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WHO’S ASKING WHO?

I’d laugh until my sides hurt.

Hans was undoubtedly the smartest person I ever knew. He was also so funny, he’d have me laughing out loud until my sides hurt.


In going through my papers and throwing out thousands (honestly) I came across this poem of his and couldn’t resist sharing it with you.


Hans came from Vienna as a young adult, where he spoke German and another local dialect. He said other languages were easy because he’d studied Latin at school and Latin is the root of so many languages. But I think it was much more than that. I hope you enjoy this playful poem he wrote about English.

WHO’S ASKING WHO?

by Hans Muller

Hans could and did read several languages

All of us languish
with speech induced anguish
and parsing our sentences
gives rise to repentences.
Hence using the vernacular
looms as positively Dracular.

Much joy to many gives
The usage of genitives
and even a native
can have fun with a dative.
Then why do brains turn into sieves
when confronted with accusatives?

Hans on one of our ‘motor’ trips which we thoroughly enjoyed

Is it HE or HIM, is it ME or I,
WE or US, SHE or HER — and why?
Is REGARDLESS wrong, IRREGARDLESS right
or are they the same — no, not quite.
When I go to bed, do I LAY or LIE?
Did they LEARN me wrong
or should it be TEACH?
I’ve got doctorates in English and Speech.

Aren’t the schools rich
in certified rules which
prescribe things grammatical?
Do I seem fanatical
if I declare that I’m aghast
finding ignorance so deep, so vast.

English???

If the abusive
of mother-tongue usage
prevails incontestably
and quite indigestibly.
I’m asking with unceasing awe:
Ain’t lingocide against the law?

I get jittery and tlnglish
speaking so-called good English,
The King’s, the Queen’s or the Bard’s
For me that is not in the cards.
What the heck — WHOM or WHO,
why don’t I just do
what Tom and Dick and Harry can,
talking simple North American.

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!’


Stuff is falling apart…

Muriel2017Things are falling apart all around me. First, I replaced my old computer, then the brand new one wouldn’t function, but you know about that already. Now there’s more happening. What’s going on??

Next to give up was my shredder.

scarfshreds

Next to quit was my shredder.

That was understandable. The poor thing served me faithfully for years. Son Rafi helped order a new one online. (In the midst of COVID:19, stores are closed.)

 

newsshred blk

Something like my new heavy shredder

It’s bigger, much heavier — and more complicated. It not only shreds in one direction, but in several at the same time. But, there’s no place to store the papers-to-be-shredded like I could in my old one. So the old shredder’s basket remains, adding more clutter in my office. Oh, well…

The latest to quit??? My toaster oven! I had one that was just that, an ordinary toaster oven. The new ones I saw locally aren’t that simple.

Photo on 2020-07-03 at 10.28 AM

Sad goodbye to old simple toaster oven

The one I bought is also a ‘Convection’ oven. (I don’t even know what that is.) It came with l-o-n-g instructions — in several languages. The printing is so small, a magnifying glass was required for me to read it. I did. By the end, I was so confused, I had no idea where to begin.

It came with several parts but I had no idea where they were supposed to go. It didn’t say. Is it a secret? It has knobs which do various things, most of which I’m not interested in. Said knobs have tiny little things written on them here and there which I can’t see anyway.

Photo on 2020-07-03 at 10.32 AM

New toaster oven: blue pen points to spot I painted with red nail polish

Thank goodness Andrew came by and set it to just make toast. After he left, I painted the spot he’d told me to use with red nail polish, because the original mark is so obscure, I would never find it. I had to tip the oven over on its side to see it. You can’t do that while it’s going.

I sure hope nothing else goes. I can’t cope with more ‘improvements’. As it is I still need to pull out the instructions twice a year when they change the time for the no-longer-new clock radio I use in my office. You can set multiple alarms and it has so many possibilities I can’t keep straight. If I were really clever, it would probably fix dinner and walk my dog — if I had one.

And, this week I’m having another birthday. Talk about falling apart. I may be next!!!

funnykady

 

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.)

COVID:19 project #2 — Junk Drawer

lovethisone

Project #2

So you’ve been biting your nails, anxiously waiting to learn what you’ve always wanted to know — what I found in my junk drawer. It’s been an exciting project. I’m learning a lot during this solitary COVID-19 life, which I’m now passing on to you, my readers — free of charge!

Firstly, I was surprised at how pristine my junk

junkdrawer

looks like mine

drawer actually was. My cabinets were installed 28 years ago and it had never ever been emptied.

