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Life: a risky business

PHOTO BY CHANDRA

Have you ever thought about how risky life is and what a miracle it is so many of us manage to make it into adulthood? I’m not paranoid, but dangers do lurk at every turn.

I’M NOT PARANOID


What with nature’s furies — hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, fires, floods, lightening and storms; the billions of microscopic bacilli and viruses around, on and in us; man made hazards like guns, explosives and weapons of war, it’s amazing I’m still here!


I can’t help but think of accidents with cars, trains and planes. I step onto my balcony and imagine it falling down to the cement patio three floors down — with me on it. gosh! Well, it could happen.


Normal people just live their lives, but I think of these things. Your chances of dying in an earthquake are one in 11 million. Not much. But what’s if I’m the designated driver?

EVIL PEOPLE?


They say one in 20 million die after being bitten by a dog. I constantly meet dogs on my daily walks. Does a snarl mean I should say goodbye right now? Then there are also evil people who may attack me even if a dog doesn’t. Oh, my….

WHY DO NEIGHBOURS TAKE THE STAIRS?


Apparently the risk of being injured in an elevator is one in six million. My building has one. I use it every day. Some neighbours always take the stairs. Do they know something I don’t? And, why aren’t they telling me?

A CELESTIAL BODY??


I’m not a scared person, but what I’m really terrified of is being hit directly by a celestial body. I have a one in a 150 trillion chance of this happening, but what’s if I’m the person standing right where the darn thing comes down if it does, when it does? Yikes!


There are a lot of other reasons why life is a risky business, but I won’t go there. You’d have to be a little nutty to worry about everything.

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.

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!’


When’s the last time you…

When’s the last time you wrote an email, letter or card to: A teacher who was special? A friend who was supportive through a tough time? A mentor who helped you in your career? A doctor who made you feel he/she really cared? A business which supported your sports team? A coach who, as a volunteer, worked without pay? A volunteer who helped you in some way?


In an effort to whittle down ‘stuff’ my loved ones will have to deal with eventually, I’ve been going through files full of thank you letters (or complaints) to corporations and businesses or ordinary folk who mattered to me — and thinning them out.

Rafi loved playing and he did well
Rafi in his baseball uniform


Right now, I’m looking at a letter written in 1981 to a Furniture Guild thanking them for sponsoring the very first baseball team my son was on. Rafi was nine, and excited about becoming a part of this new team. The day uniforms were distributed, I was sure he’d sleep in his — he paraded about in it so proudly.


Such sponsorship can make participation possible for some families who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. It IS a good idea to let businesses know you appreciate their help, no matter what their reasons for doing so are.

Rafi, now a devoted high-school teacher


As an adult, Rafi is a devoted high school teacher. He occasionally receives letters telling him how much he has meant to students. Sometimes he’ll share them with me. I get a warm fuzzy when he does because I know how caring he is and how much it pleases him when students appreciate his efforts on their behalf.

Rafi cooking at a fundraiser for my grandson, Remy’s school
Lovely Chandra working at a fundraiser for Remy’s school


Both Rafi and his beautiful Chandra are enthusiastic about volunteering. Here they are working at a fundraiser for my grandson’s school.

If you decide to write to someone who mattered to you, I’d love to know about it and why…

Why my crazy trip was worth it…

I had to pose with Remy so he’d know how much I enjoyed these trees
Australian Tea tree

I’d informed son Rafi my knees didn’t enjoy hills any more. He and grandson Remy put their heads together and chose parks without hills for my daily walks. The first had these wonderful trees I couldn’t resist. We went again and again so I could pose with Rafi, then Remy, and when Susan joined us, back we went to pose yet again!

Just had to once again pose by one of those wonderful trees with Rafi AND Susan when she arrived.

Yes, we took walks elsewhere as well. Every morning Rafi walked the family dog, Germaine, we dropped Remy off at soccer camp, and Rafi walked me. (He wasn’t going to let me slack off. He knows how important it is for me to keep moving.)

Another walk by the water
Germaine walks me at the nearby dog park. It was cold. I was grateful to Chandra, who gave me the snuggly, warm jacket with a hood. (My very first hoodie!)

The few times we couldn’t find the time to visit another park, I took my walk at the dog park under the supervision of Germaine, who made sure I got in enough steps. He took every step with me! Ha, ha.

Rafi at 20. What a hunk! I’d never seen this photo before.
Rafi ordered this little man for my home-made terrarium. The little guy seems happy in his new home with his bottle of wine.

Chandra, always creative, made a beautiful photo album for Rafi as a birthday gift. I had never seen some of those old photos and got a kick out of seeing, for the first time, some taken years ago. (She also made an album for him of what friends and family members thought of him. It was lovely to read.)

