Tag Archive | Travel

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.

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The Great Wall of China

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The best for last….

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Mom drives ATV, SM

Guess I scared Susan

Couldn’t resist sharing this photo with you. Susan plunked a crazy hat on my head because it had a strap under the chin and wouldn’t fly off. Their ATV has no  windshield.  I was dubbed ‘Crazy Lil’ and Susan, well, goodness knows, she seemed overwhelmed by my driving. So glad she survived because I do love her, and we had fun for sure.

I was up in the mountains above Reno, Nevada, visiting Susan and Michael. Rafi and Remy joined us to help celebrate my birthday. Dear Joe sent a surprise birthday gift which treated us to a Casino buffet dinner, which Remy particularly enjoyed because he’d never been to one before. What could possibly be better than getting spoiled by everyone for my special day?????

Mom and Jake2019

Jake, now older and wiser, but still loving

Dear Jake attached himself to me on my last visit when I needed to walk to strengthen weak leg muscles right after getting a new hip. He’s smart enough to know I don’t need that care and encouragement anymore so this time he preferred to sit my walks out.  He’s older and wiser and just sat nearby to watch me in my madness as if to say: ‘If you’re nutty and want to walk in circles, I’m not joining you. I prefer just sitting here.’ However, we still love each other….

 

 

 

I’ve never been a horse personMom and Cisco, video still 1, SM like Susan. Horses scared me. They’re really, really BIG! But Susan recently got Cisco. He is gorgeous and very different. He’s calm and exceptionally loving. Miracles never cease… Can you believe??? I fell in love with him.

Susan was so tickled by this wonder of wonders, she donned her camera. I thought she would just take a few photos of me with  Cisco, so I joked with her as we often do.

What did Susan the sneak do? She took a video. You must watch it, but be sure you have your volume on high. You have to hear what I say. It is absolutely hilarious.
Yes, you have my permission to laugh.

https://youtu.be/5QLdOWifLr4. If you can’t get to it here, write to me at: mkauff@shaw.ca and I’ll send it to you by email. It is really worth seeing. I laughed until I cried when I watched it myself.

By the way, Susan posted this funny video of me with Cisco on her favorite Facebook group, “Aging Horsewomen Intl”, and I couldn’t believe it got over 1000 positive “reactions” in just a day or two! I guess with over 48,000 members worldwide, there are plenty of women in that group who appreciate sheer silliness as much as Susan and I do!

Hotel rooms with books to read???

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

As a lifelong avid reader, I’ve often bought books I ‘hoped’ to read someday. Someday never arrived, my vision isn’t what it used to be and I know I’ll never get to them. With much regret, I’m giving away every book on my shelves with small print — unread.

girlsreading

A lifelong avid reader

The books either go to friends, get donated to the library, or end up in those wonderful little free sidewalk libraries in my neighborhood. I give them away with the hope that someone else will be tempted to read the books I meant to, but never found the time for.

bookcases

sagging bookshelves

This is also a good time to give away books I’ve already read. There’s no point in holding on to them now since I still have too many sitting there on my sagging bookshelves waiting for my attention. I’m trying to generally cut down on stuff anyway.

Some of the books that are leaving home are of short stories, essays or poetry, books to be pried open and read with pleasure when there isn’t much time. They’d be great to have in hotel rooms.

funnyreading

Books to be read with pleasure

Hey, I like that idea! Packing books for travel can be difficult. They’re heavy and that can be a problem when airlines weigh your luggage. Wouldn’t it be great to find a book of short stories, essays or thoughtful poetry in that hotel room drawer beside the old Gideon Bible?

grreatfree

My great idea!

Think of it. Now that hotels have competition from all those Air B n B’s, this might be reason enough to BOOK with a hotel rather than take a chance on what may be questionable accommodations advertised on the sometimes unreliable Internet.

What say you?

