Mezuzeh – really!

I have lived in this house for 26 years. When you live in a house that long, you kind of accept its little quirks and weirdnesses and don’t question them. When I first moved in, I noticed this little ‘thing’, for lack of a better word, affixed to the right side of my front door frame, quite high up – what I now know to be Sean’s eye level, lol.  I had no idea what it was, and just figured it was left over from some ancient door mechanism. It wasn’t bothering me, so I let it be.

Until yesterday.

Stephen was examining the doorway with a view to adding more weatherstripping, while I was off doing something totally unimportant. Out of the blue he asked me, “Do you know if there was a Jewish family living here at some point?”
“I have no idea.” I replied. “Could be, the house has been here for over a hundred years so anything’s possible. Why?”
“There’s a Jewish symbol over the door. I don’t remember what it’s called but they’re all over Montreal. You’re supposed to touch it as you go in and out.”
“There’s a what, where?” I asked, startled. How had I missed this?
“Here, look.” And he showed me this thing:


I had no idea. I knew it was there – had been there since I moved in – but I had no idea what it was. I googled “Jewish door decoration” and found lots of pictures. My husband was not pulling my leg (as he has been known to do!); this actually is a ‘thing’.

It’s called a “mezuzeh” and supposedly contains a piece of parchment upon which are inscribed words from the Torah reminding the homeowner to be a godly person. Ok, so I’m paraphrasing somewhat, but close enough. Mine has been painted over more than once, but it’s quite recognizable once you know what you’re looking for.

So now what? I’m not keen on having a symbol from a religion I don’t practice over my door, but I’m also not keen on damaging my paint job by removing it. It’s funny how something doesn’t bother you as long as you don’t know what it really is, but once you know, it becomes an irritant. It can stay where it is for now, but I think if we have a new door installed, or the frame painted, whichever comes first, perhaps it should be removed. Then too, maybe we should just leave it, and let future inhabitants of this house wonder about it too…….

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Doctor Steve and Nurse Sue in Surgery……

Today we repaired a snowman. No, not the usual way, with packed snow, but rather with lights, zip-ties, and a needle and thread. Intrigued yet?

Several years ago we purchased several lit holiday creatures to adorn our yard for the season – a stag, momma deer and baby, and a snowman. Last year we added a squirrel. We get so many compliments from our neighbours on how lovely our yard looks that we keep on adding critters. Our family now includes a fox and an owl, and we have a brand new raccoon awaiting assembly tomorrow.

Unfortunately while setting up the critters this year, we realized Mr. Snowman had a light problem – as in, over half his lights weren’t working. Uh oh! What to do? The neighbourhood children love Mr. Snowman! He wasn’t cheap, so replacing him wasn’t really an option.

Being the creative and intrepid Leos we are, and knowing that Mr. Snowman could be disassembled, despite it being an intricate and time-consuming procedure, we decided to replace the lights. So off we headed to Lowes, where we actually found outdoor icicle lights from last year on clearance for only $6! Surgery was scheduled!

We cleared off a table in the operating room (furnace room), carefully snipped the zip-ties holding him together, separated his parts and painstakingly removed his lights. As Stephen began to insert the new lights, I cracked him up by quipping, “You’ll need to work quickly Doctor, the patient is losing a great deal of glitter!” Section by section we installed the lights and put Mr. Snowman back together. There were several tears in the glittery mesh that forms his skin, so Nurse Sue leapt into action, skillfully suturing the tears closed with needle and thread. Following a short recovery period, Mr. Snowman was declared cured and discharged from the infirmary. He has resumed his rightful place glowing cheerfully on the side lawn.

Unfortunately, while setting him up we realized that Baby Deer’s lights have also gone out, so the operating room has been booked for a repeat surgery tomorrow – right after the birth of Racky Raccoon…..Doctor Steve will preside over both events, assisted by the talented Nurse Sue.

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A Cause to Celebrate!

If I were a baby, my mother would be ecstatic today. She’d be tweeting #babysleptthroughthenight in sheer delight.

