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Ten commandments for travellers…

photo by Vector

You already know I’ve decided to get rid of files and files of papers so my children won’t be left with a huge job of doing so later. Some are treasures — like this one. I don’t know where it came from or who wrote it, but I like it and decided to share it with you.


It you, like me, are biting at the bit to travel somewhere, anywhere, after all the long months of COVID:19, this may come in handy.

Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City

Ten Commandments for Travellers

1 Thou shalt not expect to find things as thou hath them at home for thou has left thy home to find things different.

11 Thou shalt not take anything too seriously … a carefree mind is the beginning of a vacation.

111 Thou shalt not let other tourists get on thy nerves, for thou art paying out thy savings to enjoy thyself.

Thou shalt not worry

1V Thou shalt not forget that thou dost represent thy country.

Gracias…

V Thou shalt not worry. One who worries hath no pleasure and few things are ever fatal.

V1 Remember thy passport so that thou always know where it is. A person without a passport is a person without a country.

V11 Blessed is the one who can say ‘Thank you’ in any tongue, for this is of more worth than tipping.

Roman Forum

V111 When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If in difficulty, use thy common sense and friendliness.

Pyramids of Giza

!X Do not Judge the people of a country by one person with whom thou hast had difficulties.

X. Remember thou art a guest in every land. Those who treat their host with respect shall themselves receive honourable treatment.

Across a closed border: part two…

You’d think I’d have less to go home with, but Rafi took me to my favourite store, Trader Joe’s.
JUST LOVE THESE TREES!

While being spoiled rotten by my kids and loving it, a neighbour from home emailed about a new form called ‘ArriveCAN’ I needed to complete.

Son Rafi photographed all my papers, completed it and printed an important-looking page for me to turn in at the border.

Simple right? Wrong! Officials didn’t care about it. I think they hadn’t a clue what it was. I was glad I had carried all my documents.

The stupidest part? Flying from anywhere in the US to the U.S., no tests are required. (Daughter Susan did just that to join us.) I, however, crossing the Canadian border, needed another COVID test. Cost: $301. U.S. Why the $1.?? It SEEMS ridiculous!

My direct flight home being cancelled, I had to fly from San Francisco to Seattle. The plane was full. Those debarking in Seattle had NOT been tested. They wore masks, removed while snacking and drinking, etc. How safe was that??? My second plane from Seattle to Canada had few passengers. (How many nuts like me are there?)

Arriving at my own airport, I made my way past one guy after another (All male. In uniform. More intimidating???) showing each ALL my documents.


WITH REMY, WHO CALLS ME HIS ‘CRAZY GRANDMA’. A TITLE I WEAR PROUDLY…


Finally one said: “You’re good to go,’ Yeah! I was tired.

$5,000 FINE IF I DON’T COMPLY


The next guy, however, decided I must take another COVID test ‘tomorrow’. Exhausted, I accepted the box, dragged myself home and crashed.


Next morning: I read the instructions and panicked. I was to make a video of myself taking the test??? Are they kidding? I don’t know how to do that! Plus, I’m to take another test in 6 days.


I immediately called the number given and while a machine kept telling me how important I was, held for about 2 hours, thinking about that $5,000 fine someone got for not following instructions upon return. Finally, someone answered and asked me to hold.

TIME WITH SON RAFI AT MY FAVOURITE PARK.


‘Please, don’t disconnect me…’


He came back. He’d be putting me on hold again for awhile. He needed to find out what I was to do. I waited nervously. Finally, he said to take the test and dial 1-888-744-7123 for Purolator to pick it up. This I did. Purolator came and — refused to take it.

I THINK I’M LOSING MY MIND.


‘But that’s what I was just told to do! Please, please call your supervisor,’ I begged. He reluctantly did. No dice. Why? Why?


’We didn’t get the contract. FedEx did. You have to call them.’


Time was passing. I was getting terrified. $5,000??? I called FedEx.

They WOULD pick it up — that day!!! And did! Whew!


I ate some cold beans right out of the can, (fridge was empty) took the phone off the hook so I wouldn’t be disturbed, and slept.

Next post: With my kids…

Crossing a closed border…

I brought so many treats for the kids, my suitcase was packed solid.

