Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Learning Curve

The Learning Curve

Proceed with Caution

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about learning. As you know, I am a retired teacher, so I’ve always thought about learning, but I’m not referring to “school” learning. I’m talking about things I learned that are so important to me now in my “leisure” years. 


Like swimming. I learned to swim when I was about six at my grandfather’s beach under the patient guidance of my Uncle John and Aunt Muriel. Thank you for teaching me to swim! Fifty-four years later, I still swim frequently, and I love it! My life would be less if I did not have my swimming.

At Grampy's Beach circa 1963

And knitting. If you read my blog, you know I spend a lot of hours on the needles. What would I do without that? How could I possibly justify the hours I spend with Netflix if I was not doing something productive at the same time? You see, I also learned the Protestant Work Ethic to a degree along the way. 

Protestant Work Ethic

I learned to knit in my grandfather’s parlour under the careful tutelage of my Aunt Audrey. Thank you Audrey! She also gave me my first taste of alcohol in that very parlour where alcohol was strictly forbidden. So in addition to knitting, I learned how to break the rules a bit, and that sherry is not meant to be gulped. Sip it.

Fine Old Sherry

And reading. Well, I don’t exactly remember the one moment I caught on to reading. I guess that was a team effort between home and school. I remember Dick and Jane readers in Grade Two. I loved them. I loved Spot and and Puff and Zeke and Sally and Mother and Father and that car. That perfect life they had. 

See Sally Run!

And I remember the first book I read at home, Arty the Smarty. I recommend it. Reading. God, how empty my life would be without that. Thank you Dick and Jane and Arty the Smarty!

Arty, Bold and Curious

So here is an exercise for you: Think of 3 things you love to do. Who taught you how to do them? Maybe you would like to thank them. If they are in heaven, you could send a prayer.

...Until Next Time...

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Words with Friends

Words with Friends

Among my retirement routines, I include many past-times concerned with words. There is the crytoquote and two crossword puzzles from the local paper, not to mention the word jumble which I do daily with my room-mate—our special together time.

The Jumble: Recipe for a Happy Marriage

I have recently discovered Words with Friends, an online Scrabble game. I now understand how people become addicted to online games. I am hooked. I have about 14 games going at a time.

My New Addiction

Let me tell you about the competition.
There is my 80-year-old Aunt Frances in New Hampshire. In 5 months of playing with her, I might have won one game. Does that sound right to you? Fair? 

Aunt Frances

Then there is my friend, Janet, whom I met in grade 4. She also usually beats me GOOD! She’s so strategic. I don’t really like losing to her all the time, but I feel her strategies are advancing my skill, so I endure the losses. She was really smart in Grade 4, and she’s still really smart!

Not Janet and Not Me in Grade Four

There is my new friend, Christine, whom I just met through a book club I have joined. We had been running neck and neck over the last few months, but she’s starting to draw ahead…

Christine Competition

And through Christine and the book club, I have met Louisa, a Scottish lady. I like to drink Scotch when I’m playing with her, and the more Scotch I drink, the more Scottish words I come up with. That is just coincidence. Loch. Tam. Nae. Aye. I invite her to join me in a drink so I feel like I’m not drinking alone, but I think she refrains for the most part. 


I have a couple of games going with my daughter, Emma, who lives FAR AWAY in Colorado. I feel in touch with her, connected everyday through this game medium. I know, that sounds lame, but it comforts me to have contact with her daily through such an ordinary activity. Almost like she is next door. 

Barb and Emma

My old friend (I mean long-time, not old) Smokey and I usually have a game going. So far our competition has not adversely affected our friendship. We have been through a lot together over the years, including walking across the north of Spain for thirty consecutive days. Surely we will withstand Words with Friends. Emphasis on the friends.
Barb and Smokey:
Camino Graduation

My room-mate Tom and I always have two games in progress. When I hear swearing from the next room, I know he’s looking at a good move I made. If I hear a nasty little snicker, I know he’s made a good move. He's also been playing with my above-mentioned, long-term friend, Smokey, whom he absolutely adores. When I hear him calling Smokey filthy and unprintable names, I know she must be in the lead.  

