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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!’


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…

Birthdays…

I love birthdays!!! (Photo by my Chandra)

While visiting my family in the US recently, we celebrated many birthdays. That’s because I believe in celebrating birthdays for six months before and six months after the actual date. Each evening we celebrated the birth of at least one of us, and sometimes got carried away and celebrated several at the same time. It was great.


Back home in August, my friend Chris treated me to breakfast at Granville Island, a place I love to visit but don’t get to often since I no longer drive. (My actual birthday is in July. She was close.) Later I treated her to lunch for her birthday, which was in February when I was being too careful to go anywhere before my trip.

Let’s celebrate!

The week of my actual birthday I was invited out one day after another. When dear Vinson called wanting to treat me for my birthday too, I begged off. ‘If you love me, please don’t feed me. They’ll charge me extra for all the weight I’ll gain before I get on the plane.’ (It was before my trip to the U.S.)

We both know that’s not what happens, but Vinson got the message. We celebrated my birthday after I got back from my trip — sometime in August. It was lovely and I was ready by then.

Happy Birthday to youuuu!


I finally got to treat my dear Chinese daughter, Amy, for her birthday (actually in June) in September because I was like a pit bull and just didn’t give up each time she said it wasn’t necessary. For me, it WAS necessary because I love celebrations, especially birthdays of those I love.


All my friends and family embrace this madness of mine. They have no choice. After all, it works well for all concerned. And, you, dear reader are lucky because YOU have my permission to celebrate YOUR birthday for six months before and six months after your birthday as well. Lucky you! Happy birthday indeed!

Talking of birthdays, today actually is my beautiful sister’s Birthday. Happy Birthday Shirley!

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…

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.

Across a closed border: part two…

You’d think I’d have less to go home with, but Rafi took me to my favourite store, Trader Joe’s.
JUST LOVE THESE TREES!

While being spoiled rotten by my kids and loving it, a neighbour from home emailed about a new form called ‘ArriveCAN’ I needed to complete.

Son Rafi photographed all my papers, completed it and printed an important-looking page for me to turn in at the border.

Simple right? Wrong! Officials didn’t care about it. I think they hadn’t a clue what it was. I was glad I had carried all my documents.

The stupidest part? Flying from anywhere in the US to the U.S., no tests are required. (Daughter Susan did just that to join us.) I, however, crossing the Canadian border, needed another COVID test. Cost: $301. U.S. Why the $1.?? It SEEMS ridiculous!

My direct flight home being cancelled, I had to fly from San Francisco to Seattle. The plane was full. Those debarking in Seattle had NOT been tested. They wore masks, removed while snacking and drinking, etc. How safe was that??? My second plane from Seattle to Canada had few passengers. (How many nuts like me are there?)

Arriving at my own airport, I made my way past one guy after another (All male. In uniform. More intimidating???) showing each ALL my documents.


WITH REMY, WHO CALLS ME HIS ‘CRAZY GRANDMA’. A TITLE I WEAR PROUDLY…


Finally one said: “You’re good to go,’ Yeah! I was tired.

$5,000 FINE IF I DON’T COMPLY


The next guy, however, decided I must take another COVID test ‘tomorrow’. Exhausted, I accepted the box, dragged myself home and crashed.


Next morning: I read the instructions and panicked. I was to make a video of myself taking the test??? Are they kidding? I don’t know how to do that! Plus, I’m to take another test in 6 days.


I immediately called the number given and while a machine kept telling me how important I was, held for about 2 hours, thinking about that $5,000 fine someone got for not following instructions upon return. Finally, someone answered and asked me to hold.

TIME WITH SON RAFI AT MY FAVOURITE PARK.


‘Please, don’t disconnect me…’


He came back. He’d be putting me on hold again for awhile. He needed to find out what I was to do. I waited nervously. Finally, he said to take the test and dial 1-888-744-7123 for Purolator to pick it up. This I did. Purolator came and — refused to take it.

I THINK I’M LOSING MY MIND.


‘But that’s what I was just told to do! Please, please call your supervisor,’ I begged. He reluctantly did. No dice. Why? Why?


’We didn’t get the contract. FedEx did. You have to call them.’


Time was passing. I was getting terrified. $5,000??? I called FedEx.

They WOULD pick it up — that day!!! And did! Whew!


I ate some cold beans right out of the can, (fridge was empty) took the phone off the hook so I wouldn’t be disturbed, and slept.

Next post: With my kids…

Crossing a closed border…

I brought so many treats for the kids, my suitcase was packed solid.

I’d not seen my children in two years — much too long. My recent birthday reminded me I’m not getting any younger. The U.S. border is closed, it was unreasonable and I waffled back and forth and drove my kids nuts, but in the end, decided I must go.


It was complicated, frustratingly stupid, and expensive, none of which mattered compared to my need to hug and spend time with my loved ones.


I’m an organized sort, I called provincial health to check everything, still the madness started before I left. They weren’t always right.


My old flip cellphone, used only for emergencies, doesn’t work in the U.S. I’d need it, so prepaid FIDO $33 for 15 minutes in the U.S. It subsequently didn’t work.


A young friend helped me book non-stop flights both ways. I didn’t care which airline or what the cost was. Just wanted convenience for all and he did very well thank you.

It was enough to drive me to drink.


After a few days, however, Delta cancelled my direct flight back creating a stop in Seattle allowing little more than an hour between flights. I use a walker and must wait until all other passengers debark before my walker shows up. I also require assistance, which I’d already arranged (now separately). After hours on the phone, with no chance of a direct flight, I accepted defeat and called again to arrange help for TWO flights. Whew! I hadn’t even left yet!


Then, United, who were taking me to the US, emailed a form to fill out with complete proof of Canadian COVID testing (taken within 72 hours of the flight) plus vaccinations, etc. etc. I called on my son for help, scanned all related copies, he got into my computer and filled it all out. It was long, not easy, but done.


Checking in at United at the airport, they wanted all the stuff we’d already submitted. I asked why.


‘Oh, that technology isn’t working yet.’ What???

Yup! I made it. Here I am under an Australian Tea tree in San Francisco during one of my daily walks with Rafi.


This was only the beginning of the insanity. More to come soon…