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Weird stuff happens….

Muriel2017Coincidence? Sixth sense? Deja vu? Messages in dreams? Do they really occur? Do I believe in them? Do you? I’ve experienced them too often to dismiss them as nonsense. Let me tell you about a few….

Out of the blue, I dreamed of friend L’s sister who complained of being left all alone because L moved away. Why I dreamed about them at all was beyond me.wordsagain We weren’t close. It was strange.

Imagine my surprise when I received a call from L, who had moved to L.A., where I lived. Can you explain that?

goodscaredladyinbed

I awoke distraught.

Another morning I awoke distraught. I felt a band of iron around my chest. I’d had a terrible nightmare in which my mother (in Montreal) was crying. Although I tried and tried to, I couldn’t reach her. I telephoned her immediately.

She was in tears. She was frightened. My dad was out of town on business and had been hospitalized. My brother had gone to see him. Mom didn’t know exactly what happened and so thought the worst. Was she thinking of me? I think so….

blkwhtnews

He was reading my column!

When I moved to Vancouver from L.A., I called newspapers looking for a job. One editor said he was reading a column of mine covering the arts (in an L.A. paper) at that very moment — and it was better than theirs. What a coincidence. Can you believe that? Another employee had been to L.A. and had picked up that issue. End of story? The editor felt it was meant to be. I was hired.

In 1998, covering the Seniors’ Summit, I saw a lady performing Tai Chi. I wondered if it might help our Vestibular disorders group. I climbed down to her but she was gone and the cards she had left on a table were gone too. Oh well…

 

Terukoteaching

Teruko taught us for 12 years and helped many

Soon afterwards, I ran into a fellow I knew at a concert. He introduced me to his guest.

‘My, you look like a woman I saw doing Tai Chi at the Seniors’ Summit.’ I ventured.

‘That was me!’ she declared.

Teruko Uedo taught our Tai Chi class, helping many of us, for 12 years until she moved away.

These are just a few stories of many. And so I do believe weird stuff happens…..

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My own ring story

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I’d have thoroughly enjoyed this costume

Ring

My mask ring, photo by Samantha

jewelry ring through the years I covered the arts for newspapers in L.A. and Vancouver. I did have a collection of mask earrings to wear to performances, but I’d have worn the ring too. These days I seldom have occasion to wear it, however I do whenever I go to the opera. Then it seems right and I enjoy thinking about how I came to have it.

When I’ve traveled, I’ve often wanted to approach a stranger in the street and ask if I could provide coffee or tea and cake if they’d invite me to have it at their home. I wanted to see how locals lived. Therefore, when Tai Chi pal, Peter Lear, had friends visiting from China, I invited them over.

 

Carla

 Tai Chi participants, L-R: Carol, Judy, me, Donna, back: Carla & Peter, both now gone

Peter, like me, had a special interest in China and Chinese culture. He could even speak and read Mandarin and read the local Chinese newspapers. Peter’s visitors gave me this ring but it always makes me think of Peter, who is now gone but whom I so enjoyed knowing.

Nohtheatre

Japanese Noh Theatre

It seems masks have been used

Chineseoperamask

Chinese opera mask

on stage throughout many cultures since antiquity. The ancient Greeks used them. Chinese opera has used them for centuries. The Romans did too, and masks remain a major part of their Venice Festival each year. I tend to think ancestors who lived in caves probably used them too.

 

GreekTragedymasks

Greek tragedy

While in Taiwan last year, I was truly fortunate to be invited to a rare and special performance of ancient Japanese opera with magnificent, colorful costumes and masks. All the roles were played by women, which I found fascinating. I still enjoy theatre — and masks.

Carnival of Venice

Venice Festival

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Masks and theatre belong together

Have you ever noticed how you always get more than you give? I invited Peter’s Chinese friends over to give them a chance to see how an ordinary Canadian lives. Their gift to me in return has brought me years of pleasure.

 

Nohactor

Japanese Noh Actor

 

 

 

 

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….

Praises and Pet Peeves

Muriel2017

photo by my dear Chandra

Goodness me! Where did the days go? Seems like I spend more time at ordinary tasks these days — necessary and unnecessary. My San Francisco loved ones visited over the New Year and as always, treated me with more consideration than I deserve. Only after they left did I realize I hadn’t washed dishes while they were here!

The accrued laundry is still awaiting my attention and I let it wait because I had other priorities once they were gone. (Happy Birthday Joseph!) Then my exercise and Tai Chi classes started again and let’s face it, nothing seems more important than keeping this old body of mine moving. Time passed quickly and I’m only now sitting down at my computer to talk to you.

chair-fitness

Keeping this old body of mine moving

I was going to write about pet peeves, but let’s face it, what in the world do I have to complain about? Someone as lucky as I am must, therefore, include praises as well.

busdriver,jpg

Bless our bus drivers

Since I no longer drive, I use our transit service. I also use a walker, I’m slow, (I was never fast.) and must praise our bus drivers who are patient, thoughtful, and caring. They wait patiently until I am safely on-board and seated before they restart the bus. They tell me to take my time when I disembark. We are certainly fortunate to have such wonderful people at the wheel.

lady walker

Bless helpful strangers

I also find strangers extremely kind. When I want to enter a store or cafe, someone will most often come forward to open doors for me. Am I deserving of such attention and kindness? They don’t ask. They don’t care. They just DO. I’m grateful. It isn’t always easy to push a walker through a doorway.

