Thursday, September 1, 2022

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

September 2022

"September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours,
but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn."

–Rowland E. Robinson

Welcoming Fall begins with the appearance of September. Not only on the calendars, but in the events that aspire to draw audiences for various staged spectacles. The big thing about School starting up is the wealth of activities for students, their parents, and anyone whose interest is captured by the area schools competitions such as Football, etc. These events are not confined to High School or College, but the younger grades have their own parent-drawing competitions. And for we who no onger have youngsters in school, there are many Sports vying for our attention, possibly or hopefully, for our attendance. Yes, your editor is happy the big Football season is upon us.

It is also a time of the battle between grabbing a quick bite here or there and the elaborite meal planning and chef-copying skills of the TV professionals. Real cooks, those who love food and the preparation thereof for self, family, or friends, welcome the cooler weather that means kitchens are not the torturing heat traps of summer.

As an avid reader, your editor is delighted when she can offer for your eyes such a diverse and riveting magazine as this September issue provides. Our exciting news this month is John Blair is showing his current personal project in his column "View from My Back Steps." There have been many readers missing him because he gives excellent gardening advice and offers follow up links when available.

"A Mother's Lessons" by Danielle Cote Serar shares personal thoughts and memories of her late mother and how the lessons still devolve. "On Trek" by Judith Kroll brings a favorite encore column with "Vision" as the subject. "Reflections of the Day" by Dayvid Bruce Clarkson, discusses new situations in his life, the decision to share info with others, and the forthcoming reassurances. Thomas O'Neill uses his column "Introspective" to tell the story of Dr. Paul.

"Sifoddling Along," by Marilyn Carnell speaks about the value of community service.. "Woo Woo," by Pauline Evanosky, suggests we check up on our Biorhythms and explains why.

In "Cooking with Rod” Roderick Cohenour gives the details for creaing delicious Pizza with French Bread. Mattie Lennon, author of "Irish Eyes," updates us on "The Kiss" and what you can do with proper authorization on your own acreage.

The "Armchair Genealogy" column, by Melinda Cohenour, is delving into the new Ancestry DNA ethnicities percentages, which change as new people submit their DNA for the information.

Bud Lemire's poems this month are "A People about A Poem," "Washington School," and a tribute poem for "Olivia." Bruce Clifford, submitted "The Dream," "It Hurts Too Much," and "Too Hard to Forget." Dayvid Bruce Clarkson shares two more of his lovely Picture Haikus --: "Gently Forgive" and "Quiet Reflections."

John Blair sent us one poem titled simply "Poetry," but is a poignant definition. Walt Perryman has three poems to share: "Recipe for Sleep," "Early Monday Thought," and "It is Up to God."

Also with the help of Walt Perryman, we start a new continued tale revealing the compositions of Honey Dog. Chapter One is in this issue for our readers to enjoy!

We continue to thank our co-founder and webmaster, Mike Craner, whose knowlege and expertise keeps Pencil Stubs Online actually online. He does it well as we are now in our 25th year. Thanks, Mike, for everything!

Look for us in October.

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Armchair Genealogy

By Melinda Cohenour

Research does not always result in clear, incontrovertible facts. Not all desired goals are achieved. This past month has been "that sort of month."

This month's column is merely an accounting of your author's efforts since our last report.

* * * * *

New Ethnicity Estimates by Ancestry:

One rather exciting periodic occurrence for those of us who have submitted our DNA for ancestral testing is the report from Ancestry updating our ethnicity estimates. As Ancestry is quick to advise, your DNA does not change but their methods of analysis and available mass data does. As more and more people around the world submit DNA, the resulting data provides Ancestry with a more refined "community" DNA profile for each particular region of the world community.

This month Ancestry provided updated ethnicity estimates for its DNA testers. My latest estimate is shown below:

This result is a rather drastic change from my very first Ethnicity Estimate after submitting my DNA.

My original Ethnicity Estimate:

On Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 9:57 PM, Melinda Cohenour wrote:

On Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 9:57 PM, Melinda Cohenour wrote:

20%___Great Britain.                 
14%___Europe West.                 
11%___Trace Regions:         
4%____Iberian Peninsula.     
3%____Europe East.                   
1%____Finland/Northwest Russia. 
>1%___European Jewish.               

Quite a change over six years!

Quite a change over six years!

* * * * *

In other news, work has been progressing on the ongoing effort to finally identify my first husband's bio mom. He was the father of my two children and, therefore, the grandfather to all the grands and great-grands down the line. For their sakes, I feel it incumbent upon me to identify that grandmother.

It has been reported previously that my first husband, Johnny Raymond Bradshaw, was abandoned at birth. We have identified the bio father through both DNA matches and conventional genealogic documentation. Thank goodness the widow of his biological uncle is living and, even better, has had her son' s DNA tested. The DNA matches with my daughter and her brother's son confirms that relationship. Further, half siblings to my daughter have also tested their DNA through Ancestry and their test results provide an additional means of confirmation.

The tricky part lies in the necessity to identify the bio mom without a direct DNA test match to her or her acknowledged children. A woman has been singled out through the process of triangulating numerous DNA matches for my daughter. My grandson, Adam, who is my son John's boy, has also tested. I am able to separate paternal line DNA matches for Melissa, my daughter, and for Adam by checking their Shared Matches to find the known half siblings are included.

The woman mentioned above who appears to be the primary candidate for his bio mom, descends from a line with the surname Cox. Numerous DNA matches for Melissa, Adam, and the known half siblings include the Cox family line. This woman was married at the time Johnny, my first husband, was born. Her husband was a railroad man which leads one to believe he was gone for periods of time. Also, her Geographic locale is correct for the possibility of having had an affair with the now known bio father. Further, this woman ended her marriage with the Railroad Man a mere 5 years after Johnny's birth. So, like a murder mystery, Means (loneliness and unhappy marriage), Motive (for abandonment of the infant Johnny to the MIAMI-DADE Orphanage would be her desire to hide her illicit affair). and Opportunity (she lived in Miami at the right time to have crossed paths with John Lee "Jack Gill, the bio dad.)

It does complicate matters a bit to have the surname Cox so prominently in one's mind at all times, however. For example, this month I was finally able to identify by name a close (2nd-3rd Cousin suggested) DNA match who submitted his DNA with only initials. He also managed two tests using those initials, one for his sister and one for his mother. A little more scrutiny of the tree he had linked to his own test and to that of his mother and his sister made it possible for me to identify him specifically. He has had quite an illustrious career, being the recipient of a world-renowned honor for his outstanding work in computers, coding, and refining the internet. Having made that leap of identification for him, he and his sister and parents have been added to Melissa's tree.

Now to explain the complication. In my haste to tie up the ends, when I found the mother to have a Cox line, I immediately began researching all the Cox family members in his line of descent. After an exhaustive two or three days trying to find a shared Cox family ancestor, another look at the tree tied to the test showed I was following the wrong line. Yes all those people named Cox belong in the tree, but the relevant surname is actually Walters. Up until now there have been no Walters in the Bradshaw tree.

Oh well, a little prance down the Primrose path never really hurt any family researcher, right?

As your author continues on her Quest to confirm bio mom's identity, I wish all my readers good hunting as they pursue their own armchair genealogy.

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Cooking with Rod

By Rod Cohenour

As the kids are getting ready to go back to school or if you're just an empty nester and want to have a little bit of fun with food, Pizza is always a fun and creative food to play with.

One of my favorites over the years has been French bread pizzas. There are so many ways to do this but my favorite I'm presenting here. Remember though, like any pizza there are as many variations of toppings as your imagination can conjure up.

Bon appetit ~!

