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Appreciation for supportive friends….

Muriel2017I met Bill and Nancy Keuntje on a train in 2017. They’re a warm couple who were kind to this old lady and very worth keeping in touch with. (I think they live in New Jersey.) Bill collects miniature toys and promised to send me some — and immediately did so. He also composes beautiful music, some of which I get to listen to on my computer.

supportafriend

Support your friends when they need you

‘I’m just a blue-collar guy who’s made it to age 70 and knows but for the grace of others, I would be much worse off.’ Bill says humbly, but he’s no ordinary guy. So, during his recent chemo treatment for cancer, Bill thought about all those who gave him love and support during the harrowing experience and wrote this for all those who love and supported him:
.
maninbedAnd I don’t know what special is –

Don’t know why it is –

chemo

grateful to support during treatment

How just a moment alone or among a crowd,

Can become the why of a lifetime –

How sometimes it appears…. or just happens –

How the solitude of a whisper within a passing cloud

Can become the dominant essence that pervades and envelopes

That which wasn’t there just a thought ago –

But I do know what’s special –

The value that it holds, the power it possesses –

How it can overwhelm and dominate –

Or be the gentle note a bird might sing as glimmers of the

first light of day appear –

The first breath of a newborn today.

And I do know that it’s always there –

Impatiently waiting – biding its time –

olddoctor

Doctors know friends help

Needing to nourish – to be nourished –

Whether by a congregation of souls

Or an unknown entity X-degrees separate,

Alone and distant within the depths of a shadow

But more importantly, I know the Who –

Maybe not by name or familiarity –

Couldn’t pick it out of a crowd, for the crowd might be it –

But you are there – amongst the throngcup

As a color within a rainbow graced by its hue –

Unique as a dewdrop upon a blossom kissed by the sun.

Yes, you are special!     More so than you realize!

Yes, you are special!   More than you could ever imagine!

YES!

YOU ARE SPECIAL!!!!

You can send Bill good wishes for complete recovery directly to: bkeuntje@gmail.com

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Song of China

Mom, thinking 2

China always intrigued me. As a child I read Pearl Buck’s books, and later happily studied Chinese history, literature and philosophers at our local university.

Confucius

Confucius. We also learned about Laozi, Mencius, Zhu Xi, and Mozi, all great minds.

 

 

When the country opened, if just a little, after the Tiananmen Square Massacre (1989), I finally visited in 1991, after obsessing about China for years.

 

 

 

Tiananmen Square Massacre1989

Tanks in Tiananmen Square, 1989

Many died in the Tiananmen Square Massacre. We’ll probably never know how many. Our group were some of the first tourists to visit afterwards, so I was not surprised at the mixed reactions we created.

 

 

Tiananmen Square1989

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, where a man said ‘Go back to your country.’ and meant it.

 

The presence of many soldiers throughout the cities made me uncomfortable, I wasn’t used to so many military men in the streets. Were they following us?

 

 

 

protests

Protests, Tiananmen Square, 1989

Shopping district Shanghai

I wrote about China being ‘wall-to-wall’ people. They took us to this shopping district in Shanghai.

I’m not a shopper nor used to crowds, and so was terrified at the crush of people in the shopping district of Shanghai. Hans and I just fought our way across the sidewalk to dash back to our bus before it left to park. We sat in it talking as we waited for the others to return.

We think of the Great Wall as one of the wonders of the world, but I considered the bus drivers, who managed to get us safely from one place to another in the insane traffic as the real wonders of the world.

I wrote this  little poem to read from the top of the famous Great Wall of China as a tribute to the many brilliant Chinese poets I’d read through the years.

touristswall

I did read my poem from the top of the wall in Beijing. The many tourists ignored me, which was just as well.

 

Song of China

Oh, revered Chinese poets and scribes
Who have given beauty in song for ages
Hear these unworthy words I offer you
As they drift softly on the winds of your land
Where my breath and presence
Are but a wink in eternity.

I humbly give you this song as a tribute
To the beauty and wisdom you give me
With your words which will endure forever.
May this little poem, in my foreign tongue,
Please the ears of your spirits, who hover
Around me In the heavens above China.

