs Cavern, 1968 years would have been needed for the embedding of that implement. Polished rocks outside the cavern and pictographs in the vicinity indicate the work of a prehistoric race…”

Shelters (locally called Bluffs) similar to this are common in McDonald County. Other excavations have been conducted by The Smithsonian Institution early in the 20th century.

In personal communication with the late Jean Mosier Helm, I learned that Jean's father, Clarence Mosier, J.L.B. Taylor, and others aided in the exploration of Jacobs Cavern (J.L.B. Taylor is a shirt-tail relative of mine). Their experience led to the two men and others from Pineville working on the excavation of the Cahokia Mounds near St. Louis, a far more well-known site.

I hope to write more about these sites and the prehistory of McDonald County in the future.

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

Woo Woo

By Pauline Evanosky

Aspects of Meditation in Everyday Life

I first began meditating when I was in high school after I had read “Be Here Now” by Ramm Dass, some of the Seth books, and “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yoganda. I figured meditation was likely the next step I could take.

An interesting story about how I came to read, “Autobiography of a Yogi” was that I found myself in our local public library. I was taking a shortcut through the religious and spirituality section which I generally avoided like the plague, it being a “geeky” area of the library and not an area I frequented when a copy of the book fell off of the shelf. It was on the lowest shelf and it just sort of pushed its way off of the shelf to land on the carpet in front of me. What? Nobody was on the other side of the bookshelf who could have possibly done that. I knew then it was special and picked it up to read. It pretty near changed my life.

Little did I know what role meditation was going to have in my life as a psychic and as a writer. Meditation is sort of like a vitamin pill or a supplement. It rounds out your basic spiritual nutrition. We can be concerned about our outward appearance, so too can we be concerned about our mind or our inner selves.

I still don’t know how to meditate but I do a better job of it than I did fifty years ago. I have learned that it doesn’t matter if you are an expert meditator. I suppose that’s why people refer to it as a practice of meditation.

I used to admire people who would say, “I just meditated for 3 hours.” Actually, meditating for long periods of time can have sketchy results unless you have a meditation coach. One of the things meditation does is it loosens up psychic and mental sludge and brings issues you probably need to have a closer look at to the surface. You could ignore stuff like that but the situation typically only gets worse if you don’t do anything about it. Having a meditation coach can help you navigate past these rough spots.

A big thing that meditation does is it teaches you how to be a little more focused in your daily activities. You will be able to keep your attention on the things you do in your normal life. Like drawing. It is easier for me to sit and draw for 2 hours than to draw for 10 minutes. Drawing was also something I had to learn to get myself into a place to make the shift into channeling. I had no idea meditation was connected to anything else I did, the drawing and channeling came 50 years later when I was an adult, but now, as I think about it, they are connected. Learning how to channel is like unlearning things. Or, relearning them, or maybe just rewiring your brain. With channeling you are still the same person you were before. Except now, you are just more noticeably woo woo for want of a better word.

When I first started meditating I thought there was only one way to do it. I almost dislocated my eyeballs trying to look through my third eye (located in the middle of your forehead). I was also young and supple enough that I was able to sit in the lotus position. Sure can’t do that anymore.

What you do if you would like to learn how to meditate is read about it. There are hundreds of ways to meditate. In the beginning, your psyche and body will rebel against it. I remember four things that would happen to me as I began to settle into a meditative state of mind. My back would itch. I could not sit still. It was maddening. The other thing is I would want a cigarette and the third thing was that I would get hungry. With each of those small rebellions, my meditation would be wrecked.

It wasn’t until later I discovered taking a really deep breath was enough to bring me back to the task at hand which was trying to meditate. The fourth thing that would happen was I would start thinking of all the other things I needed to do. So, I kept a pad of paper next to me and jotted down the thoughts that came to me: Onions, milk, banking, light bulbs, laundry. Whatever it was that came to mind and there were many of them I would write on a list. This would put my mind at ease, let it relax knowing I was not losing control, and would attend to those things later on. Eventually, I didn’t need that pad of paper, but in the beginning, it was helpful.

The other thing was that after I’d scratched my back or took a deep breath to dispel the hunger pains, I would imagine in my head that I was taking my toddler-like self gently by the hand and leading me back onto the path of meditation again. Eventually, my inner self came to accept that I was still in charge; that I would continue to be responsive to whatever it was that it wanted me to do. Eventually, that place of meditation could be reached more easily.

