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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.

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The young Orson Wells broadcasting in 1938

That realistic radio dramatization of ‘The War of the

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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

 

About Einstein….

SusanHair cut, April 2014

My Susan, who understood before I did what this blog would mean to me

Had a visit from my Susan and her Michael — it was busy and wonderful and left no time to think of writing. Well, they’re gone and the laundry is (almost) all done, so last night I sat down to relax and watch ‘Inside Einstein’s Mind’ on Netflix. A normal person would have watched it through and learn something, but normal wouldn’t exactly describe me.

Whenever I think of Einstein, I imagine the world-renowned brilliant

Eisteintongueout

the famous photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out

physicist himself. This Nova program mentions something about Einstein having children. My curiosity took over. I had to put aside watching to find out something about them.

 

No one seems to know anything about Albert Einstein’s daughter Lieserl. She was probably born in 1902 and I could learn nothing more. It’s a mystery….

Hans Albert Einstein

Hans Albert Einstein

One son, Hans Albert, 1904-1973, a hydraulic engineer, followed his father’s example and moved to the U.S. in time to avoid the Holocaust. Hans became a professor at the University of California at Berkley.

Eduard, 1910-1965, often ill as a child was a talented student and musician. He studied medicine and wanted to become a psychiatrist. In one of those ironic coincidences, at age 20, he began suffering from schizophrenia. That ended any plans for a successful career. He spent many years hospitalized.

Eduard_Einstein

Eduard Einstein

Book- The Prof and the Madman

Worth a read

Not long ago, (see May 15, 2017) I wrote about reading ‘The Professor and the Madman’ by Simon Winchester. In it, Winchester states one in a hundred people have schizophrenia. That’s a whole lot folks. We need some brilliant souls to seek a cure for this heartbreaking illness which afflicts so many.

These are the children from Einstein’s first marriage.

In my search, I also learned about many quotes attributed to Albert Einstein himself. Here are a few:

‘Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you everywhere.

The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working.

The most important question you can ever ask is if the universe is a friendly place.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

ribbon-hearts

‘Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.’ Einstein

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.’

AEinsteinviolin

Albert Einstein

Einstein, an opinionated man with humor.

 

 

There are many more. Look for them online — fortunately Einstein WAS an opinionated man — with humor!

 

Joe's cup

Joe’s Einstein coffee cup. He hopes some of the brilliance will rub off.