Check The Bottoms . . .

aka product shrinkage

We gotta be wily these days to outsmart the manufacturers of the food we eat and the products we bring into our homes.

Those guys are smart, and dang it, we’re trusting souls and slow to catch on to what they’re doing. Right now, while we pay the same price for the seemingly same size package of some product that we’ve used for years, actually, we’re getting less for our money, and don’t even know it.

And they blithely advertise, “Same Price” and they’re right. The price is the same, but they don’t mention the amount of the product.

But a month or so ago, I read, in a magazine on ‘what’s going on in our world’, that manufacturers are producing the same comfortable familiar jars and containers for our food, except, they are changing the bottoms of those containers, which we never look at, and in doing so they are changing the amount of the product we get. Which is NOT the same as usual.

So, proof, proof, proof.  The other night I was using a straw while drinking a can of vegetable juice, and when I reached the last sip or two I tipped and turned the can to get each final tasty drop and danged if I didn’t find a definite mound in the bottom of the can.

My first thought was that by some accident, something had dropped into that can, and as such had been sealed and sent along to the customer. Because quite definitely my straw had found a ‘ditch’ around the inner-side of the can, and yes, there was a mountain in the center.

Well, by then I tossed aside my book and looked hard at the outside of the can and found, to my surprise that, the can had a definitely domed bottom and not the flat one I’d expected, or been used to.

I think I could have put a marshmallow under that can and it would not have tipped it one bit. So, on my next shopping day, I began to look.

Bottles of applesauce had a fancy domed bottom of easily 1/2 a cup size. Mayonnaise, salad dressings and such were a mixed bag. Some were the same flat bottom we expect, but others???? Ho, ho , ho and ho.   And just how many of us ever turn our purchases upside down before we buy? Or even after they’re empty and we toss them aside?

I’ve read that the ‘trick’ is being copied in hardware goods, also. Same size of outer covering, but the bottoms changed so that we get fewer nuts, bolts, nails, screws, staples, or whatever. If ‘they’ haven’t yet made the change, they’re working on it. Oh, yes, I found my favorite Olive Oil is onto the scheme, one size of peanut butter, and jams and jellies were a mixed bag, too, but it’s a scheme that’s growing..

I’ve never in my life ‘checked the bottom’ of any jar or container as I bought. but shall from now on. Not that it’ll do any good, but at least I’ll know what I’m getting. What else can we do??? And if you come up with an answer, write in.   You’re welcome.

The Rules For Human Beings

Now try not to forget . . .

These rules are so basic, and seem so simple that it seems foolish of some Teacher to remind us of them. But, we’re human. Who? Me? Yeah, and sometime I forget even the very first rule. That my life and body are a gifts. Give them a try.

1. You will receive a body.
You may like that body, tolerate or hate it, but it’s yours, and will be yours for the entire period of this time round.

2, You will  learn lessons
You are   enrolled in a full time interdenominational school called Life. Each day in this school you will have opportunities to learn. You may like the lessons or you might think them irrelevant and stupid. Doesn’t matter, they’re yours.

3. There are no mistakes , and no accidents. Only lessons.
Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentation. The ‘failed’ experiments are as much a part of the learning 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. And only then will you realize how many times it did come to you.

5. Learning lessons never ends.
There is no part of Life that does not contain its lessons. You can be certain that if you are alive, there are still lessons to be learned.

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

7. All 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 entirely 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 questions 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, yes, yes you will.

These words were signed anonymous, but they have all the signs and subtlety of some ancient Zen or Sufi teacher. And even if only one small part speaks to you, love that part, for it is wisdom of the ages. In only ten short lines.

Ahoy and Fathom This

Our Ancestors Left The Sea, But Not the Language . . .

So many of our ancestors were seafaring people that our language is literally filled with their nautical terms.

Yeah, and while they’re of ancient origin, people like us, who don’t know port from starboard, not only understand their meaning, but use them in our everyday conversation without giving a thought to their origin.

For example: each of us has more than once said, that someone ‘really knows the ropes’. Now, a man on a long ago sailing ship had to ‘know the ropes’ in order to survive. Today, of course, it means anyone who is equal to coping with some complicated situation.

And in the same way, a person who enters a room awkwardly, noisily and heavily, is said to come ‘barging in’.  A real barge, you see, is hard to handle and moves around the harbor in a most disruptive manner. Just barging around, you see.

We also know what’s meant when we’re told that a person if ‘off the beam’. Its origin goes back to when a ship was stricken by storm and careened so far that the deck beams were almost vertical. And it’s not a safe thing for man or vessel to be that far ‘off the beam’.

