Kids Have Big Ears

and great memories . . .

Never underestimate the intelligence of a child. Their cognitive senses are operating at full blast long before they can communicate or comment. And the memory of what they see and hear stays with them. And sometimes they surprise you with what they not only saw, but heard and later on understood what was said. Wow, wow, wow.

My son, Bill, while yet in diapers, had a favorite cozy nook, between a corner and two hallways, where he could see pretty well what was going on in a good part of the house, and so, one day, I found that he heard and remembered for more than I thought possible.

His older brother, John, kept busy with ‘grown up’ stuff, but Gram and I talked about lots of things and people as I went about my daily chores. Later on as Bill learned to talk, we also found there had also been another pair of ears taking note of what we said. And was good at remembering, too.

Yes, one day, after he could talk Bill said, “Mom, do you remember when you and Gram were talking about . . . ?” and he then went on to tell me about that day, and, surprised, I answered, “Yes. Bill, I do.”

“Well”, he said, “that isn’t the way it happened.” And that dang kid went on to tell us exactly what had happened and Gram and I looked at each other in disbelief. And if he, the child was right, then my ideas of children’s abilities, in fact, children barely out of infanthood, took a great big turn-about.

I looked at Gram with eyes agog, and said, “Okay, thanks,” and the child casually went on with his play, but Gram and I knew then that it had been no unthinking child hearing our conversations, and I began wondering what else he had heard and understood. And stored away. Plenty, no doubt.

My sister tells of a like happening to her. Our mother, Nettie Ohlin, and her friends, did their summer quilting outside in a tree arbor of ours, with Bernice as a child, playing under the quilting frame the women used, and where she heard the women’s talk. She now tells me she knew story after story about our neighbors, long before she knew what it all meant. But, oh, what a foundation of learning.

I knew kids copied what they heard, for Bill’s older brother had proven that, also.  He too, was still in the diaper stage, and was sitting on the middle of the kitchen floor (where else?) and was swinging a small play plastic hammer his Dad had given him, and, of course, was pretending he was hammering with it. And of all things, over and over he was saying, “G. . D. . .   G. . D . . .”

Well, I hurriedly found another toy for him to play with, hid the hammer and couldn’t wait to tell his Dad that a few changes had to be made in everyday ‘shop’ language. Who told us that parent hood would be without shock? ? ?

And later on, I saw a daughter of a niece of mine do the same. Oh, not the cussing, just the awareness of what was being said. My niece was sitting near me, with her less than two-year-old daughter on her lap. She was telling me, that she was expecting another child, but decided not to tell her daughter (yeah, the one sitting ritht there on her lap) about it.

I laughed and told the expectant mother that she had already ‘spilled the beans’, and that the child on her lap understood what she had said. She looked at the child, the child looked at her, and the looks in the eyes of both, child and mother, was hilarious for both of them were surprised.

The mother to know that her child had understood, and by the look the child gave to me, it was evident that the child was surprised to know to know that there was an adult who knew that she understood. I laughed again in delight.

Stupid kids?? No, they’re all the same, and if you think not, you’re only fooling yourself. No, they don’t have the ability to talk, but my oh, my, they have the ability to hear and  remember.

Think back on your own life, you simply listened to what was being said, (that’s  how we learned to speak and say words) and it became part of us.  We knew and remembered. There are no secrets around children. They might not know all the inner meanings, or have the ability to comment, but, boy oh boy, do they ever know the facts, And have good memories, too.


Pearl Harbor – The End of Innocence

I was at Gram’s home that long  ago Sunday morning of December 7, 1941,  sitting in the upstairs east bedroom,  reading and listening to music, but  when the music changed to some kind of war story, I turned it  OFF and wandered downstairs.

Gram, Mrs. Archibald (Rachel Crozier)  Bradford, was  preparing dinner, and  as I stepped toward her, I paused, and didn’t know what to do, for I saw she was crying as she worked. 

She didn’t  speak,  and so I reached out with a loving   hug,  then  sat down at the kitchen table.   I wasn;t sure of why she cried, but  knew it had to do with what the radio told us meant War , and Gram, that dear woman,  knew what war meant.

