What Was I Thinking?

I never cease to amaze myself with my ability to be wrong. I can be a little wrong and then I can be cataclysmically wrong. I was a little wrong when I thought that navy blue was a good bedroom colour and then our room was so dark that we could barely make out the colours of our clothes. I was more wrong when my eldest son was a toddler and I argued  nurture over nature with my husband as I watched this same little boy turn his dolly into a race car. I was cataclysmically wrong in 1989 when I believed that the Chinese government wouldn’t do anything to all those students in Tiananmen Square when the whole world was watching.

Now I find that I am once again sitting on top of a great big wrong.  This one goes like this, “I won’t worry as much about my son when he’s actually in Israel serving in the IDF. Out of sight out of mind.”  Who did I think that woman was?  She sure isn’t me.  I feel a little like the creature in Green Eggs and Ham when he finally becomes willing to give the dish a try.  I can worry  on a train, in the rain, in a car, from afar, worry’s always on my brain.

I have to be grateful for modern technology. My son has a great cell phone plan and we hear from him almost daily. If there isn’t a phone call there’s at least a little text message at some point in the day. I remember travelling to Israel in the early eighties.  I called home once a month. I think we paid about $30.00 for 3 minutes.  Thank goodness that’s changed. He’s even messaged me some pictures. While his army haircut briefly took my breath away I can’t even begin to describe what seeing him in his uniform did to me.

While I’m speaking of technology, I’d like to thank the truly brilliant person who invented FaceTime. I don’t know who you are but in my mind you have to either be a mother or have done this with mothers the world over in mind. The only problem is that hugging my phone doesn’t feel the same as hugging my kid. Could I please put in a request for someone to invent touchovision?

In other ways I am truly surprised to find that there are things that I am not so worried about.  I’m learning to trust the IDF in a way that I never imagined before. I’m grateful on a daily basis for a country that appreciates what my son is doing. Whether it is the Lone Soldier Program that takes care of these young men and women who have come from abroad to serve Israel or just the person at the train station who insists on holding the door open for my very capable son in uniform.  I am beyond grateful for my son’s Kibbutz Family who have welcomed him into their home and their lives and have made him feel a little less alone. In the picture that I have of Jacob in his uniform I can see that it looks nice and crisp.  His kibbutz mother ironed his uniform for him.  She actually did that. Hating ironing as I do I’m not even sure that I would do that. This is just one of the many niceties that I have heard about from my son and I wonder if anyone realizes how huge these acts of kindness are and how a mom thousands of kilometres away will use the knowledge of these acts to help her to sleep at night and to warm her soul.

Jacob’s swearing in ceremony was this week.  It was the first ever ceremony of his life that I was not there to witness. I hate that. Kol HaKavod to all the young men and women of the  IDF. May you all be kept safe.



Better Than…

I’m sure that I must have mentioned that I’m not a fan of aging. When I was young I believed in growing old gracefully. I was stupid when I was young.

I hate all these little betrayals of the body; the gray hair, the wrinkles and the gravitational pull to name but a few.

I hate that I’m not as sure footed as I once was and walking on ice is now a concern for me in the winter.

I hate my worsening memory. Forgetting things that I’ve said, things that have happened and words, so many words.

I like writing my blog even though I do it rarely. I hate that this very post exists because I sat down at my computer to look something up and then I forgot what it was so I decided to vent instead.

Yes, yes I know that aging is better than dying. Obviously. But really, is that the best response that we can come up with?

Tell me what you like about aging, please.

Sleepless Nights

Where to begin? Gee it’s been a long time since I posted. So long that I have to go back and check my site to see what I last wrote. The urge to write left me. We had a somewhat trying year and I had nothing to say, so that is what I said.

I’m not sure if this will become a regular thing for me again, but right now here I am. Unable to sleep and writing. Since I was awake anyway I decided to check out the blog that started it all for me. During Operation Cast Lead I became an avid follower of some Israeli blogs. The first one that I read regularly was A Soldier’s Mother. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read blogs with any kind of regularity. In the second post of hers that I read tonight I learned that another one of her sons is about to head off into the army. Well Paula Stern, I now have more in common with you than I ever imagined I would. In just over a week my third son will leave the comfort and safety of his life in Canada to volunteer in the IDF.  He’ll be there and I’ll be all the way over here. Not knowing what is going on. Perhaps I should mention that this is my son who I’ve nicknamed ‘the vault’ for the way he disseminates personal information, my son who almost never answers his phone. His twin brother has always been the communicator which has been fine until now. They have never really been apart before this. His brother has started university and we have the gift of some extra time with just him and his younger sister. These are bittersweet days.