And on it goes. In the sailing days, ships were often, for some reason, at sea far longer than planned, and when that happened, provisions would run low and the cook struggled to feed the crew. He literally had to ‘scrape the bottom of the flour barrel’ to make his bread. So, to this day, when one is having a hard time making ends meet, we say they’re ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel’.

It’s also common usage, when confronted by someone who likes to blow and brag too much, for us to say they’d like to knock the ‘wind from his sails’, meaning to put an immediate stop to the huffing and puffing. Which is exactly what happened to a ship when the wind ceased to blow. The wind went out of the sails.

And then, when one is taking a lot of unnecessary chances, someone else is sure to warn that if he isn’t careful, he may ‘end up on the rocks’. Which is what vessels once did if they didn’t carry sufficient ballast to keep them ‘anchored’ in the water. They might sail into the shallows and literally ‘end up on the rocks’.

My Dad used to say, when a storm was coming that he had the animals ‘all snugged down’ with enough food and water to take care of them for a day or two if necessay. That term is exactly what is/was used aboard ships when a storm was/is approaching and the crew lashes down loose gear and close all the hatches. ‘All snugged down’.

Fishermen usually go to sea before the dawn and return late at night. So they took a good lunch with them which included hot tea or coffee, and it was nautically called a ‘mug-up’.

Our ancestors left the sea but carried the words with them, and today, it isn’t unusual to be invited out for a ‘mug-up’. And even if no liquid is served, it’s still a ‘mug-up”, and I love it.

Here in this area we have such a varied vocabulary because our ancestors came from so many different countries and also that LDS missionaries travel to so many far-off places and bring new words and phrases back with them. And we like and use them.

Our forefathers were probably like the old sailor, disenchanted with the sea, who swore he was going to put his oars over his shoulders and keep going inland until someone had to ask him what they were. And then and only then would he stop to make a home. Well, that’s what many of our ancestors did, but at that time, they didn’t bring their oars. but their colorful language with them.

You probably have your favorites, kept alive from generation to generation, and we are collecting more as we go along. No? Well, how about Ciao? Adios? Aloha? Pizza? Tortilla? French bread? Viola? And a hundred more coming on line each and every day. Skole!

Waking Up

Live long and prosper . . .

We usually begin our days in bed, warm, comfortable, in a fetal position, and don’t’ want to stir.   But like it or not, it’s time to get up, and to make it a bit easier, next time try a yogic way.

Wiggle your toes. No, no, no, not your feet, just your toes. And so slightly, hard to detect, almost just an inward movement, but move your toes, and as you lie there, so comfy, in just a moment or two, you’ll notice that your fingers are also moving. No, not your hands, but Oh, so slightly, the finger muscles move.


You didn’t tell them to move, and so, as your attention has shifted to your fingers, if you back-track a bit, you’ll see that now your feet are also moving. Yes, your feet, as well as the toes have awakened.


And knowing that YOU didn’t tell your fingers, much less your feet, to move, and are beginning to wonder what’s going on, for, surprise, surprise, you see that your hands are getting in on the ‘game’ and without consciously moving anything but your toes, you find that fingers, feet and hands are also     in motion.


What’s going on??   Well, what we’re seeing is the proof that our body is one unit, and when we flipped the ‘ON’ switch at one point, the ‘Starter Key’ was turned on and the entire Machine is alive and ready to go.


Think about it. When we walk briskly, who tells the arms and legs how to swing to maintain the body’s balance? . And it’s not just we humans, either, for who tells a beautiful horse, with four legs to be able to run so safely and beautifully. Animals all have Four legs to move, and with no stumbling or getting mixed up with ‘which leg to manage’, yet from birth on, they remember their biological beginnings, and know how to make the right moves. Same with all other ‘machines’, no matter if they have legs, wings, fins or whatever, they KNOW how to manage them.


A few years ago I published a small booklet called “A Machine Called Ethel”. and told of other ways our bodies work so marvelously with no orders from the human owners of the body.


Oh, okay,   you mention the Higher Power who dwells within????? Well that’s another story, and for the nonce, we’re talking about waking up  the machine that the Higher Power uses.


Think of your tongue. It floats there so innocently.  so forgotten, and yet, it knows how to behave perfectly as we use it when we talk. eat. chew, swallow, and move the food from side to side to find other teeth. All at the same time. And then think of that one muscle, said to be one of the strongest muscle in our entire body, the Jaws. and how quietly they sit there waiting for their Power to be needed and used.


