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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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Beware, take care, strange things are happening….

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy

We live in a rain forest. We’re used to rain. We have umbrellas and rain jackets and are okay with getting wet. What seems different is the amount of fog we’ve been experiencing. When I see it through my window, I recall with nostalgia the horror films I enjoyed as a kid. Those films usually had fog in them so creatures could emerge from the dark woods or the ‘deep lagoon’.

belalugosi

I remember Bela Lugosi as a vampire

The films I liked best were in black and white and most often featured that fog — I think they played them on TV. Some of the actors I saw were Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and who could forget ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ on TV (1955-1965) or his oh-so-famous ‘Psycho’? (1960)

Peter Lorre #2

Peter Lorre

Creepy Peter Lorre’s whining, groveling voice alone could make my blood curdle. He often played assistant to a mad scientist — there were so many mad scientists in those plots. I believe I saw him eating spiders in a film once. (Is that true or did my head make it up?)

Old Horror films could be a little scary, but not as terrifying as the ones they make today. You could always back off if you felt too uneasy, (and I did) and say to yourself: ‘This isn’t real. It can’t be

Mummy#2

Mummy in tattered bandages

real.’ After all, no self-respecting mummy would appear in those hanging tattered bandages. What kind of mummy fashion statement would that make?

Now horror films are not as much fun for the likes of chickens like me. They’re way too realistic and gory, and too scary to be fun.

Bela Lugosi appeared in ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man’, ‘Ghosts on the Loose’ and ‘Return of the Vampire’ all made in 1943; ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and ‘One Body Too Many’ followed in 1944. They surely cranked them out quickly. Lugosi starred in many other films until he became addicted to Morphine and became unreliable. (Morphine made me sick when I had surgery in 2017 — perhaps a lucky thing.)

boriskarloff as Frankenstein

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein

‘The Haunted Strangler’ (1958) starred Boris Karloff. In it a dead strangler possesses a researcher. Karloff scared me again in ‘Corridors of Blood’ that year, in which a doctor becomes addicted to anesthetic. The title I so like ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon’ (1954) is once again about scientists, who try to capture the beast for study.

Elegant-vincent-price

Always elegant Vincent Price

The oh-so-distinguished Vincent Price, a favorite, could make me cringe just by introducing a show. Price starred in ‘The Fly’ (1958). Again, another unfortunate scientist has an accident with a teleportation device — whatever that is. (Scientists sure got into a lot of trouble.) Price then appeared in ‘The Return of the Fly’ (1959) probably because kids like me loved ‘The Fly’ to begin with. He was a real talent and appeared in ‘The House of Wax’, ‘Tales of Terror’ along with Peter Lorre, and ‘The House on Haunted Hill’, ‘The House of Usher’ and many more.

We were innocent and easily taken in. They created zombies, ghosts, vampires, mummies, and creatures of all kinds who most often appeared through fog, the same kind of fog we’re having right now. What fun. I love it.

CINEMA-FILES-BIO-HITCHCOCK-BIRDS

Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) during the shooting of his movie ‘The Birds’.

Remembering rain stories…

Muriel Susan

Susan, who still loves all creatures, and me

After the oh-so-hot, humid, smoky summer, the first rainfall

Baby Rafi and sue

Susan playing with Rafi, she also loved him

was a blessing. It watered the parched earth, delighted growing things, cleaned the air, and brought joy to our residents. I purposely walked without a hat to experience those precious drops running down my face. The years fell away. I felt like a naughty child.

While relishing the much-needed rain, I thought of other walks taken years ago in Los Angeles where droughts could last for years. It didn’t make sense to buy boots for the children. They were rarely needed. I’d just wrap plastic bags over their shoes and out we’d go to either walk or splash about in the water, and sometimes sail hand-made paper boats.

On one such walk with 4-year old Susan, who loves every creature that flies, walks, crawls or slithers, she was worried. Dozens of worms were out because of the rain.

Pink worm

Little pink worms

“The sidewalk must hurt their little pink bellies,” she fretted, as she gently picked each worm off the cement and placed it onto the soft grass of the parkway. I like thinking of that rainy day.

Which reminds me of the morning 3-year-old Susan woke up and

green bug

I can’t find my green buggie

was crying. Concerned, I ran to her room. It seems the night before, she’d carefully placed a green bug to sleep in her bedside table drawer. Of course, the bug was nowhere to be found. She was distraught. Tears flowed. Seeing her so upset tugged at my heart. I knew it was useless, but what to do? I found myself crawling on the floor with her ‘looking’ for her ‘green buggy’. Well, what would you have done? Finally, the child had to settle for a hug.

There was also the time her kindergarten teacher had a container full of crickets to feed to a lizard. Susan decided the crickets must be unhappy cooped up in a

Jiminy Cricket

A

little carton. She turned them loose. This resulted in absolute chaos. Children, terrified of the little creatures, screamed, ran around and jumped up and down on chairs and desks — that is — all except Susan, who delighted in having given the crickets freedom and loved seeing them going off in all directions. Then, those crickets had to be gathered when/if possible. Oh, dear. (I learned about this adventure through a complaint from Susan’s suffering teacher.)

