Name That Town

A Utah town of any name would be the same

        If you know your Pioneer ancestor was born right here in Zion, and yet the town listed on the Birth Certificate, can’t be found, take heart, you’re not alone.

Original Pioneer farms were far apart and the name, was either  for the first family there, or for some outstanding feature of the area.  Changes came fast and were no big deal.

My husband’s Birth Certificate shows him born in the family home, still in the same place, but on 1700 South.  Today, same place, same road, is 4800 South.  See?

Brigham Young had a marvelous plan for naming the streets, starting from a point at the southeast corner of the Mormon Temple grounds and going all four directions from that spot.  He divided the land into Blocks, and going south, every Block went from First South, to Second, Third,  Fourth and ended at Ninth South, because that’s where civilation, and the city ended.

Every foot of land  beyond was considered desert, but when  some man began a farm a few miles south, no matter how far,  it became 10th South, and the next farm, with no surveying,  became 11th South’    And so, at one time, 4800 South was  the eighth street  south of that original boundary of 9th south.   And the chaos of  road being created in between and  so forth,  you can   imagine the headaches it all creatated. 

And then there is Redwood Road with nary a tree or a  family named Redwood anywhere near.  Well, Jess W. Fox, Surveyor of the Mormon Grounds, was asked to draw plans for a road from North Temple Street south to where 21st South now is.  He did, and named it Campus Lane, but no one liked  that, so they tried Fairbanks, which didn’t stick, either.

Finally ‘Redwood’, the nick-name the workmen had used from day-one, became official.  Thousands of  Surveyor’s Pegs were needed to lay out that road, and those pegs were made from Redwood trees because that wood could withstand the hard pounding needed  to drive them into cement-like ground, as well as hold up under all kinds of weather. 

And so, the laborers who did the work, also named the Road.  And good for them,  it became and still is  known as Redwood Road. 

Mormon Wards were the center of Pioneer life, and were usually named after the predominant  family,  and when a ward  became too large, it was divided.  Many families settled west of the Jordan River, and so West Jordan Ward  became its name.  But in 1867  it was divided into many smaller ones and the communities of Bluffdale, Riverton, Herriman, South Jordan, Granger, Taylorsville, Hunter, and Pleasant Green were formed.

Bluffdale was named after the high nearby bluffs above the Jordan Narrows, Taylorsville after the early Taylor family, and Brighton, at first Silver Lake, was named after Thomas W. Brighton who  built the first home at the top of  Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Alta, high up in Little Cottonwood Canyon,  was the site of a silver mine, and one of my uncles, Lethair (sp?) Goodall, died along with others in a snow slide there.  And, as many of the miners were Spanish, they used their word for ‘high’ , namely Alta, to mark the spot.  The mines and the miners are long gone, but the name, Alta, is known  throughout the world as a Ski Resort and I’d bet that only one in a thousand knows that ‘Alta’ is of Spanish origin.

Draper Ward opened in 1867, surveyed and planned by the same Jess Fox.  He divided the land into farms, numbered each one, put those numbers on slips of paper, and eligible men picked a slip from a hat Fox held, and, like it or not,  that was where they would live.  They called it South Willow Creek, but soon was re-named Draper after one of those early Settlers.  Willow Creek still lives on, but now just as  an area of the far southeastern part of our valley.

So. Cottonwood ward was divided, forming Union, after Fort Union; and Granite, after the rock mined nearby to build the Mormon Temple.   Once there were many  smelters in the valley with the one in Murray being the only one that continued through the years,  but one of them, built  upon sandy soil,  became the  Sandy City we know today.

I like the humor that often crops up in staid journals, and so, with apologies to who ever wants them, Sandy  was,  at that time, known as the Red Light District of the valley.  Right in a nice Mormon town, and journals  tell of it being   prosperous  villalgae, as well.       .

Midvale (another smelter town) was first known as Bingham Junction, later as East Jordan and finally,  because of  its location, Midvale.  Bingham received its name from brothers Sanford and Thomas Bingham who grazed their cattle in that canyon and staked out mining rights to the surrounding hills.

Franklin, a Railroad spot on the rails  running south from Salt Lake, soon became Murray City, after the territorial Governor Eli H. Murray.  Sugar House was named for a Beet Sugar Mill built  there, and  Magna is the Latin word for large, big, magnificent and so on and on and on.

So, if you KNOW your ancestors were born in this valley and yet their birth certificate shows some town you’ve never heard of, and isn’t on any map, don’t fret. Poke around, there were many small,  isolated spots with names that lasted so short a time they were never recorded, but nevertheless, that place was here.
Good luck.

Orin Hatch – Redux 3, or 4, or 5 . . .

Here we go again with Orin Hatch.  Five years ago I published the column below.  Unfortunately for us, it is still relevant today . . .