Once you get thinking, consider how (at the same time) we breath. cough, sniff, sneeze and talk. Going deeper, how our stomach, intestines, heart, lungs, etc, etc. all do their jobs with no prompting from us, because, anyway, we wouldn’t know what to tell them to do and would really be in trouble if our pancreas waited for us to tell it when and how much Insulin to send forth.   Or, for heavens sake,   what would we tell our liver to do? Or the Bone Marrow, or tell the brain to ‘ get into gear’? Or to tell what muscles to ‘jump’ in alarm at some sharp unfamiliar sound?


Waking up in the morning is just one way that we can consciously watch the Machine called Ethel, Joe, Bill, Henry, take over. with no prodding coming from us.


We are machines . . . . .. and are fortunate, (Blessed) if we become aware and acquainted with the Boss of the whole Thing. The Boss I call The Source.

Thngs My Mother Taught Me

Was she ever wise . . .

    Do any of these sound familiar? My mother didn’t have a lot of ‘schooling” but these are facts I learned from her as a child. Betcha you heard them too.

 My Mother taught me early TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.

       “If you two are going to fight till you kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning that room.”

 My Mother taught me all about the depth of PRAYER.

       “You better start praying right now that the stuff you spilled will come out of the carpet.”

 My Mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.

       “If you don’t straighten up right now, I’m going to come over there and knock you into the middle of next week.”

 My Mother taught me LOGIC.

     “Because I said so. That’s why.”

My Mother taught me about FORESIGHT.

     “Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

 My Mother taught me IRONY.    

       “Just keep crying, and I’ll give you something to really cry about,”

 My Mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.

     “Shut your mouth and eat you supper.”

 My Mother taught me LOGIC.

     “If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”

 My Mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.

     “Will you just look at the dirt you have on the back of your neck and in your ears.”

 My Mother taught me about STAMINA.

       “You’re going to sit there till all that spinach is eaten.”

 My Mother taught me about WEATHER.

         “If looks as if a cyclone swept through your room.”

 My Mother taught me how to solve PHYSICS PROBLEMS.

       “If I yelled because I saw a meteor coming straight toward you, would you listen to me THEN?

 My Mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.

       “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. Don’t exaggerate.”

         Betcha they sound familiar to you, too. And no matter where you live. For some reason they’re familiar to all of us. Almost word for word.


Remember The Child

In just a few days . . . Thursday, the 25th of December . . . the entire Christian world will stop and mark the Beginning of what the world has come to call Christianity.

It will not matter what Belief System you adhere to, from Catholicism, the oldest, to one who might have proclaimed themselves only yesterday, every one will pause and bless the same Child and the same Event.

Yes, it matters not how we debate other points of our Beliefs, we all gaze at the humble Manger, where the Heavens above The Child, Mary and Joseph opened and gleamed with Lights never seen before, and Angels sang songs of Praise.

Just for a moment, let us all stop whatever we are doing. Pause. Take a deep breath. Close our eyes. Remember The Child. The Child who changed the world. The Child who still changes you, me and the world, if we but remember and allow our hearts to hear.

Christ Is Born. And continues to be Born within our hearts as we put aside the clutter we’ve allowed to gather about that Day.

What else is needed? What else is there to do? What else is there to say?

Christ Is Born. Know. Rejoice, and Be Glad.

Christmas Lights

Blessed Beads of Light, in the 1940 Sky

Whenever I hear or read of how the skies gleamed brilliantly  the night of the First Christmas,  I also recall how the black skies lit up for me  over 70 years ago during the 1940 Holy Season. Oh, so different but, I never think of The One, without the other.

I was flying home from Denver. It was an ebony-black night and as we flew high over the mountains, the Pilot told us we were soaring over a sight seldom seen, and that he was shutting off all lights so we could appreciate the beauty,

And he jokingly added, “It looks as if God has put up His Christmas decorations, too.”

And so, with every light OFF, and no stars shining, there in the inky-black that surrounded us I couldn’t even see my own hands. But I did see lights below, or with lack of good orientation from the sudden blackness, were those lights above? But either way, somewhere out there, were three or four clusters of lights separated by long, long, stretches of utter blackness, except for a broken string of lights that seemed to be trying to hold them together.

It looked to me, as if some woman might have carelessly dropped a long string of beads, letting them  break, curl, twist,  and gather in bunches as they lay where they fell.

Or Christmas decorations strung and awaiting our touch, or, and my mind drifted to how Saint Luke told  of when the sky was  lit with lights, at the time of Jesus’s birth.

But what we saw,  was breath-taking. It was an utterly black world where delicate strings of light, drifted between groups of lights, and, dis-oriented in the sudden utter blackness, I really couldn’t be certain whether I was looking UP or if the lights were DOWN. Even the plane seemed to be quietly resting on a black cushion. And, as I recall that night, it still seems as though the plane, people, the entire scene was immovably locked in that one marvelous moment.

