Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

December 2021

“I’ve come to sing you a song called December.”
Ryan Murphy, Down with the Ship

How does December affect you and your life personally? Is it merely an ending of a time period known as a Year that may or may not have made precious memories to warm you during the month and throughout your future? Is it a grieving period that tells you daily that the end is drawing closer, be it of the year itself or a period of life when time shouted out daily to come enjoy? Is it the warmth of crackling fires and cosy afghans tucked around to hold close those moments and scenes of other Decembers, other loved ones, other songs of the season? Is it a bustling, trim the tree, decorate the home from threshold to the furthest corner by the back door time? Is it shopping desperatly, rechecking your lists of names, gifts, food for the night before and the day of your cherished traditional celebrations? Is it a time of sharing your bounty, be it material blessings or the blessing of kindness and caring, of laughter and hope, of music? Is it a shake off the past and seek new horizons to dispel any familiarity stage you find yourself within?

Whatever your answer to any of those scenarios, this issue could certainly chime with a few of them as it flows from joyful reminiscing to exhortation for wariness, to exuberant feelings, to fond recollections of peaceful silence. Let's find new opportunities for celebrations together!

Poems are the thoughts that sing inside until they demand being versed upon the page. Our poetic authors tap into their own and others feelings, saying aloud what we may have wished for words to express. Walt Perryman, who often does Cowboy poetry sessions in Luckenbach has a wonderful poem we are repeating for this December, "A West Texas Tumbleweed Christmas." He also shares "Happiness More or Less, " "On My Mind," and "Recipe for Sleep" this month. Bud Lemire's romantic "In Her Eyes," and the two more serious "Vacine." and "On The Front Lines" are a contrast. Bruce Clifford"s poems are usually composed as song lyrics and his for December are "Cause for Alarm," "Highlight Reel," and "Not Knowing What to Say."

Your editor includes her usual Christmastime poems "Tiny Miracle," along with "Make Mary Merry," and "The Season." Also included is a new poem "Squirrels," an observation that has nothing to do with holidays..

John I. Blair, still recovering from recent surgery, and although not up to doing his column, nor feeling poetic, sent along one of his articles we had not seen, "Music and The Blairs." Linda Tate 's article is "ESSAY: Amazing Life." Linda recently shared another article with us.

Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" asks the question "Are You A Believer or Unbeliever," citing a personal event. "Cooking with Rod" by Roderick Cohenour offers a succulent solution to preparing that dinner for the holiday that everyone will remember with his Christmas Posole.

Melinda Cohenour who does "Armchair Genealogy" embarks upon the project of helping to clarify comprehension of the history of DNA and its applicaton in numerous fields. December presents the first segment of this series.

Dayvid Bruce Clarkson, whose prose is as melodic as poetry, sends word pictures in his writing, and we are delighted to show some recent "Reflections of the Day." Mattie Lennon in his "Irish Eyes" does three gift suggestions for favored friends, and includes a few topics that started him musing on them. Marilyn Carnell whose column "Sifoddling Along" often causes us to reflect on our own family occasions, tells how an article warning against too many toys for children triggered her own "Toyland" memory of gifts.

Thomas O'Neill, our Pennsylvania native now teaching in China, reveals current status of Christmastime there, and his own resulting activities with pictures in his column "Introspective" and includes a link to YouTube as an example. "Woo Woo" the column by Pauline Evanosky travels further than that, reaching into the other side thru channeling, and tells how it has changed her personal concept of Heaven.

Mike Craner and wife Susie, who recently celebrated another Anniversary, are the backbone of this eZine which was co-founded by him and your editor. Mike keeps this informational and entertaining publication viable despite the many business, family, and personal demands in his and Susie's lives. I admire and bless them every day. Thanks, Mike, for everything,!

Merry Christmas!

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

Armchair Genealogy

By Melinda Cohenour

DNA: Complex. Tantalizing.
And Nothing Short of Miraculous


The history of mankind's search for its origin began thousands of years ago. It was not until recent times, however, that the basic mechanism by which humans are designed and modified was discovered. This incredible finding had its roots in controversy. There is a vast amount of information to be absorbed concerning the science surrounding DNA. Thus, your author proposes to present selected sources to clarify our basic comprehension of this complex subject over the next several columns.

The first source which captured my attention was a timeline of the history of DNA, which has been paraphrased from this article found online:

* Darwin: 1859, The Origin of the Species.

In 1831, Charles Darwin joined an expedition for scientific exploration. It concerned the study of fossils and a scintillating theory that the fossils held the secret of one biologic entity's transformation through successive basic evolution. Darwin began his in depth research upon his return to his own laboratory. After 20 years plus of study, testing, and exhaustive documentation of results, in 1859 Darwin published a groundbreaking scientific paper: the Origin of the Species.

This paper was deemed heretical in that common belief at that time was that God created everything in the universe in a 7-Day span of time. This belief discounted the hypothesis now held by most scientific and biblical scholars that evolution and creation are not in direct conflict. Most scientists who embrace biblical teaching believe the explanation set forth centuries ago was presented in a simplistic way that permitted common folk of that time to accept a basic premise of their origin.

Darwin's theory, in a nutshell, was that each species evolved through natural selection. That is, that the creature best adapted to survive in its habitation developed a mutation to be passed on to its descendants, thus permanently imprinting its core being with the essential changes necessary to survival of the overall species.

* Mendel: 1866, the Basic Principles of Genetics.

The next major advancement in the study of genetics came through the experiments of an Augustinian Monk, Gregor Mendel. He performed exhaustive studies between 1856 and 1863 on pea plants. He was attempting to "crossbreed true lines in specific combinations".

Through his studies, Mendel defined the terms of dominant and recessive traits in genetic transformation.

"In his 1866 published paper, Mendel described the action of 'invisible' factors in providing for visible traits in predictable ways. We now know that the 'invisible' traits he had identified were genes."

* Miescher: 1869, Identifies "nuclein".

A groundbreaking discovery went virtually unnoticed for more than 50 years. Friedrich Miescher, a Swiss physiological chemist desired to isolate and characterize the protein components of white blood cells.

"However, during the process, he came across a substance that had unusual chemical properties unlike the proteins he was searching for, with very high phosphorus content and a resistance to protein digestion."

His discovery was, in fact, the substance known today as DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid.

* The Eugenics Movement: 1900's.

Around 1883, the term "eugenics" came into play. It was the predecessor of the attempt to control breeding of human beings based upon the adherents of the movement to use the science of heredity to identify "Superior" traits by race. This movement spurred on racist beliefs that affected various countries and would, ultimately, lead to horrific research by Nazi scientists.

Thankfully, with increased understanding of the horrors of institutionalized eugenics by Nazi Germany, the Eugenics movement was extinguished.

* Mendel's Theories Rediscovered: 1900's.

"In 1900, 16 years after his death, Gregor Mendel's pea plant research finally made its way into the wider scientific community."

The rediscovery of Mendel's pea plant traits as having recessive and dominant aspects that were predictable in future generations, generated studies by Hugo DeVries, a Dutch botanist and geneticist; by Carl Erich Correns, German botanist and geneticist; and Eric Tschermak von Seysenegg, an Austrian botanist. Using his experiments as their basis, each reported hybridization experiment results similar to his findings.

"In Britain, biologist William Bateson became a leading champion of Mendel's theories and gathered around an enthusiastic group of followers. Known as 'Mendelians', the supporters initially clashed with Darwinians (supporters of Charles Darwin theories.) At the time, evolution was believed to be based on the selection of small, blending variations whereas Mendel's variations clearly did not blend.
It took three decades for Mendelian theory to be sufficiently understood and to find its place within evolutionary theory."

* Garrod: 1902, Mendel's theories associated with a human disease.

Sir Archibald Edward Garrod, a physician who studied medicine at Oxford, set out to research the human disorder Alcaptonuria. Dr Garrod collected extensive family history from his patients. He discussed his findings with William Bateson, the prominent proponent of Mendel's theories.

