Author Archives: Brigitte Pellerin

This is a free plug

I’ve been using for many years to print things like business cards and thank-you cards and posters and postcards and what have you. I’m generally very happy with them; my products look great, they arrive in time, and the price is reasonable. But now they’ve just made me love them.

I had a special item that I designed and ordered. They emailed me a day after receiving my order to say they’d noticed some of the words (my entire second line of text) was difficult to read because the font was too small. They had fixed the issue and prepared a proof for me to review if I decided to go with their replacement design – at no extra cost to me. I could also stick with my design if I chose.

I reviewed and approved their design, and thanked them for saving me from myself. It wasn’t a huge order, and it would not have been a lot of money wasted (about $50), but I very much appreciate how they took the time and bother to ensure my products look good.


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Not just for kicks – blog post #7

This post is dedicated to Stacey Cherwonak:

We left our house early Friday morning to go pick up our rental car at the airport (best deal I could find was there). It’s a perk of tournament-going that we get to rend a car and drive something different every time. Well, most of the times. We are a one-car family and it’s hard to leave Dad car-less for two or three days, especially when he has events to attend out of town himself. But I don’t like spending more than I have to on rental cars and I’ve become pretty good at finding the best deal… Like the one I’m getting in Dublin, which comes to just over $100 for eight days. That’s pretty good, right?

(Things I never thought I’d put on a resume: Great Car-Rental Bargain Hunter. Oh well. There you have it.)

Anyway, here we are in our rental car (cute Kia Soul in black), Mom and Eldest to train and compete, Middle Daughter and Youngest to hang out, provide entertainment and swim in the hotel pool. Drive to Toronto so ho-hum, with a quick stop at Walmart in Brockville (do we travel in style, or what) to buy more notebooks so they could all do what Middle Daughter decided to try to keep herself busy on the road: write an illustrated diary of our Trip to Mississauga.

(Yes, well, they don’t get ipads to suck their brains out, they either have to read or play portable board games or write/draw.)

We got to our hotel in Mississauga, after spending most of our travel time making an average of 32 km/h between the DVP and Hurontario (I don’t do well in traffic), had time for a quick trip to the pool before heading out to East West Karate (the fine folks who were hosting the tournament) for a special training session. Great fun there, followed by another very quick trip to the pool/hot tub and bed.

Tournament itself started bright and early with Mama competing in forms at 9:30. Three of us in our division (black belt women, 35 years and older). One lady who normally beats me, one lady I’ve never competed against, and yours truly. We do our thing and line up for the scores and lo, I win. First time winning a kata division – yay! That means I get to go to the final for the Grand Championship round, against the winners of all the other black belt forms divisions. Men and women, young and old, traditional, weapons and musical – in total there are seven of us competing in that round, the winner of which goes home with a ridiculously big trophy and a cash prize. I’ve never made it to Grands before in kata and I’m just thrilled to be getting that kind of experience. I don’t really have huge expectations except to give it all I’ve got. I did the best kata I could, came 5th out of 7, and that made me happy.

Then Eldest competed in kata, with 17 other kids. Those kid divisions are huge, I tell you. That makes it hard to medal, but hey, we’re here to do our best and she does. Her kata was excellent, one of the best I’ve seen her perform, but it wasn’t enough to get her placed. She was disappointed, of course, and didn’t understand the judging. We had to work together on that to analyze the judging and understand, given who had won and how they had performed their kata, what the judges were looking for. We found something to work on, and we will devote the coming week to that task so that she’s at her absolute best for Worlds. I’m very proud of how she worked over her disappointment and agreed to focus on what needed doing instead. That’s one of the many great things competitive karate has done for many children, including mine: It’s given them excellent lessons in how to work towards achieving important goals. I say that’s money well spent.

