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Working on my bucket list….

Bucket List: A list of things one hopes to accomplish during their lifetime.

Muriel2017

Photo by my Chandra

For years there were oodles of things sitting in that bucket of mine, but it has been getting lighter. There were countries I wanted to visit and see, and trips I wanted to make. I had promised a family of favorite students, who had returned to Taiwan, that I’d visit someday. That day kept being put off.

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The Wu family.  Rear: Kevin, Megumi, Jason, dad Hank, front: Jennifer and Ethan the whiz (as clever as his dad)

 

 

Once I (mistakenly) thought since I was paying a visit I owed to a friend in New Zealand, Taiwan would be close by. (Shows you how little I knew.) I immediately called Jennifer in Taiwan and told her I would come to see them, but then learned it would be another eight hours tacked on to the 14-hour plane ride to New Zealand.

That was too much for me with the Vestibular Disorder I live with. Jennifer was, understandably, disappointed. I felt stupid..

 

Years passed, some of which were difficult  for me. I required a knee and later a hip replacement. (I’ve refused so far to have the other knee done, though it needs it.) Nonetheless, I’m now a bionic woman.

All those who could attend from the Wu family came to Canada from Taiwan to attend my 80th birthday celebration two years ago. That did it. I decided, no matter what, immediately after I recuperated sufficiently from the hip surgery, I’d have to get there. They certainly deserved it — plus if not now, when?

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We ate our way through Taiwan — lavishly.

In Taiwan, I was treated like a queen. How interesting that  you do a few little things for someone to be a good kid and you can get so much more in return. That is certainly what happened with the Wu family.

They have never forgotten anything I may have done for them years ago, and have given me back more than I ever could have given them. I, on the other hand, remember with pleasure the times Jennifer invited me to stay for dinner after the boys had their ESL lessons. They truly owe me nothing!

 

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The Wu family saw to it that Arthur, their driver, took extra good care of me. (Chandra, Arthur and me outside the oh-so-ritzy hotel we stayed at)

It was thrilling to see Kevin again, whom I taught so long ago.

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With Kevin, that old close feeling

We hadn’t seen each other for about 15 years. It felt as if not a day had passed, that old warmth was still there as strong as ever and I felt I could say anything I wanted to him.

He now has a beautiful wife and two young boys. The oldest, about four, seems as clever as his dad, the younger, at two, doesn’t ever walk. He only runs and must keep his mom, Megumi, on the run.

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Jennifer adores Chandra — the feeling is mutual

My Chandra, who traveled with me, captured everyone’s heart. Without her it would have been more difficult for me — I am getting older.

I’ll also owe my Chandra forever for remembering to bring coffee and the means to fix it, which she did for me every morning. (I’m addicted to the stuff.)

Jennifer adores her, and rightly so. I do too….. Son Rafi, who stayed home, gave me the greatest gift when he chose Chandra for his wife.

 

Sushiplace

Everywhere we went, we ran into friends of the Wu family. (Having sushi in Taipei)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how are YOU doing with your bucket list?

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Flagrantly Flirting….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

At last fellows, I’ve got my revenge. I now have the advantage. I am able to flirt flagrantly and get some good laughs and hugs every day. As you get older, you can’t get away with that. If you behaved like me, they’d call you a dirty old man and call the cops. I NEVER get that reaction. People just smile and join in the fun.

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L A, during the 80’s. Looks like I started ‘flagrantly flirting’ long ago

Walking along the Avenue on my way to breakfast, I may see a young couple hugging and ask shamelessly, ‘Is this gorgeous guy giving out free hugs this morning?’ Invariably I get the hug and a laugh from both of them. Often enough, the three of us hug. Let’s face it, I’m no threat.

Reiner@Terra's

Reiner graciously gave me his seat at Terra’s. What better excuse for a hug with a cute guy.

My dear friend, Trudy, says she puts up with me because I make her laugh.

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Trudy, who puts up with me because I make her laugh

Daughter Susan says when she thinks of me, it is always of me laughing. (Truth be told, Susan makes me laugh more than I ever could make her do so. She is a clever AND funny girl.)

Daughter-in-law Chandra, a favorite in my life, tells me she loves to laugh with me — and we certainly do often laugh together. Chandra particularly enjoys teasing me about my frequent flirtations with waiters, which, admittedly, I am guilty of. They’re so often cute……

Waiter at Mexican Rest. & Me, SF 2013

Dinner with kids at Mexican Restaurant. Well, isn’t he cute?