 Her husband had served in the Philippine Islands in the Spanish American War, and   now she had two sons of the ages to serve in the war we were hearing  on the radio.  Gram knew  what war had meant, and  now would mean  to a new generation.. 

Jake  (Fenton Crozier Bradford), her son and  my brother-in-law, entered the room, had a folded newspaper  in his  hand, and as he passed me to go through the swinging door, to the upstairs,  he lightly whacked me on the shoulder with the newspaper and said, “This one’s for me, Ole.”

Jake had nicknamed  me Ole from my maiden name of Ohlin, so I  grinned at him, but he didn’t grin back or even stop to chat.

At that time, he was  36 years  old, a few months short of being too old (37) to be drafted  when WWII became a reality for the USA.  We  had been  helping England with Lend-Lease and many other ways, but that was the day when we were in that war. Over  our heads in it.

I saw that Gram  was taking care of whatever she was cooking, but was still crying and her radio  continued  telling us of what I had thought was  a ‘war story’, but by her tears and Jake’s comment, I suddenly knew that we were hearing no ‘program’, but Reality, firm, unchangeable Realty.

I suddenly’ k’new that we were being told of real Japanese planes which,  as we listened, were bombing and destroying, the entire USA Fleet,  and Air Force,  which President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had sent, ‘for safety’ sake, along with the thousands of our sons, brothers and friends aboard those Battleships, taken to military shelter in the Hawaiian harbor.

As  of that date, we  were  not yet  a part of  World War II, but that designation was shattered right as we listened, for we became aware that  Japan  had, with no world-wide notice joined that War on the side of  Hitler’s Germany.  And even as we listened, our USA Battleships, and their Crews, where we thought, would be safe from Hitler’s reach  were being  destroyed..

How wrong we were, and that Sunday morning, we were no longer bystanders of what was beginning to be called World War Two, and we were in it.  And over our heads in it, too.,

With Gram’s   tears, and Jake’s actions I realized they knew more about what it all meant than I did, and I shivered,  I was young, too young and unknowing, but we learned swiftly,  far too swiftly.

It would be five years before Jake could try to resume a ‘normal’ life, but even then he was one  of the lucky ones, for so many, many thousands never returned to their  homes,  but were killed and buried in places around the world that, before WWII, we had never even  heard their names.

We’ve never been so innocent since that December 7th morning . . . and never will be again.    In the hard way, we learned that truly,  the age of innocence was past.  And remains so .


Memorial Day Visits

With an open mind and heart, welcome them back for a visit . . .

Yes, the ‘official’ day of remembering our loved ones who have left God’s Human Room, and are now in another of His Rooms which offer us exactly what it is we need to learn.   Perhaps were offered here, too but we were too busy to take advantage of what was available and now, as we’ve stepped into another of God’s Rooms we will be offered again, exactly what we need for our eternal growth.

But, it’s an odd and rare person who waits from one year to another to remember those who have left us.   Most people do as I do, and so  there isn’t a day that passes, but that I don’t feel and ‘visit’ with Gram . . . Brad . . .Dad and Mom……my siblings, Spencer, Amber, Fern, and so many others.

And I think that. . . even as I look forward to being with them again . . . that they too are looking forward for our arrival in whatever Room they are now in. Looking forward to a day when they will joyously greet us.

Yes, I think The Source has many Rooms. Each special, each different, each like a gift awaiting our arrival.     But I don’t wait for that, but visit with my loved ones right here, and quite often, too.   Why wait? I feel them here, just as I did during the years when they were in their bodies. Yes, they’ve left but they visit.   Oh, yes, they do, and not daily but just the same, they visit. 

I often feel Gram with me in my kitchen, as I prepare my meals, for cooking was  her Number One hobby. Then it was her kitchen we shared, and now it’s mine.   Or her flowers, and I’ve never yet seen a display of Chrysanthemums as gorgeous as  when the plants she cultivated up and down her driveway, are in full bloom. It is a prize winning display, and all her doing.

