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When’s the last time you…

When’s the last time you wrote an email, letter or card to: A teacher who was special? A friend who was supportive through a tough time? A mentor who helped you in your career? A doctor who made you feel he/she really cared? A business which supported your sports team? A coach who, as a volunteer, worked without pay? A volunteer who helped you in some way?


In an effort to whittle down ‘stuff’ my loved ones will have to deal with eventually, I’ve been going through files full of thank you letters (or complaints) to corporations and businesses or ordinary folk who mattered to me — and thinning them out.

Rafi loved playing and he did well
Rafi in his baseball uniform


Right now, I’m looking at a letter written in 1981 to a Furniture Guild thanking them for sponsoring the very first baseball team my son was on. Rafi was nine, and excited about becoming a part of this new team. The day uniforms were distributed, I was sure he’d sleep in his — he paraded about in it so proudly.


Such sponsorship can make participation possible for some families who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. It IS a good idea to let businesses know you appreciate their help, no matter what their reasons for doing so are.

Rafi, now a devoted high-school teacher


As an adult, Rafi is a devoted high school teacher. He occasionally receives letters telling him how much he has meant to students. Sometimes he’ll share them with me. I get a warm fuzzy when he does because I know how caring he is and how much it pleases him when students appreciate his efforts on their behalf.

Rafi cooking at a fundraiser for my grandson, Remy’s school
Lovely Chandra working at a fundraiser for Remy’s school


Both Rafi and his beautiful Chandra are enthusiastic about volunteering. Here they are working at a fundraiser for my grandson’s school.

If you decide to write to someone who mattered to you, I’d love to know about it and why…

Birthdays…

I love birthdays!!! (Photo by my Chandra)

While visiting my family in the US recently, we celebrated many birthdays. That’s because I believe in celebrating birthdays for six months before and six months after the actual date. Each evening we celebrated the birth of at least one of us, and sometimes got carried away and celebrated several at the same time. It was great.


Back home in August, my friend Chris treated me to breakfast at Granville Island, a place I love to visit but don’t get to often since I no longer drive. (My actual birthday is in July. She was close.) Later I treated her to lunch for her birthday, which was in February when I was being too careful to go anywhere before my trip.

Let’s celebrate!

The week of my actual birthday I was invited out one day after another. When dear Vinson called wanting to treat me for my birthday too, I begged off. ‘If you love me, please don’t feed me. They’ll charge me extra for all the weight I’ll gain before I get on the plane.’ (It was before my trip to the U.S.)

We both know that’s not what happens, but Vinson got the message. We celebrated my birthday after I got back from my trip — sometime in August. It was lovely and I was ready by then.

Happy Birthday to youuuu!


I finally got to treat my dear Chinese daughter, Amy, for her birthday (actually in June) in September because I was like a pit bull and just didn’t give up each time she said it wasn’t necessary. For me, it WAS necessary because I love celebrations, especially birthdays of those I love.


All my friends and family embrace this madness of mine. They have no choice. After all, it works well for all concerned. And, you, dear reader are lucky because YOU have my permission to celebrate YOUR birthday for six months before and six months after your birthday as well. Lucky you! Happy birthday indeed!

Talking of birthdays, today actually is my beautiful sister’s Birthday. Happy Birthday Shirley!

Why my crazy trip was worth it…

I had to pose with Remy so he’d know how much I enjoyed these trees
Australian Tea tree

I’d informed son Rafi my knees didn’t enjoy hills any more. He and grandson Remy put their heads together and chose parks without hills for my daily walks. The first had these wonderful trees I couldn’t resist. We went again and again so I could pose with Rafi, then Remy, and when Susan joined us, back we went to pose yet again!

Just had to once again pose by one of those wonderful trees with Rafi AND Susan when she arrived.

Yes, we took walks elsewhere as well. Every morning Rafi walked the family dog, Germaine, we dropped Remy off at soccer camp, and Rafi walked me. (He wasn’t going to let me slack off. He knows how important it is for me to keep moving.)

Another walk by the water
Germaine walks me at the nearby dog park. It was cold. I was grateful to Chandra, who gave me the snuggly, warm jacket with a hood. (My very first hoodie!)

