Monday, December 30, 2013

Finding joy, choosing joy

Christmas 08 119

When the world seems set on kicking you in the teeth, it is - at times- difficult to find the positive things surrounding you.

This year has been a compilation of things making me want to crawl under the bed and hide. There was a funding scare at my office in the spring, a ton of changes to my schedule through summer, slow development on our house in the fall, and a medical leave from work in the winter. Add that to the last two years of infertility (2011) and losing a job (2012), I am about ready for the tides to turn.

But then I stop to think about the amazing things I have experienced this year.
  • My favourite little girl was born and she is SO MUCH TROUBLE.
  • I had a wonderful time in Cuba and went snorkelling without panicking once!
  • My husband and I celebrated our 6th year of dating and our 4th of marriage. And it's still awesome. When I tell him I love him, he says it's cuz he's wonderful and he's right! (and modest)
  • I've gotten to spend time with my Grandma (94) and The Guy's Grandma (91) and they are a hoot. My Grandma learned to use email and Skype. She's very excited.
  • We sold our house and started building a new one. In the meantime, we're in the cutest rental that belongs to a girl I used to babysit when I was in high school. 
  • Riders won the Grey Cup and we were there for it all. 
  • Monty was adorable every day.
The Guy is a good one for reminding me to look beyond the things causing me grief and look towards the things that make our lives worth it all. If it wasn't for the tougher spots, we wouldn't recognize the good. I can count him in my blessing list every day. Except for that one time he ate all the ice cream. 

I have a friend (my dear Gooblet) who daily picks a moment that makes her day the BDE -- best day ever.  She can have a day where everything in it sucks, but she will find the bright spot. Some days I think she's lying, but the point is she tries.

I want to be more like that. I want to look for the joy in my life. I want to choose joy.

Even when the day punches me in the junk, I want to be able to cuddle up with my dog and The Guy and say "This is joy."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The best of me: What readers liked most in 2013

Tis the time of year again where bloggers around the world make lists of their accomplishments in writing. I'm no different. Mostly because I'm lazy and I follow the crowd.

The following list tells of the times I bitched about sex, showed you my ability to craft, wrote some fiction, told stories about my Grandma, shared our experience with infertility, and how I fared on a polygraph (spoiler alert: it didn't go well).

I hope you enjoy the read and stick around for the new year. I have goals in 2014 and the main one is to kick it's butt.

I, MayB's greatest hits:

The over-sexualization of EVERYTHING
Slap a pair of boobs on something and you will sell way more items than you might have otherwise.  You'll get more attention for whatever you're pushing.  Selling more, getting more attention is good.  I get it. 
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of it.
Ivory Hawk fingerless mitts
Since I learned how to knit almost 4 years ago, I have adapted many a pattern to suit my needs. 
It wasn't until I had a handful of gorgeous yarn and a friend requesting some fingerless gloves that I decided I just needed to do my own thing. 
These gloves were the result.

Anna's last year - Fiction Friday
Anna smiled and turned back to the kitchen. She started the kettle for tea and went back to the entry way to retrieve her purse. On the way, she looked about the house which was half unpacked and still a mess of opened boxes. Though she was starting to feel more settled here - in The Spinster House, she thought wryly - she was instantly reminded of the reason she came back.
Childless by chance, childless by choice
2012-09-14 Sidewalk trike Almost 2 years ago, The Guy and I learned we couldn't have children.  This was after months and month of doctor's visits, needles, probings, stadiums filled with spectators of my lady bits, and finally the ultimate disappointment
We aren't going to have children and I'm okay with that.

A list of things I like to do 
You would think it would be simple. Write a list of 20 things you like to do and when the last time you did them was. Easy, right? Well... not for me. 
Problem is? I don't really like to DO anything. I'm lazy and unmotivated. 
But it's one of my favourite things about me!
Liar Liar: My experience with a polygraph
The procedure for this test is to fill in a 31 page questionnaire prior to attending. It questions everything you have ever done that is wrong, illegal, immoral, or a mix of all three. Then, you stew about and remember even more. 
When you enter the polygraph area, you then sit down with the administrator and go over it all again. In detail. With examples. And you spill. EVERY. LITTLE. THING. All those things you wanted to keep secret? You don't. All those things you are embarrassed about? You tell. All those things you didn't realize were actually crimes? You admit to doing all the time. 
You talk and talk and talk. AND TALK.
Tales of Grandma: Stubborn runs in the family
Grandma 001I wrote it in November of 2009, when Grandma moved from her apartment of 40 years to a smaller apartment down the road. Now almost 5 years later, after 2 years at an independent senior's lodge, Grandma is moving in with my Uncle Dean as she is requiring more and more care due to her failing memory. 
This post makes me both happy and sad - happy she was always such a tough old lady and sad that she has changed so much even in the last few years. 
As Gram says "It is a terrible thing to get old."
Anchor - Four Years of Love
464 Havana - love - BI thought this post was fitting for this week. Today is our 4 year anniversary.  I wrote this 2 1/2 years ago on March 29, 2011
Since then, The Guy has become more to me than I could have even imagined.  Four years of marriage has been an adventure.  I'm thankful he came into my life every day.

Customer Service: How to do it right
Now, I know, you're thinking I don't work in customer service; I work in a crisis centre.  However, being a crisis worker is all about customer service -- in the worst way.  People who come to see me (or who have me show up on their doorstep) are either: 1) embarrassed to be there, or 2) furious and full of hatred.  But I have a service that I am there to provide and that is that.
Me in a shell of a nut: Now with pictures!
Most recent creation.I thought I would take you on a tour of my week. It's been a busy one of no consequence. 
You seem to like that.

I hope you stick around for the upcoming year. I have more in store for you!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Journal excerpt - Hope meets Zoe: Fiction Friday

Start at the beginning of the story - The House - or read the last chapter - Anna's Decision - before you continue on.

Hope's Journal

Sept 21, 1979

It's been a whirlwind few weeks. I've met a new friend and started one of those great possibilities I had considered. It is serendipitous how things turn out when we least expect it.