Here’s a hint for you: Never work with food on your kitchen counters while drawers below are open. That way, no food or crumbs get into them. (Now, aren’t you lucky to have been given this brilliant tip? Also free of charge?)

tidyup

My drawers ALL look like junk drawers

I learned that all my kitchen drawers LOOK like junk drawers and I marvel at how my loved ones knew which I was talking about when I used that term. Will they recognize it now?

It’s about a week since I neatened my junk drawer. It will take about a week until it’ll be back to it’s familiar mess. But that’s okay, I’ll then know whose kitchen I’m in.

 

Stuff I found:

Photo on 2020-03-29 at 15.23

Tin foil to sharpen scissors, rose made of wood, metal straws w/cleaning brush, and bottle opener from France

A beautiful rose made of wood (I think) by Dusty, a wood-wright who moved away. We used to have morning coffee at Benny’s, which is gone too. (Dusty follows my blog. I’m keeping it.)

Left over tin foil, to sharpen scissors. (Another tip! It really works. Cut foil with your dull scissors.)

Some metal straws with a cleaning brush, a gift from Alison. I’m enjoying one I use on my office desk. (You can’t have any, no way Jose.)

A bottle opener, from Paris, with Napoleon on one side and the Eiffel tower on the other. (Please take it.)

Photo on 2020-03-29 at 15.18

Butterfly pin, seed splitters, key chains w/lights, tea holder

A butterfly pin, given me by a friend just before she checked out for good. It reminds me of her and it’ll stay.

Two items to split seed shells, used (I think) for watermelon seeds. Chinese students’ families used to give me them because I like them. (If you know where to buy them I’ll be your best friend.)

Four key chains, with lights. Friends know I like them with a light. (Up for grabs.)

One something to hold tea leaves. I don’t drink tea and have teabags for friends. (Also up for grabs.)

bluebroom

How long will it last???

 

This most exciting post about a thrilling COVID:19 project is my attempt to help you  manage the current crisis. What next? Maybe I’ll find a way to get a hug one of these days. I miss them most of all. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know….

COVID-19 Projects…

Yup. I’m not seeing anyone. I’m not going to Terra’s for breakfast Muriel2017these days. I’m not eating lunch out with friends. I’m really being good and staying home which isn’t awful, except I’m not getting any hugs either. Everyone will owe me some!

Ladyonbike

watching Jackie Chan

 

I’ve walked each day – alone, along deserted side streets. I’ve been on my Exercycle daily too. I’m doing 17 minutes per sitting and plan to get it to 20 minutes soon. Am thoroughly enjoying the Jackie Chan DVD ‘The Accidental Spy’ which I watch while pedaling. Can’t wait to get back to it after I finish this…

 

My first project was to get my tax papers in order. Oh joys! Still, I knew if I got it out of the way, I’d feel really noble. Yeah! That took two whole mornings. Whew!

taxwhite

Taxes. Whew!

Then yesterday, I decided to organize my long neglected box of

Photo on 2020-03-19 at 14.33

Plastic containers organized for now

plastic containers. They’re kept on a pull out shelf in my kitchen. They’re convenient but were, as usual, in a holy mess. I don’t often think reorganizing them is important.

 

I planned to get rid of many of them,

Photo on 2020-03-19 at 14.31

4 to go

but ended up selecting only four to give to the Senior Centre when it reopens. (They serve lunches and those who can’t make their own meals often buy extra food to take home. Sometimes they forget containers so mine may come in handy.)

Photo on 2020-03-19 at 14.29

Many don’t fit each other

 

There were plenty of lonely tops and bottoms which didn’t fit anything, like those single socks we accumulate when we do laundry. I’ve got plenty of those. Do you want any?

 

Its nice to see all those containers neatly stacked in their carton. But if you come over three days from now, I assure you they’ll be in a big mess again. The only way I can keep them looking so neat would be to NEVER, EVER use them again!

finishedtaxpapers

My junk drawer? What treasures will I find…

 

Now, next project will be my kitchen junk drawer. I wonder what treasures I’ll find there….

A song for Elise???

Muriel2017

Hans Muller was a talented, classically-trained musician who studied at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna. Brilliant and playful, his most wonderful trait was his irreverent sense of humor. To him, even the great Beethoven was fair game.

Going through stuff to throw out, I found these words he wrote to the master’s ‘Fer Elise’. You can sing it to the music….

