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A Man and his Tear

Life isn’t fair: It isn’t fair that my children are funnier than I am. It isn’t fair that they’re cleverer than I am and it sure isn’t fair that they write so much better than I do — and they started doing so early.

I already shared an (ahem) unforgettable saga daughter Susan wrote when she was about six, ‘A Romance’ about the Pickle and the Stick. (See https://viewfromoverthehill.wordpress.com/?s=A+Love+Story…or just click on Oct/2021 on the right of the cover page.)

Rafi wrote one at about the same age, but if Susan’s was a saga, his called ‘How did she die?’ was a tome, much too long for this post. If you want to read it you will have to wait until it is published. (Chuckle.)

Instead I’ve chosen to share the following poem written during his early university years — in about 1991.

A MAN AND HIS TEAR

A YOUNGER RAFI

By Rafi Kauffmann

Looking into a sullen eye
A moment of realism slips through
A moment of evil and self-destruction
Yet of kindness and redemption,
A tear

Sold is the innocence of youth
For a rough tempered style,
Tattered is the skin
Worn beyond its years
But still, a tear

TATTERED IS THE SKIN

Glistening with emotion
It swells but won’t fall
The impression on others holds it back

A positive sign this tear
A breakthrough well needed
An escape well deserved

Honestly it sings of experience
A living history contained within its walls
What it knows he knows
What it is, he is

WHAT IT IS, HE IS

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!’


Why my crazy trip was worth it…

I had to pose with Remy so he’d know how much I enjoyed these trees
Australian Tea tree

I’d informed son Rafi my knees didn’t enjoy hills any more. He and grandson Remy put their heads together and chose parks without hills for my daily walks. The first had these wonderful trees I couldn’t resist. We went again and again so I could pose with Rafi, then Remy, and when Susan joined us, back we went to pose yet again!

Just had to once again pose by one of those wonderful trees with Rafi AND Susan when she arrived.

Yes, we took walks elsewhere as well. Every morning Rafi walked the family dog, Germaine, we dropped Remy off at soccer camp, and Rafi walked me. (He wasn’t going to let me slack off. He knows how important it is for me to keep moving.)

Another walk by the water
Germaine walks me at the nearby dog park. It was cold. I was grateful to Chandra, who gave me the snuggly, warm jacket with a hood. (My very first hoodie!)

The few times we couldn’t find the time to visit another park, I took my walk at the dog park under the supervision of Germaine, who made sure I got in enough steps. He took every step with me! Ha, ha.

Rafi at 20. What a hunk! I’d never seen this photo before.
Rafi ordered this little man for my home-made terrarium. The little guy seems happy in his new home with his bottle of wine.

Chandra, always creative, made a beautiful photo album for Rafi as a birthday gift. I had never seen some of those old photos and got a kick out of seeing, for the first time, some taken years ago. (She also made an album for him of what friends and family members thought of him. It was lovely to read.)

We celebrated everyone’s birthday. I’d just celebrated a venerable one, Rafi had a recent birthday and so had Susan. We laughed a lot and I discovered my grandson, Remy, had a crazy sense of humour. (Wonder where he got that from??? Ha, ha.) Also an avid reader, Remy shared books with me when I ran out of reading material. It was just a great visit. I could not have asked for more.

Rafi and I shopped for plants at the nursery — the kids have a beautiful garden. I looked for a little man to live in my home-made terrarium, but they didn’t have one. Rafi ordered one for me, tried NOT to tell me right away, but was so excited about it, he couldn’t wait to surprise me, but when he said: ‘I bought you something’. I immediately guessed what it was. Yeah! See him above. The little guy loves his new home.

I’m holding on to the memory of the wonderful time I had and how spoiled I was by everyone. The morning breakfasts I had with Rafi, the time we all spent together was worth all the nonsense and stupidity of the rules and regulations I had to deal with to travel across the border during COVID.

Rafi sent me this photo of Germaine waiting at my door after I’d gone home. Well, I miss him too. He was particularly gentle with me.

Crossing a closed border…

I brought so many treats for the kids, my suitcase was packed solid.

