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Better than a novel…

Queen Elizabeth 1st wearing her red wig
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

I’m intrigued by history, but hesitate to call myself a history buff. I am actually more of a ‘history gossip’. The happenings of the past — political marriages, love-affairs, intrigues, murders and other goings-on are fabulous and often better reading than a novel.


For instance, take Queen Elizabeth 1st of England, who wore globs of white makeup to cover her pock marks. (It contained lead and caused many a death as a result.) Handsome Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, a favourite of hers, who was rumoured to have warmed her bed and probably did, in the end had to pay with his life when he made her really, really angry. After all, Elizabeth had absolute power.

Frances Sidney, Countess of Clanricarde, Robert’s wife


Being a favourite of the Queen was a dangerous business. Robert served her well, but when he acted against her wishes and had the audacity to marry Frances Sidney, Countess of Clanricarde and widow of the English writer, Sir Philip Sidney, he should have known he was walking on thin ice. Whatever WAS he thinking?

Hugh O’Neill, Irish Leader


The Queen didn’t act immediately, but she seethed. Then when he made an unauthorized truce with the rebel Irish leader, Hugh O’Neill, the Monarch at first greeted him kindly, but saw an opportunity for revenge. The angry lady ordered the handsome guy’s head chopped off. Well, what did he expect, the queen was obviously not amused.


It is also interesting to note that Robert was beheaded in 1601. Frances, Robert’s wife, died that same year too. I wonder??? Do you?

Revenge of the coyotes…

Island of plastic in the Pacific

It was hot! A long drought in our rain forest led to roaring forest fires, devastation and the destruction of whole towns and some deaths.

Extreme weather, floods, mudslides, tornadoes and hurricanes took more lives. People became homeless all over the world.

Islands of plastic formed in our oceans. Millions of creatures in local waters perished in the extreme heat. The coyotes could smell it, it was unbearable.


‘We’ve got to do something,’ declared Tara, their old leader, ’Call everyone. We must have a meeting. Those stupid humans have gone too far. They need to be taught a lesson. ’

Tara, elderly leader of the coyotes


Word travels fast throughout the park. All the coyotes gathered to hear what Tara had to say. Even the skunks and raccoons, hearing about the meeting, gathered on the fringes of the large group.

The skunks heard, they came
Word travels fast in the park


‘People are unbelievably stupid,’ Tara said, ‘If we don’t do something, we’ll all perish. Attack them, their children, and their beloved dogs — starting now. We must have our revenge…’


‘But their children tried to teach them,’ spoke up Cotu, ‘Why attack them? They’re innocent.’ Cotu was young, but coyote young are listened to.


‘Humans don’t listen to their children, those kids have no power,’ replied Tara, sadly shaking her head.

Raccoons Came too


Her word was law. And so it happened. After years of peace, the war was on — between coyotes and humans.
And so, it came to pass this summer, for the first time, dozens of humans in this beautiful city’s famous Stanley Park, were attacked and bitten by coyotes. What was going on? Why was this suddenly happening?
The humans didn’t get it.


‘Coyotes don’t belong in a city park,’ they argued, although coyotes had always been there. But this was new, coyotes had never been a danger before. The officials needed to act. They’ve now decided to ‘cull’ the coyotes. The plan is to catch and kill 35 coyotes. And, how will that help??? If they must ‘cull’ the coyotes, why not trap them and move them to an uninhabited area? Why kill them?

Coyotes had always been there


Humans don’t understand the coyotes are trying to make them aware that they’ve gone too far and they are destroying our planet. Will they ever learn?


Run, coyotes, run! Avoid their traps. They know not what they do…

It is really hot!!!

I don’t do heat graciously.

It IS hot!!! I don’t do heat graciously. We’re breaking records daily. How anyone can doubt the warming of our planet is beyond me. Meanwhile our current weather is more than I can deal with.

I had good intentions and was planning to write about something else, but I can’t concentrate. I think my brain is fried — so instead, I’ll tell you what happened on my walk this morning.

I think my brain is fried.


