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Remembering my brother…..

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

Daughter Susan suggested I write about my childhood. She deserves that I do. Besides, it’s time for me to write about my brother Bob. He was the firstborn and only son in a family of five kids. As the youngest, I held him in awe. If he just noticed me, I was thrilled. However, I also remember him being very funny, kind, and at times wise.

I was about five and for some reason, he decided to take me to Belmont Park in Montreal. In those days, cotton dresses were

bluedress

It was a blue dress

washed, starched, and ironed. Mine was blue. It was also stiff and itchy, but I enjoyed the feeling of the clean fabric against my skin. I got onto a streetcar with my big brother, who was taking ONLY me somewhere. It was grand….

At the amusement park, Bob probably indulged me in too many treats, took me on too many rides, and I thanked him by — throwing up all over my clean dress. I don’t believe he took me out like that again, nor can I blame him.

Bob also pulled some pranks for which he got ‘what for’ from our dad. Once when I was too young to tie my own shoes, my mom was tying them for me on my sister’s bed. I saw movement under my own bed. An ogre? A monster? Yikes!

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An ogre? A monster? Yikes!

I screamed in terror. It was early morning, dad was still home. Bob was pulled out from under my bed and dealt with. I still couldn’t stop screaming. That wasn’t the only time Bob got into trouble for pulling stunts adults don’t appreciate.

Our parents would sometimes catch a matinee on Sunday mornings. On the way home, mom stopped at a deli to buy our lunch. Bob babysat us while they were away. Mom had made wine. It was ready — and accessible. Bob offered us a penny or two per glass we drank. I wanted those pennies. You could buy an ice cream then with three pennies!

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Happy but too drunk to stand up

I drank wine — it was sweet. I liked it — how much I downed I don’t know. I was unable to stand afterwards. We girls were all drunk! When dad entered, I was sitting on the kitchen floor leaning against a cabinet for support. Bob was in trouble again. I believe I never collected those pennies and enjoyed teasing Bob about that for years.

Another Sunday we must have been hungry. (Maybe the matinee was longer.) Bob placed a can of Campbell’s vegetable soup in a pot of Campbellsboiling water to heat. It exploded — all over. There were pieces of vegetables stuck here and there, as well as on the ceiling, Dad, as usual, arrived home first. This time he didn’t scold. He quickly helped us clean the mess up. It was impossible to remove the orange stain from the ceiling. Nobody, as far as I know ever mentioned it to mom. Maybe she never looked up — it remained our secret.

Last year, when I was hospitalized getting a new hip, Bob passed away. It has taken me all this time to be able to write about him. I think of him so often — but now always with pleasure.

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        Bob with my still beautiful sisters, L- Shirley, R- Pauline                           photo by Bob’s talented son Gary Rush

 

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Our family’s ‘Rashomon’….

‘RASHOMON’: If Mr. Google is right, the famous ‘Rashomon’ had it’s roots in a Noh play originally written in 1420. In the 1990s I saw a performance in Vancouver. Each of the three characters, the Samarai, his wife, and a bandit told their own version of what happened while traveling on a highway. The wife claimed the bandit raped her, the bandit had a totally different slant on things, and the Samarai gave yet another story altogether. I’ve never forgotten it.

The following is my family’s ‘Rashomon’:

SUSAN’S VERSION:

Momstealsshirts-2

Last visit’s winnah!!!

My mother is a thief. She steals from her own children. Last time I visited, she stole shirts right off my back and had me go home in a London Drugs plastic bag. Oh the horror!

She may be no taller than a bean sprout, but mom’s a formidable fighter, strengthened by exercise classes and those martial arts moves she learns in Tai-Chi! For revenge I wanted my red shirt back.

THE SHIRT THEFT SAGA, ACT TWO: One Good Theft Deserves Another

I needed backup, so convinced my hubby, Michael, to come along on this visit and briefed him on my plans. At first we acted sweetly to lull mom into a false sense of security. Later, I snuck into her bedroom closet looking for the shirt. There were other red shirts, but not MINE!

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Other red shirts but not mine

2, shirt series, Found it in other closet

There it was!

That dastardly foe had anticipated I would search her closet and hid the shirt! After cogitating, I deduced she’d keep it close.

Right, it was in the guest room where she was sleeping. I silently slunk in, slid open the closet door and there it was!

Oh joy, bliss, rapture! My beautiful red shirt in my own hands! Now to take it without her catching me. I decided to make a break for it, hoping she wouldn’t see me dash into the next room.

Unfortunately, mom suspected something was afoot. Michael tried to stop her, but she came flying down the hallway just as I was trying to make good my escape! I was caught RED-handed! There was no denying it. It was game on!

