Some Trivial Thoughts

Some things crossed my mind . . .

If you’re even halfway familiar with my words, you know that my mind veers back and forth between serious thoughts, to utter trivia. And today, it’s trivia, but that’s ok, for trivia can be fun.

Okay, so for a moment stop what you happen to be doing, and fold your arms. That’s right, just fold your arms, and now look at them.

One arm is on top with its hand folded under the other arm. You didn’t have to even think about it. You just did it. But now, try to fold your arms the other way, with the other arm on top and with its hand tucked under. And note that I said, try to fold your arms the ‘other’ way. And the key word is try.

That’s a ‘different story’.  And it’s bewildering, for it just won’t work. Oh, I know you can do it, as I have, but tt takes much thought and effort, and when you get it done, it doesn’t feel right, at all… It’s awkward. Your arms get tangled and it’s a mess.

And then, when you get your arms untangled, and are laughing about the whole thing, follow me. and fold your hands. The same way you did as a school child when the teacher told you to put your hands on the desk and fold them. Done it a million times, haven’t you?

Well, do so again, and it’s so easy, with one thumb sitting snugly on top, and the other tucked beneath. And now, of course, you know what I’m going to say, but now re-fold them, but do it so the other thumb is on top. And before you know it, for your fingers are mixed up.

I’ve asked others to do these two simple acts, and they’ve all ended up looking at me with surprise, at how difficult it is, and some have told me they tried them with their own family, and it’s always the same result. And now their kids are asking their friends to do the same. Kids love this kind of thing. But it’s just as surprising for oldsters like me.

At first I thought the answer was with being right or left handed. But it doesn’t, for I’ve found one right hander does it one way and the very next right hander does it the other, and so on. All I know is that we’re queer creatures of habit or instinct and who’s to know which is which.

We all have our own oddities. I’m right handed and can’t sign my name with my left hand. And yet . .. when my first computer was installed at my desk, my son, who was doing the chore, was surprised that I had to have the Mouse and its pad on the left side. And said, “I didn’t know your were left-handed”, and of course, I’m not. But there are chores I just automatically do with my left rather than my right hand.

I can’t deal a deck of cards with my right hand, but easily with the left. Just as I’m also a leftie when putting plates, knives, forks and the food on the table for a meal. Such tasks are not only awkward for me, but I don’t do it all well if I try them with my right.

It’s said that men always dress by always putting the same leg into their trousers first, and I don’t know, but for myself, I pull on my hosiery right leg first, and then, hosier in place, I swear it’s my left shoe I then choose to don first.

My friend LaRee cut her lawn a certain way, leaving there a pattern she knew by heart, and her husband one day cut the lawn for her, using his own pattern. and LaRee, believe me or not, waiting until he was gone, did the entire lawn again, just so the pattern was ‘correct’. Seeing the other just drove her ‘crazy’.

These bits of trivia are not earth shattering but once you begin observing them, it’s hard to stop. Are we prisoners of habit, or is it something bred in our genes. But pass them along to your kids. They’ll love them.


Reading The Obits

Reach out, if you can . . .

There are many joys in getting older, but there’s one that can be yours only if you’re older, and of all places, it starts by reading the obituaries. But remember, it is a most sad time in people’s lives, and you can be a blessing to that family, or not, for you are treading on tender ground.

However, sometime you’ll see a name of one you knew years before, and you’re flooded with memories that no one but you could now know. And I’ve learned to offer those memories with the sorrowing ones.

It won’t matter if you know the family, or not, you knew the one they mourn, and I tell them, with few words. what I remember, and then send it to the Mortuary, and let them forward it to the family. Don’t be surprised if there’s no response, but other times its welcomed over and over. And it’s cost you only a moment of time, a postage stamp, and perhaps a few tears..

I just had a marvelous experience, and so decided to pass the ‘how’ along.  There, one day, I saw in the obits, a name of a couple who had visited Dad and Mom in our home when I was a kid. And then, as my eyes slid to the portrait I laughed aloud for I saw my Dad smiling back at me.

Now, of course it wasn’t my Dad, but put a handle-bar mustache on the picture in the Tribune and it could have been my Dad. And so, Ethel being Ethel, to my computer I went and poured out the why, how, when, and where of it all.

And I even sent along a copy of Dad’s photo and in a week or so, I found they agreed with me, and in the days following, it was proven that the man in the paper was, as was my Dad, a descendent of the same family from Eskilstuna, Sweden.

In doing this, you must be ready to find they might not get your mailing, or toss your note in the garbage, while thinking, “What does it matter me what they remember.” or “I wonder what they want?” And so, after you’ve sent your note, forget about it, because, just maybe, no one does care.

But just the same, take a chance. You don’t need to be “a writer”, but just tell them you knew their loved one long ago, and would like to share those times. And, if they want to talk to you, they can just send a card, or make a phone call. And, if they don’t respond, what the heck, you did what you thought might be welcome, and if not, it doesn’t matter to you. You tried, and that’s how life goes.

