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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?

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…..

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Complaining again???

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I heard on CBC Radio a group of young people is suing the US government regarding destruction of the environment. The warnings are ominous — if we don’t act right now, the future looks bleak. Scientists warn hundreds of thousands will die of thirst and lack of food due to climate warming.

I live in what is supposedly a forward-thinking country, so what’s wrong with our politicians. Our young prime minister has young children of his own. Is he not concerned about their future? He insists the Trans Mountain pipeline will/must be built. He’s already committed my tax dollars to it.

ibestprotestpipe

 

Construction of Transmtnpipe

Trans Mountain Pipeline

If the federal government succeeds, this pipeline will carry diluted bitumen all the way from Edmonton, Alberta, right across our ‘Naturally Beautiful’ British Columbia to Burnaby. From there the bitumen will travel by tanker across the water to wherever they want to process our dirty oil.

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipe

Trans Mountain Pipeline, not pretty

Where there are pipes there ARE leaks, and the risk of oil spills along the route are likely. What the increased tanker traffic will do to our already stressed and endangered orcas and other marine life can only be imagined. I’m heartbroken…

anotheratankerTMP

tanker to carry bitumen on our waters

The governing party in my province needed the small Green Party to form a coalition in order to give them a majority. I counted on the Greens to keep them from doing too much harm to our environment.

Still, our province has approved a huge Liquid Natural Gas project In Kitimat, the Northern part of B. C. There is nothing ‘natural’ about the process used to extract the gas.Would you want something  looking like this in your back yard?

LN

LNG Project.

Besides, we’re told this ‘massive’ project will require a 670 kilometre ‘Coastal GasLink’ pipeline to the LNG plant. Another pipeline….and more tankers in our waters.
There are dozens of LNG projects around the world. Just check Mr. Google.

Recently, I read about a housewife located close to one LNG project who complained you could light the water coming out of her kitchen faucets with a match. Would you want to drink that? The officials claimed the LNG fracking had nothing to do with it.

LNGtransportBC

LNG Tanker — what will it do to marine life?

Years ago, when California announced tight restrictions on environmentally damaging cars or projects, opponents believed businesses would flee en-masse or collapse. It never happened. Instead California became a leader in safer, cleaner and lucrative industries. (Check it out.)

funny lady at computer

You may disagree

What would I prefer? Thinking about creating healthier, less environmentally damaging projects for the financial well-being of our children in the future. You need not agree with me. These are just my thoughts…. You are welcome to try to convince me I’m wrong.

One door opens, another closes…

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

It was high time to give up driving. My vision had changed and my little old car was tired. Do I miss it? Yes. But only for grocery shopping. Traveling by bus is not only a new adventure, but an opportunity to see more — and chat with strangers. People are fascinating. I’m new at using buses, and don’t know anything about where they go or their schedules.

My friend Hans, who lived in L.A.’s Hollywood Hills, used to tease me about plans to visit ‘the village’, which is what he called this beautiful city. He was delighted by the unpaved sidewalk and  remaining unpaved alleyways here and there in my neighborhood.

I believed him. This IS a small town compared to L.A. which is so very large. Using buses for transportation, I was allowing an hour to walk the few blocks to the stop and to get wherever I wanted to go. It worked until now. I’ve just learned the town is bigger than I thought. An hour wasn’t enough to get to where I was to have an ultrasound taken of my shoulder this week.

Yup, it was the first time I’d bused that far. I’d driven that route many times by car, but you get to see so much more out the bus window than you can driving. Driving requires attention to traffic, lights, pedestrians and what’s happening behind you. On the bus, all that is taken car of for you. Hurrah!

Donna suggested I take the ‘Express’ but I didn’t know where it stopped. A REAL person would have asked but I didn’t so I was five minutes late for my appointment. No one else seemed upset by that but me. (Well, did I ever promise you sanity?)

Ultrasound-Machine

Storm clouds? Stormy sea?

The ultrasound experience was new too. I had once had one, but this time I could actually see the screen. At first it looked like storm clouds gathering and whirling about in preparation for a huge storm — in my shoulder. Later I saw it differently. It looked more like ocean waves in a stormy sea. The technician listened to my nonsense with  amusement, then ventured to say nobody had ever seen the ultrasound in that way before. Probably true….

