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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.

Dybbuks of Russia…

ME, AGE 4.

If you think I was an easy kid, you are sadly mistaken. The words most often out of my big mouth were: ‘Why?’ ‘How come?’ That my mom continued to love me and survived my childhood is an absolute miracle. If I’d been my kid, I’d have thrown me off the 3rd floor balcony to shut me up.

A DYBBUK


I was the youngest of five and my poor mom was stuck with me after the rest of the kids attended school. She knew she could keep me quiet and hold me spellbound with her stories of Dybbuks in her native Russia. According to her, she not only knew about them, but had seen them in action herself! Imagine.


Dybbuks, mom said, could do anything. They were evil spirits or dislocated souls of the dead — truly malicious and troublesome creatures who would enter the body of another person or animal and create havoc during a temporary transmutation. The tales she could dream up to keep her pesky Muriel quiet were unlimited and each was different.

WELL-BEHAVED HORSES SUDDENLY OVERTURNED CARTS


I loved those stories about Russia, where well-behaved horses suddenly overturned carts or fled in terror when inhabited by the mischievous Dybbuks, or ordinarily placid cows suddenly kicked whoever tried to milk them, and loving dogs bit their masters or behaved strangely. How could I resist?

ONCE PLACID COWS KICKED THE ONE DOING THE MILKING


I’d sit like a good girl and listen avidly while she ironed. (People did a lot of ironing then.) When I’d get a little uncomfortable or carried away with a story, I’d declare — somewhat hopefully, that they couldn’t be real.


‘Oh, but they are,’ my mother always assured me.

THEY’RE ONLY IN RUSSIA


‘Well, HOW COME we don’t have Dybbuks here?’


‘They’re only in Russia.’


WHY?’


‘Because they’re afraid of the water and they’d have to swim to get here.’


Well, that explained it, right? How could anyone or anything swim across the ocean.

You have to admit it was a creative response. Could you have come up with that?

My mom had an answer for everything.


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.

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

 

The best for last….

.

Mom drives ATV, SM

Guess I scared Susan

Couldn’t resist sharing this photo with you. Susan plunked a crazy hat on my head because it had a strap under the chin and wouldn’t fly off. Their ATV has no  windshield.  I was dubbed ‘Crazy Lil’ and Susan, well, goodness knows, she seemed overwhelmed by my driving. So glad she survived because I do love her, and we had fun for sure.

I was up in the mountains above Reno, Nevada, visiting Susan and Michael. Rafi and Remy joined us to help celebrate my birthday. Dear Joe sent a surprise birthday gift which treated us to a Casino buffet dinner, which Remy particularly enjoyed because he’d never been to one before. What could possibly be better than getting spoiled by everyone for my special day?????

Mom and Jake2019

Jake, now older and wiser, but still loving

Dear Jake attached himself to me on my last visit when I needed to walk to strengthen weak leg muscles right after getting a new hip. He’s smart enough to know I don’t need that care and encouragement anymore so this time he preferred to sit my walks out.  He’s older and wiser and just sat nearby to watch me in my madness as if to say: ‘If you’re nutty and want to walk in circles, I’m not joining you. I prefer just sitting here.’ However, we still love each other….

 

 

 

I’ve never been a horse personMom and Cisco, video still 1, SM like Susan. Horses scared me. They’re really, really BIG! But Susan recently got Cisco. He is gorgeous and very different. He’s calm and exceptionally loving. Miracles never cease… Can you believe??? I fell in love with him.

Susan was so tickled by this wonder of wonders, she donned her camera. I thought she would just take a few photos of me with  Cisco, so I joked with her as we often do.

What did Susan the sneak do? She took a video. You must watch it, but be sure you have your volume on high. You have to hear what I say. It is absolutely hilarious.
Yes, you have my permission to laugh.

https://youtu.be/5QLdOWifLr4. If you can’t get to it here, write to me at: mkauff@shaw.ca and I’ll send it to you by email. It is really worth seeing. I laughed until I cried when I watched it myself.

By the way, Susan posted this funny video of me with Cisco on her favorite Facebook group, “Aging Horsewomen Intl”, and I couldn’t believe it got over 1000 positive “reactions” in just a day or two! I guess with over 48,000 members worldwide, there are plenty of women in that group who appreciate sheer silliness as much as Susan and I do!

Praises and Pet Peeves

Muriel2017

photo by my dear Chandra

Goodness me! Where did the days go? Seems like I spend more time at ordinary tasks these days — necessary and unnecessary. My San Francisco loved ones visited over the New Year and as always, treated me with more consideration than I deserve. Only after they left did I realize I hadn’t washed dishes while they were here!