I’d not seen my children in two years — much too long. My recent birthday reminded me I’m not getting any younger. The U.S. border is closed, it was unreasonable and I waffled back and forth and drove my kids nuts, but in the end, decided I must go.


It was complicated, frustratingly stupid, and expensive, none of which mattered compared to my need to hug and spend time with my loved ones.


I’m an organized sort, I called provincial health to check everything, still the madness started before I left. They weren’t always right.


My old flip cellphone, used only for emergencies, doesn’t work in the U.S. I’d need it, so prepaid FIDO $33 for 15 minutes in the U.S. It subsequently didn’t work.


A young friend helped me book non-stop flights both ways. I didn’t care which airline or what the cost was. Just wanted convenience for all and he did very well thank you.

It was enough to drive me to drink.


After a few days, however, Delta cancelled my direct flight back creating a stop in Seattle allowing little more than an hour between flights. I use a walker and must wait until all other passengers debark before my walker shows up. I also require assistance, which I’d already arranged (now separately). After hours on the phone, with no chance of a direct flight, I accepted defeat and called again to arrange help for TWO flights. Whew! I hadn’t even left yet!


Then, United, who were taking me to the US, emailed a form to fill out with complete proof of Canadian COVID testing (taken within 72 hours of the flight) plus vaccinations, etc. etc. I called on my son for help, scanned all related copies, he got into my computer and filled it all out. It was long, not easy, but done.


Checking in at United at the airport, they wanted all the stuff we’d already submitted. I asked why.


‘Oh, that technology isn’t working yet.’ What???

Yup! I made it. Here I am under an Australian Tea tree in San Francisco during one of my daily walks with Rafi.


This was only the beginning of the insanity. More to come soon…

1,2,3,4 long days without my computer….

Muriel2017

My

In spite of my admiration for Catherine the Great and Empress

knight in shining armor

My knight in shining armor

Wu, right now my friend/neighbor Wayne is my new hero. My computer collapsed. Poor thing had to be hospitalized and have surgery. Wayne carried it gently down to his car and drove it to the Apple hospital, where they deemed it too old to bother with. (Apple must be hard up for cash and needs us to purchase new ones. Make a donation if you can.)

better sick comp

My ailing old computer

Undaunted, gallant Wayne found somewhere else to take my ailing computer, drove it there and after a few harrowing days, brought it back to me. I was more than willing to shell out the $392 required for a new video processor chip, whatever that is.

Meanwhile, I had fretted and lost sleep over the possibility of losing everything on it. Worrying, as you know, is something I excel in. However, I also learned how much time I spend on this electronic contraption. I now must admit I’m addicted and I missed it terribly.

red brook and duster

Without my computer I had no excuses

This monster takes up so much of my time, there are dozens of obvious tasks-to-do I pass by each day and think I must take care of ‘one of these days’. Well, these four days ended up being those days. I couldn’t produce any other delaying tactics not to do them.

Instead of checking my email and seeing how many visited my blog first thing in the day, I made my often neglected bed every morning. Then, although I attend Tai Chi every Monday, plus exercise classes on Wednesdays and Fridays, I managed — in addition to get on my Exercycle Ladyonbikeand Stepper three times during the four days without electronic distractions. (The last time I’d managed time for that was March 8th!) I also managed to daily do the physio-recommended arm exercises for my torn tendons.

Woman_Sitting_at_a_Messy_Desk_clipart_image

My desk is now neater…

I have oodles of paper left over from my old printer which require detaching before I can use them in my new one. I now have a respectable stack ready and prepared. My desk is also somewhat neater. I filed many papers which had sat there for months. Papers and documents awaiting shredding got shredded and properly recycled. At last, my 2016 phone book/calendar got disposed of, with all your names and phone numbers safely shredded as well. Long neglected, shocked loved ones and friends received phone calls out of the blue. I feel so noble!