And the Pilot, like a Voice from a Void, told that the northern lights (North? South?, West? East? Up? Down?). were the City of Ogden, Ogden? What did that City have to do with such deep blackness . . . but the pilot continued that Salt Lake City formed the largest cluster, and far away at the end of an almost fading string of lights was the City of Provo

But, no matter.  What we saw was a black void, with scattered lights that were gently connected by a thin string of lights, that was interrupted just once by a few lights off to one side that, we were told, was The Murray Smelter.

Not a one of us could know that the possibility of such a view would be a tale met with disbelief and wonder in but a few years.

For me, I doubt if that scene can ever again be duplicated any place in the entire world, for every corner of our entire world now has people who, 24 hours every day and night, need and have electricity, well lit cities and  highways.  And so I wonder, “Did it really happen?” And yes, believe it or not,  it did, and, I was one of a dozen or so on that small plane from Denver, who saw it..

It is so easily explained for the world was just beginning to see the end of the 1930’s Great Depression, and the ‘string of a few pale lights’  were cars on State Road No. 89 which connected Utah cities, and the lights were few because few people had any reason to drive those roads in the middle of a night.

People ate their meals at home, and so there were no hundreds of fast-food eateries, cafes,  rest stops,  bars or motels  along the roads.  There were  few movie houses, no bowling alleys, or  any other places that needed lights at night.

World War II was the catalyst that changed our world with people,  who were  soon working both night and day, depending on cafes or drive-ins for meals, and before no more than a few years, not only our vallies would be bright with lights, but rhe same could be said for the whole world.

And each Christmas as I meditate upon that brightly lit sky of 2,000 years ago,  at the same time, I remember that 1940 Christmas night when I saw our  black world beginning to come alive with 24-7 lights. And, though it  happened over 70 years ago, its beauty remains part of the Christmas Holiday for me.

And I hope yours is a Blessed One with your own Blessed Memories.

Here Comes Christmas

The Kid

 The Wise Guys tell me Christmas is kid Stuff

And just maybe they got something there

Two thousand years ago

Three Wise Guys

chased a Star across a whole continent to bring

Frankincense and Myrhh to a Kid

Who was born in a manager with an idea in His head

And today

As the bombs crash and there is terror over the world

The real Wise Guys know that we all must

Again go chasing Stars

In the hopes that we can get back some of that

Long ago Kid Stuff

That was born two thousand years ago.

Frank Horne, 1942

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

Well almost, but now Thanksgiving is over we can talk of Christmas . . .

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was sleeping, especially my spouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with screws. (If you can’t find the nails, what else do you use?) The children were restless, awake in their beds, while visions of spanking them danced in our heads.

I worked in my bathrobe. My husband, in jeans, had gone down to the den with directions and dreams to assemble a bike that came in small pieces with deflated tires and fenders with creases.

Soon down in the den there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my task to see what was the matter. Away to my husband I flew like a flash, he was shuffling through cardboard, his actions were rash.

The bike on the rug by this flustered Dad soon gave me a hint as to why he was mad. He needed a kick stand. It had to be near.

I shuffled some papers, he saw it appear! We twisted the screws; we were lively and quick, and soon knew assembly would be quite a trick. Faster than eagles in flight all the pieces were found, as he whistled and shouted for parts all around.

“Now socket! Now pedal! Now tires! Now brakes! On handles ! On kickstand ! On horn! Oh . . . but wait!” In the top of the toolbox, he fumbled around. “I need two more screws!” he said with a frown.

And like all good parents, determined to please when they meet with an obstacle late Christmas Eve, we shouted and yelled some complaints to each other. There was never more frustrated father and mother.

And then, in a panic, we heard on the stairs the prancing and hopping of four little feet! I opened the door and was turning around, when kids burst from the hall with a leap and a bound.

They were dressed all in flannel, from their necks to their knees, and their night gowns, were soiled with sugar and cheese.

Excuses poured forth from each pair of lips, and they stood in defiance with hands on their hips. Their eyes were wide open, and each little child jumped when I yelled with a voice hardly mild. They were frightened but cute, though much bigger than elves  but with a. wink of an eye and a pat on the head soon let them catch on they had nothing to dread.

They saw not a thing but went straight to their beds, and we finished the bike and put bows on the sleds.

Then wheeling the bike to the tree, and out of sight, my hubby announced we should call it a night. He rose to his feet,  sprang to his bed, and to the clock gave a whistle, for the time had flown by like a large Titon missile.

But I heard him exclaim as he turned out the light, “Merry Christmas to all, and for you, my dear? Next year ?  ? ? , NO BIKES.”



(Apologies to original author P.R. Van Buskirk 1985)