Betty, for those of you who are new around here, is my 83 year old mother.  Betty grew up in the small town of Renfrew, Ontario at a time when most women started their mornings wiping flour covered hands on thinning aprons before plucking bottles of still frothy milk off their front porch.  The street she grew up on was anchored by stately brick homes separated by wide swaths of thick grass that sparkled at night with fireflies.

It was an idyllic town at an idyllic time; the 1950’s in small town Canada.



Also – her parents were batshit crazy.

Curiously things are rarely the way they’re historically remembered.  You can thank or blame it on television.  June Cleaver was probably agoraphobic, Andy Griffith a swinger and so on.  But because of television we romanticize the 1950’s as an era of wholesome, perfect families who wore ironed plaid pajamas.

My mother’s 1950’s family?  Her mom filled her days by wrapping up dead rats in pretty boxes and then leaving them on the sidewalk in front of their house.  The purpose of this?  So she could laugh her guts out when someone grabbed the present and ran off to unwrap their good fortune in private.  They were listed on the Social Register of Canada, owned a complete human skeleton and had curiosities around the house that bordered on pathological.

Their 3 kids, (my mother, uncle and aunt) survived remarkably intact and relatively sane.  Not so sane that they’re boring you understand, just sane enough to stay out of jail and/or the crazy-as-a-bedbug nuthouse as it was affectionally referred to in the ’50’s.

So when I walked up to my dear, elderly mother’s front door the other day to deliver a basket of strawberries I had just picked for her, it was with no surprise whatsoever when I stumbled upon this.


oh shit not you again mat

This is the reason in Kindergarden when asked to describe his grandmother, my nephew said she likes to drink beer and swear.  This is the reason when delicate people ask me to refrain from swearing on my blog and ask me what my mother would think, I just laugh.  This is the reason I’m tough and strong and have absolutely no fear of rats.

This is the reason I am the way I am.  You can thank or blame Betty and Betty’s parents and probably  Betty’s parent’s parents for it all.

And you can buy the very same mat right here.

I figured you’d like it because if you’re here, chances are we’re the same.  A band of people raised by a couple of nutjobs just trying to make things better for their kids than the nutjobs who raised them.  And so on.

Have a good weekend!



  1. Melissa Stinson says:

    Proud to be a nut job, raised by a nut job reading another nut job’s blog. Thank you 💛

  2. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Anyone who’s been around here for a while loves Betty….thank you Betty’s parents!

  3. Sandra D says:

    My mom and dad had a small metal plate on their front door that said, “We’re happy to see everyone; some when they come, and some when they leave.”

  4. Cashews says:

    My whole family is batshit crazy. It’s just what level of batshit crazy they have reached. Me? I think I am somewhere in the middle. Love Betty’s doormat! She’s awesome.

    • Karen says:

      Well we all *think* we’re somewhere in the middle. 😉 ~ karen!

      • Cashews says:

        OMG! You are too funny! And unfortunately or fortunately you are right.😃 As far as Im considered Betty raised you right. We batshit crazy people have to stick together while those other people clutch their pearls.

  5. Sandra Gibbs says:

    My whole family is a little odd. Some are odder than others. People are always telling me that I am unusual or odd or interesting. I think it’s because I have never cared what other people thought. I am lacking a filter to tell me when to keep my mouth shut. My cousin once remarked, “I couldn’t believe you were seeing a therapist. You were always the sanest one in your family.” I said, “The others are too bat shit crazy to know they aren’t all there” After many years my therapist dismissed me and said I was saner than 98% of the population, just odd.

  6. Eileen says:

    Love the doormat (although my pref. is still the one that says “go away”), and the family stories (from Karen and commenters!). Then, because my brain is partially melted from being outside earlier, I started wondering about the phrase batshit crazy.
    In case anyone else is wondering, here are some no-answer answers!
    Happy holiday to both sides of the border!

  7. christine Hilton says:

    People have really asked you not to swear? My grandson asked me not to call him a bastard today.I am going to change his name to rat bastard.I think maybe it is more affectionate and grandmotherly.

  8. Jody says:

    Happy 150th Canada Day. Have the bestest Canadianest weekend.

  9. Marlene Eastman says:

    I can relate, come from a crazy family. We all have “trucker mouths”, but we were farmers and we could swear at the top of our lungs in the back ’40, laughing and acting crazy and didn’t give a shit because nobody heard or saw us. We had to learn to tone it down a bit when we moved to suburbia. My daughters have married into “respectable” families and get told to watch the mouth around the relatives …… meh … we’re an interesting family, wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂
    Happy Canada Day!!

