Pioneer Day In Utah


Forget all the movies you’ve seen about it . . .

Every year, every generation gets further and further from the actual Pioneer trek that Utah celebrates each Twenty-Fourth of July. At  one time, if your ancestors didn’t either ‘cross the Plains’ or ‘come round the Horn’ (Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America) you were out of sync, and were even criticized if you dared join in the celebration of that Day.

My ancestors certainly didn’t come ’round the Horn’ for that was expensive, while you could Cross the Plains by just having a good wagon, oxen, food, and stamina. That’s the breed my family came from and it’s a tale of a 14 year old lad whose mother, as did many women, ‘worked her way across the Plains’, and  her son herded cattle.

The tale comes from Ada Goodall Garrity, the youngest daughter of that boy, James “Jimmie” Goodall, who told that her father solemnly said that, “From the very first day of the journey, if I could’ve found a Wagon Train, or anyone, going the other way, I’d have been the first to join them.”

Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t say he’d forsake his church, but he did say that the trip was a nightmare that he never recovered from and paid for the rest of his life. A journey to never wish upon his  worst enemy.

So, having no money, he and other young lads, paid their way by herding cows and bulls. It was an absolutely vital job, for those cows meant their future food , milk, butter, cream and cheese. Their very lives depended upon those animals, and so had to be well tended, because, where they were going, there were no towns, or stores of any sort. Live or die, it was up to those Pioneers, and to be accomplished solely upon their work and what they brought with them.

It was the formation of the Wagon Train that made herding a horror. Up front and first in line,  were  the Leaders of the Train,  the Scouts. They put up ‘signs’ of some sort, to point the way over mountain passes, marked the best place to cross rivers, and they led the Train to protected areas where the oxen, horses, cattle and people could eat, find water, and rest for the  night.

In Second place were the wagons and people. Dozens of wagons and carts pulled by man or oxen, hundreds of people walking and countless men riding back and forth on horses, seeing that the sick and dying were cared for, that women in child birth were tended, and broken wagons repaired.

Forget all the movies you’ve seen. They are a farce and the people on the real wagon trains would never dream that the movies  were ever  intended to portray the actual journey they had made.

Then, behind all the wagons, horses and people came the cattle. Hundreds of cows and bulls formed a mile-long tail  of the already strung-out migration. And bringing up the very end of the whole,  were the young boys, prodding the slow or worn-out cows, chasing and capturing any that roamed, and finally, keeping them all moving so none were lost or left behind.

In other words, they breathed and ate the dust made by every person and animal that went before them. There were no paved roads, just dry dusty land and every step created more dust. It was recorded that the ‘dust laid low like a black cloud, and could be seen for miles.’

And those kids, only a few years from childhood, breathed that dust, night and day with never a breath of clean air from the time  they left the west bank of the Mississippi until they reached the valley of the Great Salt Lake. And hard for us to realize is that there were no towns, none at all. No homes, no drive-ins for a cold drink. Nothing, but dry land and its dust.

Jimmie’s daughter remembered her father saying he never, as long as he lived, was ever free of ‘that black cloud, for he coughed up its dust the rest of his life.’ Claiming his lungs brought part of the Plains right along with him into our valley, and stayed here.

We romanticize Crossing the Plains, and movies make a plastic dream of it, picturing people working, laughing, singing, dancing and praying, but those actually doing it, saw nothing romantic about it. It was outright hell for women, cruelly demanding on men, and often deadly for children.

The train stopped for nothing. They didn’t have the time to stop for sickness, birthing, broken bones, sick, worn out children, injured oxen, or death. Many would never complete the trip, but enough did, that we have the Salt Lake Valley of today. It was the survival of the fittest. Wait till night to bury the dead, say a prayer, shed a tear and then get your sleep so you will be ready for the next day’s work.

Those people would look at our cleaned-up and romanticized versions of their trek with the parades, and rodeos, and find them so far away from the truth of the Journey that they would wonder what the connection could be.   But anyway, if you’re of Pioneer stock or not, no one cares any more, just be glad for an extra holiday, and for whatever reason, have a Happy Twenty-Fourth.