Or, there’s a certain chair I oft time lounge upon and I am aware of the worn place where Brad’s hands rested, and over time rubbed the ‘finish’ off, and now my hands add to the worn places.   Yeah, it’s still Brad’s home.   Still Brad’s chair.   And welcome here, too .

And my memories and ‘visiting’ aren’t just in my home.   There’s a certain Cafe in South Salt Lake that I now never patronize . . . for, dang it, it’s not so comfortable and the food not so tasty when I’m not with John Nuslein.   But yet, ‘Jonathon’ and I visit for now  he comes to my backyard where we watch the wild life ‘over the hill’, and love the old pasture, which is now a golf course.

LaRee Pehrson, whose written words brought life and interest to the well-read Magna Green Sheet and whose presence I so enjoyed  as we traveled together, and we made good use of the phone when our night time conversations lasted often to midnight. And LaRee being LaRee I’m sure has found lots of stuff in God’s Next Room and set it all aside to share with me,

And then there’s been Dad, a true Swede, at my kitchen table with a full Coffee Pot and cake, cookies, pie or other leftovers from my ‘frig’ and freezer, plus two small boys at our feet, and happy times when Gram came over and joined us. Both boys recall Dad’s shoes, for they were the first they had seen that were actually shoes and not oxfords. And today’s kids would have to be shown the difference

home . . . and remnants of his Ham Shack are still here. Why not? They were his trade mark, and the da di da dit, da da di da, when one listens closely still echo in my rooms and now aided and abetted by the same dots and dashes of his youngest son. And now K7EA and W6ITW and W7JYI form a friendly   chorus of dots and dashes to verify that a Short Wave Ham once made this his home..

Jake is here and so welcome.

And Brad is here.   It’s his , with his cheerie “Hi, OLE’.   Jake’s nickname from my maiden name of Ohlin.   And I answer Hi, Hi, Hi. He was a brother in law and a good one, too. Yeah, he still visits here.

Mom isn’t here very often, because, I figured it was my and Brad’s home, and so the coffee and tea pots were well used, and the aroma of tobacco was welcome here atthat time, But her beliefs, God bless her, were so strong she could not come to a place that did not follow those edicts.   Life can be cruel, hard, demanding and hurtful, but The Next Room will welcome all. The Source understands and loves us.

Who else?????   My door is always open: Bill and Ruth Bailey of long years ago. Ann and Jack Larkin, both here and also at 206, 208, East on 4800 South and I’m sure the Source’s Next rooms are large and welcoming, for there are many I will look for and will need a large space.

Yes Memorial Day comes once a year, and the cemeteries are crowded with the many who go to stand by the site where the loved bodies were buried. Good, good, good, but better still is quietly welcoming those dear ones to our homes that they probably knew as well as we did.   With an open mind and heart, welcome them back for a visit. You’ll be glad you did.

Learn To Love Yourself First

     We use the word ‘love’ many times a day, and in so many different ways that it becomes baffling.   Lots of people consider the two words of Sex and Love, to be synonymous, but they are far from being so.

First of all, we should realize that the word Love is not primarily a Noun, but a Verb .  And a verb is a word of action, and action, once put into motion, continues in motion. It’s a natural Law. Recognized as such, the more Love we use and send along to others, the more love comes back to continue being used.


     The supply is endless, and the wise ones tell us that first, we must learn to love ourselves. To make it our own inner joy, and then silently send it along to others making us more joyous. Some of the easy rules follow.


Love yourself and therefore:

     Take loving care of your body, feeding it nourishing foods and beverages. Groom and dress it with love, and watch your body respond by giving you health and energy.


Love yourself and therefore:

     Your home will comfortably fill your every need and be a joy to live within. The rooms will be filled with love’s vibration so that all who enter, yourself included, will feel and be nourished by it.


Love yourself and therefore:

     You will enjoy your work for, no matter what it is, it will use your creative talents and abilities, and allow you to know and communicate lovingly with those who become part of your life.


Love yourself and therefore;

       Your every need is met and often will come into your life before you are aware such a need was approaching. The Source is all-knowing and, if you but allow, the way is prepared before you.

The Bible says: “He goeth before, and prepareth the way”.   .


