Halloween Horror

I love, love, love Halloween. I love all national holidays that are not religious in nature and that allow me to feel just as Canadian as the next guy.

I have fond Halloween memories and oddly enough they’re not about the chocolate. My memories centre on my costumes. There were the years of being a clown, one year I wore a robe, cold cream and curlers – my mom told me to say that I was her in the mornings and there were a couple of years as Harpo Marx – wig not necessary.

Costumes are important. I love seeing the creativity, not knowing what some brilliant parent is going to come up with. I have a rule at my house, no costume no candy. Don’t you dare show up at my door without a costume, I don’t care if you are a big menacing teenager with a dozen eggs hidden under your coat, you will not get candy from me. Creating these costumes for my kids are my personal Halloween horror. You see, I am neither crafty nor creative.

My kids have learned that they need to come up with the costume ideas. If it doesn’t call for a needle and thread or glue or staples I can probably manage to execute the idea – you may use whichever meaning of execute you choose to, they both fit.

My daughter is a real sport about her costumes. She knows of my limited capabilities and doesn’t hold them against me. This morning I heard her brother suggest “Why don’t you be an oompa loompa?” Is he insane? A friend of his was an oompa loompa – his mother SEWED the entire costume. Crikey!! My daughter just looked at him and said, “No, I’m good.”

We’d brainstormed for a while last night. Of course this was the first year that the kids were allowed to wear their costumes to school – today. Her first thought was that she could be a box, we have some left over from our move this summer. My very creative, crafty sister squelched that idea with one word “lame”. Auntie Kalliope gave it the thumbs down so no go. However, she did suggest that we do a repeat of a couple of years ago and that my daughter could go as static cling again. My daughter declined. Then I thought that we could tape the box to the side of her jacket and she could go as someone thinking outside the box. That got a maybe. She suggested that she go as caffeine, all dressed in brown with pipe cleaners formed into spirals all over her. I loved the idea only two small problems, she doesn’t own any brown clothing and we don’t have any pipe cleaners (too crafty for my home). I suggested she go as depression all dressed in black with a grey, sad face. She said maybe but she prefers to be a shadow so she can smile and laugh.

Then she decided on what she finally wants to be, “How about a classic ghost in a sheet?” Brilliant. I even have plain (off white) sheets that I was going to throw away. So we got the sheet, she cut the eye holes and we were good to go.

This morning she showed her costume to her oompa loompa loving brother. He came into the kitchen and said to me, “So my sister’s going out as a Moslem woman in a burkah?”

Help. I really need help with this costume issue.

I No Longer Fear The Dentist

I no longer fear the dentist now that I have spent close to two hours in the periodontist’s chair.

I don’t care for any of the ontists. Periodontist, endodontist, orthodontist – they are all professionals from whom I strive to keep my distance.

As much as I feel, at this very moment, that I no longer fear the dentist I’ll probably be the same nervous wreck that I always am come my next visit.

They say that oral healthcare has made huge advances, does that include the pain part? If it does I shudder to think about the old days.

On a completely unrelated and a highly tangental note, my daughter told me that there is a little girl in J.K. at her school who is named Taleulah. How can you not smile at that name?

Truer Words

After reading Treppenwitz’s blog today this quote of Golda Meir’s came to mind:

“To be or not to be is not a question of compromise. Either you be or you don’t be.”

The more things change the more they stay the same. There seems to always exist a problem with our ‘being’.

Spelling Counts

Do you remember being in grammar school about to write a test and hearing the teacher announce; “Spelling counts on this test.”?

As I get older and I am writing far less than I did I find that I am becoming more unsure of the spelling of some words. Thank goodness for spell check.

Although many rules of written grammar have become fuzzy for me I still believe in good grammar and in good spelling. There are obvious cases where spelling can change the meaning of what you are trying to say. “I love my aunt” is a sweet statement. “I love my ant” is kind of weird.

Yesterday I was helping my daughter work on a biography for her grade six class. She had decided to write about Golda Meir. She was gathering information from the computer, I was helping her to weed out what was essential and to put it in her own words. I read over what she had written. I noticed that she wrote Palestine as ‘Palestein’. I laughed and told her that she turned the country into a jewish last name.

It’s sort of been on my mind since then. If only it had been spelled as Palestein. Then there could not have been any doubt as to whose land it was/is. This would have clearly been a jewish homeland just as clearly as Goldstein’s Deli* could only be a jewish deli and Greenstein’s Hardware* must be jewish owned.

If only the issue were that easy, but it’s a nice thought.

*both Goldstein’s and Greenstein’s are ficticious, but are you going to argue?

I Just Wanna Be Bad

I come from a family of good girls.
My sisters are very good girls.
I’m the baddest of the three of us and all my life I’ve been a good girl.
I’m tired of good. I want to be bad.
I don’t know how to be bad at this stage of the game. Bad is scary. Bad can hurt people. Bad can scar your kids and destroy your relationship with your husband.
How can I be a little bit bad? The kind of bad that won’t damage anyone?

