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Stuff is falling apart…

Muriel2017Things are falling apart all around me. First, I replaced my old computer, then the brand new one wouldn’t function, but you know about that already. Now there’s more happening. What’s going on??

Next to give up was my shredder.

scarfshreds

Next to quit was my shredder.

That was understandable. The poor thing served me faithfully for years. Son Rafi helped order a new one online. (In the midst of COVID:19, stores are closed.)

 

newsshred blk

Something like my new heavy shredder

It’s bigger, much heavier — and more complicated. It not only shreds in one direction, but in several at the same time. But, there’s no place to store the papers-to-be-shredded like I could in my old one. So the old shredder’s basket remains, adding more clutter in my office. Oh, well…

The latest to quit??? My toaster oven! I had one that was just that, an ordinary toaster oven. The new ones I saw locally aren’t that simple.

Photo on 2020-07-03 at 10.28 AM

Sad goodbye to old simple toaster oven

The one I bought is also a ‘Convection’ oven. (I don’t even know what that is.) It came with l-o-n-g instructions — in several languages. The printing is so small, a magnifying glass was required for me to read it. I did. By the end, I was so confused, I had no idea where to begin.

It came with several parts but I had no idea where they were supposed to go. It didn’t say. Is it a secret? It has knobs which do various things, most of which I’m not interested in. Said knobs have tiny little things written on them here and there which I can’t see anyway.

Photo on 2020-07-03 at 10.32 AM

New toaster oven: blue pen points to spot I painted with red nail polish

Thank goodness Andrew came by and set it to just make toast. After he left, I painted the spot he’d told me to use with red nail polish, because the original mark is so obscure, I would never find it. I had to tip the oven over on its side to see it. You can’t do that while it’s going.

I sure hope nothing else goes. I can’t cope with more ‘improvements’. As it is I still need to pull out the instructions twice a year when they change the time for the no-longer-new clock radio I use in my office. You can set multiple alarms and it has so many possibilities I can’t keep straight. If I were really clever, it would probably fix dinner and walk my dog — if I had one.

And, this week I’m having another birthday. Talk about falling apart. I may be next!!!

funnykady

 

Desperate measures for desperate times…

funny lady at computer

Life during COVID:19

There’s a saying: Man plans and God laughs. If ever there were truer words, find them for me.

My children live in a different country. I’ve been an avid reader forever. I’ve owned many books. I decided if I got rid of them, it would be easier for my kids when I need to move or pop off. If I decide to do something, I usually do.

I gave away books — many books.

Zhuangzi, 4th century BC

Zhuangzi, 4th century BC

Well, I’m hunkered down for the duration of COVID:19 and the libraries are closed. I’ve finished the few books waiting around to be read, so what next?

Going through my half-empty shelves, I saw ‘Zhuangzi: Basic Writings’, a textbook from a Chinese philosophy class I audited at UBC some 20 years ago. What the heck. It had been interesting, so I decided to revisit it.

FriedrichNietzche1844-1900

Nietzche, 1844-1900

What I found most fascinating were my own notes. This class had followed another I took about Western Philosophers, which included people like Freud, Nietzche, and even a contemporary well-known Canadian thinker, Charles Taylor.

 

‘Woman was God’s second mistake.’ Nietzche.

CharlesTaylor1931

Charles Taylor, born 1931

In my  notes on Zhuangzi, I’d noticed how similar  his written thoughts and those of Nietzche were, who came along hundreds of years later. Could it be? Had Nietzche read the ancient Chinese thinker and borrowed from him? Perhaps. Probably. Well, I, for one, thought so….

We stand on the shoulders of those who come before us.

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Xunzi, maybe 310 BC

 

‘The noble person uses things, the lesser man is used by things.’ Xunzi. (Actual birth date unknown.)

COVID:19 project #2 — Junk Drawer

lovethisone

Project #2

So you’ve been biting your nails, anxiously waiting to learn what you’ve always wanted to know — what I found in my junk drawer. It’s been an exciting project. I’m learning a lot during this solitary COVID-19 life, which I’m now passing on to you, my readers — free of charge!

Firstly, I was surprised at how pristine my junk

junkdrawer

looks like mine

drawer actually was. My cabinets were installed 28 years ago and it had never ever been emptied.

