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My son Rafi’s thoughts on COVID:19

Muriel2017Today I am proudly sharing my son Rafi’s thoughts on COVID:19. I think you will agree he is more able than I to express his heartfelt feelings about these troubling times.

I feel so lucky to have Rafi, his lovely wife Chandra, and my brilliant, wonderful grandson Remy, whom they are raising so well, in my life. (Do I sound like a grandma???)

Here’s what Rafi wrote. I thank him for allowing me to share it with you.

 

I tend not to pray
I hope, I wish, I ask, I wonder
But pray I have chosen to not

Today, however, I find myself hungering for a prayer
A prayer for the homeless and the housed, the young and the old, the unknown and the celebrated, the powerless and the powerful
A prayer for those less fortunate and for those who have more

This crisis brings us into balance, the fear heightens our commonality, and the unknown leaves us without answers.  All of us.  Together

As we face this adversary, we are all on equal footing – we sit in isolation, we work, we learn, we argue and love in virtual worlds.  All of us. Together

Today tests our sense of accomplishment, our goals and ambitions for the future
For why be earnest if tomorrow never comes?  Why begin when the end is nigh?

Why?  Because we are in this.  All of us.  Together.

I hunger for and have found my prayer
It is in the sun that rises and sets, in the blossoms that are born in the spring, and in the “we” that perseveres
It is that hope is a harbinger of these cycles’ continuum
It is that in my wife, my son, and our extended families I find happiness when there seems none to have
It is that we can find community in friends old and new, and in neighbors who leave a loaf of homemade bread at your door
It is from the hugs that will be had and the glasses that will be clinked
It is from the fact that tomorrow brings with it the potential for more than what exists today

ChandraRafiRemy2019

Chandra, Remy and Rafi

I tend not to pray
I hope, I wish, I ask, I wonder
But pray, I have been chosen to

By: Rafi Kauffmann

The fight is far from over….

Muriel2017They’re talking about brilliant female scientists on the radio. It reminds me of an experience I had in approximately 1971 when I was planning to enroll daughter Susan (age 6/7) into a summer program at our local community center.

Identified as a highly gifted child, Susan was totally into science. She loved learning about insects, snakes, lizards, shells, rocks and dinosaurs — you name it.

susan:Carrie in tree

Susan (front) about that time

Reading the available programs, I saw a cooking class for girls and a science class for boys. I recognize that cooking is a science, but it wasn’t Susan’s thing and I knew it. I was  upset. Would I accept that? Of course not!

angrywoman

Would I accept that?

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I threatened to march outside their doors

I visited the center, had a discussion with the program director and threatened that if they didn’t allow my daughter into the science class, I’d march outside their doors with signs complaining about their old-fashioned thinking. Yes, I WAS really angry.

The female program director caved. Susan was allowed into the class, however, I hadn’t foreseen what followed. When she turned up for the class, the surprised boys loudly complained. “Yuck! A girl!’ ‘You’re not allowed in this class.’ ‘You don’t belong here!’

bully

You don’t belong here!

The poor kid. I’d placed Susan in a position where she was not welcome. The boys bullied. They pulled her hair. They saw her as an intruder. I didn’t argue when Susan very soon didn’t want to go anymore.

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They pulled her hair.

I also still wonder what that terrible experience did to her. Would she have followed a different career path if it hadn’t occurred? What did I accomplish after all?

What I do know I accomplished was I did convince the community center to change their policy. I told them they were unfair and outdated. They changed their future description of classes for children and no longer classified them according to sex.

freecutegirl

I’d like to think things improved later for girls

I’d like to think that later perhaps one or two girls, luckier than Susan, had the opportunity to become excited about science in a class — and who knows? Maybe one or two of them has or will win a Nobel Prize after all. (However, the fight is far from over.)

P.S. Susan has found her own way of using her scientific interests and ability in her life’s work in any case.

I owe an apology to my mom…..

Muriel2017

How interesting to look back at childhood from this vantage point. I currently see things so differently. Does that mean there’s hope we garner a little wisdom with age? Perhaps… I now realize I owe my mom an apology.

I was the youngest of five children. We lived in Quebec when birth control was illegal so our family wasn’t considered that big.

Ruch Muriel 5 yrs. approx

finally five

I was finally five and expecting to go to kindergarten. All my siblings attended school and I could hardly wait to go too. I was so excited. Woweee!

 

crying girl

they refused to accept me

Mom dressed me up in a starched dress for the occasion and we walked hand in hand to our local school to register. They refused to accept me. Why, I’ll never know.

