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The elusive ‘O’…..

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

Years ago in L.A.  I reviewed theatre. I typed weekly articles on my electric typewriter, drove them to the newspaper office or, when it became possible, faxed them from a local shop. No one I knew had a fax of their own yet. Email was not yet available.

A writer friend invited me to visit his cabin high in the San Bernadino mountains. It was a beautiful spot which gave us a break from the heat of the city, but I had a review to do.

‘Not to worry,’ he assured, ‘I’ve got a portable typewriter up there.’

‘Does it work?’

Royal manual typewriter I learned

I first learned to type on an old manual

‘Of course.’

I believed him. Why would he lie? He was a successful playwright. Naturally he’d have a typewriter that worked, right? And I first learned typing on an old manual typewriter so it ought to be okay. Off we went.

First thing next morning, I settled in comfortably on the large outdoor veranda under the shade of huge ancient trees — the kind you know have lived for generations. Sheets of paper and typewriter at the ready. Coffee close at hand, I took a deep breath of the fresh air and started typing.

ribbon-hearts

The word ‘love’ was in the title

 

The name of the play eludes me, it wasn’t that memorable, but the word ‘love’ was in the title. The typewriter managed the first two words without a problem. I managed to press the keys hard enough until I reached the O in the word LOVE. It didn’t work. I tried again. No luck. The third time I pushed that O, I realized I was in trouble. How can you write a whole article about a play about love without an O.

confused-old-lady

What to do?

What to do? I sipped more coffee and glared at that stupid, stubborn typewriter. How dare it do that to me? It didn’t react. Then I glared at my friend. How come he didn’t know the O didn’t work? How could HE do this to me. I guarantee the words coming out of my mouth weren’t pearls.

fatoldangry

The words coming out of my mouth were not pearls

His excuse? He didn’t go there to write. He spent his time climbing mountain trails, not working. Admittedly, his portable typewriter had obviously been ignored. He didn’t know the O was in trouble.

1950's port Oliver typewriter

I inserted an O by hand into each space

After I tired of scolding everything and everyone, I finished my coffee, concentrated on that tired little typewriter, and decided to write that review come hell or high water. Have you ever known me to give up? No way! I would write that darned review by skipping a space every time a word called for an O. It slowed me down — a lot. It took a lot of coffee. It took a lot of time, but I managed the approximate 500 words by inserting a space wherever an O belonged.

After completing my masterpiece, I carefully inserted an O by hand in each space. Was it perfect? No. The O’s stood out from the light gray of the old typewriter ribbon and tended to be of various sizes and shapes, but it said what I wanted it to.

Off to the village post-office we went to fax the piece to my editor. It was done on time, retyped by a clerk at their office, and published. I had managed it after all and my reputation was intact.

Mountains

The San Bernadino Mountains

Later, the editor told me he was so amused by my handwritten O’s throughout my review, he showed it to everyone who would take a moment to look at it, including the mailman. He then tacked it up on the bulletin board where it remained for months to come. I became famous with that Hollywood paper. What fun!

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They’re at it again…..

cuteunderbed

Look under the bed

Look under the bed. Shut the blinds. Check behind the

ghostwindow

Shut the blinds.

door. Lock all the entrances. Is that a rustle behind the shower curtain? They can be anywhere — and they’re at it again.

They’ve tried this on me before and didn’t succeed. They’re working harder at it this time. They’re evil and devious and devilishly, cleverly persistent. They worked so hard to confuse me with those elevator buttons — remember? (If you don’t, go to the right side of my blog’s home page, and under ‘Archives’, click on February, 2015.) They didn’t manage to destroy me then. You’d think they’d just give up! No way…..

blackdagger

They’re evil and devious

Who are they? ‘THEM’. You know them. ‘They’ who spend sleepless

villian

them

nights trying to figure out just how to make me confused and feeling inadequate. How are they trying to do this you ask? Aha! With those totally bewildering, darned credit-card machines they use in restaurants — that’s how!

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credit-card machines

When those suckers first came out they were mostly all the same. If you knew how to use the one at the coffee shop, you could easily use the one at the Sushi place. No more mister! Now, each machine is different. Vaaasssttly different. Why? Is this necessary? Of course not! It is yet another scheme to try to make ME feel unsophisticated and stupid. They aren’t fooling me. I’ve got their number even if I don’t understand how to use those blankety-blank machines.

scary

Yikes! A rustle behind the shower curtains?