But this time a letter came back to me that was filled with joy and delight.

Yes, I told a lot of stuff that only one of my generation and family could have known. Let them ask, be careful about what you say, and fill in any blanks you know. Or add happy happenings. It’s always different and always wonderful.

My today’s story ended up by finding that we had come from the same family somewhere ‘back then’. and she was avid to go further.

I had also sent my words to a couple of younger ones of my family, and nephew Jim, wrote back that he had always wondered where and why the town of Santaquin had entered into our family. and there in but a sentence or two, I had spelled it out for the young ones of my family..

Now, if you know me, you also know that I am not the one that was then needed, but, I knew who to call, and within a week the unfamiliar word ‘extraction’, came along, and then emails and copies of names, names. and names went back and forth and I was happy to think I had helped make their joy.

See, there are treasures buried in those daily obits. Look them over and then dare to take a chance. Be kind, be careful, but dare to send a note, a phone call and maybe bring joy to both ends of the exchange, knowing that these happenings aren’t just for one, but for all. God works in mysterious ways, you know, including using such odd ones as Ethel. Oh me.

Try it out, you have the time, and even if it takes weeks before a ‘familiar’ name appears, one day, wham, bang, a name of decades ago is there, and off you go.  You just might bring a bit of joy to a sorrowing heart and when it does, it’s great.

I tell of just one note I sent that helped fill a few blanks in a genealogy file that might never have been completed otherwise. Take a chance, it’s just one of the joys that can come to us in our older years. And. just maybe, that’s the only reason we’re still around.

The Source

Listen to the children . . .

I was about 11 years old, and had no fear of asking questions from my brother, sisters and parents, and had not yet learned they usually ignored me for asking such ‘dumb’ ones.

One evening my sisters and I were ‘doing the dishes’ that had been used to prepare and serve the evening’s meal. Yeah, I was a child and can still see me there in the southwest corner of the room, and asking my question.

The answer I sought was that I realized everything had a source. The wooden boards for the cupboard, chairs, table and house, had all come from trees which had been felled, sawed into boards and then some man, like my Dad who was a carpenter, had made those things from that wood.

I knew that all metal things came from ore which was taken from the earth and smelted (I learned that from the old Murray Smelter which loomed in our lives and where neighbor men worked). I knew glass came from some kind of sand. Ice from water, and water from the ocean, rivers and rain.

Coal which heated our home and cooked our meals came from old, old trees, for Dad had even shown me the pattern of leaves on those lumps of coal, which, eons before had, under pressure. become that coal. Oh, how I wish Dad had saved at least one or two of such wonders, that I still recall seeing and touching. But we needed the coal to cook our dinner..

I saw our food growing from the earth, meat from animals, our clothes from cotton grown in our Southern States, wool from sheep, milk from cows, eggs from hens, and on, and on. Those Books of Knowledge that Dad had bought for us, and I’d read as I laid on my belly on the floor,  had taught me much.

But then I came to a wall. Yeah, and beyond that wall, I could go no further, and so I asked my question on that long ago afternoon. What was the source of the earth I walked upon. Where did water come from? The first seeds? Cows? Pigs? Cotton plants? The first flame to light our fires? In other words, Ethel needed to know, “What was the Basic Source of all I looked upon? And used?”

No one heard me, or if they did, they ignored my question, or maybe I phrased it poorly? And I kept wondering, not all the time, for I was a kid, growing up, getting along with my parents, school and friends. All that stuff.

So I grew up and in doing so found lots of my questions didn’t ‘fit’ well with my Teachers, and in some way I knew they were unwelcome, but if I didn’t ask, how could I ever know?  Who else could I ask?  In church I asked questions that caused Mom and Dad to be asked where I got all that stuff. Yeah, life is confusing for kids. And their parents.

Like so many others, I floundered, rebelled and became a great sorrow to my mother with my ‘odd ‘ questions and differences and when I was 18 I finally quit trying and pretty well went out on my own.

I read lots of books, married, had sons, home and family. Sent my sons to the same schools and church that I had attended, because I also wanted them to have a ‘good’ training of right and wrong. And, so it went.

But I also was determined never to lie and when my sons asked if I believed this and that, or such and such, I had to be honest and answered, truthfully, that I didn’t know, and that everyone had to figure out those answers for themselves, as I had. And the questioners were content.

Anyway my reading was endless and then I found the teaching of the Far East and the words resonated within me; and changed my life. They spoke of a Source and I knew the wonderful Zen Eight Fold Path contained words I could relate to and strive to follow forever or wherever.  I have never joined any Teaching and am not religious but I do my best to lead a deeply spiritual life.

Any way one day when I was 90 years old and reading and meditating on the Source of All, I was suddenly that child again, in the old kitchen wiping the dinner dishes and recalled my old question. Of course I had found the answer years before, but for some reason there was that one moment when I was the child again, seeking answers, and realized that children’s questions can be far deeper than they seem.

