One Woman’s Opinion

On the soapbox . . .

      Over the years as I’ve written a public newspaper column and now an internet blog, and learned there just isn’t one Public, but instead it’s thousands of individual people and they all have different ideas.  Thank goodness.

       I’ve written about many subjects and have been scolded, snubbed, praised, censured and given every other kind of criticism.  When I’ve written about liking all kinds of weather, I’ve been scornfully told that weather can be terrible, heartless and cruel and that I am foolish for having such a view.

       A sentimental, nostalgic column about Mother’s Day is always a catalyst for calls querying “What’s wrong with Fathers?  And Grandmothers?” Not a thing, not one thing, but I can only write about one thing at a time.

       A pattern for making an absolutely lovely, different, afghan brought complaints from those to whom ‘dc, sc, and yo’ were pure Greek, and recipes given too often bring complaints that, after all, ‘we don’t stand over a hot stove’ all day, so knock of recipes and write something stimulating.

       So . . . I ran onto a stimulating book written quite objectively (I thought) about the LDS Religion (where I was born) and no one, no one, NO ONE liked it. But me.  I was a traitor to my people; friends disapproved and said I should be ashamed of myself. A few non-LDS friends applauded my  ‘bravery’ (oh, they don’t know me!) and, though I was only quoting from a book, wow, wow, wow.

       I  once wrote that I considered a deep, heartfelt tribute to the President of the LDS Church but made no attempt to hide the fact that he was 90 plus years ‘old’  but, you should have read my mail.  Did they want me to write as if he were a teenager???

       I wrote about the differences between sex and love and thought I’d have to leave  town.  Such basic emotions seemed quite an ordinary topic, but no, no, no.  I was tempted to publish the letters I received.  With names, included.  Revenge would have been sweet.

       I’ve written about dogs so often that everyone knows I have no patience with them.  It’s no secret that I don’t like what they do my lawn and, once, even  took physical means to put a stop to making my  place a doggie ‘rest stop’.   I’m not violent, but you’d have thought I’d castigated mother-love, apple-pie, the Fourth of July, and Christmas.

       Well, lets see.  I’ve mentioned a few times (quite a few?) that men don’t wear halos and that, in any marriage, there are days, (weeks, months,  years) when you both wonder why in the world you ever thought that institution was so great.  The roof fell in.  I never knew there were so many  ‘perfect husbands’ around here, and , believe it or not, one of them  told me that, after all,  it is women’s duty to adjust to life. No fooling.

       When I get off on to some ‘weird’ subject such as reincarnation, I smile to myself, for even while I’m writing the words, I know there are going to be people shocked and appalled to think anyone in this valley could read and study such things. Much less write about them.  But I smile again, for I am far from alone.

       I’ve screamed about our government and been shunned with stern looks by both Republicans and Democrats.  If I speak out for one Candidate, I’m told I’m stupid and no matter what I’ve said about any approaching item up for vote, I know I’m going to be ‘wrong’ for someone.

       Which finally leaves me writing for no one but myself, and  my ole newspaper boss, who was a most trusting, tolerant, open-minded man.  “It’s not my column, Ethel,  It’s  you they’ll phone or write to. Not me.”

       But, ya know,  I loved and still do love hearing from you and save every letter sent, and  if you don’t agree with me, have patience.  If I tear into  your favorite theme, just think, “Well, there goes Ethel on her soap box again.  She’ll be back to normal next week”. And ever so often,  I am. Bye.


Ham Radio – Life After Death

A Silent Key* is still heard . . .

      I thought I was long through with the tears that memories after a death can bring.  That the hurts were all tucked away in closed rooms that I only glance in now and then.  Almost as if they had happened to another person.

       But the I received a start the other day that taught me no matter how busy and happy I am (and I am) the past is still a tangible part of me and–I suppose–always will be.

       Now, you may or may not know that my husband, AW, was a radio ‘Ham’* and WR, one of our sons is also one.  It’s a great hobby and a Ham will spend hours happily sitting at the dials, ‘chinning’ as they say, with people all over the world.

       So WR called me the other day and said, “Hey, Mom, something odd just happened that I think you’ll like.  I was on the air and when I finished with the fellow I was talking to, I twirled the dial to see if anything interesting was going on.

       “All of a sudden I heard someone calling me  and, when he signed off, I recognized him as W7NMK.  It was Ray Larsen, one of Dad’s old pals and so I answered him.

