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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/

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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????

Inglish? English?

 

Muriel from BlogJust before Valentine’s Day, over breakfast at a local cafe, I noticed a new sign reading “Who Do You Love?” I thought about it for a moment and that it should be “Whom do you love?”, but I didn’t say anything nor check it when I got home.

First of all, I gave my trusty grammar book to a lovely young student who has kindly helped me with computer woes which I have now and then, and although I may be right, I didn’t bother with Google, because somehow it didn’t matter to me. Interesting…..

I used to care a lot about the English language. In a way, I still do. I love it. It is full of possibilities and can be wonderfully expressive and great fun. I enjoy words and playing with them, but something is happening.

Aside from the fact that at times I now find myself searching for words I know I know and want but can’t retrieve, I don’t seem to be as distressed by seeing/hearing what I may consider poor grammar. Am I mellowing?

Years ago, one of my children’s third grade teachers told me “She did good.” It was good news, because this particular child didn’t always do “good”. Even so, my insides cringed with the knowledge that this woman, who was teaching my child, would be so careless with the language. It bothered me so much, I still remember it! However, I’ve now accepted that language is a changing, growing, flexible thing and that’s

This woman was teaching my child. I was distressed she misused the language.

This woman was teaching my child. I was distressed she misused the language.

what makes it so intriguing. Seems I’m rolling with the punches.

Once, I chose to write an anti-gun column. It was reproduced on a pro-gun website, after which I received hundreds of negative emails, some nasty, some even theatening, but mostly from people with terrible spelling. I was more bothered by the poor spelling than the threats and had to resist the urge to

He can shoot. But can he spell????

He can shoot. But can he spell????

correct the first 10 or so and return them to sender. (I gave up on reading the rest and just deleted them unread.) My own readers responded positively.

There are certainly things I would change myself in our language if I had my way, particularly with spelling. After having tutored ESL students, I am very aware of how tricky English spelling can be. For instance, why do we need a “b” in “plumber”, or at the end of “bomb”? Why use “ph” when we mean “f”? On and on it goes — most confusing.

My own new English spelling would look something like this: Wat sens duz it mak to spel thum with a “b” wen we don’t prononz it that way? Why mudle thru speling lik the word “through” wich merly confuzes the ishu?

English spelling is especially tricky for ESL students.

English spelling is especially tricky for ESL students.

I also used to warn my ESL students not to rely on their computer spell-checks. (I don’t know how to use mine.) It wouldn’t catch words that are misused if what you have written happens to correctly spell another word. Thus, I was delighted when a friend sent me the following poem.

Beware of computer spell-checkers.

Beware of computer spell-checkers.

“Spell Checker”.

Eye halve 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.

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

I am shore your pleased two no

Its letter perfect awl the weigh

My chequer tolled me sew.

“Who wrote it?” I asked.

“Sauce unnown.”

P.S. Write me and let me know what brings you to my blog. I’d love that.

Favorite sayings

Muriel2017

by my Chandra

It takes a village — to do a crossword. (my own)

If there is a heaven, there are bubble baths there. (my own)

The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we hold of ourselves with the appalling things other people think of us. (Quentin Crisp, 1908-1999, openly gay writer, actor.)

Quentin Crisp

Quintin Crisp

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends. (Oscar Wilde)

young Oscar Wilde

Young Oscar Wilde

Some cause happiness where ‘er they go; others, whenever they go. (Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, gay poet, playwright.)

Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe. (? told me by my friend Sandy)

The greatest delusion about communication is that it exists. (?)

How long a minute is depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on.  (Zall)

The road of modern culture leads from humanitarianism via nationalism to bestiality. (Stefan Zweig, Austrian Jewish author, 1881-1942, committed suicide.)

Many amusing events occur in Egypt, but the laughter there can resemble crying. (great 10th century poet Al-Mutanabbi)

Go ahead, travel first class. Your heirs will. (Sign on a local travel agent’s wall)

I no longer have the time to be angry. (My wise friend Berta)

Everyone has a photographic memory — some of us just don’t have any film. (Steven Wright, comedian)

Creativity is our most precious gift. (my friend Ian Wallace)

Parents are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth. (actor Peter Ustinov)

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. (Native American Proverb)

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. (Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher)

Jan Struther

Jan Struther

If silence is golden, then speech is platinum. It spreads wisdom, dispels ignorance, ventilates grievances, stimulates curiosity, lightens the spirits and lessens the fundamental loneliness of the soul. (Jan Struther, 1901-1953, author)

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun,. Enjoy the trip. (?)

You don’t have to believe everything you think. (?)

What your mother tells you now, in time you will come to know. (?)

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. (Bertrand Russell)

Burtrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

The time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time. (Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, controversial philosopher/mathematician/Nobel Prize winner for literature)

Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who will get the blame. (Bertrand Russell)

Thank you to all those who have passed on quotes I treasure. If you happen to know who wrote those I haven’t found the author of, please let me know. Enjoy!

From Susan Kauffmann: The obstacle is the path. (Zen Proverb)

From Bill Keuntje: I’ve learned not to play the notes with emotion, but to play the emotion with the notes. (Bill is a composer/musician)