If Orrin Hatch’s words were true in 1976, then they are still true in 2017.

If you’ve felt buried by political ads now, what’s coming will be worse, but it’s also when we should seriously look at the records of those who seek to be our national voice.

I’m no puritan, but it actually does get down to who is telling the truth and who is not telling the truth.  The two are not copasetic, and truth, you remember, never changes.  Now Romney and his many words are beyond me, too full of ‘what I really meant to say’ and ‘you read me wrong’ but we have absolute records of what Orrin Hatch said as he sought his first Senate Seat, and what he’s saying today.

There is a difference, and if his words were true when he spoke them against his opponent, Frank E. Moss, then those same words must be true today.   I go  back.

Frank E. Moss, his opponent in 1976, was born Jan. 29, 1903, grew up in Holladay, the son of James E. Moss, an educator who was named ‘The father of Utah High school athletics’.  Frank grew up in a home filled with words and actions of law and education.

He graduated magna cum laude (UofU, 1933), and then served FDR at the NRA (National Recovery Administration), and other national federal groups to aid in National Recovery from the Great Depression, and then during WW2, (1942 to ’45), served  with the Army Air Corps in the Judge Advocates General Dept. in European Theatre of Operations.

Not a bad intro to his political life, both local and federal, and in 1958 was elected as Utah Senator against both Arthur Watkins and J. Bracken Lee, each mighty forces in Utah politics.

As Utah’s Senator in Washington, he added more National Parks within Utah; investigated and aided in eliminating  control of abuses to the elderly in Nursing and Retirement homes; Physicians’ abuses of the Medicaid program; and with Senator Church of Idaho sponsored first legislation to provide Federal funds for hospice programs.  That Bill did not pass Congress until 1982, but his ideas held and were included in Medicare benefits.

In his Third Term he sponsored detailed Warning Labels on cigarette packages; banned their advertisements on radio and TV; the Toy Safety Act; and was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences.

He was a hero to people of small towns and rural areas, for, in the beginning, and at first, television station signals were available only (if you can imagine) where there were major marketing areas, namely the highly populated places, with great consumer possibilities. Moss was instrumental in getting funding to make it possible for all small towns and rural areas with ‘few’ consumers, to receive the same TV transmissions.  He and his group helped found the great TV Translator system that provided television to the great rural areas of America.  It was a major battle in Washington, but he won it.

It was on his run for his Fourth Term in 1976 that Orrin Hatch opposed him, and Hatch’s strong points were how much Moss had accomplished, how much we owed him, but that he now was too old.  His mind no longer sharp and should be replaced, with thanks, by a younger man.  Himself.

Hatch won.  Now, as Orrin wishes to fill his fourth term, he does not mention age, born Mar. 22. 1934, so is 78 years of age, and 3 years older than Moss was at the same point in his career.  He refuses all requests for live TV debates, and dodges photos and off-the-cuff meetings with local or national press. Rumors in the gossip magazines (they’re not always wrong) tell that Hatch, Botox, and Senility have developed a close relationship.

He should recall his own words, spoken when he fought Moss, and admit that he is 3 years older than Moss then was.  An age he blatantly called too old to be a Senator.  Hatch no doubt also remembers what the live TV debate did to Nixon when he faced the nation against the young John Kennedy.  As they say, ‘he shot  himself in his own foot’.

If  Moss, dedicated and astute, but then 73 years old, was too old, then we’d better remember that Orrin is now 78, and for us to do exactly what he, Hatch, said then.  What do you call a Senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.”.  Yes, let’s give Orrin thanks for what he has accomplished, and then, (again his words), replace him with a man who is ‘younger, mind quicker, sharper and more in tune with this era of time”.

Orrin Hatch’s words were either true then, or true now.  He can’t have it both ways. One or the other is untrue.

If any of this rings true with you, please pass this along to others you know.


Perpetual Motion

“. . .  change comes so slowly we don’t see it, except when we clip our fingernails.”

I was only a kid when I first saw the words. ‘Perpetual Motion’ and they were on a large outdoor sign and,  with my interest piqued, I’ve listened as it’s been debated on radio, TV and in magazines. But I first saw them when Dad was taking the family on a Sunday ride to see the Countryside,

And, as an aside, exactly when and where did the countryside go??? Is it still there under concrete waiting for you to re-discover and give it back to us? Oh, that’s for another day.   Perhaps another life time, for if we dug it up, where would we put all the discarded concrete and the people living there?????

But, my words, today, are my answer to the subject of what or where is Perpetual Motion and which, for some reason, I’ve listened to ever since I learned how to read., and that’s been more than a year or two.