My kitchen received attention as well. I neatened up my ‘plastic bag’ drawer, piling various bags high on my counter, after which I diligently separated them by size. I carefully weighed the separated stacks down in the drawer with paperweights. (I did this in spite of son Rafi’s warning that this madness would indicate to visitors that I’m neat, thus making them uncomfortable in my home.) After that, I attacked my wealth of plastic containers, matching tops and bottoms, and discarding all those I couldn’t fix up with anyone. Then, because I;d rather not go out when it snows, I’d accumulated extra ‘just in case’ food supplies during winter, I pulled everything down from those crowded cabinets and put things in order. Can you imagine?

drawing blacl:white w:broom

I cleaned up the winter debris

Nor did my balcony get overlooked in this frenzy. On a rain-less day, I got out there and cleared up the debris left over from winter. My outdoor pots are now ‘almost’ pristine and ready for spring planting. You’ve got to be impressed!

Well, now I have my computer back and this ain’t gonna happen again for (hopefully) a very long time. I’m back. Thank goodness for small favors! I was even driving myself crazy…..

Hurrah! I did it!

confused-old-lady

I’m technologically Challenged

My children say I’m technologically challenged and they’re right. Computers and websites ARE beyond me at times, so I’m feeling particularly proud of myself right now. Somehow I managed to complete a late request for air miles on the Aeroplan website. I can hardly believe it.

It had been well over a year since I was able to travel. That meant I’d not seen Michael and daughter Susan’s new home in Nevada. New hip firmly in place, I could finally make it and even climb the 17 stairs (Susan counted them) up to their second floor to see every corner of their lovely abode. Before anything else could go wrong, off I went.

I was so excited, I didn’t focus much on details or the fact I was traveling on the July 4th holiday. It cost more? So what? It was well worth it. Son Rafi, his Chandra, and their Remy drove from San Francisco to join us. Everyone spoiled me and I had one of the best birthdays ever.

Whether because I hadn’t ordered airline tickets for so long, or just forgot — yes, that’s possible too — I didn’t get my air miles added to my Aeroplan account. Maybe now that I’m a real bionic woman I’ll be able to use them.

The dozens of hard copies generated by this transaction in our modern, ‘paperless’ society were stacked high here and there wherever I’d dropped them upon my return, gathering dust on my desk, guest bed and the dining table — how could there be so many?

Mom, look I'm telling you 2

I felt guilty

They stared at me accusingly every time I walked past, making me feel guilty. I know very well how to feel guilty. I do that almost as well as I worry. They had no choice but to wait for me to clear up other matters deemed more important on my long ‘to do’ list. Finally it was time to bite the bullet.

Woman_Sitting_at_a_Messy_Desk_clipart_image

It must be here somewhere

First thing that morning I took a deep breath and tackled the stacks. I refused to be overwhelmed by the quantity. I started by eliminating and setting aside all the extra pages and pages of legal stuff nobody reads anyway. Those papers themselves could have represented a whole tree.

old yellow telephone

I got on the phone

I got on the phone and spoke with a woman at Aeroplan, who confirmed, indeed, I hadn’t claimed the miles. She gave an involved explanation of what I needed to do, besides which, she seemed sure the expertise I required was beyond me. Plus, at this late date, it could only be accomplished on their website. It sounded so difficult, I now wonder if she was purposely trying to discourage me.

That’s all I needed. Challenge me and I’ll surely take you up on it. Well, waddaya know!

I was better to him than you were

That’s all I needed.

After I assured them I wasn’t a robot and filled in all the spaces for the two flights home, it seemed to work. Was I sure it was right? Did I know I’d receive credit for my missing miles? Would they believe I’m not a robot? I had no idea. However no red flags went up, the request was accepted, and they acknowledged by yet another email they’d received it. Hurrah!

It was reassuring to know just that it went through. That, in itself, was an accomplishment. I decided if I do get the air miles, I’d let you know. I did hear from them.

Here’s what their email said:

Your missing miles have been deposited. We’re pleased to let you know that your request for missing miles for (my name) on ticket number 274939843639 has been approved and 896 miles from the following credit request(s) has/have been deposited:

True, that’s not such a big deal, however, I made it on their website — and that IS a big deal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Symphonies: 1 minute. Story of Man: 2 minutes.

Muriel, 2008 Headshot little smile hand

like so many others, by Susan Kauffmann

My friend Hans was a talented musician and writer. He was a student at the Vienna Conservatory of Music until he was unceremoniously tossed out by the Nazis. After escaping from Austria to the U.S., (an amazing story in itself) Hans was drafted and served in the U.S. military overseas. When he returned to America and married, the first piece of furniture he purchased was a grand piano.

