Friday, December 1, 2023

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

December 2023

“Winter, a lingering season,
is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey,
and enjoy every idle hour.”

__John Boswell

Oh we do have a Christmassy edition of Pencil Stubs Online this issue! Having searched for new poetry and not finding the essence of the holiday we turned to encores of our usual poets that were seasonal. Many go back several years so should be new to the readers of today. Enjoy!

It was a must to display Walt Perryman's "A Tumbleweed Christmas" and his current poem "A Sometimes Doubt." Bruce Clifford's "Traditions Lie" doesn't address Christmas, but Bud Lemire's "A Beatles Christmas" certainly does. His other two poems are "My Forever Girl" and "My Friend, John Summers." Although John I. Blair has been low on current poetry, his history in Pencil Stubs boasts well over a thousand submissions, including his various column series, so we chose these to bless us this month: "Keeping Christmas," "When Roses Bloom in December," and "Winter Doesn't Have a Texas Address."

The other three are from your editor and are on the sentimental side as the one titled "Make Mary Merry" was an actual intention of my late sister Noralee Crowson following the loss of my husband of nearly 33 years who passed October 17, 1996 and our father John (Jack) Edward Carroll who died only a short time before AG on July 1, 1996, so our mother Lena May and our other sisters were also grieving. The other two are "The Season" and "Tiny Miracle" which has become like a tradition for December.

"Introspective" by Thomas F. O'Neill shares the link to a video of having Thanksgiving with his colleagues while teaching in China, but also a bit about his Christmas periods there along with some photos. Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" is about how our memories are blessings. Pauline Evanosky's column is  "Woo Woo," where she declares Psychics aren't different, they just notice things. Marilyn Carnell's column "Sifoddling Along" shares a loving tribute to her father and his favorite pastime hobby of fishing, sharing some wonderful pictures as proof.

We welcome our new columnist Ara Parisien and her expertise as a "Medium-Author-Spiritual Teacher" which happens to be the title of her column. We have been chat friends many years and this promises to be a valuable asset for our eZine.

What a comprehensive column is offered by Rod Cohenour ("Cooking with Rod") to put you on the path to a fabulous South of the Border Holiday menu. Meanwhile our "Armchair Genealogy" columnist Melinda Cohenour is lauding the proof to convict serial murderers because of incontrevertible DNA results, and updates her column on the Gilgo Beach tragedies.

We continue to bless our good fortune in knowing our co-founder and webmaster, Mike Craner, whose knowledge and expertise keeps Pencil Stubs Online actually online We know how busy he is during this season as he "plays" Santa on an excursion train in Virginia, delighting children of all ages.. We place our confidence in him as we have in the past and shall continue doing so.

See you in January!.

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

Gilgo Beach Serial Murderer

Intro: Another update on the investigation of the mysterious and hair-raising Gilgo Beach Serial Murder Case. DNA has played a huge role in the identification and arrest of one person inextricably tied to, at minimum, three of the victims and, almost certainly, a fourth. Ongoing DNA tests may bring charges related to even more of the eleven victims discovered thus far on or near Gilgo Beach but the search continues around the nation for potential additional victims of this monster.

The end of the year 2023 nears. More than a decade since the search for Shannan Gilbert resulted in the discovery of ten sets of remains near Shannan's last known location. The shocking discovery of four similarly bound bodies back in 2010 prompted an investigation - one initially thwarted by corruption within Suffolk County's Police department. That internal rot knocked the investigation onto a back burner leaving residents of Long Island uneasy, fearful, and frustrated. Another decade passed with no progress.

Enter Rodney Harrison, end of year 2021. A highly skilled, politically adept, seasoned and respected career criminal investigator with a proven track record and experience directing one of the largest police forces in the nation, possibly the world's largest. Selected to serve as Suffolk County's Police Commissioner in December 2021, Harrison vowed to make solving the Gilgo Beach Serial Murders his top priority. He immediately set about forming a Task Force dedicated solely to the purpose of identifying and bringing to justice the person or persons responsible for discarding the ten victims whose remains had been uncovered on or immediately adjacent to Gilgo Beach.

By February of 2022, the Task Force had identified a strong suspect based upon evidence buried within the decades old mass of materials. It became necessary to conduct the review of new evidence through the venue of a secretly convened Grand Jury, focused solely upon the case. By July, it became clear the suspect appeared to have launched upon a pattern the evidence showed had resulted in tragedy in the past. It was critical the suspect be taken into custody to prevent another brutal killing.

Prior columns cover the case from the initial catalyst (the search for Shannan Gilbert), to the discovery of the victims known as the Gilgo Four, and the additional six sets of remains, to the arrest of Rex Heuermann.

Last month's column highlighted the latest bombshell allegations of witnesses whose statements claimed Heuermann's wife was a knowing participant in some of his sexually perverted escapades and linked him to two additional victims.

This headline-grabbing news was made public by a hastily called Press Conference by victims advocate and lawyer, John Ray. Ray has devoted years of personal time and money to the investigation into the Shannan Gilbert case on behalf of her family, as well as the Jessica Taylor case. He has drawn the ire and the castigation of the Suffolk County DA and law enforcement through the years. Not a surprising outcome as he has fought tirelessly to force focus upon solving Shannan's death (deemed by police to be a "regrettable accident") and that of Jessica Taylor's as well. Ray has made no hesitation in pointing out the stench of police corruption in these intervening years, making himself a target of ridicule by the police and DA along the way. Imagine, therefore, the shock and anger when that press conference occurred with none other than Suffolk County's Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison standing alongside Attorney John Ray and lending credence to the statements of four new witnesses. Witnesses, by the way, who declined to go directly to the established police hot line opting instead to seek out John Ray.

As reported in last month's column, District Attorney Raymond Tierney issued an immediate public statement lambasting (without mentioning him by name) Rodney Harrison. Although both Tierney and Harrison indicated the "team" was intact, it was readily apparent that was not the case.

From the start, Tierney had positioned himself as a politically driven figure, claiming credit for the Task Force creation (a claim more believably proffered by Harrison), putting himself forward in press conferences, even making longtime police investigators (now retired and airing podcasts) speak out about their concerns he was airing TMI in the effort to aggrandize his own contributions.


More politics. After twelve years as County Executive, Steve Bellone (who had named Rodney Harrison back in 2021) had attained the term limit to his position. Unable to run again for the position, his replacement would be voted in during midterm elections and any new Country Executive would be expected to bring in his "own people" to staff key appointed positions - including that of Police Commissioner.

Harrison announced his resignation ahead of the election, citing a desire to spend more time with his family, having previously responded to inquiries about his status as "dependent upon his family's counsel" and wishes as to that decision.

It appears Harrison is "of counsel" to the Task Force through the end of the year.

Enter new Republican County Executive as announced by NBC New York:


'Suffolk County voters selected a new county executive -- Republican Ed Romaine.

'Romaine is the Brookhaven town supervisor and has been in county government for 38 years.

"I have the experience, the ability to do this job from day one," Romaine told NBC New York ahead of the election.

'Romaine defeated Democratic challenger Dave Calone, a political newcomer and self-described political outsider.'