Forget alcohol. One sip and I’m tipsy, warm and feeling a little nauseated. My sister says that I’m part native, a member of the Shmohawk tribe. My sister cracks me up. By the way, I apologize if that is unPC. I want to be bad, not offensive.

I’ve thought of a tattoo. Ouch and I’m not really much of a fan. For years I said that I wanted a little skull tattooed on my rear because I’m a little bit “bad ass”. This makes my kids roll their eyes and blush in disgust at the same time. But really I’m not kidding anyone, no stranger is ever going to see my naked rear even for the sake of “art”.

When I turned 30 I wanted to pierce my nose. Whoa, was my husband not in favour of that. It seems that husbands have opinions. Who knew?

I was invited to a girls night out tonight. This is not being “bad” but I did just go out to a movie with a girlfriend on Sunday and I’m going out tomorrow night with my husband. It feels like too much time away from the kids.

Maybe I won’t cook dinner tomorrow night, we’ll just pick something up. But, I have this beautiful new kitchen and I didn’t cook Saturday night (yeah I know it was Saturday after all) and it’s a week night – I almost never order out during the week.

I think I won’t make my bed today. But then again I really hate getting into an unmade bed.

See my problem with being bad?

Suggestions anyone?

Welcome Home

In general you will not find very much writing of a political nature on this blog.

Whether or not this is viewed as a political statement I must express my gratitude that Gilad Shalit has finally been returned to his family and to Israel.

I wish the family joy and peace and I hope that Gilad’s healing process from all that he was made to suffer will be a smooth and a quick one.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I am always amazed how fall morphs from the most beautiful of seasons into the scariest of seasons. Fall really is my favourite season. I look forward to the smell of it almost as much as the sight of it. Fall leaves have a wonderfully unique smell and people are starting to make fires in their fireplaces. I love it when you step outside on a crisp fall day and the aromas of fallen leaves and a fire tickle your nostrils.

Then the winds move in and the beautifully coloured leaves disappear. I’m not talking about breezes here, these are window shaking winds. The rains begin, the wind picks up and fall suddenly has a more ominous feel to it. I think there was an opening sequence to the first Halloween movie where Jamie Lee Curtis was walking home from school on such a day. The background music to that movie plays in mind throughout mid October until we get snow. This is why I don’t like scary movies, at the ripe old age of 48 I remain way too impressionable.

Something else that the wind does is that it blows tree branches against bedroom windows. It triggers that little voice that says; Oh yeah I remember this, another fall thing. I have a very poor memory and can never remember scratching tree branches until after they’ve initially spooked me.

This fall we have something new at my house. I do believe that something is either trying to scratch it’s way into my home or is busy storing nuts in the mortar around our windows. I was having trouble falling asleep (for a change) some time last week when I first heard it. Picture a dark silent house with 4 children and one brave husband soundly sleeping. Add to the picture one woman lying there trying to sleep, trying to turn off her mind. Then it begins, scritch, scritch scritch around the window frame on my side of the bed. the hairs on the back of my neck are now more awake than the rest of me. Scritch, scritch scritch. Something wants in to my home. Scritch, scritch, scritch it will not stop. I shake my husband, do you hear that? He responds with a groggy, no. I shake harder, do you hear it now? He responds, ‘…yeah, why don’t you go outside and check?’ I respond, ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME?’

What is the point to a husband if he doesn’t check out the scary stuff? I don’t wear dresses with zippers in the back. I married him for picture hanging, garbage day, snow shoveling and scary stuff checking.

The scary scritching stopped for a couple of nights and then it began again in a different part of our room. The window near my husband’s side of the bed : )
This time he went outside to check. Well, really he just kind of opened the front door and peeked out. He didn’t spot anything. It was dark out and the scritching was happening somewhere overhead. Is it possible that there’s something in our attic or even worse, in the walls?

I spoke to our contractor, he feels that our house is sealed pretty tightly, but you never know. I guess I need to call a pest control company. Then it stopped again.

Until, last night or I should say early this morning. I was in my daughters room. She had had a nightmare, something was trying to get into her room. I lay down with her and fell asleep. I was awoken by a sound, a scritching sound near her window. No wonder she’s having bad dreams. I got up and walked over to the window and listened very carefully. The sound is not coming from above…the attic. It sounds like it’s just below the window. It sounds like it’s on the exterior of my home.

This evening a friend suggested that it could be squirrels trying to store nuts for the winter. That’s the explanation I’m going with until the pest control company tells me differently.

If you have a scary movie you want to watch, go call someone else I’m not available. I don’t do well with scary.

Gag Me With A Shofar

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a shofar. I’m not sure why. I can’t blow them and I’m really not into collecting Judaica or for that matter into collecting anything. But I’ve just always wanted one.

I think that it may be because nothing affects me in shul the way a shofar does. When I hear that mighty blast the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I get goose bumps. Each and every time. I feel a connection that is over 5700 years old. I can imagine myself in the desert amongst my tribe listening to this same powerful sound.

