Young Environmentalist Sets Sail

I could see his ‘wheels spinning’ faster than a Tibetan prayer wheel . . .

Ten year olds are wonderful. Their basic learning skills are conquered and with minds like sponges, eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear, minds not yet cynical, they are avidly ready for new ideas, and I do believe this past summer I saw one such boy become a dyed in the wool environmentalist.

See, Joey was with me as I poured a pan of dirty water down the drain, and casually mused, “I wonder who’ll be the next person to drink that water?”

His eyes told me he didn’t know what I was talking about, so a big discussion about water began. He later told his school teacher about it, and she had him tell the class. Not bad for a ten year old, huh?

So, what did I say that entranced so young a lad? Well, I explained that there is only so much water in the whole world. That we are re-using the same water that Adam and Eve used, and it will still be the same water when the opposite of The Big Bang happens. The very same, just used and re-used over and over and over.

Then it became a game as we began naming its different forms, all the way from a mountain stream, to ice, snow, rain, gutters, sewers, glaciers, clouds, dry ice, steam and so forth.

But before long, with a serious look on his face, he edged back to the ‘sewer’ bit and with a grin on mine, I said, “Now, Joey, almost every time I see you, you have some kind of drink in your hands, and just where does it finally go?” I could see he didn’t want to accept where my words were taking him. But reluctantly he said, “Well, I go to the bathroom.” (and no, that isn’t how he said it), but I laughed and said, “Yeah, and you don’t think it gets thrown away, do you? And anyway, just where would they throw it?”

I handed him a bottle of water and said, “Joey, this is the very same water Noah floated his ark upon; that Moses parted in the Red Sea; where the Indians paddled their canoes; and the same water dinosaurs mucked around in before there were even people.”

We followed the circle backward from the mountain stream, to melting snow, to the heavy clouds that drop the snow (or rain) and further back to the way those clouds are formed from moisture rising from the oceans.

He didn’t have too much else to say, but as he left for home, I could see his ‘wheels spinning’ faster than a Tibetan prayer wheel, and the next day he was back with one big question, that of, ” How does it get cleaned up?

He hadn’t liked the idea that water, no matter in what form we use or see it, ultimately comes right back to our kitchen tap, and was now doing his best to get clean water there. And I believe it was at this point he started to become a serious ‘save the environment” kind of kid.

It was wonderful to watch his mind follow the trail from snow of a thousand years ago, forming glaciers, which either melt into streams or ‘calf’ off into the oceans. He spoke of steam at his mother’s stove, ice cubes, and on and on. It was a delight to watch his mind work and almost wished I could have been a school teacher.

I don’t think he will ever again look upon ‘water’ in any form, the same way as he did before knowing that the clear, clean water we’re drinking has been used by so many different people and in so many different ways. It’s sobering, and not too comfortable, but like it or not, this ole’ world has only a certain amount of water (and earth, too). and that they both do get used over and over and over.

I saw Joey’s ten year old mind digging deep and I doubt he’ll ever again think of water (and perhaps the earth, too) in a casual way again. I believe I saw an environmentalist come into being, and it was good. And doubly good that I had had a role in awakening that young ten year old to a greater world.

Coincidence? I Think Not

Everything happens for a reason . . .

Anyone who knows me well enough to say “Hi”, also knows that Ethel is odd. And they’re right in a way, for at times, I have odd things happen. But at the same time, I suspect what happens to me is just about what happens to you, too. We’re all the same, except I tend to talk or write about it all. And so, here goes.
At times, since childhood, I’ve been aware of what others were thinking, who was going to give me a phone call, or now, it has happened with email, and sometimes I even know what they’re going to tell me. Nothing big, but as I say, it’s odd, and once I even told the caller what she’d called for, and we laughed, and I couldn’t convince her that someone else hadn’t already called and told me. See, that’s what I mean.

Before you cross me off your list as being  downright wiffy, hold on a moment. These happenings are not scheduled, or sought, but come hit or miss, and if I try to make them happen, (yeah, I’ve tried), I draw a blank. It doesn’t work that way.