In direct opposition to the nationwide trend to "go Democrat", Long Island New York went RED.



'Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said he welcomes Romaine into GOP leadership.

"Ed and I are going to do some great things together here on Long Island on a lot of regional issues," Blakeman said.

'They mention taxes, immigration, public safety. (with new County Executive Romaine making the following statement):

"...The Gilgo case is a perfect example of that. So I am going to be guided and give the DA, as well as the police, the tools they need, and our medical examiner, to do the job to keep us safe," Romaine said.

Romaine will appoint Suffolk's new police commissioner.


On November 15, Rex Heuermann appeared for his latest court hearing. A procedural matter, mostly concerned with scheduling and the delivery of more evidentiary materials by prosecutors to defense, the surprise appearance of Asa Ellerup brought out flocks of news personnel: reporters, cameramen, and women, amidst a sea of wires and microphones and satellite dishes.

Asa Ellerup arrived in the back seat of a Mercedes, looking slimmer and more well-dressed, and was flanked by a retinue of lawyers and press as she made her way into the courtroom. She is rumored to have contracted for an exclusive documentary, reporting every appearance throughout the course of Heuermann's trial. The rumor mill says Asa (on behalf of herself and her children) is scheduled to receive $1 million for the documentary.

As would be imagined, the victims' families and victim advocacy groups are enraged.

Much was made of two things: Asa's tentative slight smile as Rex Heuermann looked her way and the statement issued by defense attorney Michael Brown that she would be attending every court hearing to see the evidence for herself as "she does not believe" her husband capable of these killings.

Also discovered, Rex Heuermann signed over ownership of the family home in which he was born and lived his entire life to Asa. Documents securing that transaction appear to have been finalized in September 2023.


This case never fails to introduce WEIRD into the mix. It has recently been made public that Rex Heuermann has a pen pal. Seems he actually responded to an overture by convicted serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, known as the Happy Face Killer.



'A truck driver who got the nickname the 'Happy Face Killer' after murdering eight women has become pen pals with accused Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann.

'Keith Jesperson, now 68, was given multiple life sentences in 1995, and from his Oregon cell now writes to others behind bars.

'Jesperson wrote to Heuermann, 59, in his Long Island jail, and on August 31 Heuermann, awaiting trial for the murder of three sex workers, wrote back.

'Jesperson recommended Heuermann confess to avoid giving prosecutors the chance to 'gloat' about finding evidence, and to avoid the spectacle of a trial.

'He told podcast host Keith Rovere that Heuermann moaned about conditions in jail - from dry bread to a gloomy exercise yard.

'Rovere, who specializes in interviewing serial killers from prison, told he was not seeking to glamorize or justify their actions.

'He said he wants to explain them as people and rarely discusses the detail of their crimes.

'He said he had known Jesperson for many years and since he launched his podcast 'The Lighter Side of Serial Killers' had spoken to him several times.

'Jesperson sent Rovere the letter, which Heuermann had sent him. Heuermann, in his response to Jesperson, thanked him for his 'letters and advise.'

'They have been a help and comfort to me,' said Heuermann, who was arrested in July. 'I do understand what you have said and taken it to heart.'


Copies of the letter Rex Heuermann wrote in response to Jesperson are provided here, along with a copy of the envelope in which Heuermann's letter was transmitted.


What stood out to your author is the fact Heuermann made no effort in his reply to deny culpability.

It was also very fascinating to learn of this newly formed relationship. During the extensive week and a half search of Heuermann's home and yard by law enforcement, I watched, fascinated, as a helicopter transmitted live video of the backyard being scanned, then sections being explored by extraction of the ground in various locations. During this filming, the photographer took note of an unusual feature on the rear of the home. The camera zoomed in closer, and closer, highlighting a shingle that had been marked ... with a Happy Face 's features.

It may be that Heuermann decided to choose this correspondent to provide a reply because Jesperson's daughter is the one who contacted Asa in the immediate aftermath of the arrest, search warrant issuance and activation. News of the plight of Asa and her children tugged at her heartstrings. She launched a GoFundMe on Asa's behalf. Thus, Heuermann's "thank you" to Jesperson in his reply.


The next court date scheduled for Rex Heuermann is February 6, 2024.

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Cooking with Rod


By Rod Cohenour

A South of the Border Christmas Meal

Delight your guests by serving the turkey on a lovely platter, consider surrounding with seasonal fruits and nuts. Fresh rosemary sprigs or parsley brighten the presentation as well.

Bon Appetit ~!

Recipes for our South of the Border Christmas meal:

M's Queso and Sausage Dressing


  • 2 pounds pork sausage, crumbled while browning
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 5 medium celery stalks, strings stripped and sliced (2 cups)
  • 2 packages (16 ounces) seasoned cornbread stuffing crumbs (12 cups)
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 2 cups chicken broth (from 32-ounce carton)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup Queso Rodrigo, (recipe included below)
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted if preferred


    1. Cook sausage, onion and celery in skillet over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain fat well
    2. Place sausage mixture, stuffing crumbs, butter, sage, pepper, parsley and cilantro in large oven proof roasting pan. Pour broth over mixture; toss to combine. Gently stir in cheese and pecans. Add queso and stir well to combine. Cover and cook in oven at 325° on Low heat setting about 1.5 to 2 hours, checking to make sure dressing is not getting too brown. If still needing to cook, cover tightly with aluminum foil and check in about 10-15 minutes. Garnish with sprigs of fresh Cilantro and celery leaves.
    3. Serve dressing warm. This will keep well in refrigerator and is delicious served after reheating or cold (makes a great sandwich, especially if slices of turkey are included, and maybe some cranberry sauce. Add crisp iceberg lettuce and sweet onion slices if you wish.)

M's Queso and Sausage Dressing


M's South of the Border Turkey


  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16-24 lb turkey, fully thawed if frozen
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temp


  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 2 tablespoons dried or fresh parsley
  • 1 medium orange, quartered


    1. Prepare your spice blend. In small bowl, mix all ingredients except turkey and butter. (Make a double batch of this spice mix and store what you do not use in a tightly sealed container. It can be used on chicken, pork, or beef.) Lower rack in oven to lowest position. Preheat oven to 325°.
    2. Make sure your bird is fully thawed; a partially frozen one will cook unevenly. Better to plan to roast a fully frozen turkey, longer cooking times. Prepare your roasting pan. Either use a rack or prepare a bed of wadded up aluminum foil to keep the turkey from contacting the bare pan. Add about a cup of water to the pan to keep everything moist.
    3. Add aromatics in cavity: 1 onion, quartered, 2-3 stalks celery cut in about 2" pieces, parsley, one orange quartered. (These will be discarded once roasting is complete but will impart a wonderful aroma while roasting as well as flavoring the turkey.) Loosen skin on turkey in 4 or 5 places. Reaching under skin of turkey, rub butter generously on turkey. Rub chili powder mixture (using half or less) over entire outside of turkey.
    3. Place turkey (warmed to room temperature) in large roasting pan in preheated oven set at 325°. Cover loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side out) and roast as shown below depending on weight of turkey. For best results, plan on roughly 13 minutes per pound, however, actual oven temps can vary and density of individual birds can affect cooking times. Better to check after a couple hours for smaller turkeys and 3 hours for larger ones. Turkey is fully cooked when a meat thermometer placed in thickest part of leg reads 170°F and juice of turkey is no longer pink when center is cut.
    4. Remove turkey from roasting pan; cover with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Cooking Times in a Regular Oven (325°F)

Weight / Cook Time (Unstuffed)

    7-9 lbs.- 2 1/2 to 3 hrs.
    9-18 lbs.- 3 to 3 1/2 hrs.
    18-22 lbs.- 3 1/2 to 4 hrs.
    22-24 lbs.- 4 to 4 1/2 hrs.
    24-30 lbs.- 4 1/2 to 5 hrs.

