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The cheap thief…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

My credit card number was used by someone in New York while I was at home in Vancouver. I was nowhere near New York. Upon opening my statement last night, I immediately ran to my desk and called the credit card company to report the illegal transactions.

 

I was asked all kinds of questions and asked a few of my own. thecardNo, I hadn’t lent my card out to anyone. Yes, I had it safely tucked away in my drawer — I even checked to reassure myself. I wondered how it could happen. They know more ways than you can imagine.

villian

The amount in question was all of $107.48. It may not seem like much to you, but I still feel icky and and as if I’ve been violated. I don’t like someone doing this to ME. How dare they! Now I have to wait for a new card and set it all up again which is a darn inconvenience.

 

I was told $100 was spent at a gas station and my statement clearly indicated the $7.48 was charged at a Taco Bell. Taco Bell??? Could I not get a thief with more class? A Bon Vivant? A real sophisticate? Someone like Cary Grant in ‘To Catch a Thief’?? It’s really humiliating and a real embarrassment.

 

to catch a thief

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly

SardisCould he (or she) not have chosen a better place to eat? Like maybe Sardis? My Chandra, a woman with real dignity and taste, treated me to dinner at Sardis when we were in New York together. That would have been better.

 

What a cheapskate! The nerve! The absolute nerve! Besides, how dare he eat at Taco Bell, one of my favorite Mexican fast-food joints, and not invite me to share! I’m furious.

Tacosphoto

I love Mexican food

angry

 

 

I’m really angry….grrrrrrrr!

 

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They’re at it again…..

cuteunderbed

Look under the bed

Look under the bed. Shut the blinds. Check behind the

ghostwindow

Shut the blinds.

door. Lock all the entrances. Is that a rustle behind the shower curtain? They can be anywhere — and they’re at it again.

They’ve tried this on me before and didn’t succeed. They’re working harder at it this time. They’re evil and devious and devilishly, cleverly persistent. They worked so hard to confuse me with those elevator buttons — remember? (If you don’t, go to the right side of my blog’s home page, and under ‘Archives’, click on February, 2015.) They didn’t manage to destroy me then. You’d think they’d just give up! No way…..

blackdagger

They’re evil and devious

Who are they? ‘THEM’. You know them. ‘They’ who spend sleepless

villian

them

nights trying to figure out just how to make me confused and feeling inadequate. How are they trying to do this you ask? Aha! With those totally bewildering, darned credit-card machines they use in restaurants — that’s how!

twoterms

credit-card machines

When those suckers first came out they were mostly all the same. If you knew how to use the one at the coffee shop, you could easily use the one at the Sushi place. No more mister! Now, each machine is different. Vaaasssttly different. Why? Is this necessary? Of course not! It is yet another scheme to try to make ME feel unsophisticated and stupid. They aren’t fooling me. I’ve got their number even if I don’t understand how to use those blankety-blank machines.

scary

Yikes! A rustle behind the shower curtains?

Have you noticed how the ‘suggested’ tip begins at 15%? Well, maybe you’re not a big-time spender and you don’t want all the waiters to know. How can you manage that without the waiter’s help if the machine is different from any you’ve ever used before? Or, let’s say you want to tip the waiter who served you stale bread and cold soup 10% instead of 15%, you’d have to KNOW how to change the stupid doohickey, or be forced to ask the very person who mistreated you how to lower it! They know that would be uncomfortable. There’s no way to win.

What in the world are those ridiculous machines called anyway. I asked a waiter at a local eatery yesterday. He didn’t know, but perhaps that’s because it’s a vegetarian place. All waiters who work at vegetarian restaurants suffer from meat deprivation. He said they call them ‘Pin Pads’. Well, that isn’t at all what they are. Lucky you dear reader, I’m here to inform you. Not that I knew, but I do have some smart friends.

Samantha, who knows all, told me today. Ready? They’re called POS Terminals. Ha, ha! They’re hoping I never figure it out, so they don’t tell many people. They think when they succeed and I’m in a padded cell, they can just make the world a better place by destroying them all.

mentals

in a padded cell

Stretching a dollar can save the environment

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

My first mother-in-law liked to say she could stretch a dollar — and she could. After all, her generation lived through the Depression. Besides, before she left her native Poland as a young woman, her father was unable to meet his debts and officials came, locked up all their possessions, and hauled everything away. They were left destitute — she never forgot that.

 

I could easily please her by buying apples or tomatoes for her on sale — and telling her so. I was young. I was stupid. I thought she went too far.

