Tales Mama Told Me

I thank Mama for today’s stories.

I don’t know who they were, but when I was a kid, every summer a family group came and ‘camped’ in a grove not far away, and Mom said they were Gypsies, and they ‘stole’ kids, and blonde ones were considered special for they brought good luck to the group, and there I was with hair so white, it could snow on me and no one would notice.

Every kid in the neighborhood had been told the same story, and we all were so scared we didn’t step outside as long as ‘they’ were near. Our area was so quiet you’d never known there was a kid for miles, and to this day if I’m among beautiful, dark, curly haired people I shiver and want to run home and lock the doors.   And I’m now no ‘kid’, nor have white hair, but oh, the power of tales learned from our Moms.

The next story I tell is not something she told me, but because she refused to even hear or answer my questions, she also made it more mysterious and interesting.. I know now, that she had no idea what to tell that dang kid with her persistent questions, but, there was this certain house that we passed every day, and I knew that house had more chimneys and ‘outside’ doors than any it needed.

It bugged my childish mind because Mom would not talk about it. You see, that house had all those chimneys, as well as seven outside doors. and I asked and asked and asked, and no one would even acknowledge the oddness of it.

My parents would ignore me, talk about something, anything else, so I knew there was something I wasn’t supposed to know, and only when I was older did I know it had been built when polygamous homes were needed, and to ‘keep peace in the family’, some poor man had had to give every one of his seven wives, her own place to cook, and her own ‘front’ door.

Now I laugh and wonder why those seven women didn’t gang up and let that man know how much power there is in numbers, but people didn’t do that kind of thing ‘back then’. Anyway, when parents dodge their kid’s questions, those kids know there is something behind the silence, and so stories get bigger and better, Like this one. For though an Arctic Circle restaurant  sits there today, I never pass that corner without thinking of all those chimneys, and that poor cuss with seven wives, seven private rooms, and seven front doors, and probably wished far more than seven times that he’d never gotten in such a mess.

And then there’s the Dream Mine hidden in the mountains east of American Fork, Utah. The men reported it to Brigham Young, but were told to leave it alone, to raise their farms and family and leave the Mine for the next generation.

Well, of course they obeyed orders, except one fellow named Rhodes who dreamed over and over of where it was, and finally, disobeyed rules, took to the mountains, and what’s more, found that Dream mine, but could not ‘work’ or claim it because of Young’s injunctions,

Rule or no rule, Rhodes made a map of where it was, and also told (whisper, whisper) a few of his chums, and so the tale spread. Many a man, far into the 20th century, spent months each year seeking that Dream mine, with no success,   There was even a son of a well known Murray family, friends of our family, who refused any full time job, because each spring he ‘had to go to the mountains’, sure that ‘ this’ time that Dream mine would be his. And, in time he died, with no mine. And never had a full time job, either.

Today I wonder if Rhodes just might have blundered upon Timpanogas Cave, and thought it to be a wonderful mine, and never dreaming its value was of beauty, not ore. Who’s to know,  but for almost two centuries men have sought his mine while thousands enjoy pure beauty in the same area he described.

Then there’s the well-known story of Polka Dot Dresses for Burial clothes, and even if you’ve heard it, read along, and laugh with the rest us.

It’s become a standby of old tales, but the first time I heard it, and before I knew why everyone laughed, I still saw that even my mother smiled. But when I grew up enough to know what was meant, I didn’t smile, I laughed louder than anyone.

So, here’s the story: An older woman died and the family was wondering what kind of dress to bury her in.

The Mortician said, “Well, for women who have married and had a family, we usually recommend a deep, royal purple, but if it’s an unmarried, virgin woman, we suggest pure white.”

The family stepped aside and talked a few moments and then their spokesman said, “Well, we want to do the correct thing,   and so we’ve chosen to bury her in a lovely White Dress, but we need to have it sprinkled liberally with Purple Polka Dots.”

I’ve heard this story, told and laughed over by more than one local family, which for some reason surprises me. Of course, I think it’s a funny story, and if asked today, I’d wager that Polka Dot dresses would almost be a standard choice. But today I betcha they’d have to add the Purple dress with White Polka Dots.  Am I right?????

Panic Attacks

Gobble, gobble, gobble

We’re told that Panic Attacks are one of the most common of human ailments, far outnumbering Migraines, yet often goes unrecognized.   I’d  never even heard of Panic Attacks, and yet a day came when I found that maybe they might be a problem for me.