I was sitting on the back lawn at the factory enjoying a beautiful fall day. I had my travel blanket to ward off a chill, a good book, and a thermos of tea. I was perfectly relaxed and going about my day. Suddenly, a strange young woman plopped down on my blanket and started talking.

She was definitely not from our town. She was dressed in men's clothing - complete with vest and tie. I had seen the outfit in a recent movie "Annie Hall" and it looked as though she had stepped from the screen into my life. Her hair was long and a bit unruly, but she didn't seem to care. I took like to her instantly.

"Hi I'm Zoe! I saw you sitting here and decided we would have to friends. I knew I would find someone today with my love of books and here you are. Right on!" she leaned back, grinning, and took a handful of nuts I had sitting beside me.

She was easy to talk to and by the end of my lunch hour, we were fast friends. She had moved from the "big city" to a place where "life could be enjoyed!" and said she knew she would find her life here the moment the bus pulled in. It was so refreshing to be with someone who took life for all it was worth and didn't worry about where it was leading her.

Over the next few days, we met up regularly and talked about everything. Zoe said she had a bit of money set aside for "her big start" and that she had plans to open a shop. I was thrilled by that and admitted my secret plans for someone along the same lines. She told me she knew that and she was here to help me "loosen up a bit and put it on the line". She certainly has a way with words.

She's not wrong though, I needed someone to help me put it all into motion. Within a week, we had gone to the bank to make sure we had enough money to start a business and were looking at rental sites for our shop. Together, we came up with the idea for our shop. Zoe said she was always finding neat knickknacks and wanted to be able to share them with the world. I had always loved books and wanted to be surrounded by them as much as I could. By combining our loves and talents, we came up with "Books and Ends" - a bookstore that sold like minded souvenirs. Even the bank manager, Mr Flaherty, loved the idea. However, it helps he was once my father's dearest friend.

We found the perfect location in a lovely brick storefront. If everything works out right, we should be open after Thanksgiving in time for Christmas sales. For the first time, I feel like I have a life that is mine and I'm where I am meant to be. What could be greater?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Letter to my Grandma on her 94th year.

Grandma's birthday is on January 5, 2014 -- she will be 94 (a feat in itself.) My sister compiled a book of letters to Grandma to share what she meant to us all.  This is my submission.

Grandma and I in 1979 and The Guy, Grandma and I in 2009

Dear Grandma,

I was your first grandchild, born to Ella. Mom used to tell me how happy you were to have a granddaughter and how you doted on me. If you look at the picture, you will see we even dressed alike.

I have to admit my memories of you in my childhood revolve around food. I remember the ham you made that was so good I wanted to eat it all. I remember you making us Dough Dogs for special occasions. I remember travelling with you and Grandpa when I was little and I know how lucky I was. I am sure I saw more of the country than I realize and it was all because of you.

It wasn't until I was more grown up that I got to know you better as a real person and not just my Grandma.  I was lucky enough to stay with you every time we were at church camp. You let all my friends come spend time in your house and you always treated us like adults. You sat and talked, you laughed, you caught up on who was dating whom.  I loved staying at your place and how easy you made it for me. I loved getting to know you better - whether while doing dishes or puzzles or visiting with the steady stream of visitors who dropped by. 

I get my love of words from you I am sure. You are the only person I know who reads as much and as passionately as I do.  I love that you taught us to love books and encouraged us to read.  I love playing Scrabble, doing crosswords, word puzzles, and playing Boggle because of your love for words.

You showed me that to love someone was to serve them. Your giving heart always took care of the people around you. I am always in awe of how much you gave to others just by making sure they were included, well fed, and listened to.  You were a true role model -- someone I wish I was more like.  You worked hard your whole life to make sure everyone else was taken care of and I know how difficult it has been allowing others to care for you.

I am honoured I have gotten to be more a part of your life in the last few years. I miss my monthly visits to your home and wish our phone calls were more regular. But I am so grateful for all the time I've been able to spend with you and wish I had taken advantage of that when I was young too.  I love your sense of humour, how you will tease and be teased with such dry wit. I am glad you haven't lost that part of you even when you feel you've lost so much else.

I love you so, my Grandma. You are the type of woman I would be if I could.

Love, Bronwyn

Friday, December 20, 2013

Anna's decision: Fiction Friday

Previous chapters in the story of the Spinster house: The HouseThe CoupleAnother meetingThe ShopAnna's last yearThe Disastrous BetrayalHope's JournalPersistence and Considering the Possibilities.

"Have you thought of what you'd like to do to fix up the house?" Kade asked while he walked Anna back to the shop. They had just finished a quick lunch at the diner and Anna was anxious to get back to relieve Zoe at the shop.

"I guess I had thought of some things I wanted to do with it, but wasn't sure where to start. Do you have some ideas?" Anna considered Kade's handiness and constant availability. Being the local handy-man and Jack-of-all-trades could not be a lucrative career choice. Maybe she could throw some work his way. It would help her with getting the house ready for winter and would help him out at the same time.

Kade gave her question some thought before answering. "I think the windows are going to need replacing within a year or two. For sure the sills need a coat of paint, but that's just cosmetic. The roof could use a closer look too before winter hits. I can take a look next week and make you a list."

"That would be great. Thanks. I appreciate the help" Anna stopped as they reached the shop door, knowing that Kade would open it for her. She didn't usually like that sort of thing, but he seemed to do it for everyone, so she wouldn't make a big deal out of it. "Talk to you later" she said as he carried on his way.

Zoe looked at the closing door knowingly. "It seems things are going well between you two! I knew it!" She grinned at Anna.

"Zoe, you know it's not like that. We're friends. I don't know many people and he's nice and we get along. It doesn't have to be more than that." Anna put her coat away and started working on shelving a new order of books. "You have a need to match make that doesn't take in to consideration the parties lack of romantic interest!"

