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Friends are the family we choose….

Muriel2017You’ve been inundated of late by posts about visits to and from my real family. They’re in the U.S. and I’m in Canada. Their voices on the phone are enough to give me a warm fuzzy. I’d love to have them nearer — however I believe parenting requires us to allow our children to go wherever their lives take them.

I’m still surrounded by a loving CHOSEN family — and each and everyone of them is precious as well.

RebeccaBrianMe

Me, Rebecca and Brian celebrating my birthday (private joke)

It all began, I believe, with Brian, who lives in L.A. Lunatic that he is, he decided to adopt ME as a mother. His wife Rebecca qualifies as family because I know her since she was born and was always drawn to her. Brian is very funny and manages to make me laugh out loud with his clever emails.

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Amy

 

Amy, my Chinese daughter, is more than a blessing. She loves and allows me the honor of being her ‘Canadian’ mom. No daughter could possibly be more devoted, caring and helpful and always there for me. I am also very proud of Amy and all she has accomplished on her own since she moved here.

 

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Samantha and me celebrate my 80th

For about 18 years, beautiful Samantha has been a close and important addition to my home-made clan. After surgery, she came by to be sure I could make it in and out of my bathtub on my own. I made it! That was us you heard celebrating that achievement. Samantha is always willing to be helpful and loving. Like a daughter? Absolutely. Yes, good hugger too.

 

Mom pic, Vinson

Vinson, looking serious, but he’s lots of fun

Then, there’s Vinson — proof you always get more than you give. I met Vinson because I volunteer in my community. He decided that since I already had a Chinese daughter, he ought to be able to be my Chinese son. No way! Vinson’s too young for that, so we settled on him being my Chinese grandson. He’s finishing his studies and is really a hoot even though he’s pretending to be very serious for this photo.

 

 

Vinson’s pal Andrew came into the picture and became part of our ‘family’.

Mom pic, Andrew

Andrew knows a lot about technology — thank goodness

Andrew knows a heck of a lot more than I do about many things, especially technology. (Thinking about it, so do they all!) If you ever come over, try to get a hug from this guy. He gives the greatest! What can I say, love spreads like the flu — another wonderful grandson. He too chose to pose very seriously for this photo, but he knows how to smile.

 

 

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Alison took this photo of us around Mothers Day this year

Alison is very special. I’m delighted to have found her. I didn’t have a granddaughter and now I do.  Alison didn’t have a grandmother and, lucky for me, was willing to become a member of our CHOSEN family.

Each and every one of these wonderful young people bring joy and laughter into my life.

Nor does any of this diminish my love for my very own children and grandson. They are also well-loved and I’m sure they know it. Because they love me, they are glad to know I’m never lonely.

 

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Appreciation for supportive friends….

Muriel2017I met Bill and Nancy Keuntje on a train in 2017. They’re a warm couple who were kind to this old lady and very worth keeping in touch with. (I think they live in New Jersey.) Bill collects miniature toys and promised to send me some — and immediately did so. He also composes beautiful music, some of which I get to listen to on my computer.

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Support your friends when they need you

‘I’m just a blue-collar guy who’s made it to age 70 and knows but for the grace of others, I would be much worse off.’ Bill says humbly, but he’s no ordinary guy. So, during his recent chemo treatment for cancer, Bill thought about all those who gave him love and support during the harrowing experience and wrote this for all those who love and supported him:
.
maninbedAnd I don’t know what special is –

Don’t know why it is –

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grateful to support during treatment

How just a moment alone or among a crowd,

Can become the why of a lifetime –

How sometimes it appears…. or just happens –

How the solitude of a whisper within a passing cloud

Can become the dominant essence that pervades and envelopes

That which wasn’t there just a thought ago –

But I do know what’s special –

The value that it holds, the power it possesses –

How it can overwhelm and dominate –

Or be the gentle note a bird might sing as glimmers of the

first light of day appear –

The first breath of a newborn today.

And I do know that it’s always there –

Impatiently waiting – biding its time –

olddoctor

Doctors know friends help

Needing to nourish – to be nourished –

Whether by a congregation of souls

Or an unknown entity X-degrees separate,

Alone and distant within the depths of a shadow

But more importantly, I know the Who –

Maybe not by name or familiarity –

Couldn’t pick it out of a crowd, for the crowd might be it –

But you are there – amongst the throngcup

As a color within a rainbow graced by its hue –

Unique as a dewdrop upon a blossom kissed by the sun.

Yes, you are special!     More so than you realize!

Yes, you are special!   More than you could ever imagine!

YES!

YOU ARE SPECIAL!!!!

You can send Bill good wishes for complete recovery directly to: bkeuntje@gmail.com

Weird stuff happens….

