Lynn Ruth Miller

Commedienne - Not dead yet

Category: Essays (page 1 of 5)

Thoughts while standing in the queue

Watch Lynn Ruth’s video blogs entitled ‘Thoughts while standing in the queue’ on life and how to navigate it




















Murdering your computer

Recycled gifts


Good Health



















9-13 February 2015
St. James Studio: 1pm
Friday12 noon (13th)

Directed by Nick Brice & Amanda Bailey
Cast:  Amanda Bailey, Ben Galpin, Cassandra Hodges, Helena Doughty, Simon Kingsley

I cannot think of a more delightful way to spend a lunch hour than at The St. James Studio enjoying 4 fast-paced, comedic ten-minute plays.  Each vignette casts a new light on the pre-conceived notions and codes of conduct we all take for granted, and each plot makes you ponder your own hang-ups even as you laugh at the antics on stage.

HITCHED by Lindsay William blasts the misconception of The Wedding Night as Ben Galpin tries to release his bride (Helene Doughty) from the confines of her wedding dress for the main event; INSEX by Jeffrey Neuman makes us ponder about what humans expect from sexual union and wonder if the bees don’t do it better; THE INTERPRETER by Jonathan Kaufman is the masterpiece of this quartet of performances:  Amanda Bailey tries desperately to translate an angry  American diplomat’s verbal clashing with an insulted Eastern European dignitary and the result is comedy chaos; and the piece de la resistance has to be this enthusiastic cast trying to re-create PRIDE & PREJUDICE in ten minutes amid a flurry of costume changes, stage directions and wild confusion.

Take a welcome break from your weekday routines to refresh your sense of humor with these delightful dramatic offerings.  You will not regret it.



There is nothing in the world to which every man
Has a more unassailable title than to his own life.
Arthur Schopenhauer

My friend Helen Osterman was 86 years old when her husband died.  “Now, it’s my turn,” she told me.  “I cannot wait to join him.”

I was 28 when she told me that and I was appalled.  I could not imagine anyone wanting to die.  The urge to live is so strong in us all, I could not believe that someone who was in good health would choose to end it all.  Besides, I did not believe you went anywhere when you were dead.  I thought it was a final finish.

I know now that what you believe is what will happen.  It makes no difference that we cannot prove that we will come back in another form after we leave this earth.  It is immaterial that there is no evidence that our spirits will ascend to a heaven that is described in different terms by different faiths.  It is what you think is true that matters.  Helen Osterman was sure she would see her husband again when she died and she did go to join him just six months after he left her.  She was finished with her life.

I have lived almost 60 years since that day and I have a very different perspective now.  I have seen people tied to tubes and bottles, their brain barely functioning, who have become nothing but blobs of living flesh.  I have heard tales of people riddled with agonizing pain who cannot be relieved of their suffering because it is against the law for a doctor to assist a patient to end his life.  And I know now that those people did not make proper arrangements for their finish.  They did not specify that they did not want to suffer without respite.  They did not insist that they not be kept alive by artificial means.

We are the only ones who have the right to make a decision about our body.  It is the one thing that belongs only to us and it is our duty to determine the way we care for it and when it is time to stop its functioning.  It is not a decision for a doctor or a relative to make.

However, once we make our wishes known it is incumbent upon all who know us to follow our wishes.  I remember a man who was in a coma whose wife insisted he be fed intravenously and on monitoring machines to keep him breathing.  She sat by his side all day into the night holding his hand but he did not know she was there.  He had made his living will.  He had trusted her to abide by his wishes but she couldn’t bear to let him go.  She insisted that keeping her husband alive was an act of love.  I think she committed an unforgiveable crime.

There are times when a physician finds himself caring for a person who has stopped functioning.  I cannot believe he has committed a crime when he simply removes all life support systems and lets his patient expire.

It seems to me that governments have taken over the responsibility for our well-being.  They pass laws to protect us from abuse, from accidents on the road and from habits they have decided will kill us.  Legislators have forgotten that we are unique individuals and it is the responsibility of each of us to listen to his body and keep it in running order.  It is for every person to decide if he wants a particular treatment to cure a diagnoses.  A diagnoses is after all only one person’s opinion.  The amount of cigarettes we smoke, the quantity of drugs we put into our systems and the type of exercise we care to do is a personal decision.  We own ourselves. No one else does.

