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Our family’s ‘Rashomon’….

‘RASHOMON’: If Mr. Google is right, the famous ‘Rashomon’ had it’s roots in a Noh play originally written in 1420. In the 1990s I saw a performance in Vancouver. Each of the three characters, the Samarai, his wife, and a bandit told their own version of what happened while traveling on a highway. The wife claimed the bandit raped her, the bandit had a totally different slant on things, and the Samarai gave yet another story altogether. I’ve never forgotten it.

The following is my family’s ‘Rashomon’:

SUSAN’S VERSION:

Momstealsshirts-2

Last visit’s winnah!!!

My mother is a thief. She steals from her own children. Last time I visited, she stole shirts right off my back and had me go home in a London Drugs plastic bag. Oh the horror!

She may be no taller than a bean sprout, but mom’s a formidable fighter, strengthened by exercise classes and those martial arts moves she learns in Tai-Chi! For revenge I wanted my red shirt back.

THE SHIRT THEFT SAGA, ACT TWO: One Good Theft Deserves Another

I needed backup, so convinced my hubby, Michael, to come along on this visit and briefed him on my plans. At first we acted sweetly to lull mom into a false sense of security. Later, I snuck into her bedroom closet looking for the shirt. There were other red shirts, but not MINE!

1, shirt series, looking for it in her closet.jpg

Other red shirts but not mine

2, shirt series, Found it in other closet

There it was!

That dastardly foe had anticipated I would search her closet and hid the shirt! After cogitating, I deduced she’d keep it close.

Right, it was in the guest room where she was sleeping. I silently slunk in, slid open the closet door and there it was!

Oh joy, bliss, rapture! My beautiful red shirt in my own hands! Now to take it without her catching me. I decided to make a break for it, hoping she wouldn’t see me dash into the next room.

Unfortunately, mom suspected something was afoot. Michael tried to stop her, but she came flying down the hallway just as I was trying to make good my escape! I was caught RED-handed! There was no denying it. It was game on!

 

3, shirt series, caught red handed, SM

Caught red-handed!

Mom tugged for all she was worth, I tried my best against her superior strength.
Faithful hubby jumped into the fray!

We pulled. We tugged. We tugged and pulled, That little old lady didn’t give up! Finally we proved too much for her.

5, Michael joins the fight

We pulled. We tugged.

Mom got her second wind and came out SWINGING, determined to take out the seditious son-in-law. Her reach, however, didn’t match her rage and Michael was able to hold her off with nary a scrape.

“Rocky” Kauffmann threw in the towel and

7, Triumph

triumph at last!

conceded defeat. I donned the red shirt triumphantly, Michael agrees it looks great. Mom wept just to elicit sympathy hoping she’d get it back. Not a chance, Light-fingers Lil!

 

 

MY VERSION:

Daughter Susan visited again. I knew she was seeking revenge. This time she brought backup. Hubby Michael is about 6’5”, which is intimidating enough at my 4’11’. Besides Susan let it drop he bench-presses 300 pounds ‘just like that’. Why would she tell me that? To scare me of course?

MichaelSuperman

Michael at breakfast

MIchael showed up at breakfast wearing his Superman pajamas, claiming he forgot his robe. A likely story, they wanted me to see his bulging biceps and rippling muscles, that’s why.

I’m a loving mother. I try to be nice. I offered Susan one of my special, expensive china cups/mugs for morning tea. Did she accept? No! She had to have the treasured mug a particular friend painted for me all by himself as a bIrthday gift.

SueMeVan2018

Does it pay to have children?

I also gave the kids my bedroom (Michael’s too tall for my trundle bed) and told Susan not to bring a robe — I have more than one. What did she do? She PURPOSELY picked the robe said special friend sent me to wear when I had hip surgery.

I looked at her sitting smugly at the breakfast table. It was just too much! What lack of consideration. Awggghhh. Does it pay to have children?

4, tug of war

Grubby Susan at it again! Will this never end?

 

Does Susan appreciate that the London Drugs Plastic bag I kindly gave her to go home in last time have become the latest trend? (You can purchase same at their stores.)

6, shirt series, Michael fights off Mom

Who could beat Superman???

There are limits to how much even I can fight. Who could beat Superman???

To top it off, the RED shirt I won fair and square then has disappeared. She’s taken it. Susan and BIG BAD MIKE were just too much. Oh, woe is me….

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Dear Chris….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

I’m trying to eliminate clutter. It’s my true effort to become a thoughtful parent. Unfortunately, I find it almost impossible when it comes to my files.

Tackling one of the thick folders of correspondence from my late friend

Hans

Hans. He was a lot of fun…

Hans, I re-read one of his letters and just couldn’t bring myself to dispose of it. It is  too funny. Right behind it was the following poem he wrote to Christopher Columbus. If you were me, could you toss it out?

 

 

 

‘What I always wanted to say to Chris but was afraid to’

by Hans Muller

‘Mister Christopher Columbus

Columbus by Granger

Christopher Columbus, by Granger. I doubt he was much fun.

you’re in history’s vein a thrombus

which, on wide spread urgery

should be removed by surgery.