 

3, shirt series, caught red handed, SM

Caught red-handed!

Mom tugged for all she was worth, I tried my best against her superior strength.
Faithful hubby jumped into the fray!

We pulled. We tugged. We tugged and pulled, That little old lady didn’t give up! Finally we proved too much for her.

5, Michael joins the fight

We pulled. We tugged.

Mom got her second wind and came out SWINGING, determined to take out the seditious son-in-law. Her reach, however, didn’t match her rage and Michael was able to hold her off with nary a scrape.

“Rocky” Kauffmann threw in the towel and

7, Triumph

triumph at last!

conceded defeat. I donned the red shirt triumphantly, Michael agrees it looks great. Mom wept just to elicit sympathy hoping she’d get it back. Not a chance, Light-fingers Lil!

 

 

MY VERSION:

Daughter Susan visited again. I knew she was seeking revenge. This time she brought backup. Hubby Michael is about 6’5”, which is intimidating enough at my 4’11’. Besides Susan let it drop he bench-presses 300 pounds ‘just like that’. Why would she tell me that? To scare me of course?

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Michael at breakfast

MIchael showed up at breakfast wearing his Superman pajamas, claiming he forgot his robe. A likely story, they wanted me to see his bulging biceps and rippling muscles, that’s why.

I’m a loving mother. I try to be nice. I offered Susan one of my special, expensive china cups/mugs for morning tea. Did she accept? No! She had to have the treasured mug a particular friend painted for me all by himself as a bIrthday gift.

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Does it pay to have children?

I also gave the kids my bedroom (Michael’s too tall for my trundle bed) and told Susan not to bring a robe — I have more than one. What did she do? She PURPOSELY picked the robe said special friend sent me to wear when I had hip surgery.

I looked at her sitting smugly at the breakfast table. It was just too much! What lack of consideration. Awggghhh. Does it pay to have children?

4, tug of war

Grubby Susan at it again! Will this never end?

 

Does Susan appreciate that the London Drugs Plastic bag I kindly gave her to go home in last time have become the latest trend? (You can purchase same at their stores.)

6, shirt series, Michael fights off Mom

Who could beat Superman???

There are limits to how much even I can fight. Who could beat Superman???

To top it off, the RED shirt I won fair and square then has disappeared. She’s taken it. Susan and BIG BAD MIKE were just too much. Oh, woe is me….

About Einstein….

SusanHair cut, April 2014

My Susan, who understood before I did what this blog would mean to me

Had a visit from my Susan and her Michael — it was busy and wonderful and left no time to think of writing. Well, they’re gone and the laundry is (almost) all done, so last night I sat down to relax and watch ‘Inside Einstein’s Mind’ on Netflix. A normal person would have watched it through and learn something, but normal wouldn’t exactly describe me.

Whenever I think of Einstein, I imagine the world-renowned brilliant

Eisteintongueout

the famous photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out

physicist himself. This Nova program mentions something about Einstein having children. My curiosity took over. I had to put aside watching to find out something about them.

 

No one seems to know anything about Albert Einstein’s daughter Lieserl. She was probably born in 1902 and I could learn nothing more. It’s a mystery….

Hans Albert Einstein

Hans Albert Einstein

One son, Hans Albert, 1904-1973, a hydraulic engineer, followed his father’s example and moved to the U.S. in time to avoid the Holocaust. Hans became a professor at the University of California at Berkley.

Eduard, 1910-1965, often ill as a child was a talented student and musician. He studied medicine and wanted to become a psychiatrist. In one of those ironic coincidences, at age 20, he began suffering from schizophrenia. That ended any plans for a successful career. He spent many years hospitalized.

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Eduard Einstein

Book- The Prof and the Madman

Worth a read

Not long ago, (see May 15, 2017) I wrote about reading ‘The Professor and the Madman’ by Simon Winchester. In it, Winchester states one in a hundred people have schizophrenia. That’s a whole lot folks. We need some brilliant souls to seek a cure for this heartbreaking illness which afflicts so many.

These are the children from Einstein’s first marriage.

In my search, I also learned about many quotes attributed to Albert Einstein himself. Here are a few:

‘Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you everywhere.

The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working.

The most important question you can ever ask is if the universe is a friendly place.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

ribbon-hearts

‘Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.’ Einstein

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.’

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Albert Einstein

Einstein, an opinionated man with humor.

 

 

There are many more. Look for them online — fortunately Einstein WAS an opinionated man — with humor!

 

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Joe’s Einstein coffee cup. He hopes some of the brilliance will rub off.