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Dinner in S.F. with kids. Chandra and I laughed our heads off.

How can I resist cute waiters???? There are many more I’ve hugged and don’t have photos with. My Chandra was present and so took these while she laughed and teased me.

 

 

 

 

No one is safe when I’m around.. I joke with employees on trains or at airports.

Muriel and boyfriend on train, 2013

A new friend on the train

Today’s airports are intimidating for everyone, however, since my vision isn’t what it used to be and my relationship with computers is tenuous, I really do require help. I ALWAYS get it. When I spot two or three male employees together, I’ll approach and tell them I’d like the handsomest to help me. They laugh. They all offer their assistance.

As a result of this nonsense, I get many smiles and the very best of service everywhere.

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Greg, who makes me laugh more often than just about anyone.

So many people add so much to my life!!!

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Clowning with my gorgeous ‘grandson’ Vinson

Where does my time go?

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy

Where does my time go? Have you see it around? I’ve been looking

confused-old-lady

Where does my time go???

everywhere for it — even checked under my bed. These days everything seems to take longer. My undeveloped brain thinks I’m capable of doing oodles of things, but my body won’t cooperate. This became especially clear when I decided I ‘should’ get rid of ‘stuff’.

Friends complain about having to dispose of too much junk when elderly parent/s pass away, so I decided to be kind to my beloved offspring and throw out what I don’t need now. My office shelves seemed the perfect place to start. Spotting the many brochures and papers saved from numerous trips abroad I decided to start there. Have I ever looked at them? No… so okay. ‘Out, out damned papers!’ I declared aloud, trying to sound like Lady Macbeth when she tried to wash the blood from her hands.

The project was terrific. It felt noble — and what fun to look at all those souvenirs before tossing them into the recycling. Then, behind one envelope, I spied a stack of annual appointment calendars from the years 2,000 to 2,005. As a self-employed individual then, I kept detailed records in case Revenue Canada decided to audit my return. These could go too. Hurrah! It felt so good until….. I decided to look at those pages before tearing them up.

How did I manage to do all those things in one day — day after day? How could I have breakfast with a friend, manage an audition at 11, attend a business meeting at 3, and attend a theatre performance the same evening? Or, meet a friend at an art exhibit in the morning, study my lines over lunch, and get to a shoot by seven? I ran from one thing to another and on to yet another.

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Our wonderful book club still meets monthly

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Frida Kahlo, self- portrait I saw at our local gallery

These records go back 18 years. What a merry-go-round I lived on. No wonder I’m tired today. I was writing, had constant deadlines; I was acting, with auditions to prepare for and/or lines to study for performances; I covered the arts in one of my columns, so visited museums and attended live performances; I was on our Strata Council and active in the building; my wonderful Book Club was already happening and our monthly meetings were held at my place (they still are — we’ve read over 200 books together).

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Constantly facing deadlines for columns

make up

An hour to make me look older???

I noted that I attended a Film Festival in Palm Springs. A short film I co-starred in was  included. I didn’t look old enough for the part, so the makeup artist spent an hour each time to make me look older. Ha! On top of everything else, I kept up with having breakfasts, lunches and/or dinners with friends, many of whom I love and who are still in my life.

 

Yikes, I’m tired just looking at those pages full of stuff I used to do. These days I try to limit my obligations to one or two per day and feel lucky to make it. However, since my brain has never grown up, I continue to plan all kinds of household tasks to be done in one afternoon. Somehow, I rarely accomplish them all. What happened to all that energy? Where did I lose it? Have you seen it anywhere?

The Kindness of Strangers

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Stranger in a red coat

A stranger in a bright red raincoat came up from behind me as I plodded across the busy intersection as fast as I could, but not fast enough — the light had already changed to red. ‘I’ll walk beside you’ she said, ‘They won’t want to hit both of us.’

My knee is mad at me so I use a walker. It helps, not only with my angry old-lady-with-walkerknee, but also with my old balance disorder, which has caused many falls through the years. (That’s why my knee is so upset.) The woman realized I was having a difficult time and decided to help a stranger. Why?

