Tag Archive | learning

Idiomatic idioms..

Muriel2017Having taught some poor souls struggling with the complexities of the English language, I know what a son-of-a-bitch idioms can be. They don’t say what they mean and even kids born into English speaking families are sometimes confused by them.

My own son, at three, opened those

Baby Rafi and sue

Little Rafi with big sister Susan

big eyes of his in terror when my friend told him she was picking him up from nursery school because his dad was ‘tied up’. She quickly noticed Rafi’s distress and explained his dad was just too busy to come. Whew!

A son of Polish immigrants painfully related what happened long ago in his 7th grade woodworking class. Dissatisfied with his sanding job, the instructor told him to use more ‘elbow grease’. Having no idea what that meant, he told his teacher he didn’t have any. I hope teachers today would be kinder, but he was sent to ask another teacher to ask for  some. He’s never forgotten how embarrassed he was when that teacher and his whole class burst into laughter.

raining caats dogs

It’s raining cats and dogs

When I taught an adult night class, I had one student who loved idioms. He’d regularly watch English TV and bring in the idioms he didn’t understand and ask me to explain them. He brought in many, including ‘The buck stops here; The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; and Don’t upset the apple cart’.

 

3ladies

We live in a rain forest

We live in a rain forest. It happened to pour the evening I told him we’d say: ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’. I then asked what they’d say in Chinese. He seemed uncomfortable and said he couldn’t tell me. I didn’t push it. The next week, he came into class. came up to me and said ‘I can tell you now. We say ‘It’s raining dog excrement.’

I didn’t laugh. But I found the whole incident hilarious and have never forgotten it! Well, we’ve had a whole lot of rain lately and it’s been raining dog excrement for weeks for sure! Enough already….

angrybull

Enough already!

 

 

iBears

 

Thank you for reading my blog. I love that you do. Enjoy whatever you are celebrating — and may 2020 be kind to us all.

 

The fight is far from over….

Muriel2017They’re talking about brilliant female scientists on the radio. It reminds me of an experience I had in approximately 1971 when I was planning to enroll daughter Susan (age 6/7) into a summer program at our local community center.

Identified as a highly gifted child, Susan was totally into science. She loved learning about insects, snakes, lizards, shells, rocks and dinosaurs — you name it.

susan:Carrie in tree

Susan (front) about that time

Reading the available programs, I saw a cooking class for girls and a science class for boys. I recognize that cooking is a science, but it wasn’t Susan’s thing and I knew it. I was  upset. Would I accept that? Of course not!

angrywoman

Would I accept that?

iwomenrights

I threatened to march outside their doors

I visited the center, had a discussion with the program director and threatened that if they didn’t allow my daughter into the science class, I’d march outside their doors with signs complaining about their old-fashioned thinking. Yes, I WAS really angry.

The female program director caved. Susan was allowed into the class, however, I hadn’t foreseen what followed. When she turned up for the class, the surprised boys loudly complained. “Yuck! A girl!’ ‘You’re not allowed in this class.’ ‘You don’t belong here!’

bully

You don’t belong here!

The poor kid. I’d placed Susan in a position where she was not welcome. The boys bullied. They pulled her hair. They saw her as an intruder. I didn’t argue when Susan very soon didn’t want to go anymore.

hairblkwht

They pulled her hair.

I also still wonder what that terrible experience did to her. Would she have followed a different career path if it hadn’t occurred? What did I accomplish after all?

What I do know I accomplished was I did convince the community center to change their policy. I told them they were unfair and outdated. They changed their future description of classes for children and no longer classified them according to sex.

freecutegirl

I’d like to think things improved later for girls

I’d like to think that later perhaps one or two girls, luckier than Susan, had the opportunity to become excited about science in a class — and who knows? Maybe one or two of them has or will win a Nobel Prize after all. (However, the fight is far from over.)

P.S. Susan has found her own way of using her scientific interests and ability in her life’s work in any case.

I owe an apology to my mom…..

Muriel2017

How interesting to look back at childhood from this vantage point. I currently see things so differently. Does that mean there’s hope we garner a little wisdom with age? Perhaps… I now realize I owe my mom an apology.

I was the youngest of five children. We lived in Quebec when birth control was illegal so our family wasn’t considered that big.

Ruch Muriel 5 yrs. approx

finally five

I was finally five and expecting to go to kindergarten. All my siblings attended school and I could hardly wait to go too. I was so excited. Woweee!

 

crying girl

they refused to accept me

Mom dressed me up in a starched dress for the occasion and we walked hand in hand to our local school to register. They refused to accept me. Why, I’ll never know.

Perhaps they had too many students or something at the time because the next year they put me directly into first grade. They surely didn’t ask me what my opinion was about their dastardly decision. All I knew was they said NO!!!

childgreendress

I cried….

I howled

I didn’t cry, I howled

My mom probably tried, but was not prepared to argue for too long. I was heartbroken. I cried all the way home. Actually, that’s not at all true, I didn’t cry, I howled in five-year-old frustration and despair. It just wasn’t fair!!!! Everyone else (in my family) went to school. My poor mother tried her best to comfort me, but it wasn’t possible.

Now having raised children myself, I realize what a break those few hours each day would have been for my poor mom. She was probably looking forward to having some time to herself even more than I was looking forward to going to school. Being older today, I can’t help but imagine how disappointed SHE must have been herself.

poormom

The poor soul had to wait a whole year before having me at school

After all, I don’t think we ever had a babysitter — preschool may not even have existed yet, so my mom had to wait a whole year before having a few child-free hours.

I feel I was cheated out of the kindergarten experience I never had, however I also wish I had thought to apologize to mom…..

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…..

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

My mother knows everything??????

I don't need Google, SM

Susan and me clowning

When I look at the silly photo of Susan and me on the left, I have to laugh. This post is proof that Susan’s mother knows absolutely nothing and Susan’s cup is an out-and-out lie.

For instance, small scorpions are native to where Susan and Michael live in Nevada. Go figure. They’re not big. Susan compares their sting to that of a bee, still she admits the little monsters freak her out.

These scorpions are nocturnal. One night fearless Michael went out and caught one in a jar for us to see. We all studied it with interest. It was the same color as the ground it inhabits.

Scorpion

This is what the scorpion looked like in the jar with the black light on it

Then we were ushered into a dark room, where Michael turned on his ultraviolet flashlight (black light) and, wow, the scary-looking captured arachnid absolutely glowed in the dark!!! (See photo) I could hardly believe it. That creepy crawly turned a bright, shiny, greenish blue! Fascinating!

Scorpion, regular light

The scorpion looks like this normally

Seems the experts haven’t yet figured out just why this happens, so don’t expect me to understand any of it. This mother certainly knows nothing!

So much to learn — so little time. What an adventure life is!

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….