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Muriel’s Metamorphosis

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

Last night, I went to bed. I was me. My ordinary self. All was well. I snuggled into a comfortable space and took a deep breath. It had been a busy day. I turned the radio on. I like to listen to it when I go to sleep. All was set for an ordinary night’s sleep. Ahhh….

Muriel, probably 19:20 yrs. old

The night before

The next day I awoke. What happened? Where were my arms? They were around here somewhere. I opened my eyes and looked around. Ah, there they were. They reluctantly moved over, obviously still tired. They had been dancing.

happygirlarms

The arms had been dancing

I tried to place those arms where they belonged. One ought to be able to do that. But it isn’t that simple. There is a right arm and a left arm. The flesh had been firm the night before. But, if there had been a breeze in my room, these began to look like they would flap about.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka, why would he visit me????

I couldn’t stop there. I needed my legs. They were here when I went to bed. This was getting too weird. Was Kafka visiting me from his grave? And why? I looked around. There were a few sets of legs to choose from. They just lay there waiting for an invitation to join me. I don’t usually give invitations before breakfast, but this was an unusual occasion, so I chose a pair.

‘Would you two legs kindly move over and join me?’ I asked tentatively. Was that MY voice????

They looked around doubtfully and conferred before making a final decision. Since no one better was hanging around, the two closest to me decided I was the best they could do at the moment. Where these legs will go tomorrow, I have no idea. Be aware. They may choose your bed instead….

Just last night, I was young and strong. I felt invincible. My skin was smooth. I had no wrinkles. After those legs settled down I dragged my new body (including arms) out of bed to wash my face.

old woman in mirror

The strange lady in my mirror…

There was this strange lady in my mirror who had never been there before. Who was she? And why was she hanging out in my bathroom? Didn’t she have a place of her own to wash up in the morning? Poor thing. One can’t throw an old lady out so early in the day — before breakfast yet.

I dragged that old woman into the kitchen with me. What else could I do? I prepared enough coffee and toast for both of us. What would you have me do? Perhaps I made a mistake because now she won’t leave. She keeps hanging around and her face looks at me from every mirror in my apartment.

gray hair and old glasses. jpg

She’s opinionated

However, there is one compensation. I’m never without company. Sometimes she even has interesting things to tell me when we chat. She’s kind of opinionated.

 

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Where does my time go?

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy

Where does my time go? Have you see it around? I’ve been looking

confused-old-lady

Where does my time go???

everywhere for it — even checked under my bed. These days everything seems to take longer. My undeveloped brain thinks I’m capable of doing oodles of things, but my body won’t cooperate. This became especially clear when I decided I ‘should’ get rid of ‘stuff’.

Friends complain about having to dispose of too much junk when elderly parent/s pass away, so I decided to be kind to my beloved offspring and throw out what I don’t need now. My office shelves seemed the perfect place to start. Spotting the many brochures and papers saved from numerous trips abroad I decided to start there. Have I ever looked at them? No… so okay. ‘Out, out damned papers!’ I declared aloud, trying to sound like Lady Macbeth when she tried to wash the blood from her hands.

The project was terrific. It felt noble — and what fun to look at all those souvenirs before tossing them into the recycling. Then, behind one envelope, I spied a stack of annual appointment calendars from the years 2,000 to 2,005. As a self-employed individual then, I kept detailed records in case Revenue Canada decided to audit my return. These could go too. Hurrah! It felt so good until….. I decided to look at those pages before tearing them up.

How did I manage to do all those things in one day — day after day? How could I have breakfast with a friend, manage an audition at 11, attend a business meeting at 3, and attend a theatre performance the same evening? Or, meet a friend at an art exhibit in the morning, study my lines over lunch, and get to a shoot by seven? I ran from one thing to another and on to yet another.

cartoonladyonbooks

Our wonderful book club still meets monthly

frida-kahlo self portrait. jpg

Frida Kahlo, self- portrait I saw at our local gallery

These records go back 18 years. What a merry-go-round I lived on. No wonder I’m tired today. I was writing, had constant deadlines; I was acting, with auditions to prepare for and/or lines to study for performances; I covered the arts in one of my columns, so visited museums and attended live performances; I was on our Strata Council and active in the building; my wonderful Book Club was already happening and our monthly meetings were held at my place (they still are — we’ve read over 200 books together).

funny lady at computer

Constantly facing deadlines for columns

make up

An hour to make me look older???