Love yourself and therefore:

     Think in a loving way toward all people, for we know that whatever we give, (love or its opposite), returns to us multiplied over and over, filling our world, and mirroring exactly what we sent out.


Love yourself and therefore:

     Forgive and totally release all past experiences which, at the time, you worried about, resented, yet clung to. Only with utter, loving, forgiveness, can you be free.

Love yourself and therefore:

     Live in the Now. Experience each moment as good, and know that your future is joyous and secure. Everyone is a child of the Source and that Source lovingly cares for us, now and forever, the same way you, as loving parents, care for your children.


Love yourself and therefore:

     You will discover you can love all others. Including the many in this world whose deeds you cannot love, because The Source teaches us to love the do-er, not the deed.

     True Agape love is the only way to end the violent and dangerous actions that we see or read about in the media news each day. Love is the only answer to wars, street crimes, home disagreements, violence, greedy political debates, and arguments of all kinds.


Love yourself and therefore;

     Silently send love to all people, no matter what creed or color, and if right next door or the other side of the world. Silent love is the only action that will someday change the world, but the action must begin, and continue to live, within each of us.


     Learn to respect, accept and love your own worth. Then, no matter where you are or who you are with, don’t wait or say a word, but silently start sending love. Right then. You are the only one, from the special spot where you abide, who can set in motion Love’s eternal action.



I found these words several years ago in some book or magazine. Liked them, saved them, altered or added here or there, and now pass them along to you. And I choose, when I read the name the author has called The Source, to murmur the name of God because He is the ultimate Source of All.                  (Anon.)




My Mom sure is wise . . .   Things she taught me.

Do any of these sound familiar? My mother didn’t have a lot of ‘schooling” but these are facts I learned from her as a child. Betcha you heard them too.

My Mother taught me early TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.

“If you two are going to fight till you kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning that room.”

 My Mother taught me all about the depth of PRAYER.

       “You better start praying right now that the stuff you spilled will come out of the carpet.”

 My Mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.

“If you don’t straighten up right now, I’m going to come over there and knock you into the middle of next week.”

 My Mother taught me LOGIC.

“Because I said so. That’s why.”

My Mother taught me about FORESIGHT.

     “Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

My Mother taught me IRONY.

“Just keep crying, and I’ll give you something to really cry about,”

 My Mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.

“Shut your mouth and eat you supper.”

 My Mother taught me LOGIC.

“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”

 My Mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.

     “Will you just look at the dirt you have on the back of your neck and in your ears.”

My Mother taught me about STAMINA.

You’re going to sit there till all that spinach is eaten.”

 My Mother taught me about WEATHER.

         “If looks as if a cyclone swept through your room.”

 My Mother taught me how to solve PHYSICS PROBLEMS.

“If I yelled because I saw a meteor coming straight toward you, would you listen to me THEN?

 My Mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. Don’t exaggerate.”

Betcha they sound familiar to you, too. And no matter where you live. For some reason they’re familiar to all of us. Almost word for word.


Who Shall I Be Today?

And who are you?  Today.

Sometimes I’m asked, “Who are you?” and I’m tempted to reply that I’m lots of Ethels, and which one do you mean?

The name Ethel Bradford, only means I belong to a family of Bradfords and ‘labeled’, so people can tell me apart from others. And that Ethel has been daughter, wife, lover. mother, grandmother,  and twice a great-grandmother.

But you know, as I do, that all those ‘names’ are actually only labels, tags you might say, explaining what role I played or play in some one else’s life.

None of them relates to the Ethel who responds, or hangs up, on those who try to beguile or fill me with fear in order to get me to vote for the one who is paying them to make the calls.

And still different from that Ethel who tries to explain to another phone-voice, that I never buy or give money to those who ask by phone. And you wouldn’t want to know that Ethel who was once told, (in today’s explicit words) to perform some anatomically impossible act. Yes, I knew the words. but was shocked to hear them  aimed at me. I was tempted to respond in the same lingo.  I didn’t. but that too, is another Ethel.