Fun on the bus

Muriel2017

Photo by my Chandra

On the way to my exercise class by bus yesterday, when I disembarked, the driver unbuckled his seat belt, got up, carried my walker down to the sidewalk and offered me his hand to step down as if I were a very special personage. What did I do to deserve such special treatment? Give him an expensive present? Offer him a mocha-latte? Nothing like that. All I did was make him laugh!

As the first to climb aboard, because those of us waiting were all female, I jokingly told him this was his lucky day since he was so

busdriver,jpg

It’s easy to get him to smile

gorgeous, we lovely women had especially gathered to get on HIS bus. He laughed. The women laughed. Then unexpectedly, a few more females arrived in time to get on too.

‘Oh, look,’ I continued, ‘The word has gotten out already. Throughout the neighborhood they are passing the news around. More beautiful women want to ride with you!’

passengerssmiling

Merriment ensued

Merriment ensued. Others joined in the fun and the woman sitting in the next seat chatted with me as if I were an old friend. Amazingly, her sister-in-law is in my exercise class! Waddaya know…..

In my neighborhood, people wait politely for buses, but when they see me approaching with my gray hair and walker, they’ll invariably move aside to let me on first. I thank them and climb on to advise the driver they do this not because I’m older but because I’m so beautiful — we all chuckle.

passengersfighting

Drivers can have a hard time with some passengers

I take the same buses at the same time each week to regularly attend classes, so some drivers have already become friends. One recently told me he was being transferred to another line and would miss me, but added: ‘I’ll be back in the winter. Look for me.’ I certainly will. He is very thoughtful and kind to me.

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some passengers fight their own demons

Bus drivers often have a hard time with passengers who are ill and/or unreasonably difficult. Even I’ve been frightened by some who fight their own demons. I handle it by staring out the window, afraid to even look in their direction. Some can be drunk and argumentative. Our bus drivers are forced to deal with all of it. They deserve a break.

Here’s to the bus drivers of our city whom I find very helpful, considerate and caring. Let’s all treat them well.

 

Muriel’s Metamorphosis

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

Last night, I went to bed. I was me. My ordinary self. All was well. I snuggled into a comfortable space and took a deep breath. It had been a busy day. I turned the radio on. I like to listen to it when I go to sleep. All was set for an ordinary night’s sleep. Ahhh….

Muriel, probably 19:20 yrs. old

The night before

The next day I awoke. What happened? Where were my arms? They were around here somewhere. I opened my eyes and looked around. Ah, there they were. They reluctantly moved over, obviously still tired. They had been dancing.

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The arms had been dancing

I tried to place those arms where they belonged. One ought to be able to do that. But it isn’t that simple. There is a right arm and a left arm. The flesh had been firm the night before. But, if there had been a breeze in my room, these began to look like they would flap about.

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka, why would he visit me????

I couldn’t stop there. I needed my legs. They were here when I went to bed. This was getting too weird. Was Kafka visiting me from his grave? And why? I looked around. There were a few sets of legs to choose from. They just lay there waiting for an invitation to join me. I don’t usually give invitations before breakfast, but this was an unusual occasion, so I chose a pair.

‘Would you two legs kindly move over and join me?’ I asked tentatively. Was that MY voice????

They looked around doubtfully and conferred before making a final decision. Since no one better was hanging around, the two closest to me decided I was the best they could do at the moment. Where these legs will go tomorrow, I have no idea. Be aware. They may choose your bed instead….

Just last night, I was young and strong. I felt invincible. My skin was smooth. I had no wrinkles. After those legs settled down I dragged my new body (including arms) out of bed to wash my face.

old woman in mirror

The strange lady in my mirror…

There was this strange lady in my mirror who had never been there before. Who was she? And why was she hanging out in my bathroom? Didn’t she have a place of her own to wash up in the morning? Poor thing. One can’t throw an old lady out so early in the day — before breakfast yet.

I dragged that old woman into the kitchen with me. What else could I do? I prepared enough coffee and toast for both of us. What would you have me do? Perhaps I made a mistake because now she won’t leave. She keeps hanging around and her face looks at me from every mirror in my apartment.

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She’s opinionated

However, there is one compensation. I’m never without company. Sometimes she even has interesting things to tell me when we chat. She’s kind of opinionated.

 

The battle of the fashionistas

It was her own fault. She shouldn’ta done it. She should know better. Everyone knows red is MY color. My exercise classmates know I always choose the red band. Everyone I know knows I like red. So why did she do it? Do what, you ask???

Daughter Susan visited on her way home to Nevada from Edmonton. That was sweet. I

Royalty free bull

I saw red like a bull in the ring

love that she came. But she made the error of turning up at breakfast in a red shirt. Red. RED! I saw red like a bull in the ring sees the toreador swinging that red cloth right in his face.