  10. judy` says:

    I follow a wonderful blogger VirginiaElizabethBarnes.com and I goggled her name one day because I was curious -nosy?-about what her regular job might be. I have a suspicion that she is a Professor because she is smart,smart,smart just like Karen ,anyhoo I came across this web site that had only snarky criticisms of her,her writing and everything she did or said. I kept reading out of the same fascination one experiences at seeing a Rattlesnake poised to strike.
    I left a timid comment about way too much hate in the world and maybe just ignore Bloggers that one finds so unappealing. Got a sh*tload of outraged replies of get outta here we can say anything we want and who are you to comment? They were right,never went back. Wonder if they are still bathing in their acid bath of pointless snark?

    • Kennedy says:

      Is that Victoria Elizabeth Barnes?

      Her blog about the kingdom mirror is about the funniest thing I ever read in my entire life. If you’ve never read it I implore you to find it and read it. It’s one of my favourite blogs.

      Haters going hate and I think the more popular you are the more of that internet negativity you’re going to inspire . Ever notice that the minute a cooking blogger gets a book deal the hate starts to roll in?

      • judy says:

        I swear avoid age 77 at all costs,just slip right past it,make a hard u turn and back up..maybe to 75 or 35 that would be super! AnyHoo ….once again feeble brain has transposed State of Residence- Virginia- with name of blogger Victoria. backing out of Karenville, now don’t talk about me when I’m gone…please?

    • Jane says:

      Another VictoriaElizabethBarnes reader here. Not surprised at all to find out that some of us follow the same blogs…. Love it!

      • Kennedy says:

        Don’t you wish her husband had a counter- blog? I think reading their adventures in his voice would be hilarious.

  11. Leslie Barnard says:

    From one nut job to another- thank you from the bottom of my batshit crazy heart!!

  12. dirk says:

    I’ve heard that people who swear a lot are more honest…at least I use that line all the time to explain myself. Yup to all you said.

  13. On a 1-10 scale…you hit a bullseye, Karen!!! Yep, you did!

    One of your very, very BEST columns!

    Loved it, as I am totally bat-shit-crazy, too…any decent woodcarver has to be. It is a prerequisite.

    Ordering the mat now … and I will be LMAO everytime I answer the door.

    Thank you, girlfriend!

  14. MaryJo says:

    Those delicate busybodies who object to your vocabulary can leave at any time. I, for one, love what you have to say and how you say it!

  15. Mary W says:

    Love Betty and the doormat. (That sounds like a new mystery book title.) I find myself turning into her more and more each day. So glad I love her. So happy that you do – enough to write these heart warming posts. Would have loved to have known your grandparents – that would be icing on the Betty cake.

  16. Kelly says:

    Seems to me I saw that mat somewhere before. I would do something like that. OR the mat that says “I can see up your skirt”. Too funny! I appreciate a good sense of humour! (Off-color humour in my case).

  17. Katie C. says:

    Your family is awesome!

    I remember a time when I was about 14, I was ignoring my grandmother for whatever reason. To get my attention she threw whatever food it was that she had in her hand at my head and said, “Hey bitch! I’m talking to you!”

    There was also the time my friend and I walked in on my mother standing over the sink, dropping old eggs into the garbage disposal, and saying, “Bombs away!”

  18. Linda in Illinois says:

    Love Betty (my mom’s name is Betty) and love the genetics. All Batshit crazy people should know each other. Glad to know you Karen. *wink*

  19. Jan in Waterdown says:

    🍁 And on a totally different note, “Happy 150 Canada!!” 🇨🇦

  20. Nicole says:

    My mother passed away in February or I would totally buy her this mat.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      My sincere sympathy on your loss . . . it hurts, I know. My mum would have liked that mat too but wouldn’t have admitted to it.

  21. Jenifer says:

    LOVE the doormat but if I put it out, it’ll probably land me back on the prayer list…might even get a special prayer meeting because I’ve exposed my young daughters! MY family is THAT kind of bat-shit crazy!! Oh, the stories I could tell!

    Might get that mat anyway, just for the entertainment value…

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Go for it Jenifer! I totally understand . . . I used to get in trouble for saying “jeez”! I recently said ” holey (note my spelling) moley” and was told “you don’t need to swear” . . . eye roll

  22. Heather says:

    Everyone ‘s normal til you get to know them.

  23. Angelique Vela says:

    Thank you, Karen! I needed that. I’m still laughing. You and your are awesome!

  24. jaine kunst says:

    My parents have a doormat that says GO AWAY. Antisocial, batshit crazy nuts. I get a little worried every now and then wondering when the DNA will kick in.

  25. Rose says:

    Gotta love that Betty of yours!

  26. Sabina Missana says:


  27. Sandra Lea says:

    I would love to meet you mother, she sounds fabulous.

  28. Kari in Dallas says:

    Totally relate, bought the doormat.