I noted that I attended a Film Festival in Palm Springs. A short film I co-starred in was  included. I didn’t look old enough for the part, so the makeup artist spent an hour each time to make me look older. Ha! On top of everything else, I kept up with having breakfasts, lunches and/or dinners with friends, many of whom I love and who are still in my life.

 

Yikes, I’m tired just looking at those pages full of stuff I used to do. These days I try to limit my obligations to one or two per day and feel lucky to make it. However, since my brain has never grown up, I continue to plan all kinds of household tasks to be done in one afternoon. Somehow, I rarely accomplish them all. What happened to all that energy? Where did I lose it? Have you seen it anywhere?

Are they out to get me?

muriel-6

Are they out to get me?

It’s all Brian’s fault. He had this fabulous guide put out by Harvard Medical School called ‘A Guide to Cognitive Fitness’. I read it with interest while I was his house guest. It offers ‘6 steps to optimizing brain function and improving brain health’.

My brain still functions well enough for me to realize I need help in that area, so I was determined to put into practice some of the suggestions the brilliant people at Harvard had to offer.

It told you what to expect of your brain after 50, 60, 70, or 80. What was Brian doing reading about the aging brain? Was he just telling me I’m getting forgetful? To me, the guy was still a kid. Then I realized that while I’d been aging, so had he and everyone else. I wasn’t the only one interested in the aging brain!

Did I make it up or did it really say it was normalMom report cover for my age to lose some of your short-term memory? That gave me a sense of relief. I’m normal. I would have liked to swipe the darn book so I could show that line to everyone I know, but you can’t do that when you’re someone’s guest.

Okay, my memory ain’t what it used to was, what now? It suggests learning or doing something new. I gave that thought. What can I do that’s new, interesting and fun?

I had already started to learn about Facebook, which I think, for the most part, is the biggest waste of time. (How many photos of someone’s lunch does one need to see?) However, the wise members of my book club had encouraged me to continue, because, said they: ‘It’s good to learn something new.’ (Were they giving me a message too??)

woman_doing_crossword

I’d never done crosswords

Something new? Something I’ve never done? Ah, crosswords. I’ve never done crosswords even though I love words. I decided to try. I had a friend who used to do the New York Crossword Puzzle completely every morning. He told me you got to learn how the guys who write them think and once you did, it got easier. Aha!

I found a crossword for dummies in a local newspaper. Well, it wasn’t called that, but it was easy enough and my friend was right, I got to know the words whoever wrote them liked to use. Even someone with my brain capacity could feel clever. I WAS able to finish them, except when they cheated by using names of athletes or actors I didn’t know. (My ten-year-old grandson could be a great resource for athletes, he knows them all — in case YOU need help with those.)

I learned something else. When I couldn’t find one or two words on the crossword and left it next to my coffee cup on the table, when I got back to it later or the next day, I COULD finish it. How come? I wonder why. (If you know, do let me know. I’m curious.)

So, why am I upset? What happened to that newspaper? Why can’t I find it all this week. I’ve looked everywhere I know they usually are and they’re not there. Is it a plot? A plan to confound my brain before it’s ready to go further?

old-lady-with-walker

They won’t win

THEY won’t win, I tell you! I won’t let them. I’m a fighter. I’m going to try harder ones, the kind real people are able to do. If I can’t finish them, I’ll just write in any letters I want in the blank spaces. Ha-ha! That’ll confuse them — then if they ARE out to get me, they won’t get  the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve accomplished their mission.

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

Busy catching up on reading

Muriel2017

photo by my lovely Chandra Joy Kauffmann

I’ve always been an avid reader. When did it start? Perhaps when I was very young and my sisters slept in what was called a ‘double parlor’. As the youngest in the hen-pecking order, I knew enough to be quiet while they slept — or else. I remember sitting on the sofa just feet away from their bed, turning the pages slowly and carefully to not make any noise. If that’s when it began, I thank my sisters for my lifelong passion for books and reading.

In addition, I’ve worn glasses since I was three. I knew my daughter needed them when she was five because she sat too close to the TV. How did my mom know? There was no TV then. I asked. She said I would fall over my toys on the floor! Imagine how clever she was!

