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Blessed are the weird people…

SON RAFI, HIS BEAUTIFUL CHANDRA, AND ME

My San Francisco kids visited at Xmas. It turned out to be a White one and Rafi, Chandra, and grandson Remy loved walking in the snow. (It doesn’t snow in S. F.) On one of their many excursions, they passed a sign in my neighbour John’s window. Rafi, of course, had to take a photo of it.


John is one of those special, interesting and multi-talented individuals who is interested in everything and everyone. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to know him, but what I like best about John is his kindness to others — including me.


I first saw John acting onstage when I was writing a column covering the arts. Aside from that his photography is so beautiful, if I had any more room on my walls, I’d try to purchase one from him if he’d sell it. What else does he do well? I don’t at all know because the guy never brags. I asked John if he had written the words in the sign below. He said he hadn’t. If you know who did, do let me know.

In case the photo of the sign is difficult for you to read, this is what it says:

B L E S S E D
* A R E T H E *
Weird People
The Poets & Misfits
T H E A R T I S T S
T H E W R I T E R S
& MUSIC MAKERS
The dreamers & the
O U T S I D E R S
For they force us to see
THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY

A Love Story…

When I asked daughter Susan if I may post the following epic tale, she declared that anyone who IS anyone would want to be familiar with her brilliant saga. Here is what she sent out to friends.
(I’d scanned the original, but shall spare you the difficulties of reading same.)

photo by Chandra

‘So, my mom is going through some old files of hers and is finding all kinds of detritus from the distant past of our lives. One item she unearthed is a story which I must have written when I was extremely young, maybe around seven years old, judging by the spelling. My conclusion after reading this epic tale of heroism and romance: My mother was clearly putting LSD in my Cheerios! How else does a child come up with a story like this one, called, “The Pickle and the Stick”:
(Original spelling preserved)

Susan, left, could be about that age in this photo


Once thare was a pickle. It was locked up in a jar. Thare was a stick. One day the jar with the pickle fell out of a bag. the stick had gest left tree. The stick saw the pickles helplessa nd stranded; He opend the jar. all the pickles wher sour-harted all but one. she was a vary nice kind harted one. she asked the stick to please help her out. The stick did as she pleased (the pickle) The pickle said she would repay his kindness some how. The stick who was very polite said, “how nice of you.” Back at the jar the pickles had bad luck. a boy kicked them into the gutter and a car ran over them. that was the end, at least of them. the stick just then was picked up by a boy. He was going to brake Sirr stick in half! The pickle took a big, big breth and just in time FOOOOOOOOOOOO! Out came a tarabell noise. The pickle saved his life. They got marieyed and lived happily ever after.

The attached drawing is something I threw together with some help from the internet, inspired by reading this story. No, I am not currently on acid!’


Pssst! Wanna know a secret…

Psssst! Do you wanna know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?? Okay. Here goes…

I can type with one finger only since having hand surgery a couple of months ago, and my fingers (accustomed to touch-typing learned eons ago) refuse to share knowing where those darn letters are located on my keyboard with my brain, so I couldn’t write any posts for awhile.

PHOTO RIGHT: ‘Things are improving. No more hand brace!’

Life is a learning process. I keep discovering stuff and you, dear reader, are lucky because this is a BIGGIE, and I’m sharing it with you free of charge.

The secret????? ‘If you don’t write, they won’t read!!!!!’

It isn’t that your followers purposely desert you. It isn’t a devious plot — but without a reminder from WordPress about a new post, they just go on with their lives with nary a thought about you. They’re having coffee with friends or guzzling gin tonics and you’re the last thing on their minds. There’s nothing deliberate about it. It just happens.

You are hereby advised. Be aware!

SWhere you been?

Meanwhile, WordPress has ‘improved’ their system and I can’t figure out how to fix the quote below this last image. It should say: So, where have you been.’

Nor can I figure out how to get the quotes I want to be below the images to work like they used to. Oh, well. This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been confused.

I know you’re dying to know about —

safety pincolorpinsI feel a need to honour the single reliable safety pin which has loyally served me for  years by now. I use it to secure my pedometer to my slacks since the widget that came with it broke down within a year. I’ve never had to replace the safety pin. Think about that….

