There are two kinds of remembering;  one with the brain, and the second with the heart. We could not survive without the first, but it’s the second that reveals life’s wonder, and the meaning to it all.

Certain things like the dates of 1492, and 1776 are ‘drilled’ indelibly  into our minds, right along with how to tie our shoes, ride a bicycle. scratching where we itch, blinking our eyes, comb our hair, moving quickly if we see danger coming,  and all done almost without even thinking. That’s how the brain works.

But the second, the heart stuff, is an inner thing, and worlds away from the other. There’s nothing mechanical about it, for in the heart, though the years roll by, and we might think all events forgotten, all it takes is but a small hint, and the memories can overwhelm us as they tumble forth.

Just a bar or two off a certain song, and again I’m a girl of 18, in love, in love, in love. and I’m dancing under the stars at the open-roofed, Old Mill Club, at the ‘mouth’ of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and in the arms of a young man who later became my husband.

I know what I wore, who we were with, how my hair was ‘done’, and most of all, how I felt. And far beyond the confusion and problems of later years of school, work, home, jobs, teaching, having and raising kids, nothing has ever changed that moment.

And I’m sure you, as all of us, have caught a whiff of an aroma (not necessarily a perfume) and suddenly are miles and years away and are back to where that aroma was imprinted upon us.

I know a man who is taken back to Arlington’s third grade with Belva Doran (Murrayites will all remember her) as his Teacher, as soon as he smells, of all things, Olive Oil.  Who knows why? But something must have touched him forcefully back then and the unique smell of that oil was present. He tells that his memory of that room automatically comes up, even today, as he ‘dresses’ that oil upon his salad.

We remember with our eyes. One of my sons has his Dad’s and his Grandfather’s hands, and one time my heart lurched as I saw those hands reach across the dinner table toward me, and for one micro-second was in another place. Taken back to a time before that son had even been dreamed of, much less born. Time is no barrier for the heart.

And there are the millions of memories that spring to life with our ears. The rustling sound made when walking through dry autumn leaves takes me back to an afternoon when a man and I strolled east on the leaf-covered sidewalk of South Temple Street  in Salt Lake City, and at the same time I saw the Boarding House, made from one of those huge, old, Pioneer homes where we both Boarded.  That man, and the large Boarding House  are both long gone from my life, but  the sound and smell of those leaves remain and take me back to South Temple street again.

Unexpectedly hearing the recorded voice of my husband, long after his death, was a heart breaker, as also, is the sound when a certain door closes in a soft slow manner that my heart once knew so well, and I jump, half expecting to see him again walk into the room.

I can close my eyes and, as I smell the unique aroma of dried Corn Stalks, (often on sale at Halloween time) I am again a child with my Dad, Carl Ohlin, out in the old Corn Field at 4500 So. 700 East, in Murray, Utah, as he cut and made stacks of those stalks, to augment the winter food he gathered for the horse and cows.

With the feel of soft, soft skin, I’m immediately bathing an infant child, and aware of long forgotten (I thought) emotions. And the sensitivity of the palm of our hands, takes me again when someone held my hand and slipped a ring upon my finger. Oh, you too???. The sensitivity of our palms is legendary and even used in some metaphysical ways..

Yes,  there are two kinds of remembering, Our lives, our very survival,  depends upon  our brain, but it’s  the heart  that gives meaning to the wonderful, beautiful life He has blessed us with.

Memorial Day Thoughts

I read of this woman, living in the USA, but born in Tunisia, who told of how her people keep alive the memory of those who have ‘left them’, and the more I think about it, the more I like it.

They certainly have no “Memorial Day” holiday, but they have their ways, and she told how, on the recent anniversary of her Grandpa’s death, her mother made their main meal of the day, ‘Grandpas’ meal. And she cooked and served food that had been his favorites and at the same time, her parents told stories of ‘Grandpa’s life, how he earned a living, and so on.

I think it’s a wonderful idea, and of course, is used on other death-anniversaries, too. No rules, but just a time of remembering and sharing, so that the now dead ancestors become real people to grand kids they never met.

Yes, and inasmuch as her ‘Gramp’ had lived in a different country, with different foods, the meal her mother prepared was not what their American born kids knew. But this was not their meal, but Gramp’s meal, and her mother, reached back to where Gramps had lived, and prepared ‘his’ meal as far as possible, of food that he knew, and ate. And which her kids could only wonder over.