Have you noticed how the ‘suggested’ tip begins at 15%? Well, maybe you’re not a big-time spender and you don’t want all the waiters to know. How can you manage that without the waiter’s help if the machine is different from any you’ve ever used before? Or, let’s say you want to tip the waiter who served you stale bread and cold soup 10% instead of 15%, you’d have to KNOW how to change the stupid doohickey, or be forced to ask the very person who mistreated you how to lower it! They know that would be uncomfortable. There’s no way to win.

What in the world are those ridiculous machines called anyway. I asked a waiter at a local eatery yesterday. He didn’t know, but perhaps that’s because it’s a vegetarian place. All waiters who work at vegetarian restaurants suffer from meat deprivation. He said they call them ‘Pin Pads’. Well, that isn’t at all what they are. Lucky you dear reader, I’m here to inform you. Not that I knew, but I do have some smart friends.

Samantha, who knows all, told me today. Ready? They’re called POS Terminals. Ha, ha! They’re hoping I never figure it out, so they don’t tell many people. They think when they succeed and I’m in a padded cell, they can just make the world a better place by destroying them all.

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in a padded cell

Our family’s ‘Rashomon’….

‘RASHOMON’: If Mr. Google is right, the famous ‘Rashomon’ had it’s roots in a Noh play originally written in 1420. In the 1990s I saw a performance in Vancouver. Each of the three characters, the Samarai, his wife, and a bandit told their own version of what happened while traveling on a highway. The wife claimed the bandit raped her, the bandit had a totally different slant on things, and the Samarai gave yet another story altogether. I’ve never forgotten it.

The following is my family’s ‘Rashomon’:

SUSAN’S VERSION:

Momstealsshirts-2

Last visit’s winnah!!!

My mother is a thief. She steals from her own children. Last time I visited, she stole shirts right off my back and had me go home in a London Drugs plastic bag. Oh the horror!

She may be no taller than a bean sprout, but mom’s a formidable fighter, strengthened by exercise classes and those martial arts moves she learns in Tai-Chi! For revenge I wanted my red shirt back.

THE SHIRT THEFT SAGA, ACT TWO: One Good Theft Deserves Another

I needed backup, so convinced my hubby, Michael, to come along on this visit and briefed him on my plans. At first we acted sweetly to lull mom into a false sense of security. Later, I snuck into her bedroom closet looking for the shirt. There were other red shirts, but not MINE!

1, shirt series, looking for it in her closet.jpg

Other red shirts but not mine

2, shirt series, Found it in other closet

There it was!

That dastardly foe had anticipated I would search her closet and hid the shirt! After cogitating, I deduced she’d keep it close.

Right, it was in the guest room where she was sleeping. I silently slunk in, slid open the closet door and there it was!

Oh joy, bliss, rapture! My beautiful red shirt in my own hands! Now to take it without her catching me. I decided to make a break for it, hoping she wouldn’t see me dash into the next room.

Unfortunately, mom suspected something was afoot. Michael tried to stop her, but she came flying down the hallway just as I was trying to make good my escape! I was caught RED-handed! There was no denying it. It was game on!

 

3, shirt series, caught red handed, SM

Caught red-handed!

Mom tugged for all she was worth, I tried my best against her superior strength.
Faithful hubby jumped into the fray!

We pulled. We tugged. We tugged and pulled, That little old lady didn’t give up! Finally we proved too much for her.

5, Michael joins the fight

We pulled. We tugged.

Mom got her second wind and came out SWINGING, determined to take out the seditious son-in-law. Her reach, however, didn’t match her rage and Michael was able to hold her off with nary a scrape.

“Rocky” Kauffmann threw in the towel and

7, Triumph

triumph at last!

conceded defeat. I donned the red shirt triumphantly, Michael agrees it looks great. Mom wept just to elicit sympathy hoping she’d get it back. Not a chance, Light-fingers Lil!

 

 

MY VERSION:

Daughter Susan visited again. I knew she was seeking revenge. This time she brought backup. Hubby Michael is about 6’5”, which is intimidating enough at my 4’11’. Besides Susan let it drop he bench-presses 300 pounds ‘just like that’. Why would she tell me that? To scare me of course?

