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Busy catching up on reading

Muriel2017

photo by my lovely Chandra Joy Kauffmann

I’ve always been an avid reader. When did it start? Perhaps when I was very young and my sisters slept in what was called a ‘double parlor’. As the youngest in the hen-pecking order, I knew enough to be quiet while they slept — or else. I remember sitting on the sofa just feet away from their bed, turning the pages slowly and carefully to not make any noise. If that’s when it began, I thank my sisters for my lifelong passion for books and reading.

In addition, I’ve worn glasses since I was three. I knew my daughter needed them when she was five because she sat too close to the TV. How did my mom know? There was no TV then. I asked. She said I would fall over my toys on the floor! Imagine how clever she was!

I’ve never had a big desire for much ‘stuff’ — except for books. If I saw one I thought I’d want to read, I’d buy it. Thus, my shelves are full of books I haven’t yet had time to read. It’s time to do so, and not buy any more. At least, I promise to try….Old lady reading

Who imagined I’d still be able to read at this venerable age? Yet I can — if the printing isn’t too small. (I can’t but thank Dr. Brian Singer, L.A. optometrist, for his expertise when others said it was impossible.) Looking through the books I haven’t read, there are those I’ll not be able to read — the print is too small. I waited too long for those. They’ll go to friends or the library. But I now have some serious reading to do.

Volwyn E. Vulliamy (1886-1971)

King Geour

About 30 years ago I picked up a copy of ‘Royal George’ (King George

King George III (1738-1820)

King George III, (1738-1820)

III) by Colwyn E. Vulliamy, published in 1937. Just finished it! This hapless king reminds me that being of royal blood doesn’t make you intelligent or wise, nor protect you from mental illness. (He’s the guy, who besides other disasters, needlessly lost the U.S. colonies.) As a history buff, it was just my kind of read.

Now, I’m onto a really old book daughter Susan bought for me years

Charles Kingsley 1819-1875

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

ago, ‘The Greek Heroes: Fairy Tales for my Children’ by Charles Kingsley, written in 1855. (Mr. Google says the busy man wrote hundreds of books.) The preface, which starts out ‘My Dear Children’ is a gem. It points out boys will need to learn this stuff and girls probably not, but will every day ‘see things we should not have had if it had not been for these old Greeks.’ Kingsley, a clergyman, made sure he instructed his young readers on proper Christian values while he was at it.

Greek gods

Greek heroes, who can resist?

Susan bought it for me because she knows I love Greek mythology AND old books. I’ve just finished reading the story about the hero Perseus, and am now enjoying the tale of Jason and the magic fleece (The Argonauts). {My husband once played Jason onstage — in French. I remember that with pleasure.} Sure, I already know these stories, but I love them and am having fun.

Greek mythology

powerful Greek Gods

Vision in our later years may not be what it once was, Mine certainly isn’t. Perhaps you also may want to read some of the neglected books sitting on your own shelves. Let me know what they are. And, happy reading!

 

 

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Henry is having his way….

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

Henry is resentful. He’s upset. I didn’t take him along on my recent trip to visit my children in California. He wanted to go, but I had decided it would be best to leave him behind this time. He did accompany me on my trip to Nevada in July, but he was kept behind at airport security for further interrogation, and I was at the gate before I realized he wasn’t with me. Well, what do you expect? My memory isn’t what it was when I was 20!

Flying is no longer the pleasure it used to be, so I wasn’t thrilled to have to go back to security to find him. And, security wasn’t quite sure where he’d gone. It was a real nuisance. It seemed more practical to have less to deal with this time.

Chinese Airbus, 1992

Flying is no longer a pleasure

She always liked you better than me

Henry’s chagrined

So Henry is chagrined. He’s hurt and not behaving as he should. He’s generally undermining my efforts to know how far I’ve managed to walk each day even though I always remember to invite him along whenever I go out. Come on Henry. Cut it out. I get it. I know you’re angry with me. How long will this go on?

Henry can be temperamental. This isn’t the first time he’s chosen to ignore me. During the heat of the summer, he found my capri pants too disconcerting to concentrate on how far we’d gone. Like me, he isn’t good at double-tasking, and I believe he was endeavoring to romance a nearby resident. Would you call that a double-cross?