Here’s a hint for you: Never work with food on your kitchen counters while drawers below are open. That way, no food or crumbs get into them. (Now, aren’t you lucky to have been given this brilliant tip? Also free of charge?)

tidyup

My drawers ALL look like junk drawers

I learned that all my kitchen drawers LOOK like junk drawers and I marvel at how my loved ones knew which I was talking about when I used that term. Will they recognize it now?

It’s about a week since I neatened my junk drawer. It will take about a week until it’ll be back to it’s familiar mess. But that’s okay, I’ll then know whose kitchen I’m in.

 

Stuff I found:

Photo on 2020-03-29 at 15.23

Tin foil to sharpen scissors, rose made of wood, metal straws w/cleaning brush, and bottle opener from France

A beautiful rose made of wood (I think) by Dusty, a wood-wright who moved away. We used to have morning coffee at Benny’s, which is gone too. (Dusty follows my blog. I’m keeping it.)

Left over tin foil, to sharpen scissors. (Another tip! It really works. Cut foil with your dull scissors.)

Some metal straws with a cleaning brush, a gift from Alison. I’m enjoying one I use on my office desk. (You can’t have any, no way Jose.)

A bottle opener, from Paris, with Napoleon on one side and the Eiffel tower on the other. (Please take it.)

Photo on 2020-03-29 at 15.18

Butterfly pin, seed splitters, key chains w/lights, tea holder

A butterfly pin, given me by a friend just before she checked out for good. It reminds me of her and it’ll stay.

Two items to split seed shells, used (I think) for watermelon seeds. Chinese students’ families used to give me them because I like them. (If you know where to buy them I’ll be your best friend.)

Four key chains, with lights. Friends know I like them with a light. (Up for grabs.)

One something to hold tea leaves. I don’t drink tea and have teabags for friends. (Also up for grabs.)

bluebroom

How long will it last???

 

This most exciting post about a thrilling COVID:19 project is my attempt to help you  manage the current crisis. What next? Maybe I’ll find a way to get a hug one of these days. I miss them most of all. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know….

Hotel rooms with books to read???

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

As a lifelong avid reader, I’ve often bought books I ‘hoped’ to read someday. Someday never arrived, my vision isn’t what it used to be and I know I’ll never get to them. With much regret, I’m giving away every book on my shelves with small print — unread.

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A lifelong avid reader

The books either go to friends, get donated to the library, or end up in those wonderful little free sidewalk libraries in my neighborhood. I give them away with the hope that someone else will be tempted to read the books I meant to, but never found the time for.

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sagging bookshelves

This is also a good time to give away books I’ve already read. There’s no point in holding on to them now since I still have too many sitting there on my sagging bookshelves waiting for my attention. I’m trying to generally cut down on stuff anyway.

Some of the books that are leaving home are of short stories, essays or poetry, books to be pried open and read with pleasure when there isn’t much time. They’d be great to have in hotel rooms.

funnyreading

Books to be read with pleasure

Hey, I like that idea! Packing books for travel can be difficult. They’re heavy and that can be a problem when airlines weigh your luggage. Wouldn’t it be great to find a book of short stories, essays or thoughtful poetry in that hotel room drawer beside the old Gideon Bible?

grreatfree

My great idea!

Think of it. Now that hotels have competition from all those Air B n B’s, this might be reason enough to BOOK with a hotel rather than take a chance on what may be questionable accommodations advertised on the sometimes unreliable Internet.

What say you?

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….

The cheap thief…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

My credit card number was used by someone in New York while I was at home in Vancouver. I was nowhere near New York. Upon opening my statement last night, I immediately ran to my desk and called the credit card company to report the illegal transactions.

 

I was asked all kinds of questions and asked a few of my own. thecardNo, I hadn’t lent my card out to anyone. Yes, I had it safely tucked away in my drawer — I even checked to reassure myself. I wondered how it could happen. They know more ways than you can imagine.

villian

The amount in question was all of $107.48. It may not seem like much to you, but I still feel icky and and as if I’ve been violated. I don’t like someone doing this to ME. How dare they! Now I have to wait for a new card and set it all up again which is a darn inconvenience.

