The Whole Fan-damly

It seems like only a few years ago I had to show ID to prove I was old enough to buy liquor. Now, suddenly, I have to show ID to prove I’m too young to qualify for a Senior’s Discount.

I miss being young. I miss the absolute conviction that I’m smarter than any old fuddy-duddy, that I can do anything, and the world is my oyster. The world might have been my oyster at one time; but the older oysters get, the more they stink. And now that I’m an old fuddy-duddy myself, the more I ‘know’, the less certain I am about any of it.

But most of all, I miss the certainty that my body will do what I expect. It used to be a well-tuned machine: All the parts worked smoothly together to get the job done. These days, I feel like a beleaguered single mom trying to parent a much-too-large family. Every day is an endless round of Me The Mom cheerfully saying, “Let’s do (some previously enjoyed activity).” But instead of enthusiastic cooperation, I get, “NO, NO, NO!!! I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!”

Giving in to the tantrum, I soothe, “It’s okay, we’ll do something else instead.”

That makes another body part act out: “NO! She ALWAYS gets her way! I want attention, too! Me, me, me!!!”

The cranky toddlers’ names are Lower Back and the Thumb twins. On any given day, they may throw a screaming tantrum for no apparent reason; or they might smoothly perform a task I never thought they’d manage.

The Knee twins are mostly well-behaved, but sometimes they can be whiners.

Upper Back is a moody tween given to dramatic declarations that (so far, fortunately) haven’t amounted to anything.

Neck is a surly teenager who greets every task with complaints and martyred sighs, but gets the job done in the end.

And the short-circuiting nerve system that makes my legs and feet feel as though I’m wearing electrified tights? Yep, Leg Nerves are the couch-surfing twenty-somethings who won’t follow the house rules, but refuse to get a job and move the hell out.

All that domestic dysfunction is exacerbated (or maybe that should be ‘exasperated’) by the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks family pet: The Ghost of Youth Past. It’s constantly bouncing around in the background, slobbering eagerly and panting, “Yeah, yeah, let’s do it! It’ll be SO MUCH FUN, come on, LET’S DO IT!”

But, like most moms, my grumbling about the Body family is tongue-in-cheek. I’m (literally) quite attached to the whole fractious gang. At least everybody is still speaking to each other despite their squabbling; and the days when they all choose to work together are precious indeed.

Now, if only I could get Mouth to stop gobbling up all the leftover Halloween candy…

Book 18 update: Book 17 has been unleashed on the world, hooray! I’m finishing up its post-release tasks, and I’m hard at work plotting Book 18. I’ve already written part of the first chapter, so stay tuned for progress reports!


The other day my friend Swamp Butt mentioned that one of her co-workers had guessed her age at nearly twenty years younger than she actually is.

“Must be nice,” said I. “Nobody has ever said anything like that to me.”

But Swamp Butt was blessed with superb genes passed down from her father, who lived to be 102; and she has always looked younger than she is. So I shrugged it off.

Only a few days later, I changed into my goin’-to-town clothes (which are only distinguishable from my around-home clothes by the fact that they don’t feature holes and/or paint and/or automotive grease stains). I glanced in the mirror before I left the house and thought, “Huh. I look pretty good for my age.” Buoyed by that thought, I drove to town with a smile.

While I was standing in line at one of the stores, I noticed it was Seniors Day: 15% off. *shrug* Whatever. Didn’t apply to me.

When it was my turn, the cashier scanned and totalled my items, and then asked, “Do you qualify for the senior’s discount?”

That took the wind out of my sails.

“Sadly, no,” I said, summoning my most youthful smile.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

Pop. That was the sound of my bubble bursting.

“Really, really sure,” I assured her. “I’m only 58.”

Then I did a mental head-smack. Shit, if I was going to get kicked in the ego anyway, I should have at least lied about my age and snagged the discount. Apparently I’m only getting old, not wise.

Fortunately, I’m blessed with a huge capacity for denial and and very little concern for what others think of my appearance. After I got over the momentary ‘ouch’, I found the whole exchange pretty funny, and I’m still chuckling about it. (Albeit somewhat ruefully.)

