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FATHERS DAY

It is Fathers’ Day. My son Rafi is a father — a devoted, loving father and I am proud of him. Surely, he and his lovely Chandra are raising a son who will also be a loving father.

RAFI AND SISTER SUSAN, WHO LOVED HIM BUT COULDN’T RESIST TRYING TO FOOL HIM OCCASIONALLY

RAFI AND HIS SOFT BROWN CURLS

I remember when I’d be pushing little Rafi, dressed in red overalls, in his stroller and strangers would comment: ‘What a beautiful little girl.’ He WAS pretty with his soft brown curls and it didn’t matter to me. I’d just say: ‘Thank you.’ (Red is still my favourite colour.)

When Rafi was very little, we didn’t have the fancy olives displayed in the grocery markets today. I used to buy black olives in cans. He’d push one on each finger and march around the kitchen thrilled with himself. I’d chuckle. He was so much fun.

I REMEMBER RAFI AS A HAPPY CHILD


His sister Susan loved him, but couldn’t help but take advantage of him occasionally. When he was about four, she told him a nickel was worth more than a dime because the nickel was bigger. She was offering to exchange her nickel for his dime. I overheard the transaction and scolded her. Rafi, always the peacemaker, insisted he was the one who wanted the nickel.

I wish my son Rafi, who has given me so much pleasure through the years, all the best on this day devoted to men like him. I am also proud of him and of all his accomplishments.

Talking…

Please don’t interrupt, I’m deep in conversation. With whom? With myself of course. Yes I talk to myself — who else would listen as carefully and give me such expert advice — for free? Professionals charge by the hour.

Problem solving is important and requires extreme concentration. I haven’t lived all these years for nothing… Besides who is more familiar with the circumstances in my life and more capable of figuring out what to do?

I’m also a good listener, especially when I’m doing the talking. I may not always agree, but why argue? I want to hear what I have to say, so I pay total attention.

I DEBATED WELL AT SCHOOL


Am I bored? Insulted? Never! As a good debater (I did well on debating teams at school), when I don’t agree, you’d never hear ME make personal attacks. Not even when I debate myself. Personal attacks aren’t cool, I never say things like: ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’

LAUGHTER IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL.


Something I truly value is humour and I CAN, at times, be hilarious. I’m at my best when I make me laugh. Laughing is good for the soul, so I laugh often. It also makes me happy.

MY SON PUT THIS COMMENT ON THE PHOTO. WAS HE TELLING ME SOMETHING?

I’m known in my family for being a nut and appreciate their tolerance because it is certainly true.

Don’t you agree?????

HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO MY SON RAFI, THE BEST FATHER I KNOW!!!

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.

After the rain…

Still going through my papers. Still finding things which I find interesting.

This poem was written by a very young daughter Susan and dated 2/14/80.
I like it, although I’m sure Susan would write it very differently today.

AFTER THE RAIN

A singular droplet of crystalline water fell upon my brow,
Drawing my face upwards to see if the sky would begin to
Cry in earnest.


The heavenly shower began to pour around me;
Washing away the sins of the world in a sporadic burst of
Innumerable silver amulets.
The horizon was clothed in dismal grey as the relentless
Storm sent the nectar of the clouds crashing to earth in
Wind-blown fury.


My consciousness soon became as drenched and distraught as
The sparrow in the treetop, being thrashed about
By his maker’s own discontentment.
After the clouds had scoured the earth with efficient grace,
They retreated to their mountaintop mansion,
Allowing the sun to once again bathe the earth in brilliant,
Warming rays.


A spectrum of colours danced across the heavens
As the mist evaporated into clear, blue skies,
Reflecting the light of life in it’s entirety,
Radiance and joy were to be found everywhere:
For even in the frail web of the spider,
Translucent, shimmering specks of water gleamed like
Diamonds on a string.


Beauty was granted a chance to show full face
As the world responded to the precious gift the clouds
Had bestowed upon the earth.

*P.S. Don’t be concerned if I don’t post for awhile. I’ll be busy with other things.

Blessed are the weird people…

SON RAFI, HIS BEAUTIFUL CHANDRA, AND ME

My San Francisco kids visited at Xmas. It turned out to be a White one and Rafi, Chandra, and grandson Remy loved walking in the snow. (It doesn’t snow in S. F.) On one of their many excursions, they passed a sign in my neighbour John’s window. Rafi, of course, had to take a photo of it.