French Bread Pizza

Serves 6

  • 3 loaves French Bread, with or without sesame seeds, etc. (One French Bread loaf serves 2 or 3, depending upon the appetites of your guests, this recipe assumes one loaf serves 2)
  • Butter, either tub or stick (margarine will do, your choice)
  • Garlic, minced or whole clove or dried. If using a whole clove, just rub the clove over the French bread that has been buttered before toasting. Otherwise, the minced garlic can be mixed with the butter before spreading on the bread. Dried granulated garlic can be sprinkled very sparsely over the butter before toasting. (Granulated garlic is extremely strong.)
  • 1 lg (28 oz) jar Marinara sauce
  • Basil, dried or fresh
  • Oregano, dried or fresh
  • 24 slices Provolone cheese
  • 24 slices Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 lg Bell Pepper, diced small
  • 1 med onion, diced small
  • 2 lbs ground Sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 lb sliced pepperoni
  • 1 can pitted sliced black olives, well-drained


    1. Prepare Italian sausage. Spray a large skillet with butter-flavored pan spray. Add sausage and begin scumbling using a wooden spoon. When no longer pink, add diced bell pepper and onion and stir well, continue cooking until sausage is nicely browned with a slight caramelization for flavor. Drain the sausage well. To drained sausage add 1/2 cup of the Marinara and blend thoroughly. Set aside but keep warm.
    2. Split bread loaves in half lengthwise, then slice the reassembled loaves in half across the middle creating four pieces per loaf. (Each section will become its own pizza slice, serving two slices per person.)
    3. Spread bread slices with butter, then add garlic and toast until nicely browned. Remember, this will be the basis for your pizza and needs to be toasted sufficiently to not get soggy. Do not burn!
    Assemble the pizzas:
    4. Put two slices Provolone cheese overlapping on each toasted bread section.
    5. Spread Marinara over Provolone, sprinkle basil or arrange fresh leaves over sauce, and add oregano.
    6. Divide sausage mixture into 12 equal parts. Use one part for each bread segment, spreading evenly.
    7. Arrange pepperoni slices evenly over the 12 bread segments.
    8. Add 2 slices Mozzarella overlapping on each bread segment.
    9. Add black olives on Mozzarella.
    10. Place all 12 French Bread sections on large baking sheet. Broil just until cheese has melted.

Serve with a crisp salad, Italian dressing, and extra garnishes such as fresh Basil leaves, more olives, sliced bell peppers, and grated parmesan cheese.

Be sure to have iced tea and lemonade for your guests



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Woo Woo


By Pauline Evanosky

Ups and Downs -- Just Get Back On Again

Even though I am a channel I don’t get any special breaks. Granted, life as a channel is a lot different than it. Okay, so, yes, I will allow that my dreams are different. Aside from that, I think I am pretty much the same. Although, I don’t suppose you have conversations with dead public figures as their deaths are announced on television.

Do you know something I’ve never figured out? It’s why I cry so easily. It’s not an “Oh, woe is me” sort of crying. It’s more like a big sympathy cry. Only I don’t know why because dead people are pretty much okay with their lot in life. I just have never figured that one out unless it is an empath sort of complication. That’s where you can really feel what somebody else is feeling. Or, perhaps it is just that the energy of channeling is sometimes a little overwhelming. In any case, it’s a mystery.

I don’t consider dead people to be dead. To me, they are just continuing their life someplace else. I’ve heard from too many of them not to believe it. They do get sort of faint and what almost sometimes seems to be disinterested as time goes on. Why that is I’m not all that clear about. Maybe it’s how I’m approaching them. Maybe they’ve moved on and I’m really only talking to the fringes of the crowd.

Maybe it would be like a mountain talking to me. That was in my pre-channeling days, but still, I am no different from anybody else. Cut me and I bleed.

I haven’t spoken Mountain in a long time. There are people who speak Mountain or Nature if you will. I don’t. I think I would be arrested by the plant kingdom for killing so many plants over the years. I think they are called Divas. There is a land mass in Northern California and another around LA. I’m sure they are all over the place.

Remember the Chiffon margarine commercial on television about not fooling Mother Nature? Yeah, like that.

Deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other. Somebody in Spirit just said to me, “You try.”

What I’m talking about is the human condition of ups and downs. We have biorhythms that are sort of complicated on the one hand and not complicated on the other if you understand mathematics. Which I don’t. Different aspects of your human beingness are tracked in sine waves. The basic three are physical which is 23 days, emotional which is 28 days, and intellectual which is 33 days.

If you’d like to have a look at your own visit, find the biorhythm section and plug in your birth date. They ask for your name but you don’t have to put that in there. Just remain anonymous. The default reading is 28 days long though if you choose you can get a reading that is 56 days long. There is what is called the critical point of the graph which is the midpoint.

What goes up always comes down. All the lines start together the day you are born. The issue with the critical point is sometimes stuff happens when all the lines go through that middle point. It gets really critical when all three lines of emotional, physical, and intellectual all cross at the same time.

This happened to my husband, Dennis, when he broke his back. He didn’t hold with the system, thinking it was all that woo-woo stuff, until I presented him with the evidence a few years after it happened. It did not occur to me to even look at the time of his accident. We had so many other things on our minds then.

So, the deal, if you are paying attention to your biorhythms, is to go on vacation when everything is sort of up or heading that way. Buy a lottery ticket on those days. Have surgery done when your physical lines are low so that your recovery is swift with the upward movement of the physical wave.

Mostly, I don’t go to the biorhythm calculator much anymore. Hey, what goes down has to come up eventually, doesn’t it? Blue skies and all that?

The times have been tough for everyone in the last couple of decades. These times seem even tougher with war, Covid, Monkeypox, climate change, and social unrest. It’s just tough. We have to live through it and somehow, we need a way to stay cheerful.

What is rather interesting, though, is yesterday I was moving our television around to get to the DVR box from our Internet/TV provider. We just switched to a different carrier a couple of weeks ago. I had been pushing myself to gather up the previous provider’s equipment in the study and the living room so I could return it. As I angled to get past our television to access the DVR box the TV crashed forward and broke. It would no longer turn on, but oh! Nelly! were there a lot of cracks spread across the surface of the screen. A couple of hours later on I thought to look at my biorhythms. Two of them, the emotional and physical lines were low and getting lower. The Intellectual was pretty high.

Had I known this was going on I might have not pushed myself as hard to get the job done or, at least been a little more cautious. I wouldn’t say you should live your life according to what your biorhythms say, but it is interesting to have a look after momentous happenings.

I hope that if you’ve had a spot of the doldrums, you are able to get back on the horse again and ride some more. Just do the special stuff. Forget about cleaning the house. There will be time for that later. If you want to go sit outside and drink tea, do that. If you want to go for a short walk, do that. For certain, take a big, deep breath of air. And every morning when your feet hit the floor as you get out of bed say this: It’s a great day.

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By Thomas F. O'Neill

Dr. Paul

She was a young single mother sitting in a bus, concerned about the fate of her ten-year-old daughter. Her daughter, Samantha, was being treated for leukemia at Mercy Hospital. The half-hour bus trip for the young mother has become a morning ritual, and one of the stops along the way was her old neighborhood.

That neighborhood stirs up memories that she would prefer to forget. Her physical scars are long gone, but the emotional and psychological scars have become a festering scab that refuses to heal. The memories of her father are always there to haunt her. Her father called her Joanna, but she now prefers to be called JoAnn. “He was a degenerate,” as she would prefer to describe him, “a retched, drunkard who annihilated my self-esteem.”

Her brother Jimmy, two years older than her, took the full brunt of the physical beatings. Her brother’s chipped teeth are a visible reminder of where they came from and what they endured. Her brother’s broken nose, arm, and leg have long healed, but those beatings have left an imprint in his psyche that will remain with him permanently. He is filled with anger and a deep-seated hatred that he cannot adequately release or control. He has fits of rage that have landed him in Prison. He also deeply resents his mother for allowing his father to brutalize him.

On a number of occasions, JoAnn tried to explain to her brother that their mother was a victim too. She was victimized not in the same severity as her children, but she was still a victim. Their mother lived in constant fear and with the guilt of knowing what was going on in their home. Jimmy on several occasions, screamed at his mother in fits of rage, “Why didn’t you leave him and take us out of there?”