And I still like what I see when I look in the mirror. It’s nothing to do with my face — it’s what’s behind my eyes that counts. 🙂

Anybody else have a face that doesn’t fit their (mental) age?

Book 17 update: Woohoo! LIVE AND LET SPY will be released on October 28/22, and it’s now available for pre-order at all retailers. Pre-order links are on my Books page, and I’ll be sending them out to my mailing list soon!

Apparently I’m A Sissy

I’d give credit to the person who originally said “Old age ain’t for sissies”, but even Quote Investigator doesn’t know for sure who it was.  Nevertheless, the older I get, the more apt the adage seems. 

It’s bad enough that my body is staging a slow and sneaky mutiny.  First my thumbs complained about heavy work.  Then light work.  Then they started whining for no reason at all. 

Next my eyes got into the act, gradually but stubbornly focusing farther and farther away.  I’d love to write some inspiring metaphor about ‘seeing the bigger picture as I age’ or some such shit; but the truth is that no matter how big the picture is, I need reading glasses to see it.

So I got progressive lenses. They’re fine when I’m focusing at six feet or less; but as soon as I look up from my task, I shove the glasses onto the top of my head because I see better without them at a distance.  It’s not how they’re meant to be worn, but at least they’re handy whenever I need them. And it’s nice to be able to see what’s on my dinner plate, so I grudgingly accepted the glasses… until I realized they’re trying to choke me to death.

I didn’t think it was possible to be strangled by eyewear unless one was intentionally seeking a Darwin Award, so at first I didn’t recognize their diabolical plot.  I had noticed that sometimes I almost choked when I was eating something juicy, but I put it down to bolting my food too fast in my hurry to get back to work.

But it was happening more and more frequently, and I started to get concerned.  Was I developing some degenerative disease, or what?  I know swallowing can get less efficient with advancing age; but I’m not that friggin’ old.  (Or so I tell myself… shhh, leave me with my illusions!) 

But everything became clear (literally) last week, when Hubby said something at the breakfast table while I was eating an orange.  I tilted my chin up so I could focus on him through the bottom part of my lenses, and promptly choked when a tide of orange juice rushed down my throat.

Damn murderous glasses.  Can’t live with ’em; can’t see without ’em.  This aging stuff sure ain’t for sissies.

Book 17 update: I’ve got words on the page, woohoo! Chapter 1 always takes a while to write because it’s hard to provide enough backstory to orient readers without doing a boring brain-dump; but at least I’ve had 16 books’ worth of practice. 😉 Onward!

Marriage Is A Short Sentence

Now that I’m in the final stages of polishing Book 15, my brain has apparently decided to become creative in more questionable ways.  For instance, last week I figured out why language skills seem to diminish with age.

It’s not normal aging.  It’s not even dementia.  No, the cause is much more widespread and insidious.

It’s marriage.

I determined this through exhaustive scientific research, of course.  To be exact, it occurred to me at the dinner table.

Hubby and I were chatting about nothing in particular when I mentioned that I’d finally taken time to clean my engagement ring.  I’m an avid gardener and even though I always wear gardening gloves, fine particles of soil sift through the fabric and sully my diamond.

I attempted to communicate that idea as follows:

“I always wear gloves, but you know how fine dust always comes through the…”

I didn’t bother to complete the sentence.  Hubby was already nodding, so I knew he’d gotten it.

And that’s when it hit me:  After being together for twenty years, we don’t have to finish our sentences anymore.  We each know what the other means.  (Or we don’t; and then we accuse each other of conversations that never actually took place.  Marriage is all about give and take:  Give blame, take credit.)

But it proves my point:  We don’t lose language skills as we get older; we just expect others to decipher our meaning after only a few cryptic words.

And Hubby and I have only been married for a couple of decades.  People who have been married for fifty years probably don’t even need to use nouns.  In another few decades, this will be our dinner conversation:

“Did you…”


“How about…”

“Uh-huh. But don’t forget the…”

“Got it.”