By Soviet-style complete excision

lest history’s held up to derision

occasioned by your sine-qua-

non mis-historical faux-pas.

What befogged your addled brain?

There was no smog or acid rain,

no radio or T.V. commercial,

nothing crass or controversial

to have made you cause such terror

by your gross baptismal error,

christening our natives ‘Indian’.

Did you hear them speaking Hindi-an?

Did you see them wearing saris?

Your fraudulence tops Mata Hari’s.

Had odes been sung in Amerindian,

not Shakespearean or Pindian,

but sung in praise of Red Man’s Gods,

you’d probably call those odes odds.

You would call a square a rhombus,

wouldn’t you, Signor Columbus?

 

You’d misquote the works of Homer,

3ships

The Nina (Santa Clara), Pinta (Spanish for ‘the painted one’ (prostitute), and Santa Maria

you champion of the crass misnomer.

No more of your mumbo-jumbo

Don Chistoforo Columbo.

I shall ask the nearest cop

to jail you, Mister Malaprop

for the lies with which you bomb us,

Mister Christopher Columbus.

 

*Hans, who could speak/read about five languages, had no problem making up words in any of them. He believed in having fun.

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.

cartoonladyonbooks

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).

funny lady at computer

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?

Busy catching up on reading

Muriel2017

photo by my lovely Chandra Joy Kauffmann

I’ve always been an avid reader. When did it start? Perhaps when I was very young and my sisters slept in what was called a ‘double parlor’. As the youngest in the hen-pecking order, I knew enough to be quiet while they slept — or else. I remember sitting on the sofa just feet away from their bed, turning the pages slowly and carefully to not make any noise. If that’s when it began, I thank my sisters for my lifelong passion for books and reading.

In addition, I’ve worn glasses since I was three. I knew my daughter needed them when she was five because she sat too close to the TV. How did my mom know? There was no TV then. I asked. She said I would fall over my toys on the floor! Imagine how clever she was!

I’ve never had a big desire for much ‘stuff’ — except for books. If I saw one I thought I’d want to read, I’d buy it. Thus, my shelves are full of books I haven’t yet had time to read. It’s time to do so, and not buy any more. At least, I promise to try….Old lady reading

Who imagined I’d still be able to read at this venerable age? Yet I can — if the printing isn’t too small. (I can’t but thank Dr. Brian Singer, L.A. optometrist, for his expertise when others said it was impossible.) Looking through the books I haven’t read, there are those I’ll not be able to read — the print is too small. I waited too long for those. They’ll go to friends or the library. But I now have some serious reading to do.

Volwyn E. Vulliamy (1886-1971)

King Geour

About 30 years ago I picked up a copy of ‘Royal George’ (King George

King George III (1738-1820)

King George III, (1738-1820)

III) by Colwyn E. Vulliamy, published in 1937. Just finished it! This hapless king reminds me that being of royal blood doesn’t make you intelligent or wise, nor protect you from mental illness. (He’s the guy, who besides other disasters, needlessly lost the U.S. colonies.) As a history buff, it was just my kind of read.

Now, I’m onto a really old book daughter Susan bought for me years

Charles Kingsley 1819-1875

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

ago, ‘The Greek Heroes: Fairy Tales for my Children’ by Charles Kingsley, written in 1855. (Mr. Google says the busy man wrote hundreds of books.) The preface, which starts out ‘My Dear Children’ is a gem. It points out boys will need to learn this stuff and girls probably not, but will every day ‘see things we should not have had if it had not been for these old Greeks.’ Kingsley, a clergyman, made sure he instructed his young readers on proper Christian values while he was at it.

Greek gods

Greek heroes, who can resist?

Susan bought it for me because she knows I love Greek mythology AND old books. I’ve just finished reading the story about the hero Perseus, and am now enjoying the tale of Jason and the magic fleece (The Argonauts). {My husband once played Jason onstage — in French. I remember that with pleasure.} Sure, I already know these stories, but I love them and am having fun.

Greek mythology

powerful Greek Gods

Vision in our later years may not be what it once was, Mine certainly isn’t. Perhaps you also may want to read some of the neglected books sitting on your own shelves. Let me know what they are. And, happy reading!

 

 

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.

It’s a rant — about entitlement

2017WIDGala:Vinson:Muriel

I can also have fun — here recently with Vinson

Grrrrr. Why is it some people feel they’re ‘entitled’? I

Rapist entitled?

Rapist entitled????

hear on CBC radio that a young man admits he raped his girlfriend because he wanted sex and felt he was ‘entitled’. Entitled? Yes, he really said that. Is this what we teach our sons? They’re entitled?

A woman arrives late to an exercise class and declares to another already seated, she’s sitting in ‘her’ seat. When did the latecomer buy that seat I wonder? What makes her think she’s entitled to it. The first woman gives her seat up. I wish she hadn’t. What is this nonsense anyway?

That's my seat

Move. You’re in my seat!