To some I’m a Teacher, and there I smile, for I always learn more than I teach, because the teacher must ‘dig’ for more information than ever used, while all the students have to do is listen, doze, or not even attend.

I’m a different Ethel when met with anger or resentment, than with arms of love. Yes, and there are Ethels that I don’t especially like, but, at times we all play such roles, too.

I remember back when I was my Dad’s Flicka, his little Svenska girl, and though I didn’t know what those words meant, I knew it was an Ethel I liked being.

I’m not sure who I was to my mother, for she could not accept the Ethel who could not unquestionably follow her steps. I was a different Ethel than what she wanted, expected, and sadness came to us both. It caused me to try to give my sons deep character training, but also the freedom to use those values in whatever System they chose. And that my love for them would not vary an iota.

And sometime who we are is a puzzle. as with me to the one I’ve called Gram. She was my husband’s mother, so I was not her daughter, and yet she said I was her true daughter. It’s an Ethel I loved being, and am glad I was given that role to fill.

And then there’s the Ethel who is a student, for that Ethel keeps me forever stepping through doors that, with just a touch, prove not to be doors at all, but new territory to explore and widen my mind. This has become my favorite Ethel, for she points the way to the Ethel I am becoming as I eagerly step through those false doors with open eyes and mind.

To my surprise, and I wish I could tell every older person, but as I get older, I’m finding an entirely new Ethel. I eagerly reach to her with surprise and ask, where have you been all this time? And I’ve found that I had to wait until years of living, and stepping through those wide-open ‘closed doors’, would be needed to give me the bravery, joy, and wisdom to dare be the Ethel I never before was ready to be.

And the best part of it all, is to find that I, by the roles I play today, am also choosing who and what I will be tomorrow. And to know that this is not a ‘new’ Ethel, but one who’s always been with me, waiting to be discovered.

I’ve caught glimpses of that Ethel peeking out from behind the thousands of roles I’ve taken, but slowly found that no matter what name or camouflage I assume, IT is the real, never changing ‘me’. And, shiver, shiver, shiver, like you, It’s who I Am, always was and always will be. Yes, the names given me will vary but the real, final Role will always be the Ethel who is One with The Source of all. And some day, I hope we’ll meet each other there.


Nothing New Under The Sun

And there was Sappho,  who lived on the Isle of Lesbo

Today, we’re daily bombarded with articles about same-sex marriage and other ‘different’ relationships.  So many, in fact, and coming from all directions, we might think homosexuality to be a fairly new phenomenon and probably the result of our free way of life with drugs, alcohol and such.  But how wrong such thinking is.

The Bible has many tales and references of male-male and female-female love, and the most famous one, perhaps, is that of the love between David and Jonathan, and in 2nd Samuel, 1:26, at Jonathan’s funeral, David publicly declares that he and Jonathan loved in a manner greater than from women.

There are many other Biblical notations on this facet of life, with Ruth and Naomi also well known, but more close to home, I tell of my own experiences with those of that large group.

The day Armstrong walked upon the moon, there was a young 9 or 10 year old lad in my home watching the TV with me, and I surmised (and later knew I was right) that he was Gay.  Years later, and then an adult, he sadly told me that as a child, he knew he was different, but couldn’t figure out what made him different, for he was sensitive enough to know he didn’t fit in with his brothers and their pals, or with his sister and her group.

He said, “Ethel, I cried so often at night because I was so alone, so isolated, that it was a tremendous relief, and to tell the truth, and also a welcome surprise to find that there were others exactly like me.  That I was not alone.”

Gay and Lesbian people are all around us, if we just have the openness to see and accept.

Later on in my own life, there was a young man who had a Hair Salon and as he worked to make my hair all one color, he said, “I knew I was different, long before I knew what made me different.”  Which echoed almost the same words I had heard years before from that child in my kitchen.

“My parents”, he continued, “were of no help at all when I cried and asked them “why?” but later,  when as an adult, I faced and questioned them, they both admitted they knew of my struggle. I suppose they hoped it would all go away.  How foolish they were, just like hoping the color of my eyes would change.