The few times we couldn’t find the time to visit another park, I took my walk at the dog park under the supervision of Germaine, who made sure I got in enough steps. He took every step with me! Ha, ha.

Rafi at 20. What a hunk! I’d never seen this photo before.
Rafi ordered this little man for my home-made terrarium. The little guy seems happy in his new home with his bottle of wine.

Chandra, always creative, made a beautiful photo album for Rafi as a birthday gift. I had never seen some of those old photos and got a kick out of seeing, for the first time, some taken years ago. (She also made an album for him of what friends and family members thought of him. It was lovely to read.)

We celebrated everyone’s birthday. I’d just celebrated a venerable one, Rafi had a recent birthday and so had Susan. We laughed a lot and I discovered my grandson, Remy, had a crazy sense of humour. (Wonder where he got that from??? Ha, ha.) Also an avid reader, Remy shared books with me when I ran out of reading material. It was just a great visit. I could not have asked for more.

Rafi and I shopped for plants at the nursery — the kids have a beautiful garden. I looked for a little man to live in my home-made terrarium, but they didn’t have one. Rafi ordered one for me, tried NOT to tell me right away, but was so excited about it, he couldn’t wait to surprise me, but when he said: ‘I bought you something’. I immediately guessed what it was. Yeah! See him above. The little guy loves his new home.

I’m holding on to the memory of the wonderful time I had and how spoiled I was by everyone. The morning breakfasts I had with Rafi, the time we all spent together was worth all the nonsense and stupidity of the rules and regulations I had to deal with to travel across the border during COVID.

Rafi sent me this photo of Germaine waiting at my door after I’d gone home. Well, I miss him too. He was particularly gentle with me.

Across a closed border: part two…

You’d think I’d have less to go home with, but Rafi took me to my favourite store, Trader Joe’s.
JUST LOVE THESE TREES!

While being spoiled rotten by my kids and loving it, a neighbour from home emailed about a new form called ‘ArriveCAN’ I needed to complete.

Son Rafi photographed all my papers, completed it and printed an important-looking page for me to turn in at the border.

Simple right? Wrong! Officials didn’t care about it. I think they hadn’t a clue what it was. I was glad I had carried all my documents.

The stupidest part? Flying from anywhere in the US to the U.S., no tests are required. (Daughter Susan did just that to join us.) I, however, crossing the Canadian border, needed another COVID test. Cost: $301. U.S. Why the $1.?? It SEEMS ridiculous!

My direct flight home being cancelled, I had to fly from San Francisco to Seattle. The plane was full. Those debarking in Seattle had NOT been tested. They wore masks, removed while snacking and drinking, etc. How safe was that??? My second plane from Seattle to Canada had few passengers. (How many nuts like me are there?)

Arriving at my own airport, I made my way past one guy after another (All male. In uniform. More intimidating???) showing each ALL my documents.


WITH REMY, WHO CALLS ME HIS ‘CRAZY GRANDMA’. A TITLE I WEAR PROUDLY…


Finally one said: “You’re good to go,’ Yeah! I was tired.

$5,000 FINE IF I DON’T COMPLY


The next guy, however, decided I must take another COVID test ‘tomorrow’. Exhausted, I accepted the box, dragged myself home and crashed.


Next morning: I read the instructions and panicked. I was to make a video of myself taking the test??? Are they kidding? I don’t know how to do that! Plus, I’m to take another test in 6 days.


I immediately called the number given and while a machine kept telling me how important I was, held for about 2 hours, thinking about that $5,000 fine someone got for not following instructions upon return. Finally, someone answered and asked me to hold.

TIME WITH SON RAFI AT MY FAVOURITE PARK.


‘Please, don’t disconnect me…’


He came back. He’d be putting me on hold again for awhile. He needed to find out what I was to do. I waited nervously. Finally, he said to take the test and dial 1-888-744-7123 for Purolator to pick it up. This I did. Purolator came and — refused to take it.

I THINK I’M LOSING MY MIND.