I’d not seen my children in two years — much too long. My recent birthday reminded me I’m not getting any younger. The U.S. border is closed, it was unreasonable and I waffled back and forth and drove my kids nuts, but in the end, decided I must go.


It was complicated, frustratingly stupid, and expensive, none of which mattered compared to my need to hug and spend time with my loved ones.


I’m an organized sort, I called provincial health to check everything, still the madness started before I left. They weren’t always right.


My old flip cellphone, used only for emergencies, doesn’t work in the U.S. I’d need it, so prepaid FIDO $33 for 15 minutes in the U.S. It subsequently didn’t work.


A young friend helped me book non-stop flights both ways. I didn’t care which airline or what the cost was. Just wanted convenience for all and he did very well thank you.

It was enough to drive me to drink.


After a few days, however, Delta cancelled my direct flight back creating a stop in Seattle allowing little more than an hour between flights. I use a walker and must wait until all other passengers debark before my walker shows up. I also require assistance, which I’d already arranged (now separately). After hours on the phone, with no chance of a direct flight, I accepted defeat and called again to arrange help for TWO flights. Whew! I hadn’t even left yet!


Then, United, who were taking me to the US, emailed a form to fill out with complete proof of Canadian COVID testing (taken within 72 hours of the flight) plus vaccinations, etc. etc. I called on my son for help, scanned all related copies, he got into my computer and filled it all out. It was long, not easy, but done.


Checking in at United at the airport, they wanted all the stuff we’d already submitted. I asked why.


‘Oh, that technology isn’t working yet.’ What???

Yup! I made it. Here I am under an Australian Tea tree in San Francisco during one of my daily walks with Rafi.


This was only the beginning of the insanity. More to come soon…

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

When my baby was hospitalized…

Going through old correspondence, I found a letter I wrote to UCLA Hospital (L.A.) in 1973. My son was 18 months old and had been very ill and a patient there. I was distressed at what I saw and experienced in the children’s ward. Parents were only allowed to be there during ‘visiting hours’. (Many of us disregarded this unless told to leave.)


When I was there, I changed my child’s diapers and soiled sheets, fed him when possible and if he awoke crying, hearing my voice, he’d wrap his little fingers around mine and fall asleep again. I recall laying on the floor for one or two nights to be there for him. (One night I counted eleven parents sleeping on the chairs in the waiting room — there were no sofas.)

I walked to the nurses station
He had to go to the bathroom


The boy next door was about six and attached to an IV. He called again and again for a nurse until I went over to ask what he needed. He had to go to the bathroom. I walked to the nurses station and forwarded his request, then got busy again with my own child.

When I heard anguished crying, I went to ask what happened. He had been unable to hold it any longer and had soiled himself in bed. He was embarrassed and traumatized. At his age I can only imagine how he felt.


With parents purposely kept away, other children were neglected. One little girl across the way cried from morning til night each day. No one attempted to comfort her. She spoke only Spanish. My letter, therefore, mainly requested they rescind their policy of not allowing parents to remain with their sick children.


I made copies of the letter and mailed it to six people in charge. I never had a reply. The letter, however, did create a reaction. My pediatrician was told that my child and I were BANNED from UCLA, which was very close to our home. After that I was required to drive across town each time my little boy was seriously ill — and he was.

My pediatrician was told I was BANNED


I am pleased that since then things have changed and now parents CAN be with their hospitalized children. Did I play a role in this change? I’d like to think so, but probably not.


What’s been your experience with your own children’s hospitalizations?

My poor confused little lilac tree…

In the middle of this pandemic, our Strata decided to give our old building a face-lift. Our windows, glass doors, and balconies are included in the process. My cherished miniature lilac tree lives on the balcony. So do various other plants. They all had to be removed.


Some owners got their stuff down to the yard below, but I can’t do that on my own and how much can you ask others to do? (I’m on the 3rd floor.) I decided to ask dear Andrew to bring them all into my dining area instead. Maybe it was a mistake. This isn’t the first mistake I’ve made in my life.


