Archives

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…..

Advertisements

Where does my time go?

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy

Where does my time go? Have you see it around? I’ve been looking

confused-old-lady

Where does my time go???

everywhere for it — even checked under my bed. These days everything seems to take longer. My undeveloped brain thinks I’m capable of doing oodles of things, but my body won’t cooperate. This became especially clear when I decided I ‘should’ get rid of ‘stuff’.

Friends complain about having to dispose of too much junk when elderly parent/s pass away, so I decided to be kind to my beloved offspring and throw out what I don’t need now. My office shelves seemed the perfect place to start. Spotting the many brochures and papers saved from numerous trips abroad I decided to start there. Have I ever looked at them? No… so okay. ‘Out, out damned papers!’ I declared aloud, trying to sound like Lady Macbeth when she tried to wash the blood from her hands.

The project was terrific. It felt noble — and what fun to look at all those souvenirs before tossing them into the recycling. Then, behind one envelope, I spied a stack of annual appointment calendars from the years 2,000 to 2,005. As a self-employed individual then, I kept detailed records in case Revenue Canada decided to audit my return. These could go too. Hurrah! It felt so good until….. I decided to look at those pages before tearing them up.

How did I manage to do all those things in one day — day after day? How could I have breakfast with a friend, manage an audition at 11, attend a business meeting at 3, and attend a theatre performance the same evening? Or, meet a friend at an art exhibit in the morning, study my lines over lunch, and get to a shoot by seven? I ran from one thing to another and on to yet another.

cartoonladyonbooks

Our wonderful book club still meets monthly

frida-kahlo self portrait. jpg

Frida Kahlo, self- portrait I saw at our local gallery

These records go back 18 years. What a merry-go-round I lived on. No wonder I’m tired today. I was writing, had constant deadlines; I was acting, with auditions to prepare for and/or lines to study for performances; I covered the arts in one of my columns, so visited museums and attended live performances; I was on our Strata Council and active in the building; my wonderful Book Club was already happening and our monthly meetings were held at my place (they still are — we’ve read over 200 books together).

funny lady at computer

Constantly facing deadlines for columns

make up

An hour to make me look older???

I noted that I attended a Film Festival in Palm Springs. A short film I co-starred in was  included. I didn’t look old enough for the part, so the makeup artist spent an hour each time to make me look older. Ha! On top of everything else, I kept up with having breakfasts, lunches and/or dinners with friends, many of whom I love and who are still in my life.

 

Yikes, I’m tired just looking at those pages full of stuff I used to do. These days I try to limit my obligations to one or two per day and feel lucky to make it. However, since my brain has never grown up, I continue to plan all kinds of household tasks to be done in one afternoon. Somehow, I rarely accomplish them all. What happened to all that energy? Where did I lose it? Have you seen it anywhere?

What patients need to know….

mom-thinking-2

photo by daughter Susan

Attention Medical pros: What patients need to know….

I should be getting a new hip this month. I’m better prepared than I was six years ago when I had a knee replaced. My lack of knowledge then led to a disaster of an experience. After that debacle, I declared it would be over my dead body I’d ever go through something like that again.

The medical profession sees gray hair and presumes you’ve had numerous hospitalizations and surgeries, and taken dozens of medications and you know all there is to know about hospital procedures and what your rights are and what is usually done. I hadn’t — and didn’t know a thing.

When did you last visit your doctor?

Vital information was not passed on

I had the audacity to presume that questions I answered recorded by a young doctor in my surgeon’s office would be passed on to the necessary recipients of such vital information — like my allergy to sulphites. It wasn’t. My surgeon promised he would not allow me to be sent home, where I’d be on my own, because of my vestibular disorder. The nurse in charge said ‘He has no say in the matter.’ I was discharged. I came down with a severe, long siege of dizziness and nausea the very next day. It was horrible.

Never having been hospitalized in Canada for more than one night, I didn’t even know I had a menu choice for meals, terrible as they are reputed to be. No one told me. I was served rice every day for five days.

Old lady in hospital

Rice every day? Not a happy camper.

I like to learn all I can, and had gladly attended information sessions regarding living with arthritis at the hospital. We were advised to use Tylenol for pain, so I did, but had no idea special Tylenol for arthritis, (stronger dose) existed until a friend told me about it some years later. Why didn’t they tell us while they were at it?

funny nurse

Your surgeon has no say in the matter

I’m not a shopper. I have little patience in stores. I just head to what I want and buy it. Not for me the wandering up and down aisles to see whats on the shelves. I’ve got things that interest me more to do with my time.

I’m writing about this now with the hope some medical professionals will read it and realize that not every gray-haired old woman has had major surgery before, or knows about hospital procedures and medications.

I hope I’m better prepared this time. Wish me luck.

