Art du Beacoup Jours

IMG_2065Oh yeah, I forgot, I’m a self-declared artist, taking a long break from it all and then coming up with some very bad French.  The title is supposed to translate to “art of many days” because I’m pretty sure this creation could pass for art and it certainly was many days in the making.  But none of it can in any way be blamed on the French.  Just so that’s clear.

This is melted crayon on an old denuded clock face.  On an opposite wall the delightful mirror below, which survived the garage sale because I could not bring myself to part with it,  has been photographed to include the reflection of the above round shaped thing awaiting inspiration.  It hung there all white and boring for a very long time.  Weeks I guess, but eventually I got tired of looking at it and the reflection of it too.

IMG_2985Now I’m going to show you a photo of a big bucket/waste basket full of markers and crayons.  Only demented grandmas have such things, never mind the ones who pause to take pictures of them.

IMG_2982The plastic bag on top is one of those large freezer zip lock ones, (so a LOT of crayons in there) and when my granddaughters were here looking for something to do I suggested peeling the paper off some of them.  One of the girls wisely wandered off to watch tv, but the other one was wildly enthusiastic about the idea and stripped the paper off every last one of them. You never know with kids, so don’t be afraid to suggest totally bizarre and tedious activités to them which you don’t want to do yourself.

Then we messed around melting wax with an iron and a blow dryer.  This is my favourite result on paper.

If you heat and mix the colours too much they just get muddy but we saved this one with a lot of white on top.

Okay! One more snapshot in the series “ways I have been messing about for months”.
Another crayon creation on canvas, and below it three little, quite possibly completely useless, books I made.

You start off with a cereal box,  use the thin side for the spine of the book and cut out whatever book shape you want.  Then you cover them inside and out with glued on paper, complete with decor.  I had a couple of jewelry pieces left over from a failed jewelry making stage of my life and the playing cards are from a miniature deck which was a prize from one of our Christmas cracker snapper things.  I’m sure that’s not an accurate name.  Too bad I don’t know what they’re called in French.  The pages are arranged in bunches and sewn in using a needle and thread, after punching aligned holes with a push-pin in the paper and the spines .  It was pretty labour intensive especially once the novelty wore off and I was questioning my sanity for thinking three of the damned things was a good idea.  Probably won’t try that again.  So these should one day be ridiculously valuable because they are rare.  Remember that when you see them in a garage sale.

Enough sharing for one day.  Thanks for looking.  Now get back to whatever important thing you were up to on this beautiful sunny April Sunday.

Just Jazzy 208

embonpoint – a state of exaggerated plumpness, rotundity of figure; stoutness: a euphemism for fatness or fleshiness.   This translates from the French as ‘in good condition.’

Yes I am embonpoint and I embrace it.  I also love the French.

Yes I am embonpoint and I embrace it. I also love the French.

Jazzy Words


Why Breathing Space?

Jazzy and the Pussycats

Jazzy and the Pussycats (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daily Prompt:  All About Me

Explain why you chose your blog’s title and what it means to you.

Breathing Space  Life on the Sidewalk….where every day is a new beginning, take a deep breath and start again.

1.  It all started seven years ago and was inspired by the site called “myspace” and reading about other people and their adventures on their own “space”.  So I wanted a space too.  Being spacey and all.

2.  My fear of water and drowning and not being able to breathe, plus my love of being left alone to think, plus my inability to come up with anything even remotely unique, prompted the Breathing Space name.  You can find “Breathing Space” on Wikipedia, but it has nothing at all to do with me and everything to do with a band by the same name.

3.  Life in the fast lane is an expression I like, but have never EVER lived.  Life in the slow lane would be slightly more accurate, but life on the sidewalk is even better.  Because here I am, strolling along, watching the rest of the world zip on by.  Where the hell are they all going, anyway?  I’d hitch a ride if I really cared.