I’m trying to force my fears and concerns to the background. Sometimes, rarely, it works. His eldest brother told me that he feels kind of proud of his brother. I would too if the expression ‘Pride goeth before a fall’ didn’t resound in my head. I don’t want any falls.

So for now I’ll lie awake at night, let my imagination run wild, maybe do some deep breathing exercises and try to trust that all will be well. Just two years and then I can sleep through the night.  Please tell me, Israeli mothers, is it any different for you when you’re closer to where your children are serving? Or when you’ve raised these children knowing that military duty would become part of their lives? I will gratefully accept any sort of wisdom or advice that you’re willing to share with me.

I wish us all restful nights filled with sweet dreams and even more importantly, peacefull days.

Nothing Funny in Paris

I’m sure that hundreds if not thousands of people are blogging about the horrifying terrorsit attack in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo office.
I doubt that I have anything different or illuminating to add to what is being said it’s just that it feels wrong not to say anything.

Edward Buwer-Lytton wrote the famous line “The pen is mightier than the sword.” In light of this attack it seems so very ironic and so very wrong.

I wish the families and the friends of all those who were murdered my deepest sympathies and I hope that they find their necessary healing.

Funny Relationships

The older I get the more it seems to me that life is filled with funny relationships.

Or maybe funny is not the right word, I think the word that I’m looking for is casual. Maybe it’s not all people in general maybe it’s me specifically. I’ve become happy with casual relationships. Perhaps it’s the fact that as my children grow and our relationships change from one thing to another the need for deep external relationships has changed as well.

This brings me to my relationship with WordPress and with blogging and yes I do think that relationship is the right word. I once had a need to get my thoughts out there. To put my feelings into words. That need seems to have left me for now.  I still like thinking about blog topics and considering things that I might want to say and exactly how I want to say them, but the need has deserted me.

I now view WordPress as the old friend who you meet for coffee every once in a while, no longer the buddy that I looked forward to playing with every day at recess.

So, whenever I have something to say that is coffee worthy I’ll find my way to the computer and I’ll jot it down. Maybe one day I’ll go back to regular recess play and more frequent postings.

I’ve learned that relationships change and sometimes relationships that you think will be in your life forever just aren’t. It’s O.K. it’s just life.

We Are All Icebergs

This summer I’ve had a couple of recurring themes running through my head and there is definitely a connection to them I just have to figure out what my lesson from them is.

A while back in my post “My Head Hurts” I wrote about the overwhelming concept of sonder. This seems to be something that I just can’t escape right now. Summer should be a time of ease and joy. We have finally escaped the chains of our long and harsh winter which was followed by a wet grey spring. We are free to move about unfettered by layers and layers of clothing and a concern over hidden ice. We can bask in the warmth of our beloved sunshine with only a necessary layer of sunscreen to be concerned about. Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case this summer. I seem to be hearing story after story of personal tragedy.

I know that life is a roller coaster ride, a continuous flow of ups and downs with a few straightaways thrown in. Personally, last summer was a rough one for my family. This summer should be filled with a sense of ease. I strongly feel that we need to relish the times when we are just moving through our lives, enjoying the flow of normalcy. We need to savour these benign days as much as we celebrate our joyous occasions because when we do hit another low we will be wishing for those simple days when everything was just okay and just okay is pretty wonderful. Yet, I’m feeling that luxuriating in my incredible nothingness is somehow disrespectful to all those who are in the midst of their own lows right now.

This brings me to my second ongoing thought this summer. I like to think that I am a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of person. That is the type of person I’m attracted to. I have no interest in or trust for people with hidden agendas. However, I’ve recently decided that the person that I thought I was really doesn’t exist. I am an iceberg. I am so much more than what you see or more appropriately what you think you see. I am the embodiment of my personal history, all of my thoughts and experiences. I realize that I am as complicated as the rest of the people in the world. And all of those people have got to be as complicated as their experiences. It is that damn idea of sonder coupled with the depth of human experience.

