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Unrest at the North Pole…

For years I worked for newspapers and dreamed of getting a real scoop. I’d kick my desk in frustration when another colleague got one. Why couldn’t it be me??? Finally it happened! SO REMEMBER YOU READ IT HERE FIRST!!

A confidential source advised me of a crisis at the North Pole this season. I couldn’t help it, I had to go.


Things were so bad the dogsled RCMP could hardly believe it. Santa’s elves, instead of making toys, were noisily demonstrating against his huge conglomerate, St. NIck’s Toy Manufacturers Inc. As CEO, Santa holds all world’s rights to the distribution of toys for children at Christmas.

NEWLY ELECTED ELF SHOP STEWARD


‘We’ve not been paid overtime for over a century’ the newly elected Elf shop steward told me, pointing to his placard which read ‘Unfair labour practices’. ‘We want a union, and we want it NOW.’


Close by, there was another demonstration. I cautiously approached and realized these were all elves as well, but female. ‘Discrimination against women.’ their leader shouted as she noisily chewed her gum. ‘It’s impossible to live on one salary these days. We demand equal opportunities. While you’re having your holiday dinner, our elflins are walking barefoot in the snow.’ (Oh, my. I never thought of that.) ‘Down with sexism.’

WHO EVER HEARD OF REINDEER FLYING?


I was scared, but I’d do anything for a story. I sneaked off to the other side of the factory and saw more signs. ‘Santa unfair to reindeer’ ‘Animal rights violations’ What??? Santa’s reindeer? What was their problem? I recognized Prancer and singled him out for a statement.


‘Look, when I applied for this job,’ he explained, ‘Nobody said anything about flying. What a ridiculous requirement! Who ever heard of reindeer flying? If that’s what Santa wanted, he should have advertised for Storks!’

THAT WHIPPERSNAPPER HAS A SHINY NOSE.


‘Then, there’s his little favourite Rudolf. Big deal. So that whippersnapper has a shiny nose. We managed well enough without him for over a hundred years.’

SANTA HAD HIS HANDS FULL AND DID THE BEST HE COULD


Oh my, were those tears I saw in Prancer’s eyes? I had no time to lose.

Fortunately, I’d packed my arbitrator’s hat, put it on and started negotiating immediately. I think I did a pretty good job, but if Santa misses your house this year, please understand the man had his hands full and did the best he could under the circumstances.

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?

The fight is far from over….

Muriel2017They’re talking about brilliant female scientists on the radio. It reminds me of an experience I had in approximately 1971 when I was planning to enroll daughter Susan (age 6/7) into a summer program at our local community center.

Identified as a highly gifted child, Susan was totally into science. She loved learning about insects, snakes, lizards, shells, rocks and dinosaurs — you name it.

susan:Carrie in tree

Susan (front) about that time

Reading the available programs, I saw a cooking class for girls and a science class for boys. I recognize that cooking is a science, but it wasn’t Susan’s thing and I knew it. I was  upset. Would I accept that? Of course not!

angrywoman

Would I accept that?

iwomenrights

I threatened to march outside their doors

I visited the center, had a discussion with the program director and threatened that if they didn’t allow my daughter into the science class, I’d march outside their doors with signs complaining about their old-fashioned thinking. Yes, I WAS really angry.

The female program director caved. Susan was allowed into the class, however, I hadn’t foreseen what followed. When she turned up for the class, the surprised boys loudly complained. “Yuck! A girl!’ ‘You’re not allowed in this class.’ ‘You don’t belong here!’

bully

You don’t belong here!

The poor kid. I’d placed Susan in a position where she was not welcome. The boys bullied. They pulled her hair. They saw her as an intruder. I didn’t argue when Susan very soon didn’t want to go anymore.

hairblkwht

They pulled her hair.

I also still wonder what that terrible experience did to her. Would she have followed a different career path if it hadn’t occurred? What did I accomplish after all?