The only other thing that has come close to this feeling was listening to my sons practising their Torah portions. As their voices carried throughout our house I felt connected to every other Jewish mother whose child has been Bar or Bat Mitzvahed. I cannot underestimate anything that helps me to feel connected to our history.

My eldest son took the trumpet in school and proudly announced to me that he can blow a shofar. So a shofar would not just be something to look at. My son could actually blow it in shul. We would be serving the community. It is now almost incumbent upon me to get a shofar. I decided that when we went to Israel for our sons’ B’nei Mitzvah we would get our shofar.

We found it in Tsfat. It is a gorgeous Yemenite shofar. My son tried it out and the sound was beautiful as well. We made our purchase and I could not have been happier. As thrilled as I was to see my boys get called to the Torah for their first aliyahas I knew that I would feel equally as proud seeing my son standing on the bimah blowing our very own shofar.

After we were home a while my son began practising for the big day. Not very long after he began practising he came to me and said, “The shofar has a really bad smell.” The other kids all went to check it out and soon began making various noises of disgust. I was sure that they were exaggerating and I needed to smell for myself. Admittedly I have a weak stomach when it comes to odours. Really weak. As a matter of fact I’m feeling a little sick right now, just writing this. No one was exaggerating. The stench that was coming from my beautiful shofar was overwhelming. Someone Googled “Cleaning a new shofar”. Surprise, surprise stinky shofars are common and there is a multi-step process to destink your new shofar. I decided to wait it out and hope that everything would dry up and my problem would just evaporate. Once again, big surprise, this did not happen.

So, this week I tackled our shofar. First I filled it with peroxide. Problem not solved. Then I went out and bought some aquarium gravel, poured it in my shofar swished it around, emptied it out and tentatively took a sniff. Once my eyes stopped watering I refilled it with a mixture of gravel and peroxide, swished and then soaked. Same old stinky, stinky.

I could see a piece of something just inside the mouthpiece. I was certain if I could get that out I would get rid of the stink. First tweezers. The opening was a little too narrow and forced my tweezers to close without me being able to grasp the offending piece of sinew (?). Next I tried a twig to scrape it out. Whatever it is, it’s not scraping off.

My son decided that he would like to blow the shofar offending odour and all.

I sat in shul waiting for the moment that he would lift the shofar toward the sky give a good strong blow and thrill us equally with the sound of the shofar and the knowledge that our fast was over. The sound was… how can I put it? A sputter? The rabbi picked up his little shofar and gave the blast that we were waiting for. He then took my son’s shofar from his hand, ready to do our shofar justice and he…sputtered. My son felt better, less embarassed. I thought that perhaps our shofar was too damp inside, having not dried out properly. The rabbi thought that it might have been that piece that I was trying to remove. I had moved it into the perfect position to block the sound. I felt as though I had set my son up to fail.

Now I have a beautiful, stinky shofar that cannot blow a blast o’ my people.

The rabbi suggested getting a small enough drill bit to clean it out without enlarging the hole. Are there any other suggestions out there? I want my shofar back and I want it to not smell like something crawled inside of it and died.

G’mar Tov

These are very busy days with little time for blogging so I would quickly like to say,

May everyone have an easy fast with minimal headaches.

G’mar Chatimah Tova.

A year of peace, good health and happiness to all my readers and to the people who matter to you.

What’s Cookin’

I’ve decided that I want to focus a little more on creating heart healthy meals for my family this year. I just need to take the time to find the recipes. I have a couple of cook books from the Heart and Stroke Foundation that are quite promising.

Today was another fun day filled with workmen and repairmen in my home. The refrigerator repairman smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke that he gave me a headache. At one point he put his pack of cigarettes on my non-existent kitchen counter to do some work. A while later he began to cough which reminded him to put the pack back in his pocket. I’m not sure if it was Freudian. It was pretty hard not to say something. It was also hard not to tell him to pull up his pants and to get a belt. Like a car accident it was horrifying and hard to look away at the same time.

Anyway I ended up pressed for time and was forced to use a store bought sauce. I bought the one with the lowest sodium content I could find. You know, low sodium soy sauce is not really so low sodium.

At home preparing dinner I tried to hide the inevitable.

Eldest son: What’s for dinner?

Me: A stir fry.

Him: Chicken?

Me: No, better.

Him: Beef?

Me (enthusiastically): No, better.

Him: Lamb?

Me: No.

Him: I give, what?

Me (big encouraging smile): Tofu!

Him: G-d, Mom!

This was followed by three younger voices all lamenting the dreaded T word.

At dinner it was decided that tofu has no flavour, has a horrible flavour, has a horrible consistency and was not enjoyed by anyone under the age of 48. The kids must have been very hungry because every morsel managed to get eaten. Either that or they just didn’t want to see it in their thermoses for lunch tomorrow!

On the bright side my husband told me dinner was delicious and I’m welcome to make it any time I want. Sorry kids.