Another day Susan came home from school, again in tears, because she

Cockroach

A family of roaches?

had found a ‘cute family’ of cockroaches to bring to her beloved mother. A ‘mean’ boy slapped them out of her hand and stomped on them.

‘It’s okay Susie,’ I said hearing her tale of woe, ‘Perhaps they’re alright and he just took them to HIS mother.’ I doubt I ever told Susan how relieved I was those little critters hadn’t made it to our home.

Talking about bugs, once on the way to school ((Kindergarten again) Susan

Snail

Snails all over her coat

picked up every snail she saw. They, too, come out when it rains. She arrived at school with her pockets full of snails, and snails crawling all over her coat. Her poor teacher gave her an empty shoe box, and all the snails were saved and brought home to lucky me. I wasn’t that thrilled with this gift, we had a garden, but what can you say to a child who treasures every creature.

Enough rain stories. Stay well and enjoy each day.

The night Jerry lost his head…

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

It came out of nowhere. Thousands were left without electricity,

Windstorm

Trees blew over…

wires were blown down creating dangerous situations for some local residents, trees blew over and my mint plant went clattering about outside. The hummingbird feeder waved to and fro, spraying red sugar water onto the recently cleaned balcony deck. (Today, I replaced the liquid for the birds, it had totally emptied.)

That night Jerry lost his head. The poor guy was out there during the storm and it was just too much for him. I told daughter Susan what had happened. Knowing Jerry very well, she was worried sick.

Who is Jerry you ask? And why was he outdoors during the windstorm? Well, it’s a long story. He and I have cohabited peacefully for about 25 years. And, should you presume there’s a warm body next to me in my bed, that is not the case. Jerry chooses to spend his nights on the balcony, rain or shine.

Susan sometimes asks what I’d like for my birthday, Mothers’ Day, or whatever, and I will tell her. Years ago I said I wanted an Inukshuk for my balcony. Susan, accustomed to having a weird mother, went off to a garden rock dealer or whatever to find the makings for said Inukshuk. She spent about an hour and a half carefully picking rocks she felt could build one small enough to fit in with my balcony’s decor. When she approached the counter to pay for them, the man there looked in her box, then at her — and laughed.

‘What do yo want these for?’ he asked. When she told him, he chuckled and just gave them to her. He thought they were worthless. That’s how much he knew. Thus it was that Susan made my Inukshuk.

Inukshuk in Vancouver

Inukshuk in Vancouver

‘What will you call him?’ She asked.
‘Jerry.’
‘Jerry???? What kind of name is that for an Inukshuk?
‘He’s my Inukshuk.’
‘If you insist, but Jerry is no name for an Inukshuk.’

I didn’t care. Should my Inukshuk have an Inuit name like Agloolik? Or Uyarak? I wanted him to have a ridiculous but simple name. Understandably, Susan has never forgotten who Jerry is. This week she knew immediately who I was talking about when I told her his head was missing.

‘Look for it mom.’ she pleaded, ‘Maybe it fell downstairs. Check your neighbor’s deck.’

After a thorough search of the vicinity and being worried sick about Jerry’s errant head, I finally spotted it. There it sat quietly hiding under the miniature lilac tree. He could have at least helped me look, but just like a man, he ignored me and sat there quietly reading his newspaper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jerry under the lilac tree (photo by Wayne Liston)

Ah, the distress someone you love can give you….. Did he not realize it’s not that easy to replace a head?

Nikolai Gogol, 1809-52

Nikolai Gogol

The Russian writer Nikolai Gogol (1809-52) wrote a wonderful short story about a nose that went astray. One can possibly function without a nose, besides the nose did come back at the end. How can you even look for your head if it’s missing?

 

 

Well, life is back to normal. Jerry has his head. Susan and I are much relieved — and here he is in all his glory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jerry, my Inukshuk, head intact (Photo by Wayne Liston)

Is Love for the Birds?

Photo by Timothy Stark

Photo by Timothy Stark

Who’d a thunk it? I’m in love again. Yup, head over heels. I wait for him every evening, hoping he will call. I drop everything the moment he arrives. You see, I want to spend every moment I can with him. I’ve no idea when or even if he will show up, but I’m just so thrilled to see the guy, I don’t complain about his unannounced arrivals and erratic behaviour.
How did we meet in the first place? He dropped by while my San Francisco loved ones were visiting. What does he look like? He’s gorgeous, sleek and slender, full of energy and constantly on the go. While he’s here, I forget how much I worry about him when he doesn’t stop by for a day or so.

