Our Poor Ancestors

Our poor ancestors, or is it poor us . . . **

        The first refrigerator . . .lawn mower . . . micro oven . . . snow blower . . . freezer . . . ipod . . email . . . or whatever, was the proof of man’s intelligence.  Slowly, those same things have  become the substitute for our intelligence.

        Funny, isn’t it?  Our great-great grandparents lived without even one of those items.  No cars, either, but they lived quite comfortably, yet we would freeze to death or die of hunger without them.

        It works like this.  Someone ‘back then’ would have been secure and comfortable with a cow or two (meat, milk and butter); a couple of horses (transportation and power); a goodly supply of coal in some shed (heat); a snug buttery,( refrigerator); a well-filled root cellar (vegetables);  and etc. etc. etc.

        If, by some fancy time warp, we were dropped back into that time, we would have a  hard time surviving.  We’d probably all turn into vegetarians in trying to  raise, keep alive and then turn those  animals into our food supply.  And no doubt would either freeze to death or burn the house down trying to make all the stoves work.  Safely, I mean.

        In the same vein, our poor ancestors would not survive in our homes.

        We could provide them with freezers full of food, a big gas furnace, fancy gas stove, micro oven, dehydrated food, can openers and all the other run-of-the-mill stuff of our lives, but it wouldn’t do a bit of good if they didn’t know what it was and, more important,  how to make use of it.

        They’d freeze to death trying to find a place to build a fire. and be happy to find a fireplace.

        Who would be there to tell them that if they’d only poke that little box on the wall they’d get heat?   Or, on hot summer days,  how to get cool?

        They’d be surrounded by shelves filled with cans, full freezers, but again how to get at it all, and how to cook it, anyway.  A bonfire in the back yard???  They could take our stoves apart and not find one spot for a cooking fire.

        As . . . One summer when JR was about 11 or so years old, we were vacationing in a primitive area and the cabins were heated by wood stoves.  Well,  AW and I were sleeping-in one morning when JR was up and wanted to get a-going.  He found stuff to do, but, dang it, the weather was nippy.

       So, sleepily, his Dad told him he could build a fire in the stove.  After all, JR  had built plenty of them in Cub Scouts to roast  wieners and marshmallows,  and while he started getting wood, AW and I went back to sleep.

        Not for long however, for soon we were awake and coughing, rubbing our eyes and gasping for breath.  We thought  he had set the place on fire, but no,  he hadn’t.  All he’d done was just build a fire.  A good one, too.

        The only trouble though, was while he knew there was a ‘hole’ for the fire, the only ‘hole’ he could find to put it in, was the oven.  And there is where he had carefully built his fire.

        See, he would have turned up a thermostat without even asking,  but a fire????  No way.

       Yup, that generation found their meat on the hoof, raised it, (and the food to feed it), killed it, cleaned it and knew how to store it, too.  They could look at our homes and even if they were told what each item was, their task would be hard.

       The first furnace, gas stove, freezer, micro, TV, Ipod, computer, were  wonderful proof of our intelligence (and that isn’t even mentioning a man on the moon, or landing equipment on Mars) , but with not too long a passage of time, every one of those items has become  a ho-hum event, and the substitute for our intelligence.

       We’ve become the ‘prisoners’ of push buttons, quick food, instant communication, and all other conveniences.  Crazy, crazy, crazy.   But I love, and use, everyone of them,  and probably will also use the next one that comes along.  Always have, and the same with you, too.  Yeah.


** Oh poor us?  If only someone could only pour us some refreshment through a porous filter . . .

Go see more of Hour Crazy Language on the other tab of Ethel’s blog.  It’s amazing how mixed up it all is, once one gets looking.   There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.  They were too close to the door to close it.



Miracles Can Happen

One time the gods smiled upon me

But I’m taking no second chances

       I ran out of gas the other day, well almost.  I was at the fingernail biting point, but before even the 5th nail was bitten, I reached the pumps and gas was in my tank. 

        Took me a while to relax for I was  reminded of another time when I was out of gas,  and  a Good Samaritan saved me in the craziest way imaginable.  Common sense told me   Samaritans belong back in Biblical days, not hanging  around where I hang out,  but just the same, this is what happened  that day.  No fooling.

        That time I was really out of gas and not too far away  I saw a station selling gas a few cents lower than other places, and without a thought I turned  in.  Too late I saw the place was crowded, but figured the low price was  bound to bring in lots of customers.  But, again, belatedly, I saw that all those lined-up cars weren’t cars.

        Nope,  they were trucks and campers, and then I remembered that the next day was the opening of Deer Hunting season and it looked as if every hunter in the valley was filling their  tanks and auxiliary tanks right there.  Gallons and gallons were pouring out, but I  had no choice, for with an  empty tank I wasn’t going any place.

        I kept nervously glancing  at my gas gauge and knew my car was running on vapor, so I turned of the motor and waited.  I got out of the car and shuffled from foot to foot, and noted that  the fellow opposite me was up to 40 gallons and still going strong.  I wanted to beat my head against the car, wondering how long all this going to take, and if I hadn’t been on ’empty’, I’d have left and gone some other place, but it was too late. 