Muriel2017Coincidence? Sixth sense? Deja vu? Messages in dreams? Do they really occur? Do I believe in them? Do you? I’ve experienced them too often to dismiss them as nonsense. Let me tell you about a few….

Out of the blue, I dreamed of friend L’s sister who complained of being left all alone because L moved away. Why I dreamed about them at all was beyond me.wordsagain We weren’t close. It was strange.

Imagine my surprise when I received a call from L, who had moved to L.A., where I lived. Can you explain that?

goodscaredladyinbed

I awoke distraught.

Another morning I awoke distraught. I felt a band of iron around my chest. I’d had a terrible nightmare in which my mother (in Montreal) was crying. Although I tried and tried to, I couldn’t reach her. I telephoned her immediately.

She was in tears. She was frightened. My dad was out of town on business and had been hospitalized. My brother had gone to see him. Mom didn’t know exactly what happened and so thought the worst. Was she thinking of me? I think so….

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He was reading my column!

When I moved to Vancouver from L.A., I called newspapers looking for a job. One editor said he was reading a column of mine covering the arts (in an L.A. paper) at that very moment — and it was better than theirs. What a coincidence. Can you believe that? Another employee had been to L.A. and had picked up that issue. End of story? The editor felt it was meant to be. I was hired.

In 1998, covering the Seniors’ Summit, I saw a lady performing Tai Chi. I wondered if it might help our Vestibular disorders group. I climbed down to her but she was gone and the cards she had left on a table were gone too. Oh well…

 

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Teruko taught us for 12 years and helped many

Soon afterwards, I ran into a fellow I knew at a concert. He introduced me to his guest.

‘My, you look like a woman I saw doing Tai Chi at the Seniors’ Summit.’ I ventured.

‘That was me!’ she declared.

Teruko Uedo taught our Tai Chi class, helping many of us, for 12 years until she moved away.

These are just a few stories of many. And so I do believe weird stuff happens…..

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

The elusive ‘O’…..

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

Years ago in L.A.  I reviewed theatre. I typed weekly articles on my electric typewriter, drove them to the newspaper office or, when it became possible, faxed them from a local shop. No one I knew had a fax of their own yet. Email was not yet available.

A writer friend invited me to visit his cabin high in the San Bernadino mountains. It was a beautiful spot which gave us a break from the heat of the city, but I had a review to do.

‘Not to worry,’ he assured, ‘I’ve got a portable typewriter up there.’

‘Does it work?’

Royal manual typewriter I learned

I first learned to type on an old manual

‘Of course.’

I believed him. Why would he lie? He was a successful playwright. Naturally he’d have a typewriter that worked, right? And I first learned typing on an old manual typewriter so it ought to be okay. Off we went.

First thing next morning, I settled in comfortably on the large outdoor veranda under the shade of huge ancient trees — the kind you know have lived for generations. Sheets of paper and typewriter at the ready. Coffee close at hand, I took a deep breath of the fresh air and started typing.

ribbon-hearts

The word ‘love’ was in the title

 

The name of the play eludes me, it wasn’t that memorable, but the word ‘love’ was in the title. The typewriter managed the first two words without a problem. I managed to press the keys hard enough until I reached the O in the word LOVE. It didn’t work. I tried again. No luck. The third time I pushed that O, I realized I was in trouble. How can you write a whole article about a play about love without an O.

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What to do?

What to do? I sipped more coffee and glared at that stupid, stubborn typewriter. How dare it do that to me? It didn’t react. Then I glared at my friend. How come he didn’t know the O didn’t work? How could HE do this to me. I guarantee the words coming out of my mouth weren’t pearls.

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The words coming out of my mouth were not pearls

His excuse? He didn’t go there to write. He spent his time climbing mountain trails, not working. Admittedly, his portable typewriter had obviously been ignored. He didn’t know the O was in trouble.

1950's port Oliver typewriter

I inserted an O by hand into each space

After I tired of scolding everything and everyone, I finished my coffee, concentrated on that tired little typewriter, and decided to write that review come hell or high water. Have you ever known me to give up? No way! I would write that darned review by skipping a space every time a word called for an O. It slowed me down — a lot. It took a lot of coffee. It took a lot of time, but I managed the approximate 500 words by inserting a space wherever an O belonged.

After completing my masterpiece, I carefully inserted an O by hand in each space. Was it perfect? No. The O’s stood out from the light gray of the old typewriter ribbon and tended to be of various sizes and shapes, but it said what I wanted it to.

Off to the village post-office we went to fax the piece to my editor. It was done on time, retyped by a clerk at their office, and published. I had managed it after all and my reputation was intact.

Mountains

The San Bernadino Mountains

Later, the editor told me he was so amused by my handwritten O’s throughout my review, he showed it to everyone who would take a moment to look at it, including the mailman. He then tacked it up on the bulletin board where it remained for months to come. I became famous with that Hollywood paper. What fun!