When JoAnn was seventeen, the Police showed up at their door and hauled her father off to jail. Her mother could not raise the five hundred dollars to bail him out. He was charged and later convicted of raping a thirteen-year-old girl, and the Judge sentenced him to ten years in prison. JoAnn dropped out of school that same year and started pumping gas at a local gas station to help her mother with the bills.

She had one failed relationship after another. She attracted the users and the abusers. She had no way of knowing what a normal relationship is. When her brother stopped by the house one day and saw his sister’s swollen lip and her swollen-shut eye, something inside of him snapped.

He went to his sister’s boyfriend’s house and kicked in his door. The boyfriend was sitting at the kitchen table, and when he saw Jimmy standing in the kitchen, he jumped out of the chair in fear.

“You like to beat on girls, Hank!!!!” Jimmy yelled.

He did not see Hank as a tough guy or a monster but a squirming little coward.

“Listen, Jimmy, she hit me first,” he said.

His fist hit Hank above his left eye. He struck him so hard that Jimmy felt the knuckles pop in his hand. He ignored the pain of his broken hand and watched Hank’s legs buckle from another blow. Hank collapsed on the kitchen floor. His left eye was swollen, and blood was rolling down his face.

“Get up!!!!!” Jimmy yelled.

“I’m sorry, Jimmy, please don’t hit me again.”

He pulled Hank up by the back of his shirt. Hank leaned up against the Kitchen sink.

“I’m sorry, Jimmy, please don’t hit me!!!!” he repeated.

He hit Hank with an upper left so hard that he knocked four of his teeth out. He watched him squirming, dazed, and crying with the four bloody teeth lying on the kitchen floor. At that moment as the adrenaline was racing through his body. He no longer saw Hank; instead, he saw his father lying there. He walked over to the sink and grabbed a carving knife. He plunged the knife so hard into Hank’s back that the tip of the blade broke off in his spine.

Jimmy’s bloody palmprints and fingerprints were all over the kitchen. He was soon arrested and convicted. He was sentenced to ten years for involuntary manslaughter.

He was moved three times in five years to various state prisons. He was eventually moved to a medium security state institution. The inmates in medium security are given three hours of recreation time each day in the prison yard. One day when he was out in the yard, he saw an inmate with an uncanny resemblance to his father. He started walking closer to him and heard him say, “is that you, Jimmy?”

He stood and looked at his father in disbelief. His father looked old and weak. Not the monster he remembered in his childhood, not the nightmarish figure that brutalized him and crippled him emotionally.

“What are you doing here, Jimmy?”

“I killed a man,” he said matter-of-factly.

“That is too bad,” he said, “how is your sister?”

“You don’t act like the big tough guy now. Why is that?” Jimmy asked.

“I was messed up. I was a drunken lunatic out of my mind. I am clean now and sober. Not the man I was. We can use this time to get to know one another,” he said.

“Do you have any idea what you did to us?” asked Jimmy.

“I have been writing letters to your mother, and I asked that you three come and see me,” he said.

“Come and see you, do you have any clue what you did to us?” trying to hold back his rage.

“I am sober now, I am not that person. Forgive me, Jimmy,” he said.

“You are a monster from hell. How could you have done that to your daughter? She was a child, and you raped her repeatedly and locked her in a closet. You beat me so badly that you broke my arm, leg, and nose in four places. You broke my teeth, I was only a child. What could I have done to deserve that from you? You raped that thirteen-year-old girl. You are a monster, an evil monster. You getting locked up was a good thing but what I am going to do now is even better.” He began to take off his belt.

“Listen, Jimmy, I am no longer that person. I am sober now, and I would never do those things again,” he said, pleading with his son.

He grabbed his father’s hair and through him to the ground. He wrapped his belt around his father’s neck and began to strangle him. His father’s legs began to kick uncontrollably as he was fighting for air. The other inmates ignored what they saw because they knew he was finishing off a child rapist. The child rapist in an inmate’s mind is the lowest form of scum inside the walls of a prison. The correctional officers ran over and jumped on him, but he never loosened up on the belt. The guards began pepper-spraying him, but his adrenalin was pumping, and the pepper spray did not faze him in the least.

He was charged with murder, and he was moved to a maximum security Prison. His defense attorney brought out all the dark family secrets in the hope of the Jury convicting Jimmy of a lesser crime.

His sister recalled her nightmarish existence at the hands of her father. While she was answering the defense attorney’s questions during the trial, she could not hold back her tears. Jimmy testified about the ongoing beatings he received. Their mother then backed up their account of what took place in their home.

The prosecution tried to debunk the defense’s testimony by stating that anyone living under those conditions would not have remained in that house, but rather they would have fled by running away. The defense argued that they had nowhere to go, and their fear was so great that they could not escape him.

Her brother was sentenced to an additional three years for the involuntary manslaughter of his father. The Judge considered the emotional duress he was under at the time of the killing.

The killing of their father did not heal the deep scares or calm the emotional turmoil inside them. The court testimony, however, brought everything out in the open, and it helped them move closer to the healing process. The Judge told them they needed to reach that place inside and find the strength to let go of their anger and hate.

Shortly after the trial, their mother began to have mini-strokes that triggered the onset of dementia. Her memory loss was the first sign that something was wrong. Joann, on occasions, found her mother lying on the floor, disoriented. She would get confused about the time of day and the seasons and wear summer close in the winter and winter close in the summer. She would get up in the middle of the night and start cooking breakfast. JoAnn's full-time job was caring for her for the next ten years.

Her brother was released from prison, but his mother's condition was too much for him to handle. He moved out of their home and found a place of his own. JoAnn was forced to go on public assistance because she was unable to work due to her mother’s condition. Her mother eventually had no memory or recognition and was completely bedridden. The last six months of her mother’s life were spent at Mercy Hospital. Caring for her mother helped her move closer to healing that broken little child within her. She was also working on ways to subside the nightmarish memories inhibiting her from finding Joy.

Her brother rarely came around after their mother died, and he moved on without leaving a forwarding address or a way of contacting him. It was then that JoAnn decided to take care of herself. She sold her mother’s home, returned to school, and got her GED. She then enrolled in a nearby community college and became a medical assistant. She was moving forward but still attracted the losers, users, and abusers. She could not differentiate the difference between love and her partner’s neurotic need to control her. She also attracted men with deep insecurities that needed to dominate her out of their fear of losing her. Those men in her life continuously moved her towards dependency rather than independence. She eventually had to have restraining orders placed on four of her boyfriends, who had habits of breaking down her door and beating her.

In the midst of her search to find herself, she became pregnant. She had a baby girl named her ‘Sam’ short for ‘Samantha.’ The relationship with Sam’s father did not work out, and it didn’t take JoAnn long to discover that he was a degenerate drunk like her father was, she focused her energy on raising her daughter, and she gave up on men.

She began working as a medical assistant and as a full-time Mom. Her daughter Sam was an absolutely beautiful and bright child. She had long beautiful blond hair, bright blue eyes, and an angelic face that radiated a sweet innocence and wondrous expressions of joy. Through her daughter, JoAnn began to find Joy in life.

JoAnn's next six years were happy times, but she grew more and more concerned when her daughter started getting sick. It took the Doctors two years to pinpoint the problem. What Sam was suffering from was a rare form of leukemia. Mercy Hospital placed her in their pediatric unit and started her on chemotherapy. Sam was heartbroken when she lost all of her beautiful blond hair.

When Joann entered room 22 in the pediatric unit, she noticed a beautiful crystal Angel on the table next to her daughter’s bed.

“What a beautiful Angel, Sam. Where did you get it?”

“Doctor Paul gave it to me. He is really nice, and he likes you.”

“How does he know me?” she asked.

“He talks about you all the time,” Sam said.

It was at that moment a little boy walked into the room, “Hello, how is everything going,” he asked, wearing a white coat.

“Aren’t you a little young to be a Doctor,” JoAnn asked, laughing because the white coat fit him like a glove.

“I’m Doctor Paul’s assistant,” he said with a straight face.

“He is Doctor Paul’s assistant, Mommy; his name is Rodney, and he is my friend, he calls me Sammy,” she said, laughing.