4.  Somebody said I should have more of a tag line or something to better explain what this blog is all about so that’s where all the deep breath new beginning stuff came from.  I keep thinking I should change that to something better.  You know, the whole starting over thing.  One day it might just go missing altogether.

5.  I am a grandma to five kids, ages 7 to 12.   W has always called me Lin, as if saying my whole name would wear him right out.  So those two things combined end up being grandmalin.  However, if you are French you might read it as grand malin which very loosely interpreted means big shrewd/cunning/crafty or clever person.  Voila.  It can also mean malicious or malignant, but I try really hard not to be either one of those things.

Il faut être malin pour réussir – You have to be shrewd in order to succeed.

Il m’a donné un sourire malin – He gave me a knowing smile.

There’s your French lesson for the day.  There is some French on my father-in-law’s side of the family but that’s my closest claim to being French myself.

6.  The name of my alter ego Jazzy is nothing but wishful thinking.  I’d like to be jazzy.  I like jazz.  I was reading a book in which there was a minor character named Jazzy.  This one kept showing up in random doodles.  Thus Jazzy was born.  She will die when she runs out of stuff to say.

7.  In the beginning my site was all about the history of my family and preserving the pictures and the memories for future generations.  After several years of that I got bored and branched off in a multitude of different directions so that now I have no idea what any of this is really about.  It’s a work in progress.  It’s a walk on the sidewalk.

Some days it’s just a long sit down rest on the curb.

E is for Etymology

E is for Etymology, Origin 1350–1400; Middle English < Latin etymologia < Greek etymología, equivalent to etymológ ( os ) studying the true meanings and values of words.
One of the first things I do every morning is play my many word games.  Apparently, that’s what WRITERS do.  Ergo, I must be a writer.  Ergo is another lovely E word, way quicker to type than therefore, ergo I decided to use it here and if I continue on with this sentence for much longer you will begin to seriously doubt I have any talent for writing whatsoever.  Ergo I shall stop.

If you love words too, check out

PR Daily News 

and click on Writing and Editing.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.  It’s full of interesting stuff.  The article that convinced me I must belong to that elite group called “writers” is here.  Because I love all those word games and play most of them every day.

MOST days I feel very smug and smart with all the words I know or can figure out and sometimes am even able to spell correctly.  Other days it’s good to bring that ego down a  peg or two by playing Etymologic.  The first time I played I got 4 out of ten by making wild guesses.  The best I’ve done is 8 out of 10 by cheating.  You can totally rationalize cheating if you convince yourself it’s in the interests of learning something new and has nothing at all to do with getting a less embarrassing score.

These games are also something I can enjoy by clicking away with one hand while using the other to drink coffee, another activity which gives me great pleasure.  I wonder where the word multitasking originated?  From Latin multis (much, many) and French tâche (job or task)?  Although the word tache without the accent can also mean ink stain.  So another plausible meaning might be too many ink stains on your fingers from writing so much, and ergo, get a keyboard you moron.

Having a good book on the subject of etymology seemed like such a great idea to me this morning that I searched Amazon for just such an invaluable source of information.  There were just way too many choices. What I ended up downloading to my kindle was this:

English Swear Words and Other Ways to be Completely Misunderstood, by Peter Freeman.

I doubt that it will be helpful for cheating at  Etymologic, but it could prove to be wildly educational.  Sort of like learning a second language, and probably a lot more fun than Latin.

Compositions Circa 1928 (Part Three)

The following are excerpts from a few of my mother’s history essays written when she was eleven years old.  They sound so incredibly familiar to me – not because I learned the same “facts” but because they’re put together with a string of bits and pieces of information to tell stories that basically don’t make a lot of sense.   I think I must have inherited my mother’s defective history gene!  How else do you account for finding history confusing and tedious.  Well, besides poor teaching and biased points of view, and a lot of very subjective thinking which we were expected to accept as the truth.  I always wanted to add my own take on things.  I think my mother might have been into that as well.


