Thursday, January 5, 2023

2023 - A 7 Universal Year

 By Michael John Fierro


2023 is the seventh year in the current Universal 9-Year Cycle that began in 2017. The seeds and ideas that were planted in that year are readying themselves to be harvested. We are closing in on the end of this Cycle and we must begin to evaluate and re-evaluate that which we have sown. All things must now be re-examined and researched and investigated more deeply. We must take a collective deep breath (Remember, on the seventh day god rested), and so too, must we all as individuals, as a country, a society, and a world, step back for a moment and ask ourselves if we are liking what we are seeing. This is a 7 Universal Year that will bring about a deeper reflection on the past so that we may learn how to improve upon it and build for the future. A greater number of people may slowly (or quickly) discover that  “...what they are seeing, is NOT what they are getting.” This can, and should, open people's eyes to the importance of discerning the real truth, as opposed to being susceptible to falsehoods, and misleading “facts and information”. The SEVEN calls for a deeper analysis of situations with more thought and consideration given to the beliefs and actions which we hold and enact. This is a year for visualizing the future through more research and investigation to better understand the 'why' of things. We must work to engender a calm and steady approach in guiding the course of action. In many instances, people will be looking to master and perfect that which they do, using the lessons of the past as a foundation for improvements in the future, as opposed to beginning new projects and starting from scratch. Societies and countries would be wise to do likewise. It will be this type of belief system and attitude that will lead to legislation for national improvement. Patriotism may take on new and intensified meaning without the partisan divide of “'re either with us, or against us”. 2023 could see an increase in the growth of the GNP of nations around the world and financial improvement is a very strong possibility. The predictions of recessions and more can be subverted through the intelligent use of knowledge and capital. To learn is to grow.

2023 may also bring about a greater interest in nature, farming, and agriculture as people work to strengthen their connection with Mother Earth and look to become more contemplative and reflective on the interconnectedness of life. This could lead to a stronger trend toward conservation and ecology as people show greater interest and concern. As SEVEN is an 'internal' number we will find that local and national infrastructure will demand greater attention, especially with projects that involve water (supply, delivery, treatment, and safety). At long last, we may find a more contemplative and reflective tone expressed in the media as a philosophical and metaphysical awareness of the world and world events becomes more commonplace. 2023 may also bring about more interest in the areas of religion, spirituality, metaphysics, mystical teachings, and the occult as people look to better understand themselves, and the world and universe in which they live. This may also bring about an increased view of psychic phenomena and abilities. We may see medical/scientific breakthroughs that begin to show how that aspect of our minds actually works. Many may find inspiration, guidance, and knowledge through dreams, intuition, and the awareness and use of previously unknown personal abilities in the intuitive realm. Because of SEVEN's association with mathematics and science, this year may also provide great advances and discoveries in those worlds as well as in the world of medicine.

Overall in societies around the world, we may experience an increase in writing, teaching, and the desire to learn which will lead to a greater interest in education and possible improvements and changes in the structures of how we teach and learn. 2023 should also bring about a greater focus on health and well-being, both individually and collectively. On the seventh day, God rested and in 2023 there may be an individual, as well as a collective desire to recharge, re-assess and re-direct the energies. Perhaps, more optimistically, to learn. Or, re-learn that which we think we know and understand.

On the negative side, 2023 may see a rise in satire and sarcasm in the media and the arts (although this author does not think that is particularly a negative when there is intelligence behind it) as cynicism and a lack of trust maturate in the minds of populations around the world. Close attention must be paid to the movement and actions that took place during 2022 as unresolved, festering conditions could again lead to wars although these wars may be more along the lines of civil wars (the American Civil War began in 1861 after years of conflict and dispute around the issue of slavery). This time around, the conflicts are addressing the issues of democracy, human and equal rights, as well as many others that are too numerous to mention. The North vs South this time around becomes Democracy vs Authoritarianism. If the continued discovery of deceptions and malfeasance are brought to light, we may see a sharp increase in doubting the trustworthiness of our leaders. This entire scenario will be exacerbated by those who choose to not research and investigate information using a broad spectrum of sources. Use the energy of the SEVEN to drive the quest to be fully informed about the issues that are most important to you, and by extension, society as a whole. These conditions could easily lead to a worldwide increase in fear and fear-mongering. It is these conditions that could lead to revolutions and once again, political assassinations. The more negative the environment of governments and their relation to their citizens, the more likely we are to see an increase in the numbers and intensity of radical political movements. Controversy could be a hallmark of much of what transpires as increasingly, actions are taken to 'muddy the waters' of understanding and truth. 2023 could also see an increase in worldwide health problems, especially in conditions involving water. Problems such as scarcity, pollution, environmental issues, or on the opposite side of the spectrum, continual escalation in the severity of water-related weather events. SEVEN's relation with water may be an indicator of increased flooding throughout the world. It will also be a strong force during the year, in whatever form it may take.

As SEVEN has a potential shadow side, caution must be taken to avoid deceptive business practices. Doing one's due diligence in all matters involving money and investing should be on your mind. Better to know in advance than to discover too late that your money isn't/wasn't safe. SEVEN energy can be quite the mischief-maker. The deceiver. The charlatan. The magician. The Sorcerer. Or, in real-world terms, politicians and those who wield excessive influence and power. “Trust, but verify” to quote an old Hollywood actor. Societal conditions may also lead to a rise in addictions and addictive-type behaviors. The internal, turning inward quality of the SEVEN can lead to depression or isolation. It's been a rough past few years and we are all healing and recovering. Often from things to which we had previously given little to no thought. Dealing with one's “stuff” can be overwhelming so there is a strong caution to avoid addictive behaviors. Couple that with the bizarre world in which we live, and it may only add fuel to the fire that drives one to self-medicate.