“Well, in that case, my name is JoAnn, Sammy’s Mother,” playing along with him. “Are you studying to be a Doctor?”

“Yep, like Doctor Paul, well, I need to make my rounds now,” he said, walking out of the room.

“Well, with those bedside manners, he will make a great Doctor and a good catch for you,” she said to Sammy. “What room is he in?”

“He doesn’t have one; he just walks around from room to room. He said he is going to make me his assistant,” she said, laughing.

“What a sweet kid. Maybe he is Doctor Paul’s son,” she said.

JoAnn walked into the Hospital’s gift shop the next day, “What do you have for a young boy?” She asked the woman behind the counter. She saw a Crystal Angel in the display case, “That looks like the Angel in my daughter’s room.”

“Someone has been stealing them out of here,” the woman behind the counter said.

“Who?” she asked with curiosity in her voice.

“We can’t catch the person. We think it is someone who works in the Hospital because they are disappearing at night when the gift shop is closed,” she said, “they are mysteriously showing up in the pediatric unit, and no one knows who’s doing it.”

JoAnn bought a small stuffed bear for Rodney and went up to the Nurses' station, “Can you tell me what room that little boy is in with the white coat? He said his name is Rodney, and I got him this little bear.”

“Rodney?” Nurse Betty asked. “When did you see him last?”

“Yesterday,” she said, “he said he is Doctor Paul’s assistant.”

“Doctor, who’s assistant?” Nurse Betty asked.

“Doctor Paul,” JoAnn said.

“I am new here, I don’t know all the Doctors. Well, he must have been discharged because there isn’t a Rodney on my room roster,” she said.

JoAnn went to her Daughter’s room and told Sam that Rodney had been discharged.

“He is still here, Mommy; he came in to see me.”

“They told me at the Nurses' station that they don’t have a kid named Rodney in this unit,” she said.

“He is Doctor Paul’s assistant; he is not a Patient,” Sammy said.

“Well, I got him this Bear,” she said, a little confused.

“I will give it to him,” Sammy said.

A couple of days later, JoAnn missed her bus and was at the Hospital later than normal. She sat next to her daughter’s bed while her daughter slept.

“So you missed your bus,” said a Doctor sitting in a chair across the room from her.

She became startled, and her body shifted in her chair.

“What’s the matter? You look like you've seen a ghost,” he said.

“I didn’t hear you come into the room and I didn’t see you there.”

“I didn’t want to wake your Daughter,” he said.

“Would you like to have a cup of coffee in the coffee shop?” he asked her.

“The Coffee Shop is closed now.”

“Oh, I can get you in I have been here so long that I am part of this Hospital,” he said.

She looked at his name tag, “Dr. Paul Harper, MD, you’re Doctor Paul.”

He turned the doorknob at the Coffee Shop; it was dark inside. He lit a small candle at one of the tables.

“Shouldn’t this place be locked,” she asked.

“It’s a security issue,” he said

“Are you the one stealing those Crystal Angels out of the gift shop and giving them to the kids,” she asked with laughter in her voice.

“Who me? No, I think it is my assistant Rodney,” he said with a smile in his voice.

“Is he your Son?” she asked, beaming with curiosity.

“No, just a dear friend of mine,” he said.

“How long have you been here?” she asked.

“A long time, but it doesn’t seem that long because it is no longer work for me. I truly love being with those children and looking after them,” he said with deep sincerity in his voice.

“And, they love you,” she said.

“Thank you, that means a lot to me,” he said.

“You and Rodney are all my daughter talks about.”

“I like making those children happy, just like you enjoy making your daughter happy. You are a great Mother and a kind person. You care for your daughter very much, and you looked after your mother for a very long time,” he said.

“How do you know that? I don’t ever remember seeing you before,” she said, slightly concerned.

“Your mother was here, JoAnn, I saw her,” he said.

“She wasn’t lucid then, her mind was completely gone,” she said.

“Oh, but her soul was lucid, and she loves you very much,” he said.

“My Mother died almost ten years ago,” she said, wondering if he is some kook trying to take advantage of her.

It was then that she looked into his eyes and noticed how crystal clear they were and filled with compassion. His eyes put her at ease.

“I don’t know what I will do if Sammy dies,” she said.

“Your daughter is a very special little girl, and I love her very much. I love all those Children I met on that unit,” he said.

“That is why they love you the way they do,” she said.

“Your daughter is with you now. Cherish the time you have with her. You are a great compassionate human being and you bring happiness to your daughter,” he said.

“Is she going to die?” she asked with tears rolling down her face.

“We all die, it is part of life, but we go on living. Those who touch our hearts today will touch our hearts tomorrow. There is no distance between us due to our hearts and souls being intertwined,” he said.

He walked over to her and put his arms around her, and she felt completely at ease. “Is there any possibility of meeting someone like you? A kind, decent person, not a control freak,” she asked with a smile.

“I am certain that someone good and kind will enter your life,” he said.

“My life is not picture perfect,” she said.

“The things that happened to you can never be erased; they are part of who you are. You have to overcome the nightmare, and you are now more sympathetic to the needs of others because of what you experienced in your childhood,” he said.

“I can’t bear the thought of going through life without my daughter,” she said with tears in her eyes.

“Cherish the moments you have now with your daughter,” with a smile in his eyes he said, “I see a Max coming into your life; he will help you. He has a heart of gold, but sometimes his light-bulb is not fully lit. He is truly great with kids and a lovable kind person.”

“I will keep my eyes open,” she said with a smile.

“Well, I have a few more rounds to make. Stay and finish your Coffee,” he said.

A security guard with a flashlight walked into the Coffee Shop, “Who’s in here,” he said.

“Oh, Doctor Paul, let me in,” JoAnn said.

“The Coffee Shop is closed. How did you get in here?” he asked.

“Doctor Paul Harper let me in,” she said.

“There are too many keys floating around this Hospital, and I am going to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

The next day, she walked down the corridor towards her daughter’s room. She saw a maintenance man holding a ladder, and he slipped on the floor, falling on top of it. He made a thunderous crash and scared the orderlies and nurses working on the floor.

“Max, what the hell are you doing?” asked Nurse Alice.

“Doctor Paul said there is a dim light bulb in room 22,” he told her.

“His name is Max?” JoAnn asked the Nurse.

“He’s the Maintenance man,” said a nurse.

“Hello there,” Max said to Sammy. He then turned to JoAnn, “Hello there.”

“Doctor Paul said you have a dim light-bulb in here,” he said.

“He was talking about your bulb,” Sammy said, laughing.

“Sammy!!!!” JoAnn yelled, “That is not nice.”

“Oh, you got a sweet daughter,” he said.

“You know Doctor Paul?” JoAnn asked, looking at him with curiosity because of what Dr. Paul had told her the night before.

“I met him a couple of times. He wants me to go back to school and become a medical assistant,” he said.

“That is what my Mommy does,” Sammy said to him.

At that moment, Rodney walked into the room.

“Hello there,” Max said to him.

“Oh, you fixed the dim light-bulb good,” he said while he turned and winked at Sammy.

“He is Doctor Paul’s assistant,” Sammy said to Max while laughing.

“He must be pretty sharp considering his age and all,” Max said to them.

“Do you get a lunch break or anything? We can get a bite to eat. It’s on me,” JoAnn said to him.

As they talked in the Coffee shop, JoAnn saw a sweetness in him, a kind, gentle soul. They met daily in the Coffee Shop and talked, and he brought great comfort to her, and they grew close.

“My Mommy likes you a lot,” Sammy said to Max as she lay in her hospital bed. “You take good care of her, OK.”

Max looked at her with tears in his eyes because he knew in his heart she was dying, “I will love her like no man ever has.”

“I love you, Max,” she said, “and my Mommy loves you.”

JoAnn was standing at the door and heard the conversation. She tried to wipe her tears before entering the room, and she didn’t want them to see her crying.

Sammy took a turn for the worst, and Max and JoAnn stayed with her. She held Sammy’s hand the moment she passed away. Tears rolled down Max’s face, and he held JoAnn in his arms to console her.