Class – Let’s Get Some

I attended a class where “What Makes People Tick” was explored and some ideas were tremendous. and so I won’t forget them, I pass them along. And, at one point, the person who, for want of a better word, has Class was discussed.

The one with Class never runs scared. He is confident in knowing that one can meet life head-on and handle anything that comes. The same set of circumstances can come to two people, and, while one will be crushed and beaten, the one with Class will take a deep breath, swallow, hold his head high and go on.

Jacob had Class, Esau didn’t. And, if we look symbolically at Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel, we realize that those with Class often wrestle with their own ‘angels’ and win victories that mark them positively for the rest of their lives.

People with Class don’t make excuses. They take their lumps, cut their losses, and learn from the experience. And as my friend Jake, used to say, “Don’t complain, don’t explain, for neither will do any good. Just square your shoulders and go on from where ever you landed”. Took me a long time to figure out how smart he was.

Those with Class are considerate of others. They know that good manners are nothing but a series of small sacrifices. A ‘thank you’ , or a ‘pardon or excuse me’ are all wonderful ‘oil’ for our complicated society and make for smooth, pleasant relationships.

Class reveals an ‘aristocracy’ that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent person can be totally rude and inconsiderate, while generations of low-income people may show Class in every pore.

Don Blanding said it succinctly in his poem “Vagabond House” about his two beloved dogs. He wrote, “Both are thoroughbreds, right from the start. One by breeding, the other by heart.” He was speaking of Class and I shiver as I read the words.

One with Class never tries to build himself up by tearing others down. Class is always ‘up’ and does not need to try to look better by knocking others down.

As Kipling wrote, one with Class can “walk with kings and keep the common touch and talk with crowds and keep his virtue.” Everyone is comfortable with such a one because he is comfortable with himself.

I can’t help but think of Eleanor Roosevelt,  First Lady when FDR was President.  Caught on camera, (no TV at that time), she was suddenly face to face with an official from a far Eastern nation, and there was no one to ‘do’ the introductions. She quite calmly said, “I don’t know how to address you, but I am so glad to meet you.” He smiled, told her what most people called him, and then the two of them conversed.

That was real Class, from both of them.

I saw, of course on TV, when a younger Queen Elizabeth showed her Class one day, when an overweight woman was presented to her. The woman began to make the traditional curtsy, but dropped down too far, and terror filled her face for it was obvious that the poor  woman  had reached the point of no return, and, on her own,  didn’t  have the power to get upright again.

But Queen Elizabeth, saw the sad predicament,  and, without a change of expression, she put one foot backward, held out her arm and with both arm and body stiff as boards she actually levered and pulled the woman upright and balanced again. The Queen then went on to the next person without a pause. I shivered as my respect for her went straight up. That, let me tell you was real Class.

If you have that trait your whole life will be smoother. so let’s both take a class on “Class” development, beginning right now.   I would welcome the company.


The Dawn . . .

Dawn – The finest hour

No matter how wakeful or troubled the night, there is always reassurance and joy in the morning. I mean, of course, after the first horrible wrench of getting myself out of the subliminal state and on my feet.

Yes, I hate to get out of bed but once I do, the rewards are worth the struggle. There’s a softness to the early morning that cannot be put into words and i feel like Alice in Wonderland as she stepped through the mirror into a new world. That’s what early morning is like. Before anyone starts moving and breaks the spell.

I pour myself a quick cup and then step outside, for one must make the commitment and be outside for the magic to work. I go quietly, barefoot and nine-times-out-of-ten still in my night shift. I feel like an intruder on that world, so near my door, but at dawn it’s not mine, and go as quietly as possible.

The other morning I saw two pheasants, a male and his mate, strolling right across the street, and hardly daring to breath, I watched in delight. During the day I hear, but seldom see them, but at that hour, they had no fear, for the world, including the street was theirs.

The backyard was alive. I toss bird seed in sheltered nooks and the birds spread the word and come. There are the shy quail, greedy magpies, friendly sparrows, wild canaries, robins, doves, starlings, and some I don’t know, but they know my yard.

