We are all tired of COVID:19. We want it to go away!!! We miss friends and family we can’t see. I certainly do.
I miss my book club. I miss my loved ones. I miss seeing many of my friends. I miss being physically close to them. I miss touching them and feeling okay about it AND, it’s Valentines Day!
I even find keeping a safe distance from strangers lonely. It’s difficult to have conversations with people standing in line with you. You’d have to holler for them to hear and that’s not so cool.
But, what I miss most of all is HUGGING loved ones and friends. Don’t you??? I feel like squashing them. Have you almost forgotten what it was like to hug someone dear to you? To cuddle? To feel really close to someone? Well, here’s a little poem to help you remember:
Would you like a cuddle with me, and to huddle? No – not in a puddle where ducks like to waddle that would tend to befuddle and leave us amuddle.
My wanting to cuddle Is not empty twaddle, My sentiments floodle my heart – my cheeks ruddle, I tremble, I shuddle – And it all came so suddle.
Once upon a time long, long ago, I worked full-time and invited friends to dinners too. We’d have a children’s table, our large dining-room table extended with a folding table, plus extra places on the upright piano seat with place-mats on the flat surface over the keys. Those days are looonnnngggg gone.
A friend and I had lunch together yesterday. She’s interesting, I love her. She’s a devoted vegan. I didn’t have to worry — we ate out. Friday I’m having dinner with a young vegetarian. He’s my kind-of grandson. He’s been busy and hasn’t had much time for us to get together so I’m delighted. Again, I don’t have to worry — we’re eating out.
During this pandemic, some people won’t eat in restaurants. I respect that. Sometimes one special friend and I have lunch on a park bench nearby. She has definite food needs and always brings the lunch. I want to reciprocate, but aren’t brave enough. What can I fix for her??
Meanwhile years have passed and everything seems to take more energy. Energy? Where did that go? It eludes me at will and some days I can’t seem to hustle any muscle at all. My old arthritic bones act up whenever THEY choose. They aren’t thoughtful. They never make appointments ahead of time. I can’t picture many dinners happening at my place anymore, which is just as well. What would planning a homemade dinner look like? I’d rather treat when we eat out.
It seems what everyone eats today is more complicated. What my older friends consume is sometimes affected by health issues like high-cholesterol, diabetes, ulcers, medications requiring them to avoid certain foods, or allergies — and goodness knows what.
Do we become delicate flowers with age? Yup! What I used to call a cast-iron stomach doesn’t exist any more! I, myself, have developed allergies! (I’ve been told these develop as we get older, but I also believe some of it is due to chemicals added to our food to extend shelf life.)
My San Francisco kids do a lot of entertaining. Their friends are younger and don’t seem to be affected as much by medical conditions as my older friends. I guess I’ll just leave the dinner parties to them. If you visit me — let’s eat out.
That’s an interesting question. It is a complicated issue. William Blake (1757-1827), the multi-talented English poet and artist, wrote ‘A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.’ I agree with that.
Our society frowns on chronic liars and rightly so. Yet, the naked truth can be so hurtful, in some people’s hands it becomes a knife which can pierce the heart.
Perhaps we need another word for avoiding ugly truths which hurt others, most of which they know about anyway. So, if a friend asks you to point out his/her failings, don’t — unless you’re ready to give up the relationship. They are probably just hoping for some kind words.
In the novel ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden, the protagonist says ‘There are good facts and bad facts, the bad facts are best avoided.’ I think she has a good point.
Thoreau, the American writer and libertarian famously said ‘Rather than love, than money, than fame — give me truth’, but he was talking about another issue altogether.
Then there is Oscar Wilde, who gave me so many hours of fascinating reading, who didn’t believe in telling the truth at all and said ‘The telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of Art.’ and ‘He would be the best of fellows if he did not always speak the truth.’
I warned you. Honesty IS a complex subject. Think about it during the holiday and give me your thoughts afterwards.
Above all, do have a happy holiday and a healthy New Year.
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
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?
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.
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.
When I was a child, I loved Halloween — never had a birthday party, I didn’t want one because it was like asking for presents. It made me uncomfortable.
I did, however, have wonderful Halloween Costume parties. My friends and I looked forward to them for years, and ended the evening by going out ‘Trick or Treating’.
The following poem was written by my friend Hans Muller, who never minded creating new words if he felt like it.