In conclusion, the energy of the SEVEN of 2023 must be correctly directed in a positive, life-affirming, and beneficial way for everyone. The great potential of higher consciousness, increased education, and greater awareness on the part of both the individual and the collective can go a long way in circumventing and overcoming any problems that may arise. People actively striving to re-connect themselves to our planet, while living in greater harmony with the planet and one another will assist in raising the vibration for all. Much of this growth and awareness will be based upon seeking knowledge, applying that knowledge constructively, and living with an increasing degree of spirituality. It is through these efforts that we can do great things, and make great progress in healing. 

Always remember: 

    The number 7 knows that which is hidden can be revealed. It knows that a secret side can be revealed, and will emerge. SEVEN is the skeptic, the inquisitive one, the researcher, and the seeker. Its driving force is the concept of, and the question “Why?” The SEVEN holds firm to the idea that nothing should be taken for face value, and that all must be investigated, researched, questioned, and reshaped if necessary. The ultimate goal is to seek and discover the truth. It is knowledge, and the search for it, that are the true harbingers of change.

Author's note:

    Study the history of what took place in these additional Universal 7 Years: 1861,1915,1924,1933,1942,1951,1960,1969,1978,1987,1996,2005,2014.
    Through the use of numerology, much can be learned by understanding what has happened in previous years under the same number.

©January 2023 Michael John Fierro 


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Sunday, January 1, 2023

Editor's Corner


By Mary E. Adair

January 2023

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”

—William E. Vaughan

Welcoming the month of January and hoping its weather will be as agreeable as it is in the last day of the Old Year. Not everyone will be out celebrating and one must hope that those who are out remain safe. The television offers views of celebrations worldwide and all the fireworks one could ever desire. Back when this century began with a New Year, your editor and Leo C. Helmer, hubby and cooking columnist for this eZine, watched the celebration including extrordinary Fireworks displays in St Louis, Missouri. May yours be as spectacular and satisfying as you desire and incidentally, Happy New Year to each of you.

We are pleased to share with our readers two season-themed poems gleaned from past issues by John Blair, "Taking The Sun in January" and "This Is January." His work is always welcome. Bud Lemire shares the fantasy poem "Alien Christmas," "Once Again Whole," and "The Power To Be." "Tomorrow's A New Year," "About New Year's Eve," and."More Christmas Rambling," are from Walt Perryman. Linnie Jane Burks' treasured poems are "The Old Year Dieth Soon" and "My Resolution--A New Year--1986." Bruce Clifford adds "Letting Go Is Not Something I Know" and "Not Knocking on Your World."

In "A Mother's Lessons" by Danielle Cote Serar, she admits to being shocked and saddened as well as surprised at the self-demise of the popular dancer "Hitch." She continues with thoughts about detecting and treating depression. "On Trek" by Judith Kroll, encourages everyone to make caring changes in their lives, regarding getting closer to nature.

"Introspective" by Thomas O'Neill, fills us in on his teaching role at a new school, also in China, and some of the problems because of ongoing isolation rules. "Irish Eyes" is where our Dublin based Mattie Lennon reminisces about his favorite Christmas ever, when he was 11. He returns to his adult observations by encouraging people to catch a popular podcast, certainly such as was totally lacking when he was a youth.

"Sifoddling Along," is by Marilyn Carnell, who is hopeful everyone can effect "A Fresh Start" in the New Year, as discussed in her column..  "Woo Woo," by Pauline Evanosky, asks and answers the query "Who Am I Talking to When I Talk to Spirit?"

"Cooking with Rod” Roderick Cohenour's column is offered via dictation from the hospitalized author, with wife Melinda Cohenour aptly filling in as secretary to present a Holiday special dessert. Prayers surely welcome for Rod. Meanwhile, his wife Melinda Cohenour has included an update on his condition in her column "Armchair Genealogy."

Walt Perryman is also the author of the continuing tale that reveals the compositions titled "Honey Dog Tales." Chapter Five 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. Happy New Year, Susie and Mike!

Look for us in February 2023.

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Armchair Genealogy


By Melinda Cohenour

As most of our readers are aware, your author is the wife of Rod Cohenour, author of the Cooking With Rod column that also appears monthly. We have enjoyed sharing our love of cooking with our readers and my hubby has been a most supportive (and patient) enabler of my Genealogy addiction! He has steadfastly endured my endless quests to break down my most intriguing and frustrating brick walls. He has prepared meals and tended to household chores while I spend "just a little bit more time ... think I may be onto something here, darling" as that time stretches into the wee hours. This month is different. All my attention has been focused on Rod. Thus, I pen this column in lieu of a Genealogy revelation, a look at what our lives have revolved around for the past month and a half.

My dear Rod  has had a really tough time of it. Went into ER on the 12th of December with excruciating leg foot and knee pain. Tests revealed a very high level of uric acid (gout) with extremely high inflammation. Kept in ER all that day, overnight, and most of the next day before getting a room. Had to cancel his planned Green Light Laser surgery (termed lifesaving by his Urologist) scheduled for Dec 19th. 

X-rays revealed a fresh spiral fracture of the fibula near the right knee. Thankfully that was stabilized and did not require surgery or immobilization with a cast or a boot. However, he was transported to St. Ann's Skilled Nursing & Therapy Facility on the 17th.