And, to me, the strange thing, is that if I sit still, they don’t see me. They are so secure at this hour of the morn that they don’t look for anything or anyone to fear.

Dogs and cats I never see at other times, go busily through my yard, so intent on their business they, too, pay no attention, not only to me, but to the birds, and the birds do not shy away from them. Odd, I can’t figure that one out.

There’s a perfume to the air that I would recognize as ‘dawn’ no matter where I should find it. The sky can be overcast, clear, cold or sultry, but the aroma is there and I’d like to bottle it. I’d name it “Early Dawn” and city folk would buy it by the gallon as it awakened within them, a deep almost painful response to an aroma they, in some long ago rural lifetime, had once known.

I see large flights of birds going overhead, speeding to get to feeding or mating grounds before the heat of the day arrives. I’m reminded that the sky is a great highway for birds of all species, and butterflies. too. They travel their familiar routes just as I do on my way to where I go, and I get envious of the fisher folk on our coastal areas who are just as aware of the highways in the oceans that the fish and whales all follow.

Sometimes I get in my car and drive around in the early dawn. I’d ‘die’ if I had to stop for some reason, and be found in my night shift, but, what the heck, that’s Ethel. Weird.

The world is a different place at the various hours of the day, with changes as abrupt as the seasonal ones, and each quickly recognized. Dusk, to me, is the Angelus . . . . ”the end of a weary day when all things come home at eventide” and it’s almost with tears that I recognize the feeling, and find it a bit sad, but yet wonderful.

Daytime is when the business of the world sets a frantic and busy pace. And Dawn is a far cry from the hectic flash/flash/neon/noisy/blare/honk of the midnight hour that was here but a few hours before. 

The early hours are a time of birth. The time when everything I ever dream of is still possible. The time when all I ever want is already mine. Yeah, you know the feeling . . . . I hope. And if not . . . seek it.

I catch the sun coming up over the Wasatch Mountains and know that I could give up much in this world and still be happy, but one of the last things I would ever want to give up is my Window to the World, and Dawn, to me, is its Finest Hour.

Life Is One Long Sentence

 A Parentheses In Eternity

Life is one long, long sentence, and I am not speaking in Prison terms, but a sentence that is used in writing. And the beginning of our Sentences started with The Big Bang, whatever that was, and continues on.

There are no Periods in this Sentence. Not a one. There are thousands of commas, semi-colons, dashes, exclamation points, pauses, and all else, but not a one Period. No end to this Sentence we experience, and makes no difference what Belief System we belong to, either. Just one Sentence.  

My Birth, when I slipped from some unknown Room into this Mortal Room where I dwell as Ethel Ohlin Bradford, was not the beginning of my Sentence, but prefaced, perhaps by a Comma, or Dash, a Semi-colon. Who knows?

And when what we call Death arrives, it will only be the end of the body I’ve used these long, wonderful years, and the  part of me that never dies will just slip joyously into the next Room. There will be no Period, maybe an Colon? Exclamation Point? I don’t know, but certainly not a Period.

I know, well, not first hand, but often my husband told me of when as a 17 year old, he died from pneumonia. This was before the age of Wonder Drugs, and he lay deathly ill, so sick, so tired, in the upper west bedroom of the Bradford home, and a Registered Nurse with him.

Oddly, my older sister, Amber Ohlin Bodine, worked at Thornton-Anderson Drug Store at the northwest corner of State Street and 4800 South, and where it was easy to hear any doctor’s conversation with the Pharmacist, and she came home one day, and at the dinner table told that the ‘Bradford’ boy would die that night. I did not know ‘the Bradford boy’ or certainly not that he would one day be my husband. But I remember her words. Life is odd.

But my husband later told me that ‘suddenly’ there was Light. A soft. wonderful Light, and with it, all feelings of sickness and weariness were gone. He was himself again, with not even a memory of sickness, happily running free, and overwhelmed with unbelievable Joy! He said The Light permeated his every cell and never before or after did he feel such utter happiness than what was then his.