When you reach a certain point in life, it seems you begin to regress towards babyhood, and sleeping becomes a treat rather than a thing you take for granted. I’ve had rocky sleep patterns for years. I remember talking it over with my mom, and she’s been gone nearly seven years, so that tells you how long it’s been. I’m used to it now – I have a couple weeks of relatively good sleep (if you count only waking up three times as good) and then I have a night where I lie awake flipping and flopping around like a fish on a dock. Those nights I either manage to solve all the world’s problems, or my own problems swell to the size of the universe: it’s a bit of a crap shoot as to which it is.

Last night I went to bed at my usual time, woke briefly at 3, but only long enough to turn over and determine I really didn’t need to use the bathroom, and then I was back to sleep. Next thing I knew it was 5:07 and I actually DID have to use the bathroom. And after that I managed to fall back to sleep until I was awakened at 7 by my furry grey alarm clock (that doesn’t belong to me) which was meowing in protest that it had been neither fed, nor let out. I got up, silenced the furry alarm by letting it out, and paused to realize that I felt rested. Well and truly, completely rested.

And for that I am grateful.

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On Making Adjustments


It would appear that someone who read yesterday’s post couldn’t believe they had stooped so low as to read such inane stupidity and banal tripe that had them rolling their eyes at my overly dramatic melancholy. If this is you, go away now, because this post is a continuation, though not quite so morose. I don’t write for your approval; I write as a cathartic exercise to clear and order my mind, so get over yourself.


There is nothing wrong with indulging in brief bouts of melancholy on occasion. It should be noted though, that I perceive a difference between melancholy and sadness. To me, melancholy is more of a wistful nature, missing what has passed, remembering with fondness, while sadness is more negative, laden with regrets and “what if’s”. Not at all the same.

I am not sad about my children growing up – that’s what’s supposed to happen! I spent all of their childhoods deliberately trying to ensure they grew up to be well-adjusted, competent adults, so it would be foolish to be sad because they have. I have two of the most amazing kids in the world. They are polite, courteous, generous, compassionate, hard-working, loving, determined, focused and filled with a love of life. Ok, so Brianna never did learn to clean her room, and is still surrounded by clutter, but we can’t all be perfect. I can take my kids anywhere and not be embarrassed by them. People tell me I have done a great job raising them. I have no regrets, no “what-if’s”, no sadness, only happy memories, joy, and pride in their achievements – I did my job well and they have turned out great! So much lies ahead for both of them.

I received a wonderful compliment today from someone who had spent some time in my home while my kids were young. She said that she had seen an aspect of parenting she had never experienced before – my children were enjoyed and treated with respect. She said that the way I “did family” impacts her to this day and that some incidents she witnessed influence her own parenting even now. Wow. All I could say was wow. I had no idea. She reinforced my sense of having done a good job raising my kids, and for that I want to thank her immensely.

Life is a series of changes. We begin school, we graduate, we begin work, we change jobs, we get married, we buy a house, we start a family, and the list goes on. Each of those changes requires an adjustment period, some more than others. I remember the months after I was married and left my parents’ home for the first time. I have never felt so disoriented in my life. Yes it was all new and exciting, but I was trying to work out my place in the world, and sort out my roles in this new life. It was an intense adjustment period.
When my father died I was only 27 and his loss affected me greatly. I was at loose ends for months.
Then again after Brianna was born. I had quit my job to stay home with this demanding, squalling little thing and I hadn’t quite figured out who and what I was becoming. That disorientation lasted damn near a year before I really felt like I had a handle on life again.
Another major adjustment occurred after that first marriage ended. I was so busy trying to hold everything together and keep my head above water that I don’t think I recognized it at the time as an adjustment period. I do now.
After I married Stephen two years ago I went through yet another adjustment period. Although we had been together for over three years, and he spent all his free time at my house, we didn’t formally move in together until the month we married. I had been single for five years, living with MY kids in MY house, paying MY bills with MY salary, and generally making all the decisions on my own. Sharing my life again with a true partner wasn’t an easy adjustment and there were times I felt a bit adrift and disoriented. Stephen commented once that he though that perhaps I didn’t quite feel married. He may have been been right.  It took nearly a year for me to adjust, but now it’s OUR kids in OUR house, and he pays OUR bills with HIS salary, lol, and we make the decisions together. The point being – adjustment period.