Fish in a different way?  Some food we never thought of as food?  Vegetables and fish we do not recognize? An unfamiliar soup? It matters not, but the families this woman grew up with, make that meal as close as possible to food the honored one would have been familiar with.

She told that her Mom even tried to use the old ways of cooking it. And, as she served the unfamiliar food, the parents told stories about the person they were remembering.   About when and why they came to America.   What were the problems of finding jobs? Was it difficult to blend in with a new people in a new culture?

Told about the clothes worn, if they were different. Was it hard to learn a new language? She told how it becomes almost an on-going biography of how ‘their’ family had its Utah beginnings, and yet do not want their children to forget the old ways of where they came from.

And if the honored one grew up here in the U. S. tell of his/her young years. Stories that are real, where they lived, what kind of a house, outdoor plumbing, and to be sure to tell the whole story, telling of the difficulties as well as the triumphs.

Did the loved one live in a different State?  Why did they then move to Utah? To go to a certain school? Marry and join in the ‘other’ family’s culture?   There is a world of things to tell that make our ancestors not only remembered, but remembered as real people, not just a name on a genealogical chart.

Yeah, what did they do to earn a living. What jobs they held. How did they learn that trade? The tales are endless and met with wonder to know that those tales happened to one in their own family. Really happened and how Grandma wouldn’t know what to do with a micro and would wonder how to cook without a stove and fire. And where oh where, were the foods she loved and cooked?

The woman said it can be fun, for it will open up an entire  world of family knowledge, of what Mom did as a young girl.   Where she and Dad met. Where and how they lived. Plus what ‘odd’ foods they once ate.

The more I think of this kind of a memorial time, the more I like it and wish I could go back and try to duplicate for Dad, the kind of meal he had while still in Sweden and if he had missed and yearned for that food. If it had been hard to leave that home as a 10 year old.   How it was in Salt Lake then, and not know the language. How did he learn it?

How my Great-great-great Grandpa and his mother came from England, crossed the Plains on foot, and he, a teenager, herded cattle to pay for his food, and his mother helped women with their children for the same reason.   And why there was no male person with them. Or, if there had been one, why did they come without him? What happened to him??

Yes, I love seeing the flowers in the cemetery, and revel in how American the holiday is, but I also thank the Tunisian woman for telling how, right at the dining room table, our kids can not only hear the old stories, but also eat for their meal, exactly what their ancestors once ate for their meals.   In an odd way, celebrating the anniversary of a loved one’s Death Day, could be utterly fascinating.

The Gray-Haired Brigade

This is us . . .

The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35, according to an analysis of census data released Feb. 2016.

We, that group, are often referred to as senior citizens, old fogies, geezers, and in some cases dinosaurs. Some of us are “Baby Boomers” getting ready to retire. Others have been retired for some time. We walk a little slower these days and our eyes and hearing are not what they once were. We worked hard, raised children, worshiped God, have grown old together, and a goodly portion of us are alone.

Yes, we are the ones some refer to as being over the hill, and that is probably true. But before writing us off completely, there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration.

In school we studied English, history, math, and science, which enabled us to lead America into the technological age. Most of us know what outhouses were, and many with firsthand experience.  We remember the days of telephone party-lines, 25 cent gasoline, and milk and ice being delivered to our homes.  For those of you who don’t know what an icebox is, today they are electric and referred to as refrigerators.  A few even remember when cars were started with a crank.

Yes, we lived those days.

We are probably considered old fashioned and out-dated by many. But there are a few things you need to remember before completely writing us off. We won World War II, fought in Korea and Viet Nam. We can quote The Pledge of Allegiance, and know where to place our hand while doing so.

We wore the uniform of our country with pride, and left many friends on the battlefield, and thousands of us came home crippled or in wheelchairs. We didn’t fight for the Socialist States of America; we fought for the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.” We wore different uniforms depending upon which Service we chose, but it was for the very same flag.

We know the words to the “Star   Spangled Banner,” “America,” and “America the Beautiful” by heart, and you may even see some tears running down our cheeks as we sing. We, personally, lived the days and years which most of you have only read of in history books and we feel no obligation to apologize to anyone for America.

Yes, we are old and slow these days but rest assured, we have at least one good fight left in us. We have loved this country, fought for it, and many died for it, and now we are going to save it.