‘But that’s what I was just told to do! Please, please call your supervisor,’ I begged. He reluctantly did. No dice. Why? Why?


’We didn’t get the contract. FedEx did. You have to call them.’


Time was passing. I was getting terrified. $5,000??? I called FedEx.

They WOULD pick it up — that day!!! And did! Whew!


I ate some cold beans right out of the can, (fridge was empty) took the phone off the hook so I wouldn’t be disturbed, and slept.

Next post: With my kids…

Crossing a closed border…

I brought so many treats for the kids, my suitcase was packed solid.

I’d not seen my children in two years — much too long. My recent birthday reminded me I’m not getting any younger. The U.S. border is closed, it was unreasonable and I waffled back and forth and drove my kids nuts, but in the end, decided I must go.


It was complicated, frustratingly stupid, and expensive, none of which mattered compared to my need to hug and spend time with my loved ones.


I’m an organized sort, I called provincial health to check everything, still the madness started before I left. They weren’t always right.


My old flip cellphone, used only for emergencies, doesn’t work in the U.S. I’d need it, so prepaid FIDO $33 for 15 minutes in the U.S. It subsequently didn’t work.


A young friend helped me book non-stop flights both ways. I didn’t care which airline or what the cost was. Just wanted convenience for all and he did very well thank you.

It was enough to drive me to drink.


After a few days, however, Delta cancelled my direct flight back creating a stop in Seattle allowing little more than an hour between flights. I use a walker and must wait until all other passengers debark before my walker shows up. I also require assistance, which I’d already arranged (now separately). After hours on the phone, with no chance of a direct flight, I accepted defeat and called again to arrange help for TWO flights. Whew! I hadn’t even left yet!


Then, United, who were taking me to the US, emailed a form to fill out with complete proof of Canadian COVID testing (taken within 72 hours of the flight) plus vaccinations, etc. etc. I called on my son for help, scanned all related copies, he got into my computer and filled it all out. It was long, not easy, but done.


Checking in at United at the airport, they wanted all the stuff we’d already submitted. I asked why.


‘Oh, that technology isn’t working yet.’ What???

Yup! I made it. Here I am under an Australian Tea tree in San Francisco during one of my daily walks with Rafi.


This was only the beginning of the insanity. More to come soon…

Thanksgiving? Yup, I’m grateful…

It must be Thanksgiving in the States because I received a couple of cards in the mail today. As a kid I loved Halloween, but as an adult, Thanksgiving is my absolute favourite. I have much to be grateful for and don’t at all mind thinking of this holiday more than once a year. (In Canada, we celebrate it earlier, so I get to do so twice.)

daughter Susan

I’m grateful for the love of my children, son Rafi, his loving wife Chandra and their son Remy, daughter Susan and her Michael, plus others I love who care about me here and in the US.

It’s been rough with much happening where I live (or perhaps it’s that much that should be happening hasn’t been happening) and I’m exhausted by it all. Thus, I haven’t the mindset to write the post I would have wanted to, so I’ll cheat and use another one of daughter Susan’s ‘Muriel Says…’ instead.

That my daughter thinks anything I say is worth using on her Facebook is absolutely astounding to me.
Yes, I love her too….

Here it is:

Black lives matter…

photo by Chandra

I find interesting stuff when I look through my files. I just came on a column I wrote in 1992 which my then-editor called: ‘Prejudice and bigotry return’. Why did I write it?? Maybe it was because Kim Campbell, as Minister of Justice, declared we don’t have prejudice in Canada and I wondered what planet she lived on. It was also probably a time when the economy was hurting and when things are bad, bad stuff happens.

Growing up in Montreal when I did, we were the wrong faith and suffered for it, however I wasn’t even aware of the racism suffered by our small black community. It was only en-route to Los Angeles by bus in my late teens that I learned about the extent of discrimination against blacks in the U.S. and was appalled.

My introduction to ‘White Only’ facilities

I want to share this column with you because of the present pandemic, the depressed economy, and ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstrators trying so hard to fight racism which, unfortunately, still thrives.