Just as we all cherish the right to live our lives in our own way, we also have a right to decide when we are finished.  When life gives us no satisfaction…when we are stalled and are repeating the same routine every day, it is time to say goodbye to this life.  Once we make that decision, it must be respected.  The trick is to make that judgment when you still can think and to be sure that it is evident.

I have always loved the story of the woman who had DO NOT RESUSITATE tattooed on her chest and on her back, TURN ME OVER.  That is my kind of gal.





Anger is never without a reason,
But seldom a good one.
Benjamin Franklin
Whenever I go back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I am immersed in non-stop road rage. Drivers swerve around you, hit the accelerator to get ahead of you, blast their horns to tell you to get out of their way and spew hate all over the highway. I find myself getting just as angry as the other drivers as I try to weave my way through 6 lanes of traffic to get to my destination. I come home exhausted, despising humanity and hating myself for succumbing to the hysteria that clogs our roads.
It is a glorious relief to come to peaceful Brighton where I walk everywhere, smile at everyone and love treading the streets. Humanity charms me when I am here and I find myself enjoying the kindly hustle and bustle on North Street.
I have always thought that road rage was so foreign to those who use public transportation in Britain, that they would sooner stage a massacre than be rude to another person. Besides, it is not in the British personality to be rude or overbearing. The people in this country are obsessed with being politically correct.
Or so I thought.
I just spent two weeks in London living in Stockwell and taking the tube to Leicester Square. That was when I was exposed to Tube Rage. If I dared to try to tap my oyster card on the entrance gate during rush hour, I risked black and blue marks, mangled hips and fractured elbows. When I approached the escalator, I was so terrified I shut my eyes and prayed to the almighty that my foot wasn’t crushed and I was not hurled down the moving staircase because I forgot to stand on the left.
It turns out that all this pushing, shoving, jostling and crushing is not due to rudeness at all. It is the result of poor ventilation. In fact the director of the British association of Anger Management warns that lack of oxygen is sure to cause uncontrolled acts of aggression.
What a relief!! I thought all those people shoving me around were ageist brutes who didn’t care that I am elderly and frail. How wrong I was! When the British push you out of their way, it is a silent cry for air.
Which brings us right back to Brighton where fresh air is always swirling about us, filling our lungs with new oxygen from France. I boarded a train at London Victoria and two people hit me in the shin in their rush to get to the coach first. One lady smashed her suitcase into my hip and another yanked my shoulder into a vertical position to reach the aisle seat. The minute we all got off the train in Brighton, everyone was smiling, inhaling the lovely oxygenated air and loving one another. A gentleman carried my case to the station, a lady held my arm lest I trip and two lovely young men with grandmother complexes bought me a coffee.
The oxygen cure would not work in America however. It isn’t the air that infuriates them; it is the government.

Knitting up the raveled sleeve of anything you like


Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit,
and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.
Elizabeth Zimmerman

I was a nervous child. I was terrified of the horrible dangers that lurked around every corner. If I talked to strangers because they would abduct me; I must never argue with my mother or she would give me back to the Indians. I couldn’t cross a street without risking my life; if I dared to boil water, the steam would blind me. Touching the pan would cost a finger. Boys with nasty leers jumped out behind bushes at little girls like me, and teachers got angry for no reason at all.
Reality was too much for me to absorb. My nerves were jangled and my nails bitten to the quick. I jumped at an unexpected sound; I screamed when a light flashed; I hid under the couch when someone slammed the door.
My mother was a redhead with an attitude. She was afraid of nothing. Danger actually thrilled her and she met it head on with eyes flashing and acid repartee that quelled the bravest among us.
And it was she who made me quiver and shake at the thought of facing another day with all its pitfalls. It was she who reminded me that I might trip if I ran too fast; I might break that dish I was wiping; or jam the brush into my eye when I brushed my hair. She couldn’t stand the fidgeting, the nail biting, and the twitches. “This kid is driving me crazy,” she told my Aunt Hazel. “She is a nervous wreck.”
My Aunt Hazel was a pragmatist. When she didn’t get enough meat for dinner, she left home. When she couldn’t earn enough money to support herself she married a bootlegger. She was one of the first in that generation to think outside the box. “Teach her to knit,” she told my mother.
“Are you crazy?” said my mother. “She jiggles so much she’ll poke her eyes out with a knitting needled. “
“Well that’s one way to calm her down,” said Aunt Hazel.
So it was that my aunt took me with her to the Stitch In Time Knitting shop filled with yarn in every color and an oval table piled high with pattern books. Several ladies sat around that table drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes (this was 1943) chatting about the war effort and knitting scarves, mittens and caps for our servicemen. Their needles clicked and they smiled and laughed as they worked. As I watched these women moving those needles at the speed of light, I saw to my amazement that they were creating all kinds of garments: sweaters with lace sleeves, block patterns and colors, plaids and stripes and polka dots.
“I want to do that,” I told my aunt.
“I thought you would,” she said. “What would you like to make?”
My aunt took me home that afternoon and told my mother, ”She’s knitting a scarf. That will keep her in line.”
That was back in 1943, but my aunt’s wisdom holds truth even today. In fact, a maximum-security prison in Brazil came to the same conclusion. They have decided that if their inmates knit something for three days, it is worth one day off their sentence. They know what my aunt figured out so many years ago. Knitters don’t have time to get in trouble. They might drop a stitch.


