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Look at what I found….

Going through old papers, I found a letter written to my family after I rode a mule down (and up) the Grand Canyon in the 1950s. Only a stupid youngster like me (who had never even been near a horse) could do such a crazy thing….

Enjoy reading it.

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Believe it or not, that’s my name in faded ink proving I actually did this

Dear everyone:

Shirley and I were in the saddle from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. today with only one short break at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for a box lunch. Are we ever sore — and you know where. Surprised? Well, no one is more surprised than I am. This is the most foolhardy thing I’ve ever done. Of course, I’d no idea what I was letting myself in for….

dawn on the S rim of the Grand Canyon

The magnificent Grand Canyon

It’s six miles down and six miles up a steep, narrow trail with sharp turns. Looking down, I worried about the mule, but then more about myself. Often I just had to close my eyes and trust in God.

We were eight daring souls and a guide, as for me, a good part of the battle was just getting up onto the mule for the first time. After a while, I got used to the movement and even the height. But when we got down to the bottom for lunch, our guide helped me down, asked if I was okay, I said sure, and my cramped legs collapsed under me. Still, it was a great experience and left such an impression I’m so sore I can hardly sit.

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Ready to go. That’s me right in front of the last man up on top. He’d whip my mule when we slowed down.

My trusty steed was Howard, who made me feel as if I should carry him instead of him carrying me. Sometimes he slipped on the rocks, always preferred walking right at the edge of the narrow trail, and stubborn as a mule, wouldn’t budge from there.

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Our group on the trail

Shirley’s mule was Eva, who  nibbled on every patch of green we passed. On one of the stops we made climbing up to allow the animals to rest, Eva leaned way over the cliff for a snack. Terrified, Shirley, who thought the dumb mule was going down, jumped off. She landed on the ground right under Eva, frightening the poor animal which darted about upsetting everyone.

Nothing would make my Howard run. (*We were right behind Shirley.) He was merely startled and a quick pull on the reins and a real western ‘Whoa’ put him in check. Our guide, however, was furious. True, it could have been a deadly accident. Shirley didn’t want to get back on Eva and I can’t blame her, but it would have been a long, hot, three mile hike straight up. She had no choice.

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Me on Howard

Howard begrudged me every step. I wondered why the guides kept teasing me. From way up, I’d hear them yell: ‘Get on there Howard!’ Afterwards I asked and was told Howard had always been the laziest thing they’d ever seen. I didn’t mind that and Howard and I got along famously. The only disadvantage was that we kept falling behind and I hated to whip him. The guy behind me would get fed up with us both and give Howard such a lash on his backside, he’d go flying with me hanging onto my Genuine $2 Stetson, my eyes closed, praying for all I was worth.

colortrail

In this color photo of another group, you can see how narrow and steep the trail is.

The picture I sent you today was taken before we started down the Canyon. We all look cool and neat. I took a snapshot after we returned — big difference. We were covered from head to toe in brick-red, white, yellow and gray dirt. I had so much gray in my hair, our guide teased me about being so frightened I‘d turned gray. Tonight, I see what he was talking about.

After the fabulous Grand Canyon, we arrived in Flagstaff, showered the filth off, washed it out of our hair, and now feel better. We had planned to go Las Vegas tonight, but need to recuperate. Don’t laugh, you would too.

With a very tender rear, I bid all goodnight. I’m having the time of my life.
Regards and love to all,

Muriel

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Working on my bucket list….

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

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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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how are YOU doing with your bucket list?

My day off….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

My friend Trudy takes every Monday off. At least that’s what she says, but then when we talk afterwards, I learn she was busy all day catching up on stuff at home. I’ve never done that, but this week I decided I too needed a ‘day off’.

Did I sit around watching Soap Operas and eating chocolates? Did I hunker down under my favorite lamp reading a favorite book from cover to cover? No…. But I did have a wonderful time. This is how things went.

My knees had been tortured the afternoon before by too many miles on my Exercycle — at too high a tension. It wasn’t by plan but by error — or plain old stupidity. I didn’t realize it until it was too late. Thus my plan to walk the next morning was abandoned. I promised my knees a rest instead.

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My knees had been tortured

I stayed home to relax and okay, just maybe do a few things around here. After reading my emails, I decided to shred some documents, mostly of my 2010 tax return which I no longer need to retain. What efficiency, I felt good about that. Well, wouldn’t you?