M's South of the Border Turkey


Queso Rodrigo


  • 2 cans (10.5 oz. each) Cheddar Cheese soup
  • 1 can (10.5 oz ) Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced fine
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted pimiento pepper, drained and diced fine
  • 2 Tbsp. Corn or vegetable oil (do not use olive oil for this recipe)
  • 1/2 brick cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp. Chunky salsa


    1. Whisk together soups and green chiles. Set aside.
    2. Assemble diced onion and jalapeno chile pepper, reserving roasted pimiento pepper.
    3. Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and jalapeno chile pepper. Stir and braise until onion is transparent. A touch of caramelization is okay but show restraint. A little is plenty.
    4. Stir in soup mixture. Add roasted pimiento pepper. Heat through while stirring to prevent scorching. Add cream cheese and continue stirring.
    5. Add chunky salsa, continue stirring until heated through.
    6. Cover and keep warm while preparing dishes.

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Woo Woo


By Pauline Evanosky

Psychics Aren’t Different - They Just Notice Stuff

I am the same person I was before I became a psychic in 1993. I just notice things more now, and yet, I can still be one of the most obtuse people on the planet, the same as anybody else.

It’s funny, but with something as ordinary as a keyboard that sticks, the solution would be to spend $60 and get a new one. Typically, your keyboard and your mouse will be the first things about your computer that will need replacing. That’s a fact. It’s like the tires on your car. They wear out first.

My keyboard has been sticking for a long time. It was a gradual thing. The most common problems I have are with the vowels. The letter A doesn’t always show up where it’s supposed to. I am certainly not the best typist in the world, and I’m surely not the most accurate, but that small thing of having a keyboard that refuses to keep up can sometimes be annoying. I can feel the key stick and press harder. What I get generally looks like: Whaaaaaaaat. I also have a habit of typing with my eyes closed. Maybe so I am not distracted by the things around me. But what happens when I open my eyes is a jolt of disappointment. Letters, transposed, which actually has nothing to do with the keyboard but more to do with me—just a bunch of bad vibrations.

What do I do? Nothing. The letters on the keys are wearing off. I no longer have A, S, D, F, L, C, V, and a ghost of an M. Even the tiny bumps on the main home keys, F and J, are wearing away. And still, I resist purchasing a new keyboard.

What does this have to do with being psychic? Nothing and everything. There’s a “should be” lurking in this ordinary problem. the thing with being a psychic is that you're supposed to be able to see your way through pretty much anything to a solution that either works or is an acceptable interim fix. That's why people come to you for your psychic insight into their problems. I have found over the years that people tend to want to hear advice but not to take it. There is always a problem with their way of thinking with the advice. I know because I'm the same way.

It's human nature, and besides, Madison Avenue has capitalized on it in a big way, figuring that people need to be reminded over and over again that what the company is selling is what the person needs, absolutely craves, and is willing to spend $19.99 to get it.

One thing I've noticed with energy is that if you've got a thing to do and you want it done, the most logical thing would be to devote some energy to the thing. That makes sense in the case of my keyboard, and I am reminded every time I sit down to write that I should get a new one. The focus of my thoughts for a lot of the time that I am writing tend to be either mild frustration or the thought that if I spent $60, I could have a new keyboard. Here is the “should be”. I should be focused on my writing. This is where whatever I am talking about should be. It’s sort of like a singer with laryngitis. What’s the point?

I doubt the writing will go any differently, but it has to. It's like having a pair of shoes a new pair of shoes that fit your feet so much more comfortably than the old ones did. With the new shoes, you can walk farther, you can walk faster, you can feel better at the end of your walk, and you think to yourself, “Why did I not go out and buy some new shoes before this?” Slaps self on head.

When you are meditating in the beginning, a person is easily distracted. In fact, your subconscious always seeks to provide a safe place for you and is quite uncomfortable with the idea of you being in a meditative state. That's when your back itches. You will need a glass of water, your nose will tickle, and if you smoke, you will want to smoke. All this energy of wanting something else is interfering with the meditative experience. If you’ve never meditated, this will happen to you. The solution? Keep meditating.

I just ordered a new keyboard. How long have I been struggling with this one? It feels like years. I finally took my own advice and actually felt quite relieved. Writing can commence, and my energy can turn toward more positive pursuits.

So, like they say at Nike, “Just do it.” That, more than anything else, is a good thing to keep in mind.

P.S. I’ve purchased another keyboard. It is wonderful, and the mouse is the fastest I’ve ever had. Yesterday, after it had arrived in the mail, I had trouble registering it at Logitech. I contacted them, and a technician helped me. After everything had been done, he said, “Let’s see if you can’t get a replacement for your old keyboard.” I talked to a friend the next day who had a keyboard that wasn’t working properly. I told her a new one was coming for her. It is always interesting to see more evidence of how the universe provides.

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On Trek


By Judith Kroll

As My Past Fades Into The Sunset

My past is fading into the sunset. Most of my family and friends are fading into the universe, where visible eyes can no longer see, touch, hug, smile with them, but my memory still brings them to life.

Triggers are always surrounding our senses. A song, a photograph, someone mentions them in a conversation, or something special pops up, that was exactly what they did.

My dad for instance always had a joke or two, up the proverbial sleeve. Sometimes it was a one-liner. For instance, if it started raining, he would say, “I hope it keeps up”. We would say why, we go for a walk now. His answer?. “If it keeps up it can’t come down”. So on a rainy day, I cannot shrug that memory off. It is engraved into my soul, to forever be part of me.

Now if I see a calf in the field, that would trigger my mama memory. There are many, but this one I will share, because it was dear to my soul.

We had a dairy farm, cows and calves, and mom and dad came up to visit. We told them to look at the calves, and pick one out you want named after you.

There were like 40 calves or more and I stood back and watched mom and dad, point, and laugh, and watch and smile, and finally they said here they are. Mom’s nickname was cookie, and Clarice was her birth name. She went with Clarice. There she points...right there, that is Clarice. OK. And Dad’s Will showed up and dad said there he is...and they thought that was an honor to name a calf after them.

Every calf in the field in my mind is a Clarice or a Will. They live on in my memories.

They are a part of our life, all our family and friends who went before us to the Universe. All our fur babies too.