But a few days ago one came that startled me, and so, I’m writing this column. See, Beverly Wheeler Mastrim, born at Wheeler Farm, life-long artist, and I, Ethel, produced a nice Coffee Table book. The words mine, the art work hers.

So, to continue, there’s a delivery man who comes to my door and we’ve become friends and I decided I would gift him with Bev’s and my book, “The Sunset of the Farmer”.

I autographed it, and wished Bev were here to do the same. But it’s become difficult for us to get together, and so, a day or so ago, when Bev came to my home for the first time in more than three years, we laughed and talked. However within a few moments the doorbell rang, and yes, it was that fellow, and so he not only joyously received the book, but with Beverly’s autograph, too. Nice.

The synchronicity of the three of us coming together within that 5-10 minute time-slot is unbelievable. I hadn’t spoken of my wish to anyone, but nevertheless, Beverly, the man, and Ethel all came together in the right place and time, as though it had been planned. Eerie.

Ok, here’s a more common experience. My husband, who died long ago as a fairly young man, appeared to me twice in the following few years, when I was alone, needing comfort, and he, non-verbally gave me reassurance that all would be well. And he was right.

Then one day an acquaintance, called from Denver and as we idly chatted about this and that, he casually included a bit of information I, with no results, (Google had yet to be invented)  had been searching for, to complete an article I was writing. It was really not important to our conversation, for the words were almost out of context, but I got goose bumps and wondered how the information I needed came so casually, and without asking. And I knew it was another time for me to silently thank my Unseen Helpers.

Once I felt the coming death of a young, healthy, and active girl of about ten or eleven years old. I tried to toss the thought away as just a result of my crazy mind, but just the same within days that young girl died suddenly from a car accident, How and why did I know? I have no idea for there was nothing I could do. It’s the only time such knowledge ever was mine, and I hope I will never experience it again.

And then, since childhood I’ve heard humming near me. As a child, I of course thought everyone heard it, but one day I mentioned it to my mother and she told me she hadn’t been singing, and didn’t know what I was talking about.  It doesn’t happen as often as when I was a child but once a glorious sunset brought it, and then one time it came as I saw moonlight on the pasture pond. (This was before   it became Mick Riley Golf Course)  and II heard it once with a group of meditators, where the humming was like a choir, and, then of all unlikely places, I’ve heard it twice in Murray Public library. I don’t hear it as often as I did as a child, and wonder if it’s because a child just enjoys and doesn’t try to analyze.

Odd? Yeah, I know, but I also bet ten-to-one, that you could match everyone of these happenings with those of your own. But for some reason, we hesitate to tell others. But I think we’re very normal and without knowing why or how, at times we’re able to use our Minds at a higher (deeper?) level. Exactly as our Minds are meant to be used. TYG.

Retired, What To Do

Or, the joy of being self-directed and intentional . . .

The question 90% of new retirees ask, (when the first month of sleeping until noon becomes boring) is “What shall I do?”   After the life-long routine of going to the office, store, plant, job, that question is both a surprise and scary.

Thousands of times you’ve wished for the luxury of staying at home, all day, every day, but now that very schedule is upon you, and don’t lie, you’re soon bored and bewildered.

It finally dawns on us that our entire life has been spent doing what someone else has told us to do. And again, don’t lie. But stay with me, you’ll find it an eye opener, but it’s better to considered it today, and not wait for some tomorrow.

As infants and children it didn’t matter one bit what we wanted, because if we didn’t do as our Mom and Dad said, a swift swat on our butts taught us.

When 5 or 6, we went to school and everyone told us how great it was going to be. I was excited. And in many ways it was, but have you forgotten that once again we found that if we wanted to stay alive, there was another Boss, the Teacher with new rules to obey. And at recess, yes, there were other kids to play with, however, most of them were bigger, and if we wanted to remain healthy, it was best if we followed their lead.

No one asked us what we wanted to do. Yeah, we had a lot of fun along the way, but just the same, our days were spent doing what we were told to do. Remember???

