Wednesday, September 23, 2020

You'll let me know when I'm elderly, right?

"Yes. I will," says Rissa.

"Thank you."

"You are elderly."


"Ma, you're showing all the signs."

"I'm 52!"

"Do you, or do you not implement fall prevention measures?"

"Yes, but that's for the ear thing..."

"Is that a bowl of hard candies on the counter?"


"How many pills do you take each day?"

"Many of those are vitamins!"

"How many are prescriptions?

"Two," I say sullenly.

"What was that?"


"And what else?"

"Iron pills."



"Do you have more than one pre-existing condition?" She raises her eyebrows at me.

"Oh for the... YES! But I only have the ear thing because of the thyroid thing!"

"What about migraines?"

"Well, if you're going to count EVERYTHING..."

"Hypoglycemia??" Another eyebrow raise.

"Shut up."

"All signs point to elderly."

"I would just like to say that when I updated my life insurance, that NONE of my conditions stopped me from getting coverage again."


"Seriously. All my issues? Unless they're heart or lungs related? They mean dick to insurers. So SUCK IT!"

"Is that an early-onset dementia mood swing??"

Saturday, September 5, 2020

My delicate frickin' flower

"I'm telling you Rissa, when you're middle-aged, your vulva gets sassy."

Rissa pauses brushing her teeth. "I'm sorry?"

"Your vulva - well at least your labia - they get..."

"What is happening right now?"

"I was wearing those pants without underwear..."


"I am passing on information that will be useful when YOU are 52 years old."

"About my vulva?"

"Or it might just be your labia. I'm never sure of the distinction. I mean, I know that the labia are the lip bits. Help me out here. You're the nursing student."

Rissa looks like she wants to bang her head on the vanity. "The vulva is the whole crotch area."

"Crotch is the vulva. Got it." I think for a sec. "Crulva."

"Please don't ever say THAT again."

"What? If I make a new word it will forever be clear in my mind."

"Other people's mothers don't share like this."

"But they should! Seriously. You're going to want to know that lace underwear will become the enemy in your 40s and then, when you're 52, you go commando in a pair of 95% polyester / 5% spandex/elastane wide cut pants and your... labia - really it's just the labia - will not be happy with you."

Rissa just looks at me.

"And I used to be able to wear the pretty lacy panties, but now, unless there's a cotton gusset in there with some good acreage, by the end of the day (or night - depending when I wear them) my crulval area is not pleased."

David pokes his head into the bathroom. "Crulval?"

Rissa shudders. "Please DO NOT encourage her."

"Crotch and vulva. The crotch area is the vulva," I say as I brush my teeth.

"Ahhhhhh, I see."

"I'm trying to impart my knowledge of what the female body does..."

"I don't think all female bodies do this," says Rissa.

"Oh, I think they do. You get older and your body gets overly sensitive."

"YOUR body Ma. YOUR body is WAY sensitive."

"I'm going to poll my friends."

"OH. MY. GOD."

"And then you'll know....  Wait! I am going to ask Mor Mor and I will bet you anything that she'll confirm it." 

"I can't see Mor Mor wearing lacy panties."

"Because now she CAN'T."


"I'm sure that Mor Mor would still wear lacy panties if she could. She might want to spice it up now and again..."



"Mor? Can you still wear lacy panties?'

There is a pause on the other end of the phone. "Can I what?"

"If you wear lacy panties or non-cotton panties, do they irritate your lady bits?'

"Well... no, I don't think so."


"I've never noticed that."

"I'm talking about a pair of LACY panties - with a very small gusset?"

David snorts from the other room.

"I can't say that it's ever been an issue for me. I mean, I don't wear a lot of lacy panties now, but I do have polyester panties and they don't seem to bother me."

"But they have a BIG cotton gusset right?"

"Well I've never measured it."

"Aw crap. She's right!"

"Who's right?"

"Rissa. She said that my lady bits are just overly sensitive."

"Well that may be the case. Your body IS sensitive. You know Heather, natural fibers are always best. These new fabrics are all well and good, because they're easy to care for, but you can't beat cotton."

"Yeah, I know. These new fabrics, they bite me in the... well, not ass, but they sure as hell irritate my labia!"

"And this is why you called?"

