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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

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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!

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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.

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in a padded cell

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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?

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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!

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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….

 

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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.

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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…..

Working on my bucket list….

Bucket List: A list of things one hopes to accomplish during their lifetime.

Muriel2017

Photo by my Chandra

For years there were oodles of things sitting in that bucket of mine, but it has been getting lighter. There were countries I wanted to visit and see, and trips I wanted to make. I had promised a family of favorite students, who had returned to Taiwan, that I’d visit someday. That day kept being put off.

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The Wu family.  Rear: Kevin, Megumi, Jason, dad Hank, front: Jennifer and Ethan the whiz (as clever as his dad)

 

 

Once I (mistakenly) thought since I was paying a visit I owed to a friend in New Zealand, Taiwan would be close by. (Shows you how little I knew.) I immediately called Jennifer in Taiwan and told her I would come to see them, but then learned it would be another eight hours tacked on to the 14-hour plane ride to New Zealand.

That was too much for me with the Vestibular Disorder I live with. Jennifer was, understandably, disappointed. I felt stupid..

 

Years passed, some of which were difficult  for me. I required a knee and later a hip replacement. (I’ve refused so far to have the other knee done, though it needs it.) Nonetheless, I’m now a bionic woman.

All those who could attend from the Wu family came to Canada from Taiwan to attend my 80th birthday celebration two years ago. That did it. I decided, no matter what, immediately after I recuperated sufficiently from the hip surgery, I’d have to get there. They certainly deserved it — plus if not now, when?

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We ate our way through Taiwan — lavishly.

In Taiwan, I was treated like a queen. How interesting that  you do a few little things for someone to be a good kid and you can get so much more in return. That is certainly what happened with the Wu family.

They have never forgotten anything I may have done for them years ago, and have given me back more than I ever could have given them. I, on the other hand, remember with pleasure the times Jennifer invited me to stay for dinner after the boys had their ESL lessons. They truly owe me nothing!

 

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The Wu family saw to it that Arthur, their driver, took extra good care of me. (Chandra, Arthur and me outside the oh-so-ritzy hotel we stayed at)

It was thrilling to see Kevin again, whom I taught so long ago.

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With Kevin, that old close feeling

We hadn’t seen each other for about 15 years. It felt as if not a day had passed, that old warmth was still there as strong as ever and I felt I could say anything I wanted to him.

He now has a beautiful wife and two young boys. The oldest, about four, seems as clever as his dad, the younger, at two, doesn’t ever walk. He only runs and must keep his mom, Megumi, on the run.

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Jennifer adores Chandra — the feeling is mutual

My Chandra, who traveled with me, captured everyone’s heart. Without her it would have been more difficult for me — I am getting older.

I’ll also owe my Chandra forever for remembering to bring coffee and the means to fix it, which she did for me every morning. (I’m addicted to the stuff.)

Jennifer adores her, and rightly so. I do too….. Son Rafi, who stayed home, gave me the greatest gift when he chose Chandra for his wife.

 

Sushiplace

Everywhere we went, we ran into friends of the Wu family. (Having sushi in Taipei)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how are YOU doing with your bucket list?

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.

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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?

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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…..

‘Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe’

Muriel Hip surgery in hospital, 2017

After surgery, in my lovely springtime robe

My oh-so-clever friend Sandy once said: ‘Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.’ I like it. I know it by heart. However, if I have any talent, it is my great ability to worry — a lot. Worry is what I do best of all!

So, told I would have to go home just three days after hip-replacement surgery, I panicked — what else? — and worried! How would I manage? My leg muscles, after months of severe pain, were in miserable shape, more like wet noodles than muscles. How could I NOT worry?

I’m 80. My children live in the U.S. They care. They came. Susan was here for my surgery. She was terrific. Rafi came after I got home to help. He cooks such scrumptious food, I gained two pounds while he was here. Still, they need to go back to their own lives.

Another worry? I have a vestibular disorder, which causes imbalance and unpredictable dizziness, often brought on by stress. Surgery IS stressful and I had a terrible siege of dizziness after my knee surgery in 2011. It was a disaster.

Whadaya know. As Sandy’s wise saying indicates, my worrying WAS a waste of time and energy. After surgery at UBC Hospital, I learned about the Transitional Care Unit (TCU)  right at the Koerner Pavilion, and was able to go there for rehab and care until I was ready to go home.