Those childhood rides however, formed memories I recall with wonder and love.. There were no Freeways, just two-lane roads winding across and around large corn or wheat fields, with barns, chicken coops, and old fashioned outside toilets a familiar sight.. But also, large companies would pay the farmer for permission to put large signboards there in his fields, and the names of ZCMI, AUERBACH’S, KEITH O’BRIEN, PEMBROKES, PARIS CO. and , as I said, PERPETUAL MOTION. were placed there to lure us to their stores.   It was a different countryside, which slowly changed into what we have to day. Priceless.

But at that time scientists were constantly seeking to find some machine to produce Perpetual Motion. And over and over we would hear of that search, but no one, as far as I know has done so. And last week, I laughed over a few of my old notes, for they are my answer to Perpetual Motion, But as you know, I have lots of ideas . . . . of my own.  So . . . .

Change, I’ve come to believe, is Perpetual Motion. Change, everything is changing,   And no matter what we look at or even think of, is changing. And while I’m no ‘brain’, I still have my days and even have a book about Einstein that I get out occasionally. And, that genius never spoke of God, but did speak or write of some Power that is the Source of all and called it The Essence of pure energy. Ever-changing, but never disappearing.  Einstein’s words, not mine.

And so, I searched for more of his words (good old Google) to find if he spoke more of how Energy is ever changing, but never disappearing, and no doubt he did . . . . but in words that are beyond my scope. However the thought remained with me, that the only perpetual motion in the world, no matter when, where or how, is Change.

From the most minuscule part of an atom . . . . change. Water, ever changing from steam, cloud, ocean, urine, ice, glacier, to the Soup Pot on my kitchen stove. Form after form, but basically, water. Then there’s our entire Planet of rock, sand, animal, leaves, all changing slowly from one form to another. Universe, planet, moons, stars, changing . Trees, wild or tame animals, plants, seeds, dry leaves, excrement. The same basic material, but never the same. Change, change, change.

I gotta think about this one, and you smart ones who might stumble upon my words, give it a thought. This world and all that’s in it, is changing. Is it the long sought answer to Perpetual Motion????.   So simple, so commonplace??? Maybe too simple? Maybe too commonplace? So simple and commonplace that we never consider it.

But, like it or not, all we are, see, or hold, is changing, even as we look upon ir. Our hair, toe nails. People were discussing the earthquakes of a week or so ago, and one stated that the earth, deep down under Nepal moves each year, the distance of how much your fingernail grows in the same length of time. But that small change, builds up, until it eventually shifts the weight of the mountain side, and we have an earthquake.

The people who lived on this sphere thousands of years ago, with time and change, change, change, became you and me. And we, all who are living now,   are and will change, and slowly surely, become those who will  change the world of ‘then’.

Follow me???   We’re all part of it.

Change, Perpetual Change. Perpetual Motion. And you can answer back about that bane or blessing of today’s world . . . plastic . . . and in spite of what Thor Heyerdahl, who with companions crossed the Pacific on a raft, said the ocean, once you got 10 or so miles from shore, was so pure. Unchanged.

Then, only half a century later he and others took the same trip accompanied by scientists, and he wept as he said they never got away from the debris of plastic. All across the Pacific, California to China, was our discarded plastic garbage. But I again cynically say give it time and in a few thousands millennia the plastic will be gone, but, only because it will have changed into some new form of garbage.

To me, ‘Change’ is Perpetual Motion, and we are part of it. Right before our eyes, in our hands, and remember. our actual hands and eyes are part of it. Only it comes so slowly we don’t see it, except when we clip our fingernails.   But we need look no further, for we, you and I  and the entire world we live in and upon, are perfect examples of the very thing we seek. Perpetual Motion.

Marriage Is Not A 24/7 Deal

24 hours per day, 7 days per week just doesn’t work . . .

       I learned to hear and respect the ideas my Gram would so casually (?) say, and many of her words are with me yet.  I wish I could tell her how those twelve I write of today, have helped along the way.

“Ethel”, she said, “a woman has to find something, in addition to her family, that will bring joy to her life.  And the more ‘hobbies’ she has, the better off she’ll be.”

Her generation also had a phrase I  tucked away, too.  It was, “I married him for life, but not for 24 hours a day.”  A dozen words that are priceless, to me, to you, and to every man,  woman alive.  No matter where you live.

Of course, when she was telling me these words of wisdom, I didn’t believe her at all.  Oh, most surely not for me, for I was still in that euphoric stage of marriage we all experience, but I learned.

I knew, Gram did not speak lightly and so, when the day came, when ‘family’ was not enough, her words resurfaced, and I followed her pathway right on.  See, she’d been there and done that.

Pearl Buck, author, also said that if a woman tries to confine all her energies, attention and love, into the sole outlet of husband and children, she will put a burden on them as well as herself, that none of them were ever meant to bear.

The husband (or wife) will retreat (escape) in self defense to the TV, newspaper, golf, nearby pub, or ski club.  And children, more outspoken will tell you to ‘get off their backs.  or stay in their room, ‘live’ at some friends home, at the mall, retreat into silence, and rebel in any thousand other ways.

