Conducting The Orchestra

Or sing along with Mitch Miller . . .

I was conducting a Symphonic Orchestra the other day, and having a marvelous time. The reeds came in with a flick of my wrist and disappeared just as quickly when I nodded to the Strings to take Center Stage. Was unbelievably great, and as I turned to give my cue to the Percussions, I saw, right at my side, a man conducting with me.

Startled, and a bit abashed, but still without missing a beat, I gave him a happy nod and, together, we controlled those 45 or so instruments as if we were Leonard Bernstein, and a clone.

With four arms signaling those musicians, it was utter perfection, and just as the music was reaching its climax, the Red Light Traffic Signal changed and with shared grins, our hands went quickly to our steering wheels and we went our separate ways.

I often conduct music that way, but usually just tapping out the rhythm with my hands, and only occasionally add a flourish with my arms. And yes, I’ve sometimes noticed the next car driver give me a definite ‘what’s wrong with you” look, or at times one will smile and then swiftly take their eyes back to their car as if they had intruded upon me in some private moment.

But this time, it has been different, That man and I were listening to the same station, both enjoying the moment and it became a joyous rarity in life. One I remember with a smile and hope he does the same.

I think I was more active in my conducting actions than my friend’, but after all I grew up conducting music in a Mormon ward. First for the Primary, and then on to older groups. But even without such early training, there was nothing haphazard about my twin conductor’s body language, either.

Those shared moments were so good that I went my way thinking how odd it is that though we are so close to others on our streets, seldom do we look into the other driver’s eyes. In truth we avoid doing so, and if by chance, we do happen to lock eyes, we quickly glance away as if we had been caught intruding upon their private space.

Yet most of us are basically human beings and we just might like each other immensely if we met some other way.   But it’s as if it’s been drilled into us that it’s a no-no to have eye contact with other drivers. Who made that law, anyway???

Children aren’t so up-tight. Before they had to be strapped in for safety sake, kids would look out a back window and wave, smile or make faces at you, and if we waved or grinned back, they giggled, stuck out their tongues and darned if we didn’t drive away with a happy feeling. But again rules, yeah even safety rules have put a stop to that bit of hi-way fun and friendship

Just the same, it does still happen. And when it does, it’s so unusual that we remember and almost cherish it. I was at a red light and there was a man in the car aside mine eating a banana. I laughed as I caught him with it sticking straight out his mouth, and with a grin, banana still in his mouth, he reached to the seat next to him, picked up another banana and reached it out to me. Of course, there were windows and a hi-way strip between us, and then the Light changed and it was all over. But again it was definite human contact with unspoken but shared laughter and I felt happy and think he did, too.

Now, I don’t know why we feel embarrassed when we look into some other driver’s eyes, but we do . But take a chance one of these days. You, too, might share a conductor’s podium, with another or a banana, cup of coffee or perhaps just a smile. But if the Salt Lake symphonic orchestra is ever in a pinch for a guest conductor, I know of two who would step right in and do a bang up job of it also.  My opinion only, but I sorta like my opinion on guest Conductors, and so, let’s wait and see what next week brings to this space.  Bye.

What Am I Becoming

Aware of it or not, we’re all Beings In Process . . .

I’ve written often of who I am. or have done, but finally found it more important to find out who I’m Becoming. and have found that everyone is doing the same. We’re evolving, constantly evolving, and I take seriously Shakespeare’s words: “To thine own self be true,” and wonder, just who and what is my True Self. and am I evolving toward that Self?

In the beginning, those close to us formed us.  Who else? And it is good, but by the time we’re in our teens, many of us find we don’t fit into their pattern, yet strive to conform, guiltily thinking, with our limited vision,  that to be different must be wrong.

The Process of finding our own True Self is difficult, but in some manner, (with me it was books), many of us find that not only are we different, but that there’s nothing wrong with being ‘different’. Oh, what a revelation, for we also find that if we’re uncomfortable with who we are, we, and no one else, has the power to change and become what we want to be. And, able to look around and recognize, accept and love the differences in others, too. Wow, what a life changer.

Of course, we tried to become what our parents and early teachers wanted us to be, but for a successful, happy maturity, we must quietly learn to recognize, accept, respect, and finally love who and what we want to be.  What a stale, cookie-cutter world it would be if we were all made from the same pattern.

I don’t know your story, and so I tell mine. I was born one of five siblings, and different from all. I was pure Svenska, with white, straight hair, and surrounded by a dark curly- haired family. Mama must have felt God had made a mistake, but I later found I fit perfectly with my paternal lineage, and thankfully, finally became mature enough to know I was no mistake, but had just been born with Scandinavian genes. And little by little, learned, to my deep relief, that I was not an odd-ball, but there were many with my same physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual propensities.

