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A winter wonderland….

balcony

That’s my Inukshuk pretending he’s a snowman

It’s below zero and very cold out. It snowed. Then it snowed again. And now, it’s snowing even more and the wind has decided to join the fun and play ring-a-round-the-rosy.

Huge snowflakes wiggle seductively this way and that like pole-dancers looking for a lap to land on. They rudely push each other about until they find a spot that feels good.

 

They’re careful as they create perfectly fitting marshmallow tops to cover the pots on my balcony. Maybe they’re concerned about my baby garlic plants growing under their white covers. Is that why they work so hard to knit their puffy blankets?

 

Bird

My neighbor Wayne filmed this beautiful bird, a Towhee (I’m told)

 

Jerry, my Inukshuk, who lives under my miniature tree thinks he’s back in the Arctic. He’s playing peak-a-boo with me and pretending he’s a snowman. He thinks I don’t know who he is, but I’d know him anywhere — silly guy. At least he’s wise enough to wear a warm, white cap on his head to keep his ears warm.

 

big tree

looking north from my window

The Northern mountains have been gone for days. They probably went south to visit my friend Joe in Beverly Hills, where it doesn’t snow at all. And who can blame them? They’re not used to this extra cold weather , especially without our beautiful clouds to wrap them in their arms. What the heck, why stick around?

I’m inside for the duration. Schools and universities are closed, my exercise classes are cancelled, flights aren’t going anywhere and the ferries aren’t running to the islands. Our buses are slipping and sliding on the icy streets and can’t make it up the hills, while those brave enough to drive, are often ending up in ditches. None of us are accustomed to this kind of weather and we aren’t equipped for it. People like me are wisely staying in to avoid falls.

 

After opening my balcony door for my good neighbor,

Wayne's table

A marshmallow on Wayne’s table

Wayne, who took these photos, I can’t get the darn door to close properly. (Don’t worry, I’ll work on it.) And, didn’t Wayne do a fabulous job? He also went shopping for some of us who needed help. (I needed milk.)

I’m not bored. I’ve taken care of a lot of things which needed attention inside my apartment. It makes me feel so noble. So, in spite of everything, I look out the window and wonder at the beauty of it all.

It is, indeed, a winter wonderland….

Good morning world…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

 

Mornings are dark right now, but I am looking forward with anticipation and pleasure to our wonderful skies come spring.  Vancouver has the most beautiful clouds I’ve ever seen and they fill me with joy. I face north and see the mountains from my windows and sometimes the clouds embrace the peaks as they would a lover.

 

 

Good Morning World…

Night in passing gives a military salute

And a promise of a crimson dawn

Burrard Bridge dawn

The Burrard Bridge at dawn, one of my favorite of many local bridges

Kisses my window.

 

Blossoms vie for space and light on my balcony

They push and shove like crowds of pedestrians

On a crowded boulevard.

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My constant companion, Jerry, the anukshuk, watches over my balcony garden and the lovely miniature lilac tree daughter Susan gave me.

 

 

jumpss

Yeah!

Cool air caresses my skin with a hint

Of sensual heat to come if I could only

Learn to be patient.

 

 

Fresh air and brewed coffee and car fumes

Dance together in my nostrils offering

A feast at my fingertips.

ladydances

Good Morning World!

 

 

‘Good Morning World,’ I call out to nobody.

 

 

 

Vansunrise

It isn’t a fire folks, just a beautiful dawn in my city

The last day of the year…

Muriel2017

The last day of a decade. Kind of special. I’m taking the day off. Yup! Honest. For real. I don’t know when I’ve ever done this before, I’m an ‘A’ type who usually does what she’s planned or should.

I’ve got a good excuse. They’ve issued a ‘rain warning’. They don’t usually do that, rain isn’t unusual here, especially at this time of year. They’ve cancelled some celebrations for tonight and talked about millimeters expected to come down on our heads. (I have lived here for years but still haven’t learned what millimeters actually are.)

book

Home reading a really good book

I’m not acknowledging my pedometer today as I usually do, but staying in and reading

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult’s ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ which I can hardly put down. The book is about a couple who have a child who has leukemia. There’s no match to help her in the family so they decide to have a new child specially designed to be a match. When she is 13, she sues her parents for using her as a donor throughout her life. I’m reading about the court battle right now and don’t yet know how it ends.