Life is uncertain;
Eat dessert first.
Ernestine Ulmer
Peter Svacha was halfway through eating his chocolate pudding, when the restaurant where he was eating told him it was closing time. He was furious. He left the place, got a chain saw, sliced a hole in the establishment’s door and crawled back to the table to finish his pudding.
I know exactly how he felt. I too would obliterate anything that kept me from finishing my dessert. I blame this determination on my mother.
My mother’s forte was creating yummy desserts. She had one number that she always served after spaghetti dinner that was amazingly beautiful and absolutely luscious. She would bake an angel food cake from scratch (my mother would have sooner danced nude on a fire hydrant than use a cake mix). The finished product was so light she needed to weight it down to stay on the plate. She whipped up a custard of eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar and pineapple juice and frosted her cake with it. She decorated the entire production with pineapple slices, maraschino cherries and strawberries and served it with a lots of whipped cream and a flourish.
BUT there was a catch. My mother never allowed us to touch dessert until we cleaned up everything she put on our dinner plates. Before we could tuck into her pineapple delight, we had to demolish spaghetti with meatballs, broccoli in a cheese sauce, a green salad and garlic bread. We suffered for that cake. Indeed we suffered. We endured tummy aches, stomach spasms and guilt…but we managed to down it and when we did, we finished it down to the last bit of pineapple.
My mother’s chocolate cake was the eighth wonder of the world. It was made with six eggs, a ton of butter and enough chocolate to keep a candy store supplied for ten years. She topped it with a mint chocolate frosting to die for and set it in the middle of the dining room table so we could see what we had to look forward to at the end of the meal.
But first, we had to finish dinner. Remember? She would serve us a huge slab of steak, potatoes with cheddar cheese, asparagus hollandaise, a tossed salad and wait until we cleaned our plates before we could touch that cake. I still feel the pain of forcing that cake into my packed middle but I know that even if my stomach burst, I would let absolutely nothing interfere with my demolishing that wonderfully melt in your mouth cake.
All I can say, is “go for it Peter Svacha. “ Finish that pudding and never count the cost. For what is dinner without a sweet finish?? It is nothing more than duty with no reward, a rose with no fragrance, sex without climax. Life is to be lived, of course, but if it is to be savored, we must have dessert.


Appreciating your parents is the only hope for civilization.
The Chinese Government & Lynn Ruth