And on Sundays? Well, there were Teachers with all kinds of names from Bishops to Priests, Sister This and Brother That, but no matter what their names, they had rules that even told our parents what to or not to do. We eventually found that no matter where we went, swimming pool, bowling alley, hiking, or just going for a nice drive up the canyon, dang it, there were rules to obey, or cops wasted no time reminding us of them.

In our teen years the group just older than us set the rules on what to wear, do, hair styles, clothes, and suddenly there were boys and there were girls, and it didn’t take long to find out how to please our opposites, and we tried our very best to do just that. And if we found jobs, they always came with different bosses telling us what to do. Like most teens, at times I floundered, (who didn’t?) and was lucky and survived those years, but yet, no one ever asked me what I wanted, but was always what they wanted. You, too?

The Bosses changed but they all told us what to do. More Teachers, and finally husbands, wives, even our children. And we all tried to do as ‘they’ wanted from what to serve at meals, to what furniture to buy. And on and on. The church, magazines, radio, TV and neighbors told us what and how to keep our homes, yards and gardens. And how to spend our spare time, as well.

We had jobs that filled our days, and if they paid enough, we stayed, but I don’t remember ever sitting down, trying to figure out if it was what Ethel wanted to do. No, we blundered along and were might lucky if life didn’t scar us too badly.

Was I that unimportant to myself? It took a long time before I finally asked myself why, from childhood on, didn’t someone, some book, some class, some counselor ever offer a hint to help us find out what WE wanted to do, or be.

Yes, I found that much of what I was told was good, but much of it I accepted without thinking, and most of us became clones of other’s instructions. It’s worth a thought and just maybe there is time to gently find out what you want to be. And not to be a clone in a bunch of other clones, sitting, watching tv, bored and wondering if this is all Life has for you.

Those of us who found jobs we loved and which continued to fit into our retirement years, were and are blessed and lucky.

But before another day goes by, find out what you would love to do. What hobby you always wanted to try, as a new language. Play the piano, guitar. Something you almost feel that you ‘need’ to do, and then start making plans, or doing it. Right now. For once, if never before, you can now be your own boss. That’s what retirement can be.  Make it so for you.

Death in The Narrows

ZIONS NATIONAL PARK; Sept. 19, 1961: 

Flash Flood Takes 3 Lives


ZIONS NATIONAL PARK; Sept. 17, 2015:

Flash Flood Takes 12 Lives

But life never halts, and cruel as it seems, goes relentlessly on . . .

Fifty-four years ago, and almost to the very day, a flood swept Zion Narrows, and I remember for my sister Fern’s husband, Walter J. Scott, was Leader of the 22 people who formed that 1961 group, which also included their daughter, Adene.JW-Scott-1960

They didn’t hike all in one bunch, but groups of them were scattered along the pathway by that narrow canyon stream, and were ‘held together’ by Walt, who hiked back and forth among them.   It was great.

But Life often has its own plans and they were never again to meet as a full group, because before too long, the stream water had risen to cover their path, their shoe tops, and then, before they could even try to adjust to wet feet, a cascading wall of water came upon them, bringing tons of pine needles, and just as swiftly, came tree limbs, rocks, and debris of all sorts.

Wet feet were soon unimportant, for by then they were struggling for their lives, and they knew it. As the water relentlessly kept rising , they were forced up slopes and over or around rocks they  would never before even  considered tackling, but there was no choice, for they were facing dangers they had never dreamed or planned.

Their lives were on the line and so they did what normally would have been impossible. Flood refugees can’t be choosers and that is why they spent the rest of that day and that night on a hillside, safe, but yet, oh, how close to danger. It had not been part of that day’s plan.

And, with no instant communication, it was not until the next day that they began to hear what had happened to others on their hike. And families in their homes, knew that a flash flood had hit the canyon where their sons and daughters were, but there was no way of knowing if the hikers were safe, or had been taken along with the flood.

Yes, the world immediately knew of a deadly flood in Utah’s beautiful, but oh, so narrow canyon where, in such a flood, their only safety was getting to higher ground.  Such a problem, for a part of the lure of that hike is of its dangerous beauty. The flood sent no warning, and getting away from that raging water, was their only chance of survival..

