Although English is my first language, you would sometimes think it not, given how often I mispronounce words, come out with weird accents and then there’s just those made up words.


I used to think I had problems speaking because my mind was just in overdrive, going really fast and trying to focus on too many different things, which we call multi-tasking. I just figured that damn tongue of mine, just couldn’t keep up. I have since identified that it probably wasn’t a fast mind, but rather untreated ADHD! And now that I am much older, and my mind is only half as fast, I call it that middle age brain freeze. You know the one. It’s always accompanied by the loss of words, where you know it, but just can’t seem to remember it right then when you need it.

Many years ago, Sue and I went out with our good friends Mary and Tom every Friday night for dinner. We were a strange combination as Tom was a real red-neck and he couldn’t believe he had two card-carrying NDP feminist lesbians as his best friends. The way we managed, me being absurdly politically correct and he ….not, was he would tell me to cover my ears any time he wanted to tell a joke or say something offensive. Hey, it worked for us. We could get through a meal and still be friends. There were times however, when I spent an inordinate amount of time with my fingers in my ears during dinner lol. During these outings, one of the games we played, and I say we loosely, was name that saying. You see, I am really bad at idioms and I always screw them up. So Mary and Tom, and Sue too, would want to play the game for a few laughs, at my expense I must say, for entertainment value. That was the first time that my speech, sayings and inopportune accent were coined by Mary as “Kareneze.” It was something that would become almost a trademark for me, or at the very least, a very noticeable quirk.

As the foursome, we ate and played ourselves across the Danforth and beyond. The conversations would go like this every Friday. Mary and Sue are on the phone. Mary asks “Where do you want to go?” and Sue would ask me “Where do you want to go?” I would respond with at least two suggestions, which Mary would relay to Tom. No and no was always the answer. Hummm. “How about this then?” I’d ask and again Sue to Mary to Tom and back to Sue and to me. No. So then I’d say to Sue, “Ask Tom where he wants to eat tonight?”  Tom always named the spot. It was frustratingly painful each week as we went through this ritual, when in actual fact, he always picked the restaurant in the end anyway. The reason I mention this, is fast forward twenty plus years, and we often go out for dinner on Saturday nights with our friends Mary Ann and Eleni. Same thing happens. Mary Ann asks were I want to go and I make one suggestion, sometimes more. She consults with Eleni, and they usually squash it. I make more suggestions. Naw, nope, not tonight. Yet when I ask Mary Ann where she’d like to go, she says she doesn’t want to make the decision, so ask Eleni. And when I ask Eleni, she tells me it’s Mary Ann who is deciding no, no and no. History repeats itself as I try to hit the right nail. And along with that, comes the discussions about my Kareneze, as it seems I can’t get through an entire meal without saying the wrong sayings or having this weird accent come out, even twenty years later!

Avith. Yes, avith. Said it for years. Sue caught me saying it the other day. It means with. And it means avec. Which is just French for with. So you see, somewhere in my head, many years ago, I slammed the two words together and adopted them. Sad part is I never even noticed. When I say it, it sounds right to me. That is Kareneze. Along with avith, I do not know how to spell envelope, develop, personnel,  Catholic or how to say Quebec in English. For some reason, while young and in French Immersion, these caused problems for me in English translation. If it weren’t for spell check, I might be forever spelling them wrong! And as for Quebec, well yes, Oui, I sound like a bloke when I pronounce it. Sadly, this was the start of what was to become a language of my own with a mouth that one just can’t always control. Kareneze.

Rhymes, riddles and idioms, I don’t understand how or why, but they always elude me. Unless they are really short, a quick sentence. A penny for your thoughts? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. But as soon as they are longer, with more then one idea, it all goes downhill from there. I seem to only know the beginnings. A bird in the hand …. Early to bed, early to rise …. Yes, I mess these up quite a bit. I did this just the other day. After watching the news, I said “It’s all going to hell in a pot.” Sue stopped, looked at me and said “Don’t you mean hand basket?” Truth was, no I actually I didn’t. Because there was an example of me knowing the beginning, but not the end. I didn’t even know that was the saying, and it didn’t sound right. Scary thing, was my new saying DID sound right to me! And just like that, I make it up and then I own it forever. Kareneze.

There are times I know I am just out-of-my-league and there’s no amount of guessing or making it up that’s going to cut it. An example of this was just a couple of weeks ago at the ORC (Ontario Regional Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous.) I had been asked to speak in the Newcomers room, truly an honour at one of the biggest gatherings in TO in the year. I do quite alright with the slogans and such in AA. Of course, they are only a few words at most and I have listened to them repeatedly for years and years. Live and Let Live. Keep Coming Back. Keep It Simple and First Things First. But I found myself talking away, about to say one of our sayings that I’ve heard so many times before. But I stopped myself, told the group I was horrible with sayings and asked for help. “You all know that saying. The one about my worst day drinking …” Well I was wrong. I mean it was a newcomers meeting, so of course, how would they know what that old AA saying was. Well I just moved on, but for the purposes of this post and my own curiosity, I looked it up. “My worst day sober is better than my best day drinking.” Yeah, I didn’t even get the first part right! Kareneze.

So that brings me to how I became kvphotobug. I needed and wanted something a little different for my new hobby and passion. It came easily and without much effort to choose a name. I was blessed when it was available as a handle on Flickr, Instagram and WordPress. Actually, I thought it rather miraculous I didn’t have to use five numbers after or before it to distinguish my handle from the many other photobugs out there. That’s because what I thought I had chosen, and what was actually chosen, were two different things. It was about three weeks later when I came across the word ‘shutterbug’ on the internet when I realized my mistake. I had messed up the word. I had intended to become kvshutterbug, but in my mind, it became kvphotobug. No wonder it was so available. And that is true Kareneze at it’s finest! Well I guess it was meant to be, as it was smooth sailing with the handle on all the social media websites.

So, kvphotobug is an accident of my Kareneze. Thank God I never had any children to name!

And so I end this entry, to leave you with one saying I learned as a youngster while doing Archaeology. I memorized it, because I was told about the historical context of the saying. And because I memorized it, it’s the only saying I consistently get straight. When it’s really cold out, just say “It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.” If you don’t know what it means. look it up. I undoubtedly, will be looking up some saying this week, wanting to know how I messed it up. Again. Karenze.


3 thoughts on “Kareneze. How I became KVphotobug.

  1. Omg!!! I love reading your blog! I personally have always loved your Kareneze. It kind of reminds me of my mom – she always got jokes and sayings wrong. But she always said that mistakes just make something unique and one of a kind.
    So my “One of a Kind” friend – thank you for being you and sharing your love for your art, both visual and written with us all!


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