 

 

Beethoven

Beethoven: Certainly gifted but I wouldn’t have wanted to marry him either

Ludwig named this ditty for Elise

but no one seems to know who she’s
Was she from Bonn or was she Viennese?
What was her amorous expertise?
Was Elise his lover or his maid
And, either way, was she well paid?
Did she become his broad, his concubine
When he asked her ‘Your place or mine?’
Was she his chick, his moll, his fox
Or did she only darn his socks?

Fer Elise

Therese Malfalli Could she have been Ludwig’s Elise? He may have asked her to marry him, but she refused.

 

Did she spend nights of passion with Beethoven?
Limbs entwined and interwoven?

Was Elise a flirt, was she a tease?
Did she undress, smile and say cheese?
Did Ludwig kiss Elise beneath a tree
And touch her way above the knee?
Or did he give her one strategic squeeze
And hand her his apartment keys?

 

 

What did he do when he met her
Did he right away embrace and pet her
Or did he sit down at the keyboard
And compose one of his immortal tunes?
Perhaps the most romantic though a bit pedantic
Opus twenty-seven, number two, in C sharp minor
Known as moonlight, a sonata soon quite popular
All over Vienna and in Bonn
The biggest hit by Ludwig Van.

Hans Muller

Hans Muller: All this from a man for whom English was only one of six languages he spoke and read with ease…

One stormy night in bed he said to her
As winter gales howled from the North,
I have decided that I’ll do my Fifth
As soon as I have done the Fourth,
A Fourth, a Fifth, said she, but Lou
You cannot even manage two.

Did she listen to what he composed?
Sometimes she did, sometimes she dozed.
One day he wrote a Missa called Solemnis,
She said: Ludwig, I condemn this
Latest opus
Must it go thus
To and fro — it bores me so!
Was she a connoisseur, was she well-read
Or was she only good in bed?
Of all of music history’s mysteries
The greatest puzzle is E l i s e.

Hotel rooms with books to read???

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

As a lifelong avid reader, I’ve often bought books I ‘hoped’ to read someday. Someday never arrived, my vision isn’t what it used to be and I know I’ll never get to them. With much regret, I’m giving away every book on my shelves with small print — unread.

girlsreading

A lifelong avid reader

The books either go to friends, get donated to the library, or end up in those wonderful little free sidewalk libraries in my neighborhood. I give them away with the hope that someone else will be tempted to read the books I meant to, but never found the time for.

bookcases

sagging bookshelves

This is also a good time to give away books I’ve already read. There’s no point in holding on to them now since I still have too many sitting there on my sagging bookshelves waiting for my attention. I’m trying to generally cut down on stuff anyway.

Some of the books that are leaving home are of short stories, essays or poetry, books to be pried open and read with pleasure when there isn’t much time. They’d be great to have in hotel rooms.

funnyreading

Books to be read with pleasure

Hey, I like that idea! Packing books for travel can be difficult. They’re heavy and that can be a problem when airlines weigh your luggage. Wouldn’t it be great to find a book of short stories, essays or thoughtful poetry in that hotel room drawer beside the old Gideon Bible?

grreatfree

My great idea!

Think of it. Now that hotels have competition from all those Air B n B’s, this might be reason enough to BOOK with a hotel rather than take a chance on what may be questionable accommodations advertised on the sometimes unreliable Internet.

What say you?

My day off….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

My friend Trudy takes every Monday off. At least that’s what she says, but then when we talk afterwards, I learn she was busy all day catching up on stuff at home. I’ve never done that, but this week I decided I too needed a ‘day off’.

Did I sit around watching Soap Operas and eating chocolates? Did I hunker down under my favorite lamp reading a favorite book from cover to cover? No…. But I did have a wonderful time. This is how things went.

My knees had been tortured the afternoon before by too many miles on my Exercycle — at too high a tension. It wasn’t by plan but by error — or plain old stupidity. I didn’t realize it until it was too late. Thus my plan to walk the next morning was abandoned. I promised my knees a rest instead.

Ladyonbike

My knees had been tortured

I stayed home to relax and okay, just maybe do a few things around here. After reading my emails, I decided to shred some documents, mostly of my 2010 tax return which I no longer need to retain. What efficiency, I felt good about that. Well, wouldn’t you?

Peter the Great1

Peter the Great turned a swamp into a city

Turning around, I saw a thick envelope full of photos, postcards and souvenirs I’d saved from my trip to Scandinavia and St. Petersburg with my sister Shirley in 2000. What a great opportunity to go through it and get rid of more things as part of my effort to be a thoughtful mother so my offspring won’t have to deal with so much stuff in the future. I hadn’t seen these since I first stored them on my office shelf right after the trip. Looking through it gave me an interesting hour or two.