Yes, my past is leaving me in the flesh, but the flashbacks of love are always there for us to smile, reflect, and be thankful we have that ability!!
Judith 11/1/23

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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Highly Recommended Festive Reading

If you read Adventures of a Wonky-Eyed Boy by Jason Byrne you are now in for another Christmas treat. Recently published, Memoirs of a Wonky-Eyed Man, by the same author, has been summed up concisely by his fellow comedian John Bishop as “Moving and funny on the same page.” The description is 100% accurate. In the prologue he lists ten of his ailments. He goes on to give us,

“Top five pieces of bullshit from Paddy. “ The “Paddy” is the late Paddy Byrne his father whom he dearly loved. Throughout the book he refers to him as “Paddy Lama” and takes the reader on a step-by-step journey of Paddy’s ideosyncricties, and ability to drink whiskey. He was known as Paddy Lama, ” . . . due to his amazing life wisdom” according to Jason. After Paddy’s death on 24th February 2020 the author wrote a play titled Paddy Lama, “All about dad in his shed in the back garden, the visits I would make and the knowledge I’d get back there. . . .He was like a smoking Irish guru that smelt of whiskey. I wanted to do the play so people would know who my dad was. He was a very special type of fella.”

Link with pic of Paddy as "Paddy Lama."

In the play he becomes Paddy Byrne, one of Paddy’s old jumpers, an important piece of the costume.

He describes the opening, “The lights go down and I now hear my mother’s voice in the venue. It’s a pre-recording of her talking about my dad, how his death has affected us all, how it has made us think about life. How delicate life is. How we should love life.”

In 357 action packed pages we are allowed into the minds and hearts of schoolmates, parents, siblings, teachers, employers and fellow artists, all done with laughter and tears, love and above all with honesty.

Each and every one of the headings is hilarious, from “Reasons why dad wouldn’t bring us on holidays” to “List of times I had to perform even though I was Bollixed.” There are seventy of them, all then explained in side- splitting or tear-jerking detail. Sometimes both.

Accounts of how Jason knew how to deal with pompous customers during the short time that he worked in Jury’s Hotel to the building of the Byrne’s extension when Paddy “almost won the Lotto” are all classics.

Over Christmas, this book will be like having an extremely funny, sensitive , highly-intelligent, honest and world renowned comedian residing full time in your home.

Only a true Dub could pay tribute to his late father whom he adored with the “curtain line”, “Paddy Byrne. The man that didn’t give a bollix.”

Memoirs of a Wonky-Eyed Man is published by Gill Books.

* * * * *

An Island Christmas

Micheál Ó Conghaile was born in 1962 on Inis Treabhair , but now lives Indreabhán, Co. Galway. He didn't speak English until aged 11. At the age of 23 he founded Irish-language publishing company Cló Iar-Chonnacht. It publishes books, music and spoken word albums. Many years ago when I presented ballad programmes on Radio tracks from Cló Iar-Chonnacht CDs were very popular.

Micheál founded it because many Conamara writers were still unpublished. He believes in the importance of both popular works and a high literary standard.

His work includes short stories, a novel, drama, poetry and history. He has translated Martin McDonagh's plays The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lonesome West and his awards include The Butler Literary Award of the Irish American Cultural Institute (1997) and the 1997 Hennessy Literary Award for his short story "Athair". He was writer in residence at Queen's University, Belfast, and at the University of Ulster at Coleraine between 1999 and 2002. His works have been translated into Romanian, Croatian, Albanian, German and English.

When Micheál was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s his family welcomed the festive lights of Christmas on the remote Inis Treabhair. The island was known for its Yuletide traditions, and Ó Conghaile grew up listening to the tales of the ancients under starlit skies. Raised during an era of simplicity and wonder, his prose brims with the familiarity of yesteryears, painting family moments and island traditions from a time when electricity had not yet reached the shores. Beyond the festivity and lights, Ó Conghaile’s recollections serve as a poignant reminder of the enduring importance of family, community, and the magic of childhood. From a young boy’s eager fingers tapping on type- writer keys to the founder of the renowned Cló Iar-Chonnacht publishing house. His latest memoir is a testament to the voyage of a maestro of Irish letters. An Island Christmas takes us on a heartfelt journey of childhood memories of Christmas on Connemara's Inis Treabhair. Micheál Ó Conghaile reminisces on the unique traditions and customs of his island upbringing. If you grew up in rural Ireland in the mid-twentieth century this memoir, weaving tales of Christmas long ago, will bring you back if you are not too far gone. Or if you grew up in an urban environment, chapters titled Preparing for Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Between Two Christmases and The Typewriter will give you an insight into the early lives of your country cousins and convince you that their stories are not exaggerated.

An Island Christmas is published by Mercier Press and will add greatly to your Christmas.

Happy Christmas.

See you next year.

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Sifoddling Along

By Marilyn Carnell

Bill Carnell -- Fisherman

This month I am changing the format of Sifoddling Along to tell a story with pictures. My father, Thomas Alton (Bill) Carnell was crippled by polio in 1914. Athletic before the illness, he did not let walking on crutches stop him from doing things he enjoyed, especially fishing. These photos show the fruits of his labor. I can assure you that all the fish were consumed by the families of the fishermen or shared with friends and neighbors.

This is a classic photo of Ozark fishermen during the great depression, from L-R -Charles Bone, Kenneth Noel, Ted Rogers, Bill Carnell, and Vadis Noel. They caught 75 Channel Catfish in the Kings River. c. 1936. Photo in front of Carnell's home in Pineville, MO.

L-R Charles Bone, Billy Max Carnell, Zella Mae Carnell, Vadis Noel. Photo in front of Carnell home on N. King in Pineville, MO. Al & Marilyn no longer own this house where Marilyn grew up. Stringer of catfish caught c. 1936. (Marilyn was born after 1936.)

Photo of Bill Carnell & his son, Billy Max with a stringer of fish. Photo taken in the front yard of home. Behind them is the "pasture" The tree line is next to Testerman Branch, a tributary of Big Sugar Creek in Pineville. For many years, Thelma, the real farmer in the family, raised two steers every year in the pasture. One sold to cover expenses & one to butcher for the family table. In 1964, they built a new house in the pasture and Bill & Thelma moved there. It was wheelchair accessible as Bill got older.

Carl Jr. Bradley (Sometimes called "Junie"), Bill Carnell, Billy Max Carnell & Zella Carnell In the front yard of Carnell home. Camera facing east, toward the pasture. c. 1940. Fish caught at Stauber Hole, below Noel on Elk River, MO.

Bill Carnell and Bill Coonrod. Crappie catch from Grand Lake, OK. c. 1958

Success! Bill Carnell with catfish he caught at his son Bill's lake near Buffalo, MO. Bill had a special yellow jacket covered with patches denoting various fishing logos. On one shoulder was a special one with his fishing nickname "Catfish." Bill was 77 years old at the time of this photo. 1981. Despite having to use a wheelchair in his later years, the always inventive Carnell's found a way for Bill to fish. Location - Bill M. Carnell's Lake near Buffalo, MO. Their home was on the Niangua River. Because it was some distance from the house, in rough Ozark terrain, Bill M.Carnell loaded Bill & and his wheelchair into the trailer and towed him to the best fishing spot. 1981.