"Yep. Thanks. Love you." I hang up the phone.

Rissa comes down the stairs. "I told you it was just YOUR..."


She rolls her eyes. "Last night something struck me. You said you were wearing pants with no underwear."


"Well don't do that! If you wear underwear you won't get irritated."

"Yes, but those pants are jersey and if I wear cotton panties with them, the pants will be all bunchy and clingy..."

"WEAR cotton thongs! They MAKE cotton thongs!"

Epiphanic. "Yes. Yes, that's perfect. I can do that. Unless my perineum is irritated."


Please help me get to the bottom of this.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

DIY Nip/Tuck

David and Rissa say that I am not allowed to take up DIY cosmetic surgery. No matter how much I want to. I'd just like to say though, that if my armpits were made up of fabric instead of migrating breast tissue stores, I could put a dart in that shit. 

I am very handy with a needle and thread and excel at following YouTube videos. I'm pretty sure that with some hydrogen peroxide, a shop vac and fishing line I could do some good work. But "because it's flesh and blood with the possibility of infection and death," I'm not allowed to try.  After being my own successful guinea pig, I could offer my APP NT (arm pit pudge nip/tuck) to friends and family. I'd do it as a charitable service for other women of a certain age whose bodies have chosen to metamorphose without their host's permission.

Scratch that - do not try this at home. I just googled it and this was the first thing that came up:

I want to be that body-positive 52 year old with 5 decades of comfortably living in my skin. But instead of reveling, I spend an inordinate amount of time fixated on my extra breasts. I sqwoosh them. I berate them. I feel that they are a beacon to the entire world. I Google "extra weight around middle" and discover that a waist line over 35 inches for a women is a health concern. Oh, for the love of... this is no longer cosmetic! 

Fucking menopause. Its subtitle is literally THE CHANGE OF LIFE. I should know this.

My breasts have converted their now useless milk ducts into even more incredibly bodacious ta-tas?  Huzzah! If I want to stop traffic on King Street, all I've got to do is take a deep breath. Those same boobs that are no longer content to dwell upon my torso and have now snuck across the border into arm pit town?   Give me a sec...  wait... wait... I could hook up small bicycle horns so that when I play with their pulchritude I get a musical interlude!  And... a great new busking act! From which I could make money!  HAH!

Benign moles getting me down? Play connect the dots with all that new skin topography and see how many constellations I have!

To maintain my weight I now need to walk for more than an hour each day and cut more calories, but not so many calories that my body's fight or flight response is triggered?  It's all good! My heart and lungs just LOVE the extra exercise and juggling carbohydrate and caloric math is incredibly helpful to my now failing brain!

When I update my glasses prescription I want a filter so that I can see myself through my daughter's / friends' / husband's eyes. They don't see the extra boobs or the increasing waist line. They see my smile, my vintage skirts with pockets, my me-being-me.

So how about this? I shall focus on my physical health, but not to the detriment of my mental health. I'll walk more, I'll eat things that are good for me, I'll manage my stress by remembering this,

and I won't pick up a scalpel.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

I'm not 20 any more.



"Sweet Jesus..."

"You okay in there?"

"I'm good, I'm good." 

David cracks open the bathroom door. "You sure?"

"I did cardio kickboxing yesterday with Rissa."

"Ahhhhhh... not that kind of moaning."


He winces as I try to walk.

"It's like child birth."


"Kickboxing. It's like child birth. I've done this class at least three other times. But somehow, in between sessions, I forget. I forget the decimation."

My mouth drops open to gather more oxygen as I attempt to move my leg. 

Since the pandemic hit, Rissa is back at home and has been doing virtual fitness classes. We've been rocking the  mother-daughter time this way. Cardio Dance, Zen Barre, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Cardio Kickboxing. Rissa is 20. She's an ex-competitive-dancer. She's super fit. I... am none of those things.

Most of the classes, after the initial physical fall-out, I learn not to be a moron. I know NOT to do four sets of eight calf raises TWICE during Zen Barre (1 set with feet together and another with feet shoulder width apart). I do not even try to match the burpee count of the HIIT instructor. With kickboxing? I have selective dementia.

It's because I love kicking. I FUCKING LOVE it.