Halloween’s last gasp
At the un-ghostly hour of five past eleven Seven ghosts met in a chimney, seven A chain-clatter, bone-black, a flaccid cadaver They commenced a ghastly, sidereal palaver.
And the seventh ghost so spake to the others, ‘Why don’t we ghosts have fathers and mothers?’ From what manner of substance are we cleft That of loving parents we are forever bereft?’ Despondently sighing they tell their chains: ‘It is half past eleven, half an hour remains.’
The fourth ghost answered him thus, the fourth, ‘Such a thing is not true of the ghosts of the north: In fact, they have fathers and mothers galore Four sets of each, at the utleast four.’
Pensively brooding, they gnaw their chains, It’s a quarter of midnight, one quarter remains. Up spake the sixth of the ghosts there assembled And at his gruescent words they trembled. Amorphously, voidly, they quantrify, They’re fourfold invisible, fourfold awry.
Fourfold they quatrivide nothingness By fourfolded, quantrivoid, sexless caress. There’s horrified silence but for stifled groans, Iced ectoplasm cloaks regified bones.
Frenzedly gasping, they devour their chains, Sixty seconds till midnight, one minute remains. For a moment they stare at each other in fright, Then, suddenly, disenfleshed cheek bones turn bright. Disenlipped mouths twist in jawous grins, Spiderlike fingers slap calfless shins,
Into depths of boundless mirth they delve As the church bell tolls a thundering twelve And they all exclaim as with only one mouth: ‘We’re lucky to be the ghosts of the south.’
They vanish, regurgitating their chains, It is twelve o’clock midnight and nothing remains.
When’s the last time you wrote an email, letter or card to: A teacher who was special? A friend who was supportive through a tough time? A mentor who helped you in your career? A doctor who made you feel he/she really cared? A business which supported your sports team? A coach who, as a volunteer, worked without pay? A volunteer who helped you in some way?
In an effort to whittle down ‘stuff’ my loved ones will have to deal with eventually, I’ve been going through files full of thank you letters (or complaints) to corporations and businesses or ordinary folk who mattered to me — and thinning them out.
Right now, I’m looking at a letter written in 1981 to a Furniture Guild thanking them for sponsoring the very first baseball team my son was on. Rafi was nine, and excited about becoming a part of this new team. The day uniforms were distributed, I was sure he’d sleep in his — he paraded about in it so proudly.
Such sponsorship can make participation possible for some families who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. It IS a good idea to let businesses know you appreciate their help, no matter what their reasons for doing so are.
As an adult, Rafi is a devoted high school teacher. He occasionally receives letters telling him how much he has meant to students. Sometimes he’ll share them with me. I get a warm fuzzy when he does because I know how caring he is and how much it pleases him when students appreciate his efforts on their behalf.
Both Rafi and his beautiful Chandra are enthusiastic about volunteering. Here they are working at a fundraiser for my grandson’s school.
If you decide to write to someone who mattered to you, I’d love to know about it and why…
While visiting my family in the US recently, we celebrated many birthdays. That’s because I believe in celebrating birthdays for six months before and six months after the actual date. Each evening we celebrated the birth of at least one of us, and sometimes got carried away and celebrated several at the same time. It was great.
Back home in August, my friend Chris treated me to breakfast at Granville Island, a place I love to visit but don’t get to often since I no longer drive. (My actual birthday is in July. She was close.) Later I treated her to lunch for her birthday, which was in February when I was being too careful to go anywhere before my trip.
The week of my actual birthday I was invited out one day after another. When dear Vinson called wanting to treat me for my birthday too, I begged off. ‘If you love me, please don’t feed me. They’ll charge me extra for all the weight I’ll gain before I get on the plane.’ (It was before my trip to the U.S.)
We both know that’s not what happens, but Vinson got the message. We celebrated my birthday after I got back from my trip — sometime in August. It was lovely and I was ready by then.
I finally got to treat my dear Chinese daughter, Amy, for her birthday (actually in June) in September because I was like a pit bull and just didn’t give up each time she said it wasn’t necessary. For me, it WAS necessary because I love celebrations, especially birthdays of those I love.
All my friends and family embrace this madness of mine. They have no choice. After all, it works well for all concerned. And, you, dear reader are lucky because YOU have my permission to celebrate YOUR birthday for six months before and six months after your birthday as well. Lucky you! Happy birthday indeed!
