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

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.

BobShirPau.jpeg 1

        Bob with my still beautiful sisters, L- Shirley, R- Pauline                           photo by Bob’s talented son Gary Rush

 

Working on my bucket list….

Bucket List: A list of things one hopes to accomplish during their lifetime.

Muriel2017

Photo by my Chandra

For years there were oodles of things sitting in that bucket of mine, but it has been getting lighter. There were countries I wanted to visit and see, and trips I wanted to make. I had promised a family of favorite students, who had returned to Taiwan, that I’d visit someday. That day kept being put off.

WuFamily.jpg

The Wu family.  Rear: Kevin, Megumi, Jason, dad Hank, front: Jennifer and Ethan the whiz (as clever as his dad)

 

 

Once I (mistakenly) thought since I was paying a visit I owed to a friend in New Zealand, Taiwan would be close by. (Shows you how little I knew.) I immediately called Jennifer in Taiwan and told her I would come to see them, but then learned it would be another eight hours tacked on to the 14-hour plane ride to New Zealand.

That was too much for me with the Vestibular Disorder I live with. Jennifer was, understandably, disappointed. I felt stupid..

 

Years passed, some of which were difficult  for me. I required a knee and later a hip replacement. (I’ve refused so far to have the other knee done, though it needs it.) Nonetheless, I’m now a bionic woman.

All those who could attend from the Wu family came to Canada from Taiwan to attend my 80th birthday celebration two years ago. That did it. I decided, no matter what, immediately after I recuperated sufficiently from the hip surgery, I’d have to get there. They certainly deserved it — plus if not now, when?

eatingourwaythroughTaiwan

We ate our way through Taiwan — lavishly.

In Taiwan, I was treated like a queen. How interesting that  you do a few little things for someone to be a good kid and you can get so much more in return. That is certainly what happened with the Wu family.

They have never forgotten anything I may have done for them years ago, and have given me back more than I ever could have given them. I, on the other hand, remember with pleasure the times Jennifer invited me to stay for dinner after the boys had their ESL lessons. They truly owe me nothing!

 

Chandra:Arthurmehotel2018

The Wu family saw to it that Arthur, their driver, took extra good care of me. (Chandra, Arthur and me outside the oh-so-ritzy hotel we stayed at)

It was thrilling to see Kevin again, whom I taught so long ago.

Muriel:Kevin2018

With Kevin, that old close feeling

We hadn’t seen each other for about 15 years. It felt as if not a day had passed, that old warmth was still there as strong as ever and I felt I could say anything I wanted to him.

He now has a beautiful wife and two young boys. The oldest, about four, seems as clever as his dad, the younger, at two, doesn’t ever walk. He only runs and must keep his mom, Megumi, on the run.

Chandra:Jennifer2018

Jennifer adores Chandra — the feeling is mutual

My Chandra, who traveled with me, captured everyone’s heart. Without her it would have been more difficult for me — I am getting older.

I’ll also owe my Chandra forever for remembering to bring coffee and the means to fix it, which she did for me every morning. (I’m addicted to the stuff.)

Jennifer adores her, and rightly so. I do too….. Son Rafi, who stayed home, gave me the greatest gift when he chose Chandra for his wife.

 

Sushiplace

Everywhere we went, we ran into friends of the Wu family. (Having sushi in Taipei)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how are YOU doing with your bucket list?

Complaining again???

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I heard on CBC Radio a group of young people is suing the US government regarding destruction of the environment. The warnings are ominous — if we don’t act right now, the future looks bleak. Scientists warn hundreds of thousands will die of thirst and lack of food due to climate warming.

I live in what is supposedly a forward-thinking country, so what’s wrong with our politicians. Our young prime minister has young children of his own. Is he not concerned about their future? He insists the Trans Mountain pipeline will/must be built. He’s already committed my tax dollars to it.

ibestprotestpipe

 

Construction of Transmtnpipe

Trans Mountain Pipeline

If the federal government succeeds, this pipeline will carry diluted bitumen all the way from Edmonton, Alberta, right across our ‘Naturally Beautiful’ British Columbia to Burnaby. From there the bitumen will travel by tanker across the water to wherever they want to process our dirty oil.

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipe

Trans Mountain Pipeline, not pretty

Where there are pipes there ARE leaks, and the risk of oil spills along the route are likely. What the increased tanker traffic will do to our already stressed and endangered orcas and other marine life can only be imagined. I’m heartbroken…

anotheratankerTMP

tanker to carry bitumen on our waters

The governing party in my province needed the small Green Party to form a coalition in order to give them a majority. I counted on the Greens to keep them from doing too much harm to our environment.

Still, our province has approved a huge Liquid Natural Gas project In Kitimat, the Northern part of B. C. There is nothing ‘natural’ about the process used to extract the gas.Would you want something  looking like this in your back yard?

LN

LNG Project.

Besides, we’re told this ‘massive’ project will require a 670 kilometre ‘Coastal GasLink’ pipeline to the LNG plant. Another pipeline….and more tankers in our waters.
There are dozens of LNG projects around the world. Just check Mr. Google.

Recently, I read about a housewife located close to one LNG project who complained you could light the water coming out of her kitchen faucets with a match. Would you want to drink that? The officials claimed the LNG fracking had nothing to do with it.