 

 

kitchen curtains

She could work wonders with her sewing machine

An experienced seamstress, she worked wonders

tablecloth

A tablecloth with burns in it became kitchen curtains

with her sewing machine. When her adult sons burned holes in her cloth tablecloth, she cut them down to make kitchen curtains. When the sun faded areas of the curtains, she cut them further and made handkerchiefs.

 

I was in charge of finding clothes for her to be buried in when she died. I was embarrassed when I had to tell the funeral home I couldn’t find any underwear without patches. They were clean. They were neatly repaired, but they were patched. Well, I already told you I was young and stupid. What difference could it possibly have made?

cutemachine

I don’t have her skills

Lately, I find myself rethinking that period of my life. I sometimes think I’ve become my late mother-in-law, but for very different reasons. I can’t match her sewing skills, but these days, like her, I find myself wanting to really use things up — for the sake of the environment. She may not have considered that, but little was wasted or thrown out in her well-organized, thrifty household! She was an accidental environmentalist!

reuse-reduce-recycling-sign-s-4984

She was an accidental environmentalist

I wonder if my kids think I’ve lost it? I take my own plastic containers along in case I’ll be taking restaurant food home. I carry used plastic bags when shopping for veggies or fruit. I use towels until they’re threadbare and then cut them down for cleaning rags. We need to create less garbage for our cities’ dumps. I reuse paper gift bags….

 

forest

I use less paper to save our forests

I make my own ecologically gentle cleaning fluid (Vinegar, Baking Soda, Water) and use it for most surfaces in my household. The backs of printed pages are fine for when I print stuff which isn’t going elsewhere — we need to save trees and forests. I also want our seas to be healthier for the creatures living in them and I want the air to be better to breathe.

Remyand me2018

Remy, taller than me and proud of it!

 

Yes, I want a lot. I have children and grandchildren I love more than anything. I want there to be a beautiful world for those who are younger to enjoy in the future. I want it for you too…..

Tearing down statues…..

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

They’re talking about taking down statues and/or changing names of schools in the U.S. as well as here in Canada. What are they thinking? We can’t obliterate history by removing these things,  unpleasant as our history may be — and it is. Nor can we use present-ism to judge decisions made long ago. What we do need is to use these reminders to better educate ourselves. It is the teaching of history that has to change.

Let’s face it, the only part of our population we haven’t managed to hurt since our European forefathers hit these shores are possibly white males, and I’m not even sure of that. If we must erase the existence of former leaders, politicians and generals, we’d probably have to eliminate them all.

Who was in charge in 1885 when Canada instituted the Chinese Head Tax? Who made it legal not to allow the Chinese to attend our universities? What about erasing our

Pierre Berton

Author Pierre Berton

well-known and respected Canadian author/historian Pierre Berton, who in his 1970 book “The National Dream”, neglected to even mention the 15,000 Chinese workers who labored (some died) under harsh conditions for very little pay on the project completed in 1881? That railroad was vital to the establishment of our country at the time John A. Macdonald was our Prime Minister.

Furthermore, how can we know what John A. Macdonald was thinking if he did, indeed, approve the use of residential schools? Could he know or foresee the imperfections of our religious institutions? In Australia, the ‘Stolen Generation’ (1910-1970) happened because it was feared the Aboriginals were dying out! The results there were devastating as well.

Sir Robert Borden p:m, 1914

Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden

When the SS Komagata Maru and it’s passengers were refused entry in 1914, some on-board were suspected of being connected to radicals,

Komagata Maru.jpg

SS Komagata Maru

however it seems clear racism was at the heart of the matter. Sir Robert Borden, knighted in 1915, was Canada’s prime minister. (He introduced women’s suffrage into federal elections — I applaud that effort.) Our country honored Borden by using his photo on our $100 bills right until 2016!

How about Immigration Minister Frederick Blair, who during the administration of Prime Minister Mackenzie King, famously declared:

Immigration Minister Frederick Blair

Immigration Minister Frederick Blair

Wm_Lyon_Mackenzie_King, 1942

Prime Minister Mackenzie King

“None is too many.” as a reason in 1939, for our country to turn away the M.S. St. Louis with 902 desperate German Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. They were sent back to certain death. Should we now denounce Mackenzie King too? (In the Quebec of my youth, there was a quota on the number of Jewish students the universities would accept.)

 

MS St Louis Jewish refugess desperate to flee Nazi

MS St. Louis

The U.S. also refused the MS St. Louis entry during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency (1933-1945). Should we put aside all of Roosevelt’s accomplishments because of this unfortunate incident? (Hitler, at the time, was delighted.) I’m convinced Roosevelt played a key role in saving us from Fascism after the war.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Enter a caption

I could go on and on and talk about the unfair suffering we caused our Japanese citizens during WW2 and the difficulties the Ukrainians endured in our country, and, and, but if I list every group we oppressed, this would be a book.