“I am going to miss her,” she cried, “so much so, I love you, Sammy.”

Max was with Joann through the burial and remained with her to console her. Max laid down next to her when she came home after Sammy was buried and held her through the night.

Months went by, and Max stayed. He helped her grieve her loss. They were deeply in love, and eventually, she helped him get certified as a medical assistant, and they soon married.

“Oh, Max, look how cute he is,” she said as she held her newborn baby at Mercy Hospital. “I am going to name him ‘Paul Harper.’”

“Paul Harper Stork is a nice name,” said Max.

Before leaving the Hospital, they went to the pediatric unit and the Nurses' Station.

“Excuse me, I hate to bother you, but I was wondering if I could see Doctor Paul Harper,” she said to Nurse Alice.

“Who?” asked the Nurse.

“I named my son after him, Paul Harper,” she said, “is there any possibility we can see him?”

“Doctor Paul Harper? Well, what is your name?” the nurse asked.

“Mrs. JoAnn Stork, my husband Max works here,” she said.

Another Nurse overhearing the conversation told Nurse Alice that she would help them.

“Hello, Max,” said the Nurse.

“My name is Ruth I worked here for over twenty years,” she told JoAnn, “longer than anyone on this ward.”

“We just want Doctor Paul to know that we named our son after him, that is all,” Max told the Nurse.

“Well, this is the ‘Doctor Paul Harper’ ward. Was your daughter in room 22?” she asked. “I remember her, a pretty little girl.”

“My daughter died in that room.”

They began to walk down the corridor, and Nurse Ruth explained how the ward acquired its name.

“Doctor Paul Harper worked this ward for years, and when he got sick, they put him in room 22,” nurse Ruth said.

The Nurse showed them a large picture on the wall in the corridor, “that is Doctor Paul Harper; he died here in 1962, in room 22,” she said, “he was a great man who loved the children, and that is why they took care of him in this ward.”

They looked at the picture as tears rolled down JoAnn’s face, “it is truly him,” she said, “the smile, the eyes, the humor in his face, Doctor Paul Harper.”

“You’re not the only one that has seen him; every child on the ward sees him. He loves the children,” nurse Ruth told them.

“When Doctor Paul was a little boy,” said a Doctor standing behind them, “his grandfather used to take him to this ward, and Doctor Paul would put on a white coat and tell the children that he was his grandfather’s assistant. His grandfather was an orderly here.”

As the Doctor walked away, he told them that he had an old picture of Doctor Paul. The picture was taken on the ward when Doctor Paul was a child wearing a white coat.

“Can I see the picture,” JoAnn asked.

“Sure,” he said.

They waited in the corridor for the Doctor and handed JoAnn the picture when he returned. Tears once again welled up in her eyes, and she became filled with emotion. She was looking at a picture of little Rodney in his white coat. Doctor Paul’s grandfather gave him the coat when he was a child.

“Why does the picture have the name Rodney on it,” she asked.

“Rodney was his middle name, and that was his father’s name,” the Doctor told her, “He never used his middle name, not sure exactly why. Some people say that his father was not a very nice man. People say his father was a mean drunk, so when Doctor Paul got older, he stopped using the name, Rodney. He started using Paul which was his grandfather’s name who worked here.”

She wiped the tears from her face, and at that moment, she felt the presence of her daughter Sammy standing next to her. Other children began to fill the corridor, and they moved in close to look at the newborn baby. “He smiled,” said one of the children. “I think he saw me,” said another child.

They were the children that Dr. Paul touched over the years. Some children passed on and returned to visit him when he was sick and dying in room 22. It was out of love that Dr. Paul visited the children. It is now through their love for Dr. Paul that the corridor has become more and more filled. The children like Sammy passed on after getting to know Dr. Paul and experiencing his love.

Every child on the ward was special to him throughout the years, and they all touched his heart.

“Hey, Nurse,” said a little boy at the Nurses desk.

“Yes,” said Nurse Alice.

“Who are all those kids?” asked the little boy.

“What kids?” she asked.

“Those kids, can’t you see them?” he asked.

The little boy was surprised that the nurses were completely unaware of the number of children going through the corridor to catch a glimpse of the little baby. At that moment, children began to leave their rooms, and they too began to walk down the hall to look at the little newborn baby.

“What is going on,” said Nurse Alice, “it’s like they have never seen a baby before.”

“I think that baby is quite special,” said Nurse Ruth.

Sammy, with her beautiful blond golden hair and radiant angelic face, reached over and placed her hand on the newborn baby’s head and said,

“Welcome back, Doctor Paul.”

* * * * *

    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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Sifoddling Along


By Marilyn Carnell

How Community Service Changed My Life

I retired early from a career in the food business and my husband and I moved to Pineville, Missouri. I didn’t plan to retire at that time, I was hoping to get a job at Walmart to finish my working years. Instead, I got involved in community development as a volunteer. First I was asked to run for the office of mayor. It wasn’t strictly a volunteer job. It paid the princely salary of $50/month, but I loved it. I saw it as a way to pay back the village that raised me with so much love and care. When I realized how many things were needed, I was hooked on community service. It never occurred to me that I should have more compensation. I was paying back a big dept.

I often wonder what Pineville would be like today if there had not been a group who opposed anything I suggested from day one. They were more intent on blocking me in any way possible than seeing what we could accomplish together. What had I done to deserve such treatment? I was an uppity, educated woman who wanted to change the way things had been done for decades and that could not be allowed. Besides, there was someone in the wings who wanted the job desperately. To answer my question: Pineville would be far better prepared to deal with the wrenching changes ahead when the growth of northwest Arkansas pushes across the state line at an even faster rate.

In the short two and a half years I served as mayor, I conducted the first inventory, had City Hall checked for accessibility for all, introduced computers (the clerks were handwriting water bills with pencil), and my husband wrote free programs for the water and fire departments, I helped write a grant to replace the dangerous wastewater plant, served on the advisory committee for I-49 and found a way to keep the old highway between Anderson and Pineville intact instead of being cut, proposed and campaigned for a use tax that brought millions of dollars to the city. Only recently have funds been allocated to better serve residents instead of staff.

I didn’t give up and quit easily. I endured public humiliation and embarrassment, destruction of 23 tires with nails and screws, expensive damage to my car, constant criticism and so much passive-aggressive treatment that my spirit was broken. My only regret is that I didn’t have a press conference to explain the harassment that drove me to give up. Yet, when I asked a local newsman why he didn’t write a story about what I had gone through his response was, “We report the news, we don’t make the news.”

After my tenure as mayor, I still refused to give up trying to make Pineville a better place to live and to prepare for the changes coming. I continued to work on economic development, art walks, Christmas events, watershed protection, and promoting businesses as a member of the board of the Chamber of Commerce which culminated in the production of the folk history play, “Snake County Stories.”

What did all of these good and bad experiences teach me?

Being deeply interested in a problem and looking for answers is an opportunity for personal growth in addition to improving a situation.

Good can be accomplished even in a hostile or unpromising environment.

I am a stronger person from any experience and working to repay my hometown gave me a real sense of purpose and usefulness.

There is no doubt I made political mistakes and there are many things I would do differently today, but I did the best I could at the time.

There are always opportunities for improvement. It takes working together, developing trust and respect for others, and a sincere belief to quote the late Paul Wellstone, a Minnesota Senator, “We all do better when we do better.”

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Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

A Kiss, Good News for Home Burials,
and Irish Mammy in Your Pocket

A Kiss is a collection of haibun, haiku, and senryu, a literary form originating in Japan. The work is by a man of many parts Gerry McDonnell. The title piece A Kiss is a moving piece of writing and the 56 pages of this volume take the reader through Dublin city, the marginalised, and nature. The author captures every emotion known to the human race and also features literary figures from the past, including Wilfred Owen, D. H. Lawrence, James Clarence Mangan and Patrick Kavanagh.