LNGtransportBC

LNG Tanker — what will it do to marine life?

Years ago, when California announced tight restrictions on environmentally damaging cars or projects, opponents believed businesses would flee en-masse or collapse. It never happened. Instead California became a leader in safer, cleaner and lucrative industries. (Check it out.)

funny lady at computer

You may disagree

What would I prefer? Thinking about creating healthier, less environmentally damaging projects for the financial well-being of our children in the future. You need not agree with me. These are just my thoughts…. You are welcome to try to convince me I’m wrong.

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….

About Einstein….

SusanHair cut, April 2014

My Susan, who understood before I did what this blog would mean to me

Had a visit from my Susan and her Michael — it was busy and wonderful and left no time to think of writing. Well, they’re gone and the laundry is (almost) all done, so last night I sat down to relax and watch ‘Inside Einstein’s Mind’ on Netflix. A normal person would have watched it through and learn something, but normal wouldn’t exactly describe me.

Whenever I think of Einstein, I imagine the world-renowned brilliant

Eisteintongueout

the famous photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out

physicist himself. This Nova program mentions something about Einstein having children. My curiosity took over. I had to put aside watching to find out something about them.

 

No one seems to know anything about Albert Einstein’s daughter Lieserl. She was probably born in 1902 and I could learn nothing more. It’s a mystery….

Hans Albert Einstein

Hans Albert Einstein

One son, Hans Albert, 1904-1973, a hydraulic engineer, followed his father’s example and moved to the U.S. in time to avoid the Holocaust. Hans became a professor at the University of California at Berkley.

Eduard, 1910-1965, often ill as a child was a talented student and musician. He studied medicine and wanted to become a psychiatrist. In one of those ironic coincidences, at age 20, he began suffering from schizophrenia. That ended any plans for a successful career. He spent many years hospitalized.

Eduard_Einstein

Eduard Einstein

Book- The Prof and the Madman

Worth a read

Not long ago, (see May 15, 2017) I wrote about reading ‘The Professor and the Madman’ by Simon Winchester. In it, Winchester states one in a hundred people have schizophrenia. That’s a whole lot folks. We need some brilliant souls to seek a cure for this heartbreaking illness which afflicts so many.

These are the children from Einstein’s first marriage.

In my search, I also learned about many quotes attributed to Albert Einstein himself. Here are a few:

‘Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will get you everywhere.

The only way to escape the corruptible effect of praise is to go on working.

The most important question you can ever ask is if the universe is a friendly place.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

ribbon-hearts

‘Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.’ Einstein

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.’

AEinsteinviolin

Albert Einstein

Einstein, an opinionated man with humor.

 

 

There are many more. Look for them online — fortunately Einstein WAS an opinionated man — with humor!

 

Joe's cup

Joe’s Einstein coffee cup. He hopes some of the brilliance will rub off.

Flagrantly Flirting….

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

At last fellows, I’ve got my revenge. I now have the advantage. I am able to flirt flagrantly and get some good laughs and hugs every day. As you get older, you can’t get away with that. If you behaved like me, they’d call you a dirty old man and call the cops. I NEVER get that reaction. People just smile and join in the fun.

Muriel-1980's.jpg

L A, during the 80’s. Looks like I started ‘flagrantly flirting’ long ago

Walking along the Avenue on my way to breakfast, I may see a young couple hugging and ask shamelessly, ‘Is this gorgeous guy giving out free hugs this morning?’ Invariably I get the hug and a laugh from both of them. Often enough, the three of us hug. Let’s face it, I’m no threat.

Reiner@Terra's

Reiner graciously gave me his seat at Terra’s. What better excuse for a hug with a cute guy.

My dear friend, Trudy, says she puts up with me because I make her laugh.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trudy, who puts up with me because I make her laugh

Daughter Susan says when she thinks of me, it is always of me laughing. (Truth be told, Susan makes me laugh more than I ever could make her do so. She is a clever AND funny girl.)

Daughter-in-law Chandra, a favorite in my life, tells me she loves to laugh with me — and we certainly do often laugh together. Chandra particularly enjoys teasing me about my frequent flirtations with waiters, which, admittedly, I am guilty of. They’re so often cute……

Waiter at Mexican Rest. & Me, SF 2013

Dinner with kids at Mexican Restaurant. Well, isn’t he cute?

Flirtingwaiter

Dinner in S.F. with kids. Chandra and I laughed our heads off.

How can I resist cute waiters???? There are many more I’ve hugged and don’t have photos with. My Chandra was present and so took these while she laughed and teased me.

 

 

 

 

No one is safe when I’m around.. I joke with employees on trains or at airports.

Muriel and boyfriend on train, 2013

A new friend on the train

Today’s airports are intimidating for everyone, however, since my vision isn’t what it used to be and my relationship with computers is tenuous, I really do require help. I ALWAYS get it. When I spot two or three male employees together, I’ll approach and tell them I’d like the handsomest to help me. They laugh. They all offer their assistance.

As a result of this nonsense, I get many smiles and the very best of service everywhere.

Muriel's 80th-7100155.jpg

Greg, who makes me laugh more often than just about anyone.

So many people add so much to my life!!!

Vinson and me

Clowning with my gorgeous ‘grandson’ Vinson