Ugh. Forty-nine trips around the sun and what do I have to show for it? Chin whiskers.

Today was my 49 birthday. Let me tell a little about how the day went.

For the past year and a half I’ve been having hot flashes on and off. Yes, I am perimenopausal. Hot flashes aren’t exactly the bees knees, but they beat the ever living crap out of cramps and bloating. I have been stoically accepting of this life change.

Well, this morning’s birthday surprise was a uterine salute. My body chose the early hours of my 49th year to get all nostalgic for my youth. If my ovaries could talk they would have shrilly and on a bullhorn been heard saying; “I know it’s been 10 months since her last visit but even at 49 we thought fertility must surely be important to you so we’ve pulled out all the stops for one last visit from Aunty Go-The-Frick-Away-Already. Hope you didn’t throw away those supplies and still have a bottle of Advil handy!”

I got that sorted and washed down two Advil with my morning americano.

Then I puttered for two hours. Old people are allowed to putter. At the end of two hours it was time for me to get ready to head out for a birthday lunch with a dear friend. I bathed, dried, and looked in the mirror. To my horror the cool winter shadow cast across my face revealed a half a moustache and a wee goatee.

I plucked, pulled on a swell skirt and blouse, tied a nifty scarf around my neck, donned a jacket, slipped on a pair of closed-toe two-inch heels, and headed out into the snow.

Lunch was great. The company was superb. We lingered over coffee happily chatting. So the shooting toe pain I got when I tried to stand up was a bit of a downer. Apparently my toes have unilaterally decided I am too old to wear heels and that they prefer to be unfashionably unbending.

I walked tottered on rigid feet over ice, in addition to the throbbing return of the Aunty Kill-Me-Now uterine cramps in my lower back, to my car to drive home. I got home. Remembered I was supposed to stop at the bank. Got back in the car and drove to the cluster of stores on the corner and then sat in my car trying to remember why I was there. I gave up and drove home. Pulled in the garage and remembered I was supposed to stop at the bank. Got back in the car and got half way to the grocery store before I realized that I had passed the bank. Made a u-turn and finally got to the bank.

Home again, I took advantage of the last 30 minutes of daylight and did a little touch up on a painting I have been working on. Went to wipe a paint brush on my painting smock only to realize too late that I didn’t have my painting smock on. No more painting, I ran upstairs and quickly removed my favourite green cardigan, rinsed the paint spot thoroughly and tossed it in the washer. It was green on green so I’m pretty sure it will be OK.

Hubby came home. He made me chicken and potato chowder, a cheesey pannini, and served it with a glass of seasonal ale. This is the highlight of my story.

He then cleared the table, and I wandered off to the living room with the remains of my seasonal ale to get an early start on my evening embroidery. Attempting to start a new thread I dropped the needle. Not on my lap. Not next to me on the couch. So I stood up to look at my feet. It was not on the floor. Puzzled, I sat back down. On the needle. My howl scared the dog and she spilled that tasty ale all over the couch.

Hubby cleaned it up, and put a thick blanket over the damp spot. We settled in to watch Vikings. We had to pause it shortly before the end so he could – in my stead as it is my birthday – run to the airport to pick up my prodigal son.

I decided that I would use this break to have a hot bath to ease my lower back cramps. I started the water, then ducked around the corner to hang up my clothes from the day. Done, I went back to the bathroom expecting a full hot tub. The tub was empty and the water running lukewarm. I had forgotten to stop the drain. No bath for me.

The day has ended alright. My darling has filled a hot water bottle for me, put a bandage on the needle prick in my left buttock, and fed me two more Advil. I have my boys all back at home. I am tucked in to my comfortable bed with a book of short stories by Alice Munro.

Tomorrow I will wake up to the last year in of my first half century of first world problems.



A kitten’s whiskers

When my darling and I stood in front of a suitable assembly of wedding-attired friends and family we vowed to have each other’s backs. Not literally, I’m paraphrasing obviously, but that is the gist of the vows.

Perhaps I should have clarified with my then husband-to-be what exactly that meant in terms of responsibility for mutual care as we grow old together, but my younger self made assumptions, and he assumed my younger self as we made them.

It appears he took the part of the vows about loving one another exactly the way we are a bit too close to heart, and didn’t get implied the part about shielding one another from the stark reality of exactly who we inevitably become.

And OH! What has become of me?

I’m growing whiskers. Don’t laugh. I’m perimenopausal and the ebbing estrogen has opened the door to rogue chin hairs.

How do I know this? I can’t see under my chin. So how do I know about the offending hair?

My hairdresser. During my last appointment she paused, dashed across the salon, and came back with tweezers. She said the hair had been growing for a few months and asked if I’d like it gone.