Well, I thunk on it and was moved to find

Walter Hunt, inventor of Safety Pin

Walter Hunt, my unsung hero

out more about this humble servant. It was invented in 1849 by American Walter Hunt, (1796-1859) who, because he owed some guy $15, sold the rights to it for $400. (now worth about $13,000.) Others went on to earn a fortune for what seems like a simple pin.

This was a pattern with Hunt, who also invented a rifle that

SingersewingmachinebyHunt

Singer Sewing Machine

same year, (later used in the Civil War). It also made oodles of dough for someone else. He invented an improved oil lamp, a portable knife sharpener, the sewing machine, better bullets and goodness knows how many other inventions.

The man was a prolific, talented inventor, however without much education or perhaps an ability to garner support for his ideas, he continued selling them for a pittance.

He did, however, finally win an out-of-court settlement in 1858 with the Singer Sewing Machine Co. for $50,000 (well over a million today) for copying his original sewing machine design. Unfortunately, he died of pneumonia soon afterwards and before he was paid. (At least his family did profit this time.)

diaperpins

cloth diapers used when I had babies

Unlike many other inventions, the

pinsdiapers

Never stuck any of my little ones

safety pin maintains it original design to this day. I used to use them to secure the cloth diapers we had for our babies when I was a young mother. I don’t recall ever sticking one of my treasured little ones with one. Disposable diapers came later.

Think about that too…..

Desperate measures for desperate times…

funny lady at computer

Life during COVID:19

There’s a saying: Man plans and God laughs. If ever there were truer words, find them for me.

My children live in a different country. I’ve been an avid reader forever. I’ve owned many books. I decided if I got rid of them, it would be easier for my kids when I need to move or pop off. If I decide to do something, I usually do.

I gave away books — many books.

Zhuangzi, 4th century BC

Zhuangzi, 4th century BC

Well, I’m hunkered down for the duration of COVID:19 and the libraries are closed. I’ve finished the few books waiting around to be read, so what next?

Going through my half-empty shelves, I saw ‘Zhuangzi: Basic Writings’, a textbook from a Chinese philosophy class I audited at UBC some 20 years ago. What the heck. It had been interesting, so I decided to revisit it.

FriedrichNietzche1844-1900

Nietzche, 1844-1900

What I found most fascinating were my own notes. This class had followed another I took about Western Philosophers, which included people like Freud, Nietzche, and even a contemporary well-known Canadian thinker, Charles Taylor.

 

‘Woman was God’s second mistake.’ Nietzche.

CharlesTaylor1931

Charles Taylor, born 1931

In my  notes on Zhuangzi, I’d noticed how similar  his written thoughts and those of Nietzche were, who came along hundreds of years later. Could it be? Had Nietzche read the ancient Chinese thinker and borrowed from him? Perhaps. Probably. Well, I, for one, thought so….

We stand on the shoulders of those who come before us.

xunzi

Xunzi, maybe 310 BC

 

‘The noble person uses things, the lesser man is used by things.’ Xunzi. (Actual birth date unknown.)

COVID:19 project #2 — Junk Drawer

lovethisone

Project #2

So you’ve been biting your nails, anxiously waiting to learn what you’ve always wanted to know — what I found in my junk drawer. It’s been an exciting project. I’m learning a lot during this solitary COVID-19 life, which I’m now passing on to you, my readers — free of charge!

Firstly, I was surprised at how pristine my junk

junkdrawer

looks like mine

drawer actually was. My cabinets were installed 28 years ago and it had never ever been emptied.

Here’s a hint for you: Never work with food on your kitchen counters while drawers below are open. That way, no food or crumbs get into them. (Now, aren’t you lucky to have been given this brilliant tip? Also free of charge?)

tidyup

My drawers ALL look like junk drawers

I learned that all my kitchen drawers LOOK like junk drawers and I marvel at how my loved ones knew which I was talking about when I used that term. Will they recognize it now?

It’s about a week since I neatened my junk drawer. It will take about a week until it’ll be back to it’s familiar mess. But that’s okay, I’ll then know whose kitchen I’m in.

 

Stuff I found:

Photo on 2020-03-29 at 15.23

Tin foil to sharpen scissors, rose made of wood, metal straws w/cleaning brush, and bottle opener from France

A beautiful rose made of wood (I think) by Dusty, a wood-wright who moved away. We used to have morning coffee at Benny’s, which is gone too. (Dusty follows my blog. I’m keeping it.)