Hans more than mastered the English language, he wrote musicals, songs,

Hans

Hans Muller in Los Angeles

plays and funny skits — one of which was about how to be knowledgeable about every symphony by just learning one minute of each. He was a really funny guy.

If you read my blog, you know I’m a history buff. To me, the story of man is more amazing than any novel can be. I can read through volumes of history to delight in one sentence about something I didn’t know before. Yes, I’m weird….

My family just visited. It has been a wonderful time for me — and a lot of fun, but there hasn’t been much free time, so you can imagine my delight when a cousin, who lives in Australia, sent me ‘Our Story in 2 Minutes’ about the history of man. It reminded me of Hans and his humorous skit about learning symphonies.

prehistoric man

Prehistoric man

I’m passing ‘Our Story’ on to you. I’ve already watched it four times. Here’s the information. Enjoy!

“Joe Bush got a high school assignment to make a 
video reproduction. He chose history as a theme and tucked it all 
into two minutes. Joe took pictures from the internet; added the sound 
track “Mind Heist” by Zack Hemsey (from the movie Interception) and 
came up with this, an incredible work for a 17-year old. Just finding the 
pictures was a formidable task. Hold on to your seat. This moves fast. 
Don’t blink — not even for a second & keep your sound on.”
http://marcbrecy.perso.neuf.fr/history.html

Thy Will Be Done — and the sooner the better

Serious stuff (photo by Timothy Stark)

Serious stuff
(photo by Timothy Stark)

My friend Steve, who had a neighbour going through the hell of a recent death where there was no will, suggested I write this post following my essay on doctor-assisted suicide (February, 2015). I got caught up with other ideas, however Steve was right. Wills are vital although families can still go through hell when a will does exist. If well thought out however, and done with the help of a lawyer, a will can be a blessing.

Plan ahead and achieve what you want

Plan ahead and achieve what you want

Money is easy to divide, but siblings may quarrel over possessions of real or sentimental value and never speak to each other again anyway. Why is that? And why so often? For one, they say we choose our friends but not our families. It may also be because when a parent dies, we are in mourning. We mourn if our relationship was fabulous, or because it wasn’t. We all carry baggage. Perhaps we were not the favorite child, or some other complicated familial issue exists.

I did more for him than you did!

I did more for him than you did!

Severing ties with siblings we may never have felt close to is easier after a parent’s death, especially when YOU wanted that dish or cup or ring. True, wills can’t fix everything, but they are necessary. I have one and update it every five years — family situations and laws change. I strongly believe all wills require the help of a lawyer and your own input. Lawyers know the questions to ask.

She always liked you better than me

She always liked you better than me

Millions of older folk will keel over and leave an unprecedented amount of shekels behind. Who gets yours matters and should be up to you. In spite of our wealth, it is estimated seven out of 10 seniors haven’t bothered to draw up a will. If you are one of the millions who will die intestate (without a will) you will have no control of the distribution of your estate. No matter how long you live or how young you may be, unless you’re related to Dracula, you do need a will. My advice? Do it now.

In a will, you can appoint an executor to handle your affairs, or a guardian to care for very young children (with the chosen guardian/s knowledge and agreement, of course). With professional assistance you can combine estate planning with philanthropy, as well as benefit from tax advantages by organizing charitable programs beforehand. Community non-profits enrich our lives in more ways than we realize. Its easy to take such services for granted, but governments keep cutting back and alternative sources of funding are drastically needed. (Consider using ‘Leave a Legacy’ if it exists where you are.)

Try to specify who you want to have which possessions, even those of no great value. This can avoid battles later. Better still, try to give your children things they like while you are still here — this is something I’ve been trying to accomplish. I no longer entertain much and don’t use or need some of the things I used to. Every time I send my visiting offspring home with something, I feel lighter.full house

And one thing more, be kind. Clear out as much of the stuff you’ve accumulated during your lifetime as you can. It will make things easier for those you love at what will be a difficult time. Friends who have had to deal with huge amounts of possessions after losing a parent often tell me how painful it is for them.

Enjoy your life’s adventures to the fullest, have as many pleasures as possible, and do your best not to leave a mess behind.