Anna had to smile as Zoe let out a huge laugh at her comment. "You got me there, dear girl! But Kade doesn't need more friends. He needs someone who will be with him for the long haul. So do you!"

Anna shook her head and went back to work. She knew Zoe had good intentions, if an over-exuberant way of going about her benevolent work.  Anna told herself she wasn't ready for a relationship and everyone would just have to accept that. She wouldn't make the mistake of trusting someone with her heart for a long long time. If that meant she couldn't have Kade as a friend, she would have to figure something else out.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Planning for the future: my sewing room

You may have noticed, I haven't mentioned our house build in awhile. It took awhile to get up and running.  Then it took awhile to get walls. And so on. For every one thing done to the house, it then sits empty for another 2 weeks. I haven't talked about it much because I don't want to scream.

However, this week as I was trying to do some work at the kitchen table (read: fold out table from Costco) I started thinking about how I wanted to set up my sewing room when I get it going.

It's a complicated room as it has the task of fulfilling many roles: spare room, sewing room, and my workspace for writing. It will be the room that can sing, dance, AND act. It's not a huge room. Just a normal size. So I've been planning where I will put all my furniture.

This normally means I would map it all out on a piece of grid paper and then cut out tiny grid paper furniture and move them all around. (I used to get mocked for this, but then those same mockers asked me to do it for their rooms. So ha!) However, this time, I found an app for that.

The Urban Barn room planner. It's my dream come true.  (No, they aren't sponsoring me, but I do heart them.) Now, I do kind of miss my little pieces of paper and the hands on approach, but I think The Guy is happy he doesn't have a miniature couch stuck to his foot this time.

See Monty sleeping on the bed? Totally accurate.

Here is the room layout as far as I have figured out. The wall and door aren't quite right and the two swingy doors leads into the closet. Everything is already in our storage and waiting to be placed.

Except the desk.

The desk needs to be versatile as well. A desk for writing, research, and sewing. One that is clutter free but has lots of space for when I need clutter. Something streamlined and clean, but with storage options for a tidy look.

Of course I headed to Pinterest and set up a Sewing Room board for inspiration. My first bit of vision came from Ordinary Mom's office. It's clean and sleek and pretty. (Though, she says it's only like that for the pictures, but I think that's just so I will still like her.)

via Ordinary Mom

I also looked at a desk made at the base of a bunch of interworking shelving. I like that idea too.

via (Thanks Wynn Anne!)

In all reality, I have at least 6 months before I get to this stage. That means writing while hanging out on my sofa using a TV tray as a work station. Until then, I will plan and redecorate in my head so I don't lose my mind!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Letterman became our family's Christmas symbol

For the first time in 10 Christmases, David Letterman will not be making an appearance in my house for the holidays. Why, you might ask, would David Letterman be in my house at Christmas? Well, I will tell you.

It all started 10 years ago Christmas eve. Our family was all home for the holidays and most had headed to bed for the night. My brother and one of my sisters were up into the wee hours as they often do. The later the evening got, the funnier everything was.

Suddenly, they saw the copy of the TV Times on the table. (It was 10 years ago, this was before the guide became extinct for all but my friend Susan's parents.) The cover of the guide was a picture of David Letterman.  Why? I don't know. Go with it.

The two trouble makers got an idea and ran to the kitchen for scissors and string. They cut out David's head, put a hole through his forehead (five-head) and hid him amidst the decorations on the tree. They wanted to know who would notice the disembodied head of David Letterman floating on the Christmas tree.  They went to bed, not with sugar plums, but with mischievousness dancing in their heads.

A sampling of David decorating

The next day they giggled to themselves as we had our Christmas celebrations. We had pictures taken of the family opening presents and enjoying the day. No one noticed the head. Once it was pointed out, we all laughed our faces off. It was the last Christmas we had with our mother and there was a David Letterman head in every picture we took.

We loved it and vowed to make it a tradition.

Since then, I have put David's head on every tree we've had. Last year, I copied the original, laminated it, and sent one to each sibling. It must have been fortuitous because this year, with all our belongings in storage, we aren't decorating for Christmas.

The tradition of the floating head of David will have to carry on somewhere else.

Until next year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

PInterest gifting: What I would buy the guys in my life

I showed you things I would buy my friends, things I would buy my sisters, and now we're on to things I would buy the guys in my life -- husband, brother, and father.

My brother is easy to buy things for. I see things I would get him on a regular basis. Do I get him those things? No. Why? Because he used to take money from my paper route bag and I'm pretty sure he's still working it off.

This year, I would imaginary buy him this framed picture of Bill Murray.  Why? Because it is awesome.
Everyone needs this picture - via

My husband is a bit tougher to buy for.  If he wants something, it is usually so far above my spending limit I would need to take out a house loan. Anything else, he just buys for himself. However, he's always happy with Rider gear or techy stuff, so I'm usually safe to get him that.

This year, I would get him two things.  A nifty portable charger for his phone.

And these shoes. He's a huge fan of Converse and I think these would be awesome.

My Dad is also easy to buy for. He wants books. Books, bookshelves, gift certificates for books, and/or pictures about cows.

So, for my Dad this year, I send this framed picture of a cow. Because I care.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The dog Montel and his tale of blue booties

I don't know if anyone has mentioned it in the last 15 minutes, but it's been dang cold in Saskatchewan for about a month. I mean, our winter is bad enough usually, but the really cold (-35C/F) doesn't usually come to stay until January.

It's like Mother Nature waits until we're beat down and THEN makes it even colder.

This year, it started at -30 and has stayed there or below almost every day since. Once day -- that brings up all my knowledge of swear words -- it was -47. Even sled dogs were like, "Nope! Not going out in that crap!"

Cut to Monty. He's a dapper young man of 8.5 years who enjoys rawhide bones, peanut butter treats, and long walks on the beach. (Actually, he hates the beach. It has water.) He's well-behaved and lovely, most of the time. However, on day 5 of no walk because it was too dang cold for man nor beast, he was so annoying I almost threw him outside and left him there.

Why do you torture me thus?