Sign at children Rafi and Chandra’s home

Here’s what I wrote in March, 1992:
‘Unfortunately prejudice and bigotry don’t go away. They continue to fester just under the skin and as soon as trouble hits, like right now, the disease surfaces and again, we’ve lost our dignity. Neo-nazism proliferates in newly united Germany and foreigners everywhere are attacked by hoodlums.

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith reports a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. during 1991. Meanwhile in Canada, 12-year old native hockey players are not welcomed in Quebec families’ homes. Two Rotarians stalk out when their club, God help us, accepts a female member.

Women and children suffer the consequences of male frustration caused by unemployment. Crisis centres are overloaded with calls from the bruised and battered.’

Black Lives DO Matter


The article is too long to ask you to read it all so I’ll end it here. It could have been written right now. Don’t you agree?

Sports Medicine clinic…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

Daughter Susan and I were having

Ilikealso

There was a lot of laughter

one of our frequent crazy telephone conversations. As usual, there was a lot of laughter. This time she was amused because I’m seeing a ‘Sports Medicine’ clinic for my ancient, arthritic knee.

It IS funny since Susan knows very well I’m not into sports. Nor have I ever been — not even as a spectator.

At school, we played baseball in the

strike two

I doubt I ever hit a ball

summertime. I was the last chosen and usually ended up out in

This is it. jpg

Studying the daisies

field where I could contemplate the beauty of the daisies. I doubt I ever hit a ball. (I may have some attributes, but was always lousy at such things.)

Nor did I ever have a bike or learn how to ride one, although my husband and I rode a tandem which I managed not to upend. (But once HE did and I broke some toes.) I manage somewhat on my Exercycle, thank you, although I need to ice my knees later. It’s the only bike riding I do.

_woman-on-exercis

It may be I already had a vestibular disorder as a kid. Years later, I ended up being the co-founder, with Dr. Graham Bryce, of the B.C. Balance & Dizziness Disorders Society (BADD) and we managed to help many others with similar disorders.

In any case I was always a klutz, which was okay since I was also the first to be chosen for the debating team or class president (before said position was politicized) and renowned as the class artist.

So, after Susan and I cracked up on the phone about my non-existent athletic skills and my visiting a ‘Sports Medicine’ clinic, I received this photo clever Susan created. It is just too funny not to share with you. The face is mine, but that’s all I can honestly claim.

 

Mom, Star Athlete

The face is mine, but that’s all I can honestly claim.

Hilarious, isn’t it?????

Hey, it’s son Rafi’s birthday today. I love him whole bunches! Wish him Happy Birthday!

 

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

 

Computer Crisis…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I already had an idea for this post. I already had chosen the images to go with it. It was just about set to publish and — my NEW computer wouldn’t work. The curser was stuck on the upper left-hand corner and no matter what I did, it refused to go anywhere else.

Hail brilliant son Rafi, he who knows all,

Rafi 028

Rafi in a vineyard

and who suggested I turn the machine off and on again. I did. It didn’t. Then, because he’s so smart, he recommended I go out for my daily walk first and deal with it later. Good idea.

When I got back, I tried again. No co-operation. It was lunch and ‘beauty’ nap time. I decided I needed fuel and rest in order to face it again so put it off. Nothing. Rafi had given me instructions. I’d written them down: ‘If it won’t work, disconnect the power and then, reconnect it and if that doesn’t do it, try turning it on and at the same time press and hold down Option, Command, p and r.’lady3

anotherI checked to see if I could reach all those keys. Well, waddaya know — I could. So I tried. It didn’t seem to respond, so just before I broke down and cried, I called Apple. (Rafi cleverly had arranged that service for me when he decided what I needed. He knows his mother.)

As I listened to classical music and held the phone, lo and behold, the computer S-L-O-W-L-Y decided to follow my directions. Yeah! Wow! It’s working even though the coloured ball initially said it wouldn’t.

I hung up on Apple. I decided NOT to cry and tried to call Rafi to tell him how brilliant he is. Just because I want him, he’s not home.

Rafi 037

Rafi and his lovely Chandra, married 15 years today

Please call him and tell him how grateful I am… While you’re at it, wish him and his lovely Chandra Happy Anniversary. Today is their 15th!