We celebrated everyone’s birthday. I’d just celebrated a venerable one, Rafi had a recent birthday and so had Susan. We laughed a lot and I discovered my grandson, Remy, had a crazy sense of humour. (Wonder where he got that from??? Ha, ha.) Also an avid reader, Remy shared books with me when I ran out of reading material. It was just a great visit. I could not have asked for more.

Rafi and I shopped for plants at the nursery — the kids have a beautiful garden. I looked for a little man to live in my home-made terrarium, but they didn’t have one. Rafi ordered one for me, tried NOT to tell me right away, but was so excited about it, he couldn’t wait to surprise me, but when he said: ‘I bought you something’. I immediately guessed what it was. Yeah! See him above. The little guy loves his new home.

I’m holding on to the memory of the wonderful time I had and how spoiled I was by everyone. The morning breakfasts I had with Rafi, the time we all spent together was worth all the nonsense and stupidity of the rules and regulations I had to deal with to travel across the border during COVID.

Rafi sent me this photo of Germaine waiting at my door after I’d gone home. Well, I miss him too. He was particularly gentle with me.

Thanksgiving? Yup, I’m grateful…

It must be Thanksgiving in the States because I received a couple of cards in the mail today. As a kid I loved Halloween, but as an adult, Thanksgiving is my absolute favourite. I have much to be grateful for and don’t at all mind thinking of this holiday more than once a year. (In Canada, we celebrate it earlier, so I get to do so twice.)

daughter Susan

I’m grateful for the love of my children, son Rafi, his loving wife Chandra and their son Remy, daughter Susan and her Michael, plus others I love who care about me here and in the US.

It’s been rough with much happening where I live (or perhaps it’s that much that should be happening hasn’t been happening) and I’m exhausted by it all. Thus, I haven’t the mindset to write the post I would have wanted to, so I’ll cheat and use another one of daughter Susan’s ‘Muriel Says…’ instead.

That my daughter thinks anything I say is worth using on her Facebook is absolutely astounding to me.
Yes, I love her too….

Here it is:

Computer Crisis…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I already had an idea for this post. I already had chosen the images to go with it. It was just about set to publish and — my NEW computer wouldn’t work. The curser was stuck on the upper left-hand corner and no matter what I did, it refused to go anywhere else.

Hail brilliant son Rafi, he who knows all,

Rafi 028

Rafi in a vineyard

and who suggested I turn the machine off and on again. I did. It didn’t. Then, because he’s so smart, he recommended I go out for my daily walk first and deal with it later. Good idea.

When I got back, I tried again. No co-operation. It was lunch and ‘beauty’ nap time. I decided I needed fuel and rest in order to face it again so put it off. Nothing. Rafi had given me instructions. I’d written them down: ‘If it won’t work, disconnect the power and then, reconnect it and if that doesn’t do it, try turning it on and at the same time press and hold down Option, Command, p and r.’lady3

anotherI checked to see if I could reach all those keys. Well, waddaya know — I could. So I tried. It didn’t seem to respond, so just before I broke down and cried, I called Apple. (Rafi cleverly had arranged that service for me when he decided what I needed. He knows his mother.)

As I listened to classical music and held the phone, lo and behold, the computer S-L-O-W-L-Y decided to follow my directions. Yeah! Wow! It’s working even though the coloured ball initially said it wouldn’t.

I hung up on Apple. I decided NOT to cry and tried to call Rafi to tell him how brilliant he is. Just because I want him, he’s not home.

Rafi 037

Rafi and his lovely Chandra, married 15 years today

Please call him and tell him how grateful I am… While you’re at it, wish him and his lovely Chandra Happy Anniversary. Today is their 15th!

 

My son Rafi’s thoughts on COVID:19

Muriel2017Today I am proudly sharing my son Rafi’s thoughts on COVID:19. I think you will agree he is more able than I to express his heartfelt feelings about these troubling times.

I feel so lucky to have Rafi, his lovely wife Chandra, and my brilliant, wonderful grandson Remy, whom they are raising so well, in my life. (Do I sound like a grandma???)

Here’s what Rafi wrote. I thank him for allowing me to share it with you.

 

I tend not to pray
I hope, I wish, I ask, I wonder
But pray I have chosen to not

Today, however, I find myself hungering for a prayer
A prayer for the homeless and the housed, the young and the old, the unknown and the celebrated, the powerless and the powerful
A prayer for those less fortunate and for those who have more

This crisis brings us into balance, the fear heightens our commonality, and the unknown leaves us without answers.  All of us.  Together

As we face this adversary, we are all on equal footing – we sit in isolation, we work, we learn, we argue and love in virtual worlds.  All of us. Together

Today tests our sense of accomplishment, our goals and ambitions for the future
For why be earnest if tomorrow never comes?  Why begin when the end is nigh?