“It would have been a ‘life saver’ to me, and such a help if someone, anyone, would have told me what my ‘difference’ was, while I was still a youngster.  It would have saved me from many neurosis and deep personality problems to be coped with after they were so deeply and well ingrained with me.  How wonderful if help and understanding could be carefully given at the very beginning.

“See”, he reiterated, “we do not become homosexual, but are born as such, exactly the same as any child who is born with any other ‘difference’.  We need help in order to know and cope with the difference and the sooner the better for all concerned.

“It was such an eye opener, surprise and consolation, to find I was not the only one, but was bitter for many a year, and although my parents loved me, there was no true understanding.  I forgive, but it’s such a common, almost routine relationship with parents and child, whether gay or lesbian, that most of us leave and escape from our childhood environment as soon as possible, to search and find understanding and solace with others who are also considered ‘different’. It was there that I received my first true education as to what kind of person I was and am.  Far too late for me to smoothly find a way to adapt and have a fulfilling life.”

But going back even further than the Bible was Sappho, an ancient poet who lived on the Isle of Lesbo, and wrote of love with both sexes and Lesbo, of course, became the root of the word Lesbian.

I also know of a two wonderful men who became very well known in both the academic and artistic life of western America.  They have most quietly been partners for decades and their fellow academics could not help but know, but  chose to silently ignore any ‘difference’ and center only upon their great intelligence and achievements.  The work and artistry created by this pair has been consistently quoted, referred to and exhibited in many ways and places.

It’s wonderful proof that our world is not all of judging and crippling people.  There is much love and acceptance around us, once we dare ‘take off our blinders’ and bravely, and with open minds, look over the walls.

Anyone who is seriously interested in the Biblical history of this phase of sexuality can turn to Google where the many references could take you days to explore, and many go far back before Biblical records. I make no claim on being an expert on this subject, except what has come into my life, but, I am on ‘first name’ basis with Google, and use it, just as most of us also do.

A Machine Named Ethel

I am in it, but not of it . . .

I’ve written often of who I’ve been, but now find it most important to find out who I’m in the Process of Becoming. and find that everyone, aware of it or not, is doing the same. I take this seriously and think back on Shakespeare’s so oft-quoted words: “To thine own self be true,” and wonder, just who and what is my True Self.

To begin with, we became what our parents and early teachers made of us. What else? But by the time we’re in our teen years, many of us find we don’t fit into their pattern but try to conform, guiltily thinking that to be different must be wrong.

The Process to find our own True Self is difficult for young people, but in some manner, (with me it was books), many of us find that we are not wrong, only ‘different’. And that’s alright. for if we’re uncomfortable with who we are, we, and no one else, has the power to change  or help us change to fulfill our inner dreams.

We have initially been formed into what others wanted us to be, but for a successful, happy maturity, we must ultimately learn to respect, accept and finally love our difference.  And to  find out who and what we do want to be..

I tell my journey. 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 would have fit smoothly into my paternal Swedish lineage, and thankfully, finally became mature enough to know I was not wrong, just had been born with my own Scandinavian genes.

Little by little, I learned I was not unique, and that there were many with my same physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual propensities. Needless to say, it was a deep relief to find I was not some odd, unique being and far from being the only one.

It was a blessing to me that from childhood I was a reader, and my father never once complained of the many trips to and from the Murray Library  that  I carelessly asked of him. It was an eye-opener to me, and shook me to my core, to find books explaining the thoughts and lives of thinking people from the different countries of the world.

There, but a mile from home, was where I found that I was not wrong, only different, and more important, held the power and shown the way to become the person I wanted to be.

Aware or not, we’re all Beings In Process, and I wish Teachers could let young students know that every second of the day, everyone is in the Process of Becoming a different person. And, of prime importance, it is everyone’s choice as to the kind of person they are becoming.

There is not a one of us who wouldn’t like to go back and live our lives over again, but with the wisdom we have gained along the way.  Not to be, I know, but when we reach the last decades of our lives, we don’t wish to be another  Einstein, but to have allowed our True Selves to meet and work with those who entered and continue to enter our lives.