I’ve never had a big desire for much ‘stuff’ — except for books. If I saw one I thought I’d want to read, I’d buy it. Thus, my shelves are full of books I haven’t yet had time to read. It’s time to do so, and not buy any more. At least, I promise to try….Old lady reading

Who imagined I’d still be able to read at this venerable age? Yet I can — if the printing isn’t too small. (I can’t but thank Dr. Brian Singer, L.A. optometrist, for his expertise when others said it was impossible.) Looking through the books I haven’t read, there are those I’ll not be able to read — the print is too small. I waited too long for those. They’ll go to friends or the library. But I now have some serious reading to do.

Volwyn E. Vulliamy (1886-1971)

King Geour

About 30 years ago I picked up a copy of ‘Royal George’ (King George

King George III (1738-1820)

King George III, (1738-1820)

III) by Colwyn E. Vulliamy, published in 1937. Just finished it! This hapless king reminds me that being of royal blood doesn’t make you intelligent or wise, nor protect you from mental illness. (He’s the guy, who besides other disasters, needlessly lost the U.S. colonies.) As a history buff, it was just my kind of read.

Now, I’m onto a really old book daughter Susan bought for me years

Charles Kingsley 1819-1875

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

ago, ‘The Greek Heroes: Fairy Tales for my Children’ by Charles Kingsley, written in 1855. (Mr. Google says the busy man wrote hundreds of books.) The preface, which starts out ‘My Dear Children’ is a gem. It points out boys will need to learn this stuff and girls probably not, but will every day ‘see things we should not have had if it had not been for these old Greeks.’ Kingsley, a clergyman, made sure he instructed his young readers on proper Christian values while he was at it.

Greek gods

Greek heroes, who can resist?

Susan bought it for me because she knows I love Greek mythology AND old books. I’ve just finished reading the story about the hero Perseus, and am now enjoying the tale of Jason and the magic fleece (The Argonauts). {My husband once played Jason onstage — in French. I remember that with pleasure.} Sure, I already know these stories, but I love them and am having fun.

Greek mythology

powerful Greek Gods

Vision in our later years may not be what it once was, Mine certainly isn’t. Perhaps you also may want to read some of the neglected books sitting on your own shelves. Let me know what they are. And, happy reading!

 

 

Henry is having his way….

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

Henry is resentful. He’s upset. I didn’t take him along on my recent trip to visit my children in California. He wanted to go, but I had decided it would be best to leave him behind this time. He did accompany me on my trip to Nevada in July, but he was kept behind at airport security for further interrogation, and I was at the gate before I realized he wasn’t with me. Well, what do you expect? My memory isn’t what it was when I was 20!

Flying is no longer the pleasure it used to be, so I wasn’t thrilled to have to go back to security to find him. And, security wasn’t quite sure where he’d gone. It was a real nuisance. It seemed more practical to have less to deal with this time.

Chinese Airbus, 1992

Flying is no longer a pleasure

She always liked you better than me

Henry’s chagrined

So Henry is chagrined. He’s hurt and not behaving as he should. He’s generally undermining my efforts to know how far I’ve managed to walk each day even though I always remember to invite him along whenever I go out. Come on Henry. Cut it out. I get it. I know you’re angry with me. How long will this go on?

Henry can be temperamental. This isn’t the first time he’s chosen to ignore me. During the heat of the summer, he found my capri pants too disconcerting to concentrate on how far we’d gone. Like me, he isn’t good at double-tasking, and I believe he was endeavoring to romance a nearby resident. Would you call that a double-cross?

Henry is the name I chose to give my pedometer. It was difficult enough to figure out how to use the darn thing — well, okay, I still have problems now and then. However, after having received a new hip, I’m trying to gradually increase the number of steps I take each day. I need Henry’s cooperation to accomplish this. He’s definitely falling down on the job.

pedometer

Henry is my pedometer

I don’t know why I chose the name Henry. It just came out of the blue. My friend Joe said it means ‘Runs the household’. I checked that with Mr. Google who says Joe is right. Henry obviously already knows this and is throwing his weight around.

Cool it Henry, or I’ll get angry too and toss you out!

 

 

 

 

Persistence brings progress…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

I’ve been working hard at recovery since I had my hip replaced in late March. Am I neurotic? Perhaps. I’m probably also one of those ‘A’ personalities who is driven.

