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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

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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

Praises and Pet Peeves

Muriel2017

photo by my dear Chandra

Goodness me! Where did the days go? Seems like I spend more time at ordinary tasks these days — necessary and unnecessary. My San Francisco loved ones visited over the New Year and as always, treated me with more consideration than I deserve. Only after they left did I realize I hadn’t washed dishes while they were here!

The accrued laundry is still awaiting my attention and I let it wait because I had other priorities once they were gone. (Happy Birthday Joseph!) Then my exercise and Tai Chi classes started again and let’s face it, nothing seems more important than keeping this old body of mine moving. Time passed quickly and I’m only now sitting down at my computer to talk to you.

chair-fitness

Keeping this old body of mine moving

I was going to write about pet peeves, but let’s face it, what in the world do I have to complain about? Someone as lucky as I am must, therefore, include praises as well.

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Bless our bus drivers

Since I no longer drive, I use our transit service. I also use a walker, I’m slow, (I was never fast.) and must praise our bus drivers who are patient, thoughtful, and caring. They wait patiently until I am safely on-board and seated before they restart the bus. They tell me to take my time when I disembark. We are certainly fortunate to have such wonderful people at the wheel.

lady walker

Bless helpful strangers

I also find strangers extremely kind. When I want to enter a store or cafe, someone will most often come forward to open doors for me. Am I deserving of such attention and kindness? They don’t ask. They don’t care. They just DO. I’m grateful. It isn’t always easy to push a walker through a doorway.

Talking about praises, I also must praise and am mighty grateful to my children who take time out of their own busy lives to not only visit and cheerfully put up with me when I visit them, but help me with whatever my needs are, especially my tenuous relationship with this computer. Seems to me, as soon as I get comfortable with a program, they (whoever ‘they’ are) ‘update’ the darn thing and get me all confused again. How do the younger people manage???

Which brings me to pet peeves. That’s one of them. I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy to

Mother child feet

Feet off the seats please

keep me humble. ‘They’ want me feeling stupid and they’re definitely succeeding. I don’t know what to make of this computer most of the time. Grrrrrrr.

Pet peeves? On the bus, in movies and restaurants, some people will put their feet on the seats. Look guys, you walk on the sidewalk. People walk their dogs on the sidewalk. Dogs urinate on the sidewalk, they also sometimes defecate on those surfaces. Yuk! Please don’t put your shoes up where others have to sit.

 

dogs

Yes, I love them, but please keep them leashed on streets.

And, talking about dogs, I implore dog owners to walk their dogs on-leash on city streets. Yes, I love dogs but I’m uncomfortable with them prancing around my feet. My balance is lousy and I worry about falling — again. Most of us deal with balance deterioration as we age, so this is not only a problem for me. Besides, I have friends who are terrified of dogs, either having been bitten or taught to fear them.

 

I don’t know what else to complain about, but I’ll bet you do. What pleases or irks YOU?

The Smartest Dog in the Whole Wide World

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

I didn’t have a dog as a kid. I settled for an aquarium of fish, and some feral kittens which were not allowed in the house. Now that I’ve been a mother, I understand my mom’s reluctance — she raised five of us. I had no idea how to take care of or train a dog, so I didn’t add one to my own busy household.

However, daughter Susan never met a creature she didn’t adore.

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I settled for tropical fish

After rain, she’d pick up worms from the sidewalk and gently place them on the parkway,  concerned the cement would hurt their little pink bellies.

I have Susan to thank for many pleasures, but especially for having had the privilege of living with Buttons, the smartest dog in the whole wide world. I suspect Susan went to school each day with some cheese squirreled away in her pocket. The dog Buttons wandered freely about our neighborhood.

The love affair between Susan and Buttons blossomed quickly. I began finding Buttons at home when I got in from work. Sometimes, I’d meet her at our front door. She’d give me a polite little hello, the door would open, and in she’d march as if she owned the place. Still, she wasn’t our dog.

buttons-suzie

Old photo of Susan showing Buttons another little friend

One morning I found Buttons happily asleep with Susan. It was time for a family conference. We discussed the situation and decided we were willing to buy the dog for no more than $100 — if her owners would sell. A leash turned up from I know not where, we attached it to Buttons’ collar and off we went. Susan knew where Buttons lived, but we had to drag the poor thing up the walkway.

The mother of two boys invited us in. She said she was going through a divorce and was aware her sons were not being kind to Buttons. When she opened her front door, she knew exactly where Buttons ran to. She didn’t want any money. She was relieved Buttons would be well loved and cared for. We were a happy troupe going home, including Buttons.

Buttons, realizing I needed to be trained to take care of her, embarked on educating

feral-kittens

I’d had feral kittens, but I knew nothing about dogs

me. She was meticulous, taught me where she wanted to conduct her toilette (never on our property), what and when (always) she wanted to eat and how much she enjoyed a little peanut butter.

My Parisian in-laws insisted Buttons understood French. On visits, while I was at work, they delighted in her. They’d ask her (in French — they spoke no English) if she wanted a walk. She’d respond by going to the door, tail wagging. They’d ask her, again in French, to speak, which she did, just as she would in English. We made tapes to send them in Paris, so they could listen as often as they liked. Of course, Buttons always said hello. They’d play the tapes for their neighbors — Buttons was the star of the show.

rafi-and-aj

AJ the beautiful and Rafi

I’d hold Buttons close, tell her she wasn’t gorgeous but I loved her and she’d happily lick my face in return for the non-compliment. Although when she was groomed and had pretty ribbons in her hair, she pranced around and was, indeed, a beauty. She was the cleverest dog I ever had. Yes, there were others. AJ was prettier, but Buttons at half his size, was the boss. She’d jump up and nip him on the nose if he was out of line.

Buttons WAS definitely brilliant. She CHOSE her family. She DECIDED to move in. She TRAINED us. She also gave us loads of love which we returned with pleasure.