John is one of those special, interesting and multi-talented individuals who is interested in everything and everyone. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to know him, but what I like best about John is his kindness to others — including me.


I first saw John acting onstage when I was writing a column covering the arts. Aside from that his photography is so beautiful, if I had any more room on my walls, I’d try to purchase one from him if he’d sell it. What else does he do well? I don’t at all know because the guy never brags. I asked John if he had written the words in the sign below. He said he hadn’t. If you know who did, do let me know.

In case the photo of the sign is difficult for you to read, this is what it says:

B L E S S E D
* A R E T H E *
Weird People
The Poets & Misfits
T H E A R T I S T S
T H E W R I T E R S
& MUSIC MAKERS
The dreamers & the
O U T S I D E R S
For they force us to see
THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY

Eating out — thank goodness.

ONCE UPON A TIME…

Once upon a time long, long ago, I worked full-time and invited friends to dinners too. We’d have a children’s table, our large dining-room table extended with a folding table, plus extra places on the upright piano seat with place-mats on the flat surface over the keys. Those days are looonnnngggg gone.

A friend and I had lunch together yesterday. She’s interesting, I love her. She’s a devoted vegan. I didn’t have to worry — we ate out. Friday I’m having dinner with a young vegetarian. He’s my kind-of grandson. He’s been busy and hasn’t had much time for us to get together so I’m delighted. Again, I don’t have to worry — we’re eating out.

WHAT CAN I FIX FOR HER??

During this pandemic, some people won’t eat in restaurants. I respect that. Sometimes one special friend and I have lunch on a park bench nearby. She has definite food needs and always brings the lunch. I want to reciprocate, but aren’t brave enough. What can I fix for her??

MY OLD ARTHRITIC BONES DON’T MAKE APPOINTMENTS

Meanwhile years have passed and everything seems to take more energy. Energy? Where did that go? It eludes me at will and some days I can’t seem to hustle any muscle at all. My old arthritic bones act up whenever THEY choose. They aren’t thoughtful. They never make appointments ahead of time. I can’t picture many dinners happening at my place anymore, which is just as well. What would planning a homemade dinner look like? I’d rather treat when we eat out.

WHAT PEOPLE EAT TODAY IS MORE COMPLICATED

It seems what everyone eats today is more complicated. What my older friends consume is sometimes affected by health issues like high-cholesterol, diabetes, ulcers, medications requiring them to avoid certain foods, or allergies — and goodness knows what.

Do we become delicate flowers with age? Yup! What I used to call a cast-iron stomach doesn’t exist any more! I, myself, have developed allergies! (I’ve been told these develop as we get older, but I also believe some of it is due to chemicals added to our food to extend shelf life.)

MY KIDS ENTERTAIN A LOT

My San Francisco kids do a lot of entertaining. Their friends are younger and don’t seem to be affected as much by medical conditions as my older friends. I guess I’ll just leave the dinner parties to them. If you visit me — let’s eat out.

Unrest at the North Pole…

For years I worked for newspapers and dreamed of getting a real scoop. I’d kick my desk in frustration when another colleague got one. Why couldn’t it be me??? Finally it happened! SO REMEMBER YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!!

A confidential source advised me of a crisis at the North Pole this season. I couldn’t help it, I had to go.


Things were so bad the dogsled RCMP could hardly believe it. Santa’s elves, instead of making toys, were noisily demonstrating against his huge conglomerate, St. NIck’s Toy Manufacturers Inc. As CEO, Santa holds all world’s rights to the distribution of toys for children at Christmas.

NEWLY ELECTED ELF SHOP STEWARD


‘We’ve not been paid overtime for over a century’ the newly elected Elf shop steward told me, pointing to his placard which read ‘Unfair labour practices’. ‘We want a union, and we want it NOW.’


Close by, there was another demonstration. I cautiously approached and realized these were all elves as well, but female. ‘Discrimination against women.’ their leader shouted as she noisily chewed her gum. ‘It’s impossible to live on one salary these days. We demand equal opportunities. While you’re having your holiday dinner, our elflins are walking barefoot in the snow.’ (Oh, my. I never thought of that.) ‘Down with sexism.’

WHO EVER HEARD OF REINDEER FLYING?