 (Not) Tom Losing to Smokey

Frankly, I am enjoying my online relationships with my new and old friends. I get a cozy feeling when I sit down to have my coffee with Christine in the morning, or my Scotch with Louisa in the evening. It is nice to rekindle my friendship with a girl I met when I was 10 years old. I would rarely touch base with my aunt if I was not in fierce competition with her on a regular basis. My daily interaction with Emma allows me to stay on top of my parenting duties. I can count on Smokey coming online at about 11 pm to end the day on a positive note. And there is that smug feeling when I hear Tom cursing and swearing in the next room...

Online Relationships

Experts claim that word games, crossword puzzles, sudoku etc are good for brain health. When I spend an hour trying to find the best way to play my “q” or “z”, I justify the time-waste as a brain workout. That is working so far. Only a little guilt….

In my case, it's not so good for my physical health. Back in the day, when I was a teacher, I once attended a professional development workshop about different learning styles. There was one category called The Intake Learner. This is the learner who learns best while eating. Yep, that’s me, The Intake Learner. So, not only I am sitting in front of the computer and not moving for hours, but I am also stuffing food down my throat at the same time so that my brain works better. The lack of exercise and surplus of food is showing. 

The Intake Learner

You might think this past-time would enhance one’s vocabulary. Let me tell you, I am learning words I have never encountered before. Here are some words currently on my boards: wae, jee, ava,fid,sh,dif,mi,ose,raya, and  hame. I don’t see myself using any of those words in my next scintillating conversation. However, those words do have meanings which you will find in the Words with Friends dictionary. Occasionally you will play some obscure mess of letters and the WWF dictionary will tell you that the word “is valid in WWF but has no definition.”

Two-Letter Words:IMPORTANT!

It’s very important to know that “qi” and “za” and “xi” are words so you can get rid of those difficult letters, hopefully on a triple letter square. Then there are the “swear” words, some of which are not acceptable, and some of which are. For example, “slut” is not acceptable, but “_w_t” is. I can’t even write it here, it’s so bad. Not Twit, but it’s close. 

The Plural of Qi 

Oh, what a feeling when you manage to play all seven letters and maybe even hit a triple word square and a double letter or two!! The highest word score I ever got was 120, but the best word I ever played was RHUBARB!

...Until Next Time...

Monday, 30 January 2017

I Beg Your Pardon

I Beg your Pardon ... 

(Mis)Communication Communique

     I have a fairly significant birthday happening in four days. I won’t disclose the exact number, but, let’s just say I’ve been around for several decades! That’s a good thing. I have found, as I advance in age, that people are not speaking as clearly and as loudly as they used to. Or, could it be my hearing? If it is hearing impairment, it seems to be happening to many others in my peer group. 

Speak Up!! Enunciate!!

      Recently, my room-mate and I were at a friend’s house for dinner. Tom and I were in the living room while our hostess, Jody, was tossing the salad at the island in the kitchen, about six feet away. Tom was explaining something to Jody, and made reference to her “nephew Mitch.” She slowed her tossing of the greens and said, “I beg your pardon, Tom?” He repeated his sentence and she laughed in relief. “Oh, my nephew Mitch. I thought you called me a Neptune Bitch!”

Neptune Bitch

     Later that evening, I was discussing knitting with another guest while Jody was again slaving away in the kitchen. Sula and I were talking about Fairisle knitting. “What is THAT?” Jody asked, rather incredulously. I explained briefly and she laughed. “Oh,” she said, “I thought you were saying Feral Knitting.” That conjures up a whole other image!

Feral Knitting

Fairisle Knitting

     Two weeks ago, my roommate and I participated in the historic Women’s March in downtown Fredericton. There was a live performance by a local singer. She introduced herself, saying she was going to sing “Ten Cents is Sexy.” At least that’s what I heard. And, to me, ten cents IS sexy. As many of you know, I do LOVE money, any amount. The singer was about four verses in, repeating the chorus, when I realized the title of the song was “Consent is Sexy” not “Ten Cents is Sexy.”