Not only was the shirt RED, it was beautiful and had sleeves reaching down to her elbows. I’d been looking, without success, all over for summer tops with sleeves long enough to cover my flabby arms. They’re difficult to find here.

They have more choices in the U.S. It’s understandable — they have a much larger

Momstealsshirts-2

They’re really nice shirts, no?

population, but that doesn’t help me in my search for tops. I liked her shirt. I wanted it. I took the darn thing off her back to try on, and wouldn’t give it back. Then Susan made another logistic error.

‘I’ve got another just like it in blue,’ she admitted, perhaps realizing I’d get to see it anyway. I wanted that one too, even though it wasn’t red. I grabbed it out of her suitcase. ‘What will I wear?’ she pleaded. I didn’t respond.

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Remember, you saw it here first!

We’re creative. We can think on our feet. I gave her a plastic London Drugs bag and she fashioned an attractive top out of it.
It was a brilliant idea. We two created a fashion statement which can save the planet.

As soon as they see it, fashionistas by the thousands will be copying this new trend. New York’s top designers will be scouring the world searching for usable plastic bags. As this brilliant, beautiful design spreads, they may even have to send ships out to sea to pick up those thousands of plastic bags floating in the ocean, where they create havoc. Do remember, you saw it here first!!!

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The ensuring battle was well-fought

The ensuing battle was well-fought — and somewhat hilarious. We got carried away. It was madness and uncontrollable laughter. Linda, Susan’s friend (and probably now my ‘former’ friend) snapped away with her camera, in-between gales of giggles, and these ‘beautiful’ photos are the result of the mom-versus-daughter fight.

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The winnah

Who ended up with the shirts? Waddaya think? Me, of

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She did forgive me

course. After all, I do pull some weight. I’m Susan’s ‘maughm’ and she loves me, though sometimes I’m sure she wonders why. In the end, she did forgive me.

Thank you Susan. I’m enjoying my new shirts, especially the RED one. I also loved your visit and spending time with you. I’m convinced my dear, you’re as nutty as I am, though you came by it honestly — and I love you.

 

My day off….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

My friend Trudy takes every Monday off. At least that’s what she says, but then when we talk afterwards, I learn she was busy all day catching up on stuff at home. I’ve never done that, but this week I decided I too needed a ‘day off’.

Did I sit around watching Soap Operas and eating chocolates? Did I hunker down under my favorite lamp reading a favorite book from cover to cover? No…. But I did have a wonderful time. This is how things went.

My knees had been tortured the afternoon before by too many miles on my Exercycle — at too high a tension. It wasn’t by plan but by error — or plain old stupidity. I didn’t realize it until it was too late. Thus my plan to walk the next morning was abandoned. I promised my knees a rest instead.

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My knees had been tortured

I stayed home to relax and okay, just maybe do a few things around here. After reading my emails, I decided to shred some documents, mostly of my 2010 tax return which I no longer need to retain. What efficiency, I felt good about that. Well, wouldn’t you?

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Peter the Great turned a swamp into a city

Turning around, I saw a thick envelope full of photos, postcards and souvenirs I’d saved from my trip to Scandinavia and St. Petersburg with my sister Shirley in 2000. What a great opportunity to go through it and get rid of more things as part of my effort to be a thoughtful mother so my offspring won’t have to deal with so much stuff in the future. I hadn’t seen these since I first stored them on my office shelf right after the trip. Looking through it gave me an interesting hour or two.

Why in the world did we take all those photos of buildings and bridges anyway? Yes, St. Petersburg was originally a deadly swamp, thousands perished in the creation of the city and it still has many bridges. Do these photos mean anything to me now? Out, out — oh here’s one of Shirley and me, and Tony and Barbara, who live in Australia. We first met these dear friends on that trip! They’ve added so much to my life through the years.
Tony is an Australian member of our book club. He reads every book we do if he can get his hands on it, then sends his reactions via email, which I share at our next meeting. His opinion is of value and always of interest.

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a pot on my balcony

Spring is in the air, and when I looked out at the pots on my balcony, I decided to be optimistic and plant some flowers, kale seeds and peas. The sun was shining — what better time for it? Done! What a noble soul am I!

Then… Oh, you’d better sit down for this one or the shock will be too much for you. I don’t know why, perhaps insanity, but I decided to bake bread — actually Aboriginal bannock. The doing of same reminded me why I don’t do it more often. What a mess! Multiple measuring cups, bowls and spoons, flour covering counter and floor, and butter sticking to my cutting board. Sure, it tastes great with homemade jam, but as long as I have any memory left, I vow not to try this one again. Whew!

Old lady baking. jpg

I won’t try this again

No more days off for me! I’m exhausted…..