It’s official, I’m the shrimp in the family

Mom, look I'm telling you 2

photo by daughter Susan

It isn’t fair. Why would I, short as I am, have a son over six feet tall whose nine-year-old son already plays basketball and is the tallest kid in his class?

On their recent visit, it was bandied about that Remy (grandson) is taller than me. Huh? ‘No way!’ I argued. (I know how to argue, I was on our high school debating team.) The day before they left for home, they had the two of us stand head to head to see. I stretched as high as I could, and little was said until…..

I was better to him than you were

I was on our high school debating team

After safely back in San Francisco, son Rafi emailed me the proof. They had a photo showing Remy is, indeed, taller. Wisely, Rafi waited until he was safely home and far away from me to send it. I may have thrown something at him if he was close by when I first saw it. I’m still recovering. However, I’m afraid it’s official, I’m the shrimp in the family.

Chandra, my very thoughtful daughter-in-law, decided since I’d been dealing with knee pain, what I could use was a spa treatment. She arrived well equipped for the job. She and Remy worked together to give my son and me facials, plus wonderful foot and hand massages.

Chandra and Remy, the two ‘experts’, had decided I should recline in my recliner for my spa treat. Real people recline in recliners, but I had never done that before. Ordinarily I just raise the leg-support to ice my knee, but never lean back.

Meanwhile, Rafi, lying on a pillow on the floor for his own spa treatment, pulled out his cellphone when I wasn’t looking and took the following photo of me without my consent or knowledge.

fullsizerender

Being pampered — hand massages

I tried to be cooperative. You’d cooperate too if someone offered to spoil you rotten — and I have to admit, mother and son did a fantastic job of it. (They could go into business.) So, I tried, I really did, but had difficulty keeping the back of the recliner down. It kept rising on its own — poof –as if by magic. This led to much merriment and laughter and Remy had the additional job of pushing it down again and again.

mom-and-remy-hug-2017

Next morning I was reluctant to wash my face

First thing the following morning, dressed in the bright red robe Chandra bought for me, I was reluctant to wash my face — it felt so wonderfully good. That was when the kids probably took the photo that shows the painful truth — that I AM the shrimp of the family.

After the kids left, I was down in the laundry room chatting with my neighbor Mike, ordinarily a nice guy, who suggested the reason I couldn’t keep the recliner down was that I’m too short! Argghhh….

 

mom-and-remy-2017height

The painful truth? I AM the shrimp of the family

I should have worn high heels!

The Kindness of Strangers

stranger-in-red-coat

Stranger in a red coat

A stranger in a bright red raincoat came up from behind me as I plodded across the busy intersection as fast as I could, but not fast enough — the light had already changed to red. ‘I’ll walk beside you’ she said, ‘They won’t want to hit both of us.’

My knee is mad at me so I use a walker. It helps, not only with my angry old-lady-with-walkerknee, but also with my old balance disorder, which has caused many falls through the years. (That’s why my knee is so upset.) The woman realized I was having a difficult time and decided to help a stranger. Why?

In my neighborhood, many shops have handicapped door operators which you push to open the door. Still, passersby who don’t realize that often stop on their way to pull a door open for me. My favorite morning breakfast stop has one, which occasionally isn’t operative yet if I arrive early. (The activator is above the door — I think the staff can’t reach it.) A favorite, tall fellow patron, Greg, will get up and switch it on if he sees me coming. Nice….but why?

door-operator

Handicapped Door operator

The other morning, Greg noticed my walker wheels were caked with what he thought was dog poop. He warned me about it, but I continued reading. I’m such a passionate reader, I didn’t even notice when he and his pal Garth wheeled my walker out the door, cleaned it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it later, and brought it back in. (I’m hoping they were wrong, that what they cleaned was actually ground up wet brown leaves which gather at the sidewalk cuts I have to use.) Why did they bother?

bus-driver

Bus drivers deal with some abusive riders

I regularly attend exercise classes at a community centre. I no longer drive. I use transit. How do bus drivers in this busy city who deal with mentally ill and abusive riders plus crazy traffic manage to stay so considerate? They wait until I’m seated before starting the bus. They patiently wait again for me to painfully rise and slowly back off the vehicle with my walker. (It was a bus driver who taught me that it’s the safest way to leave.)

This week I told a driver I wish I could sit on my walker on the bus. It’s higher and less painful to rise from. At my stop, she urged me to take the time to place it in a particular spot, set the brakes, and see if it would work. Not wanting to make her late, (they are on schedules) I told her I’d try it next time I rode a bus. Hey, it works. I hope I see her again so I can thank her. I’ve since used her idea twice. Why did an absolute stranger do this?

Then, the volunteer who sells coffee once a week at the center carries my coffee to a nearby table for me. It’s difficult for me to manage that and the walker — multitasking was never my thing. He says he’s not allowed to accept tips, I never ask him to do it, but he does it anyway. Why?