If we were married even longer, we could probably communicate with only the lift of an eyebrow and a nod.  (Or the lift of a certain finger; but that’s more of a universal gesture so I’m excluding it from my scholarly research.)

But now that I’ve identified the problem, I’m stumped for a solution.  It seems like a lot of work to change my habits just for the sake of keeping up language skills; and it’ll likely be a while before the COVID-19 isolation protocols are relaxed enough that I can visit regularly with people who require me to express complete ideas.

So I guess I’ll have to start conversing with inanimate objects that can’t possibly nod and indicate their understanding after only a few words.  As long as self-isolation doesn’t last so long that I develop an unhealthy relationship with my teapot or my dining room chair, everything should be fine.

But if they start replying…

I don’t think I’ll finish that sentence.

Book 15 update:  I’m expecting the final feedback from my beta readers this week, so stay tuned for a release date announcement in my next post!

A Wrinkly Old Bog

Yesterday was Cover Photo Day, woohoo!  It’s exciting to be that much closer to launching Book 15; but on the downside, I had to put on makeup.  Blech.  It was only for a few hours, but it felt like a lot longer.

I’ve always felt a little embarrassed about being on the covers of my own books, but I’m actually pretty happy about it this time around.  With the COVID-19 isolation protocols, I wouldn’t have been able to get the cover done otherwise.  Plus… hell; I might as well admit it:  It feels good because I’m a do-it-yourself freak, a control freak, and several other varieties of freak that are probably better left unmentioned.

But still…

I loathe makeup.  I hate that chalky, sticky, suffocating feeling on my skin.  I hate the greasy flesh-coloured scum it leaves in my sink after I wash it off.  But most of all, I hate the way it falls into my wrinkles and makes my skin look like this:

(No, I’m not going to post a closeup photo of my face. You’re welcome.)

Back in the hazily-remembered days before I had wrinkles, I still didn’t like makeup much; but at least I looked good when I put it on.  These days putting on makeup is like rolling a coat of fresh paint over drywall I should have filled and sanded first:  Every crack and rough spot looks ten times worse.

Plus, my protagonist is aging much more slowly than I am.  If this series keeps going I’ll have to get better at Photoshop.  Much, much better.  As in, “face transplant” better.

Most of the time my wrinkles don’t bother me.  I can’t see my face clearly in the mirror unless I’m wearing reading glasses (which is, frankly, the only humane thing about aging).  More to the point, this is the best I’m going to look for the whole rest of my life.  Might as well relax and enjoy it.

But makeup?  That’s just adding insult to injury.

P.S. Here are a few pretty photos of what’s blooming at our place, to take your mind off wrinkly old bogs (or wrinkly old bags, as the case may be).

Dwarf species tulips and chionodoxa


Heather and grape hyacinths and a couple of late snowdrops

Indoors, a baby pineapple on a plant that Hubby started from the top of a store-bought pineapple we ate.


Can you spot the little viola that decided to self-seed despite the odds?


Here’s a closeup – it’s amazing how these tiny but tough flowers find a way to survive! Kinda puts things in perspective…


A flock of daffodils


…and we woke up to snow this morning. April Fool’s on us!


Book 15 update:  We have a title:  “A Spy For Help”!  The manuscript is out for its final beta and proofreading, and the cover is in progress.  Stay tuned for a blurb and cover reveal in my next post!

Objects In The Mirror May Be Scarier Than They Appear

Mirrors.  When I need them to tell me the truth, they lie; and when I really, really want them to lie, they tell the truth.

I’ve found that it’s important to adjust my expectations based on which mirror I’m consulting.  The ones in our bedroom and bathroom are very slimming, which is a nice boost to my self-esteem on a daily basis, but it sets me up for disappointment when I look in any other mirrors.

