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.


Feel free to Leave a Reply (just below), or email Ethel at


Dream On . . .

Experts are firm when they tell us that it is not sleep that rejuvenates us, but it’s the dreaming that does the trick.

       If we think we never dream, we’d better hope we’re wrong. The experts say dreams are safety valves to our mental well-being (depression) and though we seldom know it, we dream many times every night.

We’re told that if we’re deprived of dreaming for three or four days (alright, nights) we begin to have mental disturbances. In other words, to be mentally healthy, we need lots of dreams.

Tests show we all follow the same pattern. Our first dream period begins about 90 minutes after falling asleep and lasts about ten minutes.

Then, in approximately hourly intervals, dream periods occur and each is progressively longer. The pattern differs with age, with the infant dreaming over 50 percent of its sleeping time, diminishing as they get older, until those over 65 have short dream cycles.

Older people, they find, may sleep longer than when younger, but their  dream periods are shorter. They often complain that sleep fails to refresh them, and they’re right, but it is the decrease of dream time that is making itself felt. Not lack of sleep.

Extensive studies have been made in recent years on sleep deprivation as well as dream deprivation, and the results are startling.

Observers identify the dream periods of volunteers, by noting the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) periods, which are the signs of dreaming. Results show that we dream far more often than what we remember, and this is the answer to all mothers who have wondered over their infant’s almost constant quick blinking during sleep.

If the sleeper is wakened during the REM period, he is deprived of the dream even though he is immediately allowed to continue sleeping. If all dream periods are interrupted for one or two consecutive nights, the sleeper begins to show depression, or other mental disturbances, even though the actual sleep time is as great as usual.

When deprived of dreaming for only one night, the volunteers felt no disturbance, but the next night their REM periods were almost twice as long as usual.

Experts are firm when they tell us that it is not sleep that rejuvenates us, but it is the dreaming that does the trick. And they carefully note that by dreams, they do not mean the ones caused by over-eating, or getting twisted in bedding, etc.

Some circumstances and illnesses affect the REM time. Much of the ‘hangover’ that follows a ‘big night out’ is traced to alcohol in the blood which, if too high a percentage, will not permit dreaming. And if continued over many nights, hallucinating will occur, and depression will linger until the blood is free of all traces of alcohol, thusly allowing  the person to have at least one long night of REM periods.

Psychosis, neurosis and other mental disorders are affected by lack of REM time, and experiments are now being made to find if some people are, for some reason, unable to dream and so have mental problems, or, if the mental disturbances come first and causes the lack of REM.

Either way, we better not say we never dream, because if we really don’t, the ‘little men in white coats’ just might come calling, to assist us  in getting some good REM time.  Dreams, we find, aren’t just funny things to tell and laugh over the next day at the office.

In other words, the experts tell us that if we’re depressed, we better keep track of our dream periods. They’re mental safety valves, and to great extent, control our peace of mind.


Different ?

Oh, Yes, but How Beautiful and True

     There is a tribe in Africa called the Himba Tribe, and is where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they were born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was a thought in its mother’s mind.

     When a woman decides that she will have a child, she goes alone into the forest and there sitting by herself under the trees, she silently listens until she hears the song of the child that wants to come.

     And after she’s heard, and learned the song of this child, she goes back to the man who will be the child’s father, and teaches it to him.

     Then, during the time they make love to physically conceive the child, they sing the song of the child, as a welcoming invitation and homing guide for it.

     When the mother is pregnant, she teaches her child’s song to the midwives and wise old women of the village.  Then, when the child is ready to enter this mortal world,  the women gather around the mother and sing the child’s song.  It it is the first sounds it hears, and remains forever imprinted upon its Soul  to  hear and be his or her guide.

     As the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child’s song, and so, if the child falls, or hurts its knee, someone near picks it up and sings its song to it.

     Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, as going through the rites of puberty, then as a way of honoring this person, the people of the village gather and sing his or her song.

     In this African Tribe of Himbas, there is one other occasion upon which all the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village, and the villagers sing that person’s special song to the erring one.

     The tribe recognizes that the correction for anti-social behavior is not some punishment; but is love and their singing lovingly reminds the one of his/her true identity.

      They know and remind each other that when you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.

      And the child goes on this way throughout its life. In marriage, the songs of the two, are both sung. And finally, when this child is lying in bed, ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing—for the last time—that special song to that person.