Of course I want it gone. I don’t dye my hair just to have one rogue whisker on my chin betray my age.

When I got home I told my husband all about how my hairdresser had saved me.

“Thank goodness, that whisker was really bothering me!” is what he said.

He knew about the whisker. All that time. He knew and never said a word.

Am I crazy or was it not his job as a dutiful husband to not only point out that his bride was becoming a goat-haired hobo?

He tried to defend himself by insisting it wasn’t a goat hair, but a kitten whisker. Cute. But, no.

I forgave him on one condition. It is now his job to deal with the whisker.

So, not only have I had to deal with the effects of time on my face, our relationship has also fallen prey to this women’s madness.

One Saturday of every month before we retire to bed, my dearest puts on his reading glasses, pulls out the tweezers, and gets down on his knees in front of me to help me maintain the illusion of youth.

The moments between sundown and sleep used to be so different.









Chin whiskers
Saturday night used to be diff
Berni with flash light n tweezers

Berni needing reading glasses to do it

Technology interupted

My long-time mobile phone died in its sleep Sunday. It left a gaping hole in my daily routine.

By ten am Monday it was evident this hole had to be filled. I couldn’t keep reaching for a phone that wasn’t there.

I steeled myself to head back out on the market, and ended up in the mall. A nice young employee started chatting me up, and informed me that I had insurance coverage for exactly this sort of situation. The catch was that, as with anything worthwhile, it would take some patience.

It waited two long days. I paced the house. I sat in isolation at my laptop away from the TV, dinner table, or bathroom – unable to multitask.

When the new phone arrived it was awkward at first as I figured out how to make it work for me. I reinstalled my apps. I chose a new ring tone.

My new phone and I had eight good hours before it all fell apart.

The phone suggested an update, and I just hit yes not thinking an update could come between my technology and I in any serious way.

After the update my new phone got stuck in an endless loop of powering off and restarting. I eventually managed to turn the power off so I could get some sleep. I hoped when morning came this would all have been a bad dream.

In the morning I turned my phone on and logged into Facebook. We had another good four hours until the update loop returned.

I decided the phone and I needed help, so I went back to the Telus Store. Another young employee told me I had too many apps running in the background. Closing them seemed to help, and I left believing the issue was that I had been selfishly asking too much of the phone’s memory. I could learn to close apps. Right?

This lasted until bedtime. Then the update loop came back.

This time was worse. Not only did it start and restart on an endless loop, it also told me my pin number was incorrect and locked me out.

I had to leave it on the coffee table downstairs and go to bed for a second fitful night of sleep.

Again I got up bright and early. Showered. Made myself and Americano. Answered some emails on my laptop.  Made some toast. Browsed Pinterest. Had a second Americano. Tweeted about Trump.

But then, walking down the hallway to grab a granola bar I found myself reaching into my pocket for my phone and was forced to admit that I couldn’t pretend this problem away.

With sorrow in my heart, I did my hair, got dressed, and went to the mall. I calmly demanded a new phone, explaining that I couldn’t live without one and this phone I had now was unreliable and dysfunctional.

He said he couldn’t repair it because it was a third party phone.

I begged for a replacement. He said that wasn’t allowed and would get us both into trouble.

I begged for a loaner just to get me through the weekend. He said he didn’t have authorization to do that for me.

Finally I pleaded with him to end my old phone contract a week early, and just give me whatever was in store.

He waived the week, and brought me a new, healthy phone.

I have a new phone now. And it has a pretty protective cover with blue flowers. My old phone didn’t have that. And my rebound phone sure didn’t. All my apps are back and functioning. I feel great. I feel connected in a way I haven’t felt in 5 days.

There truly is a light at the end of every tunnel.


New Resolutions to get hung up on

Gracious me, I’m sorry that this blog is a bit late, but I’ve been busy cleaning my room.

You know I take great joy in my time spent in my lovely home, and tend my beautiful rooms with care – mostly. But there is a dark side to my homebody ways. There’s a shameful room based hierarchy.

There's a chair under there...
There’s a chair under there…

Yes, some rooms have been elevated above others. I didn’t mean anything by it, it just kinda happened.

I spend a lot of time on my main floor. I fawn over my newly renovated kitchen. I dote on my library. I turn to my living room when I need to relax. I spend all my free time in my art room.

My bedroom gets short shrift. I leave it in the morning for my kitchen and a happy cup of joe, and only return when I’ve had my full of wakefulness and craftiness and general homey delights. I drag myself upstairs with tired resignation, abandon my clothes on my bedside chair, fall into bed, and snore until dawn.