It was like demons had planned the event, for all that day, that night, and into the next day, was pure hell for the hikers, as well as those who waited in homes, as my sister Fern did in her Murray home.  She, along with other families of those hikers did not know if their loved ones lived or had died.  My sister could have lost her husband and daughter, or one of them, or if both had survived. It was a bad time, back in 1961 for hikers or families.

Every hiker saw a story unfold, and from their higher position could at times catch glimpses of the stream, and a few of them saw Walt, Leader of the entire group, fighting to help two young men to safety.   With his strength, he might have been able to save himself but those young  hikers were in his keeping.  His struggles. however,  proved to be useless and all three of them became victims of the water’s fury.

I was a writer for the Murray Eagle/Green Sheet newspapers and was trying to write my column, “Out My Window” and it was a dark ‘window’ that day. for one part of me tried to be an ‘observer’ and write the facts, while, another part of me was a participant. along with family members for I knew Walt and Adene were in a life or death situation.

There was nothing anyone could to do but wait and pray, and it was long hours before Fern knew that Walt her husband had died, but Adene her daughter, survived.

As survivors of such horrors have ever found, Fern also learned that life never halts, and cruel as it seems, goes relentlessly on. It’s a difficult, but a well trodden pathway. and as the families of those 54 years ago learned, the families of those today will also sorrowfully learn.

People who died that day 54 years ago were Walter J. Scott, Leader, Steven Gene Florence, and Paul Ray Nicholson. Survivors from this area, were John Bangerter, Bonnie Darger, Lila Fielden, Katheryn Grim, Margaret McIntyre, Lynda McIntyre, and Adene Scott, daughter of rhe Leader. Among other survivors were hikers  from Park City and out of State.

Clean Air And My Fireplace

We Can have it both ways . . .

There are two sides to most problems, and there certainly are to the debate over Fireplaces versus Clean Air. Both views are legitimate, but sometimes TV, radio and newspapers seem to act as though there is only one side.  And inasmuch as I have a fireplace and also love to breathe, I searched for help and began with calling the Police. And why not? They’re the very ones someone would call if they thought I was breaking a law.

The Police told me that the use of fireplaces is legal, but in order to protect the air and keep it clean, an effort  has been made to create Rules, and if people (and that means me, and that means you) will observe those Rules, the Police will never be needed.

The Yes or No for fireplace usage will be announced each day on Radio  and TV newscasts, but if missed, simply call 801-536-4000 to find out the “Yes or No” for the day. 

That number is for The Dept. of Environmental Quality, Division of Air Quality Control, and it is part of their ‘job’ to give us the info we need. They, same as a lot of us, like Clean Air, as well as  fireplaces, so keep their number on your mantel for quick use, and don’t hesitate, because that’s exactly what that number is for.

Yes, there are two sides to the problem  but the Rules are fair and square, and so, when you want a fire, first make that call, and then go ahead with what they tell you. But that Heart of the Home, a fireplace, is legal, and the Rules are for everyone’s well being. We all want Clean Air.

I had no fireplace when we built here in Murray. My husband had grown up with the chore of keeping the fireplace ashes cared for, and didn’t want those chores repeated for the rest of his life. But within a few years following his early death, I had men knocking out a huge hole in the east side of my living room wall, and within another week or two, I had a Fireplace. All mine. To not only enjoy, but to take care of the ashes as well and  I’ve never regretted my choice..

It hadn’t been a wonderful couple of weeks, however, because as soon as there was a big hole in my wall, there were  three (four, five, SIX!!!!) homeless cats that tride to make my home theirs, and though I could keep them out during the day, I had to sleep, and for almost two weeks those dang cats  spent their nights in my house. But even that finally ended, and soon I, and guests were eating an evening meal before my fire, and loving it. It truly did become the heart of my home.

Yes, in almost all art work of family and home, there is a fireplace. and I love the old war song, that Mama used to sing, with words of,  “Keep the home fires burning, While our hearts are yearning, and though our boys are far away, they dream of home.”