GoodoutsideRio

The Rio Theatre built in 1938

Afterwards, on leaving the building, I looked across the street. Wow! I was right in front of the awesome old Rio Theatre, now so much in our local news. I’d never seen this beautiful Art Deco venue before. No wonder local residents don’t want the Rio, built in 1938, torn down to be replaced by yet more condos — which most of us can’t afford anyway.

LobbyRio

Rio Theatre lobby

The other day, I read the Rio was voted our city’s #1 ‘Multimedia’ venue. (It features film and live performances.) What is wrong with us? How can we allow irreplaceable jewels like this gorgeous structure obliterated? The likes of the Rio will never be constructed again. It will be lost to us forever. Kudos to the present operator, Corinne Lea, who is trying to raise the money to purchase the building and save it. She’s just started a crowd-funding push. I wish her success.

Ridge Theatre 1950-

Ridge Theatre, 1950- 2013

My own neighborhood has lost an old theatre too, the Ridge (1950-2013). It was not as gorgeous as the Rio, but nonetheless much loved. The ground floor is now a Loblaws Market (infamous for its participation in a massive bread price-fixing scheme for years which cheated food shoppers) with yet more condos above. The old ‘Ridge’ neon sign sits on top of the building — a constant reminder of what we’ve lost forever.

 

Thy Will Be Done — and the sooner the better

Serious stuff (photo by Timothy Stark)

Serious stuff
(photo by Timothy Stark)

My friend Steve, who had a neighbour going through the hell of a recent death where there was no will, suggested I write this post following my essay on doctor-assisted suicide (February, 2015). I got caught up with other ideas, however Steve was right. Wills are vital although families can still go through hell when a will does exist. If well thought out however, and done with the help of a lawyer, a will can be a blessing.

Plan ahead and achieve what you want

Plan ahead and achieve what you want

Money is easy to divide, but siblings may quarrel over possessions of real or sentimental value and never speak to each other again anyway. Why is that? And why so often? For one, they say we choose our friends but not our families. It may also be because when a parent dies, we are in mourning. We mourn if our relationship was fabulous, or because it wasn’t. We all carry baggage. Perhaps we were not the favorite child, or some other complicated familial issue exists.

I did more for him than you did!

I did more for him than you did!

Severing ties with siblings we may never have felt close to is easier after a parent’s death, especially when YOU wanted that dish or cup or ring. True, wills can’t fix everything, but they are necessary. I have one and update it every five years — family situations and laws change. I strongly believe all wills require the help of a lawyer and your own input. Lawyers know the questions to ask.

She always liked you better than me

She always liked you better than me

Millions of older folk will keel over and leave an unprecedented amount of shekels behind. Who gets yours matters and should be up to you. In spite of our wealth, it is estimated seven out of 10 seniors haven’t bothered to draw up a will. If you are one of the millions who will die intestate (without a will) you will have no control of the distribution of your estate. No matter how long you live or how young you may be, unless you’re related to Dracula, you do need a will. My advice? Do it now.

In a will, you can appoint an executor to handle your affairs, or a guardian to care for very young children (with the chosen guardian/s knowledge and agreement, of course). With professional assistance you can combine estate planning with philanthropy, as well as benefit from tax advantages by organizing charitable programs beforehand. Community non-profits enrich our lives in more ways than we realize. Its easy to take such services for granted, but governments keep cutting back and alternative sources of funding are drastically needed. (Consider using ‘Leave a Legacy’ if it exists where you are.)

Try to specify who you want to have which possessions, even those of no great value. This can avoid battles later. Better still, try to give your children things they like while you are still here — this is something I’ve been trying to accomplish. I no longer entertain much and don’t use or need some of the things I used to. Every time I send my visiting offspring home with something, I feel lighter.full house

And one thing more, be kind. Clear out as much of the stuff you’ve accumulated during your lifetime as you can. It will make things easier for those you love at what will be a difficult time. Friends who have had to deal with huge amounts of possessions after losing a parent often tell me how painful it is for them.

Enjoy your life’s adventures to the fullest, have as many pleasures as possible, and do your best not to leave a mess behind.