2014-08-11-22-32-11As the days pass my room begins to look neglected and sad. By the end of a week my bedside chair is barely holding up under the weight of clothes 43 inches deep and I’m forced to wear my third best black cardigan because cardis #1 and #2 are lost in the rubble.

But no more! I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf and hang up my clothes. I want to spend quality time in my bedroom, undistracted by my routine Saturday hunt for the silk blouse with the little pink rosebuds on it. I want to have access to the right cardigan at the right time. I want to sit in that arm chair and think.

This is it. 2017 is the year I take control of my bedroom. Wish me luck.




Happy first world birthday to me

My birthday was Monday. The day played out pretty well.

The noise of my husband showering before work woke me from a sound sleep this morning.  After he toweled dry he came over to the bed, leaned over and whispered “Good morning my love, you are 4 dozen years old today.”

I found that confusing.

First of all, I was in a pre-coffee stupor. Secondly, I never liked multiplying by 12. But I gave him a kiss and a few moments later managed to pull together the mental capacity to understand he had just wished me happy 48th birthday.

Before he left for work he brought the suitcase upstairs to our bedroom for me, and placed a wrapped box on my laptop in my office. I marvel at what he can accomplish before coffee.

The suitcase was for me to pack as we had only two days until we flew out to Ottawa for Christmas. I would have gotten the suitcase myself and started my packing earlier, but spiders. In the basement. In the basement storage speakerscloset with the suitcases. I don’t like spiders.

The wrapped box was my birthday gift. It held speakers for my laptop. I can now fill my office/art room with the sounds of music. This such a relief. The stereo is on the other side of the house and the sound just doesn’t carry from the east to the west wings at all, and the speakers built into my laptop are too feeble to do my music justice.

Now I can paint to a waltz, sculpt to jazz, sew to the sounds of the grand ole opry, and type to a soothing folksy ballad.

Another first world problem solved. My husband is my hero.



Save Sugaree


I am ridiculously excited. The most amazing thing has happened to me.

As you all know I am a strong, independent woman. But you probably don’t know that more than anything else I value looking after my family by my own hard work and determined effort.

To that end, I have taken one more important step towards my matriarchal autonomy.

I have adopted a chicken. A heritage chicken. A chicken of my ancestors.

This of course fits well with my other back-to-the-land life style choices.other-adopt-a-chicken

  • The garden my husband built for me, where I grow my tomatoes and peppers and lettuce.
  • My mini fruit orchard in which I nurture my Evans Cherry, Saskatoon bush, grape vine, black berry bush, and next year – a gooseberry.
  • My beautiful Daisy la Bicyclette with her womanly saddle bags, who I ride in my fashionable summer chapeau’s to and from our local farmer’s markets.

This is a dream come true.

Now I can provide eggs for my hungry family. Heritage eggs. Eggs that hearken back to a simpler time, before our food was wrapped in plastic.


My chicken’s name is Sugar – because calling her breakfast felt wrong, and because the name fits in with my folksy grassroots.

I expect my chicken to be a leader among chicks, a source of inspiration, and obviously a creative poultry wonder in the fashion of her adoptive mother. I will by proxy raise her to be a strong, independent layer.

I’d write more but I need to get on Pinterest ASAP and learn how to knit a chicken sweater for my Sugar.




Ninjapoo is not a term of endearment

tessaoutsiderartI am devoted doggy mommy.

On an inauspicious March day in 2005, I wandered in to my local Petcetera. I walked out a new woman, reformed by the soulful gaze of a skinny, mangy puppy sitting with eyes full of heart.

You know those smart people who pick up long lost paintings by masters from dumpsters, seeing past the banged up frames and layers of soot? I have the dog version of that.

My dog is one of a kind. She’s basically outsider art.


Do I care when all the other yoga pant wearing Starbucks drinking doggy mommies strut by the by my front yard with their designer doggies looking askance at my scruffy baby? Nope.

Do I complain when I come home and have to pick up a little garbage because my dog has once again rooted through the trash looking for butter wrappers? Nope.

Do I care that Tessa hasn’t exactly made the doggy varsity team? Or can fetch or catch or do any of the traditional doggy tricks? No.


I love her unconditionally. But this dog, the dog I love and dote on, the dog that spends hour upon hour with me out in the yard, the dog who has her own spot on the couch, the dog who has unchallenged first right of occupancy to prime real estate in front of every window, this dog has a secret problem.

Like a ninja in the night we don’t see her come and go, we only know where she has been by the little clues she leaves behind.

Behold, the ninjapoo of shame.

tessa's shame


Safety first

AgoodMotherI pride myself on being a good mother. I take risks and put my own personal well being on the line for my children on a routine basis. Motherhood is just one step removed from martyrdom after all. It causes women about as much grief as any other existing ideology and many of us do it for all the wrong reasons. Still, most of us have the best intentions, and a willingness to accept the risks.