I decided I had to try something. I have often thought about buying booties for him, but when I had them for his mother she managed to kick them off within a block of the house despite the tie-ons and superglue.  Not knowing what else to do, I got him booties (purchased by my SiL when she inherited his mom -- oops, did I not mention that problem?)

They are blue fuzzy booties and they fit him good. Sorry, I almost broke into a line from the song Fancy (0:43 secs) I put them on and he did the usual dance dogs reserve for having odd textures on their feet, but he was raring to go so out we went.

He loved them. He ran and ran and ran. It didn't seem to matter that he had no traction, he ran with such gusto all I could hear was the "fwappa fwappa fwappa" of his paws slapping at the packed snow. Then he saw something he wanted to sniff and put on the brakes.

SWOOSH! He slid right past it, turned, did the fwappa run again and... swoosh! slid right past it.

He'll get the hang of this yet.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The quiet of the night: Post from the past

Originally written August 2011 though I thought it more fitting for the quiet that only comes with a cold winter night.

Late in the night has always been my favourite time of day.  I love to wander the house at night while the world is quiet and soft.  The only noise is the tick of the clock, the noise of my footsteps and the breath of my companions lost in their dreams.

Even when I go to bed at a decent hour, I rise in the middle of the night.  It's been this way since I was young.  I never wanted to sleep at night.  It always seemed as though I was missing something.  As I grew older, I realized what it was: the night time.  I use the night time for soul searching, for relaxing, to recharge.  I use the night for getting things done, for doing nothing and for thinking grand thoughts or none at all.

Atkinson home at Christmas
My old house mid-winter night

My mother used to do the same.  She would always go to bed at the same time as my father.  He worked early and long days, so they would go off to sleep together -- we could hear the quiet tones of discussion that encompassed the day's events and the week's plans.  Then, when my father slept, my mother crept from the bed and wandered the house in the quiet.  She would write letters to friends, she would cross stitch, she would read -- but mostly, she would revel in the time alone.

I was in my teens before I consciously noticed her habit of wandering during the night.  I am sure she did it throughout my life.  It seemed to me she liked best to sit at the table and write.  She was known for long letters to friends and family -- tidbits about her day and ours; funny thoughts and observations; deep thoughts and words of advice.

It is in the middle of the night I feel closest to my mother now.  I like to think of her sitting in the compatible silence recharging her batteries and finally relaxing for a few minutes.  I like to think of her there, quietly writing as the dogs, the children and the husband slept in the other rooms.

As I sit here and write -- to my friends and family -- I like to think of her and thank her for the love of the quiet of the night.

Pinterest things I would give: The sister edition

I have loved Pinterest since the fateful day I started scrolling through it's glorious pages of recipes, home decor, and purchasey goodness.  Last week I showed you what I would buy everyone for Christmas if I had the time, money, and - well - inclination.

Today, I'm showing you what I would buy my sisters (including my sister-in-laws). I am forever sending my sisters (the 2 on Pinterest) links to cool things I wish I could actually buy them in real life, but totally never would. It's like I'm saying "See this? I want you to have it. Except... not really! ENJOY!!"

For my sister LynnieC, I would get this necklace. Which is on sale for $0.01 and $5 shipping. You would think I would get it for her, but you would be wrong. Suck it, Lynnie! Of course, my other SiL Melanie will be so choked this isn't for her. She and Lyn fight over who gets the owls.


For my SiL Kelly, I would buy this necklace or anything this woman makes. Kelly always has the greatest statement jewellery and I always want to see what she finds next.

For my sister Ky, I would get these earrings. She is always a sucker for putting a bird on it, so I want to help her do just that.


Finally, for my other SiL, Melanie, I would get her this scarf. She has such a love affair with mustard and she's one of the few people who looks phenomenal in it.

I love how Pinterest lets me shop for all my family without ever leaving the comfort of my couch and without actually spending any money. What would I buy for you? Stay tuned to find out.

Follow me on Pinterest! Bronwyn_MayB

Being a baby is hard work. Babysitting might be worse.

On Sunday night, I agreed to babysit for my cousin's little girl, Elizabug aka Lil E. It was a busy weekend for the family with E's birthday, getting over a cold, having a party for 15 little kids, and being topped off by her mom's birthday on Sunday.

We're buds here.
Sunday evening, I headed over to start my work as baby wrangler extraordinaire.  I walked in the door and knew exactly how my night was going to go.  E took one look at me, grinned her face off, and burst into tears. It would be the night of the bi-polar baby -- happy and then OH SO SAD.

It quickly became a battle of wills. E is pretty adorable and feisty.  What she didn't count on is Auntie Bronwyn is meaner than her. I've lived longer, and I've got more insurance.

First we had supper -- that part went pretty well.  I gave her a spoon to play with and while she was trying to put it in her mouth, I shoved food in there. She ate almost the whole bowl. It wasn't until we were moving on to other things when suddenly she decided there would be NO MORE OF THIS and started screaming.  Problem with that is it was time for meds and I knew it would be easier if she was strapped in.

I was wrong.

I put the syringe full of medicine near her face and she turned. No problem. I got it in her mouth and put the tiniest amount past her lips. She drooled it onto her chest. I used her spoon to put some in her mouth. She spit. I wiped it off her face with my finger and decided to sneak it in that way. She bit me. Finally, I got as much of it in her mouth as down her shirt and in my hair. I figured it was close enough.  On to bath time.

Lunchtime with Lil E
Don't let her innocent face fool you.
It's been a long time since I bathed a baby, so I was a little concerned about making it too hot. I knew the rule of thumb was luke-warm, but I have to admit I was on the luke side of warm. E let me know this as about 5 minutes after I put her in the tub she started shaking and clacking her teeth together. Was the water actually that cold? No, she just wanted me to know she wasn't pleased. I pulled her out, warmed up the water, put her back in and life was good.  We had 15 minutes of pure joy.