Garrod published The Incidence of Alcaptonuria: A Study in Chemical Individuality in 1902.

"This was the first published account of recessive inheritance in humans."
"It was also the first time that a genetic disorder had been attributed to 'inborn errors of metabolism', which referred to his belief that certain diseases were the result of errors or missing steps in the body's chemical pathways. These discoveries were some of the first milestones in scientists developing an understanding of the molecular basis of inheritance."

* Avery: 1944, identifies DNA as the 'transforming principle'.

"By the 1940s, scientists' understanding of the principles of inheritance had moved on considerably - genes were known to be the discrete units of heredity, as well as generating the enzymes which controlled metabolic functions. However, it wasn't until 1944 that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was identified as the transforming principle."

Avery's studies through many years brought about his discovery that mixing a harmless form of live pneumococcus with an inert but lethal form transformed the harmless bacteria into a deadly organism.

Avery joined forces with Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty. The trio began to purify 20 gallons of collected bacteria. The remaining substance was deemed to be neither protein nor carbohydrate, but a nucleic acid ultimately identified as DNA

"In 1944, after much deliberation, Avery and his colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, in which they outlined the nature of DNA as the 'transforming principle'. Although this paper was not widely read by geneticists at the time, it did inspire further research, paving the way for one of the biggest discoveries of the 20th century."

* Chargaff: 1950, discovers DNA composition is species specific.

Erwin Chargaff, a scientist, was deeply impacted by Oswald Avery's scientific paper. It changed the course of his scientific focus and led to some of the most significant findings regarding DNA.

"Chargaff was determined to begin work on the chemistry of nucleic acids. His first move was to devise a method of analyzing the nitrogenous components and sugars of DNA from different species."

Fellow scientists, even the elite, were largely ignorant about nucleic acids. Chargaff's first two papers submitted for publication to the Journal of Biological Chemistry met resistance. His pursuit of truth resulted in improved research methods and an ability to rapidly analyze DNA from a wide range of species.

In 1950, Chargaff summarized his "two major findings regarding the chemistry of nucleic acids: first, that in any double-stranded DNA, the number of guanine units is equal to the number of cytosine units and the number of adenine units is equal to the number of thymine units, and second, that the composition of DNA varies between species. These discoveries are now known as Chargaff's Rules."

* Franklin: 1952, Photographs crystallized DNA fibres.

"Rosalind Franklin was born in London in 1920 and conducted a large portion of the research which eventually led to the understanding of the structure of DNA - a major achievement at a time when only men were allowed in some universities' dining rooms.
"After achieving a doctorate in physical chemistry from Cambridge University in 1945, she spent 3 years at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de L'Etat in Paris, learning the X-ray diffraction techniques that would make her name. Then, in 1951, she returned to London to work as a research associate in John Randall's laboratory at King's college.
"Franklin's role was to set up and improve the X-ray crystallography unit at King's college. She worked with the scientist Maurice Wilkins, and a student Raymond Gosling, and was able to produce two sets of high-resolution photographs of DNA fibers. Using the photographs, she calculated the dimensions of the strands and also deduced that the phosphates were on the outside of what was probably a helical structure.
"Franklin's photographs were described as, 'the most beautiful x-ray photographs of any substance ever taken' by J. D. Bernal, and between 1951 and 1953 her research came close to discovering the structure of DNA. Unfortunately, she was ultimately beaten to the Post by Thomas Watson and Francis Crick.
"... PhD student Raymond Gosling then used the samples
(given Maurice Wilkins by Swiss biochemist Rudolf Signer) to produce the first crystals of DNA and with Rosalind Franklin, use them for the next generation of x-ray images.""

* Watson and Crick: 1953, discover the double helix structure of DNA.

James Watson met Francis Crick in 1951 when he visited Cambridge University. Their mutual interests inspired Watson to stay at Cambridge in order to study the structure of DNA at Cavendish Laboratory.

"Using available x-ray data and model building, they were able to solve the puzzle that had baffled scientists for decades. They published the now famous paper in Nature in April 1953 and in 1962 they were awarded the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine along with Maurice Wilkins.
"Despite the fact that her photographs had been critical to Watson and Crick's solution, Rosalind Franklin was not honoured, as only three scientists could share the prize. She died in 1958, after a short battle with cancer."

* Gannow: 1953, the "RNA Tie Club".

In the frenzy among scientists to decipher the genetic code following Watson and Crick's discovery, George Gannow, a theoretical physicist and astronomer created the RNA Tie Club. It was an exclusive group selected for their interest in "how nucleotide bases were transformed into proteins by the body cells." Gannow then "handpicked 20 members, one for each amino acid - and they each wore a tie carrying the symbol of their allocated Amino acid. Ironically, the man who was to discover the genetic code, Marshall Nirenberg was not a member."

* Downs Syndrome: 1959, an additional copy of chromosome 21 linked to Downs Syndrome.

The birth of cytogenetics, the study of chromosomes, occurred when an additional copy of chromosome 21 was linked to Downs Syndrome.

This was especially significant in the study of DNA overall as a result of the introduction in the late 1960s and early 1970s of stains such as Giemsa "which bind to chromosomes in a non-uniform fashion, creating bands of light and dark areas. The invention transformed the discipline, making it possible to identify individual chromosomes, as well as sections within chromosomes, and formed the basis of early clinical genetic diagnosis."

* Nirenberg: 1965, first person to sequence the basis in each codon.

In 1957, Nirenberg decided to focus his research on nucleic acids and protein synthesis while at the National Institute of Health.

Nirenberg and his post doctoral fellow, Heinrich Matthaei, spent several years attempting to show RNA can trigger protein synthesis. Their breakthrough experiment came in 1961 which showed that a "chain of the repeating bases uracil forced a protein chain made of one repeating amino acid, phenylalanine."

Their research on the chromosome coding project was but one such effort. Nobel laureate Severo Ochoa was also working on the coding problem. The competition was intense and inspired Nirenberg's colleagues to put their work on hold to help him in his quest.

"Finally, in 1965, Nirenberg became the first person to sequence the code. In 1968, his efforts were rewarded when he, Robert W Holley and Har Gobind Khorana were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize."

* Sanger: 1977, develops rapid DNA sequencing techniques.

Great strides had been made by the early 1970s by molecular biologists. They lacked the ability, however, to read the precise nucleotide sequence of DNA.

"In 1943, Cambridge graduate Frederick Sanger started working for A. C. Chibnall, identifying the free Amino groups and insulin. Through this work he became the first person to order the amino acids and obtain a protein sequence, for which he later won a Nobel prize. He deduced that if proteins were ordered molecules, then the DNA that makes them must have an order as well.
"In 1962, Sanger... Began working on sequencing RNA, as it was smaller, but these techniques were soon applicable to DNA and eventually became the dideoxy method used in sequencing reactions today.
"For his breakthrough in rapid sequencing techniques, Sanger earned a second Nobel prize for chemistry in 1980, that he shared with Walter Gilbert and Paul Berg."

* Huntington's Disease: 1983, first mapped genetic disease.

A rare neurodegenerative disease. Late onset, 30 to 45 typically. Marked by loss of motor control, psychiatric symptoms, dementia, altered personality, and declining cognitive function. Because the disease is adult onset, many people have passed the mutant Gene to the next generation long before diagnosis.

"In 1983, a genetic marker link to HD was found on chromosome 4 making it the first genetic disease to be mapped using DNA polymorphisms. However, the gene was not finally isolated until 1993"

* Breast and Ovarian Cancer: 1990, 1st Gene associated with increased susceptibility to familial breast and ovarian cancer is identified.

