~ A Kinder, Gentler Halloween ~

Cover of "Happy Halloween! (Festive Peanu...

Cover of Happy Halloween! (Festive Peanuts)

 I understand that Halloween is going to be limited and rescheduled in some areas. To all those who had to survive the terrible Frankenstorm, my heart goes out to you. The pictures on television show such devastation. I hope some of these quotes and jokes help lighten your day a bit. To everyone else: Happy Halloween! And to those of you caught up in the mess of the storm: Double Happy Halloween!

In light of  my penchant for a non-scary Halloween, I typed in “cheery Halloween quotes” and Googled it. This is what I came up with—a few funny quotes and moan worthy jokes. So if you are like me, and not fond of the dark side—read on. If you do like the dark side, well just consider the following an expansion of your horizons into another kinder, gentler universe:

“I’ll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.” – Unknown Author

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” – Linus from ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’

“Charlie Brown is the one person I identify with. C.B. is such a loser. He wasn’t even the star of his own Halloween special.” – Chris Rock

“Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night.” – Steve Almond

“On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me.” – Rodney Dangerfield

A few jokes the website terms as funny follow—you be the judge:

Q. What do the skeletons say before eating?

A. Bone appetit!

Q. What happens when two vampires meet?

A. It was love at first bite!

Q. What’s a Vampire’s least favourite song?(this is my favourite one)

A. Another one bites the dust!

Q. Why was the mummy so tense?

A. Because he was all wound up.

Q. Why didn’t the skeleton go to see a scary movie?

A. He didn’t have the guts.

Share these with your kids–they will think you are so clever.

Do you have a Halloween joke or two  or funny memory you would like to share?

~ Devil’s Night ~

Ghost below the Sunset?

Ghost below the Sunset? (Photo credit: Scott M Duncan)

 

 

Cold and wet and rain

Wind, windier, windiest

Perfect devil’s eve

Published in: on October 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm  Comments (25)  
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~ Never Ask Me: How Are You? ~

English: Cute coffee.

Cute coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is from my weekly newspaper column–I talk to my readers like they are my friends. I hope some of them are:

My sister Peggy and I try to email each other every day. She lives in Ottawa, so we do not have the luxury of face to face visits often. Sometimes I do not have much to say—but today this is how I opened my little tirade to her (she made the mistake of asking how I was):

“Well, (you can always tell something did not go well, when you start a sentence out with ‘well’) yesterday started off with a bang, or should I say crash—I broke the carafe for the coffee maker, so made coffee by putting a cup where the carafe should go and then pressing up on the spigot thing to get the coffee to come out. That was some fun! Until I got the hang of it I had hot coffee coming up the handle of the knife I was using to press the spigot up. (I now have first degree burns on my right hand). So I went out and bought another coffee maker and started getting it ready to make coffee (this morning), and it did not have all the parts it was supposed to have–so I tried putting it back in its packaging, and of course it does not go back into what it just came out of.

So….I will be taking the darn thing back to the store the way it is and they can deal with it.  I just finished making two cups of coffee using my rather flawed method again today–but used a spoon this time. The coffee ran up the handle of the spoon a bit, but since I am getting better at this, not as much as yesterday. Oh, yeah, and the coffee tastes like sweet dishwater.”

That is how my day began–has to get better from here, right? Just a minute, I need another sip of coffee—yep, warm dishwater (or what I imagine warm dishwater with sugar would taste like).

It is Monday morning as I write this and no, it is not going to be a diatribe about how awful I think Mondays are. I like Mondays. It is the day I usually write up this column and I do look forward to writing another piece of weekly literature. Then I just have to make do with what I really produce, and though it isn’t literature, it does fill up my space on page five.

I am surprised though at how important that first cup of coffee is to me in the morning. I did not even drink coffee until I was in my thirties—before that my caffeine fix was in the form of tea or cola (yes, at one time I did drink cola with my morning bagel and cream cheese or bacon and eggs—try it, it really complements the food).