There have been a couple of issues arising from the Siberian Cold front, including the Facility's big water main freezing and bursting which disabled the furnace, thrusting the whole place in the freezer, basically, while overnight temps were an actual 3°. The staff kept bringing heated blankets to wrap folks in. Rod was in his warm-up pants and hoodie with hoodie up, under all his covers plus his heavy George Foreman velour robe, and felt like a popsicle!

This week he has tested positive for COVID-19. He's been moved into an isolation ward, a private room which has an ER-type curtain for a "door". They have started him on the new Pfizer Paxlovid-Dexamethasone series of antiviral meds that, in clinical trials and treatments being followed show an 89% reduction in need for hospitalization, significantly reduced recovery, and vastly lower need for oxygen and much reduced serious symptoms and deaths. In fact, they came in while we were talking and administered his current dosage.

Paxlovid-Dexamethasone. A one-two punch delivering a highly effective anti-viral that stops Covid from being able to replicate in new cells along with a corticosteroid that eases the inflammatory destruction in lungs and kidneys etc.

In typical fashion for Rod, his spirits have been high as he pushes himself to keep moving and deny pain any normal person would be constantly complaining about. He cannot speak more highly about the care he has received, both at Mercy Hospital and now at St. Ann's Skilled Nursing & Therapy Facility. In Rod's view, every single person he has interacted with at St. Ann's has shown the greatest care and compassion. He called them "my angels." My personal experience with staff at St. Ann's actually began before Rod was transported from Mercy to their facility. I received a call advising "Your loved one is being transported to our facility and should arrive momentarily." I was then given a telephone number to contact, my caller inquired about my email address for their use in providing additional contact information and any material updates. 

Shortly after that initial greeting, a second call from St. Ann's introduced their Admissions Director with more information and her personal contact information. I was requested to respond to a few questions regarding Rod's current health and asked to email a photocopy of his immunization records for Flu, Pneumonia, and Covid. 

A third call came from Finance with important information concerning our insurance coverage and what I could expect regarding cost sharing. All of the contacts were conducted in a friendly and professional manner. 

One failing was on our part. I did not pack Rod's cell phone in his luggage, not recognizing St. Ann's does not provide individual room phones. The kind staff has been more than helpful in arranging for him to have access to a cell phone in order for us to communicate on a regular basis. 

Rod has been quite well pleased with the food service, a filling and tasty breakfast routinely consists of eggs (usually an omelet), two rashers of thick sliced bacon, a bread option, hot oatmeal (which he loves, and is most beneficial healthwise) along with a fruit cup and some type juice.

His lunch and dinner meals have been varied, always tasty, and served with attention to his dietary requirements. Their selection of sugar-free desserts has been impressive: from tri-flavored sherbet (lime, orange, berry) to pumpkin pie. 

He has a specially designed Physical Therapy (focused on mobility and legs) and Occupational Therapy (focused on upper body strength) program, and enjoys those sessions even though he does experience some discomfort.

In addition to his three squares a day, Rod has two snacks. Those vary: a small bag of peanuts, a grilled cheese or chicken salad sandwich, fruit, and cheese, or something pleasing. Every three and a half to four hours he has food presented. Just long enough it is welcome. Not so long he is actually hungry. 

On one or two occasions, my heart has been broken when my normally upbeat husband has displayed depression, even tears. He is a gregarious person who delights in visiting with others. This isolation does not suit him. He and I visit as long as the charge on the cell phones holds out. This is the longest period of time we've ever spent apart! He has now lived with non-stop pain since just before Thanksgiving. It is amazing he has not shown more anguish. 

He loves his furbabies and misses them terribly. When they hear his voice on the speaker of my cellphone, they respond. Our ginger tabby, Boy-Boy, runs to me, jumps on my chest, and nuzzles the phone. Blaze howls her "I want my Daddy" howl. Penny perks up her ears and looks around expectantly. 

Rod believes in prayer. So do I. This is a time in our lives we earnestly solicit prayer: that his recovery will be complete and rapid, that no residual effects trouble him, and that he can return home without that being troublesome for him. That our insurance company shows compassion and practicality with regard to his readiness to leave nursing care.

Ending this report with the greatest hopes that Rod will soon be on the mend and his usual cheerful, busy self at home and HEALED!

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Cooking with Rod

By Rod Cohenour

Welcome in the New Year with a delectable dessert. Everyone loves fresh (or even frozen and thawed) berries and heavenly light whipped cream. Add a tasty prepared pound cake and the summery memory of juicy oranges and you've created a New Year's Delight, my better half's take on an Old Fashioned Trifle.

Bon appetit ~!

Ms New Old Fashioned Trifle

    1 pound cake, loaf style (you can substitute angel food cake but it will not be as rich,  I prefer pound cake)
    For The Pudding,
    Prepare Vanilla Jell-O Cook & Serve Pudding mix as directed on 3.4 oz box, which provides 3 cups custard pudding
    4 tbsp. fresh orange juice
    1/2 c. orange marmalade 
    2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries or blackberries
    For The Topping: 
    1 c. heavy whipping cream, chilled
    1 Tbsp sugar
    1 tsp Vanilla extract 
    3 tbsp. toasted sliced almonds


Step 1

    Prepare the pound cake by slicing in one-inch layers, then cutting each layer into one-inch squares. Cover to keep moist.

Step 2

    Prepare Jell-O Cook & Serve Pudding as directed on 3.4 oz. Box. Makes 3 cups custard pudding.