Through extensive research with families with predominant histories of hereditary breast ovarian cancer syndrome, scientists were able to link to a gene on chromosome 17. The first Gene so identified was marked BRCA1. It soon became clear not all breast cancer families were linked to that Gene. Further research identified a second Gene on chromosome 13 now marked BRCA2. "It is important to note that although everyone has two copies of both BRCA1 and BRCA2 (tumor suppressor genes), having one altered copy of either Gene can lead to an accumulation of mutations which can lead to tumor formation."

* THE HUMAN GENOME PROJECT: 1990, a program to map the human genome.

The Human Genome Project began and was funded by the US Department of Energy and the National Institute of Health. It was recommended in 1988, but officially started in 1990. Multiple purposes existed for the initiation of this project, not only the advancement of medicine, but for other purposes such as the detection of mutations that nuclear radiation might cause.

"The project's goals included: mapping the human genome and determining all 3.2 billion letters in it, mapping and sequencing the genomes of other organisms, if it would be useful to the study of biology, developing technology for the purpose of analyzing DNA and studying the social, ethical and legal implications of genome research."

* Haemophilus Influenza: 1995, first bacterium genome sequenced.

This milestone was achieved as a method of demonstrating the power and effectiveness of "shotgun" sequencing. "Haemophilus influenza is a bacterium that can cause meningitis and ear and respiratory infections in children."

After only a year of intense work by J. Craig Venter and his colleagues, their remarkable achievement proved the effectiveness of shotgun sequencing.

* Bermuda Principles: 1996, principles established among leaders of the Human Genome project in Bermuda.

Designed to ensure that 'sequence information led as rapidly as possible to advances in healthcare and research', leaders of the Human Genome project agreed genome sequencing data should be made freely available in the public domain within 24 hours of generation. Further agreed ". . .large scale sequencing centers would inform the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) of any intention to sequence particular regions of the genome. HUGO will then place information on their website and direct visitors to the specific centers for more detailed information regarding the current status of sequencing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ `

Over the next few months, our columns will focus on DNA and how it affects our family research..  Next month, we will continue with the history of DNA timeline.  It will also include a glossary of terms, words, and phrases essential to communicating clearly about DNA.

Next we will explore the Human Genome project in greater depth. Finally, our intention is to illustrate how these incredible advances in DNA permit us to utilize this vast knowledge to identify the sources of our very own inherited genetic makeup.

All this magnificent knowledge at our fingertips through "Armchair Genealogy."

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

Cooking with Rod

By Rod Cohenour

Christmas Posole

In Albuquerque where I grew up, the holiday season was magic! Great food, marvelous parties, incredible home decorations featuring traditional luminarias, colorful wreathes, beautiful dried chile ristras, and fabulous music.

This is my favorite time of the year. New Mexico is aptly titled the Land of Enchantment and this time of year is proof positive that love, family, good food, and merriment are cure-alls for any blues or fears that have plagued in the past. Snow on the pines, air scented with the distinct aroma of pinon logs in an adobe oven (classically called the “horno”), the forest green of the pines beautifully contrasted with the rich red of the chile ristra that hangs from the exposed vigas of the classic New Mexican casa. “Bien venido!” (Welcome!) “Mi casa es su casa!” (My home is your home) is the traditional message to family and friends and especially true at this time of year.

Tradition has it that if you eat your Christmas Posole before New Years Eve you will have a blessed and prosperous New Year. For me, I was simply content with just eating this incredible meal. I am sharing this recipe with you and wishing each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Or, perhaps I should say, “Feliz Navidad y Prospero Nuevo Ano!”


  • 2 lbs boneless pork loin or shoulder, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2-4 Tbsp vegetable oil (no olive oil for this recipe)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chile powder
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or 32 oz carton)
  • 2 cans (29 oz) cooked hominy corn, drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 batch Salsa Roja (recipe below)

Toppings and Sides:

  • Finely chopped cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Thin red onion slices
  • Avocado slices
  • Lime wedges
  • Fried tortilla strips or tostadas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Shredded cheddar or Mexican Mix cheese (Colby Jack, Monterey and Cheddar blend)
  • 2 dozen flour tortillas, warm
  • Sweet creamery butter

Season pork cubes with cumin and chile powder. Heat vegetable or canola oil over medium-high heat. (NOTE: I do not like to use olive oil for a Mexican soup because it imparts the wrong flavor.) Add seasoned pork and cook until browned on all sides, working in batches if needed to keep the pot from being too crowded. Keep heat on medium to prevent scorching but allow proper carmelization to begin. Watch carefully and turn often. Make sure all surfaces are browned.

Stir in water and chicken broth, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that might be clinging to the bottom of the pot. Add hominy corn and bay leaves.

Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, until pork is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Just before serving, stir in salsa Roja and simmer for 10-15 minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Once the Posole is ready, set out an array of small dishes with various toppings in the middle of the table. Serve the Posole piping hot in large bowls, and let everyone customize their bowls as they please.

Tradition calls for this to be served with warm flour tortillas and plenty of butter.

Salsa Roja

  • 1 (one) 14 oz. container frozen Bueno red chile concentrate
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (Mexican, if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime (or 1 Tbsp lime concentrate)

Set aside frozen Bueno concentrate and permit to begin defrosting. Heat the oil in a small skillet set over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until onion is lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes. Add oregano and cumin, and continue cooking until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the Bueno concentrate and onion mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Process until you have a smooth puree, adding lime juice as needed to create a smooth consistency.

Editor's Note: Encore presentation from December 2015.

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

Sifoddling Along


By Marilyn Carnell


Recently I read an article about having too many toys being bad for children. It cited a study conducted at the University of Toledo (Ohio) that supported this theory. This was not a problem in my childhood. An excess of toys was hardly possible in the stark years of World War II. So, one could say I did not suffer from excess.

As I recall, I had three toys – a panda bear, a “soldier” doll and a baby doll. I treasured all of them and the panda has now served three generations and lives in my son’s attic. There were books, of course. Nothing like the plethora available today. My family had the odd habit of reading at the table. It was my father’s choice and the rest of us followed along. My sister remembers that as a baby in a highchair, I insisted on having a comic book to “read” as well.

When I was six, I acquired another doll. Mrs. Brown, the janitor’s wife made a flour sack doll for every little girl in first grade (I think there were about 8 of us). I treasured mine and nearly loved her to death (photo). The painting shows my naked doll and the one my friend Jane acquired the next year. Jane’s was pristine. Mom bought it when Jane had a sale of belongings before she and her family moved to Kansas City. The reason Jane’s was so well preserved was that she had many toys as she was an only child and grandchild in her family. Her sensible parents had a solution for that. Half of the toys went “on vacation” in the attic until July when a second Christmas was observed. Jane was very generous to share her toys with me and freeing the toys from exile was a great day.

When I was a little older, I wanted a bicycle. I dreamed of having one like the new blue Schwinn like Jane’s. That was not to be. My parents could afford only a used boy’s bike that had been carelessly repainted. I’m sure I showed my disappointment but came to love that bike. I must have ridden it a million miles.

I also got a volleyball one year. Hours were spent serving it to the garage roof and “playing” the ball that rolled back to me. It is easy to see that I got plenty of outdoor exercise as a child.

Not having a number of toys left a lot of time for other activities. We waded in icy cold Testerman Branch, collecting interesting rocks and attempting to build dams so it would be deep enough for swimming. We also clambered up the tall hill in front of our house and climbed the tallest tree (an old Oak) and surveyed our kingdom. We imagined images from the clouds that drifted by and dreamed of things we hoped to do.

At school, recess was a time of playing “Red Rover” to blow off steam, but a favorite activity was to create “houses” with small pebbles at the foot of a nearby tree. The earth was bare from our constant presence, so we arranged the rocks to outline rooms and used acorn cap “dishes” for tea parties.

Without a number of material toys, I had a wonderful childhood. After thinking about it a while, I realize I was blessed to have the opportunities and freedom a child of the mid-Twentieth Century had. We were fearless and carefree in a way that is not possible in the scary world we live in today.