Here in the Ozarks, septic tank maintenance trucks are called "honey wagons." Due to the fact that bait or somesuch was occasionally overlooked in the back, Bill's fishing vehicles often had a distinctive aroma. From the first one he acquired after WWII, (an army surplus panel truck that would only go 40 miles per hour because it had a governor on the engine) they were always named the "Honey Wagon." This one had a lift for his wheelchair so he could continue fishing.

Last known photo of Bill fishing. He had zinc oxide slathered on his lip to prevent a fever blister & his favorite Plantation Hat. Photo taken at Grand Lake, OK. Dated 8-18-1982. Bill lived to be 89 years old. His last years were a little sad because he could no longer go fishing.

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By Thomas F. O'Neill

When I taught High School in China I loved teaching my students about this special Thanksgiving season, it's the season of giving in America. The world can learn a great deal about the value of being thankful for what we have in life and the special people in our lives.

I conducted a lesson every school year about the history of Thanksgiving and its meaning and importance for us Americans.

I liked explaining to my students that being thankful is a powerful affirmation it brings more of what we want into our life. When we are thankful for the things, we have, we will attract more goodness into our lives and the lives of those around us.

I am one of those people who simply enjoys the sharing and giving thanks for the special people in my life. That truly makes this time of year special for me because I surely have plenty to be thankful for. Throughout my life, people have gone out of their way to be kind to me, and I liked telling my students in class when you care for others you are cared for, and when you love others, you are loved. This special season of giving should reveal our love for one another through kindness because loving kindness gives this special season its true meaning.

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. When keeping the true spirit of giving close to our heart it enables us to give from the heart all year round.

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

If we truly want to see a world of loving and joyous people, we must be loving and joyous toward 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 that is within us. When we enhance the life of another in need, we, in turn, enhance our own lives.

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 joyous holiday season.

Thomas F O'Neill sharing a Thanksgiving Meal with coworkers in Suzhou, China.

Thomas F O'Neill tells us that he is one of those people who simply enjoys the sharing and giving thanks for the special people in his life. That truly makes this time of year special for him because he surely has plenty to be thankful for. Throughout his life, people have gone out of their way to be kind to him, and he liked telling his ...

Always with love,
Thomas F O'Neill

    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    Phone (410) 925-9334
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill

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Medium-Author-Spiritual Teacher


By Ara Parisien 



Is it True?

    What is your deepest desire?
    Do you think it is possible to achieve?
    Do you believe your life can change in thrilling and magical ways?
    The answer is yes!

The Imagination

    Part of the journey of transformation utilizes a tool that we were born with. The imagination.
    It seems our imagination was conditioned into dormancy at a very young age. We were told day-dreaming was a waste of time. That dreaming of something you desire isn’t enough. One must toil and struggle in order to achieve anything meaningful in life and even then we must prepare ourselves for the moment we fail to get it.
    This is so far removed from the truth it is almost heartbreaking! It is also tremendously disempowering.
    Our imagination is a powerful tool. It is the place we can go to time and time again to ‘live’ our desired experience before it becomes reality. Read that again. This is precisely how the imagination should be used to guarantee the results you prefer. Does it sound too easy? It should! Because it is.
    In order for our desires to be realized we must already be living the vibration and the emotion of the desire. We generate those two all-important factors in the imagination. In order to experience the desire in your reality there must be a vibration offered to the Universe that it can match.
    We seem to believe this to be an irrational act. It isn’t. It is the most natural thing for us to do. We were born with this powerful mechanism specifically to help us manifest our heart’s desire.

What We Need To Do

    What we now need to do is to use it, trust it, and believe it. It would bode well for us to unlearn the conditioning, and seed a new and more productive paradigm that will serve us. We need to be less serious and play more.
    Play more? Isn’t that being irresponsible? No! We have been conditioned to pay far too much attention to the minutiae of details in our life. We get buried so deep in them we forget who we are. We forget the power we hold. We forget clarity and solutions are always present. We forget we have the wherewithal to rise above the petty details to feel and know the magnificence of the Source energy we are.

How Is Ths Possible?

    When we imagine ourselves to be in a different place, a different time, having a joyful and effortless experience we are actually exercising the imagination. We begin to live the experience we prefer complete with all the sights, smells, sounds, touch, and emotions. When we are in that glorious place, we are preparing to receive this future opportunity into our life. That is how powerful we are. The imagination is the launching pad where we invite whatever we are focused on into our reality.
    Conversely, if we are conjuring worst-case scenarios in our mind we are actually inviting those into our reality as well. The choice, as always, is yours.

Imagination Is A Form Of ‘Asking’

    Ask and it is always given. No matter what it is. No matter how much you like or dislike a scenario. It will always, always manifest according to your focused imagination.
    So ask yourself what you are imagining, thinking, feeling, and focusing on most. Is it all the ‘what ifs’ going on in your life? Is it everything that is lacking in your life? Is it everything that seems to be going wrong in your life? If it is, then you have first-hand evidence via the results you are living right at this moment.
    Why not use your imagination to escape the lack and ‘what ifs’ and ‘what is’ in your life? Grant yourself a reprieve from everything that has been worrying you. Go to that place where you are free. Live there. Feel it all. Love it all. Do it often and you will absolutely be experiencing it in one of your tomorrows.
    Imagine that!

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Tiny Miracle

 By Mary E. Adair

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 awhile.
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?

©1999 Mary E. Adair

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Keeping Christmas


By John I. Blair

Something about the winter’s dark
Encourages extravagance.

I count my Christmas lights by thousands,
Like a multicolored galaxy
Come to rest in my front yard.

According to the warranty
The artificial tree I bought today
(A surrogate for sacrificial
First from Canada)
Will last until I’m 90.

For the Christmas meal I’m planning
Two weeks in advance
The issue’s not the kind of pie
But how many pies to bring.

My child is grown
But memories persist
Of Christmas with so many toys
He all but vanished in the wrappings.

Why do I do this?

Some need to seek reward
For loss of warmth
And longer nights?

Instead I like to think
It is a time when I allow
Freedom to the generosity of heart
I guard too well the balance of the year.

©2004 John I. Blair

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My Forever Girl


By Bud Lemire

My Forever Girl, is always around
In my apartment, she doesn't make a sound
Although once, she called my name
It's because, she's my Twin Flame

It's not a haunting, she's not a ghost
She's a spirit in love, and the one I love most
She's hanging out, with my family over there
In the Spirit World, they're not here to scare

She may have passed, but her soul never died
She's the soul I'll love forever, she's also my guide
She sends me messages, to let me know she's still in my life
You could even say, in a sense, that she's my spiritual wife

You see, in life, she was stuck in a place
Now she is free as a spirit, and has much more space
She spends her time, watching over me
She's my Forever Girl, and will always be

She follows my life, and never leaves my side
Her love is the best, she's my spiritual bride
In my life, she knows what goes on every day
She's my Forever Girl, who I love in every way

©Nov 12,, 2023 Bud Lemire

                         Author Note:

Ever since the day Vicki & I connected spiritually back on Oct 17, 2012,
we have been spiritually linked closely together. This kind of love is so
much higher than any human love. It means through distance, we have been
close. She was many miles apart, but she was always with me. That hasn't
changed at all since she passed. Her love still watches over me and guides me.
She lets me know that she approves of my life when she does. She also lets me
know if there is something I should be doing. It is always my choice.
Her human birthday is Nov 16. And I love her with all my soul
. Happy Birthday Vicki!