Left over tin foil, to sharpen scissors. (Another tip! It really works. Cut foil with your dull scissors.)

Some metal straws with a cleaning brush, a gift from Alison. I’m enjoying one I use on my office desk. (You can’t have any, no way Jose.)

A bottle opener, from Paris, with Napoleon on one side and the Eiffel tower on the other. (Please take it.)

Photo on 2020-03-29 at 15.18

Butterfly pin, seed splitters, key chains w/lights, tea holder

A butterfly pin, given me by a friend just before she checked out for good. It reminds me of her and it’ll stay.

Two items to split seed shells, used (I think) for watermelon seeds. Chinese students’ families used to give me them because I like them. (If you know where to buy them I’ll be your best friend.)

Four key chains, with lights. Friends know I like them with a light. (Up for grabs.)

One something to hold tea leaves. I don’t drink tea and have teabags for friends. (Also up for grabs.)

bluebroom

How long will it last???

 

This most exciting post about a thrilling COVID:19 project is my attempt to help you  manage the current crisis. What next? Maybe I’ll find a way to get a hug one of these days. I miss them most of all. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know….

Seize the day…

Muriel2017

A friend recently recommended I not save my favorite cologne for tomorrow. How right she was. Life is precarious. We don’t know what the day has in store for us. A two-ton-truck may be lurking around the corner just waiting to throw me down hard on my keister. I’m using my favorite cologne…

I’ve become aware of my mortality and that pleasures I’ve enjoyed in the past can become impossible. OpendoorHowever, when one door closes, another opens. All we have to do is be willing to walk through that new door.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka 1883-1924

 

Always an avid reader, when I learned my vision was vulnerable, I went on a reading binge like no other — and it hasn’t yet ended. MetamorphosisI’ve pulled books I’d been planning to read or reread for years off my dusty shelves like: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, (banned in the Quebec of my youth but no big deal today); Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ and his very short and strange ‘Metamorphosis’ which I’ve read at least a dozen times, (both unforgettable); plus Cervantes ‘Don Quixote’, (a sometimes wonderfully funny book). I’m still reading voraciously…

Here’s a quote I like by Kafka, whose brain had no boundaries: ‘If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?’ His books DO wake us up with a blow on the head for sure.

The Trial

Weird and worth reading…

My everyday dishes now are fine English bone china. My former ‘everyday’ dishes are now used only

aynsley-cottage-garden-fine-english-bone-china_1_6cf6afd2e8a77b3de3f26be36cca697c

Well, wouldn’t this cheer you too?

to reheat food in the microwave. I like my fine china. Its colorful and makes me happy every time I see it. Furthermore, no one can ever say I didn’t get to use it. Indeed, I’ve dropped a few and the hard tiles on my kitchen floor are totally unforgiving, but so what? I rarely have 12 people over for dinner these days anyway.

I concentrate on doing things which enrich my life, like having lunch out with friends I particularly enjoy being with. I also get a great kick out of writing this post. It pleases me to share my thoughts with you, so I thank YOU for giving me this pleasure.

Hey, I found a dime…

graybending

I found a dime!

I walk most mornings. I’ve done so for years. I used to find coins on my way to whatever cafe I chose to have coffee/breakfast in, but haven’t found any for years now. Could this dime be a good sign? Is it possible things are picking up?

variouscoins

Canadian coins

 

Living these days is EXPENSIVE, especially here. Rents alone in my beautiful city are beyond the reach of far too many. Workers whose incomes aren’t high can’t manage to make it. So, I figured, if someone drops a coin, they bend down to pick it up.

busdriver,jpg

Bus drivers are on strike

 

Right now our bus drivers are on strike. Hotel workers are on strike. Some school employees are on strike and teachers won’t cross the picket lines. Even  university professors are on strike. And I heard on the radio that forest workers are striking as well. Goodness…..

 

So there was a real dime — right there on the sidewalk in front of me. How exciting! I looked carefully to be sure it was really true. It was! Let’s hope it IS a sign things will improve for all of us.