In my neighborhood, many shops have handicapped door operators which you push to open the door. Still, passersby who don’t realize that often stop on their way to pull a door open for me. My favorite morning breakfast stop has one, which occasionally isn’t operative yet if I arrive early. (The activator is above the door — I think the staff can’t reach it.) A favorite, tall fellow patron, Greg, will get up and switch it on if he sees me coming. Nice….but why?

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Handicapped Door operator

The other morning, Greg noticed my walker wheels were caked with what he thought was dog poop. He warned me about it, but I continued reading. I’m such a passionate reader, I didn’t even notice when he and his pal Garth wheeled my walker out the door, cleaned it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it later, and brought it back in. (I’m hoping they were wrong, that what they cleaned was actually ground up wet brown leaves which gather at the sidewalk cuts I have to use.) Why did they bother?

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Bus drivers deal with some abusive riders

I regularly attend exercise classes at a community centre. I no longer drive. I use transit. How do bus drivers in this busy city who deal with mentally ill and abusive riders plus crazy traffic manage to stay so considerate? They wait until I’m seated before starting the bus. They patiently wait again for me to painfully rise and slowly back off the vehicle with my walker. (It was a bus driver who taught me that it’s the safest way to leave.)

This week I told a driver I wish I could sit on my walker on the bus. It’s higher and less painful to rise from. At my stop, she urged me to take the time to place it in a particular spot, set the brakes, and see if it would work. Not wanting to make her late, (they are on schedules) I told her I’d try it next time I rode a bus. Hey, it works. I hope I see her again so I can thank her. I’ve since used her idea twice. Why did an absolute stranger do this?

Then, the volunteer who sells coffee once a week at the center carries my coffee to a nearby table for me. It’s difficult for me to manage that and the walker — multitasking was never my thing. He says he’s not allowed to accept tips, I never ask him to do it, but he does it anyway. Why?

What makes so many strangers so kind? For one, I believe most people are inherently good. I also know that when I am kind to others, it gives ME a warm fuzzy. So it goes…..we give, we get. I am ever grateful to my wonderful caring family, to my friends, and especially those many strangers who are there for me. Warm hugs to you all!

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My son’s beautiful wife Chandra who worked so very hard to plan a special 80th birthday party for me. She succeeded.

If you notice me singing, do join in…

mom-thinking-2I often walk to my favorite cafe in the morning. Since my right knee complains with every step, I sing as I walk. My brain isn’t capable of multi tasking, so trying to remember the words of old songs seems to lessen the pain. It works to some degree. When someone comes by, I lower my voice so I won’t be heard. Yet, what fun it would be if strangers joined me in song just like they did in the old musicals I so enjoyed when I was a kid. Ta-da….

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Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in Easter Parade

Even then I remember feeling a little silly as I watched some of those movies. The goings on onscreen could be unrealistic. For example, all the passersby knew the words of the songs and the dance steps and so were able to join Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in the ‘Easter Parade’ — dressed in their Easter best. Young as I was, I knew that didn’t really happen.

Yes, there were a few mindless plots weakly held together to

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Gene Kelly in Dancin’ in the Rain

showcase the talent of the stars in them, and Gene Kelly did dance in the rain on the sidewalks of New York in ‘Dancin’ in the Rain’, but you can’t deny he was entertaining.

Were musicals all silly, mindless fluff? I think not. Many important issues were covered in Broadway musicals — issues which society would not have been ready to confront in any other format at the time. Just as comedy was, and continues to be, used to help us deal with the serious and even unbearable, musicals often sugarcoated difficult themes. Without realizing it, audiences were encouraged to look at and hopefully rethink their ideas and attitudes.

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Thomas Carey and Carol Brice in Porgy & Bess, 1934

Gershwin and Heyward’s ‘Porgy & Bess’ is often regarded as the first great American opera. The music is brilliant but at the same time, the story makes a strong statement on the difficult position of blacks in America — as valid today as when it first came out in 1934, years before Martin Luther King came along.

Even earlier, in 1927, Kern and Hammerstein touched on black and

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The great Paul Robeson, Showboat, 1936

white issues in another timeless musical classic ‘Showboat’. (In my opinion those who protested against the show in Toronto some years ago, could not have seen it.)