Merry Christmas.

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


Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

Recommended Festive Reading

This Christmas, whatever age you are, you can join famous chef Neven Maguire in the kitchen. Once again the great man has come to the rescue of those of us who don’t want to do anything more adventurous than peeling the spuds. In his latest book Learn to Cook with Neven, he takes us by the hand and leads us through an incredible eighty recipes. Two hundred and thirty-one pages of advice from a man who started cooking aged twelve with his mother in Blacklion. He doesn’t brow-beat the reader. Neither does he keep his hard-won knowledge to himself. The book is littered with such phrases as “ . . . the one that I always use is . . . “ Or in a recipe from his memory,” . . . long before I had heard of mozzerrale.”

In 1992, having studied catering in Fermanagh College, Enniskillen, he won the prestigious Student of the Year Award. Still in his 20s, he was named Eurotoques ‘Young Chef of the Year 1999’, won numerous ‘Chef of the Year Awards’, and represented Ireland in the ‘Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Competition’ in Lyon, France. Later that same year, he was presented with a special Gold Medal Award by Charles, Prince of Wales, in London’s House of Commons for high achievement in his career. He has been winning awards ever since and was most recently inducted into the prestigious Food & Wine Magazine Awards 2015 ‘Hall of Fame’ for his years of commitment and dedication to the Irish food industry. Neven has been responsible for raising awareness around Ireland’s high-quality food producers, both nationally and internationally. He was presented with Ireland’s ‘Producer Champion Award’ at the Blas na hEireann national food awards. And now he shares his secrets between the covers of this beautiful hardback book. It is published by Gill Books.

Neven Maguire's Book

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Hannah Arendt, born on 14th October 1906, in Linden, a district of Hanover, and died on 4th December 1975, was a Holocaust survivor, political philosopher, and author. Recognised as one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century, her contributions influence political theorists to this day.

Hannah Arendt 9781789143799

Her family were Jewish and when she was three, her family moved to Königsberg, the capital of East Prussia, The fact that she was raised in a politically progressive, family paved the way for the rest of her life. After completing her secondary education in Berlin, she studied at the University of Marburg under Martin Heidegger. She obtained her doctorate in philosophy writing on Love and Saint Augustine at the University of Heidelberg in 1929 under the direction of the existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers. Her works are best known for those dealing with the nature of power and evil, as well as politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. Author Rose Hill has fitted much lesser-known details of the great thinker into the 232 pages of her book, Hannah Arendt.

Author Samantha Rose Hill

It is a very informative piece of work. Details at;

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“This blog has been only a side-line to my main project: writing a novel of the main events in the life of Francis O’Neill. This has been a major undertaking for the last number of years, involving travel for research and lots of writing and rewriting.” The words of author Ronan O Driscoll on his labour of love researching and writing his novel Chief O’ Neill.

“I started by wanting to tell the story of the man behind the famous music collections: the adventures and struggles he experienced in a full and fascinating life. Along the way, I have learned many things myself, especially about how difficult and rewarding writing a book can be.”

Francis O’Neill, who was born in Tralibane (also called Trawlebane), near Bantry, County Cork, is still remembered for his canonical 1001 Gems: The Dance Music of Ireland. Much of the music was collected after he settled in Chicago as a policeman, eventually becoming chief of police. He wrote about how he would walk about as a cop, hearing a snippet of a tune from one of the many immigrants in the city and scramble to write it down. As he grew in rank, he wasn’t above giving the occasional Irish musician a job on the force to help them. Has his story ever been told in such a colourful manner?

Chief O’Neill is available from a number of fine book shops in Ireland, as well as online from Somerville Press. It is available in the UK from Waterstones and

Chief O'Neill

In North America, it is available from and

Any one or all three of the above will make a wonderful Christmas present for family and friends.

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“What is new can’t be true.” (Old proverb.)

Do we need new words?

We are now given a list of words that were added to the popular lexicon in 2021. It happens at the close of each departing year. Many readers will remember when Watergate was introduced to the English language worldwide in 1972. We had a few “gates” here in recent years. We had Golfgate last year. The EU lost Big Phil because of that. Come to think of it didn’t we have our own Watergate here when he was a Minister; when the water meter was a secret weapon.

And Swinggate. Former Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey, an alleged responsible adult, was messing on a swing, suffered some sort of injury took a personal injuries case against the Dean Hotel on Harcourt Street which she later withdrew. She later said that the “swing-gate” “destroyed” her and that she became fearful of doing her weekly shop or bringing her children to the playground.

Speaking of swingers, in Bantry Garda station we had Gate Gate. They lost a gate. How do you lose a gate? I wonder what Lady Bracknell would make of that. Of course “Merrion Gate Gate” is still alive and well. Achone, achone , Zapone, Zapone. And recently I heard Trinity Graduate Joe Duffy talking about Trinity Gate Gate. I nearly forgot. Ten years after Watergate we had GUBU here. “Grotesque, Unbelievable bizarre and unprecedented.”

GUBU was a badly needed acronym. We have needed it every week, and sometimes every day, for the past thirty-nine years.

But why am I writing about words that were added to our language. That is not what I intended to do. Before you accuse me of using a misleading title to this piece, let me explain. I sat down here to write about words that, in my lifetime, have become obsolete or almost so. Take the word “asunder”. People don’t pull anything asunder anymore. They dismantle it or pull it apart. Or those who want to live in the past and the present might “sunder” it.

And the word arris. It’s a noun spelled A-r-r-i-s. Nowadays even some people in the construction industry don’t know what it means. (Yes, erudite reader I know that you know.) It is, “ A sharp edge at the meeting of two surfaces at an angle with one another.” That is an arris. Many years ago my father was in the hospital and he wasn’t impressed by the lack of a keen edge on the razor used to shave him. He later commented, “I might as well have been shaved with the arris of a brick.”

Then there are words that are almost gone. How often do you hear the word “fortnight” used recently? You’ll hear “I’m going to the Bahamas for two weeks” or “The son will be out of jail in two weeks.” But “fortnight” is almost gone. The word “twice” (like Exits) appears to be on the way out. In the best-regulated media circles, you will hear “Two times”

The door between our hall and kitchen, when subjected to a not so gentle breeze tends to slam shut. We have young grandchildren and the wind-assisted closing of this door could result in serious damage to junior digits. I went to Woodies to buy a hasp. Since I have an aversion to shopping I took my usual action to accelerate the exercise. I asked a very pleasant member of staff where I would find a hasp. When I described it to him he apologized and informed me that they didn’t stock such an item. A quick perusal of the aisles and I spotted a number of brass hasps. I grabbed one and as I headed for the Checkout I showed it to the young man that I had spoken to earlier. “Oh,” he said “that’s a cabin hook.” Imagine, if you can, me walking into Hennessy’s hardware in Blessington in the middle of the last century and asking for a cabin hook. A CABIN HOOK!

Back to the title “Our is dying by the hour.” You will find that most married or co-habiting people will say things like “ our house, our dog our mortgage” and such like. Yet, it appears that there is a growing minority of partners in such relationships who drop the adjective “our” completely. I know one married couple and with one of the partners everything “my this and my that.” I only heard this person use the word “our” once. The occasion was a reference to “our DVD player.” Don’t ask me why.

It seems the couple was in bed one night and there was noise downstairs. The person to whom I have been referring nudged their partner with the instruction, “Go downstairs. I think we have a burglar.” Only to be told, “Go down yourself. Seemingly there’s nothing belonging to me down there.”

* * * * *

I’m sharing an audio clip with you. It’s my memory of Christmas Morning sixty nine years ago. Christmas Morning nineteen fifty two. Wav.wav


See you next year.

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By Pauline Evanosky

The Universe is a Safe Place

An interesting side effect of being in the WooWoo part of life is that my experiences with Spirit have drawn me closer to my idea of God. In fact, my idea of God shifted a lot since I became a channel.