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Peter the Great turned a swamp into a city

Turning around, I saw a thick envelope full of photos, postcards and souvenirs I’d saved from my trip to Scandinavia and St. Petersburg with my sister Shirley in 2000. What a great opportunity to go through it and get rid of more things as part of my effort to be a thoughtful mother so my offspring won’t have to deal with so much stuff in the future. I hadn’t seen these since I first stored them on my office shelf right after the trip. Looking through it gave me an interesting hour or two.

Why in the world did we take all those photos of buildings and bridges anyway? Yes, St. Petersburg was originally a deadly swamp, thousands perished in the creation of the city and it still has many bridges. Do these photos mean anything to me now? Out, out — oh here’s one of Shirley and me, and Tony and Barbara, who live in Australia. We first met these dear friends on that trip! They’ve added so much to my life through the years.
Tony is an Australian member of our book club. He reads every book we do if he can get his hands on it, then sends his reactions via email, which I share at our next meeting. His opinion is of value and always of interest.

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a pot on my balcony

Spring is in the air, and when I looked out at the pots on my balcony, I decided to be optimistic and plant some flowers, kale seeds and peas. The sun was shining — what better time for it? Done! What a noble soul am I!

Then… Oh, you’d better sit down for this one or the shock will be too much for you. I don’t know why, perhaps insanity, but I decided to bake bread — actually Aboriginal bannock. The doing of same reminded me why I don’t do it more often. What a mess! Multiple measuring cups, bowls and spoons, flour covering counter and floor, and butter sticking to my cutting board. Sure, it tastes great with homemade jam, but as long as I have any memory left, I vow not to try this one again. Whew!

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I won’t try this again

No more days off for me! I’m exhausted…..

 

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.

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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.

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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?

Henry is having his way….

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

Henry is resentful. He’s upset. I didn’t take him along on my recent trip to visit my children in California. He wanted to go, but I had decided it would be best to leave him behind this time. He did accompany me on my trip to Nevada in July, but he was kept behind at airport security for further interrogation, and I was at the gate before I realized he wasn’t with me. Well, what do you expect? My memory isn’t what it was when I was 20!

Flying is no longer the pleasure it used to be, so I wasn’t thrilled to have to go back to security to find him. And, security wasn’t quite sure where he’d gone. It was a real nuisance. It seemed more practical to have less to deal with this time.

Chinese Airbus, 1992

Flying is no longer a pleasure

She always liked you better than me

Henry’s chagrined

So Henry is chagrined. He’s hurt and not behaving as he should. He’s generally undermining my efforts to know how far I’ve managed to walk each day even though I always remember to invite him along whenever I go out. Come on Henry. Cut it out. I get it. I know you’re angry with me. How long will this go on?

Henry can be temperamental. This isn’t the first time he’s chosen to ignore me. During the heat of the summer, he found my capri pants too disconcerting to concentrate on how far we’d gone. Like me, he isn’t good at double-tasking, and I believe he was endeavoring to romance a nearby resident. Would you call that a double-cross?

Henry is the name I chose to give my pedometer. It was difficult enough to figure out how to use the darn thing — well, okay, I still have problems now and then. However, after having received a new hip, I’m trying to gradually increase the number of steps I take each day. I need Henry’s cooperation to accomplish this. He’s definitely falling down on the job.

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Henry is my pedometer

I don’t know why I chose the name Henry. It just came out of the blue. My friend Joe said it means ‘Runs the household’. I checked that with Mr. Google who says Joe is right. Henry obviously already knows this and is throwing his weight around.

Cool it Henry, or I’ll get angry too and toss you out!

 

 

 

 

Persistence brings progress…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

I’ve been working hard at recovery since I had my hip replaced in late March. Am I neurotic? Perhaps. I’m probably also one of those ‘A’ personalities who is driven.

I’m not the type to buy an Exercycle and then just use it to hang laundry on. Nor will I enroll in an exercise class and lose interest. So, I used my bike regularly about five days a week and attended both Tai Chi and ‘Joint Works’ exercise classes and never missed if at all possible until — I was in so much pain I could hardly walk (prior to this surgery).

After I got my new hip, I did my assigned exercises diligently, returned to my exercise classes before I was able to do all the moves the rest of the class did, and got back on my Exercycle before I could lift that right leg over the centre. I had to walk around the bike and get up on the left, and began with very few rotations, which I slowly built up. With time I was able to lift that right leg over the centre — barely, but it was progress. Bravo!

I love baths. My whirlpool jets are set to hit directly at my arthritic joints. The warm

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I love baths

water is wonderfully soothing. After three months, my surgeon said I may bathe again. A dear friend came over (just in case I needed help) and I made it! If I were a drinking person, I’d have celebrated with champagne! That was a real biggie….