Thanksgiving at the Trolls

Thanksgiving at the Trolls (Photo credit: martha_chapa95)

Thanksgiving Day is a very old festival.  The Hebrews kept it as the Feast of the Tabernacle.  The Greeks kept it in memory of their God Demeter.  They brought fruits and little pigs.  The Romans kept it in memory of their God Ceres. The next to celebrate it were the Pilgrims.  After leaving their own country they sailed to Holland.  This was done so they could keep their own religion which the king was persecuting.After reaching the coast of the United States they had to endure many hardships.  Their first building was a log church.  But in a few years they reaped a very bountiful harvest.  Governor Bradford thought they should have at least one day to thank God and have a large feast but the people wanted a week so it was decided they would invite their troublesome neighbors, the Indians.  This was a very busy week.  The men were sent out to hunt while the women baked.  The children gathered fruits such as grapes and wild berries of different varieties.

Then the day came at last, and also the chief and his bravest warriors, all dressed in war paint and feathers.  There were so many people that they spread the table outside under some trees.  The food soon disappeared.  The Indians could stay only three days.  They had a very pleasant time playing games and enjoying themselves in every way possible.  Before leaving they smoked the pipe of peace.  The Indians never disturbed the Pilgrims again.


Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edith Cavell came from London over to Belgium to be a nurse in the year 1900.  When the great war broke out the officers thought perhaps she would be of some use and they were not mistaken for she became a great help in the hospital.  After the capture of Mons and Namur many of the Germans became fugitives.  She had many of the enemy in her hospital too.  Now she would help the fugitives escape.  If they did not get away the enemy would kill them.  Many of these fugitives tried to escape to another country or hide.  Many of the farms contained a number of these fugitives who were hiding.  Edith Cavell was an earnest worker in this work and many fugitives escaped death with the help of her.The enemy saw many of their prisoners were escaping so they sent a spy over to the hospital.  The spy was supposed to be a fugitive.  Edith very fondly offered the spy (not knowing that he was a spy) a place of safety.  The spy went back and told all this.

She was arrested on August 15th, 1915.  She was not allowed to see any of her friends.  Her trial came off on the 7th of October.  She was allowed to have a lawyer to speak for her but as he had never seen her before he gave little assistance.  They condemned her for helping many fugitives escape.  She owned up, but said “If I did not, they all would have been killed.”  But no one would help her.  She was shot the following morning.

This gave many countries who had not taken an active part in the great war new courage.  They fought and won.  She was a very good woman because she gave her life for the life of other people.  The people thought so much of her that they called one of their mountains Edith Cavell.


In 1763 the Treaty of Paris was signed and this meant all the land except two islands were to be handed over to England.  So Canada fell into the hands of the English after the seven years war.  The people in England were paying for the damage done so they thought they would make the people in Canada pay for the damage so they put a tax on mail and letters.  The thirteen colonies south of the Great Lakes said they would not pay it.  Then they put it on the exports and again they said that they would not pay it.  They expressed themselves independant and became the United States.  But why did not the 14th colony, Quebec, join with them? 

English: British General Guy Carleton
English: British General Guy Carleton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A governor was sent out to govern Canada.  He was Guy Carleton.  He thought since the people in Canada were French they ought to have laws to suit the French so he made some.  The boundaries of Canada were to be Michigan, Ohio, Labrador, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.  The French used the feudal system of holding land.  But they used the British Criminal Law because it was not so cruel as the French.  The French were of the R.C. faith.  One mistake they made was they had no legislative assembly which gave the people a hand in the government.  They sent their laws to England where they were read and found alright.  When these laws were put into force the French were very much contented and had no desire to leave Canada.  This was all due to Guy Carleton’s good knowledge.

So there you go.  Thanksgiving, Edith Cavell and the Treaty of Paris, in a nutshell.  Any questions?

(Not even about the boundaries of Canada??)  (Or how the French became once again discontented and the Indians reverted back to being a tad troublesome?)  I guess those are lessons for another day.