In the days pre WooWoo I would pray, but hardly ever had a feeling that my voice was reaching God’s ear. I mean, there are so many of us on Earth and likely beyond, why would he even notice? But people continued to say to me that I could pray and so I wavered back and forth between wondering if anybody called God heard me or not.

So, then I met my guide, Seth. That was in 1993. That first year of channeling for anybody is fraught with ups and downs, from, “I think you are pulling my leg” to “This is really something”. When I teach people to channel (and sometimes it happens faster than you think), I tell them not to talk so much about what goes on between them and their guide during that first year. That is the year where your buttons of belief are going to be pushed so many times that you can be certain what happened at the beginning of the year will be very, very different by the time you hit the end of the first year of channeling. It lasts longer than that, but hopefully, your innate common sense will prevail before too much time has passed. Even in the WooWoo common sense is important.

I was also the world’s worst channeling student. I have always felt if I can do it pretty much anybody else can too.

But this is where my idea of God shifted a lot during that time and since then.

You ask your guide a lot of questions during that first exposure to Spirit. I remember I asked Seth if anybody ever really heard our prayers. He said, yes, our prayers were always heard by somebody.

That sort of took me back a little bit. Somebody? Isn’t that somebody supposed to be God? I did not pursue the topic, but it sat there nibbling away at me.

Then, the day I asked him who was in charge. I almost expected him to say, “God, who else?” That’s what I expected. What he said took me aback. He said, “Nobody”. Nobody? Are we doomed? What’s going on? And, then I thought about it. If he wasn’t pulling my leg and it really was nobody, didn’t that also make sense?

I had heard there are universal laws in place. Like Karma. I had come to believe in it. How else could there be justice in the world? And I believed in justice. I remember Seth saying to me there were two types of justice. There was human justice and then there was universal justice. The two were different and over time I’ve come to believe universal justice is the biggie. So, how does that work? Seth just said, and I think this was in a humorous vein, “It’s like time served.”

Well, if you apply it to all the mean people you’ve ever met you can think somewhere along the line, they will get their dose of justice. You might not see it. You might not be aware of it. But, somewhere along the line, they will get theirs. It’s like somebody who is a murderer and gets caught. They will end up in jail. But is a life sentence enough? It is our law. Or, the death sentence, I suppose if that’s how that goes.

But with universal law there will likely be further consequences to their actions. Like in the next 4 lifetimes they will get murdered. Murder once and you get murdered 4 times. I’m just pulling numbers out of the air, but you get the idea. Or perhaps the Karma would be that the person who did the murdering spends the next 15 lifetimes atoning in some way for it. And these things that are Karma also don’t have to be directly related to the original crime. Maybe somehow gardening gets in there. Maybe in a future incarnation, the person comes back as an empath and can actually feel the plants screaming as they are cut. That would be pretty horrible if you think about it. Makes you not want to be empathic, which sometimes I think I am, but I try to deaden it because it is very strange to deal with. Who wants to feel somebody else’s pain? Not me. I can sometimes feel the plants’ relief when I water them. This is why I water everybody on the patio at the same time.

Anyway, back to God. It comforts me to believe there is a God. I mean, I’ve talked to Jesus. I wish him happy birthday every year. My husband pointed out to me that our calendar is all messed up.

Back in the day somebody decided that it would be so. Arbitrary. Just picked out the days.

Here’s spirit again. Somebody just commented, “I’ll be 29 this year”.

I’ve talked to his mother. Here’s a channeling funny with Mary. I was taking a shower and stubbed my toe. “Jesus!” I shouted. Then, I sort of looked around like I was going to see her. I could feel her presence. I’d recently been talking to her about something. So, in my mind, I asked, “What did you use to say?” She said, “Zeus”. These interchanges sort of make it all ordinary and many times hilarious.

There are so many beliefs out there. Folks who never heard of Jesus, folks who don’t acknowledge him as the son of God. I grew up a Catholic and although I don’t go to church all the time now, still believe in Jesus. What I have learned though is that it is okay no matter what people believe. It just doesn’t matter, though having conversations with a presence unseen to you is also okay. Whether you believe in God and the Gang or not is fine.

I have a few times experienced a peace that comes upon me that I can only describe as having come from God. It’s like nothing matters at all except that. It brings tears to my eyes every time.The universe is a safe place.

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By Thomas F. O'Neill

I celebrated my first Christmas in China in 2009, but now, under a new regime by Xi Jinping, all public displays of the Christmas cheer are banned, making Mr. Xi the ultimate Grinch. However, that did not stop me from putting on the outfit of Father Christmas and visiting my students at school. I still can not quite figure out how they knew it was me.

I am one of those people who simply enjoy sharing and giving thanks to the special people in my life. That truly makes this time of year special for me, especially here in, China.

I do have plenty to be thankful for because throughout my life, people have gone out of their way to be kind to me and the Chinese here are no exception. In class, I once told my students that when you care for others, you are cared for, and when you love others, you are loved. This special season should reveal our love for one another through kindness because loving kindness gives this special season its true meaning.

Before Xi Jinping came into power, the cities in China would be lit up with Christmas lights and beautifully displayed. That also brought out the Christmas spirit in me. The Chinese enjoyed celebrating the season with the lighting of bonfires. Some would sing songs and dance around the large glowing fires. They would set off large firework displays as well in the night sky. It was an ancient tradition that goes back thousands of years. It was a way of coming together as a community to celebrate their abundance. To be thankful for having one another in their lives. That was one reason I found this season so special here.

Like in America, Parents and children alike once took great joy in Santa’s arrival on Christmas Day. I still enjoy seeing the young children’s faces light up at the sight of Santa, the jolly old soul.

There was a time, though, when I felt the season of giving was simply a common courtesy to receive and provide our significant others with material gifts. I now understand more clearly that this special season is for heartfelt acts of gratitude for having people in our lives. Keeping the true spirit of giving close to heart enables us to give from the heart all year-round.

The yuletide season should be when our love comes to call because that love gives this time of year its true meaning. I have found over the years that it is not the material gifts that count in life but rather the unrecognized, undetected, and unremembered acts of loving-kindness that are our greatest gifts and achievements in life.

If we want to see a world of loving and joyous people, we must be loving and joyous towards the people in our own lives. That potential is part of our humanity.

When we reach out and touch others, we touch a part of the humanity within us. When we enhance the life of another in need, we, in turn, enhance our own lives.

Remember that objects gift-wrapped in shiny paper can be forgotten over time, but kindness whispered to those in need will echo endlessly throughout the community. Those small acts of kindness resonate with the giver and the receiver because they are gifts from the heart. Such priceless gifts can never be measured monetarily, though, because how can you put a price on love?

From my heart to yours, I would like to wish all of you a very merry and joyous holiday season.

Here is my link to see the celebrating youngsters during my first year in China.

: Thomas F O'Neill a Christmas celebration in Suzhou, China.

Thomas F O'Neill's Christmas celebration at the
Suzhou International Foreign Language School in Suzhou, China.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
WeChat: Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Mobile 011 (86) 13405757231
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill


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On Trek


By Judith Kroll


Are you a believer or a non-believer?

When I hear that phrase, or read it online, I silently cringe. Why is that my reaction? I believed in many things all my life, most of which I learned from my parents, relatives, school systems. None of which I learned from my own thinking.

That question is such a limiting one. No room for discussion. A bland question waiting for a bland response.

First I would like to know exactly what I should be believing in? Most of the time it is a religion. Then, aliens next. Holidays, etc, etc.

Now I ask, What does it matter to you? It doesn’t matter to me, because throughout my life, I have changed beliefs many times. I am not fickle, just more informed thru my own eyes, and heart. I have learned from, experience over the years. That is what makes most older folks wise!

