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Life: a risky business

PHOTO BY CHANDRA

Have you ever thought about how risky life is and what a miracle it is so many of us manage to make it into adulthood? I’m not paranoid, but dangers do lurk at every turn.

I’M NOT PARANOID


What with nature’s furies — hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, fires, floods, lightening and storms; the billions of microscopic bacilli and viruses around, on and in us; man made hazards like guns, explosives and weapons of war, it’s amazing I’m still here!


I can’t help but think of accidents with cars, trains and planes. I step onto my balcony and imagine it falling down to the cement patio three floors down — with me on it. gosh! Well, it could happen.


Normal people just live their lives, but I think of these things. Your chances of dying in an earthquake are one in 11 million. Not much. But what’s if I’m the designated driver?

EVIL PEOPLE?


They say one in 20 million die after being bitten by a dog. I constantly meet dogs on my daily walks. Does a snarl mean I should say goodbye right now? Then there are also evil people who may attack me even if a dog doesn’t. Oh, my….

WHY DO NEIGHBOURS TAKE THE STAIRS?


Apparently the risk of being injured in an elevator is one in six million. My building has one. I use it every day. Some neighbours always take the stairs. Do they know something I don’t? And, why aren’t they telling me?

A CELESTIAL BODY??


I’m not a scared person, but what I’m really terrified of is being hit directly by a celestial body. I have a one in a 150 trillion chance of this happening, but what’s if I’m the person standing right where the darn thing comes down if it does, when it does? Yikes!


There are a lot of other reasons why life is a risky business, but I won’t go there. You’d have to be a little nutty to worry about everything.

Computer spell checks?

PHOTO BY CHANDRA

Christmas is in the air and before you know it the New Year will be here. I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a year free of unpleasantness.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


I haven’t made New Year resolutions for years — I rarely managed to keep them anyway. This year nonetheless, as a kindness to my children, I intend to continue culling the papers I’ve accumulated through many years of writing.


Here’s a poem a friend sent me in 1991, which I’d included in an article about our complicated English language. Spell checkers have improved since then, but beware. They can still goof.

COMPUTER SPELL CHECKS???

Eye have a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

CAN THEY BE TRUSTED?.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
Eye am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Author unknown

Unrest at the North Pole…

For years I worked for newspapers and dreamed of getting a real scoop. I’d kick my desk in frustration when another colleague got one. Why couldn’t it be me??? Finally it happened! SO REMEMBER YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!!

A confidential source advised me of a crisis at the North Pole this season. I couldn’t help it, I had to go.


Things were so bad the dogsled RCMP could hardly believe it. Santa’s elves, instead of making toys, were noisily demonstrating against his huge conglomerate, St. NIck’s Toy Manufacturers Inc. As CEO, Santa holds all world’s rights to the distribution of toys for children at Christmas.

NEWLY ELECTED ELF SHOP STEWARD


‘We’ve not been paid overtime for over a century’ the newly elected Elf shop steward told me, pointing to his placard which read ‘Unfair labour practices’. ‘We want a union, and we want it NOW.’


Close by, there was another demonstration. I cautiously approached and realized these were all elves as well, but female. ‘Discrimination against women.’ their leader shouted as she noisily chewed her gum. ‘It’s impossible to live on one salary these days. We demand equal opportunities. While you’re having your holiday dinner, our elflins are walking barefoot in the snow.’ (Oh, my. I never thought of that.) ‘Down with sexism.’

WHO EVER HEARD OF REINDEER FLYING?


I was scared, but I’d do anything for a story. I sneaked off to the other side of the factory and saw more signs. ‘Santa unfair to reindeer’ ‘Animal rights violations’ What??? Santa’s reindeer? What was their problem? I recognized Prancer and singled him out for a statement.


‘Look, when I applied for this job,’ he explained, ‘Nobody said anything about flying. What a ridiculous requirement! Who ever heard of reindeer flying? If that’s what Santa wanted, he should have advertised for Storks!’

THAT WHIPPERSNAPPER HAS A SHINY NOSE.


‘Then, there’s his little favourite Rudolf. Big deal. So that whippersnapper has a shiny nose. We managed well enough without him for over a hundred years.’

SANTA HAD HIS HANDS FULL AND DID THE BEST HE COULD


Oh my, were those tears I saw in Prancer’s eyes? I had no time to lose.

Fortunately, I’d packed my arbitrator’s hat, put it on and started negotiating immediately. I think I did a pretty good job, but if Santa misses your house this year, please understand the man had his hands full and did the best he could under the circumstances.

WHO’S ASKING WHO?

I’d laugh until my sides hurt.

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

Hans could and did read several languages

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?

Hans on one of our ‘motor’ trips which we thoroughly enjoyed

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.

English???

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.

A Love Story…

When I asked daughter Susan if I may post the following epic tale, she declared that anyone who IS anyone would want to be familiar with her brilliant saga. Here is what she sent out to friends.
(I’d scanned the original, but shall spare you the difficulties of reading same.)

photo by Chandra

‘So, my mom is going through some old files of hers and is finding all kinds of detritus from the distant past of our lives. One item she unearthed is a story which I must have written when I was extremely young, maybe around seven years old, judging by the spelling. My conclusion after reading this epic tale of heroism and romance: My mother was clearly putting LSD in my Cheerios! How else does a child come up with a story like this one, called, “The Pickle and the Stick”:
(Original spelling preserved)

Susan, left, could be about that age in this photo


Once thare was a pickle. It was locked up in a jar. Thare was a stick. One day the jar with the pickle fell out of a bag. the stick had gest left tree. The stick saw the pickles helplessa nd stranded; He opend the jar. all the pickles wher sour-harted all but one. she was a vary nice kind harted one. she asked the stick to please help her out. The stick did as she pleased (the pickle) The pickle said she would repay his kindness some how. The stick who was very polite said, “how nice of you.” Back at the jar the pickles had bad luck. a boy kicked them into the gutter and a car ran over them. that was the end, at least of them. the stick just then was picked up by a boy. He was going to brake Sirr stick in half! The pickle took a big, big breth and just in time FOOOOOOOOOOOO! Out came a tarabell noise. The pickle saved his life. They got marieyed and lived happily ever after.