I hadn’t been able to travel for well over a year. Gleefully, I

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Michael and Susan at their front door

planned a visit to see the new home my daughter and son-in-law had built the year before. It required two airline flights each way, but I made it! I also climbed 17 stairs (Susan counted them) to see their upper floor. Since it was my birthday while I was there, my San Francisco contingent joined us. We celebrated. It was fantastic.

SM, Spa Day

Being spoiled rotten — facial and foot massage

Everyone spoiled me. My Chandra and grandson Remy gave me a facial and foot massage. Chandra noticed I hadn’t trimmed the last three toes on my right foot. True. I couldn’t yet reach them and wasn’t happy with having them done at the pedicure shop. (They’re into esthetics and that’s not what I need.) My loved ones took care of that too.

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Hamming it up

After my return home, now and then I begin to feel, in spite of my continued hard work, I haven’t made any new progress. Then something happens. One day I discovered I WAS able to reach and trim those three toenails on my right foot by myself. It was so exciting, I sent an email to my kids to give them the news. This too was a biggie.

Little by little, I keep increasing my exercises, and now and then I get a new or unexpected reward. I’m now up to 4:20 miles per seating on my bike, and am doing 70 steps each time on my stepper. I continue attending exercise classes, and my loyal pedometre counts my steps when I walk each day. I’m building them up too.

I’m not done with little miracles yet. When I bathed yesterday, I was able to get into my higher-than-average tub without using my arm to pull my right leg up and over. Yeah! Another step forward….

Why am I telling you all this? So you won’t ever give up.

Hurrah! I did it!

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I’m technologically Challenged

My children say I’m technologically challenged and they’re right. Computers and websites ARE beyond me at times, so I’m feeling particularly proud of myself right now. Somehow I managed to complete a late request for air miles on the Aeroplan website. I can hardly believe it.

It had been well over a year since I was able to travel. That meant I’d not seen Michael and daughter Susan’s new home in Nevada. New hip firmly in place, I could finally make it and even climb the 17 stairs (Susan counted them) up to their second floor to see every corner of their lovely abode. Before anything else could go wrong, off I went.

I was so excited, I didn’t focus much on details or the fact I was traveling on the July 4th holiday. It cost more? So what? It was well worth it. Son Rafi, his Chandra, and their Remy drove from San Francisco to join us. Everyone spoiled me and I had one of the best birthdays ever.

Whether because I hadn’t ordered airline tickets for so long, or just forgot — yes, that’s possible too — I didn’t get my air miles added to my Aeroplan account. Maybe now that I’m a real bionic woman I’ll be able to use them.

The dozens of hard copies generated by this transaction in our modern, ‘paperless’ society were stacked high here and there wherever I’d dropped them upon my return, gathering dust on my desk, guest bed and the dining table — how could there be so many?

Mom, look I'm telling you 2

I felt guilty

They stared at me accusingly every time I walked past, making me feel guilty. I know very well how to feel guilty. I do that almost as well as I worry. They had no choice but to wait for me to clear up other matters deemed more important on my long ‘to do’ list. Finally it was time to bite the bullet.

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It must be here somewhere

First thing that morning I took a deep breath and tackled the stacks. I refused to be overwhelmed by the quantity. I started by eliminating and setting aside all the extra pages and pages of legal stuff nobody reads anyway. Those papers themselves could have represented a whole tree.

old yellow telephone

I got on the phone

I got on the phone and spoke with a woman at Aeroplan, who confirmed, indeed, I hadn’t claimed the miles. She gave an involved explanation of what I needed to do, besides which, she seemed sure the expertise I required was beyond me. Plus, at this late date, it could only be accomplished on their website. It sounded so difficult, I now wonder if she was purposely trying to discourage me.

That’s all I needed. Challenge me and I’ll surely take you up on it. Well, waddaya know!

I was better to him than you were

That’s all I needed.

After I assured them I wasn’t a robot and filled in all the spaces for the two flights home, it seemed to work. Was I sure it was right? Did I know I’d receive credit for my missing miles? Would they believe I’m not a robot? I had no idea. However no red flags went up, the request was accepted, and they acknowledged by yet another email they’d received it. Hurrah!

It was reassuring to know just that it went through. That, in itself, was an accomplishment. I decided if I do get the air miles, I’d let you know. I did hear from them.

Here’s what their email said:

Your missing miles have been deposited. We’re pleased to let you know that your request for missing miles for (my name) on ticket number 274939843639 has been approved and 896 miles from the following credit request(s) has/have been deposited:

True, that’s not such a big deal, however, I made it on their website — and that IS a big deal!