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

I think I’ve caught a glimpse of the Goal, and shiver as I know that if I allow and grow, we all will, in some Higher Next Room, 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 body without it, but I am not it and it is not Me.   I think you’d like the book.

It’s under the Ethel’s Books tab if you would like a copy of ‘A Machine Called Ethel’.

Time To Think About Sex Again

Spring has officially sprung, (despite being under yesterday’s melting snow) so here is one of Ethel’s advice columns on how to make your garden grow . . .

I’ve written about Artificial Insemination before and have yet to be sued for malpractice or even threatened with a law suit. And so, here goes again. And my method is absolutely infallible. Time tested.

Of course, the fact that it happens to be Tomato Plants I tell about might be the reason for such indifference, but just the same, if you plant a few tomato plants in your back yard, and grow beautiful vines, but no tomatoes  develop, try my method. It works like a dream.

I blundered upon this solution one year when I bought 4 or 5 tomato plants which had small tomatoes already formed. They grew into beautiful red globes, but, though the bushes continued to blossom, there were no more tomatoes.

Yes, they were getting enough sun.  Yes, I watered them and yes, I cultivated and even fertilized the soil, but still no fruit.

What I had forgotten, oh foolish me, was that it ‘takes two to tango’, and for two of the same species to create another of their ilk, the rules must be followed.

Yeah, I knew about the birds and bees, the boys and girls, and even the fish in the sea. But tomatoes? Frankly, I hadn’t given  them a thought, and had to be reminded by one wiser than I, that if you have only one or two plants, spaced too far apart, they just can’t do what they’re supposed to be doing, and will remain sterile.

Just like a couple going on their honeymoon, but each going to a different Hotel.

So, with fewer than a dozen words, that maven, my wise-one, gave me the secret to backyard failures and backyard triumphs.  And now I am an agricultural specialist and pass the information along to you. Pay heed and you too, will become an expert.

Each day the gardener must stroll from one tomato plant to another with  a Q-tip in hand, and gently, gently. touch each blossom with the cotton tip and then go to the next blossom and do the same, with the same Q-tip. and repeat the soft touch. Spreading the good stuff around, don’t you see? Oh, and be sure to keep that same Q-tip to use every day, gently, and again and again and again.

It works and this spring your tomato blossoms won’t dry up and fall uselessly to the ground, but soon there will be a tiny tomato sitting there, needing only time to develop into one you will take to your table. Or eat right there and then.

I always thought such impregnation techniques had to be performed by highly trained people, wearing white sterile clothing, etc. etc. But this spring, knowing nothing about reproduction (well, hardly nothing) you will be doing that marvelous job as well as a pro.

My   mother and dad could have used the wisdom of my teacher, as I did. They had a beautiful cherry tree and each year that tree bloomed profusely, but nary even one cherry developed.   Years later I read that certain trees, cherries included, have both male and female trees, and at least one of each must be planted close to each other before pollination can occur.

At one time, in what was then a vacant yard, and now Bill and Nina’s home, I had a Pie Cherry tree side by side with a Bing Tree. And had more fruit than I could ever have eaten and gave most of it away. And there, with a male and female tree, it worked.

Every farmer knows that a few long rows of corn won’t produce, but the very same number of stalks, bunched cozily together, will produce ears and ears of corn. The wind, which is the pollinator for corn, whips the precious ‘stuff’ into the air, but if the stalks aren’t right handy, the vital ingredient drops uselessly to the ground.

Even for tomatoes, you gotta have togetherness for the ‘birds and bees’ thing to work naturally.   And so, this summer, if people see you . . . with Q-tip in hand . . . going from tomato plant to another tomato plant, they will know you’re doing your job of matchmaker.

No, you won’t be in a doctor’s white coat, or in a sterile laboratory, or have expensive equipment in hand, but this method works, and you will have tomatoes by the dozen. Sometimes I amaze myself at the folk-lore that someone learns, passes along, and we all eat better because of it.

Spring Time

Spring means different things to different people. Yes, it’s the interlude between winter and summer, but the memories it uncovers are wide and varied.

To me, it’s when the dreary winter-dull grass down on the Golf Course turns to bright green, and people, not just the walkers, begin to people its pathways.