Indeed, what have we NOT done to wrong our aboriginals, who certainly have the right to complain about their mistreatment by our governments (note plural). Our native population is definitely entitled to REDRESS in capitals. However, destroying statues and renaming schools will accomplish little. We need to see to it that history is properly taught to our citizens so we know about the unvarnished past of our governments. Let’s focus instead on what is required to repair the results of all the mistakes of the past.

What do you think?

Joys of new motherhood

Mom, look I'm telling you 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

Today women are talking openly on CBC radio about feeling overwhelmed and exhausted as new moms. They’re also speaking of isolation and boredom. We didn’t dare say so when I was young, but it was real for me. They’re now suggesting an app to help moms find others in the same boat living nearby. Maybe, but that wouldn’t have helped me.

When I became a mom, I’d been working at an interesting, challenging job. We were ‘expected’ to leave when pregnant. I did. What a shock awaited me — no one told me how tough it was to be a mom, or how much I’d miss adult conversation.

If baby slept, I was afraid she was dead, if she cried, I knew there was something terribly wrong. I fed, changed, checked and bathed her, and washed diapers. (Disposable diapers didn’t exist) I was exhausted, but the worst of it was — babies aren’t great conversationalists.

My husband suggested I attend a ‘Coffee Klatch’ some of the young mothers in our circle attended. I was desperate. I tried and failed miserably. In those days doctors didn’t encourage breastfeeding, so I diligently packed bottles of formula, diapers, bibs, extra baby clothing, and goodness knows what else — 15 pounds of stuff, 10 pounds of baby. I lugged baby in her carrier and everything else out to my car and off we went. (My children would have a heart attack at the lack of safety available at the time for transporting infants in cars.)

None of us were homeowners. Apartment buildings in L.A. often came with buzzers outside, where your mail was left. Seeing some right there, after buzzing, I carried it in.

“Oh, no!’ our friend cried ‘Jeffrey doesn’t like me to pick up the mail.’

Jeffrey was one of those brilliant men who marry simple women. (That’s interesting in itself.) He didn’t like her to pick up the mail?? He didn’t TRUST her to pick up the mail. She ran outside to replace it immediately. (I could never forget that?)

 

group moms:babies

Looking for a giant headache?

Looking for a giant headache? Try four mothers having coffee

crying baby

If mine was quiet, another screamed

accompanied by four infants. Migraine guaranteed. When my hellion on wheels was quiet, another screamed and/or required attention. When mine wailed and set off a storm of crying, I felt guilty. It’s not rational, but when have I ever been rational?

Following the conversation over the constant noise was beyond me. I missed much which was no great loss. What did they talk about? The best way to wash diapers and how to make spaghetti sauce (the use of the word ‘pasta’ came later). Surprise, surprise. It was the last ‘coffee klatch’ I attended.

I couldn’t take a class because we couldn’t afford a babysitter. What to do? I needed something or I’d go mad. I called the accountant who worked for my former boss, asked if he’d help me find a part-time job. He did. It wasn’t the most delightful of environments, being a locked facility for people with dementia, but I dressed like a real person and went to work two days a week and earned enough for the baby-sitter.

A plus: I learned patience and understanding. I even smiled and thanked the resident who carefully placed her urine sample next to my sandwich on my lunch tray. She was part of what saved MY sanity.

Have you seen my scarf?

She helped save my sanity

We are all different and have different needs. If meeting with other young moms and babies is for you, more power to you. However, be aware it doesn’t make you a terrible mother if you find, as I did, you need time away from your little one.

A foray into the confession genre

Years ago I took an adult ‘Writing for Publication’ class. Attending weekly required the

teacher

She taught us about all the genres

juggling of work, family, pets, etc. so it was sometimes difficult to complete assignments. Frances Rockwell, our delightfully wacky teacher, usually understood. She taught us about all the genres available to writers.

With little free time, my reading was selective. I enjoyed, as I still do, history, classics, biographies, and novels. I once tried reading six romances with the idea of writing some, but decided if you can’t read it, you can’t write it.

One assignment was to write a piece for the ‘Confession’ market. I didn’t bother. This time, for some reason, Rockwell chose to ask me, as I left with a whole group of women, why I hadn’t turned it in. Why did she pick on me???

embarrassed

I had to open my big mouth

Had I not been so young and stupid, I’d have apologized and said I hadn’t had time. She would have accepted that. That wasn’t what I did. Oh, no! I had to open my big mouth! (Maybe I needed a lesson I’d never forget.) Instead of being wise, I chose to be a smart-ass.