Step 3

    Arrange half (or go thirds of each) of the pound cake in the bottom of a trifle dish or 2-quart glass bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Top with half each (or one-third) of the marmalade, blueberries, and cooled custard. Repeat layering. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 4 hours or up to 24 hours. 

Step 4

    Beat heavy whipping cream and 1 tablespoon sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Add Vanilla Extract and blend in to whipped cream. Spread over trifle. Sprinkle with almonds.
    Serve and enjoy!

Bon appetit ~!

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Woo Woo


By Pauline Evanosky


Who Am I Talking to When I Talk to Spirit?

I had a question for my guide this morning. It’s something that has been on my mind for a few weeks now, and I couldn’t shake it.

When I give a reading for somebody, I “assume” that I am talking to my spirit guide, Seth. He is my conduit to Spirit, to Source I talk with. You can think of me as an interpreter. I am the filter for whatever Spirit or Seth has to say. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Seth did tell me one time when I asked him why he kept saying the word we. He said it is a choral effect. Picture a group of guides all talking at once or singing in harmony. Fifteen guides might equal one choral effect. It satisfied me at the time. I stopped asking.

So, a couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me for some advice. I was thinking, considering what I wanted to say to her, and Seth started speaking. It’s a funny feeling, but my intention was to say something, but right away I knew Seth or Spirit was going to say something instead. I remember interrupting to tell her quickly what was happening; that I was going to be less in control, and he was going to talk.

I semi-tranced out, which is how I prefer to deliver anything Seth has to say. It feels like I just let go somehow. Like I’d been drinking and was at the point where I wasn’t going to remember what happens next in the morning. I don’t drink anymore, but I do remember what it was like for me as a socially anxious person to be sociable at a party. It was always difficult for me, which is why I eventually quit drinking. For me to channel in a semi-trance-like state I have to feel safe. It also means I do not always have a clear recollection of what was said.

My friend asked me some days later if it was really Seth talking. I told her that, yes, it was Seth.

It has been a week or so since she asked her question. At 4 am this morning Seth explained to me the messages I receive are from Source. That means him and anybody else who has passed on. The fact that my friend thought it was a relative might be true enough. It would have been somebody who has passed on. Seth could have been the spiritual amplifier.

To explain it further, he asked me to think about the water that comes from the tap when you turn the faucet on. Water, right? But where did it come from? I said it came from the faucet. He asked me, but where before that? That’s when I began to get a clearer picture of where messages from the other side might be coming from.

I changed the example in the story to chocolate. I can imagine chocolate better than I can water. Not that water is not important, and I can imagine water. It is just that chocolate is more interesting.

I said the chocolate bar came from the grocery store. Before that, it was on a truck. Before that, it was at a processing plant. Before that, it was on a hillside somewhere, minding its own business until somebody came along and plucked it off of its cacao tree. This traces the source of a message from Spirit back to where it began.

My lesson in this? Remember that interested parties are always there for the people I read. I may or may not have a sense of them, but I do have a sense of my guide. That guide, Seth, is the helper, the focuser for whoever is there in Spirit to convey a message back to the person being read. So, if the person I am reading says to me, “I have a feeling this is from a relative.” then, that’s what is happening. Their own psychic senses are coming into play too. Many times they don’t believe it is happening, but it is. I just need to remember to tell them this can happen.

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By Thomas F. O'Neill

I am now teaching at a new school in China. I love the students here, but unfortunately, the school has been in lockdown from November 12th to December 8th due to COVID. The students had classes seven days a week from 7 in the morning to 9 at night and slept in dormitories. No one was able to leave or enter the school from the outside, including the parents. I witnessed the ramifications of the lockdown on the student's mental well-being. Some students acted out with fistfights and talked back to their teachers with abusive language. I tried to stay optimistic, and I know those marathon weeks of teaching did, in the end, made me a better teacher. The students are now looking forward to going home in the middle of January for the Chinese New Year.

I’m convinced that China’s leader Xi Jinping is using the COVID outbreak to consolidate his power. No leader since Mao Zedong had this kind of power over the Chinese people, and Mao was also a ruthless dictator.

I told my students that China’s draconian methods of fighting COVID is like trying to kill a mosquito with a sledgehammer, with the mosquito having the upper hand. The COVID policies are far worse than the virus.

Since he has been in power, Xi Jinping has outlawed Halloween and Christmas displays, and schools are forbidden to engage in Halloween and Christmas parties. Traditional Chinese festivals are only allowed to be celebrated, but that won't stop me from wearing my Christmas sweater and hat in the classroom on Christmas day. If I disappear and you don’t hear from me again, you know why. These ridiculous rules and regulations, especially the lockdowns, the constant COVID testing, and travel restrictions, had been in place for almost three years.

This lack of freedom in China has made me more appreciative of being an American, and I’m grateful for the freedoms that come with our U.S. citizenship. That appreciation only grows stronger at this time of year.

Fortunately, the Chinese government stated on December 8th that they are relaxing their draconian mandates regarding COVID. It is primarily due to the negative international coverage of China’s strict lockdowns and continuous COVID testing.

Country-wide protests against the lockdowns, harsh government rules on travel, and COVID testing; have played a significant part in Xi Jinping easing his “Zero Tolerance” policy against the virus.

The protesters were made up mostly of members of the Z-generation and organized mainly by university students. That resulted in many Universities throughout China being shut down - for a time - but they have now reopened.

The Z-generation grew up on social media, and they used it effectively to lampoon Xi Jinping and his authoritative grip on the communist party. The government tried its best to scrub the internet of all satirical comments. That, however, resulted in the protesters using VPNs to communicate on Instagram and other social media networks to continue organizing and voicing their opinions against Xi Jinping and the communist government.