And I’ll ne’er forget one nippy evening when a man, taking his daily walk,  came to my door and thanked me for perfuming the air. He said, “One deep breath and I was a child again. The air smells like home, and I had to say ,  Thank You.”

That’s the power of a fireplace, changing a grown man into a child, and bringing that man/child to a stranger’s door, and I don’t forget.

And now, while there are no suggestions about the use of stoves, with no guilt,  using your fireplace is legal, and, by following the Rules, they are  no threat to our Clean Air. Those on both sides of the question are happy, so keep the number nearby, and again, it’s 801-536-4000. That way we’ll be keeping The Rules, enjoying our fire,  and also able to  breathe  clean air.

Body Maintenance

Use it or lose it . . .

I’m no shining example but I’ve tried to exercise, to eat right and I get along fairly well. And it all began with Miss Gorlinski, gym teacher at Granite High.

Her first words that stayed with me were, “Don’t choose your food just because it tastes good; but choose food that is going to be good for your body.” Yes, Miss Gorlinski, I remember.

She told us to notice how our mothers gave our newborn siblings only what was needed for their bodies, and nothing just because it tasted good.

Yeah, but she also told that before those babies were a year old, we would be giving them a taste of some dessert. Bit of ice cream, or candy. Yeah, shame, shame, shame, before they were a year old, they knew the difference and were hooked for the rest of their lives. Sugar is addictive.

Miss Gorlinski taught us to use our bodies, and reminded us of how the babies exercise because there on their backs, they twist and use every muscle in the body, flinging arms and legs every which way, and those same kids, keep doing the same as 8 or 9 years olds. Climbing trees, racing each other, wrestling, bicycling, yeah, and at school recess we were  using all our muscles again.

Everyone  should have a Miss Gorlinski in their early lives.

Today we’re told over and over How to be Healthy, and a big one is to not eat anything White and that’s OK, but that puts a ban on cauliflower, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, Tofu, all marvels of food, so don’t put them in the same boat as white sugar, and the thousands of foods from white flour.

We’ve got eyes. And common sense tells us to use the brown stuff. Brown bread, brown rice, brown pastas, and we should use those eyes, and look at the list of Ingredients on every package or box of food we buy.

Dry Breakfast Cereal has become a big lie. They have pictures of good grains on the box, but put on your glasses and look at the ingredient list. And, I betcha that in three fourths of those cereals, is sugar, sugar, sugar  And, if sugar is one of the first three (4) ingredients, it’s a dessert no matter what the label says.

Miss Gorlinski was a gym teacher, and reminded us that we don’t get down on the floor and swing away. No we don’t get on a bike and race up and down the sidewalk.  No, we don’t bend and roll  as children, but she asked: Why Not????  She told us, that while standing at the sink or table doing some chore,. bend the knees and shift your weight back and forth from leg and foot to the other leg and foot. Just as you did as a kid. Do it again.

Orange juice is full of vitamin C but, a Continental Breakfast of O.J., do-nut, and coffee, while a standard breakfast for many, will make us feel zippy for a half an hour, but after that???? We feel sick and mentally dull.

So we go on to carbs, the brown, not white ones, and their impact is slower to take hold, but once they get in gear, their impact lasts 4 or so long hours. And then we get to protein, and a serving must be more than a slice of bacon. It is slower  to kick-in, but once it does its wonderful power remains with you for 7- 8 hours.

And then, all day long, every 2 or 3 hours, we’re told to give our body a jump-start, and it’s easy. Not a meal, but a tsp. not a Tbsp, of peanut butter is immense; A tbsp or so of beans does the same. A good carb, a protein and a fruit and you’re good for another hour or two. Think small for these tidbits.

And we’re told that we can’t be babies again, but we can exaggerate every move during our day.  When we make our bed, stand in the middle on one side, and without moving our feet, stretch to the left, the right and far forward across the bed. Ho, ho ho, stretch your body, and if the muscles rebel???? Well, they’re telling us that we’ve been ignoring them. So, nod and stretch again. .   Use it or you’ll lose it.