I join an art class at a senior centre, arrive before anyone else on the first day of the new season, pick a seat where I feel the light will serve me and my vision well, and wait for class to start. When the others arrive, I’m told my seat belongs to someone else. I give up the seat, but don’t return. Since when do seats belong to anyone???

I, myself, prefer a particular table at the local cafe where I like to have coffee in the morning. The light there is good for reading. It’s closer to the milk for my coffee and, yes, I have dealt with pain when walking. I do like to sit there. I arrive later one morning and a woman I don’t know is sitting there. She asks if I want ‘my’ seat. My seat? I tell her I don’t own any seat at the cafe. Did she think I’d ask her to move? Not me..

Our strata has rules. They supposedly apply to all of us. I try to abide by them. One is that we are not to leave personal belongings in common areas. However some owners feel entitled to do so. Last week, while attending a Strata Council meeting, I note personal stuff abounds in our hobby room. How come? Why are certain individuals entitled to break rules I’d never break. No one is ‘entitled’.

Garbage in woods. jpg.jpg

trash disposed of in our woods by the ‘entitled’

I hear about wonderful volunteers clearing up local wooded areas, where they need to remove tons of disposed garbage, old cars, broken furniture, rusting machines and all kinds of unwanted items. What’s going on? What kind of world are we leaving to our grand-children?

We have too much of this self-centered behavior. No one is ‘entitled’ to ruin our environment because they don’t want to pay or bother to dispose of items properly. If you are guilty, stop.

There is nothing new with people feeling entitled, I recall reading about the unsavory, rather vile composer Wagner. If ever anyone ever existed who felt ‘entitlement’, it was he. He’d park himself and his wife in your home, sponge money off you, never pay it

Composer Wagner

Wagner

back, and sleep with your wife. He readily accepted help from friends and then wrote nasty articles about them in the press. This man really believed he should be provided for by others because he was a ‘genius’ and ‘entitled’ to be given whatever he wanted so he could pursue his ambitions. Let’s not emulate him. (I would have preferred not to like any of his music, but I can’t say that is true. I do like some of it.)

Whew! Glad to get this off my chest. The idea of ‘entitlement’ has been bothering me of late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The night Jerry lost his head…

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

It came out of nowhere. Thousands were left without electricity,

Windstorm

Trees blew over…

wires were blown down creating dangerous situations for some local residents, trees blew over and my mint plant went clattering about outside. The hummingbird feeder waved to and fro, spraying red sugar water onto the recently cleaned balcony deck. (Today, I replaced the liquid for the birds, it had totally emptied.)

That night Jerry lost his head. The poor guy was out there during the storm and it was just too much for him. I told daughter Susan what had happened. Knowing Jerry very well, she was worried sick.

Who is Jerry you ask? And why was he outdoors during the windstorm? Well, it’s a long story. He and I have cohabited peacefully for about 25 years. And, should you presume there’s a warm body next to me in my bed, that is not the case. Jerry chooses to spend his nights on the balcony, rain or shine.

Susan sometimes asks what I’d like for my birthday, Mothers’ Day, or whatever, and I will tell her. Years ago I said I wanted an Inukshuk for my balcony. Susan, accustomed to having a weird mother, went off to a garden rock dealer or whatever to find the makings for said Inukshuk. She spent about an hour and a half carefully picking rocks she felt could build one small enough to fit in with my balcony’s decor. When she approached the counter to pay for them, the man there looked in her box, then at her — and laughed.

‘What do yo want these for?’ he asked. When she told him, he chuckled and just gave them to her. He thought they were worthless. That’s how much he knew. Thus it was that Susan made my Inukshuk.

Inukshuk in Vancouver

Inukshuk in Vancouver

‘What will you call him?’ She asked.
‘Jerry.’
‘Jerry???? What kind of name is that for an Inukshuk?
‘He’s my Inukshuk.’
‘If you insist, but Jerry is no name for an Inukshuk.’

I didn’t care. Should my Inukshuk have an Inuit name like Agloolik? Or Uyarak? I wanted him to have a ridiculous but simple name. Understandably, Susan has never forgotten who Jerry is. This week she knew immediately who I was talking about when I told her his head was missing.

‘Look for it mom.’ she pleaded, ‘Maybe it fell downstairs. Check your neighbor’s deck.’

After a thorough search of the vicinity and being worried sick about Jerry’s errant head, I finally spotted it. There it sat quietly hiding under the miniature lilac tree. He could have at least helped me look, but just like a man, he ignored me and sat there quietly reading his newspaper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jerry under the lilac tree (photo by Wayne Liston)

Ah, the distress someone you love can give you….. Did he not realize it’s not that easy to replace a head?

Nikolai Gogol, 1809-52

Nikolai Gogol

The Russian writer Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) wrote a wonderful short story about a nose that went astray. One can possibly function without a nose, besides the nose did come back at the end. How can you even look for your head if it’s missing?

 

 

Well, life is back to normal. Jerry has his head. Susan and I are much relieved — and here he is in all his glory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jerry, my Inukshuk, head intact (Photo by Wayne Liston)