Ten Cents is Sexy

Consent is Sexy

      Along with miscommunication due to hearing deficits, we now live with miscommunication via texting. We have all experienced the autocorrect faux pas. Or how about hitting the wrong letter while texting or typing? I do like the story of a friend texting to her husband that she had arrived safely at the cottage, and she was all “tucked up in bed” except she hit the “f” instead of the “t”. In a similar vein, my teacher-sister was mistakenly labelled in the yearbook as Ms. Fukkerton instead of Ms. Fullerton. The “K” and the “L” are side by side on the keyboard, after all.


     And there is the time error when questions and answers get criss-crossed in cyberspace. Not long ago, a friend and I were texting about how much I would charge to knit her daughter a hat, while simultaneously discussing the cost of a plane ticket to Denver. My friend got the message that it would cost her $1,000 to buy a hat for her kid. Needless to say, I lost that sale!

Child's Hat: $1,000.

     One of my favourite forms of miscommunication is the malapropism--
"the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect.”  I never corrected my darling four-year-old Julia when she asked for a “red, malicious apple.” It just made perfect sense, considering the Garden of Eden and Snow White where the apple is, indeed, malicious.

The Red Malicious Apple

     And there is the example of my own childhood church malapropism. Until I could read with precision, when I sang along with “Take My Life and Let it Be, Consecrated God to Thee”, I was belting out “Take My Life, and Let it Be, Concentrated God for Thee.” But it works, too. Concentrating your life for God.

Concentrated God for Thee

     Ricky, of The Trailer Park Boys, is famous for malapropisms. They are commonly referred to as “Rickyisms.” Can you figure out what Ricky really wants to say in the following notable examples?
Worst Case Ontario
Eternity Test
Water under the Fridge
Rocket Appliances

Ricky: Far Left

     How many times have you communicated the wrong message simply because you were nervous? A friend of mine in university was uptight going into a job interview and, instead of telling the interviewer that she was doing two courses in intersession, she told him she was doing two sessions in intercourse. I’m not sure if she got the job.


     Another interesting miscommunication skill is the phenomenon of getting the initials correct but the names wrong. My roommate once met a man at a party named Dave Wagoner. Forever after, he referred to him as Dick Wheeler. D.W. Wagon. Wheel. See the connection?

Dave Wagoner/Dick Wheeler

     At times, my father exhibited this same "name/initial" mix-up. Upon his return home from visiting relatives one weekend, my mother asked him what one of our cousins had named her new-born. Granted, baby names were never of much interest to my father, so maybe he was not exactly attentive. He told Mom the baby’s name was Morning Dew, when in fact, it was Misty Dawn. Well, he had the right initials and the right concept.

Misty Dawn/Morning Dew

     Keep your eyes and ears open for Miss Communication! 

Miss Communication

… Until Next Time ...

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Christmas in Colorado

Christmas in Colorado

Does this sound like the title of a Hallmark Christmas Movie to you? I hope so! We are just back from our Christmas in Colorado where the nine of us worked on our debut movie, a collaborative work of fiction. A sneak preview...


Emma Mathieson
Jarrett Fraser
Lindsey Gillies
Rob Gillies
Julia Mathieson
Kim Fraser
Eddy Fraser
Tom Mathieson
Barb Fullerton


The remote mountain village of Breckerville, Colorado is being threatened by big business as heartless Tom Mogul moves in with the intention of building a ski resort complete with condos, theme parks, and day spas. 

Breckerville, Colorado

The potential development will decimate local businesses including The Crepe Escape owned by the town’s most eligible bachelor, Rob Goodguy and his mother, Kim, a former country music artist. Recovering from a broken heart, Rob has thrown himself into his fledgling business in an effort to fill the void left when his childhood sweetheart moved to the coast.