“The communist party,” as one University student shouted, “is made up of ninety-one million members out of a population of 1.4 billion people….” The local authorities grabbed her at that point and confiscated her phone, which was never returned to her.

Protests are common in America, but in China, it is a big deal, and I say more power to the peaceful demonstrators fighting for democracy in China. Most generation Z here admire America, especially our freedom to voice our opinions satirically against political leaders and our ability to demonstrate against perceived injustices.

I am happy to report that my students whose families live within the city limit of the school were allowed to go home on (12-8-2022) for a long-needed weekend. But unfortunately, the students whose families live outside the city had to remain at the school, I included, but as you can see, some progress was made, which is a good thing for our peace of mind.

This particular season should certainly be celebrated because it’s when our love comes to call, and that love gives this holiday season its true meaning. Over the years, I have found that it is not the material gifts that count in life but rather the unrecognized, undetected, and unremembered acts of loving kindness that are our greatest gifts and achievements in life. To see a world of loving and joyous people, we must be loving and joyful toward the people in our lives. That potential is part of our humanity; when we reach out to those in need, we touch a part of the humanity that is within us.

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

When we enhance the life of another in need, we, in turn, enhance our own lives. So, remember, 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 wish you all a merry and joyous holiday season.

    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

A Fresh Start

Three years have passed since COVID stole so much of our freedom and took so many lives. I still wear a mask when I am out in the world. I know it isn’t 100% effective at preventing me from getting sick, but it seems important to go through the motions. We now face three worrisome illnesses – COVID – 19, flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), and a disease we thought was eradicated – measles!

I am in the process of adjusting to the “new normal”. It isn’t comfortable for me yet, but I think I will soon adjust to this more cautious approach to life. I now think seriously about whether I must leave my home. In the past three years, I have entered a grocery store only once (and found prices have shockingly increased).

No, I haven’t been living on air – many services are now designed to accommodate limited contact with others – I can order groceries, paper goods, and other necessities with the touch of a screen, and I can attend meetings of groups by sitting by my computer and punching a few keys. In many cases, I can attend a virtual medical appointment. Restaurants offer take-out and delivery. My church streams its service to me sitting comfortably in my robe and slippers. It does save a lot of time and energy.

Yet some things still require my presence. A trip to the dentist requires a mask for me and near-space suit attire for the staff. I have a new dentist, but due to protective gear, I couldn’t pick her out in a lineup.

Because I have been worried about climate change for more than 50 years, I drive a Prius and long to own a Tesla. When we lived on Big Sugar Creek, I had to buy gas about once a week. In 2020 I bought only 3 tanks of gas. This year circumstances required that I drive more, and I also took 4 plane trips (a big jump in my carbon footprint). Like my trip to the grocery store, I found sticker shock at the price increases and a serious decline in quality service in the travel industry. I am still stunned that no one would help me with my bags at a hotel, even though I was old, infirm, and heavily laden.

Yet, I remain optimistic. I am hopeful that the world will step back from the abyss and minimize climate change and I will continue to do my part by continuing to reduce my carbon footprint.

Shall we all make a New Year’s resolution to do what we can to save our planet? I think the time has come to recognize our new reality is our “new normal”..

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Irish Eyes


By Mattie Lennon

My Best Christmas


It was mid-December in the third decade of the twenty-first century. I was at a Table Topics session. Because of my dubious ability to read upside down, I could make out the Topicmaster’s list of questions at the top table. One jumped out at me. “What was your best Christmas ever?” I hoped I’d get that one. I had an answer.

My best Christmas was Christmas 1956 but I didn’t know it at the time. About the eighth of December that year, I developed a pain in my stomach which didn’t feel all that serious. . Various stages of discomfort, ranging from relatively mild to severe pain, continued until the end of the month. By this stage, a hard lump could be felt in my stomach. All kinds of remedies from the relic of Blessed Martin de Porres to Lourdes water to many folk “cures” were applied. None of them did me any harm. Medical intervention hadn’t been sought. And because of the thinking of the time and the climate in which we lived, I don’t blame anyone. On Sunday, December 30th Doctor Clearkin from Blessington was called. As the December light was fading he examined me. His work illuminated by lamplight as rural electrification was still in the future. . He told my parents that if it was appendicitis then I was “a very strong boy.” He was puzzled and didn’t make a diagnosis. His best guess was that one of my testicles hadn’t descended and he insisted that I was too ill to be out of bed.

He called the ambulance and on its arrival, I wanted to sit in the front but Mick Byrne, the driver, was adamant that I would be parallel with the horizontal in the back. I don’t know what time we arrived at Baltinglass Hospital but the doctor there was equally puzzled.

I was loaded up again and hit the road for Mercer’s Hospital in Dublin. It was only my second visit to the Capital. The previous May my father brought me to Frawley's in Thomas Street to buy my Confirmation suit. Two years earlier I spent some days in the hospital with a knocked-out elbow so I wasn’t all that perturbed by the clinical environment. My details were taken as well as the name of the local postmaster as the post office in Lacken was our nearest phone.. I received a penicillin injection every four hours and I still remember the taste of liquid paraffin. Many doctors examined me and all were confused. One of them described me as “intelligent” but very few people have agreed with him since. .

Whenever I hear the ballad “Sean South from Garryowen” I’m transported back to the radio of Patsy Cavanagh from Craanford County Wexford, who was in the corner of the ward. It was New Year’s Day 1953 and the main news item covered the shooting of South and Fergal O’ Hanlon at Brookeborough, County Fermanagh.