MichaelSuperman

Michael at breakfast

MIchael showed up at breakfast wearing his Superman pajamas, claiming he forgot his robe. A likely story, they wanted me to see his bulging biceps and rippling muscles, that’s why.

I’m a loving mother. I try to be nice. I offered Susan one of my special, expensive china cups/mugs for morning tea. Did she accept? No! She had to have the treasured mug a particular friend painted for me all by himself as a bIrthday gift.

SueMeVan2018

Does it pay to have children?

I also gave the kids my bedroom (Michael’s too tall for my trundle bed) and told Susan not to bring a robe — I have more than one. What did she do? She PURPOSELY picked the robe said special friend sent me to wear when I had hip surgery.

I looked at her sitting smugly at the breakfast table. It was just too much! What lack of consideration. Awggghhh. Does it pay to have children?

4, tug of war

Grubby Susan at it again! Will this never end?

 

Does Susan appreciate that the London Drugs Plastic bag I kindly gave her to go home in last time have become the latest trend? (You can purchase same at their stores.)

6, shirt series, Michael fights off Mom

Who could beat Superman???

There are limits to how much even I can fight. Who could beat Superman???

To top it off, the RED shirt I won fair and square then has disappeared. She’s taken it. Susan and BIG BAD MIKE were just too much. Oh, woe is me….

The battle of the fashionistas

It was her own fault. She shouldn’ta done it. She should know better. Everyone knows red is MY color. My exercise classmates know I always choose the red band. Everyone I know knows I like red. So why did she do it? Do what, you ask???

Daughter Susan visited on her way home to Nevada from Edmonton. That was sweet. I

Royalty free bull

I saw red like a bull in the ring

love that she came. But she made the error of turning up at breakfast in a red shirt. Red. RED! I saw red like a bull in the ring sees the toreador swinging that red cloth right in his face.

Not only was the shirt RED, it was beautiful and had sleeves reaching down to her elbows. I’d been looking, without success, all over for summer tops with sleeves long enough to cover my flabby arms. They’re difficult to find here.

They have more choices in the U.S. It’s understandable — they have a much larger

Momstealsshirts-2

They’re really nice shirts, no?

population, but that doesn’t help me in my search for tops. I liked her shirt. I wanted it. I took the darn thing off her back to try on, and wouldn’t give it back. Then Susan made another logistic error.

‘I’ve got another just like it in blue,’ she admitted, perhaps realizing I’d get to see it anyway. I wanted that one too, even though it wasn’t red. I grabbed it out of her suitcase. ‘What will I wear?’ she pleaded. I didn’t respond.

momsteals-5

Remember, you saw it here first!

We’re creative. We can think on our feet. I gave her a plastic London Drugs bag and she fashioned an attractive top out of it.
It was a brilliant idea. We two created a fashion statement which can save the planet.

As soon as they see it, fashionistas by the thousands will be copying this new trend. New York’s top designers will be scouring the world searching for usable plastic bags. As this brilliant, beautiful design spreads, they may even have to send ships out to sea to pick up those thousands of plastic bags floating in the ocean, where they create havoc. Do remember, you saw it here first!!!

momsteals-3

The ensuring battle was well-fought

The ensuing battle was well-fought — and somewhat hilarious. We got carried away. It was madness and uncontrollable laughter. Linda, Susan’s friend (and probably now my ‘former’ friend) snapped away with her camera, in-between gales of giggles, and these ‘beautiful’ photos are the result of the mom-versus-daughter fight.

momstealsshirts2018-1

The winnah

Who ended up with the shirts? Waddaya think? Me, of

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She did forgive me

course. After all, I do pull some weight. I’m Susan’s ‘maughm’ and she loves me, though sometimes I’m sure she wonders why. In the end, she did forgive me.

Thank you Susan. I’m enjoying my new shirts, especially the RED one. I also loved your visit and spending time with you. I’m convinced my dear, you’re as nutty as I am, though you came by it honestly — and I love you.

 

2017 in review

Carla

Front: Carol, Judy, me, Donna. Back: Carla, Peter

2017 brought losses — friends Peter and Carla, and I’m afraid Georgina too. Two others no longer remember me. I’ll miss them also. However, I met Grace and Howard this year, and look forward to getting to know them better. Linda, too, came into my life and she’s a treasure. I’ve met Marion in our new Tai Chi class and since Val’s in it too, I’ll get to see more of them both.

