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An innocent first love…

HE’D WRITE OUR INITIALS ON THE BOARD.

My first love was a boy in my class at elementary school. His initials were ‘ME’. Mine were ‘MR’. What he saw in me I’ll never know, but he’d write our initials within a heart on the board for the whole class to see. And he wasn’t just teasing, we enjoyed each other.

He often invited me to play with him and his sister after school. Theirs was a child-oriented home with many games and books. I never forgot that and made sure my young children had them too.

THEY HAD MANY GAMES.
WE ENJOYED EACH OTHER.

When we were 10, he invited me to see ‘The Fun Parade’ with him at the Forum. We heard it on radio. (No one had TVs.) It wasn’t expensive — perhaps a dollar. We paid for our own tickets. There was a huge crowd, not much came to Montreal then.

At intermission, he jumped up like a Jack-in-the-box and announced: ‘I’m going to get you a hot dog and a coke.’ He didn’t ask, just ran off. I suppose his mom gave him money and told him to treat me. She must have been amused by the whole episode.

Unfortunately shortly after that, his family moved to Winnipeg. (That was long before computers or email.) I never saw or heard from him again. Did we ever kiss? Of course not!

DID WE EVER KISS??? OF COURSE NOT!

When daughter Susan asked for a story about when I was young, I checked Google and learned that he, like so many of my other old friends, had died. Looking at his photo, I tried to see the young boy in his adult face. I found it impossible.

However, I was pleased and not surprised he’d obviously had an involved and worthwhile life, a lengthy marriage, and a family that loved him.

More weird deaths…

Following my last post of quirky death possibilities, here are a few I’ve known about myself.

ISADORA DUNCAN, MOTHER OF MODERN DANCE

American dancer Isadora Duncan, (1927-1977) known as the mother of modern dance, was strangled by her own long scarf which got tangled in the rear hubcaps of her open car while driving in France. (She was right to avoid ballet. Feet are destroyed by dancing on your toes.) Duncan had, herself suffered a terrible loss. Both her children and their nanny drowned when their car rolled into the Seine.

I paid my respects at her grave while visiting the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

THE FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD SIGN
ACTRESS PEG ENTERWHISTLE

I lived for awhile in the Hollywood Hills of L.A and passed the famous sign every night driving home from work. I couldn’t help but think of actress Peg Entwistle, who leapt to her death from that high sign. Peg (1908-1932) was only 24. In her suicide note, she started by saying ‘I am afraid, I am a coward, I am sorry for everything… Peg was distressed because roles didn’t come her way. I believe I once read an offer of a role reached her father a few days after her death.

I once had a neighbour who was a compulsive hoarder. We worried about fire from all the papers and magazines. We also worried about the woman having to manoeuvre around and over all the stacked stuff. Her bed was piled high and couldn’t be slept in. (She apparently slept with her sister nearby.) We were required to clear out her apartment.

MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, BY MARCIA DAVENPORT

THE COLLYER BROTHERS, COMPULSIVE HOARDERS

Our manager suggested I read ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ by Marcia Davenport. I did — and will never forget it. It is a true story about Langley and Homer Collyer, who lived in a 5th Avenue Manhattan Mansion they inherited from their mother. They never married. They never worked. Money was not a problem. They also never threw anything out. At their deaths in 1947, they’d accumulated more than 140 tons of dilapidated stuff.

HOMER’S CHAIR

The brothers feared intruders and set up traps. Langley, himself, was caught in one and crushed to death by trash falling from above. He was on his way to bring brother Homer some food. Homer, who was paralyzed and confined to an old, rotting chair, died about 12 days later from starvation.

ABOUT 140 TONS OF HOARDED STUFF WAS REMOVED AFTER THEIR DEATHS

Interesting book. Read it if you can. It IS fascinating.

Is honesty the best policy?

PHOTO BY CHANDRA

That’s an interesting question. It is a complicated issue. William Blake (1757-1827), the multi-talented English poet and artist, wrote ‘A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.’ I agree with that.

WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827


Our society frowns on chronic liars and rightly so. Yet, the naked truth can be so hurtful, in some people’s hands it becomes a knife which can pierce the heart.

Perhaps we need another word for avoiding ugly truths which hurt others, most of which they know about anyway. So, if a friend asks you to point out his/her failings, don’t — unless you’re ready to give up the relationship. They are probably just hoping for some kind words.