14 years ago, after a few weeks of watching Rissa and David have fun in taekwondo, I got jealous. In spite of my post-gymnast hip arthritis,  I bought a martial arts uniform and quickly became a yellow belt. Kicking night was revelatory. One of my proudest moments was when I almost kicked Sir Glen through a plate glass window. He'd been unprepared for my leg strength. I'd been unprepared for my leg strength. The fact that he had to widen his stance and engage his core whenever I was next up for push kicks? Still makes me preen.

I'd get so fucking jazzed for kicking night. Primal. Powerful. Playful. This one night, we were doing sprints to warm up across the length of the dojang. Run, run, run, run, run. STOP. Burpee. Run, run, run, run run... I was really giving it. And this, for me, was a big deal. I hate sweating in public. I hate panting in public.  I just generally hate being in a group while I exercise. But my reward was kicking the shit out of things afterward, so I would willingly suffer through the moist crotch and the lank hair during warm up.

We were nearing the end of the sprints. I ran, ran, ran, ran, ran, dropped and did a burpee and then I started running again. Problem was, I wasn't fully vertical. Rissa told me later that I looked like a cross between the Roadrunner and the Coyote. My legs pinwheeled super fast and then I propelled myself into the mat, as if I had an ACME rocket strapped to my back. I separated my left shoulder and David, who'd stayed home that night, got a phone call from Sir Glen.

"Hi David. It's Sir Glen from...."

"What did she do?"

After I finally healed, I never went back to taekwondo. But I've reminisced over it. The kicking part. The surprising people with my leg strength part. The feeling so capable and badass part. I crave that shit. It's just that now, at the age of 52, my body's not so happy when I decide once every three weeks that I want to kick. I'm in pain for three days afterward, tell myself for the next week and a half that I won't do it again, but then Rissa looks at me, raises her eyebrows and says, "Cardio Kickboxing?" and I cave.

Friday, May 1, 2020

This isn't the virus you're looking for.

So hot. Sweaty. Can't get enough air into my lungs. Climbing up through sleep knowing one thing is certain: This is it. I have COVID-19. The pit of my stomach fills with panic. I kick one leg out of the blankets, seeking cooler air. The rest of my body feels paralyzed. I have no energy - I'm wading through molasses. I fight to open my eyes. So fucking hot. My chest hurts.


My eyes open.

It's Steve. My cat Steve is on my chest. I'm also having a hot flash. It is NOT COVID-19.

Had I been truly awake I would have employed logic. I have not touched or been within 2 meters of anyone I don't live with for 6 weeks. David is the member of our family who goes out into actual public and whenever he buys groceries/pharmaceuticals he wipes off everything and religiously washes his hands.

But given the current reality you get those random thoughts.

I have a fever. Is it COVID-19?
Are you a woman in menopause? Is this a hot flash? It's NOT COVID-19.

I have shortness of breath. Is it COVID-19?
Do you have a cat on your chest? It's NOT COVID-19.

I have a dry cough. Is it COVID-19?
After you stop cleaning your house fanatically, does the cough stop? It's NOT COVID-19.

I'm achy. My joints are in pain. Is it COVID-19?
Have you been exercising more than you ever have in your entire life? It's NOT COVID-19.

I have a sore throat. It hurts when I swallow. Is it COVID-19?
Have you had any water today? Drink some water. Does it feel better? It's NOT COVID-19.

My head hurts. I have a blinding headache. Is it COVID-19?
Did you drink too much wine/whisky/scotch/vodka/tequila last night? It's NOT COVID-19.


As an empath, my low-grade-dealing-with-a-pandemic anxiety shifts into high gear when I'm stupid enough to read the news before bed.

"Ma? Ma - what is it?" asks Rissa as I flop down on her bed one night in tears.

"So many people are dying. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying. Nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists and PSWs who are trying to HELP the ones who are dying are dying..."

"Okay, no more news for you. Dude."


Nursing students have been asked to take the strain off other medical workers. Rissa now works as a PSW at a Long-Term Care facility for the summer, where, I am thankful, there have been no cases (touch wood).

"Ma? Ma what is it?"

"It's just all the people who live there. They can't socialize. They can't see their families... They can't... hug."

"Oh Ma... Stop. You can't think about it. Yes, it's sad, but you can't think about it."