The accrued laundry is still awaiting my attention and I let it wait because I had other priorities once they were gone. (Happy Birthday Joseph!) Then my exercise and Tai Chi classes started again and let’s face it, nothing seems more important than keeping this old body of mine moving. Time passed quickly and I’m only now sitting down at my computer to talk to you.

chair-fitness

Keeping this old body of mine moving

I was going to write about pet peeves, but let’s face it, what in the world do I have to complain about? Someone as lucky as I am must, therefore, include praises as well.

busdriver,jpg

Bless our bus drivers

Since I no longer drive, I use our transit service. I also use a walker, I’m slow, (I was never fast.) and must praise our bus drivers who are patient, thoughtful, and caring. They wait patiently until I am safely on-board and seated before they restart the bus. They tell me to take my time when I disembark. We are certainly fortunate to have such wonderful people at the wheel.

lady walker

Bless helpful strangers

I also find strangers extremely kind. When I want to enter a store or cafe, someone will most often come forward to open doors for me. Am I deserving of such attention and kindness? They don’t ask. They don’t care. They just DO. I’m grateful. It isn’t always easy to push a walker through a doorway.

Talking about praises, I also must praise and am mighty grateful to my children who take time out of their own busy lives to not only visit and cheerfully put up with me when I visit them, but help me with whatever my needs are, especially my tenuous relationship with this computer. Seems to me, as soon as I get comfortable with a program, they (whoever ‘they’ are) ‘update’ the darn thing and get me all confused again. How do the younger people manage???

Which brings me to pet peeves. That’s one of them. I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy to

Mother child feet

Feet off the seats please

keep me humble. ‘They’ want me feeling stupid and they’re definitely succeeding. I don’t know what to make of this computer most of the time. Grrrrrrr.

Pet peeves? On the bus, in movies and restaurants, some people will put their feet on the seats. Look guys, you walk on the sidewalk. People walk their dogs on the sidewalk. Dogs urinate on the sidewalk, they also sometimes defecate on those surfaces. Yuk! Please don’t put your shoes up where others have to sit.

 

dogs

Yes, I love them, but please keep them leashed on streets.

And, talking about dogs, I implore dog owners to walk their dogs on-leash on city streets. Yes, I love dogs but I’m uncomfortable with them prancing around my feet. My balance is lousy and I worry about falling — again. Most of us deal with balance deterioration as we age, so this is not only a problem for me. Besides, I have friends who are terrified of dogs, either having been bitten or taught to fear them.

 

I don’t know what else to complain about, but I’ll bet you do. What pleases or irks YOU?

Remembering rain stories…

Muriel Susan

Susan, who still loves all creatures, and me

After the oh-so-hot, humid, smoky summer, the first rainfall

Baby Rafi and sue

Susan playing with Rafi, she also loved him

was a blessing. It watered the parched earth, delighted growing things, cleaned the air, and brought joy to our residents. I purposely walked without a hat to experience those precious drops running down my face. The years fell away. I felt like a naughty child.

While relishing the much-needed rain, I thought of other walks taken years ago in Los Angeles where droughts could last for years. It didn’t make sense to buy boots for the children. They were rarely needed. I’d just wrap plastic bags over their shoes and out we’d go to either walk or splash about in the water, and sometimes sail hand-made paper boats.

On one such walk with 4-year old Susan, who loves every creature that flies, walks, crawls or slithers, she was worried. Dozens of worms were out because of the rain.

Pink worm

Little pink worms

“The sidewalk must hurt their little pink bellies,” she fretted, as she gently picked each worm off the cement and placed it onto the soft grass of the parkway. I like thinking of that rainy day.

Which reminds me of the morning 3-year-old Susan woke up and

green bug

I can’t find my green buggie

was crying. Concerned, I ran to her room. It seems the night before, she’d carefully placed a green bug to sleep in her bedside table drawer. Of course, the bug was nowhere to be found. She was distraught. Tears flowed. Seeing her so upset tugged at my heart. I knew it was useless, but what to do? I found myself crawling on the floor with her ‘looking’ for her ‘green buggy’. Well, what would you have done? Finally, the child had to settle for a hug.

There was also the time her kindergarten teacher had a container full of crickets to feed to a lizard. Susan decided the crickets must be unhappy cooped up in a

Jiminy Cricket

A

little carton. She turned them loose. This resulted in absolute chaos. Children, terrified of the little creatures, screamed, ran around and jumped up and down on chairs and desks — that is — all except Susan, who delighted in having given the crickets freedom and loved seeing them going off in all directions. Then, those crickets had to be gathered when/if possible. Oh, dear. (I learned about this adventure through a complaint from Susan’s suffering teacher.)