Experience is a great teacher. I was swimming once with a group of folks, and there was a waterfall. Beautiful. I decided to swim behind it. When I got behind it, no one could hear me if I was in trouble as it was many decibels louder between the mountain and the water.

I decided to catch my breath by holding onto the rock. Experience was in progress. The rock was like ice, from all the water running over it constantly. Beautiful, but right now deadly as I started to panic. I was not the best swimmer. I tried a scream or two but only hurt my own ears.

Then out of nowhere, I heard a voice say in my head, roll on your back put your feet on the wall, and push your way out.

I didn’t stop to ask if I was a believer or not...It sounded good to me, so I did it -- I made it safely out, and to shore, unbeknownst to anyone but ME. Experience is truly an awesome teacher.

After that encounter was I a believer? No, not fully, but the seeds were planted. With everything in life, we all need to do our own thinking, learning. We need to enjoy the ride. The journey is ours for the experiences.
Judith 11-5-21

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Reflections of the Day

By Dayvid Clarkson

Grand Mother Moon is not yet in her fullness, however her light illuminates the night. I enjoy living in the country, being able to see the sky without the city lights dimming my view. I am well protected surrounded by majestic evergreens swaying gently with the wind. My view looks over the lake encompassing the farmer’s fields and the mountain guardians in the distance.

I am sated with this evening's meal and I rest in a comfortable and warm abode. What am I missing?

There is this mystically deep yet fleeting yearning to understand the sojourn. I think I recognize my senses are not yet developed sufficiently to comprehend the vastness of this existence. What I am learning is ‘Wu Wei’. It is an important concept of Taoism and means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. It appears when I attempt to control outcomes I am somehow struggling. When I let go and stop trying to govern the future life seems to flow.

It is extremely difficult to release control when all our lives we are taught to take action, to dominate, to be the best. A quiet smile grows on my face as I feel a reflective warmth spread through me.

I will always be satisfied with baby steps. I don’t know where I am headed but I know I am traveling well. It is definitely not as I had planned it yet I am enjoying how it is turning out. No words will ever express that quiet knowing that life is flowing as it should.

Some are on a similar journey so I encourage you to stay the course. It is easy to write harder to live it. I will continue to practice.

Sleep well, Dream deep my Friends.
November 14, 2021

This evening I was reflecting on the power of language. Without language how would I think, how would I dream? For all intents and purposes, I think and dream in words. These words were taught to me and through personal experience, I have shaped and enhanced them to suit me. Every word will hold a different meaning and subtle nuances for each individual. Have you ever tried to think or imagine something without applying words? No matter how vague or emotionally elusive we will peel back the layers of any concept until we find words. Every experience is automatically translated into words. Yet with the stroke of a pen words can whisk one-off to faraway places, share experiences of serendipity and serenity.

Words can lift us up when we are down. Words can bring comfort to an old friend. Yes, words hold great negative power as well. For now, I choose to surround myself with positive words and start taking power away from the negative word pictures. If I require words to think and dream I will increase my positive vocabulary and be mindful of words that no longer serve me. It might just be time for me to edit my dictionary. Let your words be positive, let your language be of benefit to you and yours.
Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
November 18, 2021

It is a misty evening, which I enjoy as it appears to deepen the quiet and bring the world closer. The distant drum calls my name as sure as my heart beats. I look to the sacred circle, the Elders wait. I am grateful for the day and will look for the lessons of the Dreams. I think about the time I wasted until getting to this place. A draft of smoke stings my eyes.

‘You have not wasted time my Son. For every moment and every breath were required to bring you here.’

My eyes no longer hurt I see the wisdom.
Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
November 17, 2021

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ESSAY: Amazing Life

By Linda Tate

Life gets more amazing as you get older. Why? Because you learn to love yourself. You learn that other people's opinions of you are none of your business. You learn that human beings are often wrong, therefore their opinion of you or the things you do, isn't what counts.

What counts is being able to sleep at night with a clear conscience. What counts, is whether or not you chose to be kind over being right. What counts isn't what others say about you, but how you react to it. Did you take the high road? Did you remember that those that talk about you usually don't even know you? Did you remember that those that talk about you in negative terms, are probably pretty miserable in their own lives?

What counts in this life, doesn't have anything to do with other people. Not your parents, not your friends, nor your enemies. It has nothing to do with your husband, your wife, your boss, or your coworker. What counts in this life, is how you feel about yourself. That's it. Pretty simple, isn't it? It took me years to really understand that. All the young people that are on my friend's list are intelligent, kind, loving, caring, sharing people.

No, life won't always be perfect, but you can always find perfection in life. It's in the attitude. It's in the heart. It's in the thankfulness and the grace. Life is amazing, simply because you are in well in that knowledge. Stay that wisdom.

If someone wrongs you, just remember, someone did that to them. They weren't born that way...and feel compassion for how they are choosing to live. More than anything else, just be thankful that YOU don't have to live that way.

Life really is amazing. Don't ever let anyone take your joy away from you. It's your choice. Be strong in that knowledge.

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Music and The Blairs

By John I. Blair

I come from a musical family. Not always musical in ways that would be readily recognized, but musical nonetheless. So music has always been part of my home life.

From my earliest memories I recall my Mom almost always either singing a song or whistling music around the house as she worked at cooking, cleaning, laundering, ironing, or just caring for us boys. Mom was a surprisingly good whistler – a talent not often associated with women. I never heard where she learned to whistle, and regrettably never asked her. And it was one of the major disappointments of my childhood that I never could learn to whistle myself. To this day I can barely manage a decent wolf whistle, much less whistle actual music.

I did learn that Mom had sung in her church choir when she was a young woman. She and her sisters all were a regular part of that small Methodist church’s choir. I like to think that Mom’s own mother also sang, though with her tuberculosis, her wind power must have been very limited. Perhaps she hummed soft lullabies to Mom and her other babies.

Dad was almost completely deaf; and yet he liked music. Evidently, he could hear enough of the base notes to at least catch the rhythm and a bit of the melody. All I know is that he enjoyed listening to shows like Lawrence Welk, whose band featured an amazingly deep-voiced bass singer. And Dad could occasionally be heard humming nearly tuneless music to himself as he worked or drove a car.

My older brother, though never talking much about it, had a reputation in elementary school as a good singer. And it was him who brought the first record player into our house – one that he cobbled together himself from parts he had scrounged from friends. Our first music on that machine was eclectic to say the least (and, of course, on 78 rpm disks). We had one recording of bits of classical music; one with a couple of weird novelty songs – parodies – that included “I’m Walking Behind You-all On Your Wedding Day”, a country-style takeoff of the then wildly popular hit “I’m Walking Behind You” by Billy Reid, originally recorded by both Eddie Fisher and Frank Sinatra in the very early 1950s.

I don’t remember much music in my Mom’s extended family; but my Dad’s family was very musical. Aunt Florence taught music in public schools in western Oklahoma. It was said she “could get music out of a stump”. Her beautiful upright piano was the first I ever played on, 65 years and more ago. It still exists, in playable condition, stored lovingly in a heated barn at a cousin’s farm.

My Uncle Ralph played a pretty fair country hoedown fiddle; his son Gerald played piano; his other son Pete played guitar. I delight in my memory of them playing for family one evening – no doubt folk classics like “Turkey In The Straw”.

Ralph and his sister Leoti playing music.
(Restored photo version.)

When I was approaching my teen years I campaigned long and hard to get a piano of my own, inspired by playing around on the old pianos in Oklahoma that belonged to my aunts. Much to my amazement, my parents actually sprung for a brand-new Wurlitzer spinet in 1953, paid for lessons for a few years (until I dropped out) and never complained about my loudness or my erratic attention to practicing. I still have that piano; it still sounds good; and I still play it.