Perhaps we should be more attentive to their words, for they haven’t been too long apart from The Source Itself.

Frying Onions

Think about this . . .

Every Belief System tells us to keep our mind One Pointed, and in Meditation I do fairly well, but when I’m doing some everyday task like, well, like frying onions as the first step in making a Stew, it’s a different story.

A day or so ago I tried to keep track of my mind, but it’s an impossible task. I traveled back a century or so, the other side of the world, visited with people I’ve not seen in decades, and all the while my hands were frying onions mixed with a few red pepper slices.

My mind, I found, is not only multi-layered, but has more lanes of travel than an octopus has arms.  In fact two or three octopi. Stay with me, and if you think I should be in some doctor’s care, don’t tell me. I’m happy as I am.

Frying onions is a no-brainer, but if you don’t keep your eyes on the skillet, they’ll burn, the flavor ruined and it’s back to the beginning. So, while my hands were glued to the stove, my mind was figuring what odds and ends were in the freezer, purposely saved to be part of such a stew..

First to mind was a bag filled with veggies which were to go into a Frittata that Ina Garten, TV’s ‘Barefoot Contessa’ told about, and immediately I began wondering why she’s no longer on TV and what she’s doing.

Stir the onions, Ethel, enjoy the aroma, think about Ina, but keep stirring.

The Contessa was Gram’s sort of cook, always open for changes to old standbys and I miss her friendly face and wish Gram could have seen her program. I’ve tried to ask, but find there are dozens of ways to reach the Food Channel to buy their offerings, but no matter how you look, there’s no address to ASK, and get an answer.

However, within a moment, Ina was gone and I’m sitting on Gram’s padded kitchen radiator watching the beloved woman at her shrine, the kitchen stove.

But I’ve Mind Traveled, to both New York, Florida and next door to Gram, and the onions haven’t yet even started to color, only wilt, but I stir them and think of Stan, a man I once knew who loved fried onions and how the size of the skillet he used amazed me. Suddenly I was in his kitchen, laughing over things the two of us found amusing and wondering where life has taken him. And then, in the next instant, in Sedonia, Arizona at a meditation meeting also with him. Good man.

Then quickly, I OFF’d the stove switch, answered the doorbell, and glanced at a couple of tall bushes that I had not wanted planted there, and while saying NO to the seller-at-the-door, I was silently reviewing the old ‘bush’ debate with the long gone people who again stood there. What a waste of time, but for one sec there they were again.

Back to kitchen, switched the stove back ON, and though gone but a moment or two, I’d suddenly remembered I’d have to run to the store for a few items. For my stews are different each time I make one, and how could it be otherwise, for my freezer and refrigerator are filled with different foods each time I get in a stew mood.

Which switches me to Seattle, thanking my niece Sylvia Christensen for how she has added samples of wonderful veggies for my freezer shelves and stews.

Yeah, my mind travels and if you know Ethel even a little, you also know I constantly visited with The Source to give thanks for the miracles that are in my kitchen, and my life. And then there’s Mama again, thinking she might have a hard time catching on to today’s methods, but she’d adapt.

Quick thinker, my Mom. And though she’s been in The Next Room for decades, we visited again, and, just like that, my sister Bernice and our Dad were here too, coming to enjoy the aroma and see what was ‘cooking’.

Mind Traveling is one of my best ways to visit. Oh, you do it too? Yeah, we all do, only do it so quickly there is no way we could write it all down. And I wonder if those I visited with also do the same thing?

Bet they do. They know very well what it’s like to be ‘just human’. See, they’ve been here, and done this. So, bye for now and give me a grin if, by chance, you Mind Travel to my kitchen to smell the onion aroma. You’re more than ‘Welcome’.

The Lights Of My Life

Lights of the Entire World
With thanks to Debbie Crane

Sometimes I search for thoughts and words to send “Out My Window”, and then  sometimes they come to me through my open door. And, this week, here are words that came that way.

Debbie and her husband Kevin Crane, of Murray, Utah, came to my home, and as they were preparing to leave, she handed me, with apologies, these words. And as I read them, I knew they needed no apologies.

They are lovely and I give them to you. The Lights of Debbie’s, and our, lives. Enjoy.

The Lights of My Life

In my youth
darkness was my fear-
the small light
at the end of the bed
gave comfort.

The great outdoor smells
so wonderful to me-
the fire is warm and soothing
how good it feel on my face.

The sun changes the shape
of the fears of the night-
The world is bright and
clear as the darkness turns to day

Holding hands as we walk
along the beautiful beach
in the twilight
The large golden globe in the sky
gives a glow to the landscape.

One light has given more illumination
and comfort than all the rest.
The Light that gives all things-
Jesus Christ, LIGHT to the World!
Eternal LIGHT
The greatest light of all!

by Debbie Lynne Crane