She then went on to spar. She had two fights: one against a girl much (and I mean *much*) bigger than she is (also well-trained and excellent), and one against another difficult opponent of a more manageable size. The first one, against whom she’d lost 5-0 last time, is a great kid, who’s friendly and kind and generous with her advice. And while she hits hard (hey, it is a contact sport after all), she doesn’t hit to hurt and that makes a huge difference. But my poor daughter, who’ll never get to be a giant, is having a great deal of trouble getting around that long leg (even the other coach said it wasn’t really all that fair for Eldest to fight such a big opponent, but my view is: she must get used to fighting people who are bigger and better than she is otherwise she’ll never get better, so tough). The goal I gave my daughter was to move around better and make it harder to get scored on. “Don’t worry about scoring for today, just work on not getting scored on so easily”). She managed that, and lost 4-0. She then won her second match by one point, which earned her third place. Her sparring still needs a lot of work and experience, but already in the last year she’s improved a great deal and I am very pleased by that. She’s not competing in sparring at Worlds, only kata, so sparring for her yesterday was primarily for experience, and she got that.

Me? I went on to fight in the afternoon against the same two black belt ladies I’d competed against that morning. I won the first fight against one of them, and lost the second fight against the other lady, and got silver.

Among the fun bits yesterday was the fact that we had about a half-dozen newish competitors from our team come to that tournament. These are kids (plus one parent competitor) who are newer on the team and who’ve only really done local tournaments before. This was a big step up for them, and it was fun for the more experienced among us to encourage, coach and cheer them.

Now we’re off to Sunday morning training, a little stiff and sleep-deprived for the last such training session before Worlds. Gotta work those kinks out, right?


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Not just for kicks – blog post #6

This post is dedicated to Bill Cummins:

We leave for Ireland in just over a week (Friday evening, Oct. 28, to be precise), and that means we’re just hitting the rough patch.

The mental game.

You see, training relentlessly (which we’ve been doing since the spring) has a certain simplicity to it. An elegant simplicity, even. You train, train, train some more, and when you feel like a break you train harder, and then for a change you train some more.

That’s not to say it’s easy. But it is simple.

Now we’re so close to the actual competition that we can’t train this relentlessly anymore. Now’s the time to let the body rest up a bit, catch up on sleep, and fill up on good healthy food. We still have to train some, of course – but not as hard, and not as much.

Instead we have to get inside our heads and work on the mental aspect of the game. And that is hard. Half my brain screams that I’ll never be ready to compete, that it’s hopeless. But the other half, the one that knows how hard we’ve been working, how much progress we’ve made, and how much it doesn’t matter how ready I feel anyway, that one is trying to fight back. There’s no doubt it needs to win. There’s no doubt I won’t allow it to lose. But the battle is maddeningly difficult nonetheless.

I remind myself that doing live television used to scare me, too, until it stopped being terrifying. And that competing in karate can’t be as much of a challenge as having to come up with something informative, relevant, and interesting to say to tens of thousands of people who turn to you (LIVE) for their information on the sudden resignation of a pope at 6 in the morning with – I swear I am not making this up – less than 5 minutes to prepare. And not just pulling it off but pulling it off and making it look easy. That’s what training and experience will do to you. They’ll make you very good at what you do.

So, really, I just need to relax a little bit and trust my training and experience.

Oh, and speaking of which, we’re headed out to Mississauga tomorrow to compete in this tournament – the last one before Worlds. If you’re in the area and want to come cheer us on, please do!


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Old-fashioned play

The kids decided to make a movie today. They asked if they could borrow my camera. I said sure, but not before you think up a script of some sort, I don’t want you just filming things randomly without any kind of story.

OK, they said, and went away to think and rehearse. Eventually they announced they were ready, so I gave them the camera. Here’s what they did. It was a beautiful day at the lake and they took full advantage of it.


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Normal by death (a novel) – epilogue

[previous chapter] [start from the beginning]

The wedding was a lovely if quiet affair. They only had their close friends and their kids present, barely 25 people. They had a delicious dinner at Nathalie’s favourite Mexican restaurant, which had gone to the trouble of preparing a tower of chicken fingers and fries for the kids. They’d rented the whole restaurant for the evening, had pushed the unused chairs against the walls and hired a band to play the best dance music from the 1980s. It was kind of weird to mix Depeche Mode with tacos, but whatever, right? The bride was radiant, and that’s all that mattered.

“You make me very happy, Mrs,” Marc whispered in her ear. It gave her goosebumps, to hear herself called that.

“Ditto, my husband,” she whispered back.


Jeff adjusted well to his sentence in prison. The quiet life and predictable routine suited him. He had never written so much in his life. Nathalie had helped him get equipped with one of those laptop/tablet gizmos, and he got to use the internet and check his Facebook page on a regular basis.