Wall#1

The Great Wall of China

Yes Virginia: There was life before plastic…

Muriel2017

by Chandra

If you listen, you’ll hear people say we won’t know how to manage without plastic bags and containers. Not to worry. There WAS life before plastic and I remember it very well. It was fine….

During Montreal’s cold winters, when I became old enough to travel streetcars on my own, mom would send me to bring hot food to my dad, who ran an unheated poultry shop. The pot I carried had a handle, but the old top didn’t fit well. Occasionally, when the streetcar rattled, the contents overflowed onto my coat. I didn’t enjoy that — but survived. It might have been a better idea to put the hot food in glass jars, wrapped them in towels, in one of those cloth shopping bags mom had. However I wasn’t bright enough to think of it.

mydad'sstore

This is what dad’s shop looked like

By the way, that unheated poultry market had live chickens delivered straight from the farm displayed in metal coops, and when a customer selected the one she wanted, the bird was quickly butchered, cleaned and packed in butcher paper, then in used newspaper, secured with a string and taken home or delivered — no styrofoam trays or plastic wrap required. (Dad would bring very fresh eggs home for us.)

1940s store

Note customer carrying groceries in paper bag

What were our grocery stores like? I remember fruits and veggies being displayed in wood boxes they originally came in, or round wood bushels. There were packages in cardboard boxes plus items in glass jars. If you purchased slices of cheese or deli meats, it was weighed and placed in butcher or waxed paper. It all got home okay.

When I ran my own household, our trash was placed in doubled paper bags in the kitchen container before being transferred, when full, to the large one outdoors. We never considered it a problem.

seaturtlehatching

Baby turtles already have many obstacles without us making life more difficult.

True, we didn’t recycle food yet. I admit I thought the sink garbage disposal was the cleverest invention ever created. (I still have one because it was already installed, but have NEVER used it since learning it pollutes our waters.)

they're worth saving

Magnificent orca, worth saving

Today I prepare food waste for recycling without plastic. My indoor container is lined with layers of newspaper and when full, tossed, paper and all, into our building’s large food waste bin. My container gets a good washing, and when dry, is ready to use again.

 

deadlyplastic

Sea creatures get stuck in this plastic and die

With so much plastic doing damage to our waterways and creatures who must live in them, we must change our ways. We’re doing too much damage and I fear for the future if we don’t stop. I know we can do it. It’s easy enough. It’s all good. Don’t worry. Just go for it.

deadanimal

Let’s end this forever

A remedy for overpopulation???

Muriel2017Nature sometimes does get things right, but things can go awry. It isn’t nature’s fault. Usually man screws it up — and things have gone very wrong when it comes to human procreation.

As you know, what I do best is worry/ One of the multiple things that worry me now is the overpopulation of our planet, which, poor thing, is sagging under the weight of us all, especially with so many of us in the west being overweight. How did this happen?

drawing

We’re wired for it

It was once a good idea to have oodles of kids because so few of them made it to adulthood. Childhood was dangerous — diseases and mishaps could kill us long before we grew up. Modern medicine, however, has more treatments than MacDonald’s has hamburgers and so many more of us survive.

sillouettes

If sex weren’t so darned pleasurable..

manonseatWhat to do? As I see it, if having sex weren’t so darned pleasurable, there wouldn’t be so many babies and that might help. How many woman would opt to go through the pain and discomfort of childbirth and those endless, sleepless nights afterwards without the joys of sex?

If having sex wasn’t so much fun, there wouldn’t be any need for abortions. The states of Alabama and Georgia wouldn’t bother with making abortions illegal, as they are planning to do right now. After all, it’s obvious only people who don’t want children, but still want to enjoy sex, (which we are wired for) require them. Right?

no

No way mister!