  29. Bev Rommens says:

    Yup 😀

  30. Jack Barr says:

    I may have known your mom, Karen. I grew up in Renfrew in the 50s; well, actually the 40s and 50s, but on what was known as “the wrong side of the tracks”.
    Great mat, but you need some good ole garden dirt on those feet- these days, with all the rain in S. Ont. it’d be mud!

  31. Lynda says:

    Do batshit crazy people think they’re batshit crazy?

  32. MrsChrisSA says:

    My family mat would say:

    If you did not bring wine
    Go home or go and get some!!

  33. holly says:

    I was just thinking the other day, how is your dear Aunt Jean doing. I was also wondering about your wonderful mother, and poof, you blog about her!! Thanks, Karen, for all you do, and how you do it.

  34. Thandi says:

    I really need to get that may for my mum. She needs one. And all her neighbours would laugh and say “oh that funny, funny Madeleen”, but she’d be sitting on her back porch yelling “I mean it! Go away and leave me with my book and my beer!”

  35. andy fairfax says:

    LOL – have a great weekend too 🙂

  36. Kennedy says:

    I am astonished that folks take time out of their days to email you comments like ” what would your mother think”. Is it me or isn’t that a perfect example of hypocrisy. If you’re commenting on a blog and leaving comments like that wouldn’t your own mother be mortified at your rudeness in leaving such a comment?

    Offended by swearing? On the internet? You have got to be shitting me.

  37. lynn says:

    When we are young we have a tendency to think everyone older is a nut job. Then we get older an realize wait a minute they are not so nuts after all, they have just learned to enjoy life.
    An not care what others may or may not think. it’s a very very uplifting experience when you hit it. I say way to go Betty

    • Lynn says:

      You nailed it–my ‘give a damn’ got busted a long time ago. I tell the grandkids that I am the fun one–and I am right! The other grandmothers are boring-boring-boring!!! Nana Lynn swears & drinks & tries to enjoy everything! God–at least there are some compensations for getting older!

  38. karin says:

    i had an oh ‘shit oh shit this is a eulogy’ moment? Don’t do that to a sister. And then I thought, ‘is it a eulogy or an eulogy’? Only you and your readers will understand….

    • Karen says:

      Ha! OMG, no, it was not A eulogy. (I have no idea if it’s correct or not, but I always go by speech … how the word sounds not how it’s spelled). ~ k!

      • Kathi says:

        I thought the same thing when I started to read the post!😱Thank goodness Betty is still her fun loving self. A ‘spirited’ mum who raised a ‘spirited’ daughter! And she takes you to Thailand and sews you beautiful clothes. What a gem!

    • Sarah McDonnell says:

      Choice of “a” or “an” is one of pronounciation. So it would be “a eulogy’ because Y is behaving as a consonant. Which means that words like “herb’ are used with an “a” in Britain where they have A Herb garden but not here where we have An Erb garden. If you pronounce it “Ooology” it would need an “an”.

  39. Kris says:

    Thank you Betty, and Betty’s parents, and Betty’s parent’s parents for Karen and her wicked sense of humour!

  40. Kathleen Aberley says:

    I too, am a Grandmother who drinks beer (and wine and gin and tequila) and swears (a lot!). And I was / am the same when my son was growing up. So far so good! And I plan to continue in the same manner until I can no more!

    • Nancy Spillmann says:

      Hat’s off to us Gma’s drinking and carrying on such, just got back from Cabo San Lucas myself and TORE that town up/LOVE that mat! Not to mention you, Karen, for sure, we are more alike than different, thank you, you crack me up!
      Grancy (Grandma Nancy)

  41. Jeanne McNeil says:

    Being a “non-delicate” soul, and not offended by much..I can totally relate to a bat shit crazy family history (myself probably included) Consider yourself blessed! I always enjoy reading about Betty…and LOVE her doormat!

    PS: Your feet look fabulous ;);)

  42. Jasmine says:

    My favourite adjective for losers is still ‘asshead’ and I learned that one from you. So if batshit crazy is responsible for that gem, I’m okay with that.

  43. TONI says:


    • Kitty McCarty says:

      Hey Toni, I grew up swimming in that SE TX swamp water too. I think perhaps it has/had something to do with our being, as my GMa said, “tetched”. BTW: I grew up in Beaumont, now in Groves.

  44. J says:

    nope-just suffering with a slow computer!

  45. Bethany Jones says:

    I don’t swing, but I would start for Andy Griffith.

  46. J says:

    yippee-i’m first to comment!

  47. brenda says:

    I would need to get a couple because my neighbours would steal my mat – like I wouldn’t know

  48. Lisa says:

    You go girls, both of you.

  49. Milton says:

    What a wonderful gene pool, no wonder everyone loves Karen

  50. Sheila Turchyn says:

    Nailed it. They’re in every family…just some people don’t tell ya. But they’re there!

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