It is our Country and nobody is going to take it away from us. We took oaths to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that is an oath we plan to   keep. There are those who want to destroy this land we love but, like our Founders, there is no way we are going to remain silent.

You make a lot of noise, but most are all too interested in your careers or “Climbing the Social Ladder” to be involved in such mundane things as patriotism and voting. Many of those who fell for the “Great Lie” in 2008 are now having buyer’s remorse. With all the education we made available to you, you didn’t have sense enough to see through the lies and instead drank that time’s ‘Kool-Aid.’  Now you’re paying the price and complaining about it; i.e. no jobs, lost mortgages, higher taxes, and less freedom.

This is what you voted for and this is what you got. We entrusted you with the Torch of Liberty, and you traded it for a paycheck and a fancy house.

Well, youngsters, the Grey-Haired Brigade is here, and in 2016 we are going to take back our nation. We’d like to include you in our fight. We may walk slower than we did yesterday, but we get where we’re going, and in 2016 we’re going to the polls. By the millions.

This land does not belong to the man in the White House nor to the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Eric Holder.  It belongs to “We the People,” and “We the People” plan to reclaim our land and our freedom.  We hope this time you will do a better job of preserving it and passing it along to your grandchildren.

So the next time you have the chance to say the Pledge of Allegiance, stand up, put your hand over your heart, honor our Country, and thank God for the old geezers of the “Gray-Haired Brigade.”

Ying Yang My Eye

Plain brown rice, anyone?

Thanks for reading my blog each week, for you never know what you’ll find.  Thoughts go right from my mind to the keyboard and my mind’s door is always open  and  travels inwardly as far as I dare, and outwardly?  As near as my next door neighbor and as far of the other side of the world.  Yeah , mentally, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually as far as I can, and write of it all as far as I dare to share.

And today I tell how a friend and I decided to join those wise Far Eastern people and get our Ying and Yang back in balance.  And how did we know we were out of balance?   Well,  you know I’m no expert on all this, BUT, the good Dr. Arya told us to look at our face straight into a  mirror, with the eyes the important area.

Ok, you’ll see  the Iris and  white. Lots of white, but, looking straight ahead, there should be no White below the Iris.  So simple,.  Above,  left and  right, good, good, good.  But at the  bottom?  That is a signal that our Ying and Yang are lopsided.   And that means mentally, emotionally and physically, spiritually.  The entire schmoo is out of balance.

The Teacher of our classes told us that with eating good brown rice for a couple of weeks  we would be balanced and totally new people.  Well, my friend and I both like rice and we were all for making us new people in only two weeks.  And inasmuch as we often lunched together a couple of times a week, we phoned around, but we could find no place to get PLAIN BROWN, UN-FLAVORD RICE, AND SO we chose to eat at home and keep in touch with each other via the phone.

But just within a few days, as far as I was concerned,  I wished I’d never heard of Brown Rice, and to helly with my  Ying and Yang, as well. We were both happy before even hearing of those two  Y’s and now  are just as happy without them.  But back to my story . . .

The only diet to get you off the teeter-totter of imbalance (teacher said) is the right food and that’s  mighty hard to get in our western world, and so we were  advised to go back to the ancient perfect diet of rice.  Unpolished, and brown.

Cook it in water, like any rice, with a small amount of salt and chew each bite 40 or 45 times.  Add no sugar, milk, fruit or honey.  Nothing but unpolished brown rice.  No coffee, tea, soda pop, vitamins. Nothing but that dang rice.

My friend and I thought we’d be strength to each other’s weaknesses. And the first day was a piece of cake and we gloated and laughed at how wise we were.  Yeah.  Eat, eat, eat whenever hungry.  Nice fluffy wholesome perfectly balanced rice.

The second day wasn’t  bad, either.  I thought of how healthy I was becoming and smugly watched others ignorantly eating all the horrible un-ying and un-yang food that’s always around, wherever one  goes.

The third day, however, began to really tell on me.  I longed for a cuppa coffee.  For a smidgen of spice or sugar or ANYTHING on that bland rice.  I could almost taste  fruit or a sweetener on it and began hurrying past all food for fear I’d just reach out and begin eating.  Anything but rice.

The evening of that third day I again stubbornly sat down to another bowl of that rotten stuff and  began chewing away but it stuck in my throat and I thought I’d werp it up right then and there.  I took a sip of water to wash it down and cursed as I took still another mouthful of RICE.