And I love listening to music. I was blessed with an excellent music education program in the public schools I attended. Children in elementary school had a visiting music teacher; and several times a year we had opportunity to attend full concerts (designed for childrens’ tastes) by the Wichita, Kansas, Symphony. I have never forgotten that experience. By junior high school I was listening to opera on the radio (for class credit) and going every year to the annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by full orchestra, visiting soloists, and a chorus of 500 voices. Today I have a collection of well over a thousand music CDs – mostly classical but including many other kinds as well.

My wife’s love of music was primarily only for listening; but her father, her paternal grandfather, and paternal great-grandfather all were musical. The last two had been members of a German singing society in Brooklyn, 100 years ago and more, and had even gone to a contest in Vienna, just before World War I put a stop to that. I have photos of them and numerous singing society medals and ribbons, kept in a box. My father-in-law once sang and played the ukulele on commercial radio in New York City (in the late 1920s I believe).

And now my son and granddaughters are carrying on the tradition. My son learned to play a violin at a young age, but then shifted his attention to guitars and became a lifelong devotee of both acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, singing, and composing. His forte is rock music and electronic music. He has a fully equipped home recording studio. My youngest granddaughter sings with her elementary school class at annual performances. And my older granddaughter has been taking piano lessons for a couple of years (having started with me as her teacher). She plays in recitals with such aplomb it amazes me. (When I was a piano student I always went through major meltdowns around recital time.)

Some people would speculate that music is in our genes; some would insist that it’s environment. I think the only thing that matters is that music is still part of our lives – an essential part!

©2016 John I. Blair

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Make Mary Merry


By Mary E. Adair

(Christmas at Noralee's 1997)

Ring the bells and make Mary merry,
But please stay out of the cooking sherry!
Open the gifts and enjoy the party!
Laugh a lot and all eat hearty!
There's packages of things for the kitchen,
Even gifts for the garden ditchin'.
Choosing for pets out in the yard,
Seems like that wasn't very hard--
Bought each a bone made out of leather
And when they got it they didn't know whether
To play with it or just should look at,
But finally, they chewed it and really shook it!
Gifts for Grannie and the newest Babe,
Presents beneath the tree were laid.
All gathered 'round with smiling faces,
Yet, so excited none could stay in their places.
Name-calling is welcomed this time of the year
And everyone listens their name to hear.
Unwrapping trinkets, jewelry and such--
How did they know who wanted to touch
The fur of a Teddy Bear, or Pochahontas' hair,
Or the lace on the bonnet for the dolly to wear.
Pleasing others brings a happy smile--
And who cares that the unwrapping took quite awhile.
For Christmas with loved friends and family,
And passing around the gifts from under the tree,
Is contagious joy and pleasure divine,
Whether the gift being viewed is your's or mine--
We're all together to share this day--
And this is the favorite time-honored way
For there's so much love and appreciation
That's unexpressed during the year's aggravation.
But the caring is there, just under the skin,
And it comes to the surface bringing a grin
When the recipient opens ribbons the color of fire
Disclosing inside the special thing they desired,
And thought no one knew how they longed for this one--
So joy of both gifted and giver is part of the fun.
With carols of Christmas ringing in our head,
There's times that words just have to be said--
And now's such a time-- a moment sublime --
For I want all to know, I've had a wonderful time!

©December 1997 Mary E. Adair
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Dedicated to the memory of my sister Noralee Edith (Carroll) Crowson
(December 4, 1936 - March 1, 1999)
The Celebration commemorated in the poem was planned by Noralee at her home
since she was an invalid with MD, but to cheer Moma and me as we were both
newly widowed.


Happiness More or Less


By Walt Perryman

(A thought about happiness more or less:)

I went from a fancy house with a big lawn in town,
To my little rock cabin with nothing on the ground.

Now, if a sprig of grass comes up, it is soon dead,
Because I kill that little sucker before it can spread.

It is not that I don’t like pretty stuff because I do,
I don’t want anything I have to cut and water too.

I discovered that sometimes less can be more,
Once I figured out what my less is really for.

My little cabin is not very big or much to see,
But it means more than that big house to me.

I sometimes think about all the stuff I had back then,
I’d rather go where I’m going not to where I’ve been.

Happiness cannot be bought with less or more,
It is found free in the heart not bought at a store.

© May 6, 2021 Walt Perryman
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Cause For Alarm


By Bruce Clifford

I see your shadow
Underneath the Sylvester tree
What’s in a name
Planet Earth, planet Earth, planet Earth
There is cause for alarm

I see your picture
Floating in air drifting in space
No sense of purpose
Feeling torn, feeling scored, broken and worn

Make it real
We’ve become so predictable
Make it real
You can cut the tension in this room with a sword

I saw your shadow
Underneath the foxtail tree
What’s in the game
Oceans die, oceans die, oceans cry

Don’t be so sentimental
On the border of hot and cold
Now’s the time to return to center
Don’t you cry, don’t you cry, can’t stop crying

Can you hear this planet reaching out
Feel the pain, feel the pain, feel the pain
Emotions don’t matter anymore
Time stood still, stillness

I saw a shadow
Deep within the fire of a stifling breeze
What’s in a name
Planet Earth, planet Earth, planet Earth
There is cause for alarm
There is cause for alarm

©11/20/2021 Bruce Clifford

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On My Mind

By Walt Perryman

This morning what is on my little mind?
There is not much as you will soon find.

How does E-mail's travel so fast?
Is the Post Office a thing of the past?

How computers work, I do not know,
Heck, I don’t even understand a radio.

I’m not smart enough to figure it out and never was,
I’m not sure how a prayer works, but I know it does.

God’s blessing is something that we all can receive,
We don’t have to figure it out, just have to believe.

I reckon this morning’s thought may sound a little odd,
There is a lot I do not know, but I know there is a God.

Have a great day
And don’t forget to pray!

© Nov 10, 2021 Walt Perryman

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Tiny Miracle


By Mary E. Adair 

Reprinted from November 1999

Tiny fist near tiny eye,
The softest sound of breathing,
Tiny mouth moves in a sigh,
As puff of air is leaving.
Mother gazes thoughtfully,
As husband stands nearby,
Humble setting holds the three
With barely space to lie.
Tiny Babe will change the world,
Mother senses as she rests,
Husband stands in cloak tight-furled...
Someone comes, are they foe, or guests?
On bended knee, in robes well-worn,
Shepherds praise the precious Child.
They've been told that this Newborn
Is the King they've longed for quite a while.
Others arrive in more costly garb,
With royal gifts for Royalty...
These earthly Kings have traveled far,
Star-guided, this Babe to see.
Mary pondered, when she saw Wisemen kneel,
Just how much He will see in His life.
Reality must have seemed unreal
To the husband watching Child and wife.
Blessed moment in time, through time undimmed,
As angels sang, 'neath Bethlehem's sky,
Many came to the stable to worship Him,
None knowing or suspecting how He'd die.

Born Christ for all who would believe,
Born helpless, and gentle, and mild.
Tiny heart would soon enough grow to grieve
For those lost to the message of the Child.
For those who would not believe the birth
Of the King, to a virginal Mother;
For those who preferred things of the earth,
To preparing their life for another.
Another life that would not end in death... hard to accept, for some...
That the soul that can leave within a breath,
Can arrive in Heaven before the next one.
Passage guaranteed by belief in that birth,
And belief that He died to save us from sin,
Defeated Death, and arose to walk on the earth,
And makes heavenly promises now to all men.
Telling death is nothing but a gateway to life
In Heaven, if His Words are heeded,
A transition to Glory from sin and strife...
A believing heart is all that is needed.
Telling us how to go spread His Word
About His birth, His life, and victory over death.
Was this all in the thoughts which Mary heard,
Pondered in her heart, as she counted each breath,
And watched tiny fist touch tiny eye
Of the Child she held to her breast,
Heard tiny lips breathe that sigh...
Did she know she was truly blessed?