I’m not sure if I turned off the immersion this morning but I’m amazed at how many names of my fellow patients I can remember after more than three score years. There was Seamus Osborne also from Craanford, and Tony Hand, from Arklow, who was younger than me and whose father was in the army. Pipe smoking Kerryman, Tim Toomey, who was a guard in Enniskerry. When he learned that his father had died he asked me to say a prayer for him. George McCullough, a farmer, from Goresbridge who was a seanachai and didn’t know it.  

As an eleven-year-old rus-in-urbe, who had a sheltered childhood, I was mesmerised by the antics of one patient, “Midget” boxer and aerial acrobat Johnny Caross. He died in the same hospital a few months later.  

 Later, on the first day of the New Year, my father came to visit me. He was able to tell me that one of the surgeons in Mercers had “his hands blessed by the Pope.” When, not quite out of earshot, he asked a doctor about my condition, he was told. “Well, He’s an unusual case.” ( I was still a mystery to the medical profession.)

I was operated on the next day. They found an appendix abscess which was removed and arrangements were made to remove the appendix some weeks later. The second operation was duly performed and I didn’t ever ascertain how close to death I was. I meant to look for my medical records before Mercers Hospital closed in 1983 but procrastination got in the way.

Oh, at the table topic session I was asked “If you had to cook for eight people on Christmas Day what would you do”. I wasn’t disappointed. How would I have fitted my prepared answer, to the other question, into two minutes? 

So far I have lived through 76 Christmases. But the best one was in 1956 because I was alive to see it.

* * * * *

It is often said that we Irish do death very well. If you agree with that or even if you don't you should tune in to Kathy Burke's podcast Where There's a Will, There's a Wake. Kathy Burke is a much loved British actress and one of the most versatile. She is also a comedian, playwright, and director. She first entered the nation’s consciousness, big time, aged 26 when she appeared on TV in Harry Enfield’s Television Show.

During her career she has played a variety of comic characters, arguably the most memorable was Waynetta Slob, an uncouth, chain-smoking, pizza-munching council-estate mother – she captivated audiences with her confident brashness and ready ability to appear in an unflattering light. She is at her best in this podcast.
Check on Apple Podcasts.html for Where There's a Will, There's a Wake.

Happy New Year

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On Trek


By Judith Kroll


Every year we make a resolution to do better, lose weight , run a marathon, whatever. All those are awesome goals, how about this year we learn to believe in ourselves.

Find the real us that is pure love, no limits. A healthy mind IS a healthy body. Find Our own Sunshine and Raindrops . You want an ice cream cone, get it. You want a day to do nothing? Do it.

Find your Joy in your life and please yourself .

Take the time to smell the earth and all the ancient and modern energy it contains. Feel the earth, it helps us heal. It is filled with healing vegetation etc.

Laugh and smile. Talk to the animals, and see the pictures in the clouds. This is a year to spend some time with YOU.
Judith 12/31/22

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A Mother's Lessons

By Danielle Cote Serar 


In December many of my circle were rocked by the news of tWitch’s death and the subsequent revelation that he chose to take his own life. Not only was he close in age to my circle but he had young babies of similar ages to ours. That alone would make anyone question or react. But to then learn he chose to leave this world adds another depth of realism still leaving a profound lack of understanding as to why among us. No one can truly know what is going through the mind of another but we like to think when someone presents as having it all and having it all put together that they in fact do. This isn’t always the case.

In the aftermath of this loss, I scrolled through my Instagram feed and sadly came across a post by a social media acquaintance who implied the reason for tWitch’s suicide stemmed from having worked for Ellen and Hollywood for an extended period. I was appalled by the ignorant inference, disgusted if I’m being truly honest. But I immediately was calmed by a lesson my mother had taught me. People don’t know what they don’t know.

The thing about mental illness is we have sheltered and hidden it away for so long that when we are confronted with its tragic results we look to place blame in a logical manner, trying to find fault with someone’s life that would lead to them making such a final decision. Because we have left mental illness to reside in the taboo, treating it socially as some misgiving one can move through if they just did the right things, we lack as a society the knowledge to understand the complexity of mental illnesses. When someone makes that decision and their life is in shambles, we can rationalize, even if we don’t agree, their decision. It’s easier for us to comprehend when the external factors are severe enough how someone could take such irrevocable action, such as a mother choosing to join the child they lost. But when confronted with someone who appears to have it all together, we can’t fathom why they would do such a thing.

Again, people don’t know what they don’t know. As a society, we look at depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc as things to be mitigated by improving one’s external self and circumstances. And while it is true that managing those external triggers can help manage depression, people often fail to see that there are complexities to mental illness just as there is a complexity of factors to that of say diabetes. Yet with diabetes, we don’t question the person. We don’t question, stigmatize or force them through misguided statements into dealing with it quietly, on their own, or worried about seeking help.

But mental illness is no less a physical illness, one that directly affects your body's physical performance. Are there triggering events that can cause it? Sometimes but not always. Sometimes it’s just dumb genetic luck. Can you appear and appear to function normally and still have depression? Yes, it’s called high-functioning depression. Can you go for years, decades even, and not know or it is known that you have depression? Yes. Just as someone can have a thyroid issue that goes undiagnosed for decades. Again, we don’t know what we don’t know.