       “It was nice,” WR said.  “Ray said he was also turning the dial, not really listening, when he heard my voice and he told me, ‘My insides turned over.  All of a sudden the years vanished in one breath and it was AW back ‘on the air’.  Yup, all of a sudden it was W7JYI on the air and there was AW chinning away.  It gave me quite a turn.’

       “’ I knew in a second, of course,’ Ray went on, ‘That it had to be you, one of AW’s sons (ham call sign K7EA), but for a few seconds I wasn’t really sure where or when I was. ’ ”

       My husband, AW, of course is no longer with us, and so it’s been quite a while since his voice has been ‘on the air’.  So when someone answered a call, just because he ‘knew’ the voice was AW’s, I was immediately engulfed in a round of memories.

       We had many a good time in the radio ‘shack’** talking to people around the world, and it pleases me to know that WR now does the very same thing, but – – – in a way it hurts.

       Yes, W6ITW and W7JYI, the station call letters of AW’s stations, were sent out thousands of times.  He had a powerful station, that reached far and the friends he made were many.

       Radio Hams, you see, are a breed apart.  They sit over their dials, hamming away and the world is theirs.  The friendships they make, although rarely ‘seen’, are most real.

       I received letters for over two years after AW died from far away people who had just heard of his death and wrote in sorrow, saying they’d wondered why they hadn’t recently heard him on the air waves.

       And Ray Larsen had good reason to know AW’s voice–even through the body of his son–for he’d been a friend of AW’s ever since he’d been a teenager, and had been a pallbearer at my husband’s funeral.

       I used to wonder how memories could both bless and burn, but life teaches and I wonder no longer.  I wouldn’t change one second of the delight my son gets as he Hams away, but it’s sad to know that the old W7JYI station, down in my basement, became long ago, a Silent Key.***


 *“Hams” are officially known as Amateur Radio Operators.   

**Their Station is called a “Ham Shack”, the equipment is their ‘rig’,  and their conversations with other Hams are called  ‘Chinning’.

*** “Silent Key” refers to the piece of Equipment, (The Key) that the operator used to tap out the Dits and Dahs of the original Morse Code and became  Silent, and   sends out no more messages because of the Operator’s death.’

Today’s blog with the needed help of my son WR, aka  K7EA 


Cloud, Cloud, Go Away

I’ve looked at clouds . . .

       The sky outside my window was wonderfully blue and I found myself watching the globs of white clouds against that clear, blue sky and was suddenly  10 years old.  Ten  years old and playing again that old childhood game of ‘making the clouds go away’.  And I’m glad to report, it still works.

        Later on I was telling a few others about it, and was astounded to find that  their childhoods hadn’t held that game.  They really didn’t believe me, and laughed as if I were looney, but danged if three of them didn’t call me during the following week, saying things  like . . . My gosh, Ethel, it works . . . Hey, it really  does make them disappear . . . or, Ethel, I thought you were crazy, but you were right.  You can make clouds go away.

        I laughed and said,  You know, every kid I grew up with did it.  No big deal.  It just was a fun game to play when there was nothing else to do on a nice sunny day.

        But then, because it was new to so many of them, I thought that maybe some of you don’t know about it either, and dang it, no one should grow up and  not  know how to make clouds disappear.  Here’s all there is to it.

        Go outside on a nice day like we get here so often, when the sky if full of big and small white clouds against a blue, blue sky.  A nice hot summer day is best, or at least more comfortable, but it works in winter just as well. But for heaven’s sake don’t try it on a storm cloudy day, cause you won’t be able to do it. Oh, I know the Indians, (both of America and India) can control those big rain clouds, but they must know some secret I don’t.  Nope, I know my limits and don’t even try to compete with them. 

        But, anyway, find a nice lil ole cloud.  For beginners try just a little wiff of a one.  One standing all by itself so you won’t get all confused when it begins to disappear, and make you wonder if you’re still looking at the one  you began with.

        Okay, now look at it.  Stare at it hard steadily for one, two or three minutes.  Concentrate on it, and don’t let your mind wander and begin  wondering what you must do later on, or could be doing right then.  We kids would  chant silly things like . . . cloud, cloud, go away . . . but it isn’t necessary.  It just made us feel great.

        But concentrate on that little cloud and mentally tell it to go away.  Keep your eyes  upon it with concentration and darned if, little by little, it does disintegrate right there before your own  eyes.

       Course, there are all kinds of explanations nowadays.  I’ve read recently that we send out heat by our concentration and that heat reaches into space and vaporized (or whatever is needed) to make that cloud disappear.

        I’ve also read where it is all will power.   That God created all the world and everything in it and then gave us dominion over it.  Maybe so, maybe so.  I’m no expert on such things, so don’t ask me.  I just know the results.  Not the cause.