It was early and already too hot. My clothes were sticking to my body. I was miserable. I meandered into a local AIR CONDITIONED drugstore to cool off. As I slowly walked up and down each blessedly cool aisle, I spotted the blood pressure machine.


I’d been fine and my doctor hasn’t seen me since before the pandemic started. My blood pressure hasn’t been tested. Brilliant! I’ll sit down and check it and be COOL while I’m at it. Ahhhhh…


I did just that. Sat down and placed my left arm into the cuff. Turned the machine on and waited patiently as it told me the test was in progress.

When it was over, the results printed for the world to see were: 0 0 0. Does that mean I’m dead????

Does that mean I’m dead???


Daughters should not be funnier than their moms…

Daughter Susan

My children are smarter, better looking and taller than I am. That’s okay. However, there are limits — and the fact they are definitely funnier is going too far. It is not only embarrassing, but humiliating as well. For instance, here’s a recent email I received from Susan.

“So, I get it. I’m not as attractive as I used to be. And in my bathrobe on a morning when I just don’t feel that great, I look pretty dumpy. But SCARY? TERRIFYING? A VISION OF UTMOST HORROR? That is apparently what my horse, Kodachrome, thought of me when I toddled out to the paddock in my bathrobe yesterday morning.


Now, you have to understand that Koda is normally an incredibly brave horse — almost freakishly unflappable when encountering things that would send most horses running for the hills. Things dropped right next to him and making loud clattering noises or even bumping into him? Meh, not worth batting an eyelash. Leaf blower kicking up a storm of dust while making a deafening roar? Gee, looks like fun — maybe it would make a good toy. Taking off your jacket while riding him and throwing it on the fence? No problemo —yawn.


But SUSAN showing up in her BATHROBE??? RUN FOR YOUR FREAKING LIFE!!! Yeah sure, the lower part flapped open a bit, perhaps showing more of my fish-belly white legs. And yeah, those same legs could use a shave. But really? You would think the pit of hell had suddenly sprung open and disgorged a fire-breathing monster with ten heads the way he took of and went flying around the place!


Koda did eventually circle back when said monster started speaking with what seemed like his beloved mom’s voice. But his eyes were bugging out of his head, his nostrils flaring, every muscle fiber firing in case the necessity for flight appeared again. Perhaps he thought I was being eaten by the beast and came to see if he could save me.


He did eventually seem to realize that the bathrobe clad me was not a deadly dragon and he approached and let me pet him, but he kept a wary eye on that flappy part of the robe and clearly held the entire getup highly suspect.


Really, Koda — I don’t look THAT bad in the morning…do I?”


Susan Kauffmann
Lead author, The Essential Hoof Book
TheEssentialHorse.info
(775) 847-0547

Black lives matter…

photo by Chandra

I find interesting stuff when I look through my files. I just came on a column I wrote in 1992 which my then-editor called: ‘Prejudice and bigotry return’. Why did I write it?? Maybe it was because Kim Campbell, as Minister of Justice, declared we don’t have prejudice in Canada and I wondered what planet she lived on. It was also probably a time when the economy was hurting and when things are bad, bad stuff happens.

Growing up in Montreal when I did, we were the wrong faith and suffered for it, however I wasn’t even aware of the racism suffered by our small black community. It was only en-route to Los Angeles by bus in my late teens that I learned about the extent of discrimination against blacks in the U.S. and was appalled.

My introduction to ‘White Only’ facilities

I want to share this column with you because of the present pandemic, the depressed economy, and ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstrators trying so hard to fight racism which, unfortunately, still thrives.

Sign at children Rafi and Chandra’s home

Here’s what I wrote in March, 1992:
‘Unfortunately prejudice and bigotry don’t go away. They continue to fester just under the skin and as soon as trouble hits, like right now, the disease surfaces and again, we’ve lost our dignity. Neo-nazism proliferates in newly united Germany and foreigners everywhere are attacked by hoodlums.

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reports a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. during 1991. Meanwhile in Canada, 12-year old native hockey players are not welcomed in Quebec families’ homes. Two Rotarians stalk out when their club, God help us, accepts a female member.