Am I behaving like a teenager? I guess so, but its been so long since I’ve had such a cute guy in my life — you’ll have to forgive me. So I worry. What could have happened to him? Why didn’t he make it tonight? Dangers lurk in every corner, right? Will he come back? Did he find someone else with more to offer? Is her place more interesting than mine? Yes, I worry — I do that extremely well.
Sometimes I think of Randy Bachman’s song ‘No Sugar Tonight’, which he says he thought of by

Randy Bachman who wrote 'No Sugar Tonight'

Randy Bachman who wrote ‘No Sugar Tonight’

hearing an angry wife scold her husband saying he’d get ‘no sugar tonight’. I want to threaten him accordingly, but I’m so smitten, those ideas fly away the minute I see him again. Once here, he dips his beak into my sugar water — and he’s on his way.
Since they sprayed our city for Gypsy Moths, I hadn’t seen any hummingbirds around. (Nor any butterflies.) I hope they managed to kill the darn Gypsy Moths, for goodness knows, they seem to have killed everything else. After several years of no hummingbirds, I gave up completely on the little darlings and took down my feeder.

I hadn't seen any hummingbirds for so long, I took my feeder down

I hadn’t seen any hummingbirds for so long, I took my feeder down

Well, looks like they’re back! I love them so, I stop everything when I see one at my feeder, which Rafi put back up for me while he and his crew were visiting. What happened was we all saw one at the blossoms on my balcony, and I was so excited, I immediately woke up my feeder sleeping in the closet.Now, Rafi , who is used to my nonsense, gets excited phone calls from me saying:

hummingbird feeding

hummingbird feeding

‘He’s here. He’s here!’
‘How do you know its the same one?’ He once asked.
‘I don’t know, but I hope it isn’t. I hope he’s spread the word to all the hummingbirds in the neighbourhood. I love them all.’
Well, you didn’t expect me to love only one, did you? Remember that old song: ‘Darlin’ You Can’t Love One’?

They're so beautiful -- 'Darlin' You Can't Love One'

They’re so beautiful — ‘Darlin’ You Can’t Love One’

Rector Robin Slays Sparrow

I’m having a real ball going through my old correspondence file which son Rafi brought me from L.A. A lovely former neighbor who reads this blog once suggested I had a wicked sense of humour. She must be right. And, obviously its been lurking in me for years. I can’t believe some of the letters I’m finding. I certainly must have chuckled as I wrote the one in response to this article published in the L.A. Times on Aug. 11, 1979.

The English sparrow was imported to America in 1850/51.

The English sparrow was imported to America in 1850/51.

Like many mistaken such acts, the English sparrow was a huge error, and is now considered the “flying rat”.

“HUBBUB IN ENGLAND”

“Rector Keeps Eye on Sparrow — Has it Shot”

“LONDON — The victim was only a sparrow, felled by a gun in a simple country church. But four days later, the shot was being heard ‘round England.
On Tuesday, a chirpy sparrow got itself trapped in a church’s rafters and broke into song at the wrong time — a recital that classical guitarist Konrad Ragossnig was recording for a radio broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp.
An offended Rev. Robin Clark, the rector, asked the congregation to leave, summoned someone with an air gun, and had the bird shot.
News of the happening at St. Helen’s Parish Church

St. Helen's Parish Church

St. Helen’s Parish Church

spread quickly through the central English village, Brant Broughton, population 500.
One young woman broke into tears. Some villagers lodged a protest with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The minister responded, “It was absolutely impossible. The artist just couldn’t continue. Everyone was sorry it happened, but in my experience birds trapped in the church die anyway.”
Nevertheless, by Wednesday, one national newspaper was headlining: “Elegy in a Country Church Roof.” parodying poet Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.” and the front page of London’s Daily Telegraph declared: “Rev. Robin orders death of a sparrow.”
On Friday, the shock was still being felt. The Guardian published a letter signed Colin Cooper, which said: “Sir, one can only imagine the dilemma the promotors of the guitar recital would have been in if the bird they shot had been a nightingale instead of a humble sparrow. I can’t help feeling there would have been a temptation to reverse the procedure and direct the microphone toward the bird after first shooting the guitarist.”

St. Helen's Parish Church, built 13th century.

St. Helen’s Parish Church, built 13th century.

How could I resist????? Here’s the letter I sent to the good Reverend.

Dear Reverend Clark:

My sincere condolences on the death of your little sparrow.
What’s if — there is such a thing as reincarnation and, what’s if — that little sparrow was a former rector of St. Helen’s who came back to see how things were going at his Church, and what’s if — he’s good and angry at you now???
Surely, the noble rector would be in good standing upstairs. He may have pull and perhaps plan a vendetta against the man who did him in when he came back as a sparrow.
Should this be so, and should YOU come back as a sparrow, I suggest you stay away from St. Helen’s Parish Church. Especially since, as the L.A. Times quoted you as saying, “Birds trapped in the church die anyway.”
Best wishes to you — I would not suggest ever that you shoot the guitarist instead, but please refrain from shooting the birds.

Sincerely,

Note: Today, we are able to learn so much more through the Internet. I see that St. Helen’s is not at all a “simple country church” but a beautiful, extremely large and very old structure. Just couldn’t resist showing you some actual photos of it. Enjoy!

Interior, St. Helen's Parish Church

Interior, St. Helen’s Parish Church