Didn’t go anywhere in 2016. Couldn’t even walk! Wasted dollars on travel health insurance I never used. 2017, too, began dismally. Something had to be done. Bless Judy, she came with me to see Dr. Gredanis and filled out forms for me to get a new hip. Friends and neighbors like Amy and David, Wayne and Mairona, Linda, Vinson, Judy, Marlene, and others kept cabinets and fridge stocked and got me wherever I needed to go.

2017 also brought some accomplishments. Our book club’s list of ‘Books Read’ is now over 200! We’re pleased with ourselves. I organized a new Tai Chi class with help from Jean, our kind new instructor. She’s absolutely the right person to lead us. Some of the old gang had nagged about missing the class, Jean happened along and viola. We have a class! I then realized my own balance needs a lot of work, so it’s all good.

My new hip happened on March 17, with Susan at my side. Rafi came afterwards. They didn’t want me home alone between hospital discharge and Rafi’s visit, so dear Trudy came to stay. Samantha dropped in on a Sunday morning for the real biggie. I wanted to see if I could manage a real bath. (I love baths.) I made it! Talk about joy….

Hamming it up

Having fun in Nevada

I traveled in 2017. July found me in Nevada, visiting daughter Susan and her Michael. Why not make it a birthday celebration? The San Francisco contingent joined us and spent the week, and dear Joe, all the way from L.A. made it a birthday I’ll never forget. He ordered bagels, smoked salmon, and cream cheese for our breakfast, plus a huge birthday balloon, all delivered from Reno up to us in the mountains! He hand painted a lovely coffee mug, which waited for me in a package with coffee and cookies for added pleasure. What a guy!

Joe had called regularly while I was in hospital and was the one who realized my nausea was due to the morphine. (I’d assumed I was having a vestibular reaction to the stress of surgery.) He was right! Joe’s often right.

BetterRebaJoeMe6

Joe, me, Rebecca

The next trip was to my kids in San Francisco, where I

Redwrap

Joe’s Susan and me in their gift, a RED wrap

was spoiled rotten again. I got to see my Chandra climb the scaffolding most days while the outside of their home was being painted. (Rafi, like me, is uncomfortable with heights.) Then, I took the train to L.A., and stayed with my kind-of (but no less beloved) kids Rebecca and Brian, who spoiled me rotten yet again, and so if you notice how spoiled I am, you know why. Joe’s Susan invited us to a lovely family dinner, where Joe and I ‘entertained’ with a short skit he wrote. We exchanged gifts and hugs — it just doesn’t get better.

LadyonbikeThese are not all the 2017 happenings. I quickly returned to Keno’s exercise classes and worked really hard at trying to regain my leg muscle strength, Wayne lent me (then told me I could keep) a ‘stepper’ which I’ve been using to help me get stronger, and after two years being unable to use it, I’m finally back on my Exercycle.
It was a very good year…..

 

Are they out to get me?

muriel-6

Are they out to get me?

It’s all Brian’s fault. He had this fabulous guide put out by Harvard Medical School called ‘A Guide to Cognitive Fitness’. I read it with interest while I was his house guest. It offers ‘6 steps to optimizing brain function and improving brain health’.

My brain still functions well enough for me to realize I need help in that area, so I was determined to put into practice some of the suggestions the brilliant people at Harvard had to offer.

It told you what to expect of your brain after 50, 60, 70, or 80. What was Brian doing reading about the aging brain? Was he just telling me I’m getting forgetful? To me, the guy was still a kid. Then I realized that while I’d been aging, so had he and everyone else. I wasn’t the only one interested in the aging brain!

Did I make it up or did it really say it was normalMom report cover for my age to lose some of your short-term memory? That gave me a sense of relief. I’m normal. I would have liked to swipe the darn book so I could show that line to everyone I know, but you can’t do that when you’re someone’s guest.

Okay, my memory ain’t what it used to was, what now? It suggests learning or doing something new. I gave that thought. What can I do that’s new, interesting and fun?