At first I felt guilty when I did something that my husband had no interest in.  but went ahead and was startled to find that he liked those times  when my activities didn’t demand his presence or participation.

What Gram had learned (as we all must if we ever hope to gain any measure of happiness), is that not one of us can or wanted to spend 24 hours (see above, second paragraph)  with one person.  No matter how beloved.

Gram knew kids do grow up and leave home.  Death does come, and jobs, life and sickness, mental and physical, can separate people, and  so, for our own balance, we must find  outlets that absorb and bring delight to us.  In addition to families.

Gram had several.  Different generations, different opportunities, different outlets, but she cooked, crocheted and she gardened.  Who can say which was more beloved, but, at her table,  I learned the surprise and wonder, of dishes I thought would be found only in magazines or on TV.  I never even tried to match her kitchen skills.

Winter was a prison to her as she waited for spring to come so ‘she could get outside’, and dig, so that was when her cooking, crocheting, and bridge club really came into play .  And, oh those women were wonderful.  I substituted when needed, and not only learned how to play bridge, but listened and learned for more.  Their conversation was every bit as ‘with it’ as what goes on today. Different wording, oh yes, but nothing was verboten or unknown to those women.  My eyes popped and I not only learned, but  marveled.

I found many outlets for my ever growing interests,  and if you haven’t yet, given your husband and children a break and start looking.  Today.  Right now.  There are times in every one’s life when spouse, children, job and even life seem to fail  us.

Some hobby or avocation can be a life saver for you, the family and, no fooling,  your own sanity.  There are words of today, that speak what I’m saying.  “Get a life, get a life.”

Sounds harsh, but oh how true Gram’s words still are:  ‘I married him for life, but not for 24 hours a day’.   Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I’m a  happy woman, for I’ve found those words keep right on working,  no matter what your age.   Thanks, Gram, wish we could still talk, and I would listen more seriously today, for now I know you were an expert.

The Little (Big) Joys In Life

Thank heavens for the little joys of life, for they can be the biggest.

Yes, we all have epiphanies when our world suddenly turns up-side down, but those moments are few and far between. And you say yours come often?  Come on, don’t kid me, for most of our lives are spent on ground level and life would be dull if it weren’t for the bright moments that I call God’s Little Extras.

Little joys, coming often and lifting us over many a weary time.

It’s awesome that we have our Peaks but we shouldn’t underestimate the small joys that are mole-hills compared to the Mountains, but just the same, fill us with joy.  How about the unexpected shared laughter with some stranger, along with the unplanned meeting of your eyes, and for that moment, you are not strangers?  A letter from a dear one.  Crisp clean curtains framing shiny clean windows.   New fallen snow untouched by foot step, shovel, or plow. A smiling child running to you with open arms.

Oh, begin recalling your own, but I go on.  Seeing trees you planted, now stately, tall, and sheltering your home as you long ago dreamed they would.  And for the moment you’re one again with the loved one who helped you plant them.

Watching the moon cast its silver spell over a familiar landscape and recalling watching the same magic with a loved one who is no longer with you.  But the two of you saw that magic, while standing right in the very same spot where you stand. Tears come, but so does joy.

Sitting at the dinner table and suddenly really seeing each one and realizing how blessed a moment it is. A commonplace rite, but something to savor and treasure when they’re older with their own lives, and then bring their precious wives or husbands  with them, and added joy, the beloved grandchildren who follow.  All at your table, and the  decades of changes pass before you like a TV show, and you feel that loved ones who have died, are also with you again.

Life’s Little Extras.  Casually staying at the table long after the food is gone, listening to good talk tossed back and forth, and you see deeper into their lives than a million questions would reveal.  They open a door to their lives, and you know it’s a favor given, not a right to demand.  God’s Little Extra?  Yes, and to be remembered forever.

The joy, when, after short friendly chat with a stranger at the local coffee shop while waiting for your de-caf to get made, and when you get to the Pay Counter, find that he also paid for yours.

There are times when the world is dark and you think happiness will never again be yours.  But then, one day your eyes are opened and for the moment really see that the sun still rises and sets, and you, no longer ‘blinded’ by routine, as we sometimes are, again  really see it.  God’s Little Extras that pull us over the deep chasms that illness, distance, death, or divorce can bring to our lives.

You see that children still run to you.  That shared laughter is still precious, and letters, email and calls from loved ones still arrive and bring an inner rush of joy.  And you’re surprised to see that, as you age, new friends, new relationships, new ideas, new hobbies come, and each bring new joy to you.

Thought God had forgotten you?  Well, don’t try to tell me such nonsense, for just as the Mountain Peaks are God’s Gifts, so are His Little Extras that shower us, but so often don’t even look for much less, really see.