I’m not the type to buy an Exercycle and then just use it to hang laundry on. Nor will I enroll in an exercise class and lose interest. So, I used my bike regularly about five days a week and attended both Tai Chi and ‘Joint Works’ exercise classes and never missed if at all possible until — I was in so much pain I could hardly walk (prior to this surgery).

After I got my new hip, I did my assigned exercises diligently, returned to my exercise classes before I was able to do all the moves the rest of the class did, and got back on my Exercycle before I could lift that right leg over the centre. I had to walk around the bike and get up on the left, and began with very few rotations, which I slowly built up. With time I was able to lift that right leg over the centre — barely, but it was progress. Bravo!

I love baths. My whirlpool jets are set to hit directly at my arthritic joints. The warm

drawing of woman in tub

I love baths

water is wonderfully soothing. After three months, my surgeon said I may bathe again. A dear friend came over (just in case I needed help) and I made it! If I were a drinking person, I’d have celebrated with champagne! That was a real biggie….

I hadn’t been able to travel for well over a year. Gleefully, I

Susan& Michael

Michael and Susan at their front door

planned a visit to see the new home my daughter and son-in-law had built the year before. It required two airline flights each way, but I made it! I also climbed 17 stairs (Susan counted them) to see their upper floor. Since it was my birthday while I was there, my San Francisco contingent joined us. We celebrated. It was fantastic.

SM, Spa Day

Being spoiled rotten — facial and foot massage

Everyone spoiled me. My Chandra and grandson Remy gave me a facial and foot massage. Chandra noticed I hadn’t trimmed the last three toes on my right foot. True. I couldn’t yet reach them and wasn’t happy with having them done at the pedicure shop. (They’re into esthetics and that’s not what I need.) My loved ones took care of that too.

Hamming it up

Hamming it up

After my return home, now and then I begin to feel, in spite of my continued hard work, I haven’t made any new progress. Then something happens. One day I discovered I WAS able to reach and trim those three toenails on my right foot by myself. It was so exciting, I sent an email to my kids to give them the news. This too was a biggie.

Little by little, I keep increasing my exercises, and now and then I get a new or unexpected reward. I’m now up to 4:20 miles per seating on my bike, and am doing 70 steps each time on my stepper. I continue attending exercise classes, and my loyal pedometre counts my steps when I walk each day. I’m building them up too.

I’m not done with little miracles yet. When I bathed yesterday, I was able to get into my higher-than-average tub without using my arm to pull my right leg up and over. Yeah! Another step forward….

Why am I telling you all this? So you won’t ever give up.

Me give up? Are you kidding?

muriel-6

Am I stubborn?

A while ago my eye specialist said my vision had diminished — new glasses would no longer help. He told me not to bother trying. The thought was devastating. I’m an avid reader. I didn’t want him to be correct.

doc letters

I didn’t want him to be right.

Did I accept that? Of course not. I made (and paid for) an appointment with a local optometrist, who has fascinating new technology, to check. I wanted him to say my doctor was wrong and I could, indeed, be fitted with glasses which would keep me reading.

He agreed with my specialist. I wasn’t a happy camper.

Rebecca 1

Rebecca and Brian in Los Angeles

Did you expect me to stop there? Are you kidding? Four friends and loved ones recently told me I’m stubborn. Well, perhaps they’re right. Perhaps there are times it’s good to be.

Brian Singer is a practicing optometrist in Los Angeles. He and his wife Rebecca are dear ‘children’ whom I often visit. It made sense to discuss this problem with Brian. He cares more about me than any other optometrist and promised to check my vision the next time I visited  — and he did.

peering over glasses

I can still read

Brian WANTED to help. He took a chance. He tried. My reading glasses aren’t gorgeous. (He suggested I use old frames to save on the cost in case they didn’t work.) However, he has managed to keep me reading since 2011. Imagine what that means to me. Hurrah! Bless you Brian!!

There are many things I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for Brian and Rebecca’s caring love and hospitality through the years. I’m grateful for Brian’s skill and knowledge and his willingness to go the extra mile to help me, that he was successful and I’m still able to read and continue to participate in my book club. It adds so much to my life.

Yes, I am stubborn. I don’t give up easily, and the friends and dear ones who so recentlyMad old ladyan-with-a-rolling-pin-isolated-on-white told me so were probably referring to my determination to work hard at recovering after hip-replacement surgery. Okay guys, you’re right. I AM stubborn. But, I’m getting stronger every day — and getting my life back. Yeah! There are times being stubborn helps.