But suddenly there was someone, (something?) wrestling with him, trying to pull him away from that Light. He fought back, but his opponent was strong, and then he was shocked and taken further out of the Light, by a sudden sharp bitter taste in his mouth (what mouth?), and the wrestler and the horrible taste, had taken him out of the Light and back to his bedroom, his bed, his sick, tired, weak, and unhappy body. And the ‘unwelcome’ Nurse was gripping him.

 He said, “My first thought was that it had been a struggle between me and another force, and that force had won the battle. I was the loser.”

 How marvelous that Next Room must be when an 17 year old would fight to remain There rather than here. For the rest of his life, he remembered that Next Room, the Room of Light that he had been a part of, and then being ‘pulled’ back from it.

 He later found that the nurse had poured a spoonful of some alcoholic stimulant between his lips and the glorious wonder that had been his only a moment before, was gone. And he repeated, “She won the battle.”

 So, with his story, my own experiences, and having the blessing of Classes with Dr.Ushurburg Arya, all, in their own words, told the same Truth, that there is no end to this Sentence that we are living right now.

 I, as we all do, have had flashback moments where I’ve been in different countries, cultures, and ages. Sometimes I’ve been male, sometimes female. And different roles, such as Kind, unkind. Pure, sinful. Wealthy, poor. Ruler, serf. Warrior, farmer. Sailor, store clerk. I’ve ‘clicked’ into many, and they were all Me. No, not the ‘Ethel’ me, but that Inner Being,  we all are.            

 Joel Goldsmith, penned a wonderful book entitled “A Parentheses in Eternity” and his words made me more certain that my ‘flashback memories’ are valid, and that this life really is a parentheses in Eternity.

 When we are in bodies, as right now, we are wearing Blinders. We can not see (except in wonderful moments) what we were ‘before’, or what we will be later on.   And it’s the answer to such unanswerables as when we meet  some ‘stranger’ and know that we know each other.

 And Einstein, the supreme Physicist of our time, told the same in his writings, using words I had to read and re-read to understand (?), but according to him, that when we have learned enough, or wise enough (who knows what the requirements are?) but we will experience the reverse of The Big Bang, and become again One with The Source of All.

 I write of my husband’s experience and my learnings  telling of how our lives are one long, long sentence, with many punctuation marks, but nary a Period. Even the event I wrote of in the last paragraph, will not be the End. but a most wonderful continuation.   TYG.

Gramps Was A Moocher

 A special  kind of moocher . . .

Grandpa Bradford, Archibald the First, was seen almost daily at the old AS&R (American Smelter & Refinery) and though not employed there, he had a one-room office (desk?) and the only key to it, was his..

He was good-naturedly called a Moocher, and in today’s lingo, a moocher is one who makes his wages off the work done by others.   And  that, in a way, was exactly what Gramp’s job entailed. So, on the surface, Gramps was a Moocher.

Actually, however,  he was employed by the New York office of AS&R   and here’s how it worked.

Every day AS&R took samples of the ore Smelted that day, and had those samples assayed, to reveal how much Lead, Silver, Copper, Gold, etc. was in the ore that day. Some metals were more valuable than others, and so the percentage of each throughout the whole, would determine the monetary worth of that day’s smelting.

I make myself unclear, but dealing with such large sums of money, AS&R trusted no one, and so the out-of-State AS&R office, arranged to have another person, not connected with the Smelter in any way, to also get samples of each day’s work, have them assayed, and then send  his, the second  report, to them.   In that manner, the N.Y office could double-check every day’s report and quickly spot and check any large difference.

Here in Murray, Utah, that man was Archibald Bradford. At that time, Gramps was a busy man in Murray, and AS&R was cagey. They needed some well known person, one not apt to be open to bribery, not having to rely upon the AS&R check for his ‘daily bread’, intelligent and with a good reputation. I understand they looked around; and, when asked, Grandpa said, “Why not? ”

In other words they needed a man who was trustworthy and actually did not need their small payment to survive. and yet was willing to spend a few hours each week getting their necessary job done.

