How to open a jar…..

Mom, look I'm telling you 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

After our Arthritis exercise class the other day, friends gathered to chat over coffee. Isabel had given me a gift of a battery-operated jar opener. Goodness knows, I’d done battle with some stubborn tops lately and probably told her so. I said I couldn’t wait to get home to play with my new ‘toy’. This led to a discussion of our children and their toys.

My son, Rafi, was a ‘lets-see-whats-inside’ kid. When he was five, I thought he’d enjoy a walkie-talkie — okay, I would anyway. (This was before computers.) We both loved it and communicated with each other from room to room. The next day, after work, I returned home and found Rafi had taken it all apart. He thought he could put it back together. No more walkie-talkie. He was so sincere, you couldn’t get upset with him.

raf kid dancing

Rafi was a funny wonderful kid


70s toy Simon

70s toy Simon

The next thing Rafi took apart was the then-brand-new and very popular Simon game. I got the biggest kick out of it. It lit up! We loved it. If memory serves, it cost over $60, a hefty sum at the time — but well worth it. What happened?? The next evening I learned Rafi couldn’t resist taking Simon apart. He wanted to see how it worked. No more Simon.

I’m a slow learner and since I never grew up, I was soon entranced by a real working watch for children. An educational toy… The inner workings were clearly visible and coloured in bright red, green and yellow. It, too, didn’t last more than a day. Mr. ‘Take it Apart’ was at it again, and the loving woman who cared for him found it impossible to say no to him. That was the last toy I bought for Rafi  which could be taken apart.

I had several employers through Rafi’s growing up years. I asked if I might have any ready-to-be-discarded, no longer functional adding machines, telephones or radios. I’d tell little Rafi my boss wanted him to try to fix them. He happily took them apart with screwdrivers and spent hours working on them. He was perfectly happy — and so was I.

Balsa Wood Model Airplane

Balsa Wood Model Airplane

Rafi then became interested in building planes out of those kits kids used to play with. He put them together while I was at work. He never bothered reading the directions and there were always a piece or two left over. Yet, they seemed perfectly okay.

When we bought our first computer, my CPA husband and I thought we’d use it for accounting. It was a classic double disk drive — Microsoft?? Rafi had attended a summer computer class and he and his friends were playing/trading Apple computer games. These didn’t work on our computer, so we bought something perhaps called a ‘card’ (program?) to install. I planned to hire someone to do it since we wanted Rafi to be able to use it.

disk for our first computer

Remember these disks?

I’m still intimidated by computers, so imagine my concern when I got home from work to find the computer taken apart, and Rafi, about eight at the time, sitting there, cool as a cucumber, screwdriver in hand, putting the card in. I gulped. He did it. And, it worked. Not surprisingly, Rafi’s grown up to be a handy kind of guy.


automatic jar opener

So, what about my new automatic-battery-operated jar opener? Amy came over and the two of us experimented with my brand new toy. Press the button and it makes this fabulous noise, parts move, it does a little dance and removes the top —  just like that! It was so much fun, we opened every new jar I could find in my kitchen cabinets.

I’d love to do more. Have a few I can open? Just bring them over…..

All They Can Do Is Say No……

Photo by Timothy Stark

Photo by Timothy Stark

The car thing

My car is a 1988 U.S. made Toyota Corolla FX, which was never made in Canada. I like it. I’m used to it and it has served me well for many years. So has my local mechanic, whom I am very fond of and who has often been more than kind and considerate. When he said my troubled car needed a new carburetor and that he could not find another for my old faithful, I asked what alternative we had.

My wonderful little 1988 Toyota Corolla FX, not made in Canada

My wonderful little 1988 Toyota Corolla FX, not made in Canada

‘We’ll have to fix your old one.’

‘How much will that cost — about?’


Was the old car worth it? Perhaps not, but I thought it might be to me — I’m in no position to purchase a new one and not quite ready to give up driving altogether. He’d need it for a week, so shortly after this conversation, I left it with him when I went to Montreal to visit family.

My local mechanic has always been very kind and reliable

My local mechanic has always been very kind and reliable

He had no way to reach me for any changes in cost or confirmation of any kind while I was away. When I returned home and went in to see him, he asked about my trip. I told him I was spoiled rotten as usual, and asked how my little car was.

‘Great. It runs beautifully now.’

‘What’s the damage?’


‘Yikes! I was not expecting THAT much….’

‘We had to replace a lot of parts, plus rebuild half the carburetor.’

I thought about it for a few moments, what to do? I was ready for $400/$500, but wow. I decided, even though he’s often been very good to me, to ask if there was anything he could do.

‘W-e-l-l, I’ll cut the labor by $200, there’s nothing I can do about the parts.’

I appreciated that. I was also glad I had worked up the courage to ask. $200 is a lot to me. Yes, it was still a lot for an old car, but it is running very well and I am pleased to have it.


The phone and internet thing


I called my server and the conversation over the phone went something like this:

‘I’m ready to move to another provider for my telephone and internet service.’

‘Are you not happy with our service.’

‘It’s okay, but my friend is paying $45 a month for the same service I pay over $100 for. She also gets free calls to China while I have to pay for every single long distance call I make.’

Poor guy -- has to deal with the likes of me

Poor guy — has to deal with the likes of me

‘But, you realize that’s only for six months, after which her costs will go back up to the regular price.’

‘Six months? Listen, I’m 78 years old. I may be dead in six months. I don’t care about what happens in six months?’ (What could the poor guy say to that?)

‘Well, I could reduce it somewhat for you, but not that much.’

‘Good enough, but I also want free long-distance calls to the U.S. and Canada.’

‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that.’

‘C’mon. You can tell your supervisor I threatened you.’

‘Are you threatening me?’


‘What will you do?’

‘I’ll sing!’

‘Go ahead and sing.’

‘Are you sure?’


‘Okay. “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, Hug

'Hey, I gotta tell you about this crazy lady who called me today...'

‘Hey, I gotta tell you about this crazy lady who called me today…’

around the neck and a barrel and a heap, barrel and a heap and I’m talking in my sleep, about you, about you, Oh, I love you –etc., etc…..” (Right to the very end of the song. The guy never even interrupted. He listened quietly to the whole thing and then..)

‘Okay. I’ll give you free calls to North America.’

‘Ah, you are a dear. Thank you so much — can I adopt you?’

Then he asked if he could help me with anything regarding my internet service. I told him I had taken enough of his time. I’ll bet he had the greatest time afterwards telling his friends and colleagues about this crazy lady who sang to him that day. Right? And … I am very much enjoying the free long-distance calls I have — until October.