Perhaps they had too many students or something at the time because the next year they put me directly into first grade. They surely didn’t ask me what my opinion was about their dastardly decision. All I knew was they said NO!!!

childgreendress

I cried….

I howled

I didn’t cry, I howled

My mom probably tried, but was not prepared to argue for too long. I was heartbroken. I cried all the way home. Actually, that’s not at all true, I didn’t cry, I howled in five-year-old frustration and despair. It just wasn’t fair!!!! Everyone else (in my family) went to school. My poor mother tried her best to comfort me, but it wasn’t possible.

Now having raised children myself, I realize what a break those few hours each day would have been for my poor mom. She was probably looking forward to having some time to herself even more than I was looking forward to going to school. Being older today, I can’t help but imagine how disappointed SHE must have been herself.

poormom

The poor soul had to wait a whole year before having me at school

After all, I don’t think we ever had a babysitter — preschool may not even have existed yet, so my mom had to wait a whole year before having a few child-free hours.

I feel I was cheated out of the kindergarten experience I never had, however I also wish I had thought to apologize to mom…..

Weird stuff happens….

Muriel2017Coincidence? Sixth sense? Deja vu? Messages in dreams? Do they really occur? Do I believe in them? Do you? I’ve experienced them too often to dismiss them as nonsense. Let me tell you about a few….

Out of the blue, I dreamed of friend L’s sister who complained of being left all alone because L moved away. Why I dreamed about them at all was beyond me.wordsagain We weren’t close. It was strange.

Imagine my surprise when I received a call from L, who had moved to L.A., where I lived. Can you explain that?

goodscaredladyinbed

I awoke distraught.

Another morning I awoke distraught. I felt a band of iron around my chest. I’d had a terrible nightmare in which my mother (in Montreal) was crying. Although I tried and tried to, I couldn’t reach her. I telephoned her immediately.

She was in tears. She was frightened. My dad was out of town on business and had been hospitalized. My brother had gone to see him. Mom didn’t know exactly what happened and so thought the worst. Was she thinking of me? I think so….

blkwhtnews

He was reading my column!

When I moved to Vancouver from L.A., I called newspapers looking for a job. One editor said he was reading a column of mine covering the arts (in an L.A. paper) at that very moment — and it was better than theirs. What a coincidence. Can you believe that? Another employee had been to L.A. and had picked up that issue. End of story? The editor felt it was meant to be. I was hired.

In 1998, covering the Seniors’ Summit, I saw a lady performing Tai Chi. I wondered if it might help our Vestibular disorders group. I climbed down to her but she was gone and the cards she had left on a table were gone too. Oh well…

 

Terukoteaching

Teruko taught us for 12 years and helped many

Soon afterwards, I ran into a fellow I knew at a concert. He introduced me to his guest.

‘My, you look like a woman I saw doing Tai Chi at the Seniors’ Summit.’ I ventured.

‘That was me!’ she declared.

Teruko Uedo taught our Tai Chi class, helping many of us, for 12 years until she moved away.

These are just a few stories of many. And so I do believe weird stuff happens…..

My mother knows everything??????

I don't need Google, SM

Susan and me clowning

When I look at the silly photo of Susan and me on the left, I have to laugh. This post is proof that Susan’s mother knows absolutely nothing and Susan’s cup is an out-and-out lie.

For instance, small scorpions are native to where Susan and Michael live in Nevada. Go figure. They’re not big. Susan compares their sting to that of a bee, still she admits the little monsters freak her out.

These scorpions are nocturnal. One night fearless Michael went out and caught one in a jar for us to see. We all studied it with interest. It was the same color as the ground it inhabits.

Scorpion

This is what the scorpion looked like in the jar with the black light on it

Then we were ushered into a dark room, where Michael turned on his ultraviolet flashlight (black light) and, wow, the scary-looking captured arachnid absolutely glowed in the dark!!! (See photo) I could hardly believe it. That creepy crawly turned a bright, shiny, greenish blue! Fascinating!

Scorpion, regular light

The scorpion looks like this normally

Seems the experts haven’t yet figured out just why this happens, so don’t expect me to understand any of it. This mother certainly knows nothing!

So much to learn — so little time. What an adventure life is!

A remedy for overpopulation???

Muriel2017Nature sometimes does get things right, but things can go awry. It isn’t nature’s fault. Usually man screws it up — and things have gone very wrong when it comes to human procreation.