Then, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘South Pacific’, which came out in 1949, tackled racial discrimination head-on. A real inter-racial love affair takes place on the stage/screen. It was a daring move which clearly defined the needless tragedy that results from racist thinking in Lieutenant

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Mary Martin & Ezio Pinza in South Pacific

Cable’s romance with a Polynesian girl, Liat. The American Nellie, portrayed so well by Mary Martin, is shocked when she discovers Emile, a Frenchman, has children who are half-Polynesian. In the end, Nellie chooses to deal with her own prejudices and marries the man she loves. (By the way, Mary Martin, who washed her hair in each performance, claimed all that hair-washing did no harm.)

‘Hair’ about the hippy movement, free love and the drug culture, raised many an eyebrow with its passive nudity in 1968. I remember being shocked myself when I first saw it. Those scenes seem mild to us today. Modern audiences probably don’t understand what the fuss was all about.

I’m reminded of these productions when I find myself singing some of the old show tunes while I walk in the morning. If you catch me at it, do join in.

 

Whatever happened to my cast iron stomach?

photo by Susan Kauffmann

photo by Susan Kauffmann

I like lobster, but don’t have the courage to kill them, so I only eat it out.

I like lobster, but don't have the courage to kill one

I like lobster, but don’t have the courage to kill one

Years ago, after reacting badly to lobster dinners three times in a row, a friend suggested an allergy. I said I had a cast iron stomach, but finally accepted her idea. I’ve since learned it wasn’t the lobster. Now that I know more about our food supply and the many chemicals added to what we eat, it isn’t surprising that more of us are becoming ill as a result – including me.

Later, I began experiencing sensitivity to fish too — usually after eating it out. I decided my allergy had expanded to anything that lived in water. I consumed no fish or seafood for 15 years, but still often became ill after eating. Things were getting out of control — and scary. I asked to see an allergist.

Tests showed I’m not allergic to fish or shellfish at all, but to sulphites, the preservative seafood is often bathed in when frozen or shipped. It also keeps potatoes white, maintains the color and texture of frozen foods, and is used so often today, it would be impossible to give you a list of foods to avoid. (The allergist warned it was a ‘minefield’ out there.)

It isn’t easy to eat out and have a sulphite-free meal. I ask bewildered servers about preservatives and they look at me with blank expressions. They work in an industry where foods are laden with chemicals and have no training or understanding of what I’m talking about. As for fast food outlets, forget it.

As for fast foods, forget it.

As for fast foods, forget it.

It is almost impossible to find unadulterated foods in our grocery stores either. I read labels when provided, however often the listing of ingredients is not required and there’s no way to know what’s in foods we buy. One chemical or pesticide by itself may be safe enough, but a cocktail of more than one can be deadly.

You can tell when chickens are dizzy, they only have two legs like we do

You can tell when chickens are dizzy, they only have two legs like we do

Hens react to chemicals much as we do. Studies have shown when hens were fed two chemicals in their food, they lost weight, developed diarrhea, shortness of breath, weakness, stumbling and tremors. Exposure to combinations of three caused even more illness, paralysis and death. Tests showed nervous system damage in those birds. (Discover Magazine, August, 1997 — and we’ve done nothing to stop it yet.)

I am concerned by the long list of additives and chemicals I see listed on the food labels I read so carefully — and they don’t even tell us which pesticides were sprayed on the wheat used to make the flour or to keep down bug infestations while the flour is being stored, nor what bakeries are using in their environment. If we add all the pesticides, additives and preservatives we consume in foods we place on our plates, we come up with a potentially harmful or even deadly combination we were never meant to ingest.

These are added to make a longer shelf life possible. Manufacturers and food processors make more money — and we get sick. Is it any wonder we have an epidemic of children suffering with Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Asthma and Allergies? That so many people are now suffering with Vestibular Disorders? And I, of the ‘cast-iron stomach’, now struggle with allergies?

I remember when bread got moldy if it wasn’t consumed quickly. Cookies got stale, didn’t taste right

The cookies my generation gave our babies now contains preservatives

The cookies my generation gave our babies now contain preservatives

and had to be tossed. The same cookies my generation fed our babies now have preservatives in them. (I checked.) They can stay ‘fresh’ forever. Read the labels……

Do we value money more than our own children?

**Check labels for sulphites as: sodium metabisulphite, potassium metabisulphite, sodium bisulphite, potassium bisulphite, sodium sulphite, sodium dithionite, sulphurous acid, and Sulphur dioxide – and this is only part of the story……

My grandson Remy when he was little. More treasured than any amount of money

My grandson Remy when he was little. More treasured than any amount of money