My Canada scarf in Chile..

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I’d just finished my exercise class and was feeling noble. I strutted over to my bus stop where a beautiful young couple were hugging. I asked for a hug too. (I can do silly things like that.) The young man looked at me with question marks all over his face. He hadn’t understood a word I said. That was embarrassing — for a moment. He spoke only Spanish.

How to explain or translate such nonsense? I hadn’t used Spanish in years, not that I did well with it to begin with. When daughter Susan studied Spanish in high school, she declared I spoke Spanish totally in infinitives. Did I even know what an infinitive was?

Nonetheless, between the young man’s few words of English and my terrible Spanish with French words thrown in, he got it. Immediately I was given a happy, enthusiastic hug from him and another from his young lady who wanted to join in the fun. What followed was a hugging fest.

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What followed was a hugging fest

Our trilingual conversation continued. He had spent three months at UBC researching  mining and that very night they were reluctantly going home to Chile. They loved Vancouver and Canadians and had enjoyed every moment in my beloved city. NIce….

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The Canada Scarf my friend Joe sent me

When our bus arrived, they chose to sit with me.. It was cold out. I was wearing one of those wonderful, warm scarves with CANADA and the maple leaf proudly displayed in  red. My kind, thoughtful friend Joe, who lives in Beverly Hills, CA, had sent it after I’d complained about having been caught out in that devastating, cold wind storm we had recently.

When the young woman admired it, I impulsively took the scarf off and gave it to them. Surprised and delighted, they thanked me again and then again and with delight, stuffed it into their backpack.

As for me, I love imagining the conversations this lovely young couple are having with their friends back in Chile when they tell them the story of this crazy old woman they met at the bus-stop in Vancouver who asked for a hug and gave them a CANADA scarf.

 

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My friend Joe sporting the Vancouver T-shirt I sent him

And, what did Joe think? He has a generous soul and a fabulous sense of adventure. He was just delighted and declared he’d have done the very same thing himself! Yeah!

Meanwhile, I know my CANADA scarf is busy learning Spanish.

 

****The following is another scarf story……..

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** This is the scarf which won’t let me lose it

 

To read about the scarf which won’t let me lose it or give it away, go to:

https://viewfromoverthehill.wordpress.com/2013/12/

They’re at it again…..

cuteunderbed

Look under the bed

Look under the bed. Shut the blinds. Check behind the

ghostwindow

Shut the blinds.

door. Lock all the entrances. Is that a rustle behind the shower curtain? They can be anywhere — and they’re at it again.

They’ve tried this on me before and didn’t succeed. They’re working harder at it this time. They’re evil and devious and devilishly, cleverly persistent. They worked so hard to confuse me with those elevator buttons — remember? (If you don’t, go to the right side of my blog’s home page, and under ‘Archives’, click on February, 2015.) They didn’t manage to destroy me then. You’d think they’d just give up! No way…..

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They’re evil and devious

Who are they? ‘THEM’. You know them. ‘They’ who spend sleepless

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them

nights trying to figure out just how to make me confused and feeling inadequate. How are they trying to do this you ask? Aha! With those totally bewildering, darned credit-card machines they use in restaurants — that’s how!

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credit-card machines

When those suckers first came out they were mostly all the same. If you knew how to use the one at the coffee shop, you could easily use the one at the Sushi place. No more mister! Now, each machine is different. Vaaasssttly different. Why? Is this necessary? Of course not! It is yet another scheme to try to make ME feel unsophisticated and stupid. They aren’t fooling me. I’ve got their number even if I don’t understand how to use those blankety-blank machines.

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Yikes! A rustle behind the shower curtains?

Have you noticed how the ‘suggested’ tip begins at 15%? Well, maybe you’re not a big-time spender and you don’t want all the waiters to know. How can you manage that without the waiter’s help if the machine is different from any you’ve ever used before? Or, let’s say you want to tip the waiter who served you stale bread and cold soup 10% instead of 15%, you’d have to KNOW how to change the stupid doohickey, or be forced to ask the very person who mistreated you how to lower it! They know that would be uncomfortable. There’s no way to win.

What in the world are those ridiculous machines called anyway. I asked a waiter at a local eatery yesterday. He didn’t know, but perhaps that’s because it’s a vegetarian place. All waiters who work at vegetarian restaurants suffer from meat deprivation. He said they call them ‘Pin Pads’. Well, that isn’t at all what they are. Lucky you dear reader, I’m here to inform you. Not that I knew, but I do have some smart friends.

Samantha, who knows all, told me today. Ready? They’re called POS Terminals. Ha, ha! They’re hoping I never figure it out, so they don’t tell many people. They think when they succeed and I’m in a padded cell, they can just make the world a better place by destroying them all.

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in a padded cell