I had already started to learn about Facebook, which I think, for the most part, is the biggest waste of time. (How many photos of someone’s lunch does one need to see?) However, the wise members of my book club had encouraged me to continue, because, said they: ‘It’s good to learn something new.’ (Were they giving me a message too??)

woman_doing_crossword

I’d never done crosswords

Something new? Something I’ve never done? Ah, crosswords. I’ve never done crosswords even though I love words. I decided to try. I had a friend who used to do the New York Crossword Puzzle completely every morning. He told me you got to learn how the guys who write them think and once you did, it got easier. Aha!

I found a crossword for dummies in a local newspaper. Well, it wasn’t called that, but it was easy enough and my friend was right, I got to know the words whoever wrote them liked to use. Even someone with my brain capacity could feel clever. I WAS able to finish them, except when they cheated by using names of athletes or actors I didn’t know. (My ten-year-old grandson could be a great resource for athletes, he knows them all — in case YOU need help with those.)

I learned something else. When I couldn’t find one or two words on the crossword and left it next to my coffee cup on the table, when I got back to it later or the next day, I COULD finish it. How come? I wonder why. (If you know, do let me know. I’m curious.)

So, why am I upset? What happened to that newspaper? Why can’t I find it all this week. I’ve looked everywhere I know they usually are and they’re not there. Is it a plot? A plan to confound my brain before it’s ready to go further?

old-lady-with-walker

They won’t win

THEY won’t win, I tell you! I won’t let them. I’m a fighter. I’m going to try harder ones, the kind real people are able to do. If I can’t finish them, I’ll just write in any letters I want in the blank spaces. Ha-ha! That’ll confuse them — then if they ARE out to get me, they won’t get  the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve accomplished their mission.

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

Persistence brings progress…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

I’ve been working hard at recovery since I had my hip replaced in late March. Am I neurotic? Perhaps. I’m probably also one of those ‘A’ personalities who is driven.

I’m not the type to buy an Exercycle and then just use it to hang laundry on. Nor will I enroll in an exercise class and lose interest. So, I used my bike regularly about five days a week and attended both Tai Chi and ‘Joint Works’ exercise classes and never missed if at all possible until — I was in so much pain I could hardly walk (prior to this surgery).

After I got my new hip, I did my assigned exercises diligently, returned to my exercise classes before I was able to do all the moves the rest of the class did, and got back on my Exercycle before I could lift that right leg over the centre. I had to walk around the bike and get up on the left, and began with very few rotations, which I slowly built up. With time I was able to lift that right leg over the centre — barely, but it was progress. Bravo!

I love baths. My whirlpool jets are set to hit directly at my arthritic joints. The warm

drawing of woman in tub

I love baths

water is wonderfully soothing. After three months, my surgeon said I may bathe again. A dear friend came over (just in case I needed help) and I made it! If I were a drinking person, I’d have celebrated with champagne! That was a real biggie….

I hadn’t been able to travel for well over a year. Gleefully, I

Susan& Michael

Michael and Susan at their front door

planned a visit to see the new home my daughter and son-in-law had built the year before. It required two airline flights each way, but I made it! I also climbed 17 stairs (Susan counted them) to see their upper floor. Since it was my birthday while I was there, my San Francisco contingent joined us. We celebrated. It was fantastic.

SM, Spa Day

Being spoiled rotten — facial and foot massage

Everyone spoiled me. My Chandra and grandson Remy gave me a facial and foot massage. Chandra noticed I hadn’t trimmed the last three toes on my right foot. True. I couldn’t yet reach them and wasn’t happy with having them done at the pedicure shop. (They’re into esthetics and that’s not what I need.) My loved ones took care of that too.

Hamming it up

Hamming it up

After my return home, now and then I begin to feel, in spite of my continued hard work, I haven’t made any new progress. Then something happens. One day I discovered I WAS able to reach and trim those three toenails on my right foot by myself. It was so exciting, I sent an email to my kids to give them the news. This too was a biggie.

Little by little, I keep increasing my exercises, and now and then I get a new or unexpected reward. I’m now up to 4:20 miles per seating on my bike, and am doing 70 steps each time on my stepper. I continue attending exercise classes, and my loyal pedometre counts my steps when I walk each day. I’m building them up too.

I’m not done with little miracles yet. When I bathed yesterday, I was able to get into my higher-than-average tub without using my arm to pull my right leg up and over. Yeah! Another step forward….

Why am I telling you all this? So you won’t ever give up.