This technique is also good when your mind wanders from whatever task at hand you are doing. For instance, as I write this column I thought that lucid dreaming might be an interesting topic to write in my next column. Since I tend to forget more these days I opened up a new document, titled it, saved it, and closed it. Once that was done I could turn my attention back to this column.

Another thing I did to convince my ever-vigilant mind to calm down for a few minutes was to imagine myself standing on a ladder. Slowly I would lower myself rung by rung on the ladder. With each movement down the ladder, I would imagine myself becoming more and more relaxed. Another technique that seemed to have some success was just to imagine I had died and was completely at rest again. I say that because I believe that we live over and over again. An odd technique I used to trick myself into relaxing was to imagine myself melting like the Wicked Witch of the East did when Dorothy threw water on her.

After I had been channeling for some years I discovered an energetic and effective way to slip into something that was sort of like meditating but more like a Shamanic Journey. That was listening to shamanic drumming. You can find people doing the drumming on YouTube. I learned the technique reading, “The Way of the Shaman” by Michael Harner. Generally, embarking on a Shamanic journey involves going underground so there is a bit of a really fast downhill slide as your body seems to become the drum beats. It’s different. Not quite a meditation, at least the ones I’d been doing, but more of a self-exploration.

So what happens when you are in a meditative state? Well, depending on where you are in your meditation practice all sorts of things can happen. Like I mentioned earlier, the mental sludge you can work on comes up. Oh, joy. You could get flashbacks to times in your life you had forgotten. If you are leaning towards the woo woo side of life but not really knowing how to get there you might start seeing other things like your guides or people in your life who have passed, you could see landscapes, you might even solve tricky things you’ve been working on like the solution to an Excel formula that just wasn’t working right. A new way to cook chicken. What that strange noise is coming from your car.

I remember hearing the story of a student who was wonder-struck by the stuff they were experiencing during their meditative practice. Their teacher said to them something along the lines of, “That’s not important. Keep meditating.” I’m not exactly sure why the stuff you see during meditation might not be as important as the practice of meditation itself. Maybe someday I will understand.

It doesn’t happen often to me but sometimes in meditation, I get to a place of peace. For me it is unusual, but it happens occasionally. Being there will give you something to think about, believe me.

Physically a meditation practice will help on many levels; lowering blood pressure, making it easier to adapt to a different or healthier lifestyle if need be. I wonder if it could help with losing weight?

The significance of your intention during the meditation becomes important. If you are praying, that is important. If you are seeking solutions to something, that is important. If you want to meditate for meditation’s sake, that is important too. Having a clear intention is like driving successfully on a road. You don’t just get in your car and go. Well, sometimes you do, but if you’ve got a destination in mind you will pay attention to the street signs.

I think you are more apt to do something that is fun rather than something that is onerous. Like it is more fun to eat chocolate than it is to do your taxes or clean your house. And, learning how to meditate is like anything else new that you try to do. In the beginning, the results aren’t always that great. It almost seems like work in the beginning as there are so many things that pop up to try to distract you, but if you continue and push past all the physical annoyances of extraordinarily hard-to-reach itchy places and hunger pangs it gets easier just like anything else you learn. Remember what it was like to first learn how to drive a car? Remember how your shoulders inched up and you got all tense holding on to the steering wheel? Remember how you were so vigilant about watching for dangerous situations that you ended up with a roaring headache and backache? After you learn how to drive and spend more time behind the wheel of a car it just gets easier and you do the necessary things to drive a car automatically.

I hope something I’ve said here will encourage you to begin meditating.

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


By Thomas F. O'Neill

The things my students take for granted are things I enjoy bringing up in my classes here in China - such as computers, the internet, and smartphones. I asked my students last month (March 2021) to do a project about where they think technology will be when they are my age – by the way, I’m 58 years young and still ticking. Their reports ranged from cellular-powered planes, driverless passenger drones, underwater cities out at sea, and an international space station on the Moon.

Space travel was a huge topic of interest for my students, who feel that in the not too distant future, they will be able to freely travel anywhere in the world within a few hours due to being able to own their very own spacecraft. One student wrote about artificially intelligent robots. In her vision of the future, you will be able to own an artificially intelligent robot with internet capabilities sort of like having a personal assistant that goes everywhere you go.

On April 21 2020 there was a Hi-Tech Fair in Chongqing China. It was held at the Chongqing National Defense University, a hotbed of Chinese military innovations. These Hi-Tech fairs are ways for companies throughout China to show off their technological innovations to the world.