Graveyards, worth a visit…

Muriel2017It’s been a busy time, so haven’t had time to write earlier. However going through my bookshelves, I found a small book ‘Comic Epitaphs: from the very best old graveyards’ published by Peter Pauper Press. Daughter Susan, who knows I enjoy old graveyards, bought it for me and some of the epitaphs in it are hilarious.

When Susan and I first visited Victoria together, we wandered through their old cemetery looking for Artist Emily Carr’s grave — in the rain. Much to my regret, we never found it.

I’ve wandered through many old graveyards on trips to Europe,

PereLachaise2

Pere Lachaise

but my very favorite is the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Once I spent a whole day there (except for a lunch break), following my carefully-marked map on which I’d circled all the composers, authors, and other special famous people who deserved special attention.

OscarWildePereLachaise

Oscar Wilde’s grave at Pere Lachaise

 

As I made my rounds along the ancient paths at Pere Lachaise, I noticed a moss-covered old crypt with my own family’s surname on it, but by that time was too tired to inquire at the office to try to learn more about them.

 

Here are a few epitaphs from the book Susan gave me. I hope you get as much of a kick out of them as I do.

Here lies Ann Mann

She lived an old maid

But died an old Mann
(Manchester)crossescolor

 

 

 

 

 

 

grim reaper

Here lies Pecos Bill

He always lied

And always will

He once lied loud

He now lies still
(Grand Forks)

 

 

 

Sacred to the memoryskelitons
Of Anthony Drake
Who died for peace
And dear quietness’ sake.
His wife was forever
Scoldin’ and scoffin’
So he sought repose
In a $12 coffin
(Marietta)

 

 

oldjewishcemetBudapest

Old Jewish Cemetery I visited in Budapest

 

Jonathan Grober
Died dead sober
Lord thy wonders
Never cease
(Clinkerton)

 

 

 

Owen Moore
Gone away
Owin’ more
Than he could pay
(Battersea)

Angel

 

Here lies a father of 29
There would have been more
But he didn’t have time
(Moultrie)

 

 

[On an infant]

Since I have been so
Quickly done for,
I wonder what I was
Begun for
Hammondport)

Here lies my wife
A slattern and shrew
If I said I missed her
I should lie here too!
(Selby)

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

 

 

 

 

My Canada scarf in Chile..

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I’d just finished my exercise class and was feeling noble. I strutted over to my bus stop where a beautiful young couple were hugging. I asked for a hug too. (I can do silly things like that.) The young man looked at me with question marks all over his face. He hadn’t understood a word I said. That was embarrassing — for a moment. He spoke only Spanish.

How to explain or translate such nonsense? I hadn’t used Spanish in years, not that I did well with it to begin with. When daughter Susan studied Spanish in high school, she declared I spoke Spanish totally in infinitives. Did I even know what an infinitive was?

Nonetheless, between the young man’s few words of English and my terrible Spanish with French words thrown in, he got it. Immediately I was given a happy, enthusiastic hug from him and another from his young lady who wanted to join in the fun. What followed was a hugging fest.

freehug

What followed was a hugging fest

Our trilingual conversation continued. He had spent three months at UBC researching  mining and that very night they were reluctantly going home to Chile. They loved Vancouver and Canadians and had enjoyed every moment in my beloved city. NIce….

Myscarf

The Canada Scarf my friend Joe sent me

When our bus arrived, they chose to sit with me.. It was cold out. I was wearing one of those wonderful, warm scarves with CANADA and the maple leaf proudly displayed in  red. My kind, thoughtful friend Joe, who lives in Beverly Hills, CA, had sent it after I’d complained about having been caught out in that devastating, cold wind storm we had recently.

When the young woman admired it, I impulsively took the scarf off and gave it to them. Surprised and delighted, they thanked me again and then again and with delight, stuffed it into their backpack.

As for me, I love imagining the conversations this lovely young couple are having with their friends back in Chile when they tell them the story of this crazy old woman they met at the bus-stop in Vancouver who asked for a hug and gave them a CANADA scarf.