Why in the world did we take all those photos of buildings and bridges anyway? Yes, St. Petersburg was originally a deadly swamp, thousands perished in the creation of the city and it still has many bridges. Do these photos mean anything to me now? Out, out — oh here’s one of Shirley and me, and Tony and Barbara, who live in Australia. We first met these dear friends on that trip! They’ve added so much to my life through the years.
Tony is an Australian member of our book club. He reads every book we do if he can get his hands on it, then sends his reactions via email, which I share at our next meeting. His opinion is of value and always of interest.

IMG_0283

a pot on my balcony

Spring is in the air, and when I looked out at the pots on my balcony, I decided to be optimistic and plant some flowers, kale seeds and peas. The sun was shining — what better time for it? Done! What a noble soul am I!

Then… Oh, you’d better sit down for this one or the shock will be too much for you. I don’t know why, perhaps insanity, but I decided to bake bread — actually Aboriginal bannock. The doing of same reminded me why I don’t do it more often. What a mess! Multiple measuring cups, bowls and spoons, flour covering counter and floor, and butter sticking to my cutting board. Sure, it tastes great with homemade jam, but as long as I have any memory left, I vow not to try this one again. Whew!

Old lady baking. jpg

I won’t try this again

No more days off for me! I’m exhausted…..

 

1,2,3,4 long days without my computer….

Muriel2017

My

In spite of my admiration for Catherine the Great and Empress

knight in shining armor

My knight in shining armor

Wu, right now my friend/neighbor Wayne is my new hero. My computer collapsed. Poor thing had to be hospitalized and have surgery. Wayne carried it gently down to his car and drove it to the Apple hospital, where they deemed it too old to bother with. (Apple must be hard up for cash and needs us to purchase new ones. Make a donation if you can.)

better sick comp

My ailing old computer

Undaunted, gallant Wayne found somewhere else to take my ailing computer, drove it there and after a few harrowing days, brought it back to me. I was more than willing to shell out the $392 required for a new video processor chip, whatever that is.

Meanwhile, I had fretted and lost sleep over the possibility of losing everything on it. Worrying, as you know, is something I excel in. However, I also learned how much time I spend on this electronic contraption. I now must admit I’m addicted and I missed it terribly.

red brook and duster

Without my computer I had no excuses

This monster takes up so much of my time, there are dozens of obvious tasks-to-do I pass by each day and think I must take care of ‘one of these days’. Well, these four days ended up being those days. I couldn’t produce any other delaying tactics not to do them.

Instead of checking my email and seeing how many visited my blog first thing in the day, I made my often neglected bed every morning. Then, although I attend Tai Chi every Monday, plus exercise classes on Wednesdays and Fridays, I managed — in addition to get on my Exercycle Ladyonbikeand Stepper three times during the four days without electronic distractions. (The last time I’d managed time for that was March 8th!) I also managed to daily do the physio-recommended arm exercises for my torn tendons.

Woman_Sitting_at_a_Messy_Desk_clipart_image

My desk is now neater…

I have oodles of paper left over from my old printer which require detaching before I can use them in my new one. I now have a respectable stack ready and prepared. My desk is also somewhat neater. I filed many papers which had sat there for months. Papers and documents awaiting shredding got shredded and properly recycled. At last, my 2016 phone book/calendar got disposed of, with all your names and phone numbers safely shredded as well. Long neglected, shocked loved ones and friends received phone calls out of the blue. I feel so noble!

My kitchen received attention as well. I neatened up my ‘plastic bag’ drawer, piling various bags high on my counter, after which I diligently separated them by size. I carefully weighed the separated stacks down in the drawer with paperweights. (I did this in spite of son Rafi’s warning that this madness would indicate to visitors that I’m neat, thus making them uncomfortable in my home.) After that, I attacked my wealth of plastic containers, matching tops and bottoms, and discarding all those I couldn’t fix up with anyone. Then, because I;d rather not go out when it snows, I’d accumulated extra ‘just in case’ food supplies during winter, I pulled everything down from those crowded cabinets and put things in order. Can you imagine?

drawing blacl:white w:broom

I cleaned up the winter debris

Nor did my balcony get overlooked in this frenzy. On a rain-less day, I got out there and cleared up the debris left over from winter. My outdoor pots are now ‘almost’ pristine and ready for spring planting. You’ve got to be impressed!

Well, now I have my computer back and this ain’t gonna happen again for (hopefully) a very long time. I’m back. Thank goodness for small favors! I was even driving myself crazy…..