Another day Susan came home from school, again in tears, because she

Cockroach

A family of roaches?

had found a ‘cute family’ of cockroaches to bring to her beloved mother. A ‘mean’ boy slapped them out of her hand and stomped on them.

‘It’s okay Susie,’ I said hearing her tale of woe, ‘Perhaps they’re alright and he just took them to HIS mother.’ I doubt I ever told Susan how relieved I was those little critters hadn’t made it to our home.

Talking about bugs, once on the way to school ((Kindergarten again) Susan

Snail

Snails all over her coat

picked up every snail she saw. They, too, come out when it rains. She arrived at school with her pockets full of snails, and snails crawling all over her coat. Her poor teacher gave her an empty shoe box, and all the snails were saved and brought home to lucky me. I wasn’t that thrilled with this gift, we had a garden, but what can you say to a child who treasures every creature.

Enough rain stories. Stay well and enjoy each day.

The Little Cat Who Thought He Was A Dog — A BIG Dog

Muriel from BlogDaughter Susan never met an animal she didn’t love. Her pets have included snakes, lizards, birds, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, horses, a donkey, plus…. I’ve probably missed a few. I learned to live with some of these when she was a child even though her beloved creatures were at times pretty weird.
After Susan grew up and was sharing a house, she had a large Alaskan Malamute named Kodi. Kodi intimidated me. He was BIG! However, he didn’t seem to intimidate the little white kitten Susan brought home from the SPCA one day. Maybe the 10-week old little thing didn’t know he was supposed to be afraid of dogs. But then, he was an innocent. Susan named him Myshkin, after the character in Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot”. She must have immediately recognized that part of his nature.

Little Myshkin with a toy

Little Myshkin with a toy

Kodi, big as he was, spent his nights sleeping on the sofa. Myshkin, perhaps missing his family, climbed up onto Kodi’s back and slept there too. Was it the warmth of Kodi’s big body? Was it the sound of Kodi’s heartbeat? I have no idea, but it was amusing to see that little bundle of white fur climb up onto the large dog, dig around to make his bed more comfortable, and then curl up, purring contentedly, for the night.

Myshkin and Kodi, pals

Myshkin and Kodi, pals

Myshkin was pretty and a charmer. He was as white as can be, with one blue and one green eye, a beautiful little pink nose, pink ears and small pink paws — and a penchant for getting into mischief. Each time this happened, perhaps by knocking over a flower pot on a window sill or exploring a space too narrow for any creature to fit into, Kodi would announce it loudly.

Myshkin in warpaint. He always managed to get into mischief

Myshkin in warpaint. He always managed to get into mischief

“It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me!” he seemed to be telling us. Kodi also tried to teach Myshkin manners by gently taking the kitten’s head into his mouth when the little one misbehaved, which was often enough. However, Kodi was unusually patient with his little friend….
Where you found one, you would find the other. If at first it looked strange to the neighbours to see little Myshkin trotting behind Susan and Kodi on their regular neighbourhood jaunts, folks soon became accustomed to seeing the trio walking by. On the way, Kodi had some stops to make at favorite shops where he received treats. Myshkin would just sit quietly beside him until Kodi got his due. Don’t we do that for friends?

In return, Kodi was protective of little Myshkin. Any dog that threatened his small companion was in for a surprise standoff.

“No one messes with my pal,” his growl seemed to say in no uncertain terms. The bond grew stronger.

Myshkin's first snow experience

Myshkin’s first snow experience

As parents age, relationships with offspring often reverse. So it happened with Kodi and Myshkin. When Kodi was stricken with cancer at the end of his life, Myshkin seemed to instinctively know.
Since Kodi was too weak to walk, Susan, with help from her roommate, would carry him out to the lawn, where he could sit on a pad. At least he could be outdoors and Myshkin was never far from Kodi’s side. That seemed natural enough, after all they were pals.
But one day Susan witnessed something extraordinary. A large black dog approached to sniff at Kodi — no owner in sight. In the past, Myshkin would count on Kodi to protect him from strange dogs. This time, however, the little cat gathered his courage, hair raised, growling as ferociously as he could. He stood up to block the strange dog with his own little body every which way that dog tried to bypass him.

He risked his own life to protect his helpless friend! The interloper gave up and left. Is there anything else to say?