He did not see Nathalie all that often. She normally came to visit once every other week, but she never brought the kids with her. Jeff understood. Maybe when they’re bigger they’ll get to know more about their extended family, and maybe at that point they won’t see their uncle as a monster.

The person he saw the most was Martina Labrecque. They had become friends in the months following his verdict, and they were now working on a book project together. He joked that it was great because she would have to do all the publicity interviews and be the one on TV all the time, leaving him to write quietly on his own, as he preferred. A good way to use all that PR experience, now that she’d left her job with the government before they could fire her.

They’d started a foundation, called “Love is a Four-Letter Word,” that aimed to help parents avoid the traps and pitfalls that Jeff’s and Martina’s parents had not. Martina was the public face, director, main speaker, and receptionist – she did pretty much everything, including about half the writing.

She and Jeff chatted by phone most days. Lately he’d teased her a lot about her love interest, an accountant named Marcel, who fell in love with her after watching her on a television panel one weekend.

“You’ll see,” Jeff kept saying, “he’s just getting ready to pop the question, so you’d better be prepared.”

Martina was ready for a lot of changes in her life, but marriage was a terrifying prospect. “I know you mean well, Jeff, but I wish you’d leave my love life out of it, OK?”

“You’re just scared…”

“Yeah, so?”

“So you shouldn’t be. You finally have a shot at leading a normal life, you have the heart of a good man to call your own, why would you deny yourself the simple pleasures of a happy domestic life just because you’re scared of screwing it up?”

“Because I’m scared of screwing it up?”

“Either that or you have a bigger problem with cats than I realized…”

“Ha, ha.”

“Seriously, Martina, you have to get ready for it. Don’t lose that man just because of your fears, OK? After all, you’re the only one who can live a normal happy life. I sure can’t. So you have to do it for both of us.”

“Yeah, I’ll think about that.”


Claire’s health had worsened significantly in the months following the end of Jeff’s trial. The job she had found at the local Tim Horton’s was getting too hard for her physically, and the manager was getting nervous her HIV-positive status was going to become widely known. She was in a tough situation; she wasn’t allowed to fire Claire because of that (there are laws against discrimination on the basis of HIV status), but at the same time in a small town like this things were different…

It got solved for her when Claire handed in her resignation letter one sunny Saturday. “I’m sorry to leave you,” she said, “but I am too weak to come to work much longer.”

“I’m so sorry this is happening to you, Claire,” the manager said in a manner that showed how genuine her feelings were. “You’re a good girl. You don’t deserve that.”

“Thanks. Maybe I look better than I really am…”

Claire died three months later, her mother weeping quietly by her side. And now we, too, are together, happily ever after.



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Normal by death (a novel) – chapter sixty-eight

[previous chapter] [start from the beginning]

The courtroom was packed to the rafters, and so was the overflow room. Journalists were ready to tweet the verdict. The accused was wearing his best suit, and he’d just given himself a fresh shave.

He was ready. For anything.

“Have you reached a verdict?”

“We have.”

“Tell us.”

“We find the accused, Jean-François Toussignant, guilty on both counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents.”

Silence in the room. Jeff’s jaw tightened visibly, but otherwise he did not move. He took a deep breath and prepared to hear his sentence, which he already knew. He would spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

He was OK with that. Because for the first time in his life, he felt free.



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Hanging with Ted, the ed-vid version

If you’re like me you can easily get lost watching one Ted video after another. They can be very captivating. But now there’s even better.

I say “now” but in fact it’s been around since 2012. I’d never heard of it before but yesterday I saw a story about a video they had showing what life would have been like for an average teen in ancient Rome. And I thought, whoa, Ted does kid-friendly educational videos too? Cooooooool.

It’s called Ted-Ed, and yes I’ve bookmarked it. This morning I picked a few videos more or less at random and watched them with the kids and they enjoyed that. Which is fine. But better than that is the fact that the two eldest kids were still, 12 hours later, discussing something they’d learned about the night-vision abilities of toads to make jokes at my expense (toads apparently have evolved in a way that rewards slowness and the girls thought I could be walking faster in the direction of our car after a long night at the dojo).

I guess we’ll be watching more of those…


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