Talking about praises, I also must praise and am mighty grateful to my children who take time out of their own busy lives to not only visit and cheerfully put up with me when I visit them, but help me with whatever my needs are, especially my tenuous relationship with this computer. Seems to me, as soon as I get comfortable with a program, they (whoever ‘they’ are) ‘update’ the darn thing and get me all confused again. How do the younger people manage???

Which brings me to pet peeves. That’s one of them. I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy to

Mother child feet

Feet off the seats please

keep me humble. ‘They’ want me feeling stupid and they’re definitely succeeding. I don’t know what to make of this computer most of the time. Grrrrrrr.

Pet peeves? On the bus, in movies and restaurants, some people will put their feet on the seats. Look guys, you walk on the sidewalk. People walk their dogs on the sidewalk. Dogs urinate on the sidewalk, they also sometimes defecate on those surfaces. Yuk! Please don’t put your shoes up where others have to sit.

 

dogs

Yes, I love them, but please keep them leashed on streets.

And, talking about dogs, I implore dog owners to walk their dogs on-leash on city streets. Yes, I love dogs but I’m uncomfortable with them prancing around my feet. My balance is lousy and I worry about falling — again. Most of us deal with balance deterioration as we age, so this is not only a problem for me. Besides, I have friends who are terrified of dogs, either having been bitten or taught to fear them.

 

I don’t know what else to complain about, but I’ll bet you do. What pleases or irks 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…..

 

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.

Doctor-assisted suicide for Canada

Muriel black and white Kudos to Canada’s Supreme Court, which this week voted unanimously for doctor-assisted suicide. It seems they’ve given a reluctant Conservative government a year to put it in place. This is something I have wanted for myself for years and I heartily approve. Hurrah for Canada, the country that made Gay marriage legal, and now has passed another important act of compassion.

Normal people don’t move mountains, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, crazy as he may have been, was a hero in my eyes. He assisted 120 people to die. To my friend who is writing about serial killers, that is what he considers Kevorkian was — a killer. Interesting….

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine

People have strong feelings on this issue, and I will not argue. I just know how I feel, and lately, it has been front and center in my own life because a friend asked me to help him end his suffering. (And, this was not the first time I have been approached in this way — I don’t know why.)

“C” was a member of the organization I started 15 years ago for people with balance and dizziness disorders. When I first met him, I was sure the guy would kill himself at work, which sometimes required climbing ladders. He had Ataxia, which compromised his nervous system and his balance was severely affected even then. Fate sometimes plays cruel jokes on us, he had been a Tango dancing devotee.

His co-workers thought he drank. He let them think so. They would chuckle, and he would smile with them. But it was a charade — he didn’t drink — though if you saw him walking, you would certainly think so. He was determined to keep working until he was 65 so he could collect his pension. I was sure he wouldn’t make it….

No one fought harder than “C” to continue functioning, he attended Tai Chi classes, and regularly worked out at a gym. His arm muscles looked strong and powerful, but his illness was even more powerful. However, every step I thought he should take, he delayed. He drove longer than I thought he should. He walked without a cane longer than I thought he should — and he fell, again and again. When I felt he needed a walker, he finally gave in and bought a cane — and kept falling. When I thought he needed a wheelchair, he purchased a walker.

They must have known him well at the emergency department of his local hospital. Once, it was nine stitches to his scalp, another time it was twelve. Too often he sported ugly scrapes and bruises. I worried. He drove me nuts. It became too dangerous for him to live on his own. Long after I thought he should give up his apartment, he finally gave in. The falls, however, never stopped.

When things became more than he could bear, he asked me to help him end his life. I contacted “The Farewell Foundation”, an organization which helps people in his position as much as they are legally permitted to. They cannot provide anything for you, but they will stay with you when YOU, yourself, obtain or do whatever you decide on, until you are dead. I understood their position.

Sociologist Russel Ogden, founder of The Farewell Foundation

Sociologist Russel Ogden, founder of The Farewell Foundation

Things became more and more unbearable. He could no longer write. He could no longer speak clearly. He could no longer hear much. I met with him and the kind people from the organization. They warned me to be careful and told me of possible dire consequences. A woman who had helped someone spent over $100,000 in court, lost her passport and could no longer leave the country. My children live out of the country. I love them. I want to be able to visit them. I was scared.

We visited his doctor together. He was sympathetic, but not willing to help — too frightened to I assume. Again, we understood. I bought the most recent copy of “Final Exit”. I read it cover to cover. I marked and underlined everything I felt could be helpful, brought it to “C” and read those parts for him. We talked about the various options. However, as usual, everything he decided to do, he decided on too late.

The last fall I was aware of cost him an eye. They had to remove it. After that, he was permanently hospitalized. Things were now truly out of his hands. He again begged me to help. I was told if he chose not to eat in hospital, they wouldn’t be allowed to force him, and they are required to keep him comfortable. Did he understand? Was the information I was given correct? I’ll never know.

He then asked me to take him to Switzerland. He could no longer walk at all. I would not be physically capable of helping him make it. It was too late. In desperation, he asked me to get him a gun. He was no longer able to hold one or to shoot it. It broke my heart to watch his suffering. Can a caring person be relieved and glad when a friend dies? I was….

For “C” and the other person I knew who would have opted to end his life on his own terms had he been able to, I hope this new law will be enacted and be there for all who wish it. You need not agree…..