Gerry was born in Dublin and still lives there. He attended Trinity College, where he edited ICARUS, the college literary magazine. He also attended Dublin City University. He has had four collections of poetry. He has also written for stage, radio, and television. His play in Making It Home, a two-hander father and son relationship, was first performed at the Crypt Theatre at Dublin Castle in 2001. A radio adaptation of this play was broadcast on RTE Radio 1 in 2008 starring the acclaimed Irish actor David Kelly as the father and Mark Lambert as the son. His wonderful play Song of Solomon is a theatrical revelation. The Kiss covers a lot of ground. Poet, novelist, and critic Fred Johnston sums it up when he says, “ McDonnell has utilised Dublin as an intimate canvas.”

George Meredith wrote, “Kissing don’t last” But when you read The Kiss it will stay with you.

Don’t miss The Kiss. Details from Alba Publishing;

* * * * *

Barack and Michelle Obama serve are executive producers on the Netflix thriller, which has been partly filmed at my native heath..

Fagan's Bar in Lacken

Bodkin, the working title of the first scripted TV series from the Obamas' production company, Higher Ground ( An appropriate name since Lacken is 700 Above Ordinance Datum.!), is a darkly comedic thriller. Tommy Richardson’s shop was converted into “Fagan’s bar” for one scene. Bodkin is a darkly comedic thriller which features a motley crew of podcasters who set out to investigate the mysterious disappearance of three strangers in an idyllic, l Irish town.

* * * * *

Some good news about home burials

Martin Neary, Mullenmadogue, Swinford applied to Mayo County Council for permission to be buried on his own land He was refused on the grounds that he “Did not prove to the satisfaction of MCC that the proposal would not pose a risk to groundwater.” The council also, “. . . must consider the precedent that such a proposal would set throughout the County.” Mr. Neary’s comment to that was, “They reckoned I would poison the water. I’m only about 10 stone. I don’t think I would cause much pollution.” The council’s decision was overturned by An Bord Pleanála and Martin was given permission to be buried on his own land, “ . . . “in accordance with the said plans and particulars based on the reasons and particulars . . .” An Bord Pleanána inspector Lorraine Dockery said, “Martin's wish to be buried on his land did not raise any issues of principle.”

Martin, an atheist, says, “ All my arrangements for the hereafter have been finalised.” His “grave” is ready, complete with coping and a tombstone, and when his time comes he will be laid to rest beside his beloved sheepdog, Van Gogh, who is already interred. He says, “It will be nice to be buried close to a cherished friend.” And, “I thought it would be better to have my wake before I die.” He has bequeathed his 37-acre holding for community and recreational purposes.

And now, I’m asking Irish songwriters at home and abroad to please, please write a ballad about this wonderful man.

Aftering is the only radio show and podcast in Ireland exploring mortality. Every week, Valerie Vetter talks to a wide range of special guests exploring the past, present & future of dealing with death. Previous progammes have included looking at the history of keening and traditional Irish funeral practices to learning about the complexities of 21st century digital afterlives plus shows on palliative rehabilitation, green burial practices, termination, being a death doula, importance of coroner’s court reform, and coping with grief and loss. The Aftering radio show is on 103.2 Dublin City FM Mondays at 2 pm and can also be listened to live online via and podcasts available on

Irish Mammy in your Pocket.

World–renowned for her unique look at life there is no one quite like the Irish Mammy. She has a quotable comment for every situation. If there’s a hurricane she is likely to say,” There’s great drying out.” An offspring climbing or indulging in some other hazardous activity is likely to be told,” If you break your two legs don’t come running to me.”

The weather, the economy, clothing, or any bit of local (or not so local gossip) the Irish Mammy will have a memorable comment.

The quintessential Irish Mammy has something to say on every subject. This handy collection of Mammyisms will ensure you are never without an Irish Mammy’s words of wisdom. Kunak McGann and Sarah Cassidy, have compiled a worthy collection of ” mammyisms” in this small compact 160-page hardback. Buy it. You won’t be short of a laugh when you have the Irish mammy literally in your pocket. Irish Mammy in your Pocket is published by O’Brien Press.

See you in October.

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On Trek


By Judith Kroll 



We all want hope, good fortune, better relationships, etc etc in the coming year.

The grass always looks greener on the new calendar. Our happiness comes from within. We cannot expect others to make us happy. Our future, is our own journey. We help others along the way, and they help us, but in the end it is our responsibility.

Wanna lose weight? Do it. Wanna sing? Do it. Wanna help the homeless? Do it. Wanna help animals? Do it. Resolutions are good, but motivation of love is a real enforcer of good.

Start with ourselves first. What do I want? What do I need? What do I love? Don't settle for less, keep your goals in your heart and move those mountains. Encourage one another, be kind, loving, and true to self. What more do we need? We all have had both good and bad times. Each year is a fresh start. Moving forward many times takes baby steps..We don't stay babies for long. We move to big strides. Smiling all the while. Let your smile be that rainbow that floats above you always. Know yourself, love yourself, be yourself, and always be kind.

Encore Column by Judith 12/31/2019


This is Always Timely Advice

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Reflections of The Day


By Dayvid Clarkson

Breaking News

Yes, I took a break.

My purpose in life is to create a positive environment to share with Family and Friends. Over the last 6 months, my environment has not been the most positive.

Prostate cancer diagnosis March 2022 and at the same time my GP retired and no replacement. This created a situation of being in limbo with no clear direction or treatment.

Two weeks ago I was ‘re-assigned’ a GP. This in and of itself was an incredible blessing. She took charge and assembled a team for treatment. At the same time, the BC Cancer Society assigned me an Oncologist who really connected with my GP. We now are moving forward with a treatment program. I am now out of that ‘limbo’ stage. Things are really looking up.

Why did I take a break? Why did I not share what was going on?

As much as I want to create a positive thoughtful environment I did not want to involve others in a negative experience. Life is a difficult journey at best and I did not want to add emotional baggage to my Family and Friends. Where am I now? Reflecting on my journey, time to understand the lessons and let go of the past. And above all else to appreciate the Family and Friends that have been there for me. I take ownership of my journey so please understand my journey is my journey and not yours.

If my reflections assist you in understanding your journey then my course is clear. Thanks for your understanding and patience. So it is time to grab your helmet, get your crayons, and hop on the little bus we still have a wonderful journey ahead of us.
Dayvid, August 25, 2022

Reflections on the Day; Feeling blessed with more than enough. Thank you to everyone for the Well Wishes. It is encouraging to know that folks read the stuff I write and actually like it. Some even look forward to my nightly posts. I am left very sated yet with childlike giddiness. Think I will be tugging at Grand Mother Moon’s skirts and teasing the Elders this eve. What I wish is that each of you has just enough. Haven’t run out of magical wands yet so please accept this;
May the Creator bless us with the means to live well.
May we find what we are seeking.
May we be able to help others in need,
May we learn to live without the unnecessary.
May we demonstrate kindness and compassion each day.
May our community benefit from each other's generosity
May we share each other's burdens.
May there always be just enough.
So mote it be.
Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Deep humble bow.

Everyone can understand from natural experience and common sense that affection is crucial from the day of birth; it is the basis of life. The very survival of our body requires the affection of others, to whom we also respond with affection. Though mixed with attachment, this affection is not based on physical or sexual attraction, so it can be extended to all living beings without bias.

Sitting on the front steps watching the clouds roll by in the reflections on the lake. The trees stand in the shadows wearing their forest green cloaks and the night is still. I start to laugh and I laugh so hard that tears stream down my cheeks. Who am I to figure out this great mystery? It is absurd. We read we search, we listen, and we seek the answers. We chase dreams and aspirations as we mistakenly think we can control the outcomes. Like a dog chasing its tail. The quiet voice of an Elder comfortably enters my thoughts. “All that is expected and all that is required is to simply live a kind and compassionate life. Do not waste time coveting something that you have been taught to yearn for. Stop trying to be someone the world taught you to be. Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, and have few desires.”

I am grateful for the Elder’s words. This eve I will take the lessons of the day to my resting there to absorb and cherish them. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.