Talking of birthdays, today actually is my beautiful sister’s Birthday. Happy Birthday Shirley!
I’m a delicate flower. I’ve got allergies to lots of chemicals, so I’ve never dyed my hair. Tired of lock-downs and not seeing friends, I wanted to do something new. My bright idea was to colour my hair purple.
Do I look good in purple? No! I NEVER wear purple. And did I do a good job? Are you kidding? I did a better job spraying water on my kitchen floor than I did my hair and I’m still trying to get the colour out of my white counter. Still, if you look really hard you can see a little purple. You may laugh. I did.
Someone who loves me enough to tell the truth (and shall remain nameless) emailed: ‘Yes! I see it! But people may just think it is the “blue hair” of old ladies who try to brighten their grey and leave the stuff on too long!’
I loved the following poem, ‘Warning’, long before I became old. You may too. Since this is National Poetry Month, this is a good time to revisit it. Enjoy!
‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph (1932-2018)
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beer-mats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Note: Thanks Andrew for helping me find a gentle and safe dye to use.
My late friend Hans was a really funny guy. He enjoyed marzipan, which I don’t. Thus marzipan was a safe thing for me to get for him whenever he visited.
I drove to the candy store in Kerrisdale for it until Purdy’s opened a shop in my own neighbourhood on 4th Avenue.
Since I was working, Hans was on his own during the day. I suggested he walk the few blocks for the chocolates on his own.
You couldn’t insult Hans. I recall telling him that he was arrogant. His response? ‘Well, I don’t know anyone who has more reason to be.’ It was impossible to get angry at him.
Hans loved Shakespeare. He even wrote an award-winning musical set in Shakespeare’s England. (It was the sole production not actually written by Shakespeare ever performed in ‘The Globe Theatre’ in Los Angeles.)
Tongue in cheek, he complained about the terrible treatment he was receiving at my hands. Tongue in cheek, I wrote this for him. We both had a good laugh. I hope you enjoy reading it too.
My Love, Alone He Walketh
My love, upon the Avenue he walketh Gallantly, bravely, forth he setteth Alone, uncivilized hordes he faceth On Fourth, between Arbutus and Yew.
Not rain, nor sleet, nor snow delayeth Nor fear of highwaymen who lurketh Along the dangerous route he walketh Onward, onward to Purdy’s door.
These foreign climes, my love, he braveth Distanced far from the land he loveth For his fair damsel alone he cometh Her beauteous face to see once more.
And when my love, indeed he leaveth And alone, I must myself then beith Shall I, on mornings cold and cleareth Walk in his steps to Purdy’s store.
The door handle, I shall then caresseth For dear hands upon it once had layeth My love’s devotion I shall recalleth And surely remember evermore.
He walk-ed this path so unafraideth For marzipan, the world he’d braveth Upon my knees I thank the Lordeth That above all else, he does not snore.
In the middle of this pandemic, our Strata decided to give our old building a face-lift. Our windows, glass doors, and balconies are included in the process. My cherished miniature lilac tree lives on the balcony. So do various other plants. They all had to be removed.
Some owners got their stuff down to the yard below, but I can’t do that on my own and how much can you ask others to do? (I’m on the 3rd floor.) I decided to ask dear Andrew to bring them all into my dining area instead. Maybe it was a mistake. This isn’t the first mistake I’ve made in my life.
My plants have mostly died. That’s okay. I can start over, except for my beloved lilac tree. I love lilacs. And Susan bought it for me just because I love them. Since it IS small, I can easily bury my face into the lovely blossoms. Inside, the tree began to look dead. Susan and I both began mourning. Still, I kept watering the poor thing — just in case.
This week, whaddaya know! It started sprouting leaves. Leaves? Now? It’s December. The beginning of winter. My little lilac tree is obviously confused. Living in my warm apartment, it thinks it’s spring!! Let’s face it, this is no time for a self-respecting lilac tree to start sprouting greenery. What to do??
I’ve started talking to the lilac tree as you would to a wayward child. ‘You can’t be doing that now, you silly thing. What will the neighbours say? They’ll accuse me of being a bad mother.’
Gosh, let’s face it, they’ll KNOW how crazy I am when they hear me talking to my confused miniature tree. Okay, okay. I know that you, dear reader, already know how nutty I am. No need to rub it in…