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Winter reading…

This year we skipped fall and went from a heatwave right into winter, my favourite time to read. One book I found of great interest was American author Wally Lamb’s novel ‘I know this much is true’ — not always easy but certainly fascinating.

WALLY LAMB, always smiling in photos.


This book is about an imperfect family, as so many of our families are, and the relationship of identical twins, Dominick and Thomas, one of whom develops schizophrenia.

It isn’t simple, but these things DO happen, mental illness pops up in so many of our families as difficult as it may be and we need to deal with it. It seems that every photo I found of Wally Lamb shows him smiling, although some of what he writes is painful to read.

KATE DiCAMILLO

Sometimes books I need to read fall into my hands like magic and that’s how next I came to read Kate DiCamillo’s ‘The Tale of Despereaux’, a book for children or for the child within. I loved it! I can’t wait to read it again with my favourite 8-year old reader, Naomi.

Despereaux is a little mouse, born too small with ears too large — even his own mother is unhappy with him. His behaviour is not mouse-like and the other mice are so disturbed by his unusual behaviour, they banish him to the dungeon where the big rats live. Don’t worry, he ends up saving the princess and becomes a hero. Just what we need these days, a REAL HERO!

JOHN NEWBERY AWARD


DiCamillo’s book won the John Newbery Award, and as often happens, one thing led to another. I wanted to know who John Newbery was. Mr. Google says he was a publisher of children’s books who lived from 1713-1767. Can that be? Do you know? If you do, please let me know.

IS THIS JOHN NEWBERY?
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Me versus technology

I PROMISED RAFI I WOULD.

I promised Rafi I would. Okay. I WILL. After all I did promise…


My son Rafi often suggested I SHOULD learn how to use an I-Phone. It made sense. True, it would simplify life for us both. My old flip-phone won’t work in the US where he lives. Its useless when I visit — but all I can say is its easier said than done.

HE GAVE ME ONE OF HIS!!!

I stalled. HE took action. He gave me one of his!!! What to do?

I had no choice, I promised. I have a computer. I use at least 1% of what it can do, but I DO use it, so surely I can learn how to use the I-Phone, right? Plus, children learn how. Why not me?

Well, I’m not doing too well…

IT DIDN’T DO THIS WHEN GREG WAS DOING IT!


Patient friends try to show me how, but I’m learning there are more than one way to skin a cat. You can do it this way or that way, or then another way. One friend says this and another says that. They say this is how to take photos. Then, when they are home enjoying their OWN phones, I can’t get mine to obey me at all. Yikes!

ANY SUGGESTIONS????


Grrrrrrrrr. This is frustrating. I’m getting nowhere fast.
What to do dear reader????? Any suggestions????

Happiness…

IT IS FUN TO BE HAPPY

Happiness is a virtue.

LOOK OUT YOUR WINDOW AND SMILE…

When you wake up in the morning, look out your window and smile.

BE GRATEFUL…

In order to be happy, we must first be grateful.

If you don’t feel happy or grateful, try pretending that you do. With time, it may become true. What have you got to lose. Give it a try.

A CHUCKLE IS CERTAINLY ENOUGH

SEND A SMILE OUT TO THE WORLD…

Send a smile out to the world. It may come right back to you or be passed on to someone else.

In either case, it is a good thing indeed.

Okay, if you don’t want to smile, a chuckle will do.

Try to laugh every day. Laughing is always good for the soul.

TRY TO LAUGH EVERY DAY…

HAPPY HALLOWEEN…

MY FAVOURITE HOLIDAY
GHOSTS AND …

Halloween! My favourite holiday when I was a kid. I welcome the season with pleasant memories of costume parties held in our living room.

We all made our own costumes out of crepe paper then, sewed them by hand and they rarely lasted until the party was over. We wore clothes under them…

YIKES! GRAVEYARDS…

My dear friend Garth just sent me a Halloween card for this special holiday in which he quotes Aggie Cromwell, who apparently wrote:

‘Being normal is vastly overrated
If the broom fits, fly it.’

IF THE BROOM FITS, FLY IT!

BOO! (HOPE I SCARED YOU…)

Thank you Garth. I love the card. I love the saying — and I love you.

Yeah, another day…

DAVID SUZUKI
HE SAYS IT LIKE IT IS

The famous Canadian scientist David Suzuki said during an interview on CBC Radio that when he reached 70, he entered the death years. I like him. The man says it like it is.