Depression and all mental illness is still physical illness of the body. As with cancer or diabetes or any other illness, mental illnesses are multifaceted in their dynamic as an illness and treatment. We as a society have worked hard to pull back the blinders on many areas of health often shuttered for private eyes only, the latter being to our detriment: miscarriage, substance abuse, infertility, and more. The work has started on mental health. But because we don’t know what we don’t know, the signs screaming for help can go missed by those around us. Because we don’t know what we don’t know, we make statements like my social media acquaintance that further shame or isolate those experiencing mental illness. Because we don’t know what we don’t know, we also don’t know how to help.

Helping move this idea of mental health into the public eye is personal for me. I have watched many family members struggle with depression, one I watched slowly kill himself with a hard lifestyle and alcohol to self-medicate his depression. I myself have struggled with situational clinical depression and postpartum depression and anxiety. I know because of this I am more susceptible to depression, even when everything is going “right”. I have two babies that I know have a good chance of genetically experiencing the same. I don’t want them to feel the stigma that I have felt around mental health. Personally, I think it’s time to get to know what we don’t know so we can know what we need to know when we need to know, you know?
Danielle Serar

Little Miss B’s Sweets
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Honey Dog Tales 5

By Walt Perryman

By Honey Dog

More Honey Dog Saga (memories)

Well, I scored two pieces of jerky from the bartender, man it was great. Now, if I can just take a nap here by the stove with out someone stepping on me, I would hate to have to take someone’s leg off tonight. I hope no other dogs come in; I hate to be awakened by a strange dog sniffing me. Can you imagine waking up and some piece of dog meat smelling of you?

It is not easy being a poet’s dog, the jerk. Oh! No! Here he goes again with his favorite and my most hated poem about his little dog getting ran over. Master, can’t you just let go of it, it has been 60 years ago. Do you know how many dog years that is, dog biscuits! I hate to cuss like that, but sometimes he really irritates me. I think the little dog that got ran over was lucky; they did not even have duct tape back then.

Heck! If I got ran over, I would probably stick to the tire, dang duct tape this master tapes my paws to the steering wheel when he drinks too much, and I drive home.

Oh!! Goody! Goody! My master is saying goodbye to everyone, now we can go to the Sonic or will if I drive. Yummy, yummy, a big old hamburger. I guess he is not such a bad master, sometimes. Oh!! Dog biscuits!! He just told the bartender, “Give me one more last beer, again.” That makes four last beers;

That reminds me he just had his 76th birthday and when a female asks how old, he says he is 62. Poor master, he is as about as good at math as he is in punctuation and spelling. And believe me, that is not a compliment.

Well folks I am going to lay back down, looks like we will be here a while. I wish I could go to Aunt Charlottes and get a decent meal; she treats us dogs like royalty. Too bad she did not get me out of the dog pound, I could be living the life, but no, here I am on a bar room floor looking at people’s feet.

* * * * *

(To Be Continued. See Me Next Issue.)
©2010 Honey Dog
with Secretarial Assistant and Master Walt Perryman

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Once Again Whole

By Bud Lemire

Everyone reading this, has experienced a loss
Over to the Other Side, they had to cross
“It was way too soon, why did they go?”
From a baby, you watched them grow

Was it their time, to go when they did?
So they could disappear, off of the grid
One thing I do know, deep in my soul
Whatever their problems were here, they are once again whole

The love you shared with them, is embedded within
They carry it with them, when they left their skin
A soul print of all, who have touched them here
When your grief fades, they'll whisper in your ear

For you see, an eternity is what it will be
The connection you share, love is the key
Even though you think, their life had hardly begun
Time will pass quickly, you'll see them when your life is done

If you have a dream, and they stand before you
With words of comfort, please know that it's true
They've come to let you know, they're still alive
They'll be there to meet you, when you arrive
Until then, you must finish your journey here on Earth
Make every moment count, for what it is worth

©Dec 28, 2022 Bud Lemire

                          Author Note:

Believe me when I say, I've experienced many things. I know
without any doubts that we live on in spirit, and so many
times our loved ones come to us to let us know they are still
with us, only in spirit form now. They will give us signs.
Many times we don't always see them, or feel them, or know
them. Yet, they are there, if we watch and are aware, they are
there. The love you share with them, never ends. It sometimes
becomes even stronger. Believe!


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Tomorrow's A New Year

By Walt Perryman

Folks, tomorrow will be a brand-new year,
I pray that we can live it without any fear.

But I believe it would be a Heavenly crime,
If we do not live 2023 one day at a time!

We will have a new 365 days starting at midnight,
To get closer to God and try to live each one right.

©December 31, 2022 Walt Perryman

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This Is January

 By John I. Blair


That was December,
The month for new stars
And silent nights,
Glittering garlands
And open, trusting hands,
When children’s dreams
Keep hope alive.

This is January,
The month for new starts,
When Winter’s really here
With an aching honesty
And nothing to hide --
All adult, no “seems,”
Just raw demands.

Celebrate December;
But January, survive.

©2005 John I. Blair

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My Resolution--A New Year--1986

 By LinnieJane Burks


I won't look back; God knows the fruitless efforts,
     The wasted hours, the sinning, the regrets;
I'll leave them all with Him who blots the record,
     And mercifully forgives--and then forgets.

I won't look forward; God sees all the future, and
     The road that, short or long, will lead me home,
And He will face with me its every trial,
     And bear with me the burdens that may come.

But, I'll look up--into the face of Jesus,
     For there my heart can rest, my fears are stilled;
There is joy and love, and light for darkness,
     And perfect peace, and every hope fulfilled.

©Jan 1, 1986 Linnie Jane Joslin Burks
at Ogbomosho, Nigeria.