Except she started to doze off.  I figured it was a sign, so I pulled her out of the tub. She came willingly until she saw the lotion I had to put on her. FREAK OUT. She went stiff as a board and tried to lay down on top of me.  She wailed and sobbed and moaned.  I mean, until she saw her pjs and then she got distracted.

It alternated like that for the next 10 minutes.  I would put the lotion on the baby (or she gets the hose again) and she would be FURIOUS until something shiny happened and she forgot she was supposed to be mad. The diaper went on while she was standing because there was no convincing her otherwise. It was hard to keep a straight face while strapping RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION baby into her footy pyjamas.

We got her done, she calmed down, and we went to warm up her bottle to prepare for the night.  I let her stare at the microwave while I warmed the bottle and checked to make sure it wouldn't burn her.  We sat down in the rocking chair and started to read a book about the Little Owl. It was adorable. E was not impressed. She wanted the other book. Fine. I like Goodnight Moon. Except she didn't like that one. She wanted the Owl one. No, the Moon one. NO. THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

Fine. No more books. I got her bunny out of the crib and her swaddling blanket. She bit the bunny by the ear and growled. Then she screamed. I was sure the neighbours were going to call on me by this point. She had done little but scream bloody murder between laughing fits for the last hour. But I was not to be deterred. Blanket on, bunny in hand (and teeth), bottle given, I walked away from the crib -- only to hear the bottle being flung across the room.

Howling ensued. I waited a few seconds and turned back. She had wrapped the blanket around herself in a way that would cut off circulation and was trying to stand up. The howling had turned into  hyperventilating. I picked her up. Crying ceased. It was like one of those dolls from the 90s. Put her down - cry; pick her up - happy.

Grumpiest baby to ever have grumped
Finally, I held her, wrapped in her blanket, and we sat on the rocker. I rocked (the face of calm) while E strained and struggled, howled and sobbed, growled and moaned. She got close enough to my sweater that she bit the neck edge and held it in her teeth for dear life. If she could have gotten skin, I have no doubt I'd have bled.

She fought going to sleep harder than any baby I've seen in a long time. She alternately bit her bunny and my sweater as though we were her captors she had to battle. Finally, she slumped in defeat. It was not a giving in to tired as much as it was a giving up because there is NO POINT TO LIFE ANY MORE. If she could have rolled her eyes and HARUMPHed, I'm sure nothing would have expressed her opinion more clearly.

She fell asleep despite herself and only woke when I placed her in the crib to give me one last growl and bite her bunny firmly on the ear before falling back to sleep.  I backed out of the room slowly holding my breath.

I had won, but it was a tenuous victory.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ardently admired: Traits of my friends

This week's task for harnessing creativity and balance in life comes from looking at people who nurture your creativity and whose personality traits you admire.  Again, this comes from the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

There is nothing more beautiful than a cheerful giver.
The tasks I chose was to make lists of people who 1) nurture my creativity, 2) encourage me, 3) possess traits I admire 4) possess traits I would like to cultivate in myself.  I'm not going to share who was on my list (they don't need swollen heads) but what I thought was interesting was the similarities in their characters.
  1. Person 1: tells me the truth, reminds me I am capable, works hard to attain her goals while being completely free to be lazy, is independent (more so than she knows), and is brilliant despite being unconvinced about it
  2. Person 2: is easy to be around -- non-judgemental and supportive, encourages me to do things that are good for me, is kind and silly and thoughtful
  3. Person 3: is kind and helpful, positive and encouraging, is competent without being insufferable, and has a great sense of humour
  4. Person 4: is gentle and kind at all costs, is wise and mindful, and never complains
  5. Person 5: worked hard, was loyal and loving and fiercely protective
  6. Person 6: hard working, determined, kind and gentle, giving and considerate
These are people I admire.  People whom I would be honoured to be more alike.  Hard-workers.  People who are kind and honest. People who meet all challenges with a sense of humour and who don't give up.  People who are loyal and who will help those in need.

These are the characteristics I want to have more of in my life.

Who do you admire?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Name, rank, disorder: Post from the Past

This post is a combination of two I wrote in September of 2008 

I have a super power. I have an invisible force field around me that draws in people with "issues". They can sense my force field and are inexplicably drawn to me. They pour out all their problems to me as I stand stunned in an aisle at Wal-Mart. They talk to me on the street, on the bus, in restaurants, at coffee shops. I can't do anything about it. I have a sign that flashes above my head in neon reading "Please, tell me your life story, I care. I really do."

I really don't. However, since I can't turn off my sign or stop the drawing energy of my force field, I am compelled to meet a bunch of odd and troubled people. Maybe that is why I went into the field itself -- this way I get paid for what I was already doing for free.

Baby heads
Cuba baby head statue
For the most part, I do care about people and their problems. My family and friends? Heck yes! I want to hear the stories, share experiences and offer advice, etc. Strangers I meet on the street while I am minding my own business?? Not so much. And yet, it is unavoidable.

This is part of the reason I try to avoid downtown. The downtown attracts all the sorts of people one would think it does. Along with the hipsters, the artists, the yuppies, the cool people, it also draws the street people and the crazies. And sometimes, both in one.

I work in a place where I come in contact with street people on a regular basis. They may not know "me" as a civilian, but rather only can place me when I am filling my occupational role. I am cool with that. However, I still run into them in my non-work hours. I never seek them out, I only acknowledge them when they do me (that's the rule I follow) but I do stumble across them.

I had a run in with an interesting young man who introduced himself to me in one breath."Hi, my name is Jacob* and I have a mental health disorder and a low IQ." I had to pause at that. It is not the first time I have come across someone who has introduced themselves like that. They provide their name and a run down of their challenges, illnesses and disabilities.

"Hi, I'm Gladys and I'm bipolar."
"I'm Bob, I have HepC. This is Janey. She's slow."

It's very interesting what people identify themselves as being. I think we should all do that. I've decided to introduce myself to new people this way.
"Hi! I'm Bronwyn. I'm an emotional eater and have unresolved issues of rage."

Imagine how free our society would be.