The Crepe Escape

The cosy bakery next door, Christmas Cookie, cannot possibly survive the takeover. Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Shortbread has just moved back home leaving an unfulfilled romance and a high-powered career on Wall Street to help her father, Edward, retired racecar driver, with the family business. Even Lindsey's substantial savings are not enough to save the sweetest bakery in Colorado. 

 Christmas Cookie

Emma Redken, proprietor of Emma’s Cut and Curl, owns the key piece of property Tom Mogul needs to complete his hostile takeover. 

Emma's Cut and Curl

A fourth-generation loyal resident of Breckerville, Emma is tempted by Mogul's generous monetary offer as she needs a substantial amount of money for her dog Pantene's liposuction and tummy tuck. 

Pantene and The Ladies

Breckerville's dispensary-owner and mayor, Julia Matchmaker, is determined to preserve the town’s wholesome way of life. She recruits the town sheriff, Jarrett Lawmaker, and his deputy, Barb Blackheart, to organize a crowd-sourcing campaign to raise enough funds to outbid the callous business tycoon before the Christmas Eve deadline.


Will it be a joyous Christmas in Breckerville this year? Intrigue and romance abound in this riveting tale of a tight-knit community standing up to corporate America. 

....Until Next Time....

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Lumbersexual

The Lumbersexual:

Are You???

Have you noticed the relatively new trend in male style known as the lumbersexual?My superficial research on the subject says the term "lumbersexual" was coined about 3 years ago. 
The Lumbersexual

According to Wikipedia, "lumbersexual or urban lumberjack is a man who has adopted style traits typical of a traditional lumberjack, namely a beard, plaid shirt, and scruffy hair, substituting otherwise clean-cut and fashionable style choices. Denver Nicks described the trend as perhaps an attempt to "reclaim masculinity". (Wikipedia) 
Obviously, it's more than a fashion trend.

 You Can Do It!

The lumbersexual is not to be confused with the lumberjack. Lumbersexuals have probably never wielded an ax or hung off the end of a chainsaw. Many say the look is modelled after America's favourite lumberjack, Paul Bunyan.

Paul Bunyan: Lumberjack

Last week I  went to a 40th year anniversary reenactment of The Band's farewell concert The Last Waltz.

The Last Waltz

Local bands re-enacted the concert at The Boyce Farmers’ Market and it was crawling with lumbersexuals, most of whom were not born when The Last Waltz happened in San Francisco in 1976. Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate, would probably fit the profile of a lumbersexual. Neil Young--definitely. 

The Last Waltz , 1976

I ran into a former student/teacher’s pet at this event. When I commented to him that the place was full of lumbersexuals, he told me that New Brunswick has always been full of men with big bushy beards wearing plaid. Now the look is trendy and it has a name. He has a point. My father worked in the woods and always wore plaid. No beard. Let me assure you, he was no adherent to fashion trends!

Lumberjacks or Lumbersexuals?

As I was researching the lumbersexual, I wondered if there was a “female” equivalent. I didn’t find much except a few pictures. Then again, the movement is about reclaiming a certain kind of masculinity.


The Baby Lumbersexual might look something like this:

Baby Lumbersexual

Here we have an idea of what a woman might wear while hanging out with a lumbersexual. 
Sienna Miller and Tom Sturridge

Many celebs are “rockin’” the Lumbersexual look, such as Ryan Reynolds, 
Ryan Reynolds

and Ryan Titus.
Ryan Titus in Home-Grown Alpaca

As a Knitting Entrepreneur, I am planning to cash in on this fashion phenomenon. Take a look at my Lumbersexual Line. These coordinating mittens went to a lumbersexual couple in Toronto:
Toronto Lumbersexual Mittens

This pair adorns the hands of a New Brunswick lumbersexual.
NB Lumbersexual Mittens

Socks for the Baby Lumbersexual:
LumberBaby Socks

Mitts for the Toddler Lumbersexual.
LumberToddler Mitts

Mittens for the LumberFeminine:

Let me know if you would like to place an order!!

...Until Next Time...