      You may not have grown up as an African Himba, that sings your song to you at the time of crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not.

      When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, there’s no match, all because you have forgotten your own song, and so are out of tune.

     In the end, we shall all recognize our own song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at some moments, but have no fear, for so have all the great singers.

     Don’t try to sing someone else’s song. Just keep singing your own, and you’ll find your song is your one and your only, wonderful way back to your Real Home. 

Thanks, Sylvia.

 The Mind Unleashed

The Necessity Of Privacy

Open green fields, and the Silence within us . . .

       We know what Privacy means to us , but we’re also know that everything, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g about us, from birth to an hour ago, including our bank account, is there for wily ones to find, and the info sold to advertising companies. Without our knowing or permission.

And the dark strip on the back of our Charge Cards tells enough to give us a Stroke, and while those having access to that ‘strip’ are sworn to secrecy . . . well, ho, ho, ho, the right amount of money tells all.

As a child I learned one aspect of privacy. Our Mail Man told my Dad (and my little-big ears) that he had learned to tell where every envelope was going, just by looking at who the Sender was.

What really caught my ‘little-big ears’ was when he told which one of our neighbors got piles of mail from another Religion, and he grinned at my Dad as he said if he told the Mormon Bishop, that family would really be in trouble.  And from then on I viewed ‘that’ family with suspicion. Those kind of words shouldn’t be spoken around Innocent children. Well, ‘little-big ears’ don’t stay innocent for long.

As I got older my idea of privacy widened.  If someone helps with your housework, again your privacy is wide-open.  Yeah, even though you have strict rules against opening drawers or closed doors, the one who cleans your rooms, knows you.  Especially if they also do the laundry.

Anyone who works for you in ANY way, sees the magazines and books you read.  What stuff fills your frig, freezer or pantry, your kitchen and linen closets, medicine cabinets, and on down to the casual possessions in your den or garage.  Your home is where your life is lived, and your ‘stuff’ is in room after room, for your use, but anyone helping to see.

But there’s another side to privacy.  The crowded tenements and apartments of cities, forces people to the sidewalks and streets to get away from the crowded rooms, only to find the sidewalks and streets are also crowded. To release the tension they don’t even recognize, gangs are formed to strike out at anyone, or everything simply to release their angst.  And as that often sends them to jail or prison, their privacy is met in another manner.

I learned a lot as a Teacher down there, and saw that most inmates are absolutely terrified at the loneliness (privacy) of prison life, and nightmares and paranoid problems arise.   But there is a smaller group of prisoners,  from more affluent environments where personal space and privacy were taken for granted, and on entering prison are terrified with what to them is the utter lack of privacy.  They become easy victims of organized prison gangs.

We think of privacy in different ways.  To most of us it’s having a room, bed, private shower, or bath, and a quiet place to relax and read.  A state of life taken for granted but absolutely terrifying to one who has never in their life ever, ever, been alone, Just think, never in their entire life, been alone !

And another privacy once known and enjoyed by most people of our valley, but now gone, perhaps forever throughout the entire world,  are the ‘green fields we once knew’. There were acres of gardens, pastures, or undeveloped land, where we could stretch our eyes.  Large front and back yards, where kids climbed trees, played war, dug in dirt and water, found animals, as squirrels, snakes, bugs, each other, and innocently explored and learned about them all, too.

Remember? Before WW2, Kearns, and West Valley City didn’t   exist.  Taylorsville, Bennion and the Jordans, were groups of large green farms, centered with homes, barns and cattle.  Today’s countless streets, pocket-sized lawns, and wide Freeways were all open Green Fields, but now buried by concrete.  The heavy growth now sprawling  on all sides of the Point of the Mountain were lovely  open, green fields with trees and streams reaching to the hills and then to Utah Lake.  Bingham City and its huge Copper mine were isolated and circled by green fields.

Thousands of sorely needed homes and stores arrived, but with them, we lost privacy of open areas and the more bizarre crimes we see, I think, are the result of no open spaces where kids can run and play and get into all kinds of harmless mischief that kids love.  Where people relaxed without even aware they were relaxing. All because of those Green Fields that we once knew.

       Privacy, now found in so few places of the world, is not a luxury, but proven over and over to be a necessity for sanity.