I cussed it.  I fought it.  I argued.  I told myself  how healthy I was becoming.  I shamed myself over how weak willed I was, and how I’d hate to tell of my weakness, but then, suddenly I said to heck (no, that wasn’t what I said) with Ying and Yang.  I calmly went  to the freezer, almost matter of factly took out a container of ‘decadent’ homemade soup,  whapped it in the micro, and in ten minutes I was eating right out of the freezer container, and was in bliss.  The sheer  glory  of eating FOOD.  Food that had a taste. A color.  Food, food, food. with nary a morsel of rice, white, brown or any other color.  NO RICE.

I dreaded telling my friend, but I needn’t  have worried for the next morning his call came inviting me to lunch so that together we could throw out the sickening rice and EAT.  I accepted gladly, but had to admit that I had already tossed out my Ying and Yang stuff the night before. but was too ashamed to tell him.  Weak willy for sure.

So we sat facing each other, eating, tasting and sipping our coffee with  no care whether the food was Ying, Yang or neither.  And enjoying every big bite.

I suppose I still might be a bit out of balance, and so is he, but who cares?  It took me a  few months to even tolerate rice in a casserole or pudding, but while that  grain still  isn’t my favorite . . . I can enjoy it.. . . it up a certain point.  And to helly with my Ying and Yang.  I no longer even care. 

And we didn’t breath a word of our debacle at the next class, much less to the good far eastern Doctor. Rather, we decided he had better get accustomed to all the UN-ying and UN-yang  people of this western world.  And, to heck with the whites of our eyes.  .

From Womb To Tomb

Bed is our cocoon . . .

Making the bed we just slept in is perhaps the most decisive act of the day.  Accomplished in such a few moments but what a mighty act, and how far-reaching.

The rite is so much more than a mere straightening of the sheets and a fluffing of the pillows. With that act we relinquish all possibility of snuggling in (oh, just for a moment) again.  For while the blanket and sheets are still rumpled and warm looking, there is the luring invitation to crawl back in for one more second of shutting out the world.  Making the bed is cutting of the cord between that ‘oblivion’ and whatever the day has to bring.

Bed and the blankets are a shelter from care.  A haven from whatever you didn’t accomplish yesterday and must do today.  Bed is the comfort of home, mother, and being cared for.  Bed is that sweet oblivion of the ‘little death’ that Shakespeare wrote about.

But once that bed is made, we have accepted the fact that we are going to face the world, take up  our task, pick up where we left off, and that life does go on.

Bed . . . the haven of security.  It is no happenstance that teenagers sleep late whenever they can.  They are perhaps, at the most tumultuous period of their whole lives, changing so fast they don’t know themselves from one day to the next, and bed is peace to them.  It is the security of childhood.  It is the place were they can blot out their inner turmoil and pretend it’s all like it used to be.

It is no surprise, either, that the mentally ill will crawl into bed, turn their faces to the wall and never want to get up.  ‘Getting up and facing the world’, though an old phrase, remains  so terribly true.

Bed.  Oh yes, in bed we’re born . . . probably conceived there, as well.  Is it any wonder we feel the mighty lure of returning there?  And to remaining there, also, when life gets too ‘hairy’?

And, in bed we die.  From womb to tomb it is our cocoon.  People gather round the bed at both these crucial times of life.  When  one is injured badly, they put us to bed.  When we’re  heartsick and traumatized with grief, pain or sorrow  . . . it is bed and sleep that knits up the raveled strands of our nerves.

These are the odd thoughts that drifted through my mind recently as I straightened out the nest I make of my bed each night.  These are the words I decided to write as I reluctantly bade goodbye to my bed’s comfort and  turned to face what ever my day  had in store.

And yet, strong as the backward pull within me is, I do not dread my days.  I like them.  I do not have mountainous problems facing me, no situation too fearsome to come to grips with.  And once the break is made, I’m content, and that night I’m even reluctant to ‘hit the sack’ again.  But the lure of bed is strong, universally felt and I ruminated and grumbled:

“In bed we laugh, in bed we cry.
“In bed we’re born, in bed we die.”

And about then the last corner of my bed was straightened and neat and I said to myself, Oh, Ethel, go get yourself a nice hot cup of tea and you’ll forget all these silly thoughts.  So I did and so I did.  But not before I’d scooted to my computer and put all these ideas there on the hard drive so I could share them with you. Thanks for being there.