As you know, what I do best is worry/ One of the multiple things that worry me now is the overpopulation of our planet, which, poor thing, is sagging under the weight of us all, especially with so many of us in the west being overweight. How did this happen?

drawing

We’re wired for it

It was once a good idea to have oodles of kids because so few of them made it to adulthood. Childhood was dangerous — diseases and mishaps could kill us long before we grew up. Modern medicine, however, has more treatments than MacDonald’s has hamburgers and so many more of us survive.

sillouettes

If sex weren’t so darned pleasurable..

manonseatWhat to do? As I see it, if having sex weren’t so darned pleasurable, there wouldn’t be so many babies and that might help. How many woman would opt to go through the pain and discomfort of childbirth and those endless, sleepless nights afterwards without the joys of sex?

If having sex wasn’t so much fun, there wouldn’t be any need for abortions. The states of Alabama and Georgia wouldn’t bother with making abortions illegal, as they are planning to do right now. After all, it’s obvious only people who don’t want children, but still want to enjoy sex, (which we are wired for) require them. Right?

no

No way mister!

May I suggest instead that both states immediately start working at finding a way to make copulation terribly unpleasant. That would do it. If they accomplish this, they can avoid passing laws which will, once again, lead to women perishing on kitchen tables.

inbed

Nah, I’m not in the mood

Who will talk to our children?

Muriel2017

Chandra took this photo

During one of my usual breakfasts at a local cafe, I sat next to a father, mother and son. The child seemed about seven or eight. Dad was busy on his cellphone. Mom was busy on hers. The boy stood next to his father and tapped the man on his arm. He wanted to say something.

The father impatiently pushed him away, saying: ‘Leave me alone.’

I see this kind of thing too often. I don’t like it, but usually don’t intervene. It isn’t my business, but I was so sad and angry and bothered by it this time, I took the liberty as an old crone to butt in.

fatoldangry

Your son needs to talk to you

‘Excuse me sir,’ said I, ‘Your son wants to talk to you. They grow up so quickly, before you turn around, he’ll be married. Please listen to him now.’

Much to my surprise, the parents didn’t tell me to shut up and mind my own business. Instead, the dad explained he was working.

boredchild

What will happen to all these children?

I suggested he take a little time off during breakfast to listen to the child. Then I went back to my coffee and book. The next time I looked up, all three were on their cellphones.

What will happen to all these young children I see who sit quietly while parents are attached to technology and are encouraged to do the same?

I also worry about the damage being done to the vision of toddlers I see on the bus in strollers, kept quiet and occupied with mom’s cell phone.

tooyoung

I worry about the damage to their vision

Parents are so attached to those blankity-blank phones everywhere — walking, in restaurants, and one can safely assume, at home as well. Will their children even learn how to talk?

2tooyoung

C’mon folks. Give me a break.

Will these quiet children ever know the pleasure of conversation which I so enjoy? Who will talk to them? I worry. Or am I just being cranky?

Would I love winning the Lottery?

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

Do I want to win the Lottery? Do I want to be rich? Absolutely not! I know better. I don’t buy lottery tickets, but I thought about it today when I got a free cup of coffee at my favorite cafe. I got a real kick out of that. It was fun.

In my late 20s, I did some bookkeeping for

MONEYBAG

The days before she had money were her happiest

an extremely wealthy woman in her Beverly Hills penthouse. One Saturday she asked what my plans were for the next day. I told her we were planning a picnic at a local park with friends. (We couldn’t afford a lunch out.)

She told me how much she envied me, that the days before she had so much money were the happiest in her life. She felt she had no real friends anymore, that people invited her to events not because they liked or wanted to be with her, but because of her money. I’ve never forgotten that….

JPGettyIII

Young John Paul Getty III was kidnapped

Then, when my own children were still young, the 16-year old grandson of the J. Paul Getty family, John Paul Getty III, was kidnapped. The family, reputed to be the richest in the world at the time, was sent one of his ears, cut off by the kidnappers to prove they actually had him. I cringed at the thought and said a prayer for the teenager, but also thanked my lucky stars we weren’t rich.

Raf and sue kids 2

No one would want to kidnap my precious ones

No one would want to kidnap one of my precious ones.

John Paul Getty III did survive, but lived a tortured life until his early death at 54. His money didn’t bring him happiness or satisfaction. In reading about very wealthy children, how many do you know about who were truly happy?

DRAWING4

I guess I have no class.

As for me, I guess I have no class. I’m uncomfortable with people fawning over me. I’m not used to it and it makes me squirm. If you suggested I buy a $3,000 dress, I couldn’t. I’d think of what charities I could give some of that money to and how much it could help those who truly need.

My children have had to work for what they want. There were times I would have liked to help, but couldn’t. I know they’ve struggled sometimes, but they are probably better off for it. We can appreciate what we have more when we accomplish it ourselves. I hope they agree….

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!

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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….

 

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…..

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!

isthatanogre

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!

vectordrawingblkwht

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