Archives

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…..

Advertisements

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!!!

momsteals-3

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.

momstealsshirts2018-1

The winnah

Who ended up with the shirts? Waddaya think? Me, of

Susanforgivesme-6

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.

Woman_Sitting_at_a_Messy_Desk_clipart_image

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…..

Hudson’s Bay Company and — Tsar Nicholas????

Muriel Susan

Daughter Susan and me, you can blame her for this blog

I’m not a shopper. I have no patience and particularly hate trying on clothes. I also don’t like large department stores — haven’t a clue where things are and too often can’t find someone to ask. Our Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is one such store. I avoid it if I can. They once had a huge sign on the outside of their downtown location declaring ‘Shopping is good’. I didn’t approve. The statement is debatable, but that’s a whole other story.

Our bodies have to be clothed, so it becomes necessary now and then to shop.

summer pants at HBC

found a new pair of these at HBC

That means going to larger stores for me. I’m short. I need a petite. Most smaller stores don’t carry petites, so I went to HBC for my recent summer clothing requirements. Who’d have imagined what I read about them later?

220px-Indians_at_a_Hudson_Bay_Company_trading_post

HBC didn’t only buy and sell furs

I’m a history buff. Of course I knew HBC, as one of the oldest businesses in existence, would have a long history. However in reading ‘The Secret Plot To Save The Tsar’ by Shay McNeale, I learned the company had been involved in far more than just buying and selling furs.

The book says HBC was contracted to construct a residence in Murmansk, in northern Russia, to be used as a safe house for Tsar Nicholas II and his family pending a hopeful rescue by the Allies in 1917. It was believed/hoped this might even lead to the Tsar’s eventual return to power. And it was HBC’s Henry Armitstead (1877-1956) who headed the project.

During World War One, (1914-1918) HBC operated as purchasing agents for France, Russia, Romania as well as others. The firm had headquarters in London. They were able to claim the house was being built for use by employees, but it was paid for by the British Admiralty and constructed under the auspices of the British Secret Service. (Armitstead’s boss, C.V. Sale, was head of HBC at the time.)

As during most revolutions, in the Russia of 1917, factions jostled for power. Bolsheviks, Czechs, the White Army, Reds, Cossacks, Caucasians, and others manoeuvred, used extortion, blackmail, ransoms, bribes and double-dealing to gain control of the country during the civil war. Agents and double agents infiltrated the various factions, often changing identities and names, other countries utilized a multi-tracked policy of espionage. It was a real, live ‘cloak and dagger’ whodunnit with murders and disappearances a common occurrence. Lenin was a master at the game. He accepted huge bribes from all sides — and was the guy who trained Stalin — only too well.

Family II

Tsar Nicholas II and family

King George V and first cousin Tsar Nicholas, often called twins

First cousins: Tsar Nicholas and King George V ‘The Twins’

What is the truth? Did the Tsar and his family actually survive? To this day some think so. Some don’t. The Tsar was closely related to many other European Royals. His first cousin, King George V of England, and he looked so much alike they were often called ‘The Twins’ and easily mistaken for each other.

Do I think they survived? No.

And what do the Hudson’s Bay’s records say of all this? Their

220px-HBCWinnipeg

HBC Winnipeg — archives

archives are online and fascinating — I spent hours totally intrigued. They say Armitstead was indeed employed by them and was posted in Archangel, on a ‘special trade mission’ during 1917.  Archangel (Arkhangeiska) is located in the north of Russia. Interesting, no?

Elevator buttons — a conspiracy?

Can it be a conspiracy?

Can it be a conspiracy?

Sure, I may be older and wiser and all, but I’m still baffled by buttons in elevators. They’re beyond comprehension. I stand there staring at those little suckers confused — desperately trying to figure out which one to push. My relationship with them leaves much to be desired.

Admittedly, my sense of direction is non-exist but once I finally get to where I was supposed to be ten minutes ago, I pretty much know where I’m supposed to go. Now, if this sounds confusing, it is, so you can imagine how mixed up I feel because that last hurdle — the elevator — is the most confusing of all.

Elevators are where the real challenge begins. Does “G” mean ‘Garage’ or ‘Ground Floor’? Will “B” take me to the Basement or the B-level? Why do they use “P” for Penthouse as well as Parking, “M” for both Street Level and Mezzanine? Isn’t there anyone in charge of elevators clever enough to realize that I find all of this bewildering?

There ought to be a law making all elevator buttons standard

There ought to be a law making all elevator buttons standard

And, what about those additional buttons with pictures which are supposed to be helpful for confused, simple folk like me? They indicate either Open or Close and have something to do with the doors, but by the time I figure out which does which, the door has slammed shut in some poor soul’s face and I’m feeling guilty and apologizing to the air. I hate being rude to strangers. Whatever do they think of me?

Some people come up with brilliant ideas. For instance, don’t you agree a statue should be erected to honour the genius who first invented the potato peeler? You have to acknowledge that the potato peeler is absolutely fabulous — a genuine treasure. What would we do without them? Terrific, right?

There should be a statue in honour of the genius who first invented the noble potato peeler

There should be a statue in honour of the genius who first invented the noble potato peeler

But then, there are also people who lie awake all night dreaming up mysterious new secret codes for public elevator buttons, especially those I will be required to use. It has to be a plot! A plan purposely devised to keep me humble in these, my later years, which are supposed to

Elevator buttons are one way

Elevator buttons are one way “they” keep us feeling inadequate.

provide me with some wisdom.