Read on if you think you might be having them, try what I’ve found works for me, and if you aren’t having such attacks, these small, but oh so mighty ‘exercises’ will still be great. I’ve been there, done that, and I’m still here.

First, we’re told to be calm and deliberate in all we do, and described it as “Living in the Moment”.  Sounds simple, but how do you do that? And anyway, it isn’t easy to convince yourself that YOU might be having Panic Attacks, YOU?  And anyway what are they talking about?

Well, several years ago, I was scared one night, and drove myself to ER, thinking I was having a heart attack. They examined and ruled that out, but then put me in a ‘ chair’ of some sort where my vital signs were continually monitored and watched by nurses and medics who looked and made notes as they passed by, and after an hour or two I was ‘unhooked’ and told there was nothing wrong with my heart, and probably only had a Panic Attack.

As I recall, no one, doctor or nurse, told me what a Panic Attack was or what to do about them.  But I read a lot and have found Google to be a treasure trove of info and so I tell my tale .

First, I’ve learned to ‘watch myself’ and when I feel life crowding and putting pressure on me. I stop for a moment and crazy as it sounds, check to see if my Jaw and Shoulder Muscles are tense. And. if so, I might be on the edge of a Panic Attack.

I understand that those muscles are two of the strongest in our entire body. and are tense 99% of rhe time. We are unaware of that constant ‘clutching’ within us, but it affects our entire mood, body, and day. Every Therapist is aware of this, and has different methods of relaxing them, and here are two oh so simple ones, and even if it’s not a Panic Attack, they relax me and will do the same for you.

And what’s great.is if I’m with other people, no one will know what I’m doing. So, sit down if possible and take SLOW, DEEP breaths.   Watch your torso extend as you breath in through the nose and SLOWLY exhale through your mouth, gently blowing to let your cheeks move slightly as you blow out.   Silently speak the words, “Inhale”, “Exhale” , as you breath, and be aware, and surprised, that, though you didn’t even know those muscles were tense, how good it feels w hen they relax. And as a side-benefit, your mind has become One Pointed. You’re watching yourself breath.

One Teacher called it ‘relaxing the Roof of your Mouth’, and I thought, how silly, there are no muscles there, but, just the same, that phrase works, and you’ll smile to ‘feel’ the entire area of the mouth relax. It’s said that because they, the Jaw and Shoulders, are two of the strongest in our body, it’s not good that most of us go through our entire day with them clenched. Ready for attack.

And then there’s the Walking method. As you take your steps, silently say, “Right foot”, “Left foot”, and so on, with your concentration on your words and feet. It’s a good method, but for myself, I do the two, Breathing and Walking, at the same time. You’ll make your own rhythm of combining the two, and what’s more, it takes your mind off whatever was making you tense. And, again, you are One Pointed..

Another Teacher told that many an actor, nervously standing in the wings, waiting for the cue to go onstage, will bend over, arms hanging loosely while saying . “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble”. and, automatically their Jaws and Shoulders relax. And whether you’re an actor waiting for your cue or not,   it works. Yeah, Gobble, gobble, gobble.

With surprise, I found that when I’m at my computer, my jaw and shoulder muscles are always tense so if you use the computer, watch yourself and you might find it’s a good time to start Gobbling.

I suppose Panic Attacks are hard to diagnose, and so, unrecognized. people seek relief by drugs, alcohol, sex, smoking, hitting the bars etc., and in desperation, sometime think they’re dying, and rush to the nearest ER. And I feel sorry for those poor cusses, I mean the Medics in ER with so many patients coming in, that Panic is usually the last thing considered, if at all.

Your life is precious. Go back and read my two methods. Even without Panic Attacks, they’re worth using. All the time.

Into The Wayback Machine – 1955

 Did  you hear the post  office is thinking about charging 4 cents just to mail a letter?
postcardIf they raise  the minimum  wage
to $1.00, nobody will  be able
to hire outside help at the store.


When I first  started  driving, who
would have thought  gas
would someday cost 25 cents a gallon? Guess we’d be better  off
leaving the car in the garage.

Did you see  where some  baseball
player just signed a  contract  for $50,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn’t surprise  me if
someday  they’ll be making more than the President.


I never  thought I’d see  the day
all our kitchen  appliances  would be electric.  They’re even making electric  typewriters now.


It’s too bad  things are  so tough
nowadays.  I see  where a  few married women are having to work to make ends  meet.


It won’t be  long before  young
couples are going to  have to  hire someone to watch their kids so they can both  work.