       The fellow glanced over at me, guessed  my predicament and drawled, “How much do you need?”  “Well,” I answered, “$5.00 worth would get my car moving.”

        He didn’t say anything for a moment and then said, “Are you charging or paying cash?” And I answered “Cash”, while wondering what difference it made.

        “Well”, he brusquely moved and  said, “let’s get you going.”  And with that he reached across the ‘barrier’,  took the lid off my  tank,  turned off the pump going into his tank, and somehow managed to get it into my tank. With his eyes on the meter, he carefully  measured out $5.00 worth of gas, then shut the gas off,  put the pump back in his tank and  set it going again. 

        Then,  he put my gas tank lid back on, and  with a satisfied grin on both our faces I  handed him $5.00 ( he refused an offered tip)  and, as a dwarf among mammoths,  with a lot  of fancy maneuvering among those huge campers, (and ignoring many a nasty look) I wiggled my little Colt out of there.  I waved a happy goodbye to my  Samaritan, he grinned back and I was on my way. Really, I think he was as pleased over the whole deal as I was.

        So, that’s the way fate once smiled upon me, and did I ever love it.  But I don’t like to press my luck and today when  the  meter shows Half-full, I interpret it to mean  “EMPTY”, and  head for the gas station.

       There’s no fooling around any more, for no fates, of any ilk are going to put up with my carelessness too many times.  Enough is enough and I shan’t try it again. Hard to believe, but it really did happen.  Just as I say.



Check The Hour Crazy Language Tab

Ethel has a new section of her blog called “Hour Crazy Language.”   Go check it out and post if you want, it’s under the tab right next to the “Home” button.

The latest post there has some thoughts from Mr. Don Robinson, long time associate of Ethel’s, and long time newspaper man and writer.





Marilyn, Free At Last

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.

Cannibals In My Yard ?

I was one of them . . .

       I glanced up from my breakfast table and out the window saw, there on a stepping stone, was a Magpie eating its breakfast, too, and oddly, not more than two feet away stood a Robin intensely watching the action.

       It surprised me to see those two ‘enemies’ so close to each other, yet also   ignoring each other, and then saw, as the Magpie lifted its meal for another bite, that his meal was a still-living baby bird. There was no doubt that it was a baby Robin that had fallen from its nest.  And the Mother Robin had to stand there and watch the cannibal Magpie ruthlessly eat it.

       I hurried to my  the door to chase that barbarian Magpie out of my yard, but stopped as I realized the baby would never live, and at the same time, another thought raced through my mind that halted me even more swiftly.

       Like a flash, I had realized that there on my plate, waiting for me to eat,  and which I had bought and prepared,  were two sausage patties that had  also come from a live animal. Yes, I knew my breakfast had come from a live pig  that had been killed and turned into sausage, knowing full well that someone would buy and eat it, too.

       And, dang it, I knew there was absolutely nothing different between me and the Magpie, except the different procedure in which fresh  meat had arrived at each of our tables.

       By then I’d lost all appetite for my sausages and decided they’d make a good meal for my cat.  But what difference would it make? 

       Not too long ago, everyone in our valley, raised animals to be butchered and used for their meals.  And I remember as a kid, when the neighborhood men would go to each other’s homes and work together to kill the animals they each had raised for that purpose.

       Mom and Dad were very careful to see that we kids were in ‘the other side of the house’ from where the action was,  but kids aren’t dumb, and I still remember the frantic squeals of our pig . . . . the one I had helped feed  . . . . as the men caught and killed it.  Yeah, they cut its throat, so it would bleed well, just as our Deer Hunting men do in the fields as soon as they get to the animal they just killed.

       An awfully lot of people would immediately become vegetarians if they were in on the preliminaries, and even though the Hunt is fun, I’ve been around enough ‘hunters’ to know that the meat doesn’t taste good to them, until enough time has passed so they can separate the killing from the eating.

       Sounds tough, doesn’t it?    But Pioneer and country people lived close to life in all its forms and raising animals from just-born until they were large and aged enough to be good meat,  was an accepted, and only, way of getting food for their  tables.  Just life and not even to be commented upon.

       However, I didn’t  like seeing it demonstrated, right there in my back yard, and especially while eating my breakfast, but I recalled my husband, going Duck or Pheasant hunting, and later, how the birds would appear on our  table, and while I didn’t kill them, I was in on the preparation.

       But I can tell you one thing.  I could not eat a Mallard, Pheasant, Pintail, Teal, Quail, or Dove at my own table. However when my meat  comes in a white plastic container and covered with plastic wrap,  its far removed from the living animal it once was, and I buy and eat it.  

       Yes, and while roundly cussing myself with every bite, I also ate those wonderful sausages.  It’s a vicious cycle, and I cringe when I  know that there are some cultures where dogs, our Pets, also routinely appear on tables.  It’s a funny world we live in, and I don’t mean ‘ha-ha’ funny, either.