Why?  Because we are in this.  All of us.  Together.

I hunger for and have found my prayer
It is in the sun that rises and sets, in the blossoms that are born in the spring, and in the “we” that perseveres
It is that hope is a harbinger of these cycles’ continuum
It is that in my wife, my son, and our extended families I find happiness when there seems none to have
It is that we can find community in friends old and new, and in neighbors who leave a loaf of homemade bread at your door
It is from the hugs that will be had and the glasses that will be clinked
It is from the fact that tomorrow brings with it the potential for more than what exists today

ChandraRafiRemy2019

Chandra, Remy and Rafi

I tend not to pray
I hope, I wish, I ask, I wonder
But pray, I have been chosen to

By: Rafi Kauffmann

Precious memories….

Mom and Remy, SM

I fell in love with him the moment I saw him

Sometimes I have to admit nature figured a few things out right by giving children to young adults rather than to their elders. Occasionally one reads about some woman somewhere who decides to have a baby at the age of 60. All I can say is rocks of ruck lady, it won’t be easy.

When I think of raising my children, I’m amazed I survived all the challenges — illnesses, sleepless nights, accidents, traumas and everything else parenting requires. Besides these, think of the wear and tear parents endure attending to their off-springs’ intellectual and moral development. How did I manage? And, could I do it now?

IMG_0091

A favorite photo of little Remy

Yes, I love my grandson with all my heart. He’s definitely worthy of my love and surely,

Remy young

All photos of little Remy are favorites

as the grandma in a Turkish series on Netflix often says to her grandson, I would die for him. Still I didn’t do much babysitting. I would have liked to, but wasn’t physically up to the task by the time he came along. The few times I did, I worried because….

My children live in a home with about 30 rather steep stairs to climb. I deal with a vestibular disorder which causes imbalance and dizziness. I once watched him (he was an infant) so my son and his Chandra, as new parents, could get out for a rare dinner alone together in the neighborhood. I worried. I’m good at that as you know.

Muriel:RemyReno2017

2017,taller than me already

What’s if there was a fire? How would I get my precious, little grandson, asleep in my arms, down those stairs? I devised a complicated plan. I would place him on the floor at the top of the stairs, sit on the top step, take him back into my arms, and bounce down on my bum one step at a time. I don’t know if it would’ve worked, but it made me feel better. It was never tested thank goodness!

Many of us, as we age, live with a common condition — arthritis. Babysitting with this active, clever child when he was little required the playing of games. When he was about three, he seemed to have the wisdom of a sage. Did he know I was hurting?

He had just been given a new little suitcase, so we played going on vacation. We walked around and around the kitchen counter in opposite directions, he dragging his empty suitcase, with both of us declaring ‘See you later alligator.’ whenever we passed each other. The next time, the greeting was changed to ‘In a while crocodile.’ We laughed a lot. Afterwards, I was exhausted. I’m not sure if he was truly amused, or just babysitting me.

Remy'staller2018

2018, much taller than me

When my son Rafi was about 14, he’d come up behind me as I cooked breakfast on the stove, give me a morning hug and rest his chin on my head. Remy can’t wait to be able to do the same. He’s rapidly getting there.

Yes, Remy, like that grandma in the Netflix series, I WOULD die for you!

The cheap thief…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

My credit card number was used by someone in New York while I was at home in Vancouver. I was nowhere near New York. Upon opening my statement last night, I immediately ran to my desk and called the credit card company to report the illegal transactions.

 

I was asked all kinds of questions and asked a few of my own. thecardNo, I hadn’t lent my card out to anyone. Yes, I had it safely tucked away in my drawer — I even checked to reassure myself. I wondered how it could happen. They know more ways than you can imagine.

villian

The amount in question was all of $107.48. It may not seem like much to you, but I still feel icky and and as if I’ve been violated. I don’t like someone doing this to ME. How dare they! Now I have to wait for a new card and set it all up again which is a darn inconvenience.

 

I was told $100 was spent at a gas station and my statement clearly indicated the $7.48 was charged at a Taco Bell. Taco Bell??? Could I not get a thief with more class? A Bon Vivant? A real sophisticate? Someone like Cary Grant in ‘To Catch a Thief’?? It’s really humiliating and a real embarrassment.

 

to catch a thief

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly

SardisCould he (or she) not have chosen a better place to eat? Like maybe Sardis? My Chandra, a woman with real dignity and taste, treated me to dinner at Sardis when we were in New York together. That would have been better.

 

What a cheapskate! The nerve! The absolute nerve! Besides, how dare he eat at Taco Bell, one of my favorite Mexican fast-food joints, and not invite me to share! I’m furious.

Tacosphoto

I love Mexican food

angry

 

 

I’m really angry….grrrrrrrr!