The attached drawing is something I threw together with some help from the internet, inspired by reading this story. No, I am not currently on acid!’


Birthdays…

I love birthdays!!! (Photo by my Chandra)

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.

Let’s celebrate!

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.

Happy Birthday to youuuu!


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!

It is really hot!!!

I don’t do heat graciously.

It IS hot!!! I don’t do heat graciously. We’re breaking records daily. How anyone can doubt the warming of our planet is beyond me. Meanwhile our current weather is more than I can deal with.

I had good intentions and was planning to write about something else, but I can’t concentrate. I think my brain is fried — so instead, I’ll tell you what happened on my walk this morning.

I think my brain is fried.


It was early and already too hot. My clothes were sticking to my body. I was miserable. I meandered into a local AIR CONDITIONED drugstore to cool off. As I slowly walked up and down each blessedly cool aisle, I spotted the blood pressure machine.


I’d been fine and my doctor hasn’t seen me since before the pandemic started. My blood pressure hasn’t been tested. Brilliant! I’ll sit down and check it and be COOL while I’m at it. Ahhhhh…


I did just that. Sat down and placed my left arm into the cuff. Turned the machine on and waited patiently as it told me the test was in progress.

When it was over, the results printed for the world to see were: 0 0 0. Does that mean I’m dead????

Does that mean I’m dead???


Daughters should not be funnier than their moms…

Daughter Susan

My children are smarter, better looking and taller than I am. That’s okay. However, there are limits — and the fact they are definitely funnier is going too far. It is not only embarrassing, but humiliating as well. For instance, here’s a recent email I received from Susan.

“So, I get it. I’m not as attractive as I used to be. And in my bathrobe on a morning when I just don’t feel that great, I look pretty dumpy. But SCARY? TERRIFYING? A VISION OF UTMOST HORROR? That is apparently what my horse, Kodachrome, thought of me when I toddled out to the paddock in my bathrobe yesterday morning.


Now, you have to understand that Koda is normally an incredibly brave horse — almost freakishly unflappable when encountering things that would send most horses running for the hills. Things dropped right next to him and making loud clattering noises or even bumping into him? Meh, not worth batting an eyelash. Leaf blower kicking up a storm of dust while making a deafening roar? Gee, looks like fun — maybe it would make a good toy. Taking off your jacket while riding him and throwing it on the fence? No problemo —yawn.


But SUSAN showing up in her BATHROBE??? RUN FOR YOUR FREAKING LIFE!!! Yeah sure, the lower part flapped open a bit, perhaps showing more of my fish-belly white legs. And yeah, those same legs could use a shave. But really? You would think the pit of hell had suddenly sprung open and disgorged a fire-breathing monster with ten heads the way he took of and went flying around the place!


Koda did eventually circle back when said monster started speaking with what seemed like his beloved mom’s voice. But his eyes were bugging out of his head, his nostrils flaring, every muscle fiber firing in case the necessity for flight appeared again. Perhaps he thought I was being eaten by the beast and came to see if he could save me.


He did eventually seem to realize that the bathrobe clad me was not a deadly dragon and he approached and let me pet him, but he kept a wary eye on that flappy part of the robe and clearly held the entire getup highly suspect.


Really, Koda — I don’t look THAT bad in the morning…do I?”


Susan Kauffmann
Lead author, The Essential Hoof Book
TheEssentialHorse.info
(775) 847-0547

Pssst! Wanna know a secret…

Psssst! Do you wanna know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?? Okay. Here goes…

I can type with one finger only since having hand surgery a couple of months ago, and my fingers (accustomed to touch-typing learned eons ago) refuse to share knowing where those darn letters are located on my keyboard with my brain, so I couldn’t write any posts for awhile.

PHOTO RIGHT: ‘Things are improving. No more hand brace!’

Life is a learning process. I keep discovering stuff and you, dear reader, are lucky because this is a BIGGIE, and I’m sharing it with you free of charge.

The secret????? ‘If you don’t write, they won’t read!!!!!’

It isn’t that your followers purposely desert you. It isn’t a devious plot — but without a reminder from WordPress about a new post, they just go on with their lives with nary a thought about you. They’re having coffee with friends or guzzling gin tonics and you’re the last thing on their minds. There’s nothing deliberate about it. It just happens.

You are hereby advised. Be aware!

SWhere you been?

Meanwhile, WordPress has ‘improved’ their system and I can’t figure out how to fix the quote below this last image. It should say: So, where have you been.’

Nor can I figure out how to get the quotes I want to be below the images to work like they used to. Oh, well. This isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been confused.

I shall wear purple…

If you look hard, you can see some purple.


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!’

No matter…

Poet Jenny Joseph

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 wear purple

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.

Guess she didn’t do any better than I did.


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.

Whatever you do, have fun!!!

Note: Thanks Andrew for helping me find a gentle and safe dye to use.