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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

Ten commandments for travellers…

photo by Vector

You already know I’ve decided to get rid of files and files of papers so my children won’t be left with a huge job of doing so later. Some are treasures — like this one. I don’t know where it came from or who wrote it, but I like it and decided to share it with you.


It you, like me, are biting at the bit to travel somewhere, anywhere, after all the long months of COVID:19, this may come in handy.

Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City

Ten Commandments for Travellers

1 Thou shalt not expect to find things as thou hath them at home for thou has left thy home to find things different.

11 Thou shalt not take anything too seriously … a carefree mind is the beginning of a vacation.

111 Thou shalt not let other tourists get on thy nerves, for thou art paying out thy savings to enjoy thyself.

Thou shalt not worry

1V Thou shalt not forget that thou dost represent thy country.

Gracias…

V Thou shalt not worry. One who worries hath no pleasure and few things are ever fatal.

V1 Remember thy passport so that thou always know where it is. A person without a passport is a person without a country.

V11 Blessed is the one who can say ‘Thank you’ in any tongue, for this is of more worth than tipping.

Roman Forum

V111 When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If in difficulty, use thy common sense and friendliness.

Pyramids of Giza

!X Do not Judge the people of a country by one person with whom thou hast had difficulties.

X. Remember thou art a guest in every land. Those who treat their host with respect shall themselves receive honourable treatment.

One hand washes another…

VinsonMur2020

Vinson and me

We’re having a hot spell — too hot for me. I’ve never taken heat graciously and it isn’t easier now.

Vinson, one of many blessings in my life, wanted to come over and treat me to a birthday lunch. Walking at noon in this heat??? I just couldn’t. I begged off.

‘How about I pack a little picnic,’ I suggested, ‘And we go to the park across the street and sit on a bench under a tree. You can treat me to lunch after it cools down.’

So we did that. It was lovely. What I enjoyed most was the interesting conversation we ended up having. Vinson said he learns a lot from me. (Important things like you can separate two sides of a sandwich using waxed paper. Ha, ha.)

I had to honestly respond that I, too, learn

oldlady?

Who would teach me if they didn’t?

a lot from him (and my other young friends Andrew and Alison). Who would teach me if they didn’t? Aside from showing me how to use my smart TV, newfangled telephone and new computer, they teach me current words or expressions which have changed through the years.

Judy, one of my favourite friends and also a member of our book club, brought us each a coffee mug which says ‘Reading is LIT’. I thought ‘LIT’ stood for literature.

 

Photo on 2020-07-28 at 12.05 PM

I thought it stood for ‘Reading is Literature.

 

When the youngsters visited, I showed off my new mug. They chuckled and explained that ‘LIT’ is modern slang for ‘exciting’ or ‘excellent’. Aha! I am now a well-informed old lady.

MurielAlisonMothersDay2019

That’s me behind Alison

One day, having lunch with Alison and Andrew in my neighbourhood, a local man came in and greeted me. I introduced him and after he left explained I regularly give him money — he is ‘mentally retarded’ and lives on disability. Alison said we no longer use that term, but now say such people have an ‘intellectual disability’. I’ve lived a long life and things change.

I am grateful to my young friends

Andrew20206

Hey Andrew, I don’t have a photo WITH you.

who respect me enough to help me continue to learn. Besides threading needles for me, reaching items too high for me to get to, helping with my lack of technological skills and being willing to do whatever I’ve happened to put on my ‘To Do’ lists, they help me continue to grow as a person.

Thank you Vinson, Alison, and Andrew. I treasure you…

Porgy and Bess — the opera

Muriel2017Many important issues were covered on Broadway in those 1930s musicals — issues which society would not have been comfortable confronting in other ways. Just as comedy was, and continues to be, used to help us deal with the unbearable, musicals often presented audiences with differing views than their own. Audiences were thus encouraged to look at and rethink their own attitudes.

 

 

‘Porgy and Bess’ the first and only opera created by the famous American Gershwin brothers, was written and first performed in 1935. Unfortunately, George died of a brain tumor in 1937, so no more operas followed. The magnificent songs alone make it worth seeing, however, this masterpiece is so much more than only beautiful music.

 

Scan1 1

Eric Owens is Porgy and Angel Blue performs Bess (The Gershwins would have been pleased by the casting)

 

 

GeorgeGershwin1898-1937

George Gershwin, 1898-1937

The Gershwin brothers, whose parents

IraGershwin1896-1983

Ira Gershwin, 1896-1983

immigrated to the U.S. from Russia, like my own — for good reason, well understood discrimination, prejudice, antisemitism — and racism. For this opera, they insisted that all performers appearing in black roles, be black. This at a time when opera singers in the U.S. were white only and using white performers in black face was common.