For me, keeping my eyes and heart open for those Extras, makes such a difference.  Remembering that as we change, our Mountains also change, and just as we ‘know’ there are no more high Peaks for us, we glance up and there, dropping right into our lap, eyes and heart, we shiver as we experience another Mountain.  And large or small, they are all God’s gifts.  Just for me, and for you.

Sex In Spaaaaace

I like to think that you and I have the same kind of mind: ie, earthy and easily amused. And so, a couple of weeks ago I read an article about sex in Space, and for some reason my mind   zoomed back to sometime around 1980, when New York had a long, long electrical black-out   and nine months later, their hospitals were over run with children being born. The story went world wide and everyone laughed.

And now, as space travel extends, the possibility of a man-woman couple being sent as part of some future Space Crew is creeping into edges of news stories, and of course, is met with innuendos, off-color jokes and I say, What’s the big deal?

We know they’ve experimented in space with frogs, insects, and other forms of life, so why not get volunteers and find out if sex, as practiced since Adam and Eve , would also work on Space’s Cloud Nine?   Yeah, the real Cloud Nine, too.

Vacations are often followed, by pregnancies, and these two space travelers will have been on the ultimate vacation, and if they choose to enjoy the excitement of it all . . . who cares? And more to the point, ‘Whose business is it, anyway’?????.

God made us to want to cuddle with the one we love, and, here in our valley, watch the moon come up over Mount Olympus . . . . . or some place along the eastern rim of the Wasatch Mountains       . . . and let nature take its course.

I recall, that back in the 1980’s. the illustrations all showed that future Space home, with parents, and, what else? Their children, of course..

With a married couple up there every magazine, newspaper, radio and TV station will make it their business to comment upon the pros and cons of a child being conceived in space, and it just could be that with our experiments with animals, we also found there is reason that ‘Space’ would not be favorable to human pregnancies and infants, but I’ve never seen where such cautions were even hinted.

Anyway, why are we so up tight about speaking of sex in space? What’s so different about it than what we see and hear every day here on good ole earth?   Test tube babies are no longer even newsworthy, sperm donor babies, abortions, no abortions, ‘right time’ advocates, condoms, pills, diaphragms, It’s constantly tossed at us, and in detail, too.

There have been enough short items, a word here, two words there, that anyone who reads the news, even casually, knows that there is nothing new to all I’m writing today, either.

And don’t tell me you’re naive enough to think it hasn’t been thought of, discussed, even planned, and if not, well, I have a few shares of the Brooklyn Bridge that I’ll sell you real cheap.

And why wouldn’t it be planned . . . The old windjammer Captains took their wife (or live-in) along, and many a child was born on the high seas. Children were born and conceived on the Mayflower, Mormon pioneers took for granted that Children would be conceived, born, some to live, some to die, on that trek across the Plains of America. And those who survived became proud that they were born that first summer, or first winter.

Yeah, and there weren’t private bedrooms, separate quarters, and all the other niceties the world is saying are absent in space capsules, either.  And I say it’s their business, just as it’s been of all exploring couples of all centuries.

I say good for them and my hat’s off to the gutsy chosen pair. How do we/they know if it will work in space as it does on Terra Firma??? Yeah, and I betcha there are thousands like me, (including you) all watching with the same amused smile on their faces.

Do those planners of space living want us to think children will be sent up in separate capsules? That immaculate conception will come back to us. Or that the women were pregnant when they stepped aboard the Craft.

No the process of a married pair on the same space ship is well planned, and will be well monitored. And I mean the results, not the actions.

Let’s get our heads on straight. Life is life and there always will be ways and means of keeping the generations arriving. And space travel is no different than windjammers, camel trains, wagons, tents or any other place men and women choose to spend together.

Yes, there will be those who will criticize and moralize but most of us will laugh and I’d be willing to bet that most of the complainers have children who weren’t all conceived at home while placidly watching TV.

No matter where people have gone, it’s happened. In fact, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that those in command would positively deny it, but betcha they secretly hope a bouncing Space Baby will result. And I say, good luck and God’s Blessings on everyone involved.

Remember Marilyn, Free At Last


Marilyn  left such a deep impact upon those who knew her that a repeat of these words is a natural.  From the Medical Crew who helped her cope with her physical problems, (there was never any problem with her mind) to her family and friends, Marilyn still lives and is a lively force among us.


Along time ago I wrote, “Marilyn walked the other day, and her whole world rejoiced”. 

Today  I write that Marilyn  died the other day,  and her whole world shed tears of sorrowful acceptance. And, not  using the familiar trite words of, “You will be missed “,  I use words, which  to me are  the correct ones:  “Marilyn,  you are  missed..”

The day she took her first steps was later than with most children, because she had been born with physical problems, and it was a long time, filled with many operations, before the doctors had time, and Marilyn the stamina, to put their attention upon  her twisted feet.