What makes so many strangers so kind? For one, I believe most people are inherently good. I also know that when I am kind to others, it gives ME a warm fuzzy. So it goes…..we give, we get. I am ever grateful to my wonderful caring family, to my friends, and especially those many strangers who are there for me. Warm hugs to you all!

chandra

My son’s beautiful wife Chandra who worked so very hard to plan a special 80th birthday party for me. She succeeded.

Money-laundering grannies?

photo by Sonja Peacock

photo by Sonja Peacock

‘Are you the Kauffmann that writes that over-the-hill blog?’ the gravel-like voice on the phone sounded like it had recently run over broken glass. Who was it? What did he want? How did he find me?

‘What is this about?’ I asked cautiously.

‘I’ve got something to tell you, but can’t talk now, it’s too dangerous,’ he continued, hardly above a whisper. ‘We need to meet.’

Meet? This was spooky. I was scared, but intrigued. I hesitated, then made a decision without really thinking it through.

‘Okay,’ I said, ‘Let’s meet at Terra’s on 4th. (That was smart…I’d be safe there, they know me.)

‘Naw, too many ears around, let’s meet under the murder of crows. I’ll see you at 10:15 tomorrow morning.’ Click. Dial tone. I stared at the phone in disbelief.

I thought of taking my Samurai sword along... photo by Amy Wang

I thought of taking my Samurai sword along…
(photo by Amy Wang)

The murder of crows? Gasp! That’s a mere couple of blocks away. He knows where I live! What to do? I thought of taking my Samurai sword along, but hadn’t had enough practice wit it yet, so decided on my walking stick instead — in case I need to defend myself. Well, at least at 10:30 a.m. it’s daytime…..

The next morning if I still smoked I’d have been puffing away at cigarettes

A murder of crows

A murder of crows

as I paced up and down under the murder of crows. The minutes dragged. At one point I put my watch up to my remaining good ear to see if it was still working. It was… I shouldn’t have come… This could be dangerous… It was stupid of me! My overactive imagination was overly overacting at triple high speed. After what seemed like an eternity, a man arrived. It was him, in a disguise.

It was him, in a disguise

It was him, in a disguise

‘Kauffmann?’ I froze. My feet were glued to the pavement.

‘Yes…’ Why was I whispering?

‘Listen, I’ve got a scoop for you. This will make your blog the biggest thing on the Internet.’

‘Who are you?’ I wanted to know.

‘Let’s just say — a friend.’

‘Okay…’

‘You know that proposal to build senior housing next to the church across from the school around the corner?’

‘Yeah, I heard about it.’

‘It was turned down because word leaked out.’

‘What word?’

‘Shut up and listen,’ he continued, ‘I don’t have forever. The neighbours were scared those seniors would corrupt their kids! Here’s the deal.’

‘Okay, shoot.’ Well, maybe that was the wrong thing to say, but after all, I was nervous.

‘Them seniors are all part of a crime syndicate.’

‘What?’

‘I told you to listen, dammit! What do ya think those old grannies are doing when they make cookies for bake sales supposedly for church? It’s a money-laundering scheme, a front for a Columbian drug cartel.’

‘What?’

‘What? What? What are you, some kind of echo or something? Just listen, there’s more. All those prescriptions they finagle out of their doctors? You think they’re really for lowering their cholesterol and blood pressure? No sir. They sell them drugs on the street and make a bundle — and think of all those kids from the school across the street those fakers could have sold that stuff to.’ I was speechless.

‘And all those canes they carry? Ya think they need them because they’re frail? Or dizzy like you?

They use their canes to mug upstanding citizens

They use their canes to mug upstanding citizens

Uh-uh. They’re weapons lady, they use them to mug unsuspecting upright citizens. They whack them, grab their dough and off they run quick as a wink. Those old meanies beat up kindergarten kids just for the fun of it. They’re also cutting into the prostitution racket…’

‘That I don’t believe…’

They can charge less because they collect pensions

They can charge less because they collect pensions

‘Believe it. Believe it. Grannies can sell their fannies for less ‘cause they’re already collecting government pensions! They’re undercutting hard working young hookers. They also had plans to recruit the school kids for the brothel they would’ve set up in the senior housing right there next to the church. Good thing the project didn’t happen. Then there’s the gambling…’

‘Gambling?’ I gulped.

‘C’mon, you don’t actually think they’re playing pinochle at those senior

You don't think they're playing pinocle, do you?

You think they’re playing pinocle?

centres, do ya? They rake in plenty. I tell ya, these people are dangerous, they got the whole crime industry tied up!’

‘Why are you telling all this to mu-ME?’ I stuttered, ‘I’m not a reporter.’

‘I gotta warn people somehow.’ he answered and walked off — just like that.

Well, what do YOU make of it?