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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…

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:

COVID:19 Haircut — Yahoo!!!

blongfraZZ

I need a haircut.

Today is a very special day. I’m getting my first haircut in a long, long time. My curly hair has been having a wonderful time disobeying me and making me crazy by behaving like a hormone-crazed teenager.

 

It does just as it pleases and won’t listen to me no-how. Why should it worry? I still carefully shampoo and condition it no matter what it does. Maybe I should pull it hard until the roots hurt, but that would probably hurt me more than it would the hair.

 

Never imagined I could be so excited about something

Photo on 2020-05-27 at 4.22 PM

Lynne braided my rat’s tail

so ordinary. Lynne, my stylist, will be able to make a braid with my rat’s tail and I’ll be able to send grandson Remy a photo of it. Yeah! I’m trying to act cool, but I admit to being anything but.

 

This project was front and centre when I awoke this morning. I purposely wore an old top because no matter how Lynne tries, I end up with itchy bits of hair under my shirt and tear it off as soon as I get home — unfortunately I can’t do that in the elevator. Decency requires I wait until I get into my own apartment.

frazzledcomputer

Yup, sometimes I even groan.

 

Meanwhile folks, my new computer and I are doing a careful, uneasy dance around each other. I’m trying to learn more about dealing with the confusions (plural) it throws at me. It seems to endlessly enjoy seeing me in a state of despair. Yup, sometimes I even groan.

 

Last night that technological wonder gave me a new lesson on control. Dear Andrew had found a totally different game of solitaire for me. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the new challenge while I listen to ‘Ideas’ on CBC Radio. I like to do that and by my age I feel entitled to indulge.

winexompur

I could sure use that…

 

When I finally turned in, my right hand and wrist ached and complained so much I found it impossible to sleep. I’ve already had surgery on that wrist so you’d think I’d know better, but no. I still have more learning to do — about CONTROL! No more than three games at a time from now on. Wish me luck…

 

 

I want a rat tail like Remy’s…

Remy's rat tail2020

Remy’s tail

The last time my San Francisco crew visited, I teased Remy about his long braid. After admiring it, I suggested he not dare fall asleep at night because I would cut it off and glue it on for myself. He laughed. He wasn’t terrified. (I’m using his photo here with his permission.)

I had no idea it was called a ‘rat’s tail’. Why would I? It was my patient friend Celine, who made my first real braid and commented that’s what it looked like. I thought it was because my hair is grey and Remy’s is black, (like mine used to be).

Then, son Rafi told me it WAS called a ‘rat’s tail’. Imagine! I keep learning folks. Don’t we all NEED to know these things? Aren’t you glad I’m telling you?

I’m a determined sort. Ask my kids. It drives them nuts.

Photo on 2020-04-22 at 10.18

All I could do was make a small ponytail

So, I continued to let my own rat’s tail grow, but now I’m isolating because of COVID:19 and giving friends and others I love a break by not seeing anyone. I’m definitely not talented enough to make a braid for myself in the back of my head. Forget it. All I could do was make a small ponytail and hope for the best.

Photo on 2020-04-25 at 09.12 2

The lovely braid Samantha made

Then, finally Samantha visited wearing a mask, washed her hands 100 times, etc., etc., etc. but still beautiful. What a treat. She made a lovely braid for me. I loved it. The next morning, it was stubbornly curled up to the left and no way was it willing to straighten out.

Photo on 2020-04-26 at 10.49

Note the stubborn curl toward the left of photo

Want some good advice? Watch out what you wish for. You may get it AND regret it. I had straight jet-black hair and would have sold my young soul to the devil to have it curl. Well, now I’ve got what I then wanted so badly. My grey hair IS wavy. I hate it! It drives me crazy. It won’t wave the way I’d want it to. It is totally uncontrollable. Sometimes it looks like the 1920s. Oh, woe is me… I’m back to nothing but a silly little ponytail.

You mean I didn’t make you cry with this very sad tale about my tail??

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