My plants have mostly died. That’s okay. I can start over, except for my beloved lilac tree. I love lilacs. And Susan bought it for me just because I love them. Since it IS small, I can easily bury my face into the lovely blossoms. Inside, the tree began to look dead. Susan and I both began mourning. Still, I kept watering the poor thing — just in case.

My lovely miniature lilac tree, a gift from daughter Susan


This week, whaddaya know! It started sprouting leaves. Leaves? Now? It’s December. The beginning of winter. My little lilac tree is obviously confused. Living in my warm apartment, it thinks it’s spring!! Let’s face it, this is no time for a self-respecting lilac tree to start sprouting greenery. What to do??

Lilac tree and Jerry, the Inukshuk Susan made for me

I’ve started talking to the lilac tree as you would to a wayward child. ‘You can’t be doing that now, you silly thing. What will the neighbours say? They’ll accuse me of being a bad mother.’


Gosh, let’s face it, they’ll KNOW how crazy I am when they hear me talking to my confused miniature tree. Okay, okay. I know that you, dear reader, already know how nutty I am. No need to rub it in…

Thanksgiving? Yup, I’m grateful…

It must be Thanksgiving in the States because I received a couple of cards in the mail today. As a kid I loved Halloween, but as an adult, Thanksgiving is my absolute favourite. I have much to be grateful for and don’t at all mind thinking of this holiday more than once a year. (In Canada, we celebrate it earlier, so I get to do so twice.)

daughter Susan

I’m grateful for the love of my children, son Rafi, his loving wife Chandra and their son Remy, daughter Susan and her Michael, plus others I love who care about me here and in the US.

It’s been rough with much happening where I live (or perhaps it’s that much that should be happening hasn’t been happening) and I’m exhausted by it all. Thus, I haven’t the mindset to write the post I would have wanted to, so I’ll cheat and use another one of daughter Susan’s ‘Muriel Says…’ instead.

That my daughter thinks anything I say is worth using on her Facebook is absolutely astounding to me.
Yes, I love her too….

Here it is:

Muriel says:

Had an email from daughter Susan saying she laughed out loud when she read the response I wrote a reader who commented on the ridiculous 40 cent adventure I had with FedEx. (See ‘I can hardly believe it myself…’ October, 2020)

Daughter Susan


Susan often laughs at stuff I say and decided to start posting them on Facebook. If truth be told, she’s as hilarious as I am any day and makes me laugh out loud too. And, when we get together, her poor husband Michael, usually quiet and normal, is perfectly capable of joining in with the nonsense.


Here’s the first in the series she plans:

Computer Crisis…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I already had an idea for this post. I already had chosen the images to go with it. It was just about set to publish and — my NEW computer wouldn’t work. The curser was stuck on the upper left-hand corner and no matter what I did, it refused to go anywhere else.

Hail brilliant son Rafi, he who knows all,

Rafi 028

Rafi in a vineyard

and who suggested I turn the machine off and on again. I did. It didn’t. Then, because he’s so smart, he recommended I go out for my daily walk first and deal with it later. Good idea.

When I got back, I tried again. No co-operation. It was lunch and ‘beauty’ nap time. I decided I needed fuel and rest in order to face it again so put it off. Nothing. Rafi had given me instructions. I’d written them down: ‘If it won’t work, disconnect the power and then, reconnect it and if that doesn’t do it, try turning it on and at the same time press and hold down Option, Command, p and r.’lady3

anotherI checked to see if I could reach all those keys. Well, waddaya know — I could. So I tried. It didn’t seem to respond, so just before I broke down and cried, I called Apple. (Rafi cleverly had arranged that service for me when he decided what I needed. He knows his mother.)

As I listened to classical music and held the phone, lo and behold, the computer S-L-O-W-L-Y decided to follow my directions. Yeah! Wow! It’s working even though the coloured ball initially said it wouldn’t.

I hung up on Apple. I decided NOT to cry and tried to call Rafi to tell him how brilliant he is. Just because I want him, he’s not home.

Rafi 037

Rafi and his lovely Chandra, married 15 years today

Please call him and tell him how grateful I am… While you’re at it, wish him and his lovely Chandra Happy Anniversary. Today is their 15th!