Gramps took ore samples each day from the Smelter, had them assayed by an independent, but reputable Assayer, and then, sent that report. on to the main Smelter office, and just like that, AS&R had two separate assay reports of each day’s work at AS&R.

Murray was not a large town at that time, and our Grandpa and the Smelter men all knew each other and so, good naturedly they started calling him a Moocher, and it soon became used throughout all parts of the Smelter. What his actual title was I have no idea, probably had none, but the Moocher one held. He had a small locked space at the Smelter and was free to come and go as he chose.

The work on that report could not legally  be done in the Smelter buildings, and so Gramps had it done at the Bradford home, and of all people, it was Gram, Rachel Crozier Bradford, who typed up those reports on their ancient Remington typewriter.

One of my first memories of being in that old home, was on a Sunday evening and seeing Gram, on the east side of the dining room table, poking determinedly away with her two ‘pointer’ fingers on that tiny typewriter. She had the air of “Don’t even talk to me, I’m doing important work. Come back later when I’m finished.”

Today  that typewriter would be a collector’s dream, but who knew? I suppose that in time it was tossed into the garbage, but I still can see that table, cleared of all usual stuff, and Gram there very seriously typing away.

Gramps then ‘proof read’ the finished product before it was signed, sealed and mailed to the N.Y.C, office.  It became an expected routine, for me, to see Gram busy at her job of typing the Assay Report each Sunday evening after the dinner hour was over. She was serious as ‘all get out’, too. This was Smelter business.

So, our Gramps was a Moocher. He grinned and oft times used the title himself. Must have taken a bit of ribbing about his ‘job’, but he liked it, as well as the teasing, and kept on Mooching for a long, long time. Fun, isn’t it???   Gramps, of all people, a Moocher.

Hands . . .

 Mirrors and Tools of the Soul . . .

       The first hands I was aware of were my father’s. Basically they were well formed, but a life time of carpentering and other hard work, had toughened the skin and nails until they were rough and work-worn as no others I, as a child, had seen.

Yet, Dad’s hands were sensitive. I remember them as he held a piece of wood, gently feeling the edges to see if it needed more smoothing. I saw his hands following the grain of the wood to make certain he had maximized its beauty, and it was as I watched his hands that I became aware of the beauty of polished wood. And of hands.

I don’t know how he could feel any roughness, for I would have thought it needed thin, soft skin to sense any snag or error. But when Dad finished a piece of furniture, it was done in a way today’s machine-made furniture can not rival.

I remember seeing Dad, almost without thinking, reach out to touch and gently rub some fine piece of furniture. I sensed it then, and now know, that his touch was a caress for its beauty. Yes, he had ‘rough and ready’ hands from a lifetime of hard work, but they were also the sensitive, sensual hands of an artist.

And I remember Gram’s hands. I heard her once say, that when she wanted a job done well, she had to ‘get her hands into it’. I can still see that dear woman’s hands as she cooked, going from stove, to frig, table, to set the table or cut a cake. Each movement sharp, clean and precise. No fumbling in the action of her hands.

And perhaps most vivid of all, because it seemed so ‘out of character’, was when she used their ancient Remington typewriter, that I now wish I saved. But she sat at their dining room table, making out her husband’s, (Gramp’s), weekly reports to be mailed to the Smelter office in New York. Incongruous to see Gram, of all people, there at a typewriter, poking away with one finger, yet doing it acceptably, too.

My husband, AW’s hands were far more beautiful, even for a man, than mine as a woman’s.  I  had seen those same hands on his father, then again on one of our sons, and know that the genes run straight and true.

One time when our son, JR. then in his teens, almost adult, reached across the dinner table for some dish, and for one swift moment, seeing only the hand,  I thought it was the father, not the son reaching out. Yeah, hands follow the blood line as any other feature.

I watched young Michael’s hands, another generation, as they began to lose their baby star-shape and I knew his hands would be replicas of Gram’s. And I smile, for though Gram is long gone, I am reminded of her as I watch Mike, her grandson, reach out with a gesture in the same delicate manner that was hers. Hands that seem to never be meant for menial tasks, yet Gram did many such a chore and I’m sure Michael now does the same.