The mirror in my workout area makes me look as though I’ve strapped a life preserver around my middle, but I’m pretty sure that mirror has an odd distortion at stomach height.  (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

And don’t even get me started about the mirrors in bathing suit stores.  Those ones tell the brutal truth about all the worst features of my body; and then they go ahead and pile on a bunch of ugly lies about my best features, too.  I’m pretty sure store mirrors were designed by Satan himself in the fiery depths of hell.

I was reminded of all this the other day.  No, I wasn’t buying a bathing suit – I don’t need that kind of trauma in my life.  I was looking in my magnifying mirror with my middle-aged eyes (wearing reading glasses, of course, because otherwise I wouldn’t see anything but a pink blur).

And I thought, “Well, those whiskers aren’t too obvious.  Guess I’ve got another day or two before I have to pluck them all out again.”

Then I realized the unfortunate truth:  Nobody my age will see my face-fur unless they’re peering at me from close range with reading glasses (and I’m pretty sure I’d notice that in time to take evasive action).  But younger eyes can see crystal-clear detail at any distance.

So those bristles I’ve been pretending “aren’t too noticeable”?  Yep, you guessed it.  To anybody with normal eyesight, I’m well on my way to a playoff beard.  Sadly, there’s no victory in sight.

Dealing with reality would take too much effort, so instead I’ve decided to invent the new and exciting “Middle-Age Mirror”.  For women, it’ll have subtle distortions at boob and waist height to bring back our hourglass figures, along with a nice soft-focus face area.  For the guys, the mirror will broaden the shoulders and minimize the beer belly, while providing a flattering magnification zone in a strategic place.

Now I only have to convince our legislators to make the Middle-Age Mirror mandatory in all public places.

Ahhh.  I look better already!

Book 14 update:  I’m almost finished Chapter 4, and those headstrong characters are surprising me already.  This is why I love writing  I never know what’s going to happen!


So I’m zipping through the grocery store to grab a couple of things for dinner.  Tired, hungry, and cranky.  Groceries in hand, I waver between checkout lanes.  Which will be faster:  The lineup containing two people with carts piled high, or the lineup containing five people with only a few items each?

I don’t know why I bother wondering, because I already know the answer:  Whichever line I choose will be the slowest.

But wait!  A new lane just opened up, and there’s only one nice elderly lady with a quart of milk and a rutabaga ahead of me!  I slide in behind her, dreaming of home and dinner.

The cashier rings up the order and the little old lady smiles and hands over a twenty-dollar bill.  No coupons, no hassle.

Home free…

“Oh, just a minute,” she says cheerfully.  “I’ll give you the thirty-five cents.”

She rummages through her purse.  Once.

Then twice.

My dreams crash down in disarray.

“I’ve got it right here,” she assures the cashier, extracting her change purse at last.  “Here’s a quarter.  I know I have a dime in here…”  *rummages some more*  “Oh, I guess I don’t.  Well, here are two nickels…  Oh, did I give you another quarter?  Wait, I know I’ve got two nickels…”

Meanwhile, the people in the other lineups have all paid and departed.  I clench my teeth and wonder whether they’d rule it justifiable homicide if I throttled that nice little old lady, who is still excavating her change purse in search of the elusive nickel.

But guess what?  The fates must have a twisted sense of humour, because I just became that little old lady.

I know, I know; I’m sorry!  *flees from enraged pitchfork-wielding mob*

It was an ugly shock when I caught myself digging through my change purse in the checkout line.  I’d like to say I froze in humiliation and immediately whipped out my tap-and-go credit card instead, but I didn’t.  I knew I had two nickels, dammit.

Clearly old age is sneaking up on me.  Six years ago I mentioned that even when I’m looking great I still only look great ‘for my age’.  That seemed important at the time, but now the surest sign that I’m getting older is that I really don’t care anymore.  I’m fine with the way I look, and if anybody else doesn’t like it?  Tough noogies.

But I’m not completely free of vanity.  In fact, I’ve developed a foolproof way to look more youthful:  Forget nips and tucks and lotions and potions – it’s all about geography.  Where we used to live in Calgary, the median age is 36.  In our new area on Vancouver Island, the median age is 66.  So when we moved out here, I was instantly transformed from a worn-out old bag 17 years over the hill to a dewy young thing.  Ta-da!  And it only cost my life’s savings plus most of my sanity!  How often do you get a deal like that?