Where oh where are the Miss Gorlinskis to tell today’s pre-teens that we have just one body, there are no returns, but there is maintenance. Good ole maintenance. For today and on and on and on right into our senior years. Why Not???

My Refrigerator Door

Pearls of Wisdom

This is You. This is me.
We are always
exactly at a point between the Past,
which is as dark, or light, as we have made it,
Drop the Past
and the Future
will be as light, or dark, as we will make it.
Ethel Bradford



Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes it’s the quiet voice

At the end of the day, saying

“I will try again tomorrow”.



I can’t do it alone God, bur with you I can do anything. 


          Milton, in 1666, said:

“Our Mind can make a

Heaven while in Hell,

Or a Hell while in Heaven.”

There are no Baby Spirits
But there are Spirits in Baby Bodies.
There are no old worn out spirits
But there are Spirits in old worn out bodies.

                                       Ethel Bradford 


                                                                               Have I done any good in the world today?

Have I helped anyone in need?

Have I cheered up the sad?

Made someone feel glad?

If not, I have failed indeed.

           Old Mormon Hymn

What Thou Art, I Am and

What I Am, Thou Art.

We never know How Strong We Are, until

How Strong We Are is all we have.

The Light of God surrounds me

The Love of God enfolds me,

The Power of God protects me,

The Presence of God watches over me,

The Mind of God guides me,

The Life of God flows through me,

The Laws of God direct me,

The Strength of God renews me,

The Beauty of God inspires me,

Wherever I Am, God Is.

         Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity



Life is not to be spent waiting for the storms to pass

But learning how to dance in the rain.

                 Life is one long unbroken sentence, with never a Period.  Our physical birth was when we left one of God’s Preparation Rooms and stepped into His Human Room, and when we ‘die’? Nothing will ‘die’, but only a step into whichever of His Rooms we were ready for.

                  We know not what Rooms we have lived in, but, there will come A Day, when we will know that every room has been  in God’s Many-roomed Home. and that we have never been, and never will be apart from that Home. Only different Rooms for different Learning.

               And we’ll one day find a glorious Room and know our long, journey of seeking and separation is over. We are Home, have always been, but failed to know that ALL Life has been and still is, God’s Home. Right Here, wherever we are. Home. God’s Home.


There is a Destiny that makes us brothers.

None goes his way alone, and

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own.

Edward Markham



We need to remember to be in the  

Present. That is an ironic

expression, because if we are

remembering, we are not in the

Present, but usually we get caught

up in thoughts and forget to

experience the Now. A bit of a Zen

Koan, ‘remembering not to remember’.

Bill Bradford




Cops and Robbers

A not so quiet day at the store . . .

I was in one of those stores where aisles, going both ways, run deep into the other end of the block and you don’t   know where you are or can’t know what’s going on just an aisle or two away.

But as I poked along, I heard some one cry out, and followed by noises as if someone had fallen and was calling for help. So, what would you do? Yeah, me too, so I hurried toward the noise, and then, yeah, there was someone on the floor, but not what I had expected. . .

Instead, there were three people on the floor. All men, and two of them were Cops and the third one, was still yelling, but with the Cops trying to pin him down, and at the same time telling him to Shut up and quit yelling.

Well, one of the cops gave me a ‘get away’ glance that told me I was not wanted there, and also that there was nothing I could do, and I got away as fast as I had hurried there.

Then I remembered that when I had entered the store, there had been a Cop, in uniform, also going through the doors. Now, we all see Firemen in the Grocery stores shopping for their coming meals, but it was the first time I’d ever seen Cops doing so, and I wondered what was so urgently needed  that he was shopping in uniform.

But, as I hurried away from the scene, I knew he had been called there, and wondered what the man was doing to cause the Management to call the Police to not only come, but cause them to tackle him. And I also wondered why, if they needed Police, why didn’t they tell customers also??? There were no shots fired, Thank Heavens, but if they needed Cops, how were they to know there’d not be shots???   But just the same no help was needed from me and I left the store in a hurry,

As I moved an aisle or two from the scene, the sounds of the scuffle were soon buried in music and people talking, quite unaware of what was going on.  But it was none of my business and I got out of there fast. Yelling, scuffling and calling out was all that had happened, and I wasn’t going to hang around to find out what had caused it, either.