This onset of the empty nest syndrome is no different. It is going to be an adjustment period, at the end of which I will look back and see how far I’ve come. The subtle difference is that this time I know it’s coming and I can prepare for it. I can anticipate what will likely be the most difficult hurdles, and Stephen and I have already begun to discuss coping strategies for those hurdles. For example. I hate to cook. Passionately, fully despise all aspects of food preparation. I cook in order to keep my kids alive. If I don’t have someone to cook for, I guarantee my dinner will be whatever I can grab to snack on when I’m hungry. A peanut butter sandwich will work. That’s not good. So, knowing in advance that it will be an issue, we can work out how to get around it. Stephen loves to cook and prepares food to take with him on the road in the truck. One of our plans involves him cooking a double batch of whatever and leaving it in the fridge in containers for me to just pull out and microwave.

Thus I am not looking at this empty nest period with sadness and dread, but rather with expectation and joy. I am delighted that my children have grown and are flying on their own wings and I am anticipating the changes and freedoms this will mean for me. My friend commented that it sounds like I am “rearranging the pieces” of my life, and she’s right. I will have time to try new things, resurrect old hobbies, travel, and honestly enjoy the lifting of the mantel of “Mom”, and relaxing into being the wife, lover and partner of my husband as we move ahead into this next phase of our lives.

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The Looming Empty Nest. (Or, A Bit Of Melancholy)

Sean applied to university last night. He texted both of us in the morning, all excited about having received his PIN to access the Ontario online university application site. Sent a photo of the envelope even; he’s that excited!

How can this be? What happened to my baby boy? The one I snuggled, played with and read to. Who lined up Hot Wheels cars from one end of the living room to the other? Who clung to my leg like a limpet, not wanting me to leave him at preschool? Who had to be retrieved at night from  his first Cub camp due to homesickness? Who slogged through five years of near constant speech therapy with the patience of Job? Who couldn’t wait till he was in kindergarten so he could start karate just like his big sister? Who went through a terrified of water stage and then suddenly overcame it and was leaping off the dock at Cedar Lodge? Who started to grow up and demonstrate a wicked sense of humour?

Somehow he grew up, graduated grade eight, tackled high school head on, learned to drive, became president of the chess club and got over his fear of being away from home. And now he’s applied to university. And as if that weren’t enough for this poor mom’s heart, he’s booked an appointment to have his graduation photos taken! Grad photos! (Which necessitated a shopping trip for a white shirt and tie, but that’s a whole other story).

Ok, so he’s going to university, I can cope with that. Well, maybe not….he’s planning to attend the University of Ottawa. Ottawa. Six hours away. Not coming home weekends till Thanksgiving and Christmas. And after second year he’ll begin co-op which runs one term on, one term off, so he’ll be away all the time. All the time. Did you catch that? ALL THE TIME.

I don’t like this. I don’t like this one bit. Not one little bit. It was bad enough when Brianna moved out west, but this – this is my BABY! She left but he was still at home. When he leaves, what do I have left but a cat that isn’t mine! (And a wonderful husband, but that’s not part of this conversation.) I’m not looking forward to this at all.

Now, I know there are lots of wonderful, exciting aspects to this whole empty nest thing, and I know it’s thrilling to see how my kids have matured into wonderful young adults, but we’ll talk about all that tomorrow. For tonight, just let me miss the baby days. Let me have my bit of melancholy before I have to get all practical and figure out how to deal with it.

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So I haven’t been blogging lately. I guess I’ve kind of lost the focus of what I wanted to do when I first started blogging. The title pretty much says it all – this was a place where I could natter away about my daily life as a mom, racing my kids to and from their activities, dealing with a workaholic husband who was hardly ever home, making Halloween costumes, Christmas shopping, and running the myriad of errands required by my mother and mother in law. I read back over some of those entries and smile to remember how it was.

But life goes on, and changes happen. I lost my mother in law nine years ago. Hard to believe it was that far back. We went through some severe financial issues that would likely have seen us go bankrupt, had life played out differently. My kids were growing up. Seven years ago my husband walked out on us, and two weeks after that Brianna and I found my mom dead in her living room. Things were ugly for a while, but as things do, they improved and life moved ahead. My financial issues were solved, I started dating, my kids continued to grow up. I wasn’t needed to run errands and schlepp the kids all over the place anymore. My role was changing. Then Brianna got her drivers license and my role changed again. Then I met the wonderful man who would become my second husband, and life, and my role in it, changed again. And somehow in there, blogging got lost, except for a rare entry about travel.