©November 1999 Mary E. Adair

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In Her Eyes

By Bud Lemire

I saw the world in her eyes
She was a woman who was so wise
She shared her love with me
I tried to be, all I could be

She wasn't someone, that was close
I can say, she wasn't a ghost
Her spirit traveled, from a faraway place
Not worlds away, more of an inner space

Her spirit and mine, became One
We had a love, warmer than the sun
We were both alive, in our distant place
We both were members, of the human race

Our spirits came together, in a loving embrace
We knew it happened, and it left no trace
It changed us forever, for we were One
We knew our love for each other, would never be done

With just one thought, we can be together
In a moment lost, in endless pleasure
Even when I sleep alone, she is by my side
And I know with her, I shall always abide
A hole in the stream of time
I am hers and she is mine

©Nov 13, 2021 Bud Lemire

                          Author Note:

This poem is dedicated to my Twin Flame, the love
of my life. She has given me so much love over the
years. I love her completely! This is the kind of love
that can't be described in the physical form, but it's so
deep and strong, and holds true forever.


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A West Texas Tumbleweed Christmas

By Walt Perryman

I am dreaming of a tumbleweed Christmas this year,
The way they roll across the road and we drive in fear.
I love to have a tumbleweed instead of a Christmas tree,
Except when I hang the lights and the stickers stick me.
I think It is a good thing that Santa Clauses sleigh flies,
Or else, Rudolf would get tumbleweeds in his eyes.
I love it when tumbleweeds are stacked high on the fences,
That is when tumbleweeds heighten my Christmas senses.
Next time you see the tumbleweeds, tumbling along,
Try reading the Bible so you can learn right from wrong.
Because my poem is not about getting stuck by a thorn.
A tumbleweed Christmas is about when Jesus was born!

©2020 Walt Perryman

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Highlight Reel


By Bruce Clifford

Life as a highlight reel
The fantasy you touch and feel
Nothing could bring you down
Waiting for the next story to come back around

Living under a false pretense
Never showing substance or relevance
Life as a highlight reel
The basic facts you’ve learned to conceal

Highlights are what we see
Never showing the inside negativity
Highlights are who you are
We’ll never see beyond your rising star

Life as a highlight real
The conspiracy inside your sex appeal
Nothing is ever blurred between the lines
The missing posts that are left behind

Highlights are what we see
Never showing the inside negativity
Highlights are who you are
We’ll never see beyond your rising star

Life as a highlight reel
Another post and another deal
Nothing could ever bring you down
The inside scoop shows your desperate frown

©11/12/2021 Bruce Clifford

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By Mary E. Adair

I love to watch the squirrels play
They seem to keep busy both night and day

Up the trees then quickly down
Quicker than you could laugh or frown

They never seem to stop and eat
But leap and bounce across the street

They scamper across the wires above
Their bravery you just have to love

Over the rooftop and then the yard
Running for them is never hard

They dash all alone up so high
They're silhouetted against the sky

It's impossible for me to tell the boys from the girls
But they know because they keep making new squirrels

They display a lack of modesty
For them it's not a necessity

They meet up in the branches bare
As though it were a personal dare

And precarious though it may be
They copulate in the tallest of tree

So in the future near as I can see
There won't be a squirrel scarcity

©November 1, 2021 Mary E. Adair

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Recipe for Sleep

By Walt Perryman

Last night it rained on my roof made of tin,
My windows were open and the wind blew in.

The lighting and thunder was a big deal,
But for me it was like a good sleeping pill.

I woke up with birds singing and a rooster’s crow.
I guess it can get better, but how I don’t know.

©September 2021 Walt Perryman

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On The Front Lines


By Bud Lemire

The Doctors cried
Another one died
One Nurse said “We did our very best”
“But he was Positive on the test”

He thought it was a lie
So, he had to die
The question we ask, is why
Our Medical Team doesn't lie

We are on the front lines, every day
We've seen it all, in every way
They didn't believe, Covid was true
No cautions taken, it wasn't the Flu

This should never have happened at all
To see so many, who've had to fall
There's no excuse, you were told
They didn't listen, now they won't grow old

Our staff is doing double shifts, every night
So many patients, are guided to the Light
We hate to see this happen to you
Take caution please, with all you do

©Nov 18, 2021 Bud Lemire

                           Author Note:

This means: even though you have been vaccinated
three times, you still need to wear a mask. We know
they aren't any fun to wear, believe me we know. But
by wearing it, you are protecting yourself and others.
You could be a carrier of one of the variants and think
it is just a cold or allergy, and be giving it to someone
who can't even defend their system due to low immune
or no immune. We are on the Front lines every day, and
we know what Covid is doing to people. This should not
have happened. Your source should be a True source of
information, and we are. If you could only be here and
experience seeing so many die, you would know. Believe
me, I don't cry often, but since Covid, my tears will not stop.


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Not Knowing What To Say

By Bruce Clifford

All the ways we knew
Each separate point of view
There’s never an easy way
Not knowing what to say

All the times we tried
Each individual ride
There’s never a quiet day
Not knowing who’s to blame

We made it this far
We reached a distant star
Wondering why this is so hard
Knowing what we are

All the ways we knew
Each encompassing thing we do
There’s never an easy way
Not knowing what to say

All the times we cried
Each devastating lie
There’s never time and space
Falling out of grace

We made it beyond our star
A supersonic car
Wondering if we will make it that far
Knowing who we are

All the ways we knew
Each separate point of view
There’s never an easy way
Not knowing what to say

©11/1/2021 Bruce Clifford

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The Season


By Mary E. Adair

Oh! Now comes the month of December
Oh! Now comes the time to remember
Oh! Where did I put the trinkets for the tree?
The feeling's just awful, maybe unlawful
But I know there's a box-full
And the children are depending on me!

I've looked in the closets and under the bed
This is truly the Season I most of all dread
And the baking (and the wrapping) is all yet to do
I've looked in the storeroom, the attic - not there,
The garage loft's only crammed with camp gear to spare,
I've looked and I've looked but I know I'm not through.

Did I give it all to the girl's club? the boys? 4-H?
Have the UFOs come and taken them someplace?
Must I now look among the planets like Jupiter and Mars?
Wait! Say that slowly, make it "under the stairs,"
The same place we store toys and worn Teddy Bears?
Please! Let there also be tinsel! icicles! bulbs and stars!

At last! They're found! Just a box or two
There's really not much that's left to do
Oh! Just maybe this Season won't be quite so hairy...
We'll trim the tree, send Christmas cards to all
We'll sweep up the glass from the one broken ball...
Oh! Let's Celebrate this Season! It's really quite merry!

©November 15, 1995 Mary E. Adair
Originally Published in Hobbie$, Etc.,
(Forerunner of Pencil Stubs Online.)
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By Bud Lemire

While there are people dying
There are others who are crying
Some are still trying
Others are just lying

“We don't believe in them” is what they say
While there are many living in fear, every day
Some go around, unchanged by it all
They believe, they won't be the ones to fall

“If it was contained only within, it would be your choice”
“But it affects everyone around you” says one voice
Taking all the precautions, may not be enough
People who have had it, had it really rough

Many have passed away, some that I knew
I'd hate to see this happen, especially to you
I'm still having long term effects from it, you see
This anxiety is stopping me, from all that I can be

They're even rewarding those, who will get the vaccine
The Covid virus is a threat, to every human being
If you prefer life over death, it's time to take action
So you can appreciate your life, with greater satisfaction

©Aug. 3, 2021 Bud Lemire

                       Author Note:

For those who haven't had the vaccine yet, it's time to
wise up. You say you don't know what they put in it?!
Well, you eat many foods, and let me tell you, you don't
know what's in it either. You get the Flu shot, and that
helps you too. There is a country where everyone was
vaccinated, and that totally eliminated the threat. With
your help being vaccinated, you will have done your
job as a citizen of this beautiful country. Oh sure, it
is your choice. But the better choice, makes you a
better and much wiser person. Be wise! Get vaccinated!.


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