I am trying to become a tea drinker again for one reason and one reason only: I do not put sugar in my tea. I put a lot of sugar in my coffee—as I do not think I really like its taste—the aroma is good, but the taste without a pile of sugar is too bitter. I so admire those who drink it black (gag, ugh) or with just a little cream (just gag).

Today, I am writing this up without the benefit of a good cup of hot sweet liquid (good being the operative word here)—but I am persevering—I am made of good stock.

~ Sundays Past ~

English: Liddesdale Parish Church A small coun...

A small country church  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember when Sundays were a “day of rest” and the only stores open were… hmm…well pretty much nothing was open. Of course this was in my small town which was very WASP-Y (white Anglo-Saxon protestant) and dry until the early 1960’s (though this is not something I remember, as I was not much of an imbiber at nine years old).

Sundays when I was young  was a day when the kids went to church (for some reason my parents did not go, but the four of us kids did—we went to Sunday school, then when we got older, we went to church and joined the choir, and Young Peoples—a group for teenagers). For me church was more of a community/social thing.  Of course God and Jesus played a role, but at the time God was a male father figure, and Jesus apparently “loved the little children”.

Today my beliefs are a little more complex, but I no longer go to church. I do miss “visiting” though. People tended to visit friends and neighbours and family on Sunday afternoon after church. Without calling ahead. They would just drop in. And that was totally socially acceptable.

I remember when people used to have “parlours” set aside for just these visits, and if the minister should happen by. I think it was kind of like the good “living room” that was always neat and no one used it unless they had company. This makes perfect sense to me, with the type of housekeeping I do.

The home I grew up in was not big enough to have a parlour—we lived in the whole house—though because my mom was so neat and clean, it was almost always company ready. But today, I need a parlour—a room set aside that I can go into that will always be neat and clean and not subject to muddy boots, and coats thrown over chairs, and newspapers gloriously spread all over the floor. I try to keep my living room in good shape “just in case”, but this does not always work out.

Back to Sundays of my childhood~

Every Sunday we would have a roast of some kind—pork or beef or roasted chicken, and on occasion fried chicken. The entrée would generally include mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw and a couple of vegetables I would try to avoid eating. I remember spending what felt like two weeks at the dinner table with cold squash in front of me—I was free to leave the table once I had eaten it. I must have eaten it, because today I am not still at the table, but memories of that cold squash still haunt me. It does not affect my grown up penchant for it though, which is strange.

And we always, always, always had a special dessert – most of the time homemade pie or cake and ice cream. In those days we had dessert at every meal, but some were very simple. Sundays were different—no Jell-O, or pudding, or a little syrup in a bowl with a cookie.

I like the freedom of Sundays today—I like that the whole town does not close down. But I do remember the days when visiting was the thing to do on Sunday afternoon, followed by a wonderful meal, then unfortunately as I got older, homework—because of course, I never did it ahead of time.

What are some of your Sunday memories—are they similar to mine, or did you have a totally different “day of rest”?

~ Ghoulies and Ghosties ~ And Don’t Forget the Long-Legged Beasties ~

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia) “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.” ~ Linus

This is me trying to lighten up a bit. I am reposting this from last October. As I have explained before, when I posted this the first time I had about five people following me so it did not get much exposure. It is timely as it is about Halloween. This is an edited version of October 2011′s post — if you want to read the whole thing–you can go back in the archives.

“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the *snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man awoke in the night.” ~ J. M. Barrie

Author of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie is the originator of the words above, which serve as an eerie prelude to this season of Halloween. Many find the dark quiet and comforting, a respite from the busyness of the daylight hours. But at this time of year, we tend to pause and wonder, maybe for just a moment, whether  ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night are getting restless.

Are there ghosts? I am not prepared to deny their existence. If they are like Casper then all is well, but as for some of his green tinged ghastly cohorts and diaphanous friends the colour of fog, I am not so sure.

Kingsville (my home town in Ontario) famously has a ghost by the name of George, who resides at Kings Landing, a restaurant which overlooks Lake Erie. By all accounts, he is mischievous but never hurtful or threatening. From my cursory research, his existence is known only through phantom footsteps and flickering lights. Apparently he is shy and has never shown his gossamer self, though his habit of  turning taps on and lights off is his least appealing trait.