The Ministry of Public Security was also very excited about revealing their police robot referred to as Anbot. They boasted about how Anbot can patrol autonomously and protect against violence or unrest. The robot is approximately 5 feet tall (1.5 meters) and weighs roughly 165 pounds (78 kg). The robot can understand Chinese and English, but it gives you the feel as if you stepped into a sci-fi film with a more subdued R2D2 from the Star Wars movies.

The robot has enough battery power for 8 hours of operations, autonomous navigation, and intelligent audiovisual analysis. It can reach speeds of 18 KMH (approximately 12 MPH) to chase down fleeing criminals or respond to emergencies. It can also rush over to the scene if a bystander cries for help, and it can even recharge itself without human intervention. In addition to standard police patrolling, the Anbot can undertake riot control, by remotely firing its electroshock weapons.

One fascinating feature is bystanders and civilians can use the Anbot to call for help through an SOS button on the robot’s touchscreen. The National Defense University has programmed the robot to use its audiovisual sensors to recognize and record illegal activities, identify fugitives, and autonomously decide where to patrol. The Anbot has the most advanced facial and audio recognition software so fugitives beware because very soon there will be no hiding in plain sight.

The robot’s electrically charged riot control tools have become somewhat controversial especially among University students who feel it’s being overly emphasized by Anbot’s creators.

The robot has the capability to Taser unruly individuals or uses another device similar to an extendable cattle prod. It has enough room to mount other law enforcement gear, like tear gas canisters and other less-lethal weaponry. One selling tool about the Anbot - it has enough artificial intelligence to respond to situations without fear or hesitation. It is being billed as the first intelligent security robot but it does have its critics.

One obvious drawback is the Anbot is unable to walk up and downstairs. It is unable to apprehend suspects without knocking them off their feet or without using its Tasers. The critics point out that police robots lack social and emotional intelligence, and like all robotic platforms, they are vulnerable to cyber intrusions.

The critics are correct in pointing out that machines are not people. The police robots don’t have the human attributes needed to be effective in apprehending suspects, in analyzing crime scenes, or in responding to the emotional needs of crime victims.

On the other hand, the Anbot needs minimal human supervision, it has autonomous response capabilities, and the ability to find persons of interest by collecting audiovisual information. The Anbot is not designed to fulfill all the needs of law enforcement but rather it’s a hi-tech aid in enforcing the law. The Anbot also has its electrical weaponry for assisting law enforcement officers in riot situations.

I can see police robots, in the not too distant future, taking a more active part for interested police departments not just in China but throughout the world.

What was once science fiction in the world of robotics has now become science reality. I once told my students that very shortly robots may also take up many of our daily household tasks from cleaning our homes to picking up groceries.

My students also see a brighter future not just for the world of robotics but for human relations both globally and domestically and that is certainly a good thing.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Email: introspective7@hotmail.com
    Blogspot: http://thomasfoneill.blogspot.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.

How We Love Things with Pockets


By Linda Tate

Today, I was thinking about life, and how we all love things with pockets...don't we? Big purses, back packs, jackets, all with multiple places to keep our stuff.

What if you were to empty out your back pack of life...what would you find? Better yet, what would you throw away??

As I mentally open my pack, the first compartment I come to is my pocket of empty promises...those I made to myself, to others, and those given to me. You know the kind...this year I'm going to lose 30 pounds (and you gain 45, bringing on a cascade of guilt and self loathing), or that person you trusted with your deepest secrets...they promised they wouldn't tell anyone...then turned around and not only betrayed your trust, but they laughed while doing it, right? Nice.

I decide this pocket can be thrown out. After all, it's empty...isn't it...

The next pocket I come to is my pocket of foregivness. This is a tough one. I have a list in here of all the people who I think should have said they were sorry to me, but they never did, and all the people who I should have forgiven, but didnt. And then there's the people I asked forgiveness from who never gave me an answer. So much pain in this pocket. Lord, have mercy. I hesitate to empty this one, but decide I must.

My next pocket is one of loss. This pocket is so deep, and the sadness so penetrating, that I don't even want to open it. I peek inside, then slam it shut again. I steady myself, then slowly open it. I have to. This pocket isn't only about loss of life...loss of loved ones...it's also about loss of friendships, loss of children as they moved out and started living their own lives...without me. It's also the loss of innocence, the loss of fertility, the loss of youth...the loss of memory, loss of control, loss of good health...oh my, this pocket is so deep.