Any illness in a family, physical or mental, can have dire consequences on everyone involved and this is clearly seen in this novel.

dancing

If you celebrate, enjoy!

2020Meanwhile, this is a good opportunity for me to wish each of you the very best for 2020 and to thank you for visiting my blog. I love that you live in at least 110 countries — that’s how many I’m aware of since I’m not always home to note new ones.

If you celebrate, enjoy! I didn’t make any resolutions. Don’t have to. I’m perfect as I am — and so are you.

 

resolution

 

hats

Idiomatic idioms..

Muriel2017Having taught some poor souls struggling with the complexities of the English language, I know what a son-of-a-bitch idioms can be. They don’t say what they mean and even kids born into English speaking families are sometimes confused by them.

My own son, at three, opened those

Baby Rafi and sue

Little Rafi with big sister Susan

big eyes of his in terror when my friend told him she was picking him up from nursery school because his dad was ‘tied up’. She quickly noticed Rafi’s distress and explained his dad was just too busy to come. Whew!

A son of Polish immigrants painfully related what happened long ago in his 7th grade woodworking class. Dissatisfied with his sanding job, the instructor told him to use more ‘elbow grease’. Having no idea what that meant, he told his teacher he didn’t have any. I hope teachers today would be kinder, but he was sent to ask another teacher to ask for  some. He’s never forgotten how embarrassed he was when that teacher and his whole class burst into laughter.

raining caats dogs

It’s raining cats and dogs

When I taught an adult night class, I had one student who loved idioms. He’d regularly watch English TV and bring in the idioms he didn’t understand and ask me to explain them. He brought in many, including ‘The buck stops here; The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; and Don’t upset the apple cart’.

 

3ladies

We live in a rain forest

We live in a rain forest. It happened to pour the evening I told him we’d say: ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’. I then asked what they’d say in Chinese. He seemed uncomfortable and said he couldn’t tell me. I didn’t push it. The next week, he came into class. came up to me and said ‘I can tell you now. We say ‘It’s raining dog excrement.’

I didn’t laugh. But I found the whole incident hilarious and have never forgotten it! Well, we’ve had a whole lot of rain lately and it’s been raining dog excrement for weeks for sure! Enough already….

angrybull

Enough already!

 

 

iBears

 

Thank you for reading my blog. I love that you do. Enjoy whatever you are celebrating — and may 2020 be kind to us all.

 

WE need to build a wall…

mapCanUS

WE need to build a wall…

Just got back this week from California. Had a grand time there with loved ones who treated me royally. Bless their hearts. How I love them and appreciate their consideration and kindness.

Still, there was a strange feeling of unease in the air. Something’s going on….

thisjoke

Trump’s wall south of the US

California is short of water again and that’s no joke. Residents are being careful with the precious stuff while the state is dealing with wild fires. Folks have had to evacuate and some even lost their homes.

homesburn

People are losing their homes

I, myself, saw burned down trees and brush right off the freeway we were driving on in the San Fernando Valley. It was also hot, which they tried to hide from me with air-conditioning, but they couldn’t fool me. I’m too smart for them.

Avacadotrees

Avocados need a lot of water

California grows much of the fruits and veggies we in Canada buy. Those groves of trees and fields of veggies need water. Lots and lots of it. Luscious avocados, so popular

lettucewatered

Lettuce fields need to be watered

with us now, need to be watered 2-3 times a week. Lettuce fields need to be watered. I just told you they’re short of that liquid. Where do you think they’ll try to get it from?

Aha! Think man think!

CanUSBorder

Not difficult to cross this border

Naturally, they’ll declare war on Canada so they can get their unwashed hands on our glorious, clear water!

Listen, just maybe that’s the real reason why Trump withdrew his U.S. troops from Turkey and Syria — because he wants them at home so they can be well-trained and ready to invade his northern neighbor and grab possession of our lakes and rivers! Then, he’ll build a few golf courses to rub it in.

cmentborder

WE need to build a wall…

We must stop this disaster from happening. WE need to build a wall along our southern border — and the US should pay for it. What’s fair is fair, right?