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A Mother's Lessons


By Danielle Cote Serar

It’s no secret that I reflect a lot on the lessons my mother taught or that I caught. Tonight had me looking back at one. My mother would often joke, with seriousness underneath her words, “do as I say not as I do”, often softly reminding me I needed sleep as she too was up reading a book saying one more chapter with each chapter refusing to go to bed herself or some silly contradictory moment. In earnest, she would often remind me to learn from her mistakes instead of trying to repeat them. Not new parental advice I know. But reflectively extremely profound, especially after tonight.

I attended my church’s midweek get-together with the focus on mental health, guest pastor Wesley Towne speaking. As someone who struggles with their own mental well-being and having spent a lot of my life doing so for various reasons, much of what he said resonated with me. However, it was his deeply sapient statement - Nothing hidden can be healed - that struck such a strong note with me because it was one lesson I learned from my mother not because she exemplified healing coming from sharing but rather because she often demonstrated the opposite, choosing to keep hidden her grief, not fully processing or healing from it.

If you know anything of my story or my mother’s you know challenging times and grief are common in our life. As I got older I began to recognize that my mother, whose strength I admire greatly, would tackle the things she could act upon head-on but the emotional ones that came with losing someone, she would lock away, refusing to confront. We actually got into a huge fight once about this when I saw the pain it was causing her. She shared “if I face it, it will consume me and I’ll never recover.”

I wasn’t going to argue with her but I also knew she was wrong. is seen firsthand how sharing our pain helped lessen the burden, helped process it. I share a lot about my mom, her lessons. I do that because even 5 years later I’m still grieving the loss of her, still struggling. And that’s ok. But I’m grieving out loud in my own way because nothing that is hidden can be healed.

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View from My Back Steps


By John I. Blair 


Plants to Avoid in Gardens

I have been an avid home gardener most of my life, starting as a toddler in my mom’s and dad’s garden in the 1940s. I love most plants, and of course especially the ones with beautiful flowers. But there are some plants I have learned to NOT tolerate in my garden. At least not if I can avoid, or eliminate, them. And the list includes several that are extremely popular/common around the country.

First on the list is Asian/Amur/Chinese privet (it has several names), an introduced plant that has formed "privet deserts" in thousands of places in America, many of them intended to be wildlife refuges or city parks. Because this plant has no natural "enemies" in this continent (having evolved thousands of miles away) it's virtually indestructible and contributes little or nothing to our native populations of insects, birds, and other animals except possibly an occasional nesting spot for a bird. But the effort has to be made, and armies of volunteers around the country spend many thousands of hours fighting them. In my garden, however, the fight is on me and (mostly) my gardener.

The Amur privet (Ligustrum amurense sp.) is an exotic (i.e., not native to these parts) shrub or subshrub that is originally from northern China where it has been growing, both wild and domesticated, for thousands of years (probably millions of years in the wild).

Amur privet is just one of dozens of varieties of privet, which range in size from small shrubs to trees.

It is a dense, erect, multi-stemmed, fast-growing deciduous shrub that is semi-evergreen in areas with mild winters. It can grow up to 12-15 feet tall but is more usually seen at heights of 1 to 6 feet. The leaves are usually rather small, elliptic to oblong in shape, dull green and smooth. Flowers are creamy white, in panicles about 2 inches long, and have an aroma that many people (including me) find unpleasant.

The fruit is a green oval berry that turns black when ripe and contains a single seed. It ripens in the autumn and is spread by birds and other animals all over the place. (At least some animals have found it edible, which is often not the case for introduced plants.)

Ecological Threat

This plant grows well in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. (It does not do well in wet conditions.) It is tolerant of a wide range of soils and tolerant of urban conditions. Plants will naturalize by self-seeding and often form dense – even impenetrable -- thickets in areas where growth is not controlled. Almost nothing else will grow in these thickets as the privet is almost impossible for other plants to compete with. Hence the “privet desert” description of these areas, which typically are impossible to even walk through.

Over the long period since it was first introduced in North America it has been planted extensively as a hedge or foundation shrub. Birds can carry the berries for miles and plant them all over. To the best of my information no native insects feed on them.

When I was a kid in Kansas in the 1940s virtually every front yard on our block was bordered by privet hedges. And this was true of thousands of similar neighborhoods all over the country. Our first real house (rented) had a hedge like this in front that I "proudly" trimmed into a very unnatural boxy shape. My current house came with about 40 feet of privet hedge at the back of the lot that has since spread all over the place despite my best efforts to eradicate it. Privet was originally introduced as a hardy replacement for boxwood. That was a mistake we have been suffering for ever since. Privet is kind of like the English sparrow/pigeon/starling of the plant world. Only worse, if that’s possible.

My advice: NEVER PLANT THIS AND IF YOU HAVE SOME, ERADICATE IT. Just cutting it down won’t kill it. The standard approach for volunteer crews working to control large areas of privet is to cut it flush with the ground, then paint the stumps with weed killer and cover the painted stump with a weatherproof cup, as securely as possible. If done right, this will eventually kill the remaining root system. Difficult work, tedious, but usually effective. Learn to identify privet on sight and work fast. Or it will literally “take the place”. In a home garden just identifying, cutting to the ground, then repeating that as needed, should give you fairly good control. About the only good thing I can say about privet is that it isn’t actually poisonous. On the other hand, thick stands of privet are an inviting spot for nesting wasps to locate their nests. Twice in my life I’ve inadvertently backed into a wasp nest in such a location. While I rather like wasps (at a reasonable distance) I sure didn’t like that experience.

In future columns I intend to address such plants as Asian honeysuckle, cherry laurel, vinca major, wild grape, snail seed, greenbrier, chinaberry. Unlike privet, many of these plants are fine species in their place, but their place is NOT in your home garden – not unless you have endless acres and a rough-and-ready approach to gardening. 

 ©2022 John I. Blair 8/31/2022

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Honey Dog Tales


By Walt erryman

Chapter One

This is a presentation of Honey Dog's Memories and Advice and includes both tales and poems by Honey Dog and her secretarial assistant and Master, Walt Perryman.

Honey Dog’s Poem

I am a dog, and my name is Honey.
My master is a poet and thinks he is funny

. People will never know what I go through.
The stuff I put up with and stuff I do

. He gives me dog food that is all stale,
Then expects me to be happy and wag my tail.

He throws sticks and balls for me to fetch,
Then throw Frisbees in the air for me to catch.

He took me to the Veterinarian and got me fixed,
Should I love or bite him the feeling is mixed.

I am thinking about leaving my master someday.
I think I was better off, back when I was a stray.

But I will probably stay with him until I die,
Because that is what dogs do, I am not sure why.

I do not know what to do with this man,
I will try to take care of him the best I can.

I am a dog, and my name is Honey,
I am paid with love instead of money.

* * * * *

A Tale Written by Honey Dog 3/8/2007

“Bow Wow”!!! We just turned on the Luckenbach Loop road, Now, If the right bartender is there, I can finally get some jerky. I thought to myself as my so-called, master, Walt the poet, pulled into the parking area and almost hit Virgil. I love Virgil because he hollers out, “you can’t bring that to Luckenbach”. My master got mad when Virgil added, “Honey, I am talking to you”!

There was a large herd of humans, all kinds of people, bikers, cowboys, city slickers, and musicians. I stopped in my tracks and pointed to the three chickens and one bad rooster on the left of the first trash can. Then my Poet on the other end of my leash almost pulled my neck off, the jerk, he never watches where I am going, if I stop to use the rest room, about the time I get to going good, whap!! The “poet” hits the end of my rope. What a jerk, if I ever make it back to the dog pound, I will pick a more caring master.

As we head up to the oak tree to the picker circle, I survey the group, Yep, most of the regular singing pickers and they are grinning. Oh no!! That same old pit bull over by the bathrooms, that son of a bad piece of jerky, I have been wanting a piece of him, he is so arrogant and big, he thinks he taunts me, but I got his number, I may be little but I have watched my master in action before and I happen to know a few tricks, I have learned from him when he is in front of his mirror at home. I hope, I do not have to go into action, but I am ready if that big piece of dog meat comes within my lease range. This lease range is my territory.