 

Marian Anderson1897-1993

Marian Anderson 1897-1993

 

 

Contralto Marian Anderson waited until 1955 to be able to perform in a Metropolitan Opera. Before that, she performed in concerts in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

The libretto of Porgy and Bess, set in 1920‘s South Carolina, makes a powerful statement regarding the vulnerability of the black community’s attempts at survival. All this years before Dr. Martin Luther King came along. Shamefully, the struggle still continues today.

But, if all you want are songs, Porgy and Bess has glorious songs: ‘Summertime’. ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’, ‘I Got Plenty O’Nothin’, and then some. Definitely worth seeing! (I saw the Metropolitan’s Live Broadcast at a local theatre, and yes, all black roles were performed by black artists — as the Gershwins would have wanted..)

Idiomatic idioms..

Muriel2017Having taught some poor souls struggling with the complexities of the English language, I know what a son-of-a-bitch idioms can be. They don’t say what they mean and even kids born into English speaking families are sometimes confused by them.

My own son, at three, opened those

Baby Rafi and sue

Little Rafi with big sister Susan

big eyes of his in terror when my friend told him she was picking him up from nursery school because his dad was ‘tied up’. She quickly noticed Rafi’s distress and explained his dad was just too busy to come. Whew!

A son of Polish immigrants painfully related what happened long ago in his 7th grade woodworking class. Dissatisfied with his sanding job, the instructor told him to use more ‘elbow grease’. Having no idea what that meant, he told his teacher he didn’t have any. I hope teachers today would be kinder, but he was sent to ask another teacher to ask for  some. He’s never forgotten how embarrassed he was when that teacher and his whole class burst into laughter.

raining caats dogs

It’s raining cats and dogs

When I taught an adult night class, I had one student who loved idioms. He’d regularly watch English TV and bring in the idioms he didn’t understand and ask me to explain them. He brought in many, including ‘The buck stops here; The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; and Don’t upset the apple cart’.

 

3ladies

We live in a rain forest

We live in a rain forest. It happened to pour the evening I told him we’d say: ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’. I then asked what they’d say in Chinese. He seemed uncomfortable and said he couldn’t tell me. I didn’t push it. The next week, he came into class. came up to me and said ‘I can tell you now. We say ‘It’s raining dog excrement.’

I didn’t laugh. But I found the whole incident hilarious and have never forgotten it! Well, we’ve had a whole lot of rain lately and it’s been raining dog excrement for weeks for sure! Enough already….

angrybull

Enough already!

 

 

iBears

 

Thank you for reading my blog. I love that you do. Enjoy whatever you are celebrating — and may 2020 be kind to us all.

 

A song for Elise???

Muriel2017

Hans Muller was a talented, classically-trained musician who studied at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna. Brilliant and playful, his most wonderful trait was his irreverent sense of humor. To him, even the great Beethoven was fair game.

Going through stuff to throw out, I found these words he wrote to the master’s ‘Fer Elise’. You can sing it to the music….

 

 

Beethoven

Beethoven: Certainly gifted but I wouldn’t have wanted to marry him either

Ludwig named this ditty for Elise

but no one seems to know who she’s
Was she from Bonn or was she Viennese?
What was her amorous expertise?
Was Elise his lover or his maid
And, either way, was she well paid?
Did she become his broad, his concubine
When he asked her ‘Your place or mine?’
Was she his chick, his moll, his fox
Or did she only darn his socks?

Fer Elise

Therese Malfalli Could she have been Ludwig’s Elise? He may have asked her to marry him, but she refused.

 

Did she spend nights of passion with Beethoven?
Limbs entwined and interwoven?

Was Elise a flirt, was she a tease?
Did she undress, smile and say cheese?
Did Ludwig kiss Elise beneath a tree
And touch her way above the knee?
Or did he give her one strategic squeeze
And hand her his apartment keys?

 

 

What did he do when he met her
Did he right away embrace and pet her
Or did he sit down at the keyboard
And compose one of his immortal tunes?
Perhaps the most romantic though a bit pedantic
Opus twenty-seven, number two, in C sharp minor
Known as moonlight, a sonata soon quite popular
All over Vienna and in Bonn
The biggest hit by Ludwig Van.

Hans Muller

Hans Muller: All this from a man for whom English was only one of six languages he spoke and read with ease…

One stormy night in bed he said to her
As winter gales howled from the North,
I have decided that I’ll do my Fifth
As soon as I have done the Fourth,
A Fourth, a Fifth, said she, but Lou
You cannot even manage two.