China has decided it is a punishable crime for adult children to neglect their parents and I think that is a very wise decision. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for us all, if every nation followed suit?
It is about time someone took steps to stop the shameless way grown progeny are treating their parents these days. Elderly parents sit at home in their wheel chairs or on the sofa, counting the moments ‘til one of their offspring remembers that they are too weak and tired to get to Tesco’s; the hours tick by, their tummies gurgle, their heads ache and they stare at the door, praying it will open and the heir to their estate will appear bearing bubble and squeak and even a bit of pudding.
After all, parents have every right to expect their children to be there for them. Didn’t they clean up Junior when he got a bloody nose? Didn’t they give their little princess dancing lessons so she could express her inner feelings? They let her get that disgusting tattoo of Frankenstein chewing a bunny and they never said a word when she appeared at the breakfast table, her hair dyed purple and three rings in her nose.
And that was before they became teen-agers.
They looked the other way, when their little darlings sold pot to the neighborhood grade-school kids, and the countless times they threw up on the couch from an overdose or got too affectionate with one another. Remember that?
Didn’t they sacrifice that extra cruise, and the trip to see penguins copulate on an iceberg just so their son could go to university and their daughter could afford that abortion? Of course they did.
And that is why the Chinese Government decided to step up to the plate and remind us that we owe Mummy and Daddy big time. They were the ones who kept us alive through the bullying, the bike accidents, the shattered limbs and broken hearts. Now, it is the children’s turn to keep their parents comfy and warm ‘til they breathe their last. After all, there is always time to change the will, if they feel unloved.
Not that it will be easy if the law becomes universal. Take Mary Louise: There she is galloping though her day, getting the kids to school, packing their lunches, rushing off to the office, picking up her darlings, and taking them to tap dancing and soccer, driving home, giving the house a quick dust, fixing dinner, greeting the father of her gang with a drink, serving food, cleaning the kitchen and collapsing in front of the telly. At midnight, she and her hubby stagger up to bed, too exhausted to do what they used to do before they tied the knot. Suddenly, she sits bolt upright, snaps her fingers and says, “OH MY GOD!!! I forgot to visit Daddy. Now, we’ll never pay off this mortgage.”
And if her partner is a good sort, he says, “Don’t worry darling. I will visit you every Tuesday and bring chocolate.”


Sugar Grannies?
Older women are like French bread.
The crust is tough, but soft in the middle.
Lynn Ruth
Teaching is such a poorly paid profession that many young educators have joined a dating website called Sugar Babies. This is a service that pairs young women with older men for “companionship.” They charge an average of £2000 a visit. Personally, having gone out with several very old men myself, I think they are giving themselves away. Do they realize what they are getting into? Once they discover that chronic erectile dysfunction, loss of memory and incontinence are but the tip of the iceberg, they will realize that the current fee is cheap at the price.
It seems to me that there is a neglected market here. Why can’t older women do the same in reverse? I am all for creating a website for Sugar Grannies to offer their services to younger men. The benefits are so obvious. There isn’t a young man in the world who can figure out how to romance a partner properly on his own. The only person who can teach him these days is his father….and you know how unlikely it is that a daddy has any technique. The older a man is, the more his strategy was get ‘em drunk, give ‘em a roofie or pay for a quickie. By the time he is settled and locked into a relationship, he thinks the best way to get laid is to remember to take out the trash.
The truth is that every young Lothario needs an impartial coach, and what safer, better teacher than a woman of a certain age? Think of the advantages: no worries about becoming an unexpected father; no inconvenient time of the month; no problem if she gets possessive…she’ll kick off in a year or two anyway.
Every woman knows that young men in their twenties make marvelous raw material for women like me. Think of it! A dowager can teach him patience; she can show him what foreplay really means; she can encourage him when he is done before she has begun. Sadly by the time men hit thirty, they are no longer good candidates. They get locked into nasty habits like never bathing, smoking too much pot and wanking in the shower)
I believe a service like this could well become a necessary prerequisite for a relationship of any kind. Every woman should insist that her partner-to-be enroll in a 6-month training period with an older woman to learn the ropes of a romantic communication and mutual satisfaction. A course like this is far more important than a prenuptial agreement. The truth is, if you get a young man trained soon enough, you won’t need a pre-nupt agreement. He will be properly housebroken and ready to love. In short, with proper discipline and good reinforcement, an older woman can transform any little devil into a keeper.
And let’s not forget the advantages to the national economy. Women over 70 will no longer need government assistance. After all, £2000 a night can buy a lot of porridge and they still ride the bus for free.