Then there was Stan whose supple fingers brought the keys of his piano to life in a way that. even in remembering, brings goose pimples to my skin. And, in a different manner, I watched Bob Prince, down at the old Murray Printing Company, where, swiftly and surely, he put a full-page ad together, (as was then the way it was done), with nary a wasted motion.

I see my Carol’s hands as she makes beauty from thread and a crochet hook, and recall Jonathan’s as he bent over his cello and pulled your heart strings with the beauty of hands and music.

Yes, I love hands . . . . they truly are the tools of our Souls.

Name That School . . .

This one is too good to let pass.  It is from my nephew Jim Scott, and I appreciate him taking time to send me this observation on the times in which we live.   It originated with Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and is all in the name of Political Correctness, so read on and be amused with me.

Here are some politically correctness to consider: I agree with our Native American population. I am highly insulted by the racially charged name of the Washington Redskins. One might argue that to name a professional football team after Native Americans would exalt them as fine warriors, but nay, nay. We must be careful not to offend, and in the spirit of political correctness and courtesy, we must move forward.

Let’s ditch the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians.   If your shorts are in a wad because of the reference the name Redskins makes to skin color, then we need to get rid of the Cleveland Browns.

The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60′s alive. Gone.   It’s offensive to us white folk.

The New York Yankees offend the Southern population. Do you see a team named for the Confederacy?  No!  There is no room for any reference to that tragic war that cost this  country so many young men’s live.

I am also offended by the blatant references to the Catholic religion among our sports team names.  Totally inappropriate to have the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels or the San Diego Padre.

Then there are the team names that glorify criminals who raped and pillaged. We are talking about the horrible Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates!

Now, let us address those teams that clearly send the wrong message to our children. The San Diego Chargers promote irresponsible fighting or even spending habits. Wrong message to our children.

The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity, a growing childhood epidemic.  Wrong message to our children.

The Cincinnati Reds promote downers/barbiturates . Wrong message to our children.

The Milwaukee Brewers—well that goes without saying . . . Wrong message to our children

So, there you go.   We need to support any legislation that comes out to rectify this travesty, because the government will likely become involved with this issue, as they should.   Just the kind of thing the do-nothing Congress loves .




Garbage Heap? Precious Heirlooms?

Beware of that excess baggage . . .

          “We live on top of a garbage heap.” AW used to say. “Every day we bring in arm’s full of stuff, but not one of us ever takes arm’s full of stuff out.” I was shocked, and knew he spoke the truth.

He meant that our closets, drawers and basement were full of things that were; too good to throw away; would come in handy someday; curtain rods; old lamps; picnic equipment replaced by new and better; pop corn shakers; wall pictures we’ve tired of; equipment for hobbies we long ago put aside; and I could go on forever, but you also have your own list of stuff you’re saving.

The habit of ‘saving’ is born in us, and continues slowly, but relentlessly. and before we know it, it’s not only a problem, it’s a PROBLEM.

Think it over. Gifts you never found a place for? Stuff brought from childhood homes? Each child’s baby mementos? Saving reaches so far, that I’d fight anyone who might even suggest re-painting the inside of a ‘broom closet’ door where I marked my son’s heights and ages on their  childhood birthdays.

And life is sad because death reaches all families, and we’re faced with a closet full of their clothing. (I called D.I. quickly) But handling their personal items from desk, drawers, shop or den is something else. It’s not only heartbreaking, it’s cruel.

I finally found a partial answer to ‘regular’ stuff. About twice a year, I’d take a great big sack and prowl. Closets, drawers, downstairs, garage, you name it, I poked, picked out things to garbage, and started making a dent. And, with careful choosing, and crossed fingers, not a thing was ever missed.

Then, one day I put out a screen door. Too good to toss out, but after five years??? Well, I put it at curbside for passersby to see. Everyone knows what you’re doing, and before evening came, the screen was gone. Since then I’ve done the same with other things, and it always works.