Did she listen to what he composed?
Sometimes she did, sometimes she dozed.
One day he wrote a Missa called Solemnis,
She said: Ludwig, I condemn this
Latest opus
Must it go thus
To and fro — it bores me so!
Was she a connoisseur, was she well-read
Or was she only good in bed?
Of all of music history’s mysteries
The greatest puzzle is E l i s e.

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.

freehug

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….

Myscarf

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.

 

JoeT-Shirt#2,2017

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……..

foldedscarf

** 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/

Reading Richard Wagamese

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

It’s Canada Day today. I’m home with a bothersome cold, which wouldn’t be nice to give to anyone so I’m alone, listening to the CBC and reading Richard Wagamese. Good, they’re talking about Canadian Literature. Since reading is one of my greatest pleasures, I’m interested. They haven’t mentioned any of our native writers yet, but they may.

Our book club has given me the gift of discovering,

Wagamese author

Ojibway author Richard Wagamese, 1955-2017

often for the first time, many writers I didn’t know of before. The books we chose to read this month are ‘One Native Life’ and ‘Embers’, both by Richard Wagamese. We

indian Horse

Indian Horse by Wagamese (now a film)

had already read two other of his books, ‘Medicine Walk’, and ‘Indian Horse’, each of which were very worth reading. (Indian Horse was made into a movie, but I haven’t seen it. I don’t like to see films based on books I’ve read. I like to hold on to it in my own way.)

We lost a special Canadian when Wagamese passed away in 2017. He was an Ojibway journalist, radio and TV broadcaster, and producer. All of this in spite of an abusive childhood and little education. (His parents were Residential School survivors.) Wagamese was only 61 when he died and certainly had more books left in him. He did, however, leave us a rich legacy. I’m now reading his ‘Embers’. Here are a few quotes from this account of his journey in learning how to live.

Embers

An easy read, yet full of wisdom

‘I am a traveler on a sacred journey through this one shining day.

Walk gently on the earth and do each other no harm.

We live because everything else does.

A gift is not a gift until it is shared.

Keep what’s true in front of you.

Freedom is letting go of bounds and barriers, and hurling yourself into the adventure of living.

Let the mystery remain a mystery.

Be filled with wonder.

Take the first step and try to make it beyond.

Shout something.’

I hope this moves you to read ‘Embers’ and then more of Richard Wagamese’s books. Enjoy!

Old lady reading

I may have a cold, but I’m enjoying my day doing one of my favorite things.

 

 

Dear Chris….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

I’m trying to eliminate clutter. It’s my true effort to become a thoughtful parent. Unfortunately, I find it almost impossible when it comes to my files.

Tackling one of the thick folders of correspondence from my late friend

Hans

Hans. He was a lot of fun…

Hans, I re-read one of his letters and just couldn’t bring myself to dispose of it. It is  too funny. Right behind it was the following poem he wrote to Christopher Columbus. If you were me, could you toss it out?

 

 

 

‘What I always wanted to say to Chris but was afraid to’

by Hans Muller

‘Mister Christopher Columbus

Columbus by Granger

Christopher Columbus, by Granger. I doubt he was much fun.

you’re in history’s vein a thrombus

which, on wide spread urgery

should be removed by surgery.

By Soviet-style complete excision

lest history’s held up to derision

occasioned by your sine-qua-

non mis-historical faux-pas.

What befogged your addled brain?

There was no smog or acid rain,

no radio or T.V. commercial,

nothing crass or controversial

to have made you cause such terror

by your gross baptismal error,

christening our natives ‘Indian’.

Did you hear them speaking Hindi-an?

Did you see them wearing saris?

Your fraudulence tops Mata Hari’s.

Had odes been sung in Amerindian,

not Shakespearean or Pindian,

but sung in praise of Red Man’s Gods,

you’d probably call those odes odds.

You would call a square a rhombus,

wouldn’t you, Signor Columbus?

 

You’d misquote the works of Homer,

3ships

The Nina (Santa Clara), Pinta (Spanish for ‘the painted one’ (prostitute), and Santa Maria

you champion of the crass misnomer.

No more of your mumbo-jumbo

Don Chistoforo Columbo.

I shall ask the nearest cop

to jail you, Mister Malaprop

for the lies with which you bomb us,

Mister Christopher Columbus.

 

*Hans, who could speak/read about five languages, had no problem making up words in any of them. He believed in having fun.

Honesty? Is it the best policy?

Muriel from BlogI’ve been agonizing over whether I should have an honest, open talk with a dear, dear friend. It’s a difficult decision to make. You want to know your thoughts will be received in the way they are intended and, your friend needs to really trust you.