If it amounted to anything big,  it’d be on the news or in the paper, and there have been no reports, and so I suppose it amounted to nothing but shoplifting.  But I can’t help but wonder, why two Cops? How did the store know they even needed Cops? There had been no cautionary words given to customers as they entered the store, Odd, whatever it was, I suppose it had been handled well, for there had been no confusion in the store except if one had been as near to it all, as I had been.

And I just blundered upon it, thinking someone needed help, but never again.

Like you, I’ve seen enough headlines and heard about too many guns being fired in such seemingly innocent times, that I was glad just to get away from it all, and if I ever again hear someone yelling and with scuffling, I’m going to know it has nothing to do with me, and will hurry to go ‘the other way’. as fast as I’d hurried toward it the other day.

And all this went on right here in the peaceful environs of Murray. Yes, and it remained calm too, except for the poor cuss who had been tackled to the floor, sat upon, and told to shut up as well.   Yeah, right here in our peaceful City of Murray.

Common, Ordinary, Lives

Clark Gable ?   Why Not ?

I’m very content with my ordinary life, with family, house, neighborhood, and wouldn’t have it otherwise. But sometimes after hearing the most un-ordinary news and seeing the wild (to me) headlines of gossip magazines, I wonder if I’m stupid to be happy with my ordinary life.

And so, Ethel being Ethel, I went to the dictionary and it told me that ordinary means anything so ‘everyday’, so basic, that we take it for granted, and give it no attention.

I grinned then, as I realized each of our days, begins with one ordinary event that would literally bring an end to the world if it didn’t happen. Yeah, the sun rises and it is light, and we don’t worry about it going down either. So ordinary no one even gives it a thought, but without it???  Well, for a starter, all life would soon cease to be. But oh so ordinary.

Going farther, (Well, why not?) every second, people are conceived, born, live and die. How ordinary, and yet if death didn’t come, we’d have so many people we’d be fighting for food, space, and air. Or, if conception stopped, (ho, ho, ho,) within fifty or so years, the world would be shutting down, for there’d be no one to keep it going. Or even use it.

The more I searched, the more I found that it’s the ordinary, the taken-for-granted events, that makes my world (and yours) even possible.  Water, light switches, plumbing, heating or cooling, friends, food at the stores, cars, streets, and on and on.

So ordinary, but so good, that I shall go back to what started me off on all this subject. See, I was watching TV when a retired Journalist,  who had talked with the ‘high and mighty’ of the world, was being interviewed, and was asked if there was one person that stood out above all others.

I expected him to tell of some President, teacher, inventor or such, but after a pause and with an odd smile, the Journalist shifted his body, cocked his head, nodded, and said, “Yes, I do, and it was Clark Gable, the Movie Star”. The Journalist went on, saying, ‘I had just asked Gable pretty much the same question you asked me. Of course, I knew that wherever Gable went, everyone, from Presidents on down, fawned over him, and so his answer surprised me for he answered, Yes, and  it’s my wife. ‘

I thought he might have misunderstood my question, but no, he hadn’t and went on to explain. “When I finish my day’s work, which is a great one, but when I get in my car to drive home, a Special Peace comes to me. for I know that on the other side of my own Front Door, there’s someone waiting for the sound of my key in our door, and that I complete her day, as she completes mine.”

Gable almost apologized, saying, “I’m sure that’s not the answer you expected, but, you see, I’m a very ordinary man. and knowing she is there, waiting for me, puts all else in its place.  Needed and wonderful, but none of it would be that good if it weren’t for her..”

The Journalist continued, “I’ve listened to many powerful and sincere people telling what should/shouldn’t be done to bring Peace, but Gable’s very ordinary words, of that Special Peace, possible for every one of us, stays with me, and I’ve come to see that he had matured from a man who ‘made his living as a Movie Star, and knew it was a great job’, but that ‘on the other side of his own front door,’ was one who waited for him and gave meaning to all the rest. In other words, Love.”