Once in a while someone will ring the doorbell and asks if you really want to get rid of it, and with your affirmative nod, they grin and are on their way with your ‘stuff’. And you grin, too.

The ‘saving’ problem grows, like when your kids leave home for school, to marry or take a job someplace else. Happens all the time, Your grown up kids just leave the stuff, thinking that ‘one day’ they’ll do something with it, but for now??? Yeah, it stays in your home..

It’s a hard task, it always hurts. and I have a few rules. I will keep some things that are of no earthly value at all, except, that is, if they’re beautiful, or an antique. And then there are always those things that fit no rule, but, again, if it’s something that someone I loved used and treasured, I keep it.

And, like most mothers, I’d like to save every toy and fingerprint those sons of mine ever made, but it gets to the point of whether you want to live surrounded by yesterday or to cut the hooks and begin to live for today. And often a compromise is the answer. We’re odd creatures.

But the next time you see an old table, lamp, TV, chair, or whatever, at a curb side, just grin and know that someone else is trying to lessen their own ‘garbage heap’. However, you must watch yourself, for instinctively you’ll find yourself slowing down ‘just to see’ if it’s something you might want, and I swear, you will.

Better beware, for this is the season when everyone is doing the same thing. With every turn in the road you’ll see more and more wonderful ‘give aways’ at someone else’s curb. Be prepared and disciplined. Firmly, shake your head NO. Keep your eyes on the road, not the curb, and your foot on the gas, not the brake.

Be strong and you’ll make it home without having to unload more than you got rid of.   I know, I’ve been down that road it’s a tough one. Good luck.


The Vast Wasteland

They don’t call it the “Boob Tube” for nothing . . .


A month or so ago I woke and realized my TV had been ON all night, and also knew why I’d had nightmares. Not the first time either, and so I began watching my use of TV and at least, started turning the dang thing OFF before going to sleep. .

First thing I noticed,  after I’d been out shopping or such, was that when I walked back into my home, before even putting down my purse, I turned on the TV. Didn’t know what was ‘on’, didn’t know what was coming ‘on’, and didn’t even stop to note what came ‘on’. No, I just automatically clicked the button and went on my way.

TV, I found, had become a habit. I also discovered something else. I had walked into my home happy, relaxed, even humming to myself, which is a good clue to anyone’s inner mood.

But within 10 minutes, I wasn’t happy, wasn’t humming, but felt depressed and inwardly saying, ” War, terror, and crime are everywhere, Even right here in this valley, people do awful things. Life is not good.”

I wasn’t watching or even listening to what was on TV, and half the time, was in another part of the house, but it was ON, and I was allowing whatever was there, to infiltrate my mind. The dire tone of the speaking voices, if not their actual words.

You know the reason of my mood change, too, for in those ten minutes I had allowed the outside TV world to change my inner world. I had allowed that voice reporting the news, to take away my joy.

So I walked back to the Toob, bravely turned it OFF and began to get myself back to the ‘Ethel’ mood. And, for one entire month I didn’t turn it ON. Not once. And it was good.

And no, I don’t live or even want to live in a vacuum. I want to know what’s going on in the world, and if watching TV could help the Ukraine situation, or any of the emotionally troubled people who kill others, I would watch TV 24 hours a day. But my watching doesn’t have one bit of influence on anyone, or anything, except me.   And it does change me, my day, my inner mood, my inner joy, and not for the better, either.

Now, if it were my job to meet with Obama and world leaders each day, then it would be my job to know what was going on each moment, and I’d do it. But that job is for Obama and his Aides, not mine, and we all know that they don’t get their info from TV.

So, I asked myself, what’s the use of going around feeling depressed over something I can’t help, change or control???

And I know what some of you are going to say, for I’ve said it, too. “Oh, but I keep it on Channel 7, 9 or 11 and they have great programs”. And, most of the time they do.

But what I’ve found is that, not too long ago, I spent much time, sitting like a statue watching others play, work, love, sing, study and worship instead of Ethel playing, working, loving, singing, studying and worshiping. I had been like a blob, letting someone else do ‘my stuff’, for me. Did I think osmosis would do the trick???