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Make Mary Merry


By Mary E. Adair

(Christmas at Noralee's 1996)

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 1996 Mary E. Adair

Dedicated to the memory of my sister Noralee Edith (Carroll)Crowson
(December 4, 1936 - March 1, 1999)

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A 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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When Roses Bloom in December


By John I. Blair

This morning early I was surprised
When I went into my misty garden
To find the roses blooming
As full and lush and fragrant
As if I were in Spring.
I do not live now in a place
Where snow and ice make of December
A month of death and stillness.
Yet what I do remember from my childhood
Made the roses seem miraculous to me.
I have grown older and the nights seem colder;
The long Autumn of falling leaves is almost over;
And the darkest time of the year is near.
But this morning in the garden
When I walked among the roses blooming
Early in the dawn light
I felt far from night.

©2002 John I. Blair

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A Beatles Christmas


By Bud Lemire

Cassie loved the Beatles, she thought they were grand
Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
She imagined herself, as one of the screaming girls in the crowd
She knew each song very well, and would sing them out loud
It was one Christmas, her family was gathered at night
What could Santa get her? She smiled with delight
“Well, I don't have “Rubber Soul” or “Revolver” yet”
She wanted them all, so she could complete her set

It'll take time, before she had them all
She really loved John, Ringo, George, and Paul
She was so thankful, to love music like she did
She's been singing these songs, since she was a little kid
Now she is ten, and just starting out
As she sang out a verse of “Twist And Shout”
She first heard them on the radio
That's how she knew them so

Christmas Eve came, she was so excited to know
Santa was coming, with his “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
She hoped, that the Beatles music would be in his sack
She wanted it so badly, she sang out “Get Back”
On Christmas Day, the gifts from Santa were there
She stood there staring, and playing with her hair
Then she saw a wrapped gift, with her name on the top
That must have come all the way, from Santa's workshop

She opened the present, and jumped so very high
“Rubber Soul,” “Revolver,” and “Let It Be” caught her eye
“Yes!” she screamed so very loud
Feeling just like the girls in the crowd
Her Christmas this year, was the best it could be
For the Beatles came through, under the tree

Several days before Christmas, Santa was thinking
Listening to The Beatles, and Egg Nog he was drinking
He always liked the Beatles, and listened to them each year
He was happy to bring one little girl, some Christmas Cheer

©Dec 16, 2022 Bud Lemire

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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 boy's? 4-H?
Have the UFO's 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

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Winter Doesn't Have A Texas Address


By John I. Blair

Winter doesn’t keep a home in Texas;
It just drifts down for the season,
Blows into town for a weekend gig,
Lending all the suntanned women an excuse
For the furs they buy at Neiman’s
And the rangy men a rationale
For the snow tires on their SUVs.

Winter here’s on holiday;
But now and then it does transgress,
Becomes a wretched houseguest,
Strewing a trail of wrecks
On frozen Fort Worth freeways
And spoiling Dallas schedules
With inconvenient blizzards.

©2004 John I. Blair

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A Sometimes Doubt


By Walt Perryman

I am a believer but sometimes, I will have a doubt!
First, I need to understand what I’m doubting about.

The answer is in the Bible, I know this to be true,
But I need to read it, to understand what to do.

What amazes me that sometimes, I have a doubt,
I go to church and that’s what the sermon’s about!

Sometimes, just being with true believers helps me,
My doubts go away because they’re like I want to be.

I believe doubts are just one of Satan’s many tools,
If I doubt to long, I go back to being one of His fools,

Sometimes the best thing I can do is to pray,
And I just ask God to take Satan’s doubts away.

Sometimes I need to let my doubts go and believe,
And all ways be aware of how Satan tries to deceive.

©November 29, 2023


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My Friend, John Summers


By Bud Lemire

I knew you way back, at Washington School long ago
You were a classmate, one that I came to know
I knew you as John Kossow, but you went by Summers too
Sometimes I never knew, what name to call you

By any of those names, you were a friend to me
After school we'd get together, we were kids naturally
Sometimes we'd play marbles, sometimes we'd just talk
Other times we would meet up with others, or go for a walk

Your sister Barbara, was a classmate too
She was someone, that I also knew
In later years, I found you kitty-corner from the school we went to
I'd stop and visit awhile, I enjoyed the times reminiscing with you

We talked about the present, we talked about the past
We talked about friends we knew, but these times didn't last
John had his share of health problems, he described them to me
You couldn't tell by looking at him, at least I couldn't see

I looked forward to my fish on Fridays, and visits with this friend
Like all good things in life, it came to an end
I wondered why, I hadn't seen him in his yard anymore
Sometime later, I found out, he had walked through “The Door”
“The Door” to the other side, his body became spirit
I know he'll be happy there, although I was sad to hear it

©Oct 25, 2023 Bud Lemire

                       Author Note:

It's not easy to say goodbye to a friend. It's not easy to say
goodbye to anyone. I'd like to think of it as “Thanks for crossing
into my path and being my friend for a time.” I know it's not goodbye.
I'll be seeing you again, when my time comes


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A Sometimes Doubt


By Walt Perryman

I am a believer but sometimes, I will have a doubt!
First, I need to understand what I’m doubting about.

The answer is in the Bible, I know this to be true,
But I need to read it, to understand what to do.

What amazes me that sometimes, I have a doubt,
I go to church and that’s what the sermon’s about!

Sometimes, just being with true believers helps me,
My doubts go away because they’re like I want to be.

I believe doubts are just one of Satan’s many tools,
If I doubt to long, I go back to being one of His fools,

Sometimes the best thing I can do is to pray,
And I just ask God to take Satan’s doubts away.

Sometimes I need to let my doubts go and believe,
And all ways be aware of how Satan tries to deceive.

©November 29, 2023


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Traditions Lie

By Bruce Clifford

Spending my time thinking about a tradition.
I haven’t known many but I know what I’m missing.
Laying down low in the silence of thought.
Taking the time to count the blessings I’ve bought.

Wanting to know what’s in the truth of tradition.
I haven’t a clue to know what’s been missing.
Destiny does charm the silent brigade.
Memories take hold of every promise I’ve made.

Traditions lie.
Battles are won and lost.
Traditions lie.
There’s always such a cost.

Spending my time thinking about my position.
I haven’t known many to know what I’m missing.
The rain from the sky and the panic in a dream.
Taking the time to understand what this means.

Traditions lie.
Battles are won and lost.
Traditions lie.
There’s always such a cost.

Traditions lie.
Traditions lie.
At such a cost.