Women and children suffer the consequences of male frustration caused by unemployment. Crisis centres are overloaded with calls from the bruised and battered.’

Black Lives DO Matter


The article is too long to ask you to read it all so I’ll end it here. It could have been written right now. Don’t you agree?

My Susan…

susan:Carrie in tree

Susan, left, with sister Carrie

In the morning

Greenbug

We never found it.

We crawled on the floor
Seeking
The little green bug
Tucked into a drawer
For safekeeping
The night before.

Tear stains
On that little face
So sad, so white
Framed in
Silky, smooth hair
So black.

angry

Susan was angry, indignant…

“He stomped on my babies.”

cockroaches

I hope he brought them to HIS mother.

She was angry, indignant..
A pocketful of roaches
Shown off to
A bigger boy
And lost
To innocence.

SM Rogie naps on Susan's lap 1

Susan and her donkey Rogie. (As an adult, Susan enjoys larger creatures.)

A collection of bugs
Carefully pinned
To the inside cover
Of a shoe box
Desperate buzzing of treasures
Held captive who gnaw through
My very best scarf.

(Goodbye nice scarf…)

Sue on Hummer2017First Trail Ride, 4th Ride 019

Susan on Hummer — and even larger.

Pedestrians vs. Motorists.

screaming

Left your patience at home?

What’s going on? There seems to be a senseless battle in my town between pedestrians and motorists, and you’d think we who are older and supposedly wiser wouldn’t participate in the madness, but it ain’t necessarily so. Where has our common sense gone? Lives are destroyed and ended in a crazy game of ‘I dare you!’

pedongroung

Real lives are destroyed

 

 

 

I’m no longer driving which makes me a pedestrian. My opinion, however, hasn’t changed. My active imagination always saw my car as a possible killing machine bigger than you and capable of doing major damage, so I didn’t like driving and was extra careful.

 

letmecross

C’mon, let me cross

It was thus a surprise to learn the adversaries in this combat include my contemporaries. Over lunch, a driving friend told me, during an angry diatribe against all pedestrians, that she never, ever stops for pedestrians if they are not at a corner or in a crosswalk.

‘I don’t care,’ she declared, ‘They’re breaking the law.’ What? Is this what we’ve become?

Another driver recently called pedestrians ‘pestrians’ in my presence. I nearly choked on my coffee.

Meanwhile, non-driving friends complain about drivers who whiz by and don’t stop for them when they absolutely should. No one wins in this crap game.

freecemetary

No one wins…

cellphone

pack some patience, but leave your phone at home

C’mon everyone. Let’s leave home a few minutes earlier and pack some patience in the car — stay away from your cellphone and look out for those stupid pedestrians who cross the street looking at theirs.

Idiomatic idioms..

Muriel2017Having taught some poor souls struggling with the complexities of the English language, I know what a son-of-a-bitch idioms can be. They don’t say what they mean and even kids born into English speaking families are sometimes confused by them.

My own son, at three, opened those

Baby Rafi and sue

Little Rafi with big sister Susan

big eyes of his in terror when my friend told him she was picking him up from nursery school because his dad was ‘tied up’. She quickly noticed Rafi’s distress and explained his dad was just too busy to come. Whew!

A son of Polish immigrants painfully related what happened long ago in his 7th grade woodworking class. Dissatisfied with his sanding job, the instructor told him to use more ‘elbow grease’. Having no idea what that meant, he told his teacher he didn’t have any. I hope teachers today would be kinder, but he was sent to ask another teacher to ask for  some. He’s never forgotten how embarrassed he was when that teacher and his whole class burst into laughter.

raining caats dogs

It’s raining cats and dogs

When I taught an adult night class, I had one student who loved idioms. He’d regularly watch English TV and bring in the idioms he didn’t understand and ask me to explain them. He brought in many, including ‘The buck stops here; The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; and Don’t upset the apple cart’.

 

3ladies

We live in a rain forest

We live in a rain forest. It happened to pour the evening I told him we’d say: ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’. I then asked what they’d say in Chinese. He seemed uncomfortable and said he couldn’t tell me. I didn’t push it. The next week, he came into class. came up to me and said ‘I can tell you now. We say ‘It’s raining dog excrement.’