ARTHUR GOLDEN, BORN 1956

In the novel ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden, the protagonist says ‘There are good facts and bad facts, the bad facts are best avoided.’ I think she has a good point.

HENRY THOREAU (1817-1862

Thoreau, the American writer and libertarian famously said ‘Rather than love, than money, than fame — give me truth’, but he was talking about another issue altogether.

Then there is Oscar Wilde, who gave me so many hours of fascinating reading, who didn’t believe in telling the truth at all and said ‘The telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of Art.’ and ‘He would be the best of fellows if he did not always speak the truth.’


I warned you. Honesty IS a complex subject. Think about it during the holiday and give me your thoughts afterwards.

OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900)

Above all, do have a happy holiday and a healthy New Year.

The Farming of Bones

I haven’t been to a city library since the pandemic started. For a long time, they were closed. However I’ve done very well sharing books with reading neighbours by using a little free street library a mere block away. I’ve learned they read some worthy books around here.


Stuff happens to me that never happens to other people. By sheer coincidence, after just finishing ‘The Feast of the Goat’ by Mario Vargas Llosa, a novel based on the Dominican Republic during dictator Trujillo’s era, what do you think falls into my hands?


A harrowing but fantastic can’t-put-down read by Edwidge Danticat called ‘The Farming of Bones’ about the destitute Haitians who crossed the border from Haiti into The Dominican Republic during Trujillo’s rule. Those who did struggled for survival doing the dirty and dangerous jobs no one else wanted, meanwhile suffering outright racism.


Danticat’s book didn’t end the way I wanted it to. A love story, the lovers don’t get to walk off into the sunset, get married and live happily after. If that’s what you want, it isn’t the book for you. It isn’t a pleasant story, but it reads true…

Feast of the Goat…

Trujillo

Right now I’m reading ‘The Feast of the Goat’, a novel which takes place in the Dominican Republic during the rule of the hated dictator Rafael Trujillo, who was called the goat. (Dominicans often made up nicknames for others.) Trujillo was assassinated in 1961.

The book is written by Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who among many other literary prizes earned a Nobel Prize for literature. Llosa wrote extensively and was born in Peru in 1936.

Mario Vargas Llosa

On page #205 of my copy, I found the following quote:

‘AN OPEN BOOK IS A MIND THAT SPEAKS; CLOSED, A FRIEND WHO WAITS; FORGOTTEN, A SOUL THAT FORGIVES; DESTROYED, A HEART THAT WEEPS.’ By Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore

Tagore was a Bengali poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter, and more. Obviously a brilliant guy. He lived from 1861-1941 when he died in Calcutta.

I love the quote…

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?

Covid-19: A List…

COVID-19: A list….

Lately someone on the radio said he starts each day by listing 10 things he is grateful for. This being Covid:19, I decided to try for 19. Here goes…

I am grateful for:

1. My children and their loved ones. Their frequent calls give me warm fuzzies. (The border is closed, we can’t visit.)

2. Local special friends who are like family, especially Amy, who drives me everywhere I must go. She doesn’t want me on public transit yet.

Thank you Aina

3. Aina Wifolk (1928-1983) Look her up on Wikipedia…

4. The beautiful mountains I see from my window. I don’t climb them, but sure like seeing them.

5. The white clouds that frequently reach their arms out and around said mountains in loving-like embraces.

6. The lit ski hill which I see every night. I don’t ski, but enjoy imagining others on it.

Hummingbirds bring me joy.

7. The tiny hummingbirds who visit the feeder on my balcony and then flit away.

8. The bean plant that struggled so this year to provide me with a crop of one solitary bean. (The weather wasn’t kind to growing things.)

9. Chandra, my dear daughter-in-law, who bought me snow peas to plant. They thrived. (I don’t know why) I had a lot of those.

10. The flowers in their containers on my balcony which come back again and again.

They help us get what we need.

11. Those who keep our local shops going during this pandemic so I can safely obtain whatever I need.

12. The kind neighbour in my building, who put out a flowering plant and card this week because one of our long-time residents passed away.

13. The neighbours and friends who emailed to offer me help should I need it during these trying times.

14. The people who maintain those little free libraries in my neighbourhood. How would I survive without them. (Our libraries are closed and I’m an avid reader.)