How come I’d never known about this possibility? I wrote about things like this as a columnist, yet had no idea the unit existed. It was a perfect fit. True, my first night there I had a roommate with dementia who cried out all night in a language I didn’t recognize. The very next night, however, I was blessed with a well-read, clever and interesting roommate, Howard Greaves, who, thankfully, also has a great sense of humor. (A necessary trait to survive the couple of weeks he spent with me).

Howard Greaves.

With Howard Greaves, who survived two weeks as my roommate. Howard deserves a special award for putting up with me.

Another blessing with having my surgery and staying  at UBC was that my dear ‘daughter’ Amy works there.

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My beautiful Chinese ‘daughter’ Amy

Amy visited and checked on me whenever she arrived to work, at her lunch break, and on her way home. Bless her, she also helped me survive the hospital food by cooking my favorite Chinese dish and bringing it in for me. She also would buy and bring me tastier food from outside. Hospital food, after all, is hospital food.

At the TCU, I had much needed, supervised physio five days a week, was helped with my ability to walk, and taught how to get my operated leg up onto my bed — no small feat. The nurses and I were given clear instructions about what I could or could not do so my vestibular disorder wouldn’t cause a fall and create a disaster.

There was a reasonable fee, (I understand it can be discussed if it is a problem). Dr. Reinhold Bernat, in charge of my case, was present and accessible when I needed to talk to him, patient with my concerns, and obviously caring — I know I was lucky.

Yes, the TCU was a good match for me, but, you ask, was there anything I felt was not up to par? Yes! We were allowed only one shower a week. I wasn’t thrilled with that, but survived.

Should you or loved ones live in the area and require it one day, I want you to know about the UBC Transitional Care Unit. Or, if there is such a service where you live, try to inquire about it. I am truly grateful it was there for me. And yes, I’m doing well.

This here is a rant — too many choices

This here is a rant!

This here is a rant!

Rebecca and Brian are gracious hosts. When I visit them, they have my favorite foods on hand and Rebecca prepares my breakfast every morning and serves it to me while I read the L.A. Times. (On this visit to me, Rebecca served me breakfast in my own home! Talk about spoiling someone.) Okay, they were coming here. I wanted to do as well for them as they do for me. I love them. They deserve it.
Rebecca just has coffee in the morning, but I know Brian has Cheerios, milk and bananas every day. How difficult can that be? I could do that. I know what Cheerios are. I used to buy them for my kids. Things may have changed some, so I asked my dear Brian which Cheerios he preferred.
“The plain original ones.” He responded.
No big deal. That should be easy. Full of confidence, off I went to my local supermarket, which I admit is not the biggest of supermarkets, and while looking for “plain original Cheerios” this is what I found:
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, Whole Grain Honey Nut Cheerios, Whole Grain Cheerios, Chocolate Cheerios, and Regular Cheerios. (I dare you to go back and say all of these fast.) NACD-CheeriosBe aware we’re only talking about Cheerios, and not the myriads of other cold breakfast cereals shoppers have to dig through before they can find what they want. And, besides all these, there were large plastic packages of cereals that looked like Cheerios but may not have been.
cheerios honey nut To add confusion to the situation, Cheerios also come in different sizes like “regular”, “family” or “jumbo pack”. On that day not one “plain original” did they have in the “regular” size. I wanted the regular size! I love Brian but my cabinet would never accommodate the huge “double family” pack available, so I went home dejected, disappointed and empty-handed.
Okay, the guy is worth it, so I returned a few days later. No dice. This lady who doesn’t eat Cheerios at all was forced to purchase the “family” size or nothing at all. I hope Brian appreciates my Herculean efforts on his behalf. The guy really owes me….15454335-cow-milk
And, what kind of milk does Brian prefer? “Fat-free please.” Easy enough. I am not a milk drinker. I buy whatever milk is available in the small containers to use in my coffee when I occasionally use some at home. but I know milk. So, off I went again, this time absolutely full of confidence. After all, what can they do to milk? Did I say easy? That’s what you think. milk-glass-bottles
They have 3%, 2%, 1% and skim milk. There is cream, half & half, “coffee cream” (what’s that?), whipping cream, and can you believe, “fat free creamer”??? Just in case that doesn’t confuse the issue enough, besides Chocolate Milk and 2% Chocolate milk and buttermilk, you can also buy probiotic milk and no-lactose milk in regular, skim and 2%. If none of these suit you, you can choose from Almond milk or Soy milk, or Soy Coffee Whitener, (and pray tell what is that?) There is also a Soy “for coffee” (does that mean other soy milk isn’t good for coffee?) and Soy “light” and even Coconut milk. Whew!
silk almond, coconut, etc A friend of mine also likes to buy milk in a carton that doesn’t require refrigeration so she can have it on hand in her kitchen cabinet for when she doesn’t have any in her fridge. I didn’t look for that. However, while I was working on my extensive “milk” research project, there was another lady purchasing milk. She said they have milk with hormones and milk without hormones and they charge more for the milk without hormones.
I thought they didn’t allow hormones to be used on dairy cows in Canada, so I googled it and Google says that what I thought was true. Well, if they are selling milk with hormones here, either they are sneaking that milk in from over the border or the lady actually buying milk was wrong. I’ll never know because I never, ever want to go through checking out all the milk again. Once is enough! Did I say I know milk???????
There are just too darn many choices and it makes me crazy! Is this a rant?