        But the next time the fleecy clouds are filling the sky, with lots of clear blue sky in between, go outside, sit or lie down, relax, and stare and concentrate at some little ole harmless bit of fluff and do your stuff.

        You’ll laugh.   You’ll tell your kids.  You’ll hesitate to mention it down at the office for fear others will think you’re weird, but that’s all right.  Just tell  them Ethel told you about it, and everyone knows I’m a bit weird, so no one will be surprised or hurt.

        Your kids will think it’s neat too, except that probably they already know about it, and will think it’s funny that it’s new to you.  They’ve probably been doing it for years.

        Cloud, cloud, go away, come again some other day.  You, too, just might be surprised.  It’s fun, even if you’re not still a ten year old.


Ways For Women To Stay Active

Right from Harvard University

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch” mails out a monthly 8-page study on what’s good for women’s all-round health, while zeroing in on specifics at the same time.  I look forward to it and today am passing along Seven Simple Ways for Women to Get Active.

They say we need 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, and, yes, you can go to a gym, but those who don’t like gyms, or can’t exercise for an hour or even a half-hour at one time, don’t have to give up. You need a total of  150 minutes, but their research shows that shorter periods, like ten minutes, three times a day, give the very same good results.

Here goes and every woman can find one or two of these suggestions that will ‘fill their bill’.

1. Plant a garden.  Ten minutes of ‘gardening’, three times a day, is a simple  method.    Digging, hoeing, bending, weeding, and carrying tools back and forth from house or garage to garden is hard work.  Bending and lifting also work your muscles, but, with this one, please pay attention to your back and knees if you have arthritis. And, as a bonus, if you plant veggies, you can eat them later on and improve your diet.

2. Walk the dog.  Dogs are wonderful exercise partners, and give you a daily reason  to walk.  Keep up a brisk pace but, for heaven’s sake, don’t call your dog’s ‘bathroom break’ as part of the timing.  For you, that’s rest time, not walking.

3. Clean house.  Cleaning isn’t fun and is a solitary task, but while you’re  getting rid of dust, making a bed, and ‘making sense’ out of  your freezer or frig, you’re also stretching and lifting, which adds up to getting fit.  Forget the vacuum or electric mop, and scrub the windows, sweep the floor, reach up to dust the high corners.  Be creative, and while reaching some high spot, stand on one leg, then the other. When making a bed, stand in the middle of one side and turn and bend your body to reach both the Head and Foot.

4. Make love.  Sex is not only good for the relationship with your partner, it is good exercise.  They suggest different positions (no, call them, not me, for specifics) tell you what muscles are used, and that it gets your heart pounding for aerobic results. If you have a history of heart disease, check with your doctor on this one.

5. Play with grandchildren.    Whether at home or in the park, don’t just sit on a bench and watch them play.  Get up and join them.  Play Hide-and-seek; push them on the swing, toss a ball back and forth, and enter their activity.  Good for the mood and muscles, and it will create a memory for them to cherish.

6. Take a dance class. Usually the class lasts more than 10 minutes, but think of the fun you’re having. It’s a weight-bearing activity and so contributes to bone strength while burning fat. If no classes, turn on some music and dance through your home.  No one will see you, and anyway, who cares???

7. Walk the mall.  Take a few laps around the mall before  you begin to shop.  Park your car as far as possible from the doors of the Grocery store and then briskly walk the aisles several times before filling your cart.

Mix and match these suggestions and make your own. Tennis, golf, stairs rather than escalator, short walk after lunch before returning to  your desk, for it really doesn’t matter how you do those 30 minutes a day, all at once or in 10 minute increments.  They work.

The Harvard people tell us to be realistic.  Don’t expect  a miracle as soon as you start, but make a beginning and stay with it.  Some of their suggestions might not interest you at all, but just remember that for every 10-minutes of moving and stretching your body, you will burn from 40 to 60 calories.

For me . . . when I waken in the a.m. I’m all curled up in a nice, warm  bundle and the last thing I want is exercise.  BUT, I’ve found that if I begin wiggling my toes.  Just the toes, I soon find my hands are also moving, and then, slowly but surely, my legs and arms (they seem to go together) and within a minute or so, my entire body is moving and there, flat on my back, my arms, legs, neck, shoulders, and all else are flinging around and I keep it up until in about  20 to 25 minutes I’m ready for whatever the day may bring.

And even is  your weight doesn’t go down, you will be healthier because you’re using your body.