 

7, Triumph

Its tough when your kids are smarter than you are

 

Then clever daughter Susan called and blew my whole theory to bits. ‘It has nothing to do with the economy, Mom. Nobody carries cash anymore.’

I always carry cash, but she’s right. The young don’t. Its tough when your kids are smarter than you are. Oh well, so much for my theories.

Hotel rooms with books to read???

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

As a lifelong avid reader, I’ve often bought books I ‘hoped’ to read someday. Someday never arrived, my vision isn’t what it used to be and I know I’ll never get to them. With much regret, I’m giving away every book on my shelves with small print — unread.

girlsreading

A lifelong avid reader

The books either go to friends, get donated to the library, or end up in those wonderful little free sidewalk libraries in my neighborhood. I give them away with the hope that someone else will be tempted to read the books I meant to, but never found the time for.

bookcases

sagging bookshelves

This is also a good time to give away books I’ve already read. There’s no point in holding on to them now since I still have too many sitting there on my sagging bookshelves waiting for my attention. I’m trying to generally cut down on stuff anyway.

Some of the books that are leaving home are of short stories, essays or poetry, books to be pried open and read with pleasure when there isn’t much time. They’d be great to have in hotel rooms.

funnyreading

Books to be read with pleasure

Hey, I like that idea! Packing books for travel can be difficult. They’re heavy and that can be a problem when airlines weigh your luggage. Wouldn’t it be great to find a book of short stories, essays or thoughtful poetry in that hotel room drawer beside the old Gideon Bible?

grreatfree

My great idea!

Think of it. Now that hotels have competition from all those Air B n B’s, this might be reason enough to BOOK with a hotel rather than take a chance on what may be questionable accommodations advertised on the sometimes unreliable Internet.

What say you?

Reading thru a cold….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

I don’t get sick often, but I did so now and this whatever-it-is is a humdinger. It’s so attached to me, it’s reluctant to leave. As a result,  here I am stuck indoors and fighting cabin fever.

Years ago, I recall thinking it would be great to be sick for a little while, comfortably tucked in my comfy bed with a good book and hot coffee and tissues within reach. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. When I have a cold, my eyes are so bleary, reading isn’t the pleasure it usually is, or as I imagined it would be when ill. I admit I spent most of my time this week just watching Netflix.

 

waroftheworldsbook

A book certainly worth a read

I was deeply involved in reading H.G. Wells’ ‘The War of the Worlds’, which I had picked up with my grandson, Remy, in mind. (Remy consumes books the way some children consume sweets.) Because Remy is eleven, I like to pre-read the books I buy him before I pass them on. I could hardly put this book down. I had heard of ‘The War of the Worlds’ but had never read it, yet i seemed to know what it was about. How come?

 

hgwells#5

The successful H. G. Wells wrote over 100 books

It took my clever son, Rafi, to solve that puzzle. When we discussed the book by phone, he immediately referred to Orson Welles’ famous 1938 radio broadcast, which I had, indeed, heard of even though I was too young to hear it.

orsonwelles#2

The young Orson Wells broadcasting in 1938

That realistic radio dramatization of ‘The War of the

newspaper#2

One of many headlines in 1938

Worlds’ created a nationwide panic throughout America. Many believed the world WAS being attacked by Martians. Orson Welles, all of 23 at the time, and his Mercury Theatre, had decided to update the story. The results were shocking.

The original book, which I’ve about finished, is

hgwells

H.G. Wells, 1866-1946

shocking as well, considering it was published in 1898, long before astronauts, space exploration, and so many other modern technologies were even thought of. Perhaps ‘The War of the Worlds’ IS the original alien invasion story.

dame rebecca west

Dame Rebecca West considered Wells the love of her life

In trying to learn more on the Internet, I am told Mr. Wells. a most successful science fiction writer, had a ‘scandalous sex life’, was comfortable with committing adultery, and believed in free sex! Mr. Google, willing to gossip, said Mr. Wells once claimed ‘Sex is as necessary as fresh air.’

If I felt better today, knowing me, you can be sure I’d be checking further into all this. You know what a ‘histerical’ (I just made up that word) gossip I am, but since I’m only now getting better, I’ll leave checking into his many love affairs up to you.

Happy hunting…..

newspaperwarof worlds

Terror after Orson Wells’ radio presentation in 1938