© 11/24/2023 Bruce Clifford

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

November 2023

“Peering from some high window,
at the gold of November sunset and feeling that
if day has to become night, this is a beautiful way.”

— E. E. Cummings”

Let us hope that November will have more stable, less temp fluctuations, than October did. The Thanksgiving month which none of my authors mentioned for this issue. We have a dozen poems, quite different from each other.

Kay Forristal brings us a couple of her poems "My Town" and "The Fairy Ring." and John McGrath's two sonnets, are "Crabs at Carrigafoyle" and "Ode to Age."

Walt Perryman"s two are "Man Pain VS Woman Pain" and "A Good Time to Pray." Bruce Clifford's "That Exact Way" and "Angel of The Past" came early for this month. John I. Blair has one new poem, "Flame Acanthus." Bud Lemire's illustrated November poems are "Cathy Plank," "Major Utilities," and "Halloween 2023."

"Introspective" by Thomas F. O'Neill shares his experiences at an early age, working with Mother Theresa,. in his column "Introspective." Judith Kroll's subject, "The Rainbow Bridge" is the whole "On Trek" column." Pauline Evanosky's column "Woo Woo," talks about how even psychics are affected "When Things Go Sideways." Marilyn Carnell's column "Sifoddling Along" shares a loving tribute to her uncle who was a WWI soldier. We wish the best to the columnist Danielle Cote Serar whose home and business activities keep her hopping, so much so she's going to close her very helpful and interesting column. "A Mother's Lessons."

We continue to bless our good fortune in knowing our co-founder and webmaster, Mike Craner, whose knowledge and expertise keeps Pencil Stubs Online actually online. We place our confidence in him as we have in the past and shall continue doing so.

See you in December!.

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Armchair Genealogy


By Melinda Cohenour

Just when it seems all is quiet on the Gilgo Beach Serial Murders case, something new grabs the headlines. This one was a real doozy. For those readers who have not been following the case either through my columns or in the news, included are links to my first three columns as well as to newsworthy interviews or other video coverage.

Now, let's look at the blockbuster news.

Gilgo Beach Serial Murders Case

Additional Victims may be Tied to Rex Heuermann

(October 18, 2023. Press Conference held by Attorney John Ray and attended by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison)

MILLER PLACE, N.Y. (PIX11) — In a jaw-dropping claim that took the Suffolk County district attorney by surprise, lawyer John Ray appeared with Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison at a Wednesday press conference and said he had four witnesses that tied Rex Heuermann to two other victims in the Gilgo Beach investigation.

“He was a serial user of sex workers,” John Ray said of Heuermann. “They would sometimes come to his house, sometimes two at a time.”

Ray said the first witness made a claim that Heuermann belonged to a “swingers club,” Le Trapeze, which was based in Midtown Manhattan, not far from where Heuermann worked as an architect. The witness said Heuermann had posted on a wall at Le Trapeze 27 years ago, asking for a sexual encounter at his Massapequa Park home.

The woman said her boyfriend in 1996 was an NYPD detective, referred to in a sworn affidavit as R.W.

“In February 1996, R.W. picked up a woman I believe to be Karen Vergata in New York City, on the way to the Heuermann house,” the alleged witness said. “She was hungry and homeless.”


Thus began the jaw dropping, news breaking, surprise Press Conference called by eccentric, dogged, long time attorney John Ray who has represented the family of Shannan Gilbert since she went missing in May of 2010. (He also now represents the family of another victim whose partial remains were found on Gilgo Beach, Jessica Taylor.)

The fact of a news conference being called by John Ray was not the tantalizing shocker that caused news outlets around the nation to sit up and take notice. Through the years since Mari Gilbert, Shannan's mother, engaged Ray to stir action in her daughter's missing person case (that was being purposefully ignored by then-in-charge and since dishonored James Burke), Attorney Ray has held numerous press conferences. No, it was the presence of Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison that jarred everyone's amazed interest.

SCPC Harrison needs no introduction to any of us whose interest in this case extends back to the news of Shannan Gilbert's terrified dash through the exclusive conclave of Oak Beach back in 2010. The baffling unsuccessful search for Gilbert is what ultimately led to the discovery of first one, then three, then four and finally ten sets of remains comprised of both decomposing rather fresh corpses to scant skeletal parts of long ago dismembered victims.

It was the appointment of Rodney Harrison as Suffolk County's Police Commissioner that really moved the stalled case along. Harrison came into office having stated unequivocally he planned to make the Gilgo Beach mystery his to solve. He began by assembling a highly effective interagency team of professionals dedicated to the Gilgo Beach Serial Murders case. . Appointed in December of 2021, by January of 2022 Harrison had assembled a top notch team. The dedicated task force included investigators, prosecutors, and analysts initially. In light of the expanding investigation into potential additional victims, two seasoned homicide detectives have been assigned to the team. Their focus will be on the Gilgo Beach victims and any new evidence linking Heuermann to other potential victims of the serial murder suspect.

By February of 2022, the task force had uncovered key information buried among the voluminous historical evidentiary materials that turned their focus to in-depth investigation of Heuermann. Aided by the FBI's specialized utilization of cell phone data drilling, the task force was able to compile extensive damning evidence linking Heuermann to 1) burner phones he used to solicit the Gilgo Four victims, 2) to their personal cell phones (which he used to taunt their family members after dispatching the young women), and 3) to email accounts tied back to the burner phones and to his solicitation of the women for sex. Their work resulted in an indictment by the secret grand jury (a strategy employed to maintain confidentiality as to the task force's activities once they discovered by scrutiny of his internet search activity that Heuermann was continually tracking the team's efforts.) Heuermann was arrested 13 July 2023 as he walked from his office to the commuter train he typically took to his home in Massapequa Park. It is believed surveillance of his burner phone(s) and Internet activity alerted the task force to the possibility of his having a new intended victim in his crosshairs.

SCPC Harrison comments during 18 Oct 2023 Press Conference and immediate reaction by DA Ray Tierney

The Suffolk County police commissioner said new witnesses have connected the suspect in the Long Island serial killer investigation to two more victims that were discovered along Ocean Parkway.

Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said he’s investigating claims from the witnesses who link suspect Rex Heuermann to Karen Vergata, previously known as Fire Island Jane Doe, and to Shannan Gilbert, the sex worker whose disappearance led to the discovery of at least 10 sets of remains more than a decade ago.

“It's something that we need to take a closer look at, and we need to make sure we're investigating it," Harrison said, adding that he personally interviewed one of the witnesses. "And that's why the task force will stay in place. That's why we added more manpower to it.”

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the cases of Melissa Barthelemy, Amber Costello and Megan Waterman.

The witnesses

Two women gave sworn statements to John Ray, an attorney who represents some of the victims' families.

The first witness claims she worked as a taxi driver in 2009 and believes she encountered Rex Heuermann and Shannan Gilbert at the Sayville Motor Lodge. She said she called the police tip line twice after Heuermann's arrest this summer but never heard back.

The second witness said she is a former swinger. She claims that she, her boyfriend and Karen Vergata (formerly known as Fire Island Jane Doe and Jane Doe Number 7) traveled from New York City to Heuermann's home in Massapequa Park in 1996 for a sex party.