But, if you were to see me on the street or more likely in the grocery store and you were to smile and to say hi and ask me how I am I’d smile back and say, “Great”. If you were to ask how my summer is I’d say, “How can you complain when it’s summer?” Whoever you are, you’d probably say something similar to me. I do wonder what you are hiding in the depths of your personal ocean.

What I won’t say is that I have a weight on my chest and it won’t ease until my twins are safely home from Israel and that even then the weight will partially remain as I think about the soldiers who have died in the battle for a continued Jewish existence and their families who have paid the ultimate price. I will continue to think about the helpless Palestinian civilians held hostage by leaders who use their people to protect their weapons, glorying in death and destruction instead of celebrating each day of life.

Maybe that’s my lesson. That’s why I need to fight so hard everyday to celebrate the beauty of the mundane.

What’s Going On?

What’s going on is a question that I pose to you and that I ask of myself.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve blogged. I’ve never done it consistently enough to build up any kind of readership but I’ve been even less consistent in the past year.
I began this blog as a mental exercise and as a form of creative expression. For the most part I’ve really enjoyed the writing. I also get disproportionately excited when someone comments on what I’ve written. I’m thrilled that anyone reads what I’ve written. I wonder who you are and what your life is like. If there’s a link to your blog I always check it out. So now I wonder what’s going on with the lives of my few readers out there.

There’s been a fair bit going on in my regular little life here. I just have had no desire to write about it.

My beloved father in law passed away this summer and I think this may have played a part in shutting me down. It was too personal to write about and everything else seemed of little significance.
We’ve also had a great deal of good in our lives this year. Our eldest went away and completed his first year of university. Our youngest celebrated her Bat Mitzvah in Israel this winter. It was a huge milestone for our family. I’ve said it before but the passage of time feels so very inconsistent. It took me forever to become an adult and then in the blink of an eye I have an eldest child who is 19, two sixteen year olds about to enter their last year of high school and a youngest child who has had her Bat Mitzvah and since turned 14. She’ll begin high school in the fall. She’s ready, I however, am not.

This weekend will be my father in law’s unveiling. It seems an appropriate time for me to step back into the world and to try to shake off my maudlin thoughts.

These are the ups and the downs of life. I need to redirect my focus and to quote Steve Winwood try to “Roll with it, baby”.

So welcome back to whoever reads me. On my part, I think it may even feel good to be back here.

Did You Smell That?

In an effort to help end my writers’ block I’ve started checking out the daily prompts offered by Word Press. They often don’t appeal to me and I have yet to see one that’s gotten my fingers to fly across the keyboard however the following suggestion has been floating around in my mind. They suggested that we look at the connection between touch and memory. How the feel of something can take us back to a certain time and place.

I thought and thought about that idea and all I could come up with is that I don’t really think that’s true for me. My strongest sense memories all seem to be related to smells.

As a kid I had a weird little habit. I did not suck my thumb or have a blankie, I sniffed the collar of my nightgowns. I don’t know, it just comforted me. Every night I would fall asleep in bed while contentedly sniffing my nightie. Smells continued to loom large in my life, both pleasant and repugnant.

As a matter of fact I have learned to recognize the scent of an approaching migraine. All of a sudden I’ll smell cigar smoke. No visual haloes for me.

When I was running a lot there was one particular spot on my longer runs that in and of itself was a reward for running. The scent of pine needles so sweet and so strong that I would immediately be transported back to summer camp. I would take that route just so that I could reach that aroma.

The smell of strawberries, always pleasing, takes me to my old habit of collar sniffing. I can still remember being a little girl and checking out the different smells captured in the flannel of my nightie when I came across the scent of strawberries. My best sniffie moment ever. I know, combine that with my crush on Mr. Clean and my nerd girl reading habit and I think maybe I was kind of a weird kid. I’m sitting here laughing to myself as the realization just now hits me.

A freshly cut cucumber equals summer plain and simple.

Lemons mean Love’s Fresh Lemons perfume and the 1970’s.

Babies. Nothing smells as good as a baby’s neck. That’s the scent of love and motherhood.

The day old scent of smoke from a fire on clothing is summer camp cookouts, fresh smoke from a fire is the quintessential scent of winter. A cold, cold winter day has its own smell that will always remind me of our first winter here in the north.

Scratch and sniff storybook paper is the memory of snuggling with and reading to my niece about 27 years ago.