P.S. Thank you Brian for the idea of writing this post. Love ya!

Why I Became a Bag Lady

Muriel from Blog I used to say I didn’t want to become a bag lady. But it has happened — and the kind of bag lady I am is good. I have a place to live. I enjoy my apartment, the building I live in, my neighbours, my neighbourhood and my city. I also love my children and my grandson. I’m a lucky lady. That’s why it happened! I want everything I enjoy to still be here for my loved ones and others after I’m gone, so being a “bag lady” is just fine with me.

When I shop for food, I buy a couple of this and a few of that, and almost each different fruit or vegetable is placed in a separate plastic bag. I reuse the larger bags for garbage, but the smaller ones aren’t big enough for that, so I began taking a dozen or so bags back to the market to reuse over and over again. It works!so there will be a tomorrow

Having just returned from visiting loved ones in California for a couple of weeks, (where I was spoiled rotten) I came home to an empty larder. A major food shopping expedition was in order. First things first, thus after picking up a book waiting for me at the library, I visited the nearby greengrocer to stock up using my own plastic bags. When I got home, I placed my heavy purchases into my new shopping cart to wheel up to my apartment.

Well, it isn’t exactly a “new” cart, it used to belong to my neighbour, who parks right behind me. Someone left a recycle_logo_copycart he liked better than his own in our car park with a sign reading “free”. I happened to be in my car while he was exchanging his and I noted his cart looked sturdier than mine. He graciously hauled mine out of my trunk, placed it where someone else might take it, and loaded his into my car. By the time I got back from my outing, mine had already been claimed by another neighbour. What can be better than that? That’s what I call recycling!

Can any of this be reused?

Can any of this be reused?

We do a lot of recycling in our building, which delights me. We share and exchange books and magazines, plus other things we no longer need. I have a great little cot a neighbour was trying to get rid of. Big Brothers had refused to take it. I saw her reluctantly wheeling it back to her apartment and asked if she was trying to get rid of it. Yes and yes, she would be most grateful if I could use it. I use it often and share it with friends when they need one as well. It folds up flat for storage under my bed when not in use. It is recycled, shared and constantly reused!

Or will we be buried in garbage?

Or will we be buried in garbage?

After knee surgery, I was told to adjust the tension on my Exercycle and increase it gradually. The tension was the only thing that didn’t work on my solid old bike. It was important that I use one and use it properly, but since I’m not good at fixing things, I decided to buy a new one. I put up a sign offering the used bike to anyone who wanted it. A new neighbour agreed to take it off my hands. I was grateful.

Now that I know him, I know he CAN fix anything.

Now that I know him, I know he CAN fix anything.

“I can fix anything,” he declared. (Now that I know him better, I can vouch that what he said was, indeed, true.) I have a new bike and someone is using my old one. I’m happy about that.

When I was very young, I had an older neighbour who was extremely frugal. She never forgot that her father, in Europe, got into financial trouble and the bailiffs locked their dressers so the family could not get anything out of them. She sewed well and when her sons burned holes in her tablecloths, (everyone smoked then) she’d cut out the burned sections and make kitchen curtains out of them. When the sun faded parts of those curtains, she’d cut them again to make handkerchiefs with the salvageable fabric. In those days, I thought she went too far. Today, I realize that what she did was great for our environment. I was just too young to realize it.

I now carry plastic containers with me whenever I go out for lunch in case I want to bring some food home. That way, I save the use of additional containers and the restaurants I patronize appreciate it too. I reuse bags and paper. I don’t buy anti-bacterial soaps or cleansers. (I make my own cleanser using baking soda, vinegar and water.) I try to use things until they are worn, and give serviceable clothing I won’t use anymore to others.hug the world

Hey, I’m doing my part to save the world! I hope you are too.

 

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Native American Proverb