And hey, maybe now that I’m so much younger I won’t have to hold up a checkout line searching for change again; at least not for another decade or so.

So that’s my two cents worth for this week.  Wait, let me get my change purse…

Give Me Air!

I used to be much tougher; but the older I get, the more I enjoy the comfort of modern conveniences.  Yep, I’m turning into an elderly wimp.

When I was a kid there was no such thing as sunscreen; or if there was, the news of it hadn’t filtered through to our little rural backwater.  As a fair-skinned redhead, sunburns were inevitable unless I wanted to stay indoors all my life.

I didn’t.  I was out all day long in my shorts and T-shirt, playing in haystacks and crawling through tall grass and wading in ditches; putting cool compresses on the sunburn at night and peeling the skin off a few days later until I was one big freckle that lasted until winter.

Our little farmhouse didn’t have air conditioning in the early days, and there was no escape from the muggy heat of a Manitoba summer.  Even with all the windows open, the house was airless.  Clothing and bedding were perpetually damp and clammy from the humidity.

Big black crickets infiltrated the house in summer.  I’ll never forget the first time my brother brought one of his girlfriends home for the first time.  We were sitting at the dinner table when, in a momentary lull in the conversation, there was an audible *plop*.  Yep, a giant cricket had crawled out from behind the wall clock and fallen to the floor before scuttling into the safety of a nearby air vent.  The memory of the look on that girl’s face still makes me snicker.  (Their relationship didn’t last, oddly enough.)


These days I don’t venture outdoors without slathering on sunscreen, swaddling myself in long sleeves and long pants, and donning a hat and sunglasses.

My skin is now sensitive to some invisible critter that lives in grass and dirt, so anytime I’m working or playing outside I have to tuck my pant legs into my socks to prevent giant red welts on my legs.  (This has the added bonus of making me look like a complete doofus.)

If even a single bug ventures into my house I instantly swoop down and annihilate it.  (Unless it’s a spider or a ladybug, in which case I gently pick it up and put it outside unharmed. But all others get heartlessly squished.)

And a couple of years ago we had central air installed.

Here in Calgary, air conditioning is viewed with a hint of condescension (until the temperature tops +30C/86F, at which point it’s regarded with envy).  We usually only get a couple of weeks of hot weather and even then the temperature rarely exceeds +15C/59F at night.  Most people just open the windows when it’s cool and close them during the day.  Air conditioning is for wussies.

So when I sit in my cool, comfortable living room while everybody else bakes… instead of feeling smug, I feel a bit embarrassed.

That is, until a few days ago when the air conditioner inexplicably quit.  And the temperature rose one degree inside the house.


The way I rushed off to phone the service line, you’d think the fires of hell were licking at the crack of my ass.  “OMG, the temperature’s gone up a degree and the air conditioner isn’t running!  What will I DO?!?”

Um… take a pill, that’s what.  A couple of years ago the temperature in our bedroom regularly topped +30C in the summer.  It didn’t kill me.

But apparently now it will.

‘Scuse me while I totter off to my rocking chair now…

* * *

New discussion over at the Virtual Backyard Book Club:  When does a series end for you?  Click here to have your say!

I Like Young Guys

Fortunately, my husband is extremely tolerant and secure.  I had just gotten back from an appointment with my young male massage therapist when I announced, “I like young guys!”

Hubby grinned, said, “Yeah, and…?”, and waited for the explanation I hastened to supply.

I mean, I do like young guys; what’s not to like?  But I didn’t exactly mean it the way it came out.  What I meant was, as an old(er) woman with a brain that refuses to accept that I’m not twenty anymore, it’s really nice to work with my young male martial arts trainer, my young male massage therapist, and (when necessary) my young male physiotherapist.

Because they don’t give me any bullshit about how I shouldn’t be kickboxing, or I shouldn’t be shooting, or I should back off on my weights, or whatever.