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Alien Christmas

By Bud Lemire

On a planet, far away in a distant place
There lived some creatures, not of the human race
They celebrated Christmas, much different there
These purple-skinned Aliens, without any hair

With three fingers on each hand, and only two toes
And a dark purple knob for a nose
The gifts they give are from the inside
Of the Christmas tree, which is wide

Each gift is not physical, but made up of light
Which comes from the soul, and is very bright
They each give a part of themselves, which means so much
Into the gifts they choose, which is felt in a spiritual touch

Who is each gift for, and how will they know?
Like a magnet, it will recognize it by the soul
And that one Alien, will sense it to be right
This tree of souls, shines very bright in the night

It's not their whole soul, that is given
Only a part, which is cherished by each Alien living
It is the greatest love, to ever share
When your higher self, is aware
The gift you give, is a part of you
You celebrate this holiday, with all you do
It's an Alien Christmas, on this planet so far away
Where wishes come true, on this special holiday

©Dec 06, 2022 Bud Lemire


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More Christmas Rambling

 By Walt Perryman

Can you Remember Christmas when you were five?
Your anticipation and your whole world came alive?

Everything seemed magic but also seemed so real,
Yep, for most little kids Christmas time is a big deal.

There are many kids that never get to feel that way,
Perhaps you can help just one have their magic day.

Someday when that kid grows up he/she will remember,
And help another kid have magic memories of December.

Remember when you were five what it meant to you?
If you can, try to help a child have good memories too.

©December 2022 Walt Perryman

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Not Knocking On Your World

By Bruce Clifford

The blurbs of Babylon.
Signatures on the rise.
Twilight of imagination.
It comes as no surprise.

  Empty gutless feelings.
Eminence of discontent.
Latitudes of misplaced healings.
Approachable with resent.

  I’m not knocking on your world.
I’m not reaching for the door.
I’m not listening to silence.
I’m not taking this anymore.

  Abuse and games with emotions.
Challenges with every sunrise.
Two ships passing in the ocean.
Regretting when I realize,

  Displaced irrelevant feelings.
Creation of toxic waves.
Polarizing reflected dealings.
Surviving in subtle ways.

  I’m not knocking on your world.
I’m not reaching for the door.
I’m not listening to silence.
I’m not taking this anymore.

  ©12/14/2022 Bruce Clifford

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Taking The Sun in January

 By John I. Blair


In Minneapolis, New Year’s Day,
Hundreds turn blue in Excelsior Bay.

Ice castles tower in Montreal
While snowflakes fall.

At Beaver Creek, Vail and Stowe,
Hardy souls ski to the valleys below.

Here in Texas I sit on the deck
Hoping for juncos, sun on my neck.

Winter’s soft in the South.

©2011 John I. Blair

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The Old Year Dieth Soon

By LinnieJane Burks


Dear Master,
As the old year dieth soon,
Take Thou my harp
And prove if any string
Be out of tune
Or flat or sharp

Correct Thou, Lord, for me
What seemeth harsh to Thee.
That heart and life may sing
The New Year long,
The perfect song!

©Jan 1, 1958 Linnie Jane Joslin Burks
Ogbomoso, Nigeria

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The Power To Be

 By Bud Lemire

I shall walk ahead
Not spend my time in bed
Tomorrow will be the sun
Because my time isn't done

I shall dance and sing
I shall fly with a wing
I shall not lay low
I will go with the flow

I shall be nature's best friend
I'll meet each morning until day's end
I shall be kind to each person I meet
I shall stand steady on my feet

With each new day
I shall always find a way
To make every day the best
And do the same for the rest

I won't falter, I won't fail
I will hammer down on each nail
I have the power to be
The very best of me

©Dec 01, 2022 Bud Lemire

                           Author Note:

A poem for those who are struggling with every day.
You have the strength to move ahead and be the best
you can be. Don't look at anyone else and where
they are. This is your journey, and you can go at
any pace you want to. You can be anyone you
want to be. Do it! I have faith in you. 


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About New Year's Eve


By Walt Perryman

This morning this is what I am thinking,
About New Year’s Eve if you’re drinking.

I’m going to celebrate this Happy New Years,
And chances are that I will drink a few beers.

But I won’t go anywhere and drink and drive,
Because, next year I would like to still be alive!

Therefore, I do not want to press my luck,
And drink too much and wreck my truck!

I do not want the cops to give me a test to fail.
And I don’t want to wake up laying in jail!

A designated driver or taxi is the safe way to go,
Of course, this is something you already know.

I wish a Happy New Years to every one of you,
But if you drink, I hope you think this way too.

©December 31, 2020 Walt Perryman

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Letting Go Is Not Something I Know

By Bruce Clifford

I hold our past against my soul at night.
I’m told I never say anything quite right.
I hold your smile in my dreams and my thoughts.
I know as a child I was beaten and lost.

  It hurts how your life turned to anguish and pain.
Time skirts and shifts as everyone points to blame.
I hold our past in my thoughts and my dreams.
It seems to forever last through my highs and extremes.

  Letting go is not something I know.
Letting go is not something I can do.
Letting go is not something I know.
Letting go is not something I’ve been shown.

  It hurts so much to know all you have been through.
I feel so out of touch as I howl at the moon.
I hold your embrace in my thoughts and my heart..
Memories I can’t erase ever since the very start.

  I hold our past against my soul at night.
I’m told I never say anything quite right.
I hold your smile in my dreams and my thoughts.
I never thought in this life you could ever be lost.

  ©12/5/2022 Bruce Clifford

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