‘I’m not interested in writing that kind of crap.’ I announced. Oh, oh. That did it!

teacher scolds. jpg

You’re not interested?

‘You’re not interested? Indeed, if there is anyone in this class who could bend a little, it’s you. NICE ladies don’t write interesting stuff. It would do you in particular good to climb down from your pedestal. It would do you good to write a Confession piece.’

I goofed

embarrassed, humiliated

I deserved it, but why didn’t the floor open up and swallow me at that moment? I would have been happy to have breathed my last breath if only it would. I was embarrassed, humiliated — and humbled. Right there In front of everyone I had been properly cut down. Demolished.

I’m sure that wasn’t the last time I allowed a thoughtless, stupid comment to pass my lips, but I’ve never forgotten it. I sheepishly crawled back to class the next week and completed the course.

typewriter

It was long before computers

You know I’m too neurotic to forget something like that, so years later, when I finally had some time to write, what was the first thing I worked on? Right. I did that darned assignment and sent it off to ‘True Story’ in New York.

Lo and behold, our telephone rang while we were breakfasting weeks later. They wanted it! They paid me $250. (The most I’d ever been paid for anything at the time.)

Susan, a very clever teenager, looked up over her Cheerios. She had no idea what it was I’d sold. (I hadn’t told anyone about it.)

‘Can I read it?’ She asked. How could I say no? She’d think that strange so I got it for her and she read.

‘I can’t believe my mother wrote this,’ she almost stuttered, and again ‘I can’t believe my mother wrote this!’ Susan, usually so verbal, was almost speechless.

True Story

The actual issue I was published in

Afterwards, I sent a published copy to Mrs. Rockwell, with a note saying I’d finally done the assignment she had dressed me down for, and that I was sure she would find it satisfactory — since I’d sold it.

Her response was a total surprise. Not being as neurotic as I am, she didn’t recall the incident. However, she wrote if she had done so, it was because she felt I was someone especially talented enough to make it. Interesting, I hadn’t realized that.

Well, the ‘Confessions’ genre is long gone. Young people today have no need to read about it — they’re busy doing it themselves. And no. I didn’t choose to write another.

 

 

 

 

 

 

No gifts please….

,

As a child, I never had a birthday party. Not that my parents didn’t allow it but because I

clown

I once made a clown costume

wasn’t comfortable about having one. To me, it felt like ASKING for presents and that embarrassed me. Instead, I became known at school for throwing annual Halloween parties — costumes required. It was great fun.

  1. At that time none of us knew you could buy ready-made outfits. Maybe
    tutu

    Lois wore her tutu

    they didn’t even have them, who knows. We all made our own using crepe paper, sewing the seams by hand. You did have to be careful how you moved, they tore easily. It was also a good idea to wear clothes underneath — just in case. Lois was the only one who took ballet lessons, she always wore her tutu and would dance for us. If I recall, her dancing improved some each year.

Muriel Age 60

My 60th invitation, a crazy hat party

At 60, I decided it was time to celebrate the day I was born. I invited friends to help me enjoy the event at a restaurant lunch where one looks out at the water. What to do about gifts? Daughter Susan made my invitations which stated I had enough ‘stuff’, therefore ‘no gifts please’.

The years flew and 70 came along. My children insisted another celebration was in order. Again, we stressed ‘no gifts’.

Occasionally we gain a little wisdom with the years, and when 80 came along last year, I agreed with my offspring another party was appropriate. To reach the venerable age of 80 is certainly worth celebrating. However, this time I asked friends and family to make a donation to my favorite charity instead of a gift. They did. It was extremely pleasing to know more was donated in my honor than I could possibly have afforded to give on my own.

This year my family gathered at Michael and Susan’s home in Nevada. It was the best birthday party yet — made even more so by Joe, a dear Los Angeles friend who began our day by having bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese, along with a big Happy Birthday balloon, delivered right to our door high up in the mountains.

We celebrated all week and while we were together visited Virginia City where we posed for the photo below. Note the funny faces we all purposely made for the camera. We had a ball and laughed a lot. I am the ‘Madame’ sitting in front, holding a large money bag.

Virginia City Family Photo Framed, 6-5-17

The clan gathers for my 81st. I still enjoy wearing a costume

Celebrating a birthday? Have everything you need? Don’t want friends or family to spend money on gifts you don’t want? How about it? Suggest a gift to your favorite charity instead. Non-profits are struggling. Why not make the one you like best benefit by your special day?