My middle-aged GP was horrified when I told her I was kickboxing.  She issued me a prescription for a topical anti-inflammatory along with a severe admonition to quit.  While she was at it, she suggested I go a little easier on my weightlifting, too.

The surgeon who fixed the torn ligaments in my wrist a few years ago eyed me cynically and told me if I was going to kickbox, he’d see me in his office begging him to fuse my wrist in another few years.

I know they’re probably right; I just don’t want to hear it.

What the hell, I could get hit by a bus next week.  Then I’d be lying there dying in the road, all pissed off because I didn’t need those joints after all and I could’ve been kickboxing all along.

So instead of going to the doctor this time, I went to my massage therapist.  He listened to my description of my various aches and pains and said, “But do you like kickboxing?”  And when I said ‘Oh hell yeah’, he said, “Okay, you’re getting pain because your muscles are imbalanced here, here, and here.  Here’s how to fix that…”

He gave me exercises, stretches, a massage that made me writhe in agony but feel better afterward, and most importantly, encouragement.

My martial arts trainer does the same.  “Okay, you can’t bend your wrists.  That’s all right, you can do this on your knuckles.  Okay, you can’t kick today, so instead you’re going to learn two ways to break a guy’s arm and three ways to choke him.  And here are a couple of submission holds.”

I love these guys!

No, they aren’t irresponsible.  They’re professionals.  They make sure I understand the potential consequences of my actions… and when they realize I’m going for it, they cheer me on and find ways to make it happen.  They totally understand the ‘Go hard or go home’ mentality.

In a few years, I might look back on this and say “What the hell was I thinking?  I’m in constant pain now because I was a moron who didn’t have the brains to quit while she was ahead.”

But maybe not.  Maybe I’ll just grin.

Anybody else doing things you’ll regret later?

I Look Great… Ouch!

Last week, an acquaintance told me, “You look ten years younger now than when I first met you!”  I basked in the glorious glow of the compliment until I realized that:

  • This meant I looked like shit three years ago; and
  • She didn’t mention how old I actually look now.  Only that I look younger than I did, which is not much comfort if I looked like a desiccated old bat three years ago.  So maybe I look like a dewy, well-hydrated old bat now.

The analytical mind isn’t always a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful compliment.  I’m still basking in it.  I prefer to assume she meant it the way I took it:  “You look great!”


When you were in your teens and twenties, did your friends ever say “You look great” when they ran into you by chance?  No, of course not.  Not unless you’d actually put on a dress and makeup for the first time in five years.  But that’s probably just me.  That’s not my point.

My point is, one day I’m schlepping along in my usual jeans and T-shirt.  Hair is what it always is.  No makeup, as usual.  I run into Bobby Jo from high school, and she squeals, “You look great!”

They’re the words of doom.  The beginning of the end.  They don’t mean “You look great”.  They mean “You look great for your age”.

That happened for the first time when I was in my late thirties, and it was a rude shock to realize that I was, in fact, aging whether I wanted to or not.  Although the alternative to getting older is… meh, not so appealing.

A decade or so later, I’ve (almost) accepted the fact that I’m middle-aged, and now I’m delighted to hear “You look great”.  Or any compliment, for that matter.  I write them down in a special file and save them.  I’d like to add “just kidding” so I don’t look too pathetic.  But then I’d be lying.

Just to rage against the dying of the light, I started working out seriously about four years ago.  Finally got back into shape, and popped for some professionally done bikini photos to prove it.  It’s amazing what some artful lighting and a good camera angle will do.  Not to mention sucking in my gut so hard the top of my head just about blew off.  I looked seriously constipated in a lot of the proofs.

But there were some good ones, too.  For a brief few minutes, I looked great, and it’s recorded for posterity.

I don’t like the word “aging”, so I’ve decided to not to use it.  I’m getting… um… experienced.  Seasoned.  Ripened.  Maturing like a bottle of fine wine.  (Why can’t I think of any non-food-related references?  Now I’m hungry.)

But at least I look great.  For my age.