I have adopted the “warm and fuzzy school of Halloween”; my stance on the scarier side of the celebration is to ignore it. I love the little princesses and frogs that come to my door, and the boys and girls dressed as their favourite heroines and heroes—be they caped, crowned, or sparkly.

As for me and Halloween at my house, I may don my pretty witch’s hat decorated oh-so-delicately with veils, feathers, and black roses,  give out some candy, then turn my lights off at 8:00 sharp (even witches need to get their beauty sleep).

*If you are wondering, a snib is the catch that holds the bolt on a lock.

So are you a fan of scary Halloween or part of the warm and fuzzy Halloween brigade?

~ Ugly Words ~

Cover of "10 Commandments of Common Sense...

Cover of 10 Commandments of Common Sense

I have notably been in a serious mood of late, and this post is a reflection of that. I am going to have to lighten up a bit, as I am depressing myself.

What are the six ugliest words in the English Language? Off the top of my head, here are my six:  starvation, violence, war, hate, cold-heartedness, and greed.

Hal Urban, author of The 10 Commandments of Common Sense has six different words. His are: selfish, egotistical, conceited, haughty, self-centred, and arrogant.

What do his six words and my six words have in common? His six words are more personality based, while mine are more far-reaching—but the thing they have in common is that his words lead to mine.

Greed has caused war. Cold-heartedness is the result of being egotistical.  Haughty leads to hate. And the list goes on.

By examining these words, by defining them, by being appalled by them, we can make strides. But first we have to recognize them for what they are. They are all part of the human condition.

I will leave you with some words from C.S. Lewis, who believes that pride is the one word we should wrestle to the ground. He said:

“Nearly all those evils in the world which people put down to selfishness are really far more the result of pride….It is pride that has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and family since the world began…The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”

According to Urban, Lewis believes that “We can’t overcome it unless we first acknowledge it.”

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

So what do you think? What are your six ugliest words? And do you concede that you are conceited?

~ Words of Comfort for Writers ~ On Originality

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Essentially most bloggers are writers–and as writers we have many fears. I found a passage in Elizabeth Berg’s book, Escaping Into the Open, The Art of Writing True, that I found particularly comforting and thought I would share it with you.

Ms. Berg is a favourite author of mine and I would recommend her book on writing to anyone who wants to plumb the depths of their creativity.

Without further ado, here is the passage that I find freeing:

“….it does happen that writers can end up creating things that are very similar. If you subscribe to the belief that everything’s already been said, that should come as no surprise. But there are a myriad of ways of saying things, which brings me back to the importance of writing in your own voice. Every individual, amazingly, really is unique. Therefore, every individual has something unique to offer. When it  comes to writing, you’ll see the singular aspect of an author made manifest not so much in what he or she says, but in how they say it.”

What do you think ~do you think that everything’s already been said? Or do you agree with Ms. Berg that it is how we say it that is important ~ moreso than what we say?

~ Genuine ~

Authentic

Authentic (Photo credit: Ara Pehlivanian)

Authentic seems to be the buzz word these days. The advice: “be authentic” is given every day in many ways—in blog posts, magazines, on television. I have never given this piece of advice to my sons, because I have no doubt that they are being authentic.

What does “being authentic” mean? I have to say that this short phrase has lost its meaning for me because it has been repeated ad nauseam. Does it simply mean “be yourself” or is it deeper? Is it a struggle to be authentic? You would think that it would be easy~ but if it were easy, then it would not be something that drops so eloquently and frequently from the mouths of many of the gurus of the day.

