Today’s post features a poem and a story about my wife, Anne Schlenker McBryde. It also showcases her art.


The poem is titled Anne is the true artist in our home
We need beauty because it makes us yearn to be worthy of it. -Mary Oliver

Robert McBryde Author: art, poetry, CBC radio, literary non-fiction, vignettes and sketches, immigrant experience, living in Quebec and in France, childhood and animal stories, creative memoirs, satire, autobiography, family relations, raising children, aging, travel, social commentary, love and marriage, driving lessons, self-deprecation, Dijon France, condiments, translation: English-French; French-English

Publisher’s Note: Funny, manic, and wistful… self-deprecating creative nonfiction…The author, Robert McBryde, a professional translator, has been compared to David Sedaris for the sometimes-snarky autobiographical satire characterizing his literary sketches. Many of the stories in his new book, titled My Time with You Has Been Short but Very Funny, have been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio network.


Author Robert McBryde


Author’s Note:
I’ve written a new book of creative non-fiction titled My Time with You Has Been Short but Very Funny, recently published and now on the market. The book is based on stories that I told over the years as a writer/ broadcaster and host on CBC radio based in Quebec City, Canada.

The book is available via my website. The purchase links are at the bottom of the home page.

I will post two blogs per week, normally Wednesday and Friday afternoons at around 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Stay tuned!

Here is an excerpt from a new book I’m cooking up, titled It’s All in the Condiments.
First the poem….


We need beauty because it makes us yearn to be worthy of it. -Mary Oliver

Anne is the true artist in our home

Anne is a tender flower, blooming and sweet.
Her creations are spare, exquisite, and without pretense,
Crafted for the pleasure derived from the painstaking act of crafting,
Whose beauty is not beholden to the eyes of the beholder.

Anne is the true artist in our home.

Her flower arrangements could adorn the most sumptuous halls
And be showered with accolades intended to nurture,
But hers is the purity and simplicity of spirit
That cultivates a personal garden.

Anne is the true artist in our home.

Beside the otherworldly wordlessness of her creations,
My words are as dross,
Products of vanity and hard scrabble dredging,
The sounds of a chain saw in the midst of her mellifluous trill.

Anne is the true artist in our home.


Anne’s story…an excerpt from my book titled My Time with You Has Been Short but Very Funny

The Russians are coming
On August 21,1968, my wife Anne’s country was invaded by the Soviet Union. The invasion of Czechoslovakia took place the day before Anne’s 10th birthday. The Soviet Union was intent on putting an end to what is known as the Prague Spring, a period of reform in Czechoslovakia that challenged the prevailing Soviet Communist hegemony.

Anne was thoroughly traumatized by this cataclysmic event.

Anne is from a tiny, isolated village in what is now Slovakia, but on August 21, 1968, she was visiting an aunt many miles to the west in the Sudetenland region of the country. Anne and her sister had spent the summer picking hops.

Anne is ethnically German. Her community of Carpathian Germans lived in northwestern Slovakia for over seven centuries. Anne’s native language is a now-extinct German dialect which as unintelligible to speakers of standard German. Slovakia’s German-speaking people were ethnically cleansed after World War Two as a reprisal for Hitler’s crimes. By 1968, her community was dying and was plagued by all the ills of a society being forcibly assimilated, including rampant alcoholism, domestic violence, and various other forms of abuse.

Anne was born on August 22, 1958 with chemical poisoning. Her body was covered with boils from head to toe. Like many other village women, Anne’s mother was forced to work in a toxic furniture factory after the war. All the workers who gave birth lost their babies, except Anne’s mom, who cared for Anne day and night for months in order to keep her alive.

Because of the conditions of her birth and due to the very limited gene pool from which she stems, both of which have undermined her resilience, Anne suffers from multiple health handicaps, including a chronic lung ailment; severe trigeminal neuralgia and fibromyalgia, resulting in acute pain during windy weather or when she is compelled to wear a face covering; blepharitis (an eye disease); and venous insufficiency. She also has the BRCA1 gene for breast and ovarian cancer. Almost all the women in her family died of cancer at an early age, including Anne’s mom in 1982.

When the 1968 Russian invasion took place, Anne was forced to hide and cower in a sealed room with all the blinds closed. Some 450,000 Soviet bloc soldiers and approximately 7,000 tanks had invaded her country. When she and her sister finally ventured out of her aunt’s home to seek sustenance, they were told to dive into the ditch if approached by soldiers or tanks. The little girl was terrified of rats and of being trapped in the mud. And she was hundreds of kilometres from her mother, to whom she was so strongly attached.

Many warplanes were buzzing so low overhead that the village people could see the looks on the faces of the Soviet pilots.

The experience of the Russian invasion left Anne with what has been identified as ongoing symptoms of post traumatic stress. For obvious reasons, she also suffers from separation anxiety, claustrophobia, and a mortal fear of confinement.

Anne was finally able to return to her village in August 1968, amidst the occupying Soviet forces. Her family soon fled to Canada with no money or possessions. None of them spoke a word of English when they arrived in Vancouver in the fall of 1968.

Anne’s dedication to struggles for social justice and human rights stem from her childhood trauma. She is a woman of great strength and courage and I love her to death.

The book is available via this website: 

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And if you have comments about my blog posts, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me on the website, and I’ll get back to you asap. That’s a promise!

Here is a link to a cool group book review blog:

And this is a link to Goodreads. A great place for reading about new books and reviews.

And finally Amazon…

Happy reading! 😊
Your friend,
I’ll leave you with one more work of Anne’s decorative floral art.