 

I was told $100 was spent at a gas station and my statement clearly indicated the $7.48 was charged at a Taco Bell. Taco Bell??? Could I not get a thief with more class? A Bon Vivant? A real sophisticate? Someone like Cary Grant in ‘To Catch a Thief’?? It’s really humiliating and a real embarrassment.

 

to catch a thief

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly

SardisCould he (or she) not have chosen a better place to eat? Like maybe Sardis? My Chandra, a woman with real dignity and taste, treated me to dinner at Sardis when we were in New York together. That would have been better.

 

What a cheapskate! The nerve! The absolute nerve! Besides, how dare he eat at Taco Bell, one of my favorite Mexican fast-food joints, and not invite me to share! I’m furious.

Tacosphoto

I love Mexican food

angry

 

 

I’m really angry….grrrrrrrr!

 

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.

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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…..

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!

1, shirt series, looking for it in her closet.jpg

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?

MichaelSuperman

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.

SueMeVan2018

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….

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.

momsteals-5

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.

 

1,2,3,4 long days without my computer….

Muriel2017

My

In spite of my admiration for Catherine the Great and Empress

knight in shining armor

My knight in shining armor

Wu, right now my friend/neighbor Wayne is my new hero. My computer collapsed. Poor thing had to be hospitalized and have surgery. Wayne carried it gently down to his car and drove it to the Apple hospital, where they deemed it too old to bother with. (Apple must be hard up for cash and needs us to purchase new ones. Make a donation if you can.)

better sick comp

My ailing old computer

Undaunted, gallant Wayne found somewhere else to take my ailing computer, drove it there and after a few harrowing days, brought it back to me. I was more than willing to shell out the $392 required for a new video processor chip, whatever that is.

Meanwhile, I had fretted and lost sleep over the possibility of losing everything on it. Worrying, as you know, is something I excel in. However, I also learned how much time I spend on this electronic contraption. I now must admit I’m addicted and I missed it terribly.

red brook and duster

Without my computer I had no excuses

This monster takes up so much of my time, there are dozens of obvious tasks-to-do I pass by each day and think I must take care of ‘one of these days’. Well, these four days ended up being those days. I couldn’t produce any other delaying tactics not to do them.

Instead of checking my email and seeing how many visited my blog first thing in the day, I made my often neglected bed every morning. Then, although I attend Tai Chi every Monday, plus exercise classes on Wednesdays and Fridays, I managed — in addition to get on my Exercycle Ladyonbikeand Stepper three times during the four days without electronic distractions. (The last time I’d managed time for that was March 8th!) I also managed to daily do the physio-recommended arm exercises for my torn tendons.

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My desk is now neater…

I have oodles of paper left over from my old printer which require detaching before I can use them in my new one. I now have a respectable stack ready and prepared. My desk is also somewhat neater. I filed many papers which had sat there for months. Papers and documents awaiting shredding got shredded and properly recycled. At last, my 2016 phone book/calendar got disposed of, with all your names and phone numbers safely shredded as well. Long neglected, shocked loved ones and friends received phone calls out of the blue. I feel so noble!

My kitchen received attention as well. I neatened up my ‘plastic bag’ drawer, piling various bags high on my counter, after which I diligently separated them by size. I carefully weighed the separated stacks down in the drawer with paperweights. (I did this in spite of son Rafi’s warning that this madness would indicate to visitors that I’m neat, thus making them uncomfortable in my home.) After that, I attacked my wealth of plastic containers, matching tops and bottoms, and discarding all those I couldn’t fix up with anyone. Then, because I;d rather not go out when it snows, I’d accumulated extra ‘just in case’ food supplies during winter, I pulled everything down from those crowded cabinets and put things in order. Can you imagine?

drawing blacl:white w:broom

I cleaned up the winter debris

Nor did my balcony get overlooked in this frenzy. On a rain-less day, I got out there and cleared up the debris left over from winter. My outdoor pots are now ‘almost’ pristine and ready for spring planting. You’ve got to be impressed!

Well, now I have my computer back and this ain’t gonna happen again for (hopefully) a very long time. I’m back. Thank goodness for small favors! I was even driving myself crazy…..