"No buts. You have too much empathy. Think of it this way. Most people, they get a regular amount of empathy flowing through their bodies. You... you got... 6 times that. You empathize with an ant when you kill it. It makes you a good actor, but it's going to make you crazy."




"Yeah. That too."


So now? Now I don't delve, I don't check stats all the time, I try not to empathize. I... breathe. I place my feet flat on the floor to ground myself. I strike the Superhero pose just like I learned from Grey's Anatomy.  And I thank every deity out there for all the Front-Line workers who  are putting themselves at risk every single day to help us get through all of this.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020


"Are you ready for lunch?" asks Rissa.

"Lunch Time!!" I reply "♩♫ It's Lu-u-u-unch... TI-I-I-IIIIIME!!♬♫ "

"O... kay..." says Rissa, eyebrows dropping in resignation. "What were you planning on for lunch?"

"I dunno. Grilled cheese??"

"Or... tuna melts?"

"TUNA?!?" This is the best idea Rissa's ever had in her entire life. "TUNA! TUNA! TUNA!!!!"  I make my way over to the pantry. "♩♫ We're ha-ving Tuuuuuuu-naaaaaa♬♫ "

"What is happening?" asks Rissa.

"Tuna, tuna, tuna!!!" I grab a couple of cans and dance my way over the counter.
"♩♫ Tuuuuuuuuu-Naaaaaaaaa!!!! ♬♫ "  I pause to take a breath. "That was exciting."

"You are literally the only person who made that exciting," says Rissa. "I am just standing here."

"Yes but you thought of the "♩♫ Tu-na Me-e-e-elllllllts!!!! ♬♫ "

"You're so weird."

"I prefer to think of it as manic without the depressive."

"I gotta say that's mostly accurate," contributes David.


Sunday, April 26, 2020


Remember your first bra?  That verging on A cup, training bra?   This clothing item had two purposes: to mask breast buds and to serve as a horizontal bulls-eye for the boys in grade 5 who seemed to make it their life's work to SNAP the back of that sucker as soon as they glimpsed it underneath your shirt.  Those bras didn't have any padding, so God help you if it was cold and your nipples stood to attention, because everyone would notice them. Boys. Girls.  Teachers. The Custodian. EVERYONE. Or so you thought.

My barely there pre-pubescent breasts sqwooshed into that fabric at the age of ten - already pushing things down,  smoothing  them out. One hook at the back.  Earning my Brownie badge in "Brassiere Closure."

Shopping for that first training bra at The Met in 1978. And when I say "The Met" - I mean The Met department store at the Greenwood Mall in the heart of the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia... Canada.

You move beyond the B cup and you're up to at least two hooks.  By the time you sport those D cups, you'd better hope that you have at least three hooks or there could be a situation.

As I take the bras from their 'delicates' bags to move them to the drying rack - because, let's face it, if you're paying $50 or more for something that reliably lifts and separates your girls, you DO NOT put those fuckers in the dryer - I look at my bra and I look at Rissa's.  Rissa's with its 1" band and two dainty, nay elegant, hooks.  Mine, with the almost 4" band and 4 Industrial/Frankenstein hooks to corral my beauteous pulchritude into its massive cups that (cool fact!) could also serve as hats/medical masks if need be.

Along with the rest of the breast-blessed world who are"sheltering at home," I have mostly been eschewing the brassiere, letting the girls go free range. This lack of underpinning is indeed comfortable - as long as I move sedately. Coming down the stairs in the morning, I find myself riveted by the clapping sway of Itsy & Bitsy, wondering how I can reliably replicate the motion, for NOW is obviously the time to invest in pasties with proper tassels and get on that middle-aged burlesque career track.

Jo Weldon teaches nipple tassel twirling - Northside Media Inc.

"Am I doing it?" I ask, bouncing up and down.

"Please don't make me watch you practice this," says Rissa before subsequently yelling, "Pear! Pear! Ma is shaking her breasts at me!"

"She's doing what with her breasts?"

"I'm learning how to twirl tassels!!!"

David comes into the room. "You're what?"

"I'm learning, " I say as I continue to bounce, "To twirl tassels!"


"How's it looking?"

"Well, there is definitely A LOT going on there."

"What if I try the shimmy method?"

"I'm going to the other room to read," says Rissa.