Authentic. Perhaps if we articulate what the word means it will help define exactly what being authentic means. My thesaurus  (embedded magically in my laptop) gives these words as synonyms: true, reliable, dependable, faithful, trustworthy, accurate, genuine, real,  valid, bona fide. Its antonyms are two very negative words:  false and fake. The definition is: “Genuine and original, as opposed to being a fake or a reproduction.” (Encarta dictionary)

I get so tired of buzz words, but the meaning of this word is substantial. It has a right to roam the earth, but not as something that is spouted without context. It is good to be faithful and trustworthy. It is divine to be genuine and real. But sometimes we do adopt the false and fake to hide our authenticity because we are afraid if we let our true or real selves show through, we will be found wanting.

I want to be authentic—but I want to know exactly what that means. I do not want it to be a superficial “handle” to be bandied about at will. Authenticity is the basis of a life well-lived, but it needs support and acceptance. Those who are not authentic have found that being themselves is not “good enough”.

To be authentic we need to be brave, we need to be ourselves, we need to know how to take off the mask without fear. Sometimes it is hard to show your true self. It is much easier to be rejected for something you are not, then for something you are.

Does being “authentic” mean “wearing our heart on our sleeve”? Yes, I think it does.  When we show what is in our heart we are being ourselves. We are being true, valid and bona fide. Or genuine.

Are you tired of being told to “be authentic”. Do you think it is easy?

Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 10:02 am  Comments (54)  
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~ A Celebration of Sorts ~

English: Tree, Upper Farringdon This oak tree ...

English: Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning at 10 a.m. I went to the town park to plant a tree with some good friends. The tree was chosen for the way its leaves turn a vibrant red in the fall to match the vibrancy of the  friend that we were planting it for.

We lost our friend last spring. “We” is my Writers’ Group (we obviously put our creativity into our work and not our name). Our friend was a member of our group and she was bipolar. She did not hide it; in fact she almost celebrated it–not in a “party hardy” fashion but as an advocate for those who suffered this puzzling disease with her. She fought it with everything she had, and her family and friends helped her with the fight.

When she was taking the right “cocktail” of drugs, she was balanced, nay normal. Normal—what a word, but I mean normal in that she could handle everyday life. She could get up and function, and most importantly be creative and make other people happy. And she revelled in making other people happy. That is what made her happy.

She called us dudes and dudettes. She told us when we read something at Writers’ Group not to apologize for what we were about to read aloud in the group, and if we did apologize (as writers are wont to do), she commanded us

English: an exercise of chest

push-ups (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to get down and do push-ups for not minding her wise advice.

The tree was planted on a slope of land at the park, facing the lake. It was carefully chosen to be protected and out of harm’s way.  Professional landscapers did the actual planting, and a friend who works at the park brought over the first pails of water to nourish it.

We planted a tree today in honour of our friend, and this is the poem I wrote for her:

You Are In Our Hearts

We planted a tree today:

In honour of, or in memory of,

Or more appropriately

In celebration of a friend.

Our friend was vibrant

When she was not sad

She was jubilant

Except when she wasn’t.

She lived life to its fullest

When she could

She was braver than brave

Except when she was scared.

We planted a tree today:

In celebration of a life

Lived fully, abundantly, and effusively

Except when she couldn’t.

Goodbye friend

But, it is not farewell

You really do live in our hearts

And speak to our creative souls.

Her accidental death was a shock to our small town. She seemed to have a million friends. I am lucky to have been counted among them. We love you Coleen.

Published in: on October 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm  Comments (58)  
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~ Halloween Revisited ~

English: Pumpkin carving - photo taken in dark...

Pumpkin carving – (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favourite holiday is about to be served up next week, and in preparation I am trying to decide what kind of treats I will hand out to those oh-so-merry revellers at my door. Oh,… you say, it is not my favourite holiday? No carollers and hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies for a song well sung?

What’s that you say? It is my least favourite holiday—Halloween …when the veil between us and the “other” world is thinner and we are subject to visitations from ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night?

But let me pause here. Perhaps it is I and those in my “not too crazy about Halloween” camp who need some reprogramming. Maybe, just maybe, we should embrace this festive time of year and turn our front yards into cemeteries and our trees into an executioner’s dream with a noose hanging perilously from every branch.

If so many people love Halloween, could we be the ones who need to change? There is a macabre element to Halloween that cannot be