IT IS, INDEED, A GOOD DAY

When you reach MY venerable age and you wake up in the morning, it is, indeed, a good day.

Make sure you enjoy it.

Queen Elizabeth I

I’d wanted to write about Queen Elizabeth I for some time and now that Queen Elizabeth II has died, it may be a good time to do so. The times were very different…

YOUNG QUEEN ELIZABETH II
AN OLDER QUEEN ELIZABETH II


The recent beloved Queen of England was the head of a huge royal business which she managed astutely. As far as we know, she never ordered the death of anyone. However, the first Queen Elizabeth had absolute power.

Princess Elizabeth, later Elizabeth I


Does someone really love you when you have unlimited wealth? And absolute power? And would he stick around if a gal won’t say ‘yes’?

THE EARL OF ESSEX

The Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, the first Elizabeth’s lover, was in such a position. She moved his bedchamber next to hers in 1559, but chose not to marry.

The poor guy needed the security of a wealthy marriage. He took the opportunity to wed Countess Frances Burke, widow of the successful English writer Sir Philip Sidney. He may have believed he would still be welcomed in the Queen’s bed.

Essex overestimated his charm and in 1601 he had a really bad day. Elizabeth had him beheaded. So much for making decisions without the first Elizabeth’s permission.


Poor Elizabeth I. Her face had been badly scarred by smallpox. She managed to live to 70, a good age then even though she wore a thick paste of vinegar and lead to cover it. She must have had plenty of cream underneath but one wonders about the many British ladies who also adopted the dangerous style.

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS


I sometimes wonder if Mary, Queen of Scots infuriated Elizabeth I further just by being beautiful. What think you?

The toothpaste Monster

Recently a tooth became sensitive and one whole side of it broke off. I came close to losing a tooth which was no small deal. It would have been the very first I’d have lost since I had two-and-a-half wisdom teeth removed in my youth eons ago.


My memory says that was such a traumatic and painful experience, I’d rather give birth to three babies than go through it again. So you can imagine that I was upset by this recent dental diagnosis.

THE YOUNG DENTIST FELT THE TOOTH HAD TO GO


I pleaded, I cajoled, and talked the older specialist who removes teeth into letting me keep it. The man had a different mindset. He carefully checked, found no infection and decided it may last as long as I will. Whew!

I also spent a good portion of my dear children’s inheritance on saving that tooth, but I’ve still got it! I can’t help but think about teeth and the care of same these days, so here’s a brilliant poem on the subject for lucky you.


The toothpaste monster

There’s a monster in my bathroom
He’s an ogre, he’s a ghoul
He eats up my soap and face cream
And the paper off the roll.

And of late, he’s been devouring
All my toothpaste from the tube
Which I’m using three times daily
As hygienic dental lube.

He’s the grim toothpaste monster
A mean toothpaste fiend
Once breastfed on toothpaste
He was never ever weaned.

He eats Colgate’s and likes Tom’s
But the one he loves the best
Is the now three times better
And much improv-ed Crest.

Not having my toothpaste is
A real pain in the neck
How can I face my dentist
At my annual dental check?

Crazy Grandma sings…

SON RAFI, ME, AND DAUGHTER SUSAN. THEY MANAGED TO SURVIVE THE STUPID SONGS I SANG THEM WHEN THEY WERE KIDS

When my children were small, I sang them many silly songs. They’d usually complain ‘Mom, do you HAVE to sing a song about EVERYTHING???’ If the truth be known, if I didn’t already KNOW an applicable song, I’d make one up on the spot. I just enjoyed singing to those poor suffering young souls.


Someone must have put something in the water they drink because as adults both Rafi and Susan have asked me to tape those very same songs. Interesting…


I started to, but life is a busy adventure and I never got too far with the task. Susan decided to take things in hand and get things started, so on our last visit to her and Michael, she filmed these three ridiculous videos. I admit I’ve never had so much fun or laughed as much.

LEFT: NOTE MY FANCY HAIRDO. RIGHT: SUSAN EATING A DAIRY MILK CHOCOLATE I COULDN’T FIND. SHE HAD TO ORDER IT ONLINE.


It’s also nice to know that long after I’m gone, my children will have these absolutely stupid and awful videos of me in my old age singing a few of their favourites.


Lucky you! You can enjoy them too. Just click on the following.