"I'm Bill. I wet my bed until I was 15."
"Hi, I'm Maisey. I'm into necrophilia."
"Hello, I'm Gerald. I have uncontrollable flatulence and a mother complex."

How would you introduce yourself?

*Names and disorders have been changed to protect any privacy issues that may arise.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pinterest gift ideas: Things I would give

As promised, I have been scouring Pinterest looking for things I would give my family and friends.  Now, don't get me wrong, I have no intention of actually giving these gifts, but I totally would. Like I said, it's the thought that counts.

I would like to get one of each of these adorable animal coffee cups for everyone I know. I could also do a DIY version of these if I had the gumption.


I would give all my Scrabble friends a set of these ornaments by Winterberry Originals.

And then, I would give everyone one of these brightly coloured cell phone pouches. I love them!!

What would you like to get from me for Christmas? It's not going to happen, but you can dream! Follow me on my Pinterest page. You won't be disappointed. I mean, unless you actually want the stuff.

All I want for Christmas giveaway!

It's that time of year again!  Christmas is coming.

Gifts, travel, parties, and decor! A time of love and family and laughter. Wouldn't it be nice to have a little bit of extra cash to go with that?

I was thinking about what to get you all, so when my friend Tara from Suburble asked for volunteers to be part of the GIANT CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!! I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give back to my lovely readers!

$200 in Paypal cash to spend anyway you can.  The perfect gift for everyone!

So here it is.  You could win. All you have to do is enter! 

$200 PayPal Giveaway
Hosted by
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Giveaway is open world-wide!
Void where prohibited.

Giveaway runs from 12:01 am on Monday, December 2nd, to 11:59 pm on December 7th.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Considering the possibilities: Fiction Friday

The story of the Spinster house: The House, The CoupleAnother meetingThe ShopAnna's last yearThe Disastrous BetrayalHope's Journal and Persistence.

Surprisingly enough, the arranged lunch date between Kade and Anna went well. They laughed about Zoe's forcefulness, they ate the local diner special, and they talked.  It was easy and fun, so Anna gave it little thought.  After all, she didn't know a lot of people in town -- any friend was a good friend.

The next week or two continued on much in the same way.

Zoe created reasons she needed Kade to come by the shop or he dropped in touring coffees or just to chat on his way elsewhere.  Anna got into her own rhythm of working in the shop, working on the house, and getting to know the little town again.  Trouble also settled into the routine, often accompanying Anna to the shop and only being chased once or twice daily for chewing on something he wasn't supposed to.

Anna was content. For the first time in awhile.

She had started organizing the financial side of the shop.  Receipts were starting to be copied, labelled, and filed instead of landing in a box beside the desk.  Anna noticed happily that her aunt Hope had been as fastidious as she was so the books weren't entirely a mess.  She thought she would be able to get them entirely in order before the end of the year.

Thinking of her aunt again made her reach for the journal.  It sat quietly on the side table by Anna's favourite chair in the living room waiting for Anna to pick it up and get immersed again in Hope's tale.  It was proving to be an easy task and Anna often had to keep herself from reaching for it when she needed to be working.

Sept 5, 1979

I have started searching for my future. One would think it was an easier task than it has come to be. I remain working at the factory for now as it is a steady income and I have time to consider my options. I have many people there who have become my friends over the years and I would be sad to let them go from my daily life just yet.  However, as always, I find myself just on the outskirts of them all -- as though they know I do not quite fit and so do not try to force me to do so.

I have a small amount of savings put aside now. With Martin's scholarships and rather modest living arrangements, I have expendable cash for the first time in memory.  I have considered what I should invest in as I know this is my opportunity.  The economy is growing and seems fit to continue to do so. I believe I would like to be part of that.  There is a space in a building just off main street that is longing to become something.  It seems reasonably priced, so I could look into it if I choose.

I would like to be a shop owner I think.  A place where people can come, be comfortable, sit and visit, poke around, and return time and time again to seek out new treasures. A book store would be lovely.  Or a shop with little pieces of arts and crafts to decorate with.  Oh the possibilities!! 

I won't rush in to anything.  If my life has taught me anything at all, it is to take my time and consider the options. I am just pleasantly pleased the options are so enjoyable. 

Next chapter: Anna's Decision

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Listing things I like to do - why is this so hard?

Last week, I told you about the 5 imaginary lives I wanted to have. It's all part of this book I'm reading about unblocking yourself and allowing yourself to figure out where you want to go and who you want to be.

So far, I'm writing almost every day in my "morning pages" (or at least I'm writing some) and I'm thinking about the topics of tasks that are assigned.

Today's has stumped me.

You would think it would be simple.  Write a list of 20 things you like to do and when the last time you did them was.  Easy, right?

Well... not for me.

I guess I must be pretty limited as I have very few things I can think of.  Like half of the list.  So, I will show you what I have and then I will add to them if I think of anything.  Problem is? I don't really like to DO anything.

I'm lazy and unmotivated.  But it's one of my favourite things about me!

  1. read (today)
  2. knit (yesterday)
  3. shrug for Ky
  4. sew (October? I made a phone case for a friend)
  5. walk the dog (yesterday - he's a jerk and likes DAILY walks... like he's so important.)
  6. 2012-06 Monty in the grass
  7. swim (well, not swim so much as hang out in warm water) (October)
  8. yoga (October? I started daily and that disappeared)
  9. take pictures (good ones, not just iPhone ones on the run) (October)
  10. 127 Havana - B
  11. paint (2011)
  12. craft/make stuff (2012)
  13. decorate (Christmas 2012)
  14. updated: watch TV/ go to movies -- thanks to Renee via FB for this one! (yesterday)
  15. updated: nap!! (Thanks Wynn Anne! via FB) (today!)
  16. updated: write -- I remembered this one in the tub and then Wynn Anne reminded me.  DUH. (today)
  17. updated: spending time with The Guy (every day!)
  18. updated: lunch/coffee with friends (yesterday)
  19. updated: making cookies 
  20. updated: shopping! (Thanks, Zoe!) 
  21. updated: tell people what to do (this is actually what Saryn meant in her comment... I know)
  22. updated: play FB games -- solitaire is my favourite (yesterday)
  23. updated: this should be #1: Make people laugh!!
What do you like to do? Maybe you can give me ideas.  I will update as you I think of things.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lights on, nobody home

When I do particularly dumb things, I like to tell people about them. You would think because it is rare and makes me more like the common people and thus more loved. It's not.