I could go on and on but I don’t want to bore you.

So tell me, is it touch or smell for you? Or is it something else completely?

No Fault In The Book

I know that I must have mentioned at some point in time that I am a big reader. I always have been.  As a little girl I had a favourite doll, Baby Bright Eyes*. I loved her because when I would squeeze her hand her big blue eyes would light up enabling me to sneak-read in bed under the covers. It was the perfect ruse. If only they had invented a Baby Blow Hole that I could have used to help me with ventilation under all those covers.

When I was young and passionate (a.k.a. snobby) about my reading it was only fine fiction for me. Don’t get me started on books made into movies. Why can they never seem to do them justice? The Life of Pi being the one huge exception that I can think of.

So last night my son dropped a bomb on me when he told me that The Fault In Our Stars is being made into a movie. This could be on the same level of bad as when they tried (with minimal effort it would seem to me) to make A Prayer for Owen Meany into a movie. I still shiver just thinking about it.


Last March break when we were away on a family vacation one of my twins wanted me to read The Fault in Our Stars as he had just finished it and thought I too would like the book. We read a lot that holiday, passing books amongst us as we finished them. So I read the book. I read the book and I cried. I cried and I cried. I went back to the hotel room and I cried in private. I read next to the pool and I cried in public.  My other son read the book and while he did not cry he understood my tears. He understood them so well that he was able to quote lines from the book that would choke me up. My sons were amused and I was embarrassed.  As a parent it is a crushingly sad book. But it is the strength and the brilliance of the characters that make it such an beautiful read. It is an important existentialist novel that is not just meant for teens. However, it does introduce existentialism to teens in an easy to understand manner without speaking down to them. The characters are intelligent without being condescending, they are filled with pathos without being pathetic. 

I even bought a copy of the book for my Kindle so that I could highlight it to my heart’s content.  This is one of my favourite quotes:Image

I don’t know John Green but I love him for giving the world this book. I only hope that the movie does him proud.




*I tried to find an image of Baby Bright Eyes to insert into this post, I wasn’t successful and now I need to sleep with the light on – there are some very creepy dolls out there! 

Creeps Me Out

I’ve noticed lately that the chipmunks around our home seem to be disappearing and we now have more squirrels than ever before. It may be coincidental but I don’t think so. I’m not saying that the squirrels are up to anything nefarious, maybe there just aren’t enough acorns for the two groups and the squirrels being bigger win by default.

I am no fan of rodents. I am embarassed to say that a mouse spotted will definitely cause me to leap onto the nearest chair and then tack up a for sale sign on my property. I’m going to have to go have a shower as soon as I finish writing this post. So, of the two I definitely prefer chipmunks to squirrels. Squirrels are just too rat-like in appearance. In my mind they are just rats with good P.R. My husband claims it’s different because they’re not carnivores. I know some human vegetarians and they look just like the rest of us so that reasoning doesn’t work with my very logical mind.

A few nights ago I was lying in bed alone, my husband was out of town, when I heard a hair raising sound. It was the rapid scratching of something trying to claw its way into my bedroom from just under the window next to my bed. Now this is not the first time that I’ve heard this sound. It seems to have happened around tis time of year for the past three years. The first time it happened was just after we had renovated our home. We had new insulation installed in our attic just over our bedroom. I was sure that in the process mice had gotten in and were now in our walls. Cue the shivers and the for sale sign. We spoke to our contractor and he assured us that this was not possible. Things were sealed up tighter than ever before. We did have a big mouse problem in our old cottage and I knew that the sound was not the same. I was sure that the sound was coming from the brick work. It lasted a couple of nights and we found that if we pound on the wall it stops. The same thing happened the next year and then of course a few nights ago. My daughter has come flying into our room in the middle of the night because she has heard the same sound outside of her room.

A number of winters ago I saw the odd phenomenon of a flock of small birds (maybe chicadees or starlings) land on our brick work and begin to rub their beaks on the bricks. Maybe they were getting some kind of mineral out of the bricks or maybe they were sharpening their beaks I really don’t know. Either way it was odd. Is this what the squirrel is doing? I have no idea but I really don’t like it. What is with my bricks?

Have any of you out there had anything like this happen? Can you solve my mystery for me?

It’s a great noise for a horror film. Now I don’t even want to go have that shower. I’m such a baby.