What I do know I accomplished was I did convince the community center to change their policy. I told them they were unfair and outdated. They changed their future description of classes for children and no longer classified them according to sex.

freecutegirl

I’d like to think things improved later for girls

I’d like to think that later perhaps one or two girls, luckier than Susan, had the opportunity to become excited about science in a class — and who knows? Maybe one or two of them has or will win a Nobel Prize after all. (However, the fight is far from over.)

P.S. Susan has found her own way of using her scientific interests and ability in her life’s work in any case.

Am I grateful? You bet I am!

photo by Susan Kauffmann

photo by Susan Kauffmann

It’s Thanksgiving time in Canada, and it comes soon in the States. This has always been a favorite time of year for me and it has nothing to do with turkey. I have so much to be grateful for — beloved family and friends, the adventure of life and the privilege of living long enough to appreciate it.

When my children were young I liked giving them paper and pencil at our Thanksgiving dinners so they could write down and share what they were grateful for. Amongst my treasured papers, I still have some of those lists, one which son Rafi wrote when he was about seven.

Son Rafi, his beautiful Chandra and me. They keep teaching me....

Son Rafi and his beautiful Chandra. They keep teaching me….

As for children? Where to begin? I’ve learned more from my children than they could ever learn from me — and they continue to teach me. I appreciate their intelligence and insight and at times, their honesty. I’m grateful for their continued love and forgiveness for the times I goof, and goodness knows I do. Parenting is no easy task. I believe we all fail in one way or another during the process.

I am grateful for this blog and to daughter Susan, who realized before I did how much I’d enjoy it. I’d never have been able to get it going without her, and she continues as unpaid trouble shooter. I am also grateful to each of you who take the time to read it, and delight in the fact you live in 73 countries, many of which I’ve never visited. Kudos too to son Rafi, who takes time out of his own busy life to help mom when she creates difficulties in her tenuous relationship with this computer, which I’m convinced doesn’t like me. Then there are the lovely

Grandson Remy, who makes being a grandma a real pleasure

Grandson Remy, a real pleasure

people these two have married, and my dear grandson Remy, all of whom accept and love me no matter what. I love them all back.

Now the real miracle — those who just ‘choose’ to love me, and

Robert and Jenna's twins, Eliana and Noah, extra treats in my life

Robert and Jenna’s Eliana and Noah

whom I love as if they were my very own — Amy, Rebecca and Brian, plus Robert and Jenna. How to explain these things? How lucky can you be? It’s gratifying to be loved by your own children, but to be given so much warmth, love and caring from others is a blessing beyond understanding.

My daughter Susan, me and my special additiional 'daughter' Amy

Daughter Susan, me, and my other special ‘daughter’ Amy

I would surely have been killed under Nazi rule

I would surely have been killed under Nazi rule

I am grateful to have spent my life in countries in which I have never had to live with war first hand. That’s a real biggie. I was a little girl during WWII and had I lived in Europe, probably would never have survived under Nazism. Not many humans have been so fortunate.

As a woman, I feel lucky NOT to have been born in a country where women have no freedom. Things may not have been fair for females during my working days, nor are they yet, still I know things could be much worse.

Women in Saudi Arabia, they are not even allowed to drive

Women in Saudi Arabia, they are not even allowed to drive

Susan's gift that keeps ongiving, my own little lilac tree

Susan’s gift that keeps on giving, my own little lilac tree

No one could have derived more pleasure from home ownership than I did. I would do a little walkabout in our garden each morning before leaving for work, marveling at each new leaf or promise of another blossom. Today, I live in an apartment I like, in a neighborhood and city I love. And on my balcony, I have a little lilac tree of my own which daughter Susan gave me years ago. It keeps blooming each year.

I am grateful for those in my book club and especially books, and still being able to read them. (Thank you Brian!) I am grateful for friendships and interesting conversations over coffee. I am grateful for those doctors who truly seem to care about me, and for kind strangers. I am grateful I can still take baths, which I love. I keep thinking of other things to list here, but I’d better stop. I can go on forever. Better just to say I am indeed grateful.