I mean, it's not just that. It's that it happens with such an amazing frequency and a completely stunning level of stupid. It's a wonder I am allowed out of the house on my own.

Even the dog thinks I need an adult.

I tried for 5 minutes to get him to look at me so I could take a picture.
Finally, I had to ask if he wanted food. The look of disbelief is clear in his eyes.
He knew I was faking.
This weekend, we had a friend visiting during the Grey Cup. We hung out lots and had a grand old time.  The first evening, I had to set my car alarm off so we could find where I parked and then I couldn't turn it off.  For possibly the longest 5 minutes of my life.

That wasn't even the dumbest thing I did during the weekend.

On our last night together, I went to let the dog outside. I take him out the side door that I've been using since we moved into this rental in August.  I flipped on the outside light, let the dog out, and waited for him to come back in.

It was then I realized what I had been doing for over 3 months.

When I came back in, I had to share. I had thought the side door light was a motion sensor. It wasn't until that night, I realized it was not -- at all. It just took a long time for the light to warm up and turn on.

Both The Guy and my friend assured me I had nothing to be embarrassed about.  This is when I told them:
You guys don't understand. I've been waving at that light for months to make it turn on.
I muttered to myself about the fact I have two degrees and am still this stupid.  The Guy assured me it was only one now as the University had asked for the other back.

Like me here? Try me at Brazen Woman where I encourage you with 4 ways to reconnect with your partner!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Pinterest addiction: cheaper than shopping therapy

I have a small Pinterest addiction.

I'm lying. It's huge.

It is possible for me to lose hours of my life just by clicking on the tiny little red & white P that adorns my cell phone screen.  I heart it. I have to check it before I go to bed and I scroll through everything everyone has pinned throughout the day until I get to where I last left off.

I'm thinking about getting into treatment.

Except, there are things I like about Pinterest so much, I don't know if I would want to beat this addiction!  There are so many great things on there.

There are recipes that I would love to (but never should) try.  There are puppies and baby animals for when I am feeling sad and need a boost. There are home ideas that I can plan to use in my new house. There are funny sayings that make me burst out laughing in a silent room.  There are REALLY funny things I can't pin but can send to my friends because if I pinned them it would ruin my reputation.

Best of all, there are clothes. Tons of clothes.

I'm a shopper. It's my happy place. Whether it's the Dollar Store or Tiffany's, I am happy when I shop. Not just things for me (but mostly, yeah) I love to pick things out for everyone.

Thus, Pinterest is perfect for me. I get to shop, pick things out for people I love, and I don't have to spend a dime!

I decided that, in addition to (or replacement of, I haven't decided) Christmas presents for my friends/family, I would instead show everyone what I would have bought them if I had time and money to do so.  From now until Christmas, I will make a post of things from Pinterest that I love for people that I tolerate love.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Grey Cup weekend in pictures

Grey Cup 101 in our hometown and Saskatchewan Roughrider as the Champions? That's a dang good weekend.  Here are one highlights! Sorry for my Instagram and FB followers as most of these are repeats (with a few new ones thrown in!)

Wade and I are ready too! At the Sheepdogs concert
The Guy and I before the game

Golden boy at Grey Cup. Some people's children.
There were strange people everywhere.

Finally, I can participate in Mo-vember!
Including me.

Grandma and Vicki ready for Grey Cup!
Grandma and Vicki were ready to watch the game.

The Pep Band provided the music.

And then we won.

The entire city emptied onto the Green Mile to celebrate.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Becoming a football fan: Post from the past

In honour of the Saskatchewan Roughriders being in the Grey Cup this weekend, I thought I would repost my first game with The Guy. I wasn't a football fan before him and I have to say, my life was much less stressful before the Riders became important. This was originally posted October 21, 2007.

I went to a football game today. Not only a football game, but a Rider game.

The last time I went to a football game, I was forced to attend by two friends. I didn't want to go, I told them I didn't want to go and I said that if I had to go, I was bringing a book. They didn't believe me. I showed them. I brought Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and read most of it during the most boring 3 hours of my life. The book was fantastic. The drunken idiots screaming around me were not. My friends were furious at me and even to this day (almost 10 years later) will not speak to me about it. They just get quiet and surly.

In Saskatchewan, not cheering for the Riders is a crime. Seriously, it's in the charter. Well, not really, but it might as well be. Everyone and their dog shows up to cheer for them. Winning or losing. And believe me when I say, it's usually losing. But we're nothing if not loyal. Oh, and you think I'm kidding about the dog? I'm not. On the way back to the car, a dog with a Roughrider's jersey was sitting on some one's porch. Apparently, the dog is trained to growl at anyone in a non-Sask jersey. Yikes.

So, you will ask why I was at the game? Well, The Guy is an avid fan. Correction, a rabid fan. Everything he owns is green and has a logo. He threatened to buy me a jersey for my birthday. I am sure he bleeds green. Or, I've been told that's what Rider fans do. So, when he asked me if I wanted to go how could I say no? Especially when I said no to going to the Ozzy concert? I couldn't. And, I thought I should be supportive for this thing he enjoys.

So, I went. It was about 8 degrees (45 F) and we were on the sunny side. The wind was a little sharp, but not too bad if the sun was out. Which is was for lots of the game. Which is why my face and lips are burnt. Oh, that's from the wind too. And then it hailed. Yes, it hailed. HAILED. While it was still sunny. Uh huh.