I’m afraid  the Volkswagen  car
is going to open the  door to  a whole lot of foreign business.


Thank  goodness I won’t  live to
see the day when  the  Government takes half our income in taxes.  I sometimes  wonder if
we are electing the best people to government.

The fast food   restaurant is

convenient for a  quick meal, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch  on.

mcdonaldsNo one  can
afford  to be sick

anymore.  At  $15.00 a  day in the hospital, it’s too rich for my blood.


If they  think I’ll pay  30 cents for a haircut,  forget  it.

elvisThat’s all folks . . .












The First Time

Our lives are full of Firsts, from that initial primal yell, until our last breath, some are of minor proportions, but others stay with us forever.

How about the first time you rode a bicycle? Drove a car? First day at school? High School? University? Most of them we met with thumping hearts and though we tried not to show it, were scared stiff.

Remember the first time you traveled alone? Planned the trip, made all the connections, bought the tickets, and then, with no one at your side, and in a strange city, even hailed a cab and arrived at the hotel where you’d registered.

I was so proud of myself that I crawled into a comfy robe, and though I wasn’t even hungry, I called Room Service, and shivered with delight at my maturity. I met the man at the door, signed the tab and was grown-up enough to give him a tip. Talk about Maturity. That was me.

Then there’s the first time death came near me, and I realized that death doesn’t just happen to others, but also to me and mine. And has come more than that first time, too. Yes, relentlessly, it comes, and comes, and comes, and comes.

Remember the first time you made love? Me, too. And whether it was a moment of wonder and bliss, or, sadly neither of those, we remember. Well, I don’t know about men, but women do, and for the rest of our  lives, too.

How about the first time you applied for a job, and when you were hired, you had to make your place in that environment, with no parent, teacher or friend to guide you. Big stuff, those ‘first times’, for a teenager. And then how about the first time you were fired??? Never happened to you?  Well, goodie, goodie two-shoes, aren’t you great?

And then, no one really knows, or cares, but do you remember your first marriage? And if you had but one, again how lucky can you be? And sad to ask, but there’s the other side of the coin, how about your first divorce? Horrible, wasn’t it? And I understand it never gets better. It’s one time when ‘practice doesn’t make perfect’.

How about the first moments you held your children in your arms? I think those are firsts no mother ever forgets, and I gazed upon them, inwardly thinking, “So this is what’s been going on inside me all these past months?”

Of course I knew I’d been pregnant, but for some reason, it didn’t seem real until I held my sons in my arms. Oh, what wonderful ‘firsts’, and still remain so, for to  this day, I sometimes  see them in love, admiration, and  in awe, suddenly remember, “They came from me,  Yes,  right  within me, I made their physical beginnings”.  God, in the wonders He performs,  is good..

Remember moving into your own first home?  Ours was only a two room apartment, but it was ours, special beyond words, and I remember that small place to this day.

Oh, yes, and how about when, for the first time, you walked into the display room of cars and though you had butterflies in your stomach, the salesman didn’t know it, and he seriously discussed your needs … and all by yourself . . . .you . . bought . . . a car. And wrote the check to pay for it, too.  Talk about being grown  up, that was it.  All by my myself.

Then there’s always the first moment you realized you were moving up in the generations. From being the youngest, slowly we had younger siblings, and without hardly knowing how or when, we became one of the middle group, sandwiched between our children and our parents. And then . . .

Yes . . . then, your parents leave, and you know that you have become the oldest generation, and it’s one ‘First’ that shocks you to the core. Happened to me far too early, but I remember, boy oh boy, do I remember.

How about the first time you became aware that you have Unseen Helpers at your side, helping, protecting, nudging, endeavoring in so many ways to catch your attention?   You finally recognize that those Unseen Ones use dreams, words that ‘jump out at you’ from a book, article, radio, tv, or just overheard. They come to us out of nowhere, but they come and they change our lives, too.

And no matter how long we live, there will come that moment when, for the first time in this life, we face that old hypocrite death, and  can marvel at  how simple it  seems.  Death, we find, doesn’t  always come swiftly, but like Sandberg’s ‘cat paws in the night’, comes gently, silently, softly, until  one day we know that we’ve been receiving hints that some  day we will be through with this machine-body, and your Unseen Helpers have been giving you hints that it’s getting nearer all the time.

“Firsts”.  You have yours, I have mine, and I hope yours were/are all quite wonderful. Most of mine have been.