Fortunately, I have a close friend whom I know will always be absolutely honest with me and I treasure her. I know I can share any thought with her and can always ask her opinion when I am at a loss myself. I love her and trust her completely. I am grateful for all my friends, but am particularly grateful for her.

Nonetheless, at times other people may ask for an “honest” opinion about something they are doing, but I’ve learned to be careful about that. Many don’t want an honest opinion at all. Often they are hoping for us to say that whatever they are doing is absolutely wonderful — and nothing else. If you suspect this to be the case, run away from it as fast as you can!

Years ago I was employed by a man who knew I had extensive experience in his field. He welcomed me into his firm warmly, said how delighted he was to have me, and asked me to be sure to let him know if there was anything he was doing that could be improved. I believed him. When I did see his business was losing thousands of dollars by a most cumbersome, delayed billing practice, I said so. His response?

"How dare you suggest you know better?"

“How dare you suggest you know better?”

“How dare you suggest that after my running this business for 35 years you know better than I do?” He was furious! Obviously, he just wanted me to tell him he was a brilliant business-man who did everything perfectly right. I did see other wasteful and costly methods within his organization afterwards, but had learned my lesson. I kept quiet about it.

The author believes the work to be excellent....

The author believes the work to be excellent….

As a writer, time and again I have been asked to read someone’s book, memoir, play, etc. Invariably, the author believes the work to be excellent, that it could never be improved in any way, shape or form, and the whole world is breathlessly awaiting his/her masterpiece. No matter how diplomatic I have tried to be, my comments, or suggestions were most often met with sometimes repressed, but evident resentment. I don’t do it anymore.

If you are asked for your opinion in such matters and want to make (and keep) friends and influence people, decline, decline, decline! Say no! Say you have no time, that you are going up into space on the next mission and are therefore busy with astronautical training or something — anything, but get out of it. Once I understood just what was expected, I no longer agreed to do it. I now refuse all such requests, so don’t ask.

What they really want is to hit you on the head with an umbrella..

What they really want is to hit you on the head with an umbrella..

Honesty….how to explain the word? Sometimes those who say they will be honest with you don’t have good intentions at all. Sometimes what they really want to do is hit you on the head — hard, with an umbrella or a bat, but since physical violence is not acceptable, they’ll hurt you instead with devastating “honest” words. This kind of “honesty” can cut to the core.

The subject of honesty is a terribly complex one. We teach our children not to lie. We punish them if we catch them at it. Our society frowns on compulsive liars and those who are chronically dishonest, and rightly so. Yet, the naked truth can be so hurtful and damaging in some people’s hands, it can be used as a knife with which to pierce the heart. How to deal with the whole confusing concept?

We teach our children not to lie.

We teach our children not to lie.

In the oh-so-successful novel “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, Sayuri, the protagonist (a beautiful geisha) has just been reminded she is aging — which is true. Her response? ”There are good facts and bad facts. The bad facts are best avoided.” Sayuri, of course, knows how old she is and doesn’t need to be told.

"I never saw any good that came of telling truth" John Dryden (1631-1700)

“I never saw any good that came of telling truth”
John Dryden (1631-1700)

Authors whose work has offended others enough to be banned are particularly interesting,  and John Dryden (1631-1700) whose comedy “The Kind Keeper” was banned during the Restoration, is thus someone I find intriguing. His thoughts on the topic of truth? “I never saw any good that came of telling truth.” I also love what William Blake, (1757-1827) the multi-gifted English poet, painter and engraver, put so well: “A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.”

"A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent." William Blake (1757-1827)

“A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.”
William Blake (1757-1827)

"He would be the best of fellows if he did not always speak the truth." Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

“He would be the best of fellows if he did not always speak the truth.”
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Who can discuss the truth without referring to one of my favorite authors, the incomparable Oscar Wilde, who has given me endless hours of pleasure both at the theatre and curled up with a book. Wilde didn’t much believe in telling the truth at all. He said: “The telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of Art.” (The Decay of Lying) and “He would be the best of fellows if he did not always speak the truth.” (The Sphinx Without a Secret).

We do require another word to replace the word “lie”, when lying is a kindness. What is wrong with being considerate and kind and refraining from hurting others with painful, even if factual, truths? In most cases, the “truth” is known anyway and we don’t need to rub it in. Some of the meanest, deepest and most agonizing hurts are delivered under the pretext of “truth”.

We also can use yet another word for a different meaning of the “truth”. The great American writer and libertarian, Thoreau, said “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” He was talking about something totally different when he wrote about that oh-so complicated word which has so many different meanings, both positive and negative.

How confusing can this language of ours get????