I recognize that this pocket will take time to sort through, so for now, I close it up and leave it as is. At least I know where my work lies. The last pocket is full of anger. Anger at some of my losses, anger at the cruelty in this world, the unfairness, the bias, the greed, angry that people can't even let the light turn green before they honk at me...ugh...I empty this one quickly. It's toxic.

I feel better. I've made room for other things that deserve space in my pack. Joy, laughter, memories. ..

When's the last time you looked through your backpack of life??? Spring is here...time to clean... ©May 2021 Linda Tate

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

The 45's


By Bud Lemire 


I've loved music, from the first moment I could hear

I'd listen to music, every day of the year
Mom would sing to us, a song that she knew
It played throughout my life, as I matured and I grew

My brother Terry, had an old record player I'd play
45s spun around, I listened to them every day
I bought my first new 45, it was ABBA's “SOS”
Yet, there was a place, where I could pay for them less

Upstairs of B.F. Goodrich, Major Utilities was found
Many days, it's where I was bound
Just a quarter for one 45, or five for a dollar
On my way home, I was so happy I could holler
Out of the Jukebox, and what a good deal
I lived in each song, even if it wasn't real

I heard about someone, selling a big box of 45s at a garage sale
On the south side, in the mid to late 70's, and this is the tale
Off I went, my Dad gave me a ride
A woman greeted me, on the inside
I was short of money, but Dad helped me out
He knew I loved music, he knew what fun was all about

In the year 2021, as it came to be
A Cousin told of, how her 45s were sold to me
You see, those 45s, influenced my musical taste
And to think, they almost all went to waste
These days, I share copies of the music I like to hear
With that very same Cousin, who is a friend and is dear

©May 16, 2021 Bud Lemire

                        Author Note:

I didn't know her back in the 70's. It wasn't until the 90's
that we would find out we were cousins. Abba's “SOS”
that I bought was at Advanced Electric on Ludington Street.
Major Utilities was on the East side of the building upstairs,
of B. F. Goodrich. A man with the last name of  Flath and his
two sons ran the place.

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


The Old Oak Tree

By Randy Jackson

"I thought I heard you say my friend
How dull my life must be...
For I am not a human,
I'm just an old oak tree..

"Why.. I've stood here on this sacred spot
200 years or more..
I was born by an acorn dropped
by a roving troubadour.

"In 200 years, 10,000 doves
have called these branches home.
I've watched the Indian come and go..
I've seen the buffalo roam.

"I have shared my shade with Presidents..
And soldiers of the road ..
I would not trade for leaves of gold..
The stories they have told.."

"A man named Davy Crockett hung his hat..
on my branch down low..
I heard him say he was prepared To die..
. At some place called Alamo..

"The saddest thing I ever saw..
In my 200 years..
ten thousand warriors.. heads hung low..
As they walked the trail of tears..

"You see what’s etched there in My trunk..
For all the world to see..
They made me blush..but we raised 8 kids..
Right here under this old tree..

"That spot there is where 2 brothers Died..
Right here ‘neath my shade..
they shot each other.. then clasped hands..
One wore Blue.. the other Grey..

"Best be gone... be on your way...
It is I who pity thee..
you are just a human...

©Circa 2000s Randy Jackson

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

Major and Minor Worries


By Walt Perryman 


When I was a little kid, I worried like most other little boys.
And I worried about my Horse, my Dog, and all of my toys.
I started school and worried about fitting in and trying to pass.
In high school, I worried a lot about my car running out of gas.

After I graduated, I got married and worried about staying alive.
So, I went to work in Saudi Arabia for 26 years trying to survive,
I worried about drilling, blowouts, and building my wealth.
Now, I am retired and worry about going broke and my health.

Today, I am washing clothes worrying if they are clean enough.
So, I have been worrying for 77 years about all kinds of stuff.
Folks everything is relative living life on God’s green earth,
It seems I’ve been worrying about something since birth.

But nowadays I have become closer to God and I worry less,
With God, my life has improved, and it is not such a big mess.
So, folks, I will not worry about anything for the rest of today,
And if my clothes are clean or not, I’ll just wear them anyway.