My friend jumped at my question with, “Oh, Ethel, yellow baby chicks.  They mean it’s Spring and warm weather will be here in two blinks of our eyes.”  She told me that the fertile chicken eggs were kept in the house and carefully cosseted in warm shallow shelters, where watchful eyes could keep track of seeing the chick, from inside of the shell,  would keep pecking at the shell until it broke and they found their way out.  A miracle to the child my friend then was and still a miracle to anyone watching such wonders.

I hadn’t thought of animals as Spring,  but, of course, young animals mean Spring to most who grew up in rural areas, and so it was no surprise when Bob recalled running in their pasture and playing with baby lambs. He says the mother Ewe would watch, but wasn’t disturbed, for the newborn ones have to exercise. His Dad, didn’t let him run them too long or too hard, but says it was good for the lambs and for him. And to remember, too.

For Wayne, who grew up in Lethbridge, Canada, Spring meant the Chinooks. “Oh, Ethel, the Chinooks came and the bitter cold was over.  I recall one day when it was 25 degrees below zero, and I was bundled  from head to toe to get to school, but later that morning a Chinook came swooping down and when I went home that afternoon, I carried all those clothes in my arms, not on me.  Spring brought the Chinooks, and the Chinooks meant the end of bitter cold and warmth for us all.”

Bernice had nothing to do with green grass, baby chicks, or baby lambs, but, she remembered how our Mother, (she is my sister) would insist that we wear LONG cotton stockings all winter long, and how, when Spring came, on her way to school, and well out of Mom’s sight, she would unhook and roll those stocking down as far as possible so that all day long she walked around school with huge ‘do-nuts’ of rolled stocking around her ankles.  ‘Do-nuts’ that were carefully rolled back up and hooked (remember Panty Waists?) before Mom saw her.  Yeah, parental rebellion was Spring, too.

Nina saw herself  ‘helping’ her father Till the garden soil, as she walked behind him, barefoot, and enjoying the warmth of the just-Tilled soil against her bare feet and wiggling her toes within its warmth.  She had seen her Father put the dry fallen leaves on the garden spot before winter arrived, and now she saw those leaves as compost and being mixed with the good earth. Nina saw the ‘complete circle’ and you can’t get any better than that.

I will not forget one day when I saw that someone had scattered small pieces of bright orange paper over my back lawn, and as I tsk-tsk-ed over the ‘mess’, I  went out to clean up the trash.  But there was no trash, just the beauty of Crocuses (I know the plural is Croci, but I like the other) that Gram and I had planted, and now  had multiplied and spread over a large space.  They are gone now, for I belatedly found that Weed killer for dandelions is a killer of crocuses, too.  And I unwittingly did it.

My sons remember roaming the pasture (before it was for golf) and prowling  for frogs, toads, bumble bees, and turning over rocks to see the worms and bugs sheltered there while waiting for the warm sun to lure them out.  Everything came alive down there where, to the casual eye, there was naught but cows and horses.  Only kids would have the time and curiosity  see how much life really returned each Spring.

Deanna remembers how her whole family, aunts, uncles and cousins, would go out to the West Desert for a great big picnic, and she didn’t really know why, but only how great it was.

I think I know why.  One of her Uncles, Dominic and his kids, were Rock Hounds and that west desert was a bonanza for such hunting.  The Rocks were later polished and he made lovely pieces of art from them.  I have a beautiful Rock Clock, that he made from rocks, that maybe he found on a  ‘picnic’ day.  But it’s autographed by his daughter Joyce, and  hangs on my wall where visitors see and admire it. Rocks too, speak of  Spring.

Chicks, lambs, Rock Hunting, Crocuses, bare feet in newly tilled garden soil, long stocking rolled down to ankles, looking under rocks for bugs about to come forth, the Chinook winds,  lavender Hyacinths in full bloom with their heady aroma, all speak of Spring.  And maybe what reminds you of Spring is world’s apart from any of the above, but while you’re enjoying this 2017 Spring, take a moment to remember and enjoy again,  your childhood years.  They’re priceless.