If you are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories, you’d be well justified in concluding these elevator buttons are one way “they” keep all of us feeling inadequate. After all, if we consider ourselves unable to figure out something as ‘simple’ as elevator buttons, how
can we presume to question those in power? Right? Bingo!

People like me, who have vestibular disorders, don’t like large shopping centers. The lights and colours alone make us uncomfortable. Add to that my lack of any sense of direction which makes it even more difficult for me to find the stores I want in large shopping malls. Besides, I just hate shopping.

Occasionally one must work up the courage and go. Be advised, however, information in shopping centre elevators is reserved for big-time spenders only. Obviously, I don’t qualify. Pray tell, what in the world does “R” , “C” or “P” represent? Like an idiot, I recently stood in an unmoving elevator looking at those meaningless letters until I was rescued by a kind stranger.

“C is where you want to go,” she stated with assurance.
“I thought it meant “Close”, I muttered, “That’s what it means in my doctor’s building. What does it stand for anyway.”
“I have no idea, but that’s where the stores are.”

I’m intrigued by a puzzle, so on the way down I tried again. This time the man I cornered in the elevator suggested it might stand for Centre.

“But, isn’t the whole structure a centre?”

He couldn’t help and I am a curious sort. I had to find out, so I called and spoke to an expert in our city’s planning and building department. He thought the “C” button at the shopping centre probably stood for — Concourse.
Of course, everyone knows that!

Good Grief, Gift-giving time…..

Gift-giving time

Gift-giving time

Holiday music is everywhere. The stores are full of gifts and sweets hoping you will buy them for friends and loved ones and as usual, I’m not out there much. A reluctant shopper at any time, I am even more so when the shops are busy. Just the idea of gift-giving fills me with unease and trepidation — and no wonder! My own home is filled with gifts I don’t need, but keep — from people I love.
Don't look for me in this picture, I'm not there if I can help it

Don’t look for me in this picture, I’m not there if I can help it


What was the most useless gift I ever received?? There are many, however it may have been the Portuguese bread bag which arrived by mail. Not that I recognized it as such when I opened the package. It was an off-white, 9”
Portuguese bread bag, but I didn't have any Portuguese bread

Portuguese bread bag, but I didn’t have any Portuguese bread

square, fabric bag with a pull-string at the top, and a bright red embroidered flower in one corner with the word “PAN” inscribed on it.
Pan, the god of Greek mythology and his reed pipe

Pan, the god of Greek mythology and his reed pipe

According to Greek mythology, Pan was that happy-go-lucky god of the woods, fields and fertility — the son of Hermes and a gofer for the other gods. He was a musical prodigy, but his body was totally confused, with horns, hoofs and goat ears, all of which didn’t seem to bother him. He had a grand time playing his pipe of reeds, which the clever guy, they say, invented all by himself. You have to admire Pan for not looking at his reflection in a pond and just giving up — that’s how ugly he was.
His persistence in the face of failure with the fair sex is inspiring. He continued to woo one beautiful wood nymph after another even though they kept rejecting him due to his yucky looks. It wasn’t very kind of them, but maybe they just couldn’t get past the thought of those scratchy hoofs in bed. They say the word “panic” is derived from the fears of travelers who heard the sound of Pan’s pipes at night in the wilderness. But, that wouldn’t scare me half as much as shopping for gifts. My family knows. They are kind. They shop for their own gifts from me and I am grateful.
Well, back to that bag. I studied it. Was it a tribute to the Greek Pan? For carrying a small pipe made of reeds? Do I have reed pipes sitting around hoping for a place to snuggle in — in such a bag? I couldn’t figure it out. I called to inquire. After patiently hearing my long tale about Pan and his hoofs and his lack of success with the ladies, my friend chuckled.
“You lived in L.A. for years and don’t know what pan is?” (It does means bread in Spanish.) I remained puzzled. How could any bread fit into such a bag and why would anyone want to put it in there?
I didn't know where to obtain Portuguese sweet bread, which might have fit in my bread bag

I didn’t know where to obtain Portuguese sweet bread, which might have fit in my bread bag


What to do? During past holidays we had fun with what we called a “Stupid Gift Exchange”. We would wrap gifts we’d been given and didn’t need. (If you do this, be sure the gift-giver isn’t at the party.) Friends are sometimes pleased to get something you may not have wanted, but apparently my Portuguese bread bag was not in demand. It was rejected two years in a row and I was required to take it back — twice.
Poor thing. Its red flower turned to an embarrassed scarlet and it sat alone feeling blue, rejected and unloved in my kitchen junk drawer for years. I’d see it now and then and be reminded of its sorrow. It made me sad. After years of this, I finally passed it on as a wedding gift, along with a cheque and a hand-written note revealing the long saga of the poor unwanted Portuguese bread bag.
The young couple who received it must have been moved. They called me long distance just to find out if the sad story was true. Would I make up something like that?
They assured me they knew someone they wanted to give it to. I wonder who it was. Did those people find a use for it and keep it? Did they pass it on again? I wonder who has it now or if it is still being passed from one to another? Did someone happen to give it to you?
Happy Holiday! Here’s to humour, health and happiness in the New Year! Holiday Greets