©May 2021 Walt Perryman

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

A Distant Bell

By Bruce Clifford

A sound in the distance
This faraway noise
Way too far to tell
The sound of a distant bell

I can’t hear the water droplet
Too many miles in between the chaos
You never told me how you heard it
The sound so distant I can’t put my finger on it

The scent of yesterday high up in the air
Dreams of tomorrow should anyone care

A sound in the distance
This faraway noise
Too distant to tell
The girls and the boys

I can hear the faded voices
Too many trials and forgotten choices
The waves of plenty are lost with the few
The sound so distant and out of view

The scent of yesterday high up in the air
Dreams of tomorrow should anyone care

A sound in the distance
This faraway noise
Way too far to tell
The sound of a distant bell

©5/14/2021 Bruce Clifford

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

You're A Hero


By Bud Lemire

You're a hero, every day you must fight
When darkness comes, you must reach for the light
With odds against you, you cling to your life
Even after surgeries, sliced everywhere with a knife

Always alert, not a moment of peace here
The future is unknown, and there's always the fear
It's a big pill to swallow, a small camera is there
Inside your body, snapping pictures to share

You keep on wondering, what will they find
Hopefully, nothing, is what comes to your mind
“How much more of this can I take?”
“I ask for relief, in return, I just ache”

You are a warrior, out in the field
A hero, who wonders, what will it yield
“So many passed, from what I'm going through”
“Why am I still here, fighting like I do?”

There's no easy answer, to the question you ask
It's even harder, when you must complete the task
Release the tears, because you're a hero
Giving 100%, even when you feel like a zero

©May 16, 2021 Bud Lemire

                        Author Note:

There are heroes out there every day, who are
fighting off life-threatening diseases. Every
day, they have to fight pain, and tests, and
the fear that they could pass at any time.
These people, who are weak from all their
tests they have to go through. Yet, still have
a smile to share with us. They still have a
laugh to laugh with us. Despite all they've
been through. These people are the true

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

To My Daughter


By Randy Jackson

It’s not that no one else can do..
The things that I have done with you.
It’s just that I will wonder who..
I wonder who will brush your hair..
peek through the door
And watch you sleeping there.
I wonder whose dreams you’ll share.
I wonder who..
And if those dreams should fall apart????.
I wonder who will mend your heart..?
And if he would with love and care..
the way I would.. if I were there.
I wonder who ?
And who will write the words to you..
to lay next to your bed..
To tell you.. you must never quit..
But carry on instead..
It’s not so very hard to do...
But still.. I have to wonder who..
And who will find that sacred place..
To lay your dogs to rest ?
To share with you the moment..
And hold you to his chest ..
It’s not an easy thing to do..
But still.. I have to wonder who..
And when you’ve finally run your race..
And among the victors, you take your place..
When the cheers are all subdued..
And you’re left alone with only you..
Inside your heart..
I wonder Who ??????

©2021 Randy Jackson

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

On Turning 80


 By John I. Blair

I think 80 is the age
I can no longer make believe
That I’m not old.

Every time I stand is an adventure;
Walking through the house
I get to where I’ve gone and wonder why I went.

The clothing crammed into my closets
Will always stay in style
And never need a mend or patch.

My list of friends grows shorter,
By the month sometimes,
And easy to remember.

On the other hand
It’s no longer hard to keep in mind
That every day’s a gift,

Everyone a priceless treasure
To be cherished,
To be loved.

©2021 John I. Blair, 5/17/2021

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



By Walt Perryman 


My wife works but I do not because, I am retired.
I’ve been with her 6 years and haven’t been fired.

Houdini could not do what I do if he were alive.
I can put 6 socks in the washer and take out five.

This housework stuff is hard, but it is never dull,
By the time I wash the clothes the hampers back full.

I make up the bed and I try to make it look neat,
But my problem is trying to fold up a fitted sheet.

I always try to do my share of housework each day,
I do it for 15 minutes before she pulls in the driveway.

I don’t know how this house gets dirty, maybe a ghost?
I will probably get fired when my wife reads this post.

©May 2021 Walt Perryman

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

I Caught Myself

By Bruce Clifford

I caught myself wandering in a daydream
I caught myself in the middle of my dream
I caught myself in the realm of wishing thinking
I caught myself in a panic of extremes

I caught myself in some silent recognition
I caught myself with the sentimental plight
I caught myself in the heart of deep transition
I caught myself on a supersonic flight

Count to seven
Stay the course
Read the message
Whatever for

I caught myself in the middle of a daydream
I caught myself on the wire and the tide
I caught myself on the edge of fear and linking
I caught myself in the phase of empty pride

I caught myself in the darkness of the shadows
I caught myself when the moment did arrive
I caught myself when the thoughts of all of this narrows
I caught myself when this message did arrive