So what have I done? Well, I’ve found myself singing more, even some on the songs I remember Mom once sang. Nice. And I found myself with a sense of detachment when others moan about Ukraine, Afghanistan, and all the Middle East unrest. I’ve studied more, brought out DVDs that I haven’t touched for a long time, and listened to the old Irish ballads that I love, Johnny Cash, Tennessee Ernie Ford, et al, and it’s been great.

I found that the more involved Ethel became, the better Ethel felt. Far better than listening to someone else do it. And my private meditations are far better, for Ethel, than hearing someone else’s prayers and preaching on TV. I know they’re wonderful, but it’s me, Ethel, that I’m working on, and my own private prayers do the most  for me.

Yes, the day came when I actually began looking to see ‘what’s on’ TV, but not just turning it on without making a conscious choice. It’s becoming fun. At least for me, Ethel, that is.   See ya next week.



What-Cha-Ma-Call-It ?

It’s a ‘doo-hicky

       TV changes and forms our language. A word used in some manner today, and liked, will be world wide tomorrow, and if not liked, dropped just as swiftly.

We forget how powerful TV is. At one time everyone in the USA spoke the same language, but did it differently. The Western Twang; the Latino of the Southwest, and soft, smooth words of the Southern States, were all unique, and used only in their own areas.

Some so beautiful they were like music to us, but once TV brought those differences right into every home and office, they were criticized, ridiculed, called hillbilly (or worse), and soon, within a blink of an eye were gone and, sadly, within but a few years all regional personality of our language was lost.

But the words and phrases hung on with that generation and my sister, Bernice Ursenbach and I started remembering the ones Mom and Dad used, and I betcha you heard these in your childhood homes, too.

When Mom was preparing a meal, she was fixing dinner, or, if just a snack, she was fixing a bite or two. And when the meal was over, did your mother ask you to side up the table? Meaning to clear off the used dishes? Ours did.

There was always a what-cha-ma-call-it, a hoot-en-nanny, or a ‘doo-hicky around, and they’d ask one of us to go fetch one of them. And when some overweight person dieted and lost some of the poundage, did your parents say that the person had fallen off? Yes, and everyone knew what was meant, too.

If someone or something was middling it meant they were someplace between the worst and the best. Just middling, they’d say. And if someone were playing Possum they were acting as if asleep, and usually to get out of doing some task they didn’t like. And piddling around meant they were wasting their time, and someone who was frugal was called tight.

To tote meant to carry; to wait on meant to assist, and just might be the basis, or derivative, of Waiter. Being feisty meant one was ready to fight; and one who was laid up was sick and unable to work. And I can still hear my mother saying so and so had been laid up for a week, (month, year). I betcha all these were familiar to you, heard as a kid, but not in use today.

       Caught with their pants down meant they were utterly surprised over some unexpected event. Barking up the wrong tree meant someone was trying to do something that was never going to work; and dying or dead on the vine meant some idea had had a good start, but was never to be completed.

If you were told you better go plow new ground it meant that what you’re doing isn’t working and you might as well stop it, and try something else. Scarce as hen’s teeth meant non-existent; and came with your tail a-dragging meant you were utterly beaten and worn out.

Ready to Talk Turkey meant you were ready to bargain; to go hog wild meant to have a great celebration; to go off half-cocked meant you knew only part of the situation; and if someone were three sheets to the wind‘ it meant they were drunk.

If someone were too big for their britches it meant that person had a big ego and thought he was more important than he really was; and, to finish the thought, needed to be whittled down to size.

And then there are two, and I think they’re saying the same thing, about some hoped-for event, but voiced their thoughts from 180 degree different angle. One was if the good Lord’s willing, and the creeks don’t rise and the other, come hell or high water. See??? Same thoughts, but my oh, my, in what different ways.

Maybe you’ll recall some of the above differently, but I hope they make you smile, for as casually as we use the lingo of today, these were the lingo of theirs.


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