P.S. I apologize to all my dear American friends. Just couldn’t resist being naughty.

 

My Canada scarf in Chile..

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra

I’d just finished my exercise class and was feeling noble. I strutted over to my bus stop where a beautiful young couple were hugging. I asked for a hug too. (I can do silly things like that.) The young man looked at me with question marks all over his face. He hadn’t understood a word I said. That was embarrassing — for a moment. He spoke only Spanish.

How to explain or translate such nonsense? I hadn’t used Spanish in years, not that I did well with it to begin with. When daughter Susan studied Spanish in high school, she declared I spoke Spanish totally in infinitives. Did I even know what an infinitive was?

Nonetheless, between the young man’s few words of English and my terrible Spanish with French words thrown in, he got it. Immediately I was given a happy, enthusiastic hug from him and another from his young lady who wanted to join in the fun. What followed was a hugging fest.

freehug

What followed was a hugging fest

Our trilingual conversation continued. He had spent three months at UBC researching  mining and that very night they were reluctantly going home to Chile. They loved Vancouver and Canadians and had enjoyed every moment in my beloved city. NIce….

Myscarf

The Canada Scarf my friend Joe sent me

When our bus arrived, they chose to sit with me.. It was cold out. I was wearing one of those wonderful, warm scarves with CANADA and the maple leaf proudly displayed in  red. My kind, thoughtful friend Joe, who lives in Beverly Hills, CA, had sent it after I’d complained about having been caught out in that devastating, cold wind storm we had recently.

When the young woman admired it, I impulsively took the scarf off and gave it to them. Surprised and delighted, they thanked me again and then again and with delight, stuffed it into their backpack.

As for me, I love imagining the conversations this lovely young couple are having with their friends back in Chile when they tell them the story of this crazy old woman they met at the bus-stop in Vancouver who asked for a hug and gave them a CANADA scarf.

 

JoeT-Shirt#2,2017

My friend Joe sporting the Vancouver T-shirt I sent him

And, what did Joe think? He has a generous soul and a fabulous sense of adventure. He was just delighted and declared he’d have done the very same thing himself! Yeah!

Meanwhile, I know my CANADA scarf is busy learning Spanish.

 

****The following is another scarf story……..

foldedscarf

** This is the scarf which won’t let me lose it

 

To read about the scarf which won’t let me lose it or give it away, go to:

https://viewfromoverthehill.wordpress.com/2013/12/

Am I too sane to write really well?

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

The other day I attended a ‘Music in the Morning’ concert featuring pianist Pedja Muzijevic, which was not only enjoyable but, for me, particularly interesting. Am I capable of judging the artist’s talent? Of course not. I certainly enjoyed the performance and felt it worth braving the rain and windstorm that chose to hit our city that day.

Said storm created floods and hazards and made it difficult for me to obtain cabs and I got soaked. (We are, after all, located in a rain forest.)

 

pedjaMuzijevic

Pianist Pedja Muzijevic

 

On the program was Robert Schumann’s Carnaval, Op. 9.

ClaraSchumann(1819-1896)

Clara Schumann, (1819-1896)

RobertSchumann(1810-1856)

Robert Schumann, (1810-1856)

In introducing this selection, Muzijevic said something about Schumann which I’ve been thinking about ever since: ‘Schumann, being mentally ill, wrote music without boundaries.‘

(Schumann’s wife, Clara, was also a gifted composer and musician and deserves mention here.)

 

This was the first time in many, many years since I’d heard something like that. Way back in my 30s, when I still hoped to someday write the ‘great American novel’, my husband and I had a friend who was a psychiatrist. One evening when he and his wife came over for dinner, he told me I would never be a great writer because — I was too sane!

having dinner

Dinner conversation years ago

He went on to say he had some patients who were very successful authors, who were able to write things ‘normal’ people can’t. People who are sane, he continued, have something like a protective fence around their brains and they tend to stay within those perimeters. People who are not sane don’t have that barrier. This makes it possible for them to follow ideas outside where you would not dare go.

I’ve never forgotten that evening so long ago and the interesting discussion we had over dinner. This week was the very first time since then I’d heard that same idea expressed. What do you think of it?

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…..

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.

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…..