It was a blessing to me that from childhood I’ve been a reader, and my father, bless him,  never once complained of the many trips to and from the Murray Library that I so casually asked of him. It was there I found books explaining thoughts and lives of people from all over the world, and I was shaken to my core, to know they were not wrong, only different. People of the world, and God made them (us) all.

There, in that blessed Library, but a mile from home, was where I found that the entire world was made of different people, wonderful people, and moreover held the power right within myself, how to explore, discover, and strive to become the person I hoped to be.

Aware of it or not, we’re all Beings In Process, and I wish Teachers could let young students know that not a one of us is wrong. Just different, and that every second of our lives, we all are in the Process of Becoming.  We’re  evolving.  Always evolving.  And, of so much importance, to be proud of the kind of person we are becoming.

I’ve found that when we reach the later decades of our lives, we don’t wish to be an Einstein, but to have allowed our True Selves to come into being, and so able to joyfully meet and work with ‘different’ people who entered and still enter our lives.

So I ask. Ethel, who are you becoming? For none of us are through with the Process, which will continue until we enter  God’s Next Room, where the machine, no longer needed, is discarded and Spirit, that ever-present Inner Source, reveals Itself.

And even then??? I’ve caught glimpses of that Goal, and shiver as I know that if I allow,  grow, and continue to evolve,  we all will, in some Higher and then still  Higher  rooms, become One with The Source of All.  You know that, too?   And that we’ll someday meet each other There?  What a blessed Process.


A few years ago I penned a small booklet I titled A Machine Called Ethel, and though I’d make changes in it to-day, the concept stays firm. I walk, talk and live in a ‘Machine’ called Ethel, but I Am not that machine. I use it, take care of it, could not continue in a physical life without it, but I am not it. I think you’d like the book.

Camels, Boats, Trains, Planes, & The Internet

The best and worst is yet to come . . .

Never again will any city have the Power and Mystique of Old Cities, like Istanbul, Peking, Athens, Constantinople, Carthage, et al,  because the role they played is no longer necessary.

They were powerful and remained that way because they grew along the one and only highway there was.   That one  well-traveled, deep formless highway of our oceans, seas, and rivers.

It seems odd today, but up to about 250 years ago there were also Routes and Trails, but not a single City ever developed along even the long Routes across the Gobi or Sahara Deserts. Each back and forth trip, took men and camels  years to complete, yet not even one city developed  along those ways.

Deep waters were truly the only ‘highway’ and the trails were by Horse, Camel, or walking. Pleasure journeys were unknown.

But with time and exploration, New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans developed, but they too, are on deep waters and even Chicago became a City only after the Erie Canal connected the deep Great Lakes with the deep waters of New York and the Atlantic.

The next ‘highway’ was Railroads, and were the outgrowth of when England built small ‘rails’ into the coal mines, carrying back and forth both men and the coal they dug. England, in time saw RR’s possibilities, and began building large trains for passengers.

Within a twinkle of an eye, RRs were soon built all over the world, through forests, over mountains and rivers, across the Plains,spanning deserts, and in doing so, changed our maps and lives more than at any other time in history.  RRs, the world’s second ‘highway’, carried people and everything else needed to build cities anywhere. The deep water ‘highway’ is still used, but RRs did the utterly impossible fete of opening the vast empty inlands of every continent on earth.

In their heyday, Railroads were glorious beyond belief and we’ve yet to see their equal in sheer luxury.  Unbelievably expensive, for the Private Passenger Cars made today’s most expensive motor homes look like ‘shanties’.

There were servants, and thousands of Black Americans made their first step into jobs away from the South, on those RRs as waiters, cooks, maids and valets. So unbelievable that those luxury cars became the setting for Books, Movies, and ‘The Orient Express’, an ultra plush railroad going deep into Asia, became a synonym for luxury never before seen or since equaled.

Railroads, for a time, were truly the King of Travel and the world..

Murray, Utah, my hometown owes its existence to RRs. The Smelter (AS&R) could and would not have come into existence without it, and Murray City, like thousands of other cities around the world, was born as merely a Railroad stop.  Murray was once but a small sign saying Franklin.

Air Travel came next  and as Railroads could not compete with its speed, they quickly lost the luxury travelers and today’s RR’s now  carry only a small number of passengers, along with  Ore, Coal, Animals, large Equipment and merchandise,

But before anyone could settle down as to what went Air and what went by Rail, came Eisenhower’s Highways, bringing trucks that went beyond a train’s reach, and, with hardly time for a deep breath, came all kinds of busses and vans, which give us almost manufacturer-to-our-door service.