I’ve been struggling with a few issues lately. The same ones many women my age struggle with. Approaching menopause, facing the empty nest syndrome, slowing metabolism and ensuing weight gain. In some ways, I’ve kind of felt like some parts of my life are spiraling out of my control and as a Leo, I don’t like that.

Two weeks ago I had a very long chat with an old friend. I guess we were really just acquaintances until that chat. Things she said resonated with me and I’ve been turning stuff around in my head ever since, as I tend to do. One of the things she asked me was whether I had been writing at all lately. I suspect she remembered the Star Trek fanfiction I used to write, as opposed to my blogging, but since I’ve been neither blogging nor fanfictioning, I had to say no, no I hadn’t. She gently hinted that perhaps I should start again. Since I don’t watch any TV these days, fanfiction is out of the question,  which leaves my blog. So tonight I pulled it out, dusted it off, so to speak, and began to type, not having any clue what would come out. I plan to continue with blog entries, but I can’t tell what they’ll be about because I don’t even know. They may still be Manic; they will certainly be Musings; and I am still a Mom, although not nearly as Maddened, so my title is still apt. The content – well, who knows. It’s going to reflect where I am and what’s going on, just as it always did, but there won’t be as much kid stuff – well, because they aren’t kids anymore and that’s part of what I’m struggling with.

And so, since everything else has been changing, it’s time to change up the blog. Here’s to a new beginning, and a long and happy future.

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Ode to an Elevator….

Sean and I have been doing university tours all summer. Not that it’s going to make a difference, because he’s already decided where he’s going and why, but we’re at least going through the motions of “making a choice”. We’ve been to University of Ottawa, U of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier, and yesterday we romped around my own alma mater, McMaster.

He didn’t say, but I think I impressed him by being able to take him directly to the building we needed without checking a map. And that was after discovering that none of the parking lots were still where I’d left them 30 years ago when I graduated! They have been replaced with new buildings, and we ended up parking in an underground lot beneath the football field! How clever!

There has been a lot  of growth and development at Mac over the years, but it is still the same comfortable campus I loved. University Hall is still covered in ivy, Mills Library is still intimidating, and Burke Science Building is still way too far away from the arts quad. Yeah, there’s a story behind that one. As an arts student, I spent the majority of my time in two buildings so you can imagine my surprise when I got my timetable at the beginning of third year and discovered one of my classes was in “BSB”. What the heck? BSB???? What’s THAT? I did figure it out, and I found it, but it was a pain to have to scamper all the way over there from the arts quad!

At the end of our tour we headed back to the car. Our route took us through the arts quad. Of course it did. On impulse I dragged Sean into the lobby of Togo Salmon Hall. (yes, that really is its name) I pointed at three metal chairs and a table in a corner.

“See those chairs? That’s where my friends and I spent much of our free time in first year. I swear, they are the same chairs, just painted.”
He nodded politely.
“And the elevator. There’s a story behind that elevator.”
He looked at me, obviously humouring me.
“When I was in first year English, one of our assignments was to write a sonnet. Yeah, a sonnet. I thought this was a singularly dumb assignment. I mean, seriously, who writes sonnets anymore?”
He laughed.
“So I had a brilliant idea. I was sitting there watching the elevators open and close and I decided to write a sonnet about an elevator.”
Sean was listening now, incredulous.
“I called it ‘Ode to an Elevator’, and much to my surprise, I got a really good mark on it!”
Sean laughed, and as we headed out the doors he asked if I wanted a photo with my elevator. He told me my story would make a great blog post, and I should include a photo of me with my elevator. I laughed it off, telling him not to be silly, and we left.

In retrospect, I should have listened to my son. I am feeling rather wistful that I didn’t pause long enough for him to take that photo. It would have been the perfect accompaniment for the first stanza of that sonnet, which is unfortunately all I can remember. Although I guess remembering even ONE stanza after thirty-odd years is pretty impressive……

“Oh thou lofty metal box,
He sits to watch thee rise.
And knows not how, thy door – it locks!
However hard he tries.”










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