Count to seven
Stay the course
Read the message
Whatever for

I caught myself
I caught myself
Whatever else
I caught myself

©5/18/2021 Bruce Clifford

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

Fear Of Things To Come


By Bud Lemire

The fear has taken over me
Visions come and won't let me be
It's something I must do, I know
Yet this unleashed fear, won't let me go

The Nightmares come, so vivid and strong
Hurting my soul, like a Heavy Metal song
I know it's something, that must be done
It hurts like hell, and isn't fun

I never asked for this, and yet I must
In my Spiritual Family, and In God I trust
To help me get through all this pain
So that inside, I won't go insane

I scream in anger, and then I cry
I ask God, if there's a reason why
I know it's the only way
Time is closer to that day

If I could only disappear
Get rid of all this fear
I know it's something I can't do
I only ask for help to get me through

©April 26, 2021 Bud Lemire

                         Author Note:

When the fear is so bad, that you can't
sleep because of Nightmares, and in the
daytime, the flashbacks haunt you. When
you relive every terrible moment in your life.
When some procedure is so feared, that you
can't sleep at all. People, it may seem unreal,
but it's happening to many who have been
through Covid. What they need is people to
understand. To know, that they did not ask
for this, it happened, and the vice is very
tightly wound around them. They can't
break loose. They cry for help!

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


Rambling on This Fine Morning


By Walt Perryman 


I remember when I was a baby my world was small.
And, my room seemed big, until I learned to crawl.

Later the backyard was my world and it was fun.
But it seemed smaller after I learned how to run.

Later my little hometown seemed like a big city,
But when I got my first car it became itsy bity.

Then I traveled the world and this sounds insane,
But, the earth does not seem so big on a jet plane.

Now, I am getting old but it’s been one heck of a ride,
Now, I’m in a room and it’s a long way to the other side.

Doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re living today,
It’s not how far, but how you live it along the way.

Today, may you travel the road of life with no sorrow,
And have good memories of today, come tomorrow.

©May 2021 Walt Perryman

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

Sugar Ants

By John I. Blair

At first glance I can barely spot them,
Tiny dots with six legs each,
Too small for “swarm” to sound appropriate.

Twice a year, spring and fall,
They hunt for food I cannot see
And find it near my kitchen sink.

Because I care, I feel a twinge of guilt
When I mash them with my fingers;
So instead I spray them with some Windex,

Thinking to my rueful self
It is a clean death for these ants
And worthy of our microscopic war.

©2021 John I. Blair, 5/17/2021

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

Like Every Other Day

By Bruce Clifford

Like Groundhog Day
Any amusing way
Through thick and thin
You smile and grin
Like every other day

Like holiday parades
You have the sense to say
Get that off of my mind
You’re not very kind
Like every other day

It’s always the same
Every other day
There’s nobody to blame
Every word that you say
Every holiday parade
Like every other day

Like emotional scars
We’ve taken it too far
Through the highs and lows
The hurt always shows
Another moment another way
Like every other day

©5/1/2021 Bruce Clifford

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

I Don't Use Make Up

By Bud Lemire

I don't use make up, I use compassion
I try to stick with, the latest fashion
I try to understand, what others are going through
I'm sure you'd want the same, if it happened to you

Understanding, is needed here
Until it is, it'll be unclear
It's like battling an invisible enemy
A force, that nobody else can see

Just because, we can not see
It is still there, causing misery
You can “suck it up,” and try to be tough
You can ignore it, but enough is enough

Acting tough, is being untrue
I know, that isn't really you
Using compassion, shows that you care
That your mind is working, and is well aware

Your friend, is going through a hard time
Being an ear of comfort, wouldn't be a crime
I don't use make up, I use compassion
I try to stick with, the latest fashion

©April 20, 2021 Bud Lemire

                        Author Note:

When you truly care about someone, you will
make an effort to understand what they are
going through. Try seeing it from where they
are at. You may handle things differently, but
you aren't in their shoes. You can easily say,
“If I was them I would do this, or be like this.”
But, you haven't been where they are, and you
are not them. Everyone handles things a bit
differently than the other. Some are more sensitive
than others. Use some compassion. It's the wise
thing to do.

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


Refer a friend to this Poem


Emptiness And Entitlement (I want to be treated in a special way.)

Emptiness And Entitlement
(I want to be treated in a special way.)

By Barbara Irvin

I wish I could find the words to say
How much I don't like being ignored every day.

What do you do when you feel so alone?
Your heart has no place to call home.

I just want to be respected like you.
That is what everyone is entitled to.

©May 2021 Barbara Irvin

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