Large cities no longer depend upon deep water, and are built wherever wanted. And with Drones  in the offing, today’s cities are further and further away from old Rome, or Constantinople. Yes, much beauty has been lost along the way, but today, cities are no longer built to last forever, and outer beauty is not even considered.

People now travel as never before, but no longer go on Journeys. If we want to be in New York, all we need are a few hours to get there and back. There is no time, as there once was, to get acquainted with fellow travelers, or people along the way. Today, we scarcely have time to read a magazine before we’ve crossed the continent, kept our appointment, and returned.

Yes, transportation has made us One World, and is so far-reaching that it’s also changed our Wars.   Today’s war is not nation vs nation, but culture vs culture, and the ‘enemy’ can be right  ‘next door’ and yet,  with a click of a computer key can enter  the Internet Highway, and ‘rain down’ destruction upon some spot on another continent.

Boundaries, for good and bad, are things of the past. Utterly obsolete. We are one World and ‘battle’ lines are unmarked spots scattered helter-skelter, over the globe. Transportation, in its changing forms, has done it all, and hold your breath, for we are just catching glimpses of  the infancy of Drones, and the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ of their ultimate potential is yet to be realized.

Real Life

Easter is a time when we all freely speak of Death and of what has become known the Hereafter.   And so . . . Ethel being Ethel, I do the same.

You see, there are some people who have been There . . . and then came back.  It’s never happened to me, but I married one who did have that unique experience and his words left me with no fear of what to expect.   Nervous? Yes, yes, yes, but not fear.

It happened long before I knew him, when he was 17 years old and a student at Murray High School. He had been stricken with Pneumonia, and as there were then no wonder drugs, most people never recovered, and quickly died from that dreaded disease. And so, Gram, with three other children, along with husband and home, hired a 24/7 nurse to be at his side and it was there in the upstairs, west bedroom in the Pioneer Home at 570 East 4800 South, Murray, Utah where he left his body, as the doctor predicted, experienced That Other Place, and  then came back.

And that’s not really the correct way to tell of his experience, for he did not return willingly. In that Wonderful Place, he said someone approached, and began wrestling and  pulling  to take him away from the Happiness and Contentment that was There, and that he fought back fiercely, to stay there.

He said, “But the one I wrestled with was stronger than I was and no matter how I tried, I lost the match, and she pulled me back to my sick body, in my rumpled  bed and where, in time, I recovered.  I fought as well as I could to stay in that Wonderful Place, but she had her way.”

And he used the pronoun ‘she’ because when it was all over and he was well again, he knew it had been his Nurse who had put whiskey to his lips and ‘wrestled’ him back.

But he never, ever forgot Where he had been, What he had seen, and How  wonderful and Real, It was.

I didn’t know him when all this happened, and it was about a decade later, when he told me, “I knew I was in a life or death struggle.   But.” he continued in very puzzled, but firm words, “Life was There, and not to where I was being pulled back.  Everything within me fought to stay There.”

It never ceased to puzzle him, for it was an 180 degree switch from what we, in our human bodies, consider the life and death struggle.  Made me sit back and know that we are observing it from the wrong angle. My husband said, “Real LIFE was in That undescribable  LIGHT,  and not where she furiously fought and succeeded in returning me to.”

At that time, my sister, Amber Ohlin (later on, Mrs. Angus Bodine) worked in the Thornton Anderson Drug store there on the north west corner of 4800 South and State Street in Murray, Utah, and the doctors would often come in and sometimes discuss cases with the Pharmacist.  It was a small building and she easily overheard that “The Bradford boy (and we didn’t know the Bradfords except by name) has pneumonia and is going to die tonight.” Just that.

Yes, ‘just that’ is all Amber told the family at our dinner table but I remember, and of course never dreamed that the Bradford Boy she spoke of, would some day be my husband and the father of my sons.

And so,  I do not fear death. But with  trepidation?   Nervous?  Oh yes, for it is an ‘unknown’ to me, and I will be leaving all that is familiar and loved . . . but then I remember my husband’s words, as a young 17 year old, with scant ‘religious’ training, as to how he fought that battle and said,  ‘I lost the battle and was pulled away from real  LIFE’, and tears came to his eyes as he spoke.

So, I do not fear death and one day if you happen to read of my ‘ dying’,   shake your head and know that I have joined the majority, in That Place of LIFE.   That Place of Real Life.


Three books by Robert Monroe are wonders of what he, Monroe, experienced on the same subject, as he tells of his own unsought out-of-the-body happenings.  Awesome.