I was scared, but I’d do anything for a story. I sneaked off to the other side of the factory and saw more signs. ‘Santa unfair to reindeer’ ‘Animal rights violations’ What??? Santa’s reindeer? What was their problem? I recognized Prancer and singled him out for a statement.


‘Look, when I applied for this job,’ he explained, ‘Nobody said anything about flying. What a ridiculous requirement! Who ever heard of reindeer flying? If that’s what Santa wanted, he should have advertised for Storks!’

THAT WHIPPERSNAPPER HAS A SHINY NOSE.


‘Then, there’s his little favourite Rudolf. Big deal. So that whippersnapper has a shiny nose. We managed well enough without him for over a hundred years.’

SANTA HAD HIS HANDS FULL AND DID THE BEST HE COULD


Oh my, were those tears I saw in Prancer’s eyes? I had no time to lose.

Fortunately, I’d packed my arbitrator’s hat, put it on and started negotiating immediately. I think I did a pretty good job, but if Santa misses your house this year, please understand the man had his hands full and did the best he could under the circumstances.

A Man and his Tear

Life isn’t fair: It isn’t fair that my children are funnier than I am. It isn’t fair that they’re cleverer than I am and it sure isn’t fair that they write so much better than I do — and they started doing so early.

I already shared an (ahem) unforgettable saga daughter Susan wrote when she was about six, ‘A Romance’ about the Pickle and the Stick. (See https://viewfromoverthehill.wordpress.com/?s=A+Love+Story…or just click on Oct/2021 on the right of the cover page.)

Rafi wrote one at about the same age, but if Susan’s was a saga, his called ‘How did she die?’ was a tome, much too long for this post. If you want to read it you will have to wait until it is published. (Chuckle.)

Instead I’ve chosen to share the following poem written during his early university years — in about 1991.

A MAN AND HIS TEAR

A YOUNGER RAFI

By Rafi Kauffmann

Looking into a sullen eye
A moment of realism slips through
A moment of evil and self-destruction
Yet of kindness and redemption,
A tear

Sold is the innocence of youth
For a rough tempered style,
Tattered is the skin
Worn beyond its years
But still, a tear

TATTERED IS THE SKIN

Glistening with emotion
It swells but won’t fall
The impression on others holds it back

A positive sign this tear
A breakthrough well needed
An escape well deserved

Honestly it sings of experience
A living history contained within its walls
What it knows he knows
What it is, he is

WHAT IT IS, HE IS

Halloween…

When I was a child, I loved Halloween — never had a birthday party, I didn’t want one because it was like asking for presents. It made me uncomfortable.

I did, however, have wonderful Halloween Costume parties. My friends and I looked forward to them for years, and ended the evening by going out ‘Trick or Treating’.

The following poem was written by my friend Hans Muller, who never minded creating new words if he felt like it.

Halloween’s last gasp

At the un-ghostly hour of five past eleven
Seven ghosts met in a chimney, seven
A chain-clatter, bone-black, a flaccid cadaver
They commenced a ghastly, sidereal palaver.

And the seventh ghost so spake to the others,
‘Why don’t we ghosts have fathers and mothers?’
From what manner of substance are we cleft
That of loving parents we are forever bereft?’
Despondently sighing they tell their chains:
‘It is half past eleven, half an hour remains.’

The fourth ghost answered him thus, the fourth,
‘Such a thing is not true of the ghosts of the north:
In fact, they have fathers and mothers galore
Four sets of each, at the utleast four.’

Pensively brooding, they gnaw their chains,
It’s a quarter of midnight, one quarter remains.
Up spake the sixth of the ghosts there assembled
And at his gruescent words they trembled.
Amorphously, voidly, they quantrify,
They’re fourfold invisible, fourfold awry.

Fourfold they quatrivide nothingness
By fourfolded, quantrivoid, sexless caress.
There’s horrified silence but for stifled groans,
Iced ectoplasm cloaks regified bones.

Frenzedly gasping, they devour their chains,
Sixty seconds till midnight, one minute remains.
For a moment they stare at each other in fright,
Then, suddenly, disenfleshed cheek bones turn bright.
Disenlipped mouths twist in jawous grins,
Spiderlike fingers slap calfless shins,

Into depths of boundless mirth they delve
As the church bell tolls a thundering twelve
And they all exclaim as with only one mouth:
‘We’re lucky to be the ghosts of the south.’

They vanish, regurgitating their chains,
It is twelve o’clock midnight and nothing remains.

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!’