OMG I became the main course

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.
― Sophia Loren
First, it was horsemeat. We thought we were eating succulent bits of beef but to our horror, we discovered we were shoving Dobbin into our lasagna. Worse, we have been devouring him topped with cheese, tomato and soupçon of lettuce in our burgers. We were horrified. Tesco, a major seller of deceptive equine products ran full page ads apologizing for misleading their customers, insisting they had no idea that they were mislabeling their products.
The rest of the world scoffs at English fastidiousness. “So what?” they say in at least 358 different languages. The French adore horsemeat…in fact they hint that is why they are so romantic in bed, in contrast to the British who apologize before they even mange to get started. The Irish add a wine sauce to anything and once tasted don’t give a damn.
But horsemeat in our dinners is not the worst of it. Oh, no.
Now that we have managed to come to terms with the brutal fact that the glorious winner of Epsom Downs faces a future in our goulash, we have another gastronomic hurdle to cross. Sixty percent of the tuna we buy to fill our children’s lunch boxes and add flavor to our casseroles is not tuna at all. It is escolar, an oily fish that causes diarrhea. That is why so many of us have that irresistible urge to relieve ourselves after indulging in those cute canapés topped with a pimento. And you thought it was the conversation.
The fact is that most restaurants serve escolar and tell us it is albacore tuna. No wonder we cannot figure out why that delicious Salad Niçoise sent us to the loo within moments of savoring it flavor. It wasn’t that drink you had to wash it down. It was tacky escolar putting on airs.
Everyone knows that we are what we eat. It is now apparent that when we feed our children stew, they could easily be neighing for their supper in a matter of weeks. What is far more frightening, that tuna fish sandwich that every child cannot resist could very well send him swimming in the Atlantic never to return. It has already happened in my family.
My Aunt Gert swears that the reason her daughter Penny became an Olympic swimmer was that she ate nothing but tuna fish for SEVEN years. She stopped eating it that unforgettable day when she cramped up just as she was approaching the finish line in Rome in 1960. She blamed her loss on nerves, but we know better. It wasn’t the pasta either.
My mother’s staple casserole was tuna fish mixed with cream of mushroom soup topped with crumbled crisps. She served it at every party. We never understood why everyone who ate it got the “flu” the next day. We thought it was Ohio weather.
The moral of this shocking tale is that if you want to win the big fight, eat a bull and if you think you are gay, eat fruit.


Whistle and dance the shimmy
You will find your audience.
Robert Smith has been arrested several times for whistling on the streets of Portland Oregon. Residents said he was disturbing their peace. The court listened to shop owners, pedestrians and outraged mothers’ complaints and last February, decided that Smith was free to whistle as long as he didn’t stand still. Now, Robert Smith walks throughout downtown Portland, whistling a penetrating, tuneless melody so loud you can hear him blocks away. “I get more self-worth out of whistling. I do it every day — weather permitting,” he said. “I’m not out here to be the best whistler in the world. I’m just trying to make people smile.”
I think that is a lovely attitude, one that all of us should think about adopting. Whistling is a delightful way to spread joy, catch someone’s attention and call the dog. My sister could whistle before she could say a sentence. She, like Robert Smith, used to love to whistle while she walked. The difference is that my sister was a fat, adorable three year old who toddled happily in the neighborhood; Smith is a grown man; a construction worker, who should have better things to do with his time.
However, the end results for both of them are the same. When neighbors saw my sister wandering through Birkhead Place, they would call my mother and say, ”Ida, your kid ran away again.”
That served to alert my mother and give my sister the attention she wanted. She too had no intentions of being the best whistler in Toledo, Ohio. She wanted her mother. My sister’s whistling often took her out of our gated community and into the main thoroughfare.
One summer day, in 1944, my sister wandered out of the house whistling and attracted a mangy dog who fell madly in love with her unique melody. The dog followed her down the street, past manicured lawns and budding maple trees, across busy intersections and crowded parking lots until at last, a policeman noticed the tiny, dimpled whistler followed by a large, flea infested hound.
He stopped my sister and said, as kind policemen did in the days before they carried guns and a chip on their shoulder, ”Darling where are you going?”
My sister, who had not mastered speech as well as she had her tuneful art, said, ”Dog!” and she smiled at the policeman expecting him to tell her she was a brilliant child because she said a complete word. At this very moment, my mother dashed into the street her apron strings flying behind her yelling, ”Marsha Dee!!! STOP!!!”
The policeman stopped. Pedestrians stopped My sister kept walking and whistling her way past the drugstore toward the bakery. She pointed to the dog. “We hunnry.” she announced.
The policeman went into the bakery, bought a bag of cookies: He gave one to my sister and one to the dog. “Say thank you,” my mother said to my sister. The dog barked, my mother popped a tranquilizer and the policeman continued his beat.
The moral of this story is: There was a time when a whistle got you a cookie, but now-a-days, all you get is a citation.”

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