The fallout

Ray detailed the claims in the two witness statements alongside Harrison at a news conference on Wednesday. Ray said the witnesses contacted him directly.

Harrison said the investigation is ongoing. "If people have a reluctancy to come forward to law enforcement and they want to go to John Ray, then it's important that we take this information and then we follow forward with furthering the investigation," Harrison said.

The comments took Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney by surprise. In a statement, Tierney said there are no private attorneys on the task force and urged tipsters to contact his office.


District Attorney Ray Tierney issues statement

Not everyone was pleased with the press conference jointly attended by Attorney John Ray and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison. Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney promptly issued a bulletin type statement that practically screamed his outrage. The full text of that statement appears below:


* * * * *

Gus Garcia-Roberts

Suffolk DA Ray Tierney effectively denounces the LISK-related press conference John Ray just held with police commissioner Rodney Harrison, saying that the case's task force was not informed beforehand - and that witnesses should speak with them, not a private attorney:


Without providing any advance notice to the prosecutors pursuing this case in court or the Gilgo Beach Homicide Task Force members investigating these murders day in and day out, we watched today's press conference not knowing what was going to be reported. We will continue to investigate this case through the Grand Jury process and not through press conferences. No private attorneys are or have ever been members or agents of the Task Force.

Any citizen who believes that they have relevant evidence regarding the Gilgo Beach investigation should report it to the investigative agencies that comprise the Task Force. Those agencies are the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the Suffolk County Police Department's Homicide Bureau, Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, New York State Police, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Any attorneys representing victims or their families, by definition have a conflict of interest and should not be a part of the investigation. Accordingly, private attorneys are not part of the Task Force and potential witnesses should not be reaching out to a private attorney with an interest in the outcome of the case.

Interview with Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison

The "Fallout" so indelicately handled by DA Ray Tierney expressing his dismay and outrage at the hastily assembled press conference at Attorney John Ray's office set off alarm bells that another internal scuffle (if not outright battle) might, once again, result in the Gilgo Beach case being put on a back burner. The public, so long denied an honest and professional investigation into this serial murder case, feared the worst. To counter those fears, SCPC Harrison agreed to a publicized interview to discuss the task force's continued focus and to quiet rumors of an internal political squabble between DA Tierney and himself.

That interview may be seen utilizing this link:

Karen Vergata

“I saw Rex on T.V. recently and a picture of Karen Vergata,” the Aug. 31 affidavit released by Ray on Wednesday read. ”I recognized her as the woman who [my former boyfriend] and I brought to Heuermann’s home. I was shocked, and deeply sorrowful for having left her behind at Heuermann’s house. I told John Ray of these things because I needed to speak with him so that Karen would not be left behind again.”


The full text of the two Affidavits signed and sworn by the two witnesses (who are not known to one another and who contacted John Ray separately some time prior to August 2023 when he first spoke publicly about their information) can be read in their entirety, in redacted form, by utilizing the links at the end of this column.

New photo(s)

This was Karen's last high school picture as colorized and enhanced by Lauren Lee Malloy @LaurenLee_915 who explained "One more for Karen Vergata. Found the oldest photo I could of her, as close in age as she would’ve been in 1996. Enhanced…then age-progressed to see what she might’ve looked like as an older woman. She deserved to have those smile lines. Rest easy, Karen"

It shows how lovely she was with that gorgeous smile. The age enhanced version of this added the wrinkles one might expect at 34.

Father's photo and last call

Her father, Dominic Vergata, said in court papers that the last time he spoke to his daughter was on his birthday in February 1996, shortly before she disappeared. He hired a private investigator to try to find her and turned over DNA samples to authorities but was never able to locate her. That birthday was Valentine's Day 1996

SCPC Harrison statement re Affidavit from alleged Swinger witness

Commissioner Harrison acknowledged he had two detectives attend and participate in the deposition of this witness.

Further, he answered the question as to whether the NYPD detective, identified by the girlfriend/swinger partner as R. W., had been located. Yes. He said. That officer has been contacted.

Allegations of involvement of Asa Ellerup, estranged wife of Rex Heuermann

The Affidavit from the "swinger" witness implicated Rex Heuermann's wife, Asa Ellerup, as an active participant in his sexual escapades. Two other witnesses (who gave statements to Attorney John Ray but did not submit sworn affidavits) also indicated Asa was present when she, a sex worker, serviced Rex Heuermann downstairs while Asa went upstairs.

These claims are being investigated. Asa Ellerup's attorney has disputed these claims in their entirety. No charges have been filed or mentioned as an outcome of these witnesses providing their statements. It is understood any criminal involvement discovered in the course of investigation would be dealt with as appropriate.

Shannan Gilbert

SCPC Harrison statement re Affidavit from alleged witness Cab driver

Commissioner Harrison validated Attorney John Ray's statement that he had participated in that witness's deposition. He said her claims will be investigated. If found to be verifiable and accurate, a deeper investigation would be warranted. Should this uncover facts that might implicate Rex Heuermann in her death, that would result in an in-depth investigation with every effort made to find evidentiary materials that could be presented in court. "No stone will be left unturned" as the purpose of the task force is to find justice for the Gilgo Beach victims and provide closure to their families and loved ones.

Link to Affidavits
(9 pages in total for the two sworn, signed, redacted documents)

Scant additional information related to the progress of the case and ongoing investigatory findings is being closely held at this point in time. Very brief comments by District Attorney Raymond Tierney or Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison indicate the following:

    Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison stated in his interview with Joe Giaccalone (retired NY Police Detective who now hosts an Internet podcast) that he expects major news to link the murder of Maureen Brainard-Barnes to Heuermann. Further, he indicated that will occur due to completion of the DNA examination linking her death to Heuermann. (See link above.)
    SCPC Harrison acknowledged he sought out Attorney John Ray soon after coming on board as Commissioner and forming the task force. He stated DA Tierney was absolutely correct in wanting potential witnesses or complainants to go directly to the task force or the Crime Stoppers tip line; with the proviso that it be understood as a former working detective he values information from the public. If someone is more comfortable confiding in a valued community leader (clergy, medical practitioner, pillar within the community such as an organizer or activist, or to an attorney such as John Ray), he will investigate the tip and ensure the information is not ignored.
    Commissioner Harrison announced the task force has added two experienced investigators whose job will be to work exclusively on leads such as those provided by the witnesses who were deposed and signed official Affidavits. He further stated if the information linking Heuermann to the murder of Shannan Gilbert proved authentic and verifiable, he would absolutely cause a change to the manner of death from "accidental" to "homicide".
    Peaches' suspected identification and, by association, that of her toddler currently referred to as "Toddler Doe", is possibly imminent.
    The Asian male cross dresser's identity is still being investigated.
    Next day in Court for Rex Heuermann is scheduled for November 15, 2023.

Note:[See prior columns providing more comprehensive coverage/background: 


    Part 1.
    Part 2.
    Part 3.
    (Get to know SCPC Rodney Harrison:
Links to Affidavits:


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