May I suggest instead that both states immediately start working at finding a way to make copulation terribly unpleasant. That would do it. If they accomplish this, they can avoid passing laws which will, once again, lead to women perishing on kitchen tables.

inbed

Nah, I’m not in the mood

afternoon naps…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

Hail the snuggly, comfy, fabulous and relaxing afternoon nap; that rejuvenating miracle I’ve indulged in since email came along. I toss off my shoes, puff up my pillow, crawl under my soft covers, and — ahhhh. What does email have to do with it, you ask? Listen up, email changed my life!

Years ago I worked for a local newspaper. I appeared at their offices every weekday morning, wrote on whatever subject the editor told me to, even — twice a year — fashion.

old-lady-with-walker

If we met, you’d know it was kind of hilarious

(If we met, you’d know why that was kind of hilarious.) However, I’d long ago been taught a good writer can write about anything, so I managed to think of something to write on the subject.

tiredinpm

By afternoon, my brain is barely functional

I’m an early morning person. By mid-afternoon my brain is barely functional. A nearby cafe, opened for breakfast and lunch, closed at 3 p.m. Each day at 2:30, you’d find me there buying a cappuccino.

Fueled on caffeine, I managed to survive the rest of the afternoon. (Friend Hans once added up how much I spent on those cappuccinos per year. It was a shock.)

How much I spent on cappuccinos was a shock!

Later, writing from home for several newspapers, I could email my articles to the editors. As long as I met deadlines, no one cared that I crawled into my bed after lunch

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No one cared that I crawled into my bed after lunch

to do what brilliant people in many countries do — take a nap. My eyes, tired of looking at my computer screen, delighted in this indulgence which, in time, became a necessity. It doesn’t even matter if I sleep or not. I close my eyes, listen to the radio, and R-E-S-T. I’ve renamed my daily snooze. It is now referred to as my ‘beauty nap’.

veryfunnybeauty

I’ve become more beautiful

 

I declare to anyone who will listen to my insanity that I’ve become more beautiful than ever.

 

I once asked my doctor about my naps. He heartily approved!

doctor

He heartily approved

Is a nap for everyone? Maybe not, but I recommend it highly, and if aging gives one any wisdom at all, just maybe I’ve accumulated a little along the way. (Ahem!) If you decide to try for yourself, let me know how it goes.

 

Would I love winning the Lottery?

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

Do I want to win the Lottery? Do I want to be rich? Absolutely not! I know better. I don’t buy lottery tickets, but I thought about it today when I got a free cup of coffee at my favorite cafe. I got a real kick out of that. It was fun.

In my late 20s, I did some bookkeeping for

MONEYBAG

The days before she had money were her happiest

an extremely wealthy woman in her Beverly Hills penthouse. One Saturday she asked what my plans were for the next day. I told her we were planning a picnic at a local park with friends. (We couldn’t afford a lunch out.)

She told me how much she envied me, that the days before she had so much money were the happiest in her life. She felt she had no real friends anymore, that people invited her to events not because they liked or wanted to be with her, but because of her money. I’ve never forgotten that….

JPGettyIII

Young John Paul Getty III was kidnapped

Then, when my own children were still young, the 16-year old grandson of the J. Paul Getty family, John Paul Getty III, was kidnapped. The family, reputed to be the richest in the world at the time, was sent one of his ears, cut off by the kidnappers to prove they actually had him. I cringed at the thought and said a prayer for the teenager, but also thanked my lucky stars we weren’t rich.

Raf and sue kids 2

No one would want to kidnap my precious ones

No one would want to kidnap one of my precious ones.

John Paul Getty III did survive, but lived a tortured life until his early death at 54. His money didn’t bring him happiness or satisfaction. In reading about very wealthy children, how many do you know about who were truly happy?

DRAWING4

I guess I have no class.

As for me, I guess I have no class. I’m uncomfortable with people fawning over me. I’m not used to it and it makes me squirm. If you suggested I buy a $3,000 dress, I couldn’t. I’d think of what charities I could give some of that money to and how much it could help those who truly need.

My children have had to work for what they want. There were times I would have liked to help, but couldn’t. I know they’ve struggled sometimes, but they are probably better off for it. We can appreciate what we have more when we accomplish it ourselves. I hope they agree….

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