And so Ethel, sat back, smiled over her own ‘ordinary life’ and thought of how our Great Teacher, who never heard of a Movie Star, had also spoken of Love and Peace together. And then I actually grinned at the paradox of putting the words of Jesus and Clark Gable together, but knew they fit perfectly.

So ordinary, but the two, Love and Peace can and do make all of our lives joyous. And two experts in their own fields, agreed.   Clark and Jesus.

26 Squibbles

We call them Letters now . . .

The fact that I wrote these words and you read them, can be traced back 3,000 years to the Phoenicians who traveled the world’s oceans as merchants selling their wares and needed some method of written communication better than Hieroglyphics.

We know the Who and When, but there is no way of knowing the How of it all, but history does let us know that it was those ancient people who gave us an Alphabet. I can’t imagine not having the use of those 26 letters, but until then all records had to be made in cumbersome Hieroglyphics and each country did it differently.

There had never been an alphabet, but some smart people figured out a method where a certain Sound we make when speaking, would be represented by a certain shaped squiggle made in the sand, on papyrus, or carved in rock, (no paper then).  And that no matter how, when or where that certain squiggle appeared, it meant that same Sound. and in just about any language, too.

Any school child as they ‘sound’ out words, uses those squibbles, that we now call Letters, and the sounds they represent do not change, no matter in what language they are used. I can’t imagine how they did it, or how long it took them to find and separate all those sounds, but Phoenicians  did it, and in time, people finally settled on only 26, but those 26 Letters (squibbles) changed the world.

It has been claimed that the Printing Press changed the world and that is true, but we must not forget that first of all, there had to be something to print, and that’s where the Alphabet did its job.

So utterly dependable, and yet so adaptable that Shakespeare wrote his works, the Bible became everyone’s book, the boring records of some business meeting, your grocery list, foul, X-rated books, a lover’s note, child’s fairy tale, and not a one needing more than those same 26 letters.

I’m sure it was not a quickly found set of sounds to begin with, but once on the path, it grew, became more and more perfected, and it was so good, and needed, that as the alphabet traveled the world others began using it. Like seeds sown on fertile soil, the use of those Letters grew until now, most of the world’s written words use the squibbles that those old explorers of the ancient world put together.

The Phoenicians, as merchants, traveled and needed a method of keeping records of Order Forms, Orders delivered, Payments made, and also in an understandable way. The alphabet soon was adopted by people no matter where they lived or what language they spoke.

It couldn’t have been an over night ‘fix’, and the different squiggles must have been changed, and refined, until, today,only one of the originals, the B remains, but just the same, those people freed the world from Hieroglyphics.

And as they traveled, ‘mail’ began to go back and forth on those ships, across the oceans, taking orders for merchandise, sending those orders to factories on the other side of the world, as well as letters to families. No, it wasn’t like our mail, much less email, but everything has its beginning and world communication began with those Phoenicians.

Then, wonder of wonders, at the same time, songs and poetry, that had been enjoyed only orally and locally, reached out to others. the Bible soon could be read in homes and churches. poetry, songs, dramas, doctors instructions, teachers, all found the method worked and they used it.

The Phoenicians and their alphabet, opened our world and our minds to other worlds and other minds. Used by the most powerful people in the world, or a child in kindergarten. Those odd squibbles (we call them letters) work for all.

The ideas for today’s blog come from E.H. Gombrich’s book   “A Little History Of The World” and it’s so good I can’t help but desire to share it with you. Find it on Amazon and for a few dollars, the book will be yours. It’s filled with short chapters of people, oddities, ideas, facts and soon, you too will be telling others about it.

Bill Bradford, my son and who is the brains behind this Internet Blog of mine, is the one who brought me his well read copy and I thank him.  No chapter’s longer than two or three pages but oh, it’s filled with such a the wealth of unusual knowledge, and in such interesting ways, that you too, will love Gombrich’s style and, I swear, he, too, used only 26 letters.