I had a surprisingly good time. Although, the first few minutes I was there, I spilled ketchup down the front of The Guy's jersey he lent me to wear. Oops. Well, you can't take me in public, I do things like that. The game was really interesting and I learned a lot. I can't say I would make it a regular occurrence (mostly b/c I don't want to be one of those people. I mock those people.) but I did agree to go some other time as well.

The Guy's highlight of the whole time was the Rider's first touchdown. After the touch down, they kick a field goal and set off fireworks. Which no one told me about. So, I jumped a foot in the air and screeched. The row behind me burst out laughing and continued to do so as I jumped every time the fireworks went off.

I am threatening to make The Guy take me to a Dolly Parton concert. Or, to watch a marathon of So You Think You Can Dance.

Photographic proof I was there. (Gah. I look like my Mom)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monty's fear of cleaning supplies

I have inadvertently taught the dog to be terrified of cleaning.

Seems fair he should hate it as much as I do.

Anytime I start cleaning something, Monty cannot help himself.  He starts to pace. From whatever room I'm cleaning to whatever room he is safe in, he wanders back and forth looking at me like I'm doing something that will cause grievous harm.

He whines. He sighs. He stares.

He hates when I use a broom, but is also enthralled with the idea that I am gathering all the floor treats into one pile for him to peruse.  He waits until my back is turned and sneaks into the room. He stands as far away from the pile as he can while leaning his nose towards the pile of dirt.

B&W Monty napping
Monty, tucked out with his pile of toys

You would think he expects it to jump out and bite him.

He hates the vacuum even worse.

The vacuum makes Monty run for the hills.  Usually he tries for high ground -- couch or bed -- but some times he doesn't make it before I do or that is the room I'm trying to clean. This causes him to stand in the middle of his chosen hill and decide if he is going to fight to maintain it or make a run for it.

The problem is the evil vacuum. It seems to make the floor lava.  If the vacuum is in the room, he cannot possibly touch the floor.

It might get him.

The other day, I was vacuuming the entry rug. I like to take my time there because it seems to collect dirt like it plans to run tests.  Monty was in the living room perched on the couch, ready to attack if need be.

Then he noticed a problem.

His dragon was in the kitchen.

Monty panicked. He jumped from the couch and edged closer to where the cord of the vacuum reached across the hallway blocking his access to the dragon. Monty started whining.  I encouraged him to jump the chasm and rescue his dragon.  He looked to the dragon, looked to me, looked to the dragon, looked to me.

I was taking great joy in his discomfort. I don't get out a lot.

Finally, he crept as close as he dared to the cord.  Leaning just his head over, he streeeeetched his neck out, snagged the dragon by the torn remnants of his tail, and made a break for it.

Most hilarious rescue ever.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My imaginary life: what I want to be

In getting my writing mojo (and all other mojo) back on track, I started reading a book that has made the rounds here and there in the last 10 years or so. (It might be more, I can't be bothered to look.)  It's called The Artist's Way and it's about self-discovery and all that.  I find the author a little "fluffy" but the ideas behind it are sound.

One challenge is to figure out what is blocking you from being the best and most creative person you can be. Every day, you are encouraged to write 3 pages of free flowing writing.  The idea to this is there is a lot of messed up crap inside our heads that needs to be tossed out. If we write it out first thing in the morning and never look at it again, we have clean space for the positive things.

I like it.


There are also tasks to complete each week. This week's question was:
If you had 5 alternate lives to create, what would you be in each of them?
I thought you might be interested in hearing my answers.

  1. Writer -- I think I have always wanted to write. I remember finding a story I had written where the narrator was an old woman who was writing about being a writer even though no one read what she wrote. That is where my heart is in a lot of ways and yet I've never explored it beyond the walls of the internet.  I would like to write books and books and books and have people be touched by what I write, whether it is silly fiction or heartbreaking. 
  2. Interior Designer -- I love choosing paint colours and themes. I always thought I would like to do that all the time. Pinterest helps. It's like designing a million rooms for a million people and never having to leave the house.
  3. Police Officer -- This is the closest to real life. I really did intend to be a police officer when I started out.  I'm thankful it didn't work out that way, (especially after the *^R% polygraph) but the thought of putting on a uniform and a gun appeals to me still. When I was a teen, there was a period of time I wanted to be a sniper. I think that scared a lot of people.
  4. Singer -- I like to sing. The Guy doesn't think I'm particularly good at it, but he's tone deaf, so I forgive him. In my perfect alternate reality, my sisters and I are a trio singing folk gospel type music. My youngest sister is the melody, while my middle sister and I sing duelling harmonies.  We would make Naomi Judd weep with jealousy.
  5. Barrista -- This one might give you all pause. However, here is why. I love being a clerk in a service industry.  Not a restaurant or anything complicated, but a coffee shop would be perfect. A quick chat with customers, familiarity and humour, then get their stuff quick as a bunny and off they go. It's the perfect length of social interaction for me. (PS, I wrote barrista instead of coffee wench because it makes The Guy's head explode.)
So there it is. A list of what I want to be in a different life. Most of it is beyond my reach or will or ability. However, I could totally be a coffee wench. If only I could make a decent wage. You guys would tip well, right?

Quick! What would you be in your imaginary lives?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Radio silence

I've been quiet this past week. Apart from my rant against forced sexiness and my fingerless mittens pattern, I have struggled to write anything.

I promised myself I would not write if it was only to complain and not: a) be funny about it, or b) have a solution about it.  I also promised I would not write about work in any real or present way.

That made this last week one of enforced blog silence.

I have a difficult time writing when I am in the throws of something bad. Afterwards, I have no problem. I can see the end of it all and I have really great ability to deconstruct things once they are completed. Then I have wit and insight and understanding.

Until then, I'm just effing miserable.


Since last week, I have gone back to seeing a counsellor. I have started a new series of books I am highly entertained by.  I have started reading a book on getting past hurts, unblocking myself from them, and finding a way to be creative while doing so. I have started cooking more things (more on that tomorrow... oy vey.)

I will likely have to start and restart things over and over again. But, I'm going to keep doing them.