 

JoeT-Shirt#2,2017

My friend Joe sporting the Vancouver T-shirt I sent him

And, what did Joe think? He has a generous soul and a fabulous sense of adventure. He was just delighted and declared he’d have done the very same thing himself! Yeah!

Meanwhile, I know my CANADA scarf is busy learning Spanish.

 

****The following is another scarf story……..

foldedscarf

** This is the scarf which won’t let me lose it

 

To read about the scarf which won’t let me lose it or give it away, go to:

https://viewfromoverthehill.wordpress.com/2013/12/

Look at what I found….

Going through old papers, I found a letter written to my family after I rode a mule down (and up) the Grand Canyon in the 1950s. Only a stupid youngster like me (who had never even been near a horse) could do such a crazy thing….

Enjoy reading it.

grand canyon.jpg

Believe it or not, that’s my name in faded ink proving I actually did this

Dear everyone:

Shirley and I were in the saddle from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. today with only one short break at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for a box lunch. Are we ever sore — and you know where. Surprised? Well, no one is more surprised than I am. This is the most foolhardy thing I’ve ever done. Of course, I’d no idea what I was letting myself in for….

dawn on the S rim of the Grand Canyon

The magnificent Grand Canyon

It’s six miles down and six miles up a steep, narrow trail with sharp turns. Looking down, I worried about the mule, but then more about myself. Often I just had to close my eyes and trust in God.

We were eight daring souls and a guide, as for me, a good part of the battle was just getting up onto the mule for the first time. After a while, I got used to the movement and even the height. But when we got down to the bottom for lunch, our guide helped me down, asked if I was okay, I said sure, and my cramped legs collapsed under me. Still, it was a great experience and left such an impression I’m so sore I can hardly sit.

mule ride.jpg

Ready to go. That’s me right in front of the last man up on top. He’d whip my mule when we slowed down.

My trusty steed was Howard, who made me feel as if I should carry him instead of him carrying me. Sometimes he slipped on the rocks, always preferred walking right at the edge of the narrow trail, and stubborn as a mule, wouldn’t budge from there.

on the trail.jpeg

Our group on the trail

Shirley’s mule was Eva, who  nibbled on every patch of green we passed. On one of the stops we made climbing up to allow the animals to rest, Eva leaned way over the cliff for a snack. Terrified, Shirley, who thought the dumb mule was going down, jumped off. She landed on the ground right under Eva, frightening the poor animal which darted about upsetting everyone.

Nothing would make my Howard run. (*We were right behind Shirley.) He was merely startled and a quick pull on the reins and a real western ‘Whoa’ put him in check. Our guide, however, was furious. True, it could have been a deadly accident. Shirley didn’t want to get back on Eva and I can’t blame her, but it would have been a long, hot, three mile hike straight up. She had no choice.

howard and me.jpg

Me on Howard

Howard begrudged me every step. I wondered why the guides kept teasing me. From way up, I’d hear them yell: ‘Get on there Howard!’ Afterwards I asked and was told Howard had always been the laziest thing they’d ever seen. I didn’t mind that and Howard and I got along famously. The only disadvantage was that we kept falling behind and I hated to whip him. The guy behind me would get fed up with us both and give Howard such a lash on his backside, he’d go flying with me hanging onto my Genuine $2 Stetson, my eyes closed, praying for all I was worth.

colortrail

In this color photo of another group, you can see how narrow and steep the trail is.

The picture I sent you today was taken before we started down the Canyon. We all look cool and neat. I took a snapshot after we returned — big difference. We were covered from head to toe in brick-red, white, yellow and gray dirt. I had so much gray in my hair, our guide teased me about being so frightened I‘d turned gray. Tonight, I see what he was talking about.

After the fabulous Grand Canyon, we arrived in Flagstaff, showered the filth off, washed it out of our hair, and now feel better. We had planned to go Las Vegas tonight, but need to recuperate. Don’t laugh, you would too.

With a very tender rear, I bid all goodnight. I’m having the time of my life.
Regards and love to all,

Muriel