15. The thoughtfulness of daughter Susan, who sent me a wonderful birthday package including a used book about ancient China. She knew I would enjoy it. I did.

16. Catherine, who had read a ‘large print’ book, enjoyed it and so brought it to me. It was good and extra easy on my eyes.

Free libraries on our local streets.

17. The strangers who say hello or chat with me from a safe distance when I walk ALONE each day. It makes this pandemic livable.

18. All the people in my life who care about me.

19. All of you who read my blog. Writing these posts gives me additional challenges and pleasures during these crazy times.

COVID:19 Words for right now…

Dr.BonnieHenry

Dr. Bonnie Henry

I feel fortunate to be living in British Columbia where the number of people affected by the virus is low and we are directed by an especially capable Provincial Health Officer,  Dr. Bonnie Henry. The doctor is effective,  popular, very photogenic and gentle yet firm.

We have a Dr. Henry fan club, songs have been written for her, and because she enjoys shoes (the kind I could never afford) her favourite shoe manufacturer made a limited number of a particular pair she enjoys and sold them to raise money for charity.

the DrHenry shoe

The Dr. Henry shoe which sold like hot cakes.

Dr. Henry will be remembered by the words she leaves us with every time we hear from her: ‘Be kind, be calm, be safe’. Good advice for now…

This is a good time to think about words which can serve us well during these difficult times. (They are from a little book called ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’)

‘Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.’ (Niels Bohr)

Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.’ (Herbert Hoover)

‘A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.’ (Bob Hope)

BobHope

Bob Hope 1903-2003

BenjaminFranklin

Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790

‘Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.’ (Benjamin Franklin)

‘I am an optimist. It doesn’t seem too much use being anything else.’ (Winston Churchill)

‘There is no education like adversity.’ (Benjamin Disraeli)

‘A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: It would be hell on earth.’ (George Bernard Shaw)

Schulz2

Charles M. Schulz 1922-2000

‘Don’t worry about the earth coming to an end today, it’s already tomorrow in Australia.’ (Charles M. Schulz)

‘Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.’ (Lord Byron)

‘Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.’ (Voltaire)

‘My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened.’ (Michel de Montaigne)

COVID: 19 — Thank you…

Muriel2017I love people and miss seeing dear ones ordinarily in my life, but I’m also aware I owe many a big thank you. Some are friends and neighbors, and others are strangers. If I listed all of them, this would be a book and not a post, so forgive me if I haven’t mentioned you, you matter too.

 

Thank you to:
Friends and family who keep in touch so often by phone and email.

The people in my neighborhood who write: ‘Things will get better’ on the sidewalks in chalk.better

Neighbor Mairona and friend Chris, who, upon reading my post complaining about not having enough reading material, each delivered bags of books to my door.

Mairona and her husband Wayne, who are always willing to pick up anything I may need.
garthcardsGarth, whom I miss seeing at my favorite local cafe, who sends me beautiful cards and notes.

My dear ‘daughter’ Amy who goes shopping for me, arrives at my door wearing a mask and hands me my groceries, and checks in often by phone.

Those who step off the curb to be at the proper distance when they see this old gray-haired woman pushing her walker on our narrow sidewalks. (It is more difficult for me to do that. I always thank them.)

JoeinT-Shirt 2017

Joe wearing his Vancouver T-Shirt

My dear Beverly Hills friend Joe, who understands me and regularly puts up with my nutty ideas.

The strangers who, after I thank them for giving me space, have chatted with me from a safe distance as we pass each other. It helps me feel less isolated.

My son Rafi, who calls me just about every day, and my daughter Susan as well, who checks in so often.

Alison, my ‘granddaughter’ who calls me almost every day too.

Alison’s dad, who took the time out of his own busy schedule, (he’s a medical doctor) to drive her over so Alison and I could have a SAFE chat in person, both of us in masks out on the sidewalk.

All my friends who check in with me.
thanks

The woman I don’t know, whom I told I missed hugs most of all, who offered me one from a distance. I returned it. It isn’t the same, but it helped.

 

And, speaking of hugs, if you know me personally, know that I’m keeping track of all the hugs you owe me and I intend to collect for sure when this is all over.

 

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.)