So when my son began dating his first girlfriend I decided I would be progressive and proactive. I took it upon myself to nurture their blossoming relationship right from the start. After all, I am sex positive. I am positive they are going to have sex.

So I made a trip to my local pharmacy, which happens to be in my local grocery store.  I headed for the condom section, which turned out to be a condom aisle. A whole aisle. I had no idea.

condomsI stood there stunned, and a little too afraid to actually pick up any of the boxes and read the fine print. I  don’t know how long I stood there surveying the shelves. Maybe five minutes, maybe three hours.

I was woken from my stupor by a voice over my left shoulder. As soon as I realized that voice belonged to an actual human being and wasn’t coming from inside my head, I turned in that direction. I stood face to face with a handsome twenty something man smiling at me with genuine concern.

“Do you need help?” He asked.

I instantly had a hot flash and blurted out “Not for me, for my son…”

He nodded empathetically, fully aware that women of my age obviously didn’t have sex, let alone safe sex. He took a cautious step forward, hands visible at all times, and reached out and pointed to a box on one of the shelves “These are my favourites.”

durex-surprise-me-12-preservatifsAt this exact moment his girlfriend showed up, and he turned to her to explain himself “This woman is buying condoms for her son, isn’t that great?”

She clapped her hands “You are a wonderful mother! Did he tell you these,” she also pointed, “are our favourite?”

I think I nodded.

She waited.

I stood there.

She picked up the box from the shelf and offered them to me.

I grabbed them, turned around, and ran for the cash. The cashier didn’t mention it. I didn’t get a bag, I popped them right in my purse and prepared for a hasty retreat back to the safety of the parking lot. It was all going well until I got to the door.

There at the door was that lovely young couple, and as I passed them they waved and said in unison “Wish your son good luck!”

Now I have to find a new grocery store because I cannot risk going back there and having them asked me how he did.



We’re all dying on the inside

article-2281413-17BC00A2000005DC-517_634x432I have dyed my hair since I was in my early 20s. I’ve had yellow hair, black hair, red hair and accidental purple hair. I’ve used off the shelf store dye, I’ve used henna, and I’ve paid salon prices. I don’t even really remember what colour my hair is naturally.

My hair is self expression. I dye it to express myself. I have no ulterior motive. So the other day when making small talk with a store clerk about needing to get into my stylist I was shocked that she assumed I had grey to cover.

tumblr_inline_mmjdxp3hsl1qz4rgpGrey hair. To cover. Like an old lady.

Perhaps as response to my confused look she cheerfully and without any remorse quipped, “I assume that’s the case when women get to a certain age.”

I apparently am a “certain age”. That realization was a bit of a downer. I hadn’t really considered myself old in spite of the fact that I currently have three children in post secondary education. Or in spite of the fact that I recently broke down and got bifocal  glasses. Or in spite of the fact that a person born the year I graduated high school is right now having an existential crisis on the eve of a 30th birthday.

Meryl-Streep-in-The-Devil-014I drove home from what would otherwise have been a wonderful shopping adventure wondering if I had gone grey. Had I inadvertently been covering up a wonderful head of silver hair? Because I know that if I were to be grey, I would be fabulously grey. 

Now I have to know. I have to let my hair colour lapse. I don’t know how I am going to break the news to my stylist.




My fashion is blowin’ in the wind

There are times I think – fashion be damned, I should gain 5lbs just for my own safety.
poppinsFor instance, on windy days.

In my home town you could knock me over with the weather on just about any day. Goodness knows the situation changes often enough that I can never feel safe letting my guard down or leaving my cardigan at home.

But the other day was the worst! I left the office at lunch for my usual Wednesday casual shopping. My work location is idyllic because the building sits on Jasper Avenue, close to shopping. I enjoy a weekly fashion filled 45 minute spree, and then I head back to the office.

From the boutiques my return route is west. West up Jasper avenue. Which, on the day in question, was against the wind.

into the windWalking into the wind was like wading through silly putty. I struggled my way up the street, walking forward with my entire tiny frame at a 45 degree angle to the pavement. I can’t say for certain if I was saved by the heft of my packages or the forgotten american coins in my purse but had I been 5 lbs lighter I would have had to hunker behind a bus shelter and ride the gale out.

Being small is hazardous. The risk of being overcome by the elements is tremendous, but it’s just one of the burdens of my petite stature I have to come to accept.

I count my blessings that I made it back to the office alive. I’m sure it isn’t the first time that my impulse shopping instincts have saved me. Next time, if I don’t find a perfect pair of shoes or a jacket to die for, I may not be so lucky.

blustery day