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Talking…

Please don’t interrupt, I’m deep in conversation. With whom? With myself of course. Yes I talk to myself — who else would listen as carefully and give me such expert advice — for free? Professionals charge by the hour.

Problem solving is important and requires extreme concentration. I haven’t lived all these years for nothing… Besides who is more familiar with the circumstances in my life and more capable of figuring out what to do?

I’m also a good listener, especially when I’m doing the talking. I may not always agree, but why argue? I want to hear what I have to say, so I pay total attention.

I DEBATED WELL AT SCHOOL


Am I bored? Insulted? Never! As a good debater (I did well on debating teams at school), when I don’t agree, you’d never hear ME make personal attacks. Not even when I debate myself. Personal attacks aren’t cool, I never say things like: ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’

LAUGHTER IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL.


Something I truly value is humour and I CAN, at times, be hilarious. I’m at my best when I make me laugh. Laughing is good for the soul, so I laugh often. It also makes me happy.

MY SON PUT THIS COMMENT ON THE PHOTO. WAS HE TELLING ME SOMETHING?

I’m known in my family for being a nut and appreciate their tolerance because it is certainly true.

Don’t you agree?????

HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO MY SON RAFI, THE BEST FATHER I KNOW!!!

Being rude by accident.

Our provincial premier lost it yesterday and used the F-word in frustration at the legislator. I found it human and amusing. It also reminded me of the time I did that, albeit by accident.


I volunteered for a charitable organization which served the deaf and hard-of-hearing. I liked what they offered to those needing help and was often on the board. The meetings were fascinating and complicated with interpreters to keep everyone abreast of what was being said or signed. Those, like me, who didn’t sign could read everything on a large screen as well.

SIGNING M FOR MURIEL


I wondered how they signed my name so quickly and asked. They just used ‘M’, since I was the only one on the board whose name started with that letter. Aha!

SIGNING THANK YOU


One year we had a deaf Chairman. I decided, smarty-pants that I am, to learn how to sign a little, like ‘thank you’ so I could thank him at the end of our meetings. I was shown how. I did so. He smiled. It went so well I planned to thank him again after our next meeting — in a month.

SIGNING RUDELY


By the next month I didn’t quite remember it correctly, so apparently instead of signing ‘Thank you’, I signed something rude beginning with ‘F’. Ahem! (The word our premier used yesterday.)


The poor chairman. His face turned red with embarrassment. He shook his hands to show me that wasn’t correct. Someone else told me about my blunder. Do I embarrass easily? I just burst out laughing and asked how to sign ‘I’m sorry’.


I still think it was hilarious…

Water…

It has been raining constantly lately. I must be really tired of it. It is obviously getting to me because yesterday I wrote this very ‘serious’ poem about water. Ahem!

Water is an essential element

They say I’m 60% water
I thought it was more, still
Water is an essential element.

PERHAPS I WOULD HAVE DROWNED

If there were no water
I’d never have learned to swim
Perhaps I would have drowned.

MAYBE WE’D ALL DRINK WHISKEY

What would we drink without water?
Maybe we’d all drink whiskey
with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

WE’D FALL INTO THE FLOWING RIVER

We’d all be so drunk we’d fall
into the flowing river
On the way home.

WE WOULDN’T HAVE UMBRELLAS.

Without water there would be no rain
We wouldn’t have umbrellas
And would get soaked through and through.

P.S. I’ve been writing this blog for a long time. You may enjoy this old post, ‘Favorite Sayings’, dated June 8, 2012. Just go to the upper right where the eyeglass is and type in the name.

Patience…

I don’t recall Hans ever being angry with me, but I do remember that the poor guy was bored with some of the outings we took because of my work. Then, again, he did correct some of my expressions I’d picked up in my childhood.

I’M SURE, AT TIMES, I DID TAX HIS PATIENCE.

My mom immigrated to Canada from Russia and picked up English and French. I picked up some of her sentence structures. Although Hans had immigrated to the U.S. from Vienna himself and English wasn’t his first language, he spoke and wrote it perfectly. Let’s face it, the guy was smarter than me — and funny — and I’m sure, at times, I did tax his patience.

Poor Hans accompanied me to many events I had to cover. The other day when I found this poem and reread it, I laughed. I hope you get a kick out of it too.

HANS ACCOMPANIED ME TO MANY EVENTS I HAD TO COVER. THEY WEREN’T ALWAYS GREAT.

P A T I E N C E .

Who? Whom?

When she says ‘who’ instead of ‘whom’
I do not send her to her room,
I patiently correct her once,
or twice, or thrice. She’s not a dunce.
And tell her when it’s ‘may’ – not ‘can’.
I am, indeed, a patient man.

When she invites me to a bash
and all I get is turkey hash
and then, for breakfast, Decaf, brewed,
have I complained, lamented, sued?
Invoked the bible, the Koran?
No, I’m indeed a patient man.

When I was dragged to ‘Dead Man’s Gulch’,
that gross, dung-aggregated mulch
of cinematographic Kitsch.
Was I observed to gripe, to bitch?
No – come and go, ten blocks I ran
I am a very patient man.
By God, I am a patient man.

I AM, INDEED, A PATIENT MAN.

When she broke up my mountain weekend
when manage-editing had freakened
my well deserved week’s recreation
with job-caused crass abomination.
Did I kick her in the can?
No – I’m a very patient man.
I am, indeed, a patient man.

Eating out — thank goodness.

ONCE UPON A TIME…

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.

WHAT CAN I FIX FOR HER??

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??

MY OLD ARTHRITIC BONES DON’T MAKE APPOINTMENTS

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.

WHAT PEOPLE EAT TODAY IS MORE COMPLICATED

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 KIDS ENTERTAIN A LOT

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.

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!’