My Own Restaurant?

Maybe I’d call it “chez grandmalin”.

When I picked grandmalin as a ‘user name’ all I was doing was putting grandma together with Lin. Seemed innocent enough until someone who knows a lot more about the French language than I ever will wanted to know why I called myself grand malin, or “big malignancy”. Sigh.

‘Malin’ can also translate to ‘clever’, so maybe somewhere in the back of my brain in that tiny little cluster of cells where my french is stored, I thought I was being grandly smart.

Anyway, I don’t want to own a restaurant, and I sincerely hope no one can make me do that. Nor do I want to scare off French-speaking people with duplicitous names.

I think a small coffee shop might be something I could handle, or that I could get other people to manage and run while I sit around drinking coffee all day. And since I seem to have French in my head at the moment, maybe I could call it The French Press. And then people would come in looking for foreign language newspapers.

Buzz Because. Would that work? Please don’t tell me it translates into something sinister in Greek. I don’t care.

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What I know about my family’s ancestry is all on my blog; that was the original reason for writing it. It’s branched out into a lot of strange stuff since then.

In a nutshell:

my maternal grandmother had ancestors from Germany and England

her husband was Irish through and through

paternal grandparents were both of Scottish ancestry.

my husbands mother’s roots are Swedish

his father’s English, Metis, and predominantly French

just for fun and after no one in particular, we gave our daughter a Danish and a French name; our son got Swedish and Scottish.

which makes our children

really and truly



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Canada: 243,000 km of Coastline! (and other things to love)

Never heard of Canada, eh? Pity. It’s BIG and BEAUTIFUL and FREE. A multicultural, peaceful democracy, often stunned by its own success. (think Winter Olympics, for an example) A land of equal opportunity, diversity, and a strange obsession with regionalism, although hockey can bind us all together. Normally just a quietly magnificent nation. But once in a while we’re LOUD and proud.



I’m not a lumberjack, or a fur trader,

and I don’t live in an igloo,

or eat blubber

or own a dogsled.

And I don’t know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,

although I’m certain they’re really, really nice.

I have a prime minister… not a president,

I speak English and French, not American

and I pronounce it About, not A-boot.

I can proudly sew my country’s flag on my backpack,

I believe in peacekeeping, not policing,

diversity not assimilation,

and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.

A toque is a hat,

a Chesterfield is a couch,

and it IS pronounced Zed,

not Zee… ZED!!

Canada is the 2nd largest land mass,

the 1st nation of hockey,

and the best part of North America.

My name is Joe…


Thank you.

I’ve often thought we should put that to music and make it our national anthem. It’s also a pretty good beer.

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The Worst Teacher I Ever Had

Huiswerk / Homework

When I found out his first name was Cecil, well! That explained so much. When your mother names you Cecil, people are bound to feel sorry for you later in life and can almost forgive you for ending up short and rotund and a pompous ass.

I don’t even know if his teaching was all that bad – I learned some French in those four years of highschool after all, enough at least to be able to read the french side of the cereal box. But it was how he made me feel that stands out in my mind and made me think of him immediately for my answer. Sorry Cecil. But here’s all the reasons why.

You were LOUD. Some days you made a beautiful language sound like screamed obscenities. You never made the effort to remember my name and called me Mademoiselle! You played us indecipherable tapes and then scoffed at us for not being able to interpret them. Tapes, when everyone knows the French speak with their gestures as much as with their words. You assigned us the most boring homework on the face of this earth. Verb conjugations and spelling lists. You corrected our pronunciation with shakes of your head and heavy sighs, as if we were all hopeless idiots.

No good teacher makes you feel like you’re a hopeless idiot, even if you are one. So – Vous étiez mon pire enseignant Cecil! J’ai jamais aimé vous! And if that’s not all grammatically correct and properly spelled, Je n’avez pas soins! Maybe if your name had been Andre or Jean-Claude you would have turned out to be a nicer guy and I could have liked you better.

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