Hopefully, my master will shorten my lease a bit before we get to close. I do have my perimeter to protect, but I had rather go inside and beg for jerky while my master tells his stupid stories, I have heard them so many times that I could bark them out. Then he drinks a few beers and when we go home I have to drive, I have so much sticky stuff on my paws from all of the duct tapes he uses to stick my paws to the steering wheel, I feel like a piece of Velcro. If he threw me up to the ceiling, I would stick to it.

I am just trying to let you know what it is like to be a dog and still love people. Have a good day! Bark, bark!

* * * * *

(To Be Continued. See Me Next Issue.)
© 3/8/2007 Honey Dog
with Secretarial Assistant and Master Walt Perryman

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Quiet Reflection


By Dayvid Clarkson

Quiet reflection

A time of restoration

Serene the winter.

I took the picture last winter from my deck.... You can feel the prelude of Autumn. I live in paradise.

©2021 Dayvid Bruce Clarkson

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Washington School

By Bud Lemire

I'm taken back, a long time ago
Teachers and classmates, that I came to know
I didn't start there, I'll have to skip just one
Memories of going there, we sure had a lot of fun

First Grade Mrs. Woodard, Second Grade Mrs. Cass
Third Grade Mrs. Sprague, time sure went fast
Fourth Grade Mrs. Tippett, Fifth Grade Mr. Leduc
In the Winter time, we had to wear a chook

The Sixth Grade, we had Ms. Severe
I remember the teachers from every year
In Second Grade, we moved from the old to the new
After Washington School, is when I really grew

Memories bring me back there, with just a thought
And I find myself in the class, right at that very spot
Playing marbles, tether ball, or on the Jungle Gym
As children, we did so many things on a whim

Being a Cross Guard, was something to enjoy
At Washington School, I was just a little boy
As Washington School, the building we once knew
Becomes a parking lot for buses, its schooling days are through

©June 17, 2022 Bud Lemire

                           Author Note:

Of course it's been a while since it was a school. Many times
priorities come first. Safety for the kids who go to the school
once called Junior High. Changes are a part of life. We all
know about them, as we have each gone through so many.
Seems like every year there are changes, of one kind or another.
Our memories of that time will always be with us, or in my case
written down in a poem or somewhere else.


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It Is Up To God


By Walt Perryman

I have been making tracks on this earth for over 78 years,
I’ve had many good times and I have cried many tears.

A few years ago, I married a Cajun, Laura is her name,
God gave us a true lasting love that always stays the same.

I have had my share of Cancers and I’ve been close to death,
But when I lost a daughter, it knocked the wind out of my breath.

I have always believed in God, but I never lived life like I should.
But for the last five years, I’ve attended church when I could.

My wife Laura is a true believer there is no doubt,
She has helped me learn what the Bible is all about.

But now I have another problem and only God has the answer,
It was just this Friday that I was diagnosed with lung cancer.

I know I am in for one of the hardest battles I have ever known.
But with God, my Church, family, and friends I will never be alone.

Because I have God and so many loved ones praying for me.
And I say, Lord, I am not afraid and I’m ready for whatever will be.

PS. Dear God, I believe the rest of my story is up to you,
And Lord, it would be ok with me if I made another track or two.

© August 2022 Walt Perryman

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The Dream


By Bruce Clifford

A boy can dream of anything.
Take to the sky.
Learn how to fly.

A girl can dream of colorful things.
Take it to heart.
Learn from the start.

They were so young when their lips first met.
Life had only begun.
They had no regrets.

They were so naïve which came with the times.
Life would later deceive.
She was so hard to find.

A man could still dream of remarkable things.
Take to the sky.
Learn how to fly.

A lady could still dream of all the brilliant things.
Take it to heart.
Keeping true love apart.

© 8/9/2022 Bruce Clifford

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By John I. Blair

Poetry is not defined
By rhyme or rhythm
Though it often does include these things.

It rather is
Concentrated language
Like water turned to wine.

©2022 John I. Blair, 8/7/2022

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Gently Forgive


By Dayvid Clarkson

Gently forgive the clouds

Unaware they block the Sun

Look above the clouds

©2022 Dayvid Bruce Clarkson

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Early Monday Thought


By Walt Perryman

I have prayed for God to shine His light down on me.
And remove any doubts because it’s God I could see.

It was my lazy way to get closer to God and faster,
But shortcuts to God often will wind up a disaster.

Nowadays, I can see God in the early morning dew.
A newborn baby, and in other Christians too.

God is in my life more today than He was yesterday,
I not only can see His light but hear what He has to say.

©August 22 at 2:59 AM Walt Perryman

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By Bud Lemire

You came from Australia, and gave so much to us
A beautiful voice and smile, which was a big plus
You starred with John in the movie “Grease”
You sang about Love, you sang about peace

You had a “Magic” touch, when you sang in “Xanadu”
You let the animal out, when you got “Physical” too
A higher voice had called the tune, with a “Twist Of Fate”
I guess what happened was, Heaven couldn't wait

“I'll Bet You A Kangaroo” that you are dancing to a didgeridoo
In the Spirit World where you are, and singing a song too
You've always been an angel, “No Matter What You Do”
All your fans will be, sending their love to you

“Please Mr. Please” don't play B17 any more
Olivia is now singing on a distant shore
“Sam” I know who I am
Watching a Heavenly program

Olivia gave us memories, with each song
To cherish forever, and to keep us strong
Another Angel was born, when she passed away
Leaving behind a discography, of the best songs to play
Special in their own way, each so very dear

©August 8, 2022 Bud Lemire

Author Note:

From the very beginning, Olivia gave us her very best.
Her music was a pleasure to listen to. I listened to her
so often, and her songs are always on my playlist. She
gave so much to us throughout her lifetime.
Thank you Olivia!

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It Hurts Too Much

By Bruce Clifford

It hurts too much to think of you.
It takes me to a place, a distant point of view.
It hurts too much knowing nothing was ever real.
It hurts too much knowing you never cared about how I feel.

It hurts too much even with the passing of time.
It still takes me back to where destiny collides.
It hurts too much remembering of something that was once real.
It hurts too much knowing of all the pain you had to conceal.

It hurts too much to think of us.v It takes me to a place where we have a past to discuss.
It hurts too much to dream, but I dream every night.
It hurts too much knowing we could never get it right.

It hurts too much to think of what could have been.
It takes me to the park where all I am doing is thinking.
It hurts too much knowing the past was never real.
It hurts too much knowing you never cared about how I feel.

©8/10/2022: Bruce Clifford

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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.

©2021 Walt Perryman

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A People About A Poem


By Bud Lemire

I wrote a people, about a poem
Because I was away, I wasn't home
When I'm not home, where could I be
Hanging out with birds and squirrels, in a tree

I like to bike, and ride I do
On a summer day, when skies are blue
I dance upon the white clouds, up in the sky
I hang on real tight, as they pass on by

An island trip, when it's warm outside
With birds and nature, I always confide
They listen closely, from a nearby tree
And tell me it's private, just them and me

I go to the park, and take a little walk
Lock up my bike, people love to talk
I try to listen, but I hear the birds
They sing to me, I understand not their words

It's a quiet day, but it feels so great
Peaceful and tranquil, which I appreciate
And wherever I go, wherever I roam
I write a people, about a poem

©March 12, 2022 Bud Lemire

                              Author Note:

Just something a little different


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Too Hard To Forget

By Bruce Clifford

It’s too hard to forget.
A full cycle of regrets.
All the time we had spent.
The pain remains relevant.

The chaos and the décor.
Each memory left to explore.
You wanted, but I wanted more.
I never found the open door.

The panic in your ways.
Knowing you got away.
Always searching for an escape.
The laughter you design and fake.

Years of sadness and abuse.
Waiting for that breakthrough.
Decoded in your dreams.
The stress within extremes.

It’s too hard to ever forget.
Memories of the time we spent.
You wanted, I wanted more.
More than ever and ever before.

© 8/1/2022: Bruce Clifford

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