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

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.




A shibboleth in red

redhead what have i doneLord help me, I am accidentally a redhead. It must be punishment from god for my vanity.

I was doing OK, letting my natural colour see daylight for the first time in two and a half decades. But then I spotted a grey hair and my world came crashing down around me. My stylist, my fabulous stylist…I though she could rescue me. But she has only been my stylist for 10 years. I learned 20 years ago that my hair is greedy for red. She did not know my hair 20 years ago. How could she know? Why did I not remember?

redhead youthI used to go red in my youth. It looked good then, I had the flawless ivory skin and the blue-green eyes that actually look good with red hair.

But now I’m 47 and I have rosacea, my skin is less ivory and more white, I have some fine lines, and my jaw line is starting to sag a bit. I look like a trope. You know that trope… the middle aged woman who goes flaming red in an attempt to convince the world and herself that she is still vibrantly alive.

old vivienne fashionistaTo pull off red hair after 45 you either have to actually be a redhead or be Vivienne Westwood – cos Vivienne don’t give a rats ass about aging. Vivienne Westwood is a redhead with chutzpah and redheadedness is her badge of non-conformity.

I, on the other hand, am the shibboleth of the aging western woman, pursuing youth at all costs, oblivious to her privileged place in the world. Ugh. I am not Vivienne Westwood. In fact, in a particularly ironic blow to my sense of self, my favourite Vivienne Westwood dress is pink, and one simply cannot wear pink as a redhead.

My darling, devoted husband is standing by me through this. He really is a gem. Our love can overcome this set back. Specifically, our love must overcome this set back before Feb 25th, which is when I fly to meet him at a convention in Las Vegas. Let’s be honest, going to Vegas in itself is a sad enough trope, and the cliche would only be compounded by showing up there looking like a redheaded cougar wannabe. I might as well just throw up my hands in resignation, buy some dresses with sequins, and play the slots until all the doctors come fetch their wives from the casino for dinner.

redhead pretenderSure, I could bravely take the opportunity of the Las Vegas age-postponing catch-phrase to pretend that I am still young, but it would most certainly come back to haunt me later.

redhead 20 yrs laterNo, I have to make this right. It has been two days and I have washed my hair seven times. If I can fade this colour to auburn then I can be a (possibly the only) dignified trophy wife in Las Vegas. I’m going to put on my favourite beret and head out to buy more shampoo now. Wish me luck. Otherwise I will be forced to spend the whole trip to Vegas in my hotel room. There’s no way my husband would enjoy that.


Mid life crisis resolution

fashion hat pic

Happy first, first world problem post of 2016. I have high hopes for this new year, and an equally high credit card limit. I have resolved to begin the new year on a high note and in high fashion.

Which got me thinking, fashion is like any other of the journeys we take through life. It changes with us, and we can either choose the road less taken or be boring.

I look terrible in boring.

Nope. This is the time for the road less traveled. I am on the verge of beginning the dawn of a brand new day. I just have to embrace it and let go of my youth.

old fashionAge can be a blessing. When I was young I didn’t have the money or the confidence necessary to properly express myself through fashion. I blended. I played it safe. But I am older now. I have both money and confidence, in surplus.

VIvienne-Westwood-old fashionistaLet my husband buy the mid-life crisis sports car, I am going shoe shopping.

I am tearing a page out of the Vivienne Westwood book of fashion. I am going full throttle into dressing for success, no stopping, no slowing down, no fitting in with the background.

I started last month. I snagged these babies before they sold out:

wedge doc

This purchase is half reliving my youth, half living my future and a 100% heads up to my kids.

This may be my first of my mid life crisis fashion purchases, but it won’t be my last.

You’ve been warned.

old is the new black