Henry is the name I chose to give my pedometer. It was difficult enough to figure out how to use the darn thing — well, okay, I still have problems now and then. However, after having received a new hip, I’m trying to gradually increase the number of steps I take each day. I need Henry’s cooperation to accomplish this. He’s definitely falling down on the job.

pedometer

Henry is my pedometer

I don’t know why I chose the name Henry. It just came out of the blue. My friend Joe said it means ‘Runs the household’. I checked that with Mr. Google who says Joe is right. Henry obviously already knows this and is throwing his weight around.

Cool it Henry, or I’ll get angry too and toss you out!

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Would you believe? A radar technician…

scan-1

Airwoman 1st Class

My children gently tease me about being technologically challenged. Well, I’ll have you know, you young whippersnappers, believe it or not, I was a radar technician during the 1950s. It was the height of technology at the time and I did it for the Air Force! So there!

The Air Force Auxiliary paid more per hour than I earned at my office job and I was always interested in earning extra money. They provided a free air-force uniform, winter coat and shoes, plus trips to the mountains on weekends, which, because I didn’t date much, were boring anyway.

muriel-and-mary-vien-1950s

Arriving by bus — Mary, a devout Catholic, and I attended Church services every Sunday morning

It proved to be an adventure. They’d drive our ‘flight’ (class) to the Radar Station atop a mountain by bus. It was an interesting experience and I look back at it with pleasure.

I also had my very first marriage proposal (from a regular airman) whom, I believe, really meant it. I shall never, ever forget that! He was from Prince Edward Island and handsome in his uniform. I’ve never been to PEI, but have always wanted to visit there because of this memory. Perhaps he was attracted to me because I was the first virgin he ever dated. He told me I was, he respected me for it, and never attempted to change my status.

airforece-auxiliary-1950s

No, I didn’t get garbage detail, but already had a twisted sense of humor

Some other flight colleagues obtained jobs at Montreal’s Dorval airport. It was miles away from my home and I didn’t drive. The mere thought of bracing dark winters on public transit all the way out there didn’t appeal. I just didn’t have the courage. Thus, I was perhaps saved some health issues.

My friend Philip was a WWII pilot. Now, he chuckles when he tells me that on the way out on flying missions, he’d turn hot and cold, a cold hand would clutch his innards and oops, the poor guy would throw up — in the cockpit. It was embarrassing and humiliating for him, and unpleasant for others. Surprise, surprise — they didn’t want to fly with him. So Philip was grounded — and he believes probably survived the war as a result.

Recently, I heard on CBC Radio that Radar Technicians from the 50s are trying to get compensation from the government for health issues resulting from electromagnetic rays they experienced from those early radar screens. I could have been one of them. The only reason I’m not is — I was chicken.

Former radar technicians complain of ‘headaches, fatigue, weakness, sleep disturbance, irritability, dizziness, memory difficulties, sexual dysfunction and occasionally shortness of breath after exertion……

‘During the 1960s and 1970s, ophthalmologist Milton Zaret, under contract with the Army and Air Force, examined the eyes of thousands of military and civilian personnel working at radar installations in the US and Greenland. Large numbers of them, he found, were developing cataracts….caused by chronic exposure to radiation of the eye at power densities around one milliwatt per square centimeter — a level which is regularly exceeded by each of the two and a half billion cell phones in use today.’ (Birenbaum et al. 1969, Zaret 1973)

I did develop early cataracts, which my eye specialist called ‘juvenile cataracts’. But they were probably as a result of my juvenile brain rather than being caused by 1950s radar screens.

projectionist-certificate-mur

Okay, so I don’t know how to scan these and get them straight, but I’ll learn

I looked for some of the photos taken then with one of those Brownie cameras, (remember?) and also found my official R.C.A.F. Projectionist Certificate. Hey guys, look at me!!! This old gal was up on the newest technology of her time — the 1950s. Have some respect.

 

 

 

(For more information on older radar screens, microwaves, and televisions, try Google.)