Marilyn was born to Wayne and Bernice Ohlin Ursenbach,  a family of active people, and she fit perfectly into that category, except for having  a body unable to support the inner dreams and talents that came with the package.

She was born a twin, and, the bonding between Marilyn and twin, Maurine, was  classic, entirely over-riding any physical differences.  The doctors had carefully explained to Marilyn’s parents that there is ‘no mercy in the womb,’  and if the position of one embryo  is ‘better’,  it never lets go of that advantage.

And so,  there had been no mercy in the womb, and upon birth the doctors did not expect Marilyn to ever leave the hospital.  But those doctors  just didn’t know the Spirit that was Marilyn’s, and she fooled everyone. Everyone, that is, except her parents, and the day finally came when they chose to  take her home to live, not to die,  as the doctors expected.

Then, within a day or so,  I stepped into their home where Wayne was holding Marilyn and as I called out my greeting,  that little tyke,  immediately swung around in his arms,  to find the new voice.  And in that instant, I knew that no matter what her physical problems might be, all else was sharp as a tack.  She had  had only a few  days to  get acquainted with the ‘family’ voices, but she knew immediately that this one was different.  Not bad at all for a child the doctors had no hope for.

The  years passed and when she came home from different operations,  my sister saw that the twins had established  a routine of their own.  As soon as possible they would begin talking and Marilyn would, in detail, tell her sister what she had experienced, and  Maurine, in turn, would give  a similar report on what had been going on at home. Nice bonding.

And on one of those early days, Bernice,  their mother,  heard loud screams coming from her back yard and dashed out to see what was wrong, but all was well, for there were the twins, on the play area where she had placed them, and they were laughing as they were trying to see who could  scream and make the most and loudest noises.  That,  too, was good.

Now it so happened that Marilyn had been born with five fingers on each hand, and lest you shrug as if to say, “So?”  go back and read my words again.  She was born with five fingers, not as most of us are, with four fingers and one thumb.

But for her it was normal and she got along well, but when she reached 8 or 9  years of age, a doctor called and told the parents that there had been an operation devised, to make that one finger  into a thumb.  Did they want Marilyn’s hands changed?

Knowing Marilyn’s strong mind, they asked her if she would like to have that operation, and after a few days thinking, she said,  “Yes, I think so,  but I want it on my Left hand, and then, if it doesn’t work, it will leave my Right hand, the one I rely upon,  unchanged.”.  Yeah, Marilyn had her problems, but she also had a keen, mature mind.

She came home from that operation, returned to school, and with no word of prodding from her parents,  one day she told her parents she was ready to have the other hand done.  No mind???  Her mind was far beyond many her age, and the results were good.

Marilyn’s life was also filled with joy and triumph.   A graduate of Cottonwood High, and then from Brigham Young University,   when the twins decided it was the right time for them to begin their adult, separate lives. It was also when Marilyn served an LDS mission, and again the changes were good for both.

The years passed,  her siblings  married, and with varied careers,  their pathways branched out and soon  made homes in all corners of the world.  At the same time, however,  some of Marilyn’s  physical problems grew in scope, leaving her dreams undeveloped, and  ultimately it was clear that it  was best for her to live again with her parents.  Even so,  she was employed by Zions Bank until the day  when she stepped out of her body and entered the next of God’s Rooms.

It was sometime in those years that Marilyn found me  as a telephone friend, quite  different from the older generation Aunt she had known all her life, and certainly not as a contemporary and, again, it was good.  But in all our talks, as we exchanged “what we were thinking, or doing” never was there  a word of regret, anger, jealousy of her siblings or anyone else.   She was filling  whatever ‘mission’ she had come here to fill, and doing it  with acceptance and love.  The two words of  ‘if only’ were never a part of  her vocabulary.

I learned the true meaning of courage, from Marilyn, like  fortitude, laughter in the face of hardship and love for life.  She became a great, silent teacher and I say “Thank you, Marilyn, for sharing many of your thoughts with me”.

And then, only  a month or two before she left us, she found she had breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and was getting ready for the second round of Chemo . . . when she silently said her Good bys and was,  for the first time in her life . . . free from the burdens of a body that placed limitations upon  her.

And so, Marilyn,  at last you are free.  Free from all physical restrictions and  I see you,  not walking, but running, dancing, laughing, traveling,  climbing, all actions that, for so long, were for others and only dreams for you.

At long last  you are free to go and come as you wish,  Or to step out boldly alone, no longer dependent  upon others for support.  Free, and Thank you  God  Almighty,  Marilyn is truly, finally and forever, free.

        Godspeed you along your way, Marilyn, and know that a river of respect, acceptance,  admiration and love,  follows you every step of your way.