I didn’t laugh. But I found the whole incident hilarious and have never forgotten it! Well, we’ve had a whole lot of rain lately and it’s been raining dog excrement for weeks for sure! Enough already….

angrybull

Enough already!

 

 

iBears

 

Thank you for reading my blog. I love that you do. Enjoy whatever you are celebrating — and may 2020 be kind to us all.

 

The fight is far from over….

Muriel2017They’re talking about brilliant female scientists on the radio. It reminds me of an experience I had in approximately 1971 when I was planning to enroll daughter Susan (age 6/7) into a summer program at our local community center.

Identified as a highly gifted child, Susan was totally into science. She loved learning about insects, snakes, lizards, shells, rocks and dinosaurs — you name it.

susan:Carrie in tree

Susan (front) about that time

Reading the available programs, I saw a cooking class for girls and a science class for boys. I recognize that cooking is a science, but it wasn’t Susan’s thing and I knew it. I was  upset. Would I accept that? Of course not!

angrywoman

Would I accept that?

iwomenrights

I threatened to march outside their doors

I visited the center, had a discussion with the program director and threatened that if they didn’t allow my daughter into the science class, I’d march outside their doors with signs complaining about their old-fashioned thinking. Yes, I WAS really angry.

The female program director caved. Susan was allowed into the class, however, I hadn’t foreseen what followed. When she turned up for the class, the surprised boys loudly complained. “Yuck! A girl!’ ‘You’re not allowed in this class.’ ‘You don’t belong here!’

bully

You don’t belong here!

The poor kid. I’d placed Susan in a position where she was not welcome. The boys bullied. They pulled her hair. They saw her as an intruder. I didn’t argue when Susan very soon didn’t want to go anymore.

hairblkwht

They pulled her hair.

I also still wonder what that terrible experience did to her. Would she have followed a different career path if it hadn’t occurred? What did I accomplish after all?

What I do know I accomplished was I did convince the community center to change their policy. I told them they were unfair and outdated. They changed their future description of classes for children and no longer classified them according to sex.

freecutegirl

I’d like to think things improved later for girls

I’d like to think that later perhaps one or two girls, luckier than Susan, had the opportunity to become excited about science in a class — and who knows? Maybe one or two of them has or will win a Nobel Prize after all. (However, the fight is far from over.)

P.S. Susan has found her own way of using her scientific interests and ability in her life’s work in any case.

Who will talk to our children?

Muriel2017

Chandra took this photo

During one of my usual breakfasts at a local cafe, I sat next to a father, mother and son. The child seemed about seven or eight. Dad was busy on his cellphone. Mom was busy on hers. The boy stood next to his father and tapped the man on his arm. He wanted to say something.

The father impatiently pushed him away, saying: ‘Leave me alone.’

I see this kind of thing too often. I don’t like it, but usually don’t intervene. It isn’t my business, but I was so sad and angry and bothered by it this time, I took the liberty as an old crone to butt in.

fatoldangry

Your son needs to talk to you

‘Excuse me sir,’ said I, ‘Your son wants to talk to you. They grow up so quickly, before you turn around, he’ll be married. Please listen to him now.’

Much to my surprise, the parents didn’t tell me to shut up and mind my own business. Instead, the dad explained he was working.

boredchild

What will happen to all these children?

I suggested he take a little time off during breakfast to listen to the child. Then I went back to my coffee and book. The next time I looked up, all three were on their cellphones.

What will happen to all these young children I see who sit quietly while parents are attached to technology and are encouraged to do the same?

I also worry about the damage being done to the vision of toddlers I see on the bus in strollers, kept quiet and occupied with mom’s cell phone.

tooyoung

I worry about the damage to their vision

Parents are so attached to those blankity-blank phones everywhere — walking, in restaurants, and one can safely assume, at home as well. Will their children even learn how to talk?

2tooyoung

C’mon folks. Give me a break.

Will these quiet children ever know the pleasure of conversation which I so enjoy? Who will talk to them? I worry. Or am I just being cranky?