You can also find them on YouTube and if we get millions of viewers, we’ll be rich. (Chuckle.)

Mama makes the baseball team

RAFI, A PROUD BASEBALL PLAYER

When Rafi was about seven, we lived in Los Angeles. His pal Matthew came over sporting a spiffy baseball uniform. Rafi wanted to play baseball too. We’d already gone through the ‘Pele’ stage and Rafi loved soccer.

Still, before you could say ‘Jackie Robinson’, Mama was in line registering Rafi for the baseball season. Rafi enjoyed the uniform. Still that ball flies at deadly speed and the bat seems flimsy when you’re seven. Rafi expressed a little doubt.

THAT BALL FLIES

Mama understood. She’d been a terrible baseball player. At school, no one wanted her on their team. Still, she knew Rafi would see it through.

The coaches, cousins Mike and Larry, were terrific. They treated each child with respect and the team members followed their example. Mama offered to help in any way.

They asked if she would be the team scorekeeper. ‘But I’m Canadian. All I ever saw was Hockey. I don’t know anything about baseball.’ They didn’t believe her. Surely everyone knows SOMETHING about baseball, right?

MAMA’S EDUCATION BEGAN

Rafi gained confidence. Mama’s education began. She needed to learn ‘baseballese’, a language which has nothing to do with English. Words like ‘grounder’, ‘fly ball’, and ‘double play’. For no reason Mama could understand, in baseball a point is a ‘run’, the referee is an ‘umpire’, who, being chicken hides behind the ‘catcher’, who is really a goalie. The umpire makes unintelligible loud noises that all sound alike but mean different things like ‘ball’ or ‘strike’.

EACH CHILD HAD A POSITION

Each child had a position and a special job to do. Mama tried, but besides knowing nothing about baseball, she was far from eagle-eyed. Replays in slow-motion would have helped.

Fortunately, expert assistance was usually at hand. Any stray 10-year-old would willing help, which led to some interesting conversations and wonderful friendships.

The parents got a kick out of Mama’s mis-calls. They too began to call runs ‘points’ and the ump a ‘referee’. It was all obviously in good fun.

Rafi learned quickly. He could now be counted on for patient, simple explanations. He watched Mama’s struggle with interest and perhaps a little pride. Mama wanted him to know she was no quitter either.

The coaches appreciated Mama’s effort if not her performance. At the end of the season, they presented her with an Award, which still hangs on her office wall.

RAFI WOULD PITCH

The next year, with spring in the air and baseball in their blood, the team reassembled. Rafi was to pitch his first game. Mama was prepared to count runs and disagree with the umpire.

One dad had made a brand-new bat rack for the team. He painted the name of each player on it, and right there was Mama’s name. Imagine her delight.

Mama made the baseball team!

Rafi & Chandra’s garden

I ALSO LOVE THE FAMILY DOG, GERMAINE, WHO I’M CUDDLING HERE
HUMMINGBIRD VISITING CHANDRA & RAFI’S GARDEN


Before my son Rafi was old enough for school, prior to my leaving for work each morning we’d do what I called our ‘Inspection Tour’ of our garden, which I loved. He grew to love it too.

RAFI AND CHANDRA’S GARDEN

RAFI & CHANDRA’S GARDEN
MORE OF RAFI & CHANDRA’S GARDEN

Together we’d look for new blossoms, fruit or maybe even a baby tomato or radish.

Rafi named all our plants and we greeted each by name with a hearty ‘Good morning’.

(One was called ‘George’ because Rafi so enjoyed the ‘Curious George’ books.) I still believe plants like to be talked to.


I’m not surprised that today Rafi loves his own garden. Fortunately, his dear Chandra loves it as well and they spend countless happy hours together working to make and keep it beautiful. Mine was nice enough, but theirs is absolutely gorgeous!!


Aside from being spoiled rotten when I recently visited, I had the pleasure of looking directly out the door from my own room right into the colourful garden. What a beautiful sight to wake up to. What more could anyone want?

MORE OF CHANDRA AND RAFI‘S GARDEN

Every morning Rafi brought me coffee and breakfast and brought Germaine down to visit me. Chandra, Remy and Rafi carried meals down on large trays from upstairs for us to eat either in the garden, or in my suite. I gloried in being spoiled.

After I left, poor Germaine missed me and waited for me outside my door.

I GUESS GERMAINE MISSED ME. I MISS HIM TOO!