The Ducks Came For A Visit

Everything that’s physically mobile, has a built-in homing instinct. Ocean fish, whales, etc. travel thousands of miles on annual treks, butterflies from the tropics to their second northern homes, the swallows of Capistrano, ants, (the dang things) travel yards and yards, in single file, from their basic ‘home’ to wherever they sense food, and when filled, find their way back.

I again saw proof of this Home Instinct a week or two ago, as three Mallard Ducks came and sat stoically where . . . easily twenty-five years ago . . . three of their ancestors had been born and bred. My heart went out to them and their loyalty, but beautiful as they are, I wished them well and then ignored them. Well, my sons would have loved a ‘duck dinner’, but in this neighborhood, the time   one can get away with such shenanigans, is long gone.

My story began years ago when I noticed that a Mallard hen had built a nest close to my basement outer wall, hidden and protected in the midst of my bushes. I watched her and her visiting mate, with interest, and in a week or two there were fluffy baby goslings in my yard, and in response to their peeping and how sweet they were, I began giving them food, and chose a spot of lawn where I could watch them during the day .

All went well and within days I was feeding both Mama and Papa Ducks and their five   Goslings. Soon the ducklings began losing their Down and getting real feathers and it was fun to watch.   And then, almost suddenly, it seemed there were seven ducks coming and staring expectantly at my door and gobbling up every crumb of food I put out. And I had to take a ‘second look’   to see which were the kids and w hich the parents.

Fun, and by then I ‘d found a shop in the old Cottonwood Mall that catered to food and the care of all genre of pets we bring to our homes, and I became a familiar customer, for seven ducks eat food, and I mean FOOD. In quantity.
I explained to ‘my’ demanding ducks that there was a pond right down in the field and not more than five seconds flight away, and where they would have both water and natural food, but t hey didn’t hear me.

So, I cut down on the amount of food given them, and they began digging in the lawn. I smiled, thinking they were getting worms and bugs, and when they had eaten all of them, the ducks would turn to the nearby pond. But then I found the dang ducks were actually eating the ROOTS of my lawn and I had about a 12 foot patch that was quickly becoming NOT lawn, but plain bare ground. And they were pushing back the edges each day. In desperation, and torn between love of those sweet ducklings they once had been, and anger at the predators they’d become. I asked the fellow at the Pet Food Mart what I was to do.

He laughed at my bewilderment, but then stopped chuckling long enough to tell me I had to simply stop feeding them. He reminded me of all the signs around ponds, picnic spots and in every Park, that say ‘DON’T FEED THE DUCKS’.   And then, he stopped laughing, got serious and told me that unless I planned on my back lawn becoming nothing but a Duck Restaurant and Rest Room, I’d have to stop feeding them and force them to look elsewhere for food. They, he assured me, would not starve.

He grinned as he assured me he’d be glad to keep selling me feed, but sooner or later, it would be either the Duck’s back yard or mine. Really, he said, it boils right down to those choices. Their yard or Ethel’s

Well I decided I wanted to use my lawn, and so, I stopped feeding them and they didn’t die, but they didn’t like it, either, and let me know with their squawking. It was a slow business, and their transfer of Feeding Stations did not come about without lots of protest, but, after a month or so, I watched them as they paused, first at my Closed Shop, before winging over the hill and to the Pond for nourishment.

But that’s not the end of my tale.   For the funny part, is that every spring, Mallard Ducks come to my lawn and sit and wait right in the exact spot their ancestors had landed and waited.

They know where Home Base is and though scores of years have   passed since I gave food to their fore bearers, they still return. Loyal as all get out, and though I hate to put a stop to their built-in instincts, I have to keep reminding myself that my purpose here on earth is not to feed generations of Mallards.

Wisdom Via Ham Radio

Ham Radio Operators are members of a unique group. Whether they operate by Morse Code (no longer a requirement), phone or computer, they share an almost mystic companionship. And it doesn’t matter if they live here or in Timbuctoo the relationships and understanding hold.

AW, my husband, was a Ham and for several years after his sudden death I received cards from around the world as Hams heard of Brad’s death and wanted to tell me they were sorry. I loved their words.

It pleases me that one of my sons, WR, is also a Ham. It is a little known hobby, but when a large disaster strikes, destroying other lines of communication . . . it is the Hams of the world who step out and provide lifelines.

Usually they just gab back and forth, chinning away, but odd bits of lore and information are also often sent out on the airwaves and can be picked up by those interested.

And that’s where today’s words come from. Mike, a ham radio operator in New Mexico sent them along their way, my son shared them with me, and now I pass them along to you.

There’s nothing to them that’s actually ‘new’, but dang it, I like the slant and mood they create, and so, with no more reason than that, I   hope you like them, too.


1. You will receive a body.
You may like that body or actually hate it, but it will be yours for the entire peiod of t his time ’round.

2. You will learn lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called LIFE. Each day in this school, you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or you might think them irrelevant and stupid. It doesn’t matter, they are yours.

3. There are no mistakes, and no accidents. Only lessons.
Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentations.   The ‘failed’ experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately ‘works’.

4. A lesson is repeated over and over until it’s learned.
That lesson will be presented to you in many forms, until you   have learned it. And only when you have learned it, will the next lesson come to you.

5. Learning lessons never end.
here is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. You can be certain that if you are alive, then there are still lessons to be learned.

6. ‘There’ and ‘when’ is no better than’ ‘here’ and ‘now’.
When your   ‘there’ has become ‘here’ and your ‘when’ has become ‘ now’,   you will simply obtain another ‘there’ and ‘when’ which will again, look better than ‘here’ and ‘now’.

7. Others are merely mirrors of you.
You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you either love or hate within yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you.
You have all the tools and resources you need.    What you do with them is your choice, and no person or any circumstance can change that opportunity.

9. All your answers lie right inside you.
The answers to all life’s question lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

10. You will forget all this.
No matter how often you read this, no matter how deeply you believe it, or how often you promise yourself you will never forget it . . . within one minute , you will. OH, yes, you will, you will, you will

The page these came on was signed Anonymous, but it has all the signs and subtlety of some Zen or Sufi teacher. I love it all, and even if only one small part speaks to you,love that small part. For actually its wisdom of the ages. In ten small lines, and No. 7 makes me jump every time I read the page.   Oh me.

How To Take Over A Church Meeting

I’ve waited a long, long time before I’ve dared write this story, or someone moved out of State, or . . . and I’m not telling . . . but  died, but now the needed event has passed, and I’m brave.

My friend, an accomplished pianist, was asked to play a Beethoven piece at an LDS meeting, and, figuring an hour or two in church wouldn’t hurt me, I said yes, when asked to go along.

You know how those meetings go. A little girl sang, a young lad said a few words; both taking no more than five minutes and then my friend was introduced. But I soon felt edgy, for I knew the piece he had chosen was no five minute piece, but more like 45 minutes.

But I decided he’d stop at the end of the first movement, but no, no, no. He passed by that coda as if not there, and one glance at his face told me, he was going to play Beethoven to the last note, and to heck with any time limits or rules.

I felt nervous, but I noted that the man in charge was doubly so, for he soon began fidgeting and glancing toward my friend. I tried to tell myself that the problem, the pianist and the leader’s nerves had nothing to do with me. But every nerve in me was standing at attention.

After about 15 minutes the man in charge was about to ‘have a cow’ as the kids say. Sweat was pouring from his face and he motioned for a young lad to come to the podium. They had some whispered words and I saw the kid’s face go white in horror. But the leader nodded firmly and the child, like a lamb to the slaughter, edged toward the piano.

He glanced back for mercy, but the leader was firm, and all the child could do was try to tell my friend to stop playing. And every person in the congregation was watching in fascination as my friend brushed off any message like some bothersome fly and the wonderful music continued.

Somehow I felt that I was part of the problem but also, I was fighting an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh. In fact I gave a couple of chortles, (disguised as coughs) and wondered if I had better leave the chapel. But I didn’t. And by then the entire congregation was watching in horror/fascination/humor/indignation. They realized this was very different from the usual Sacrament Meeting. But most were watching the battle to see whether Beethoven or the leader would win.

Well, I didn’t wonder, for I knew darn well that, short of whipping his music from the piano, my friend was going to play to the final note. But the man in charge didn’t give up easily, for then he walked to the piano and whispered in my friend’s ear.

I watched in fascination because I knew my friend and that he bowed to no one’s whispers. If he had been invited to play Beethoven, he was going to play Beethoven, whisper all they wanted. And he did.

Well, by then the congregation was split into thirds. One third closed their eyes and with smiles on their faces enjoyed the unexpected concert. The second group, like me, wanted to laugh and were grinning unabashedly at the tug of war going on. And the final group was angry.

They began looking daggers at me and I felt like standing up and explaining that I had nothing to do with it. I was an innocent bystander, too.

Well, eventually the concert ended (almost 45 minutes) and my friend rose in proud righteous indignation, and walked over and sat beside me. And no one was happier than I when the last prayer was said and we could get in the car and laugh.

But for heaven’s sake, there was no laughter, for my friend didn’t think it was funny and I spent the rest of the day listening to his indignation. By the time I got home, I was too tired to laugh. But the next day I shared the event with a couple of people who also like music and then the three of us laughed and laughed and laughed.

And the congregation that had gone to hear a routine meeting, instead heard a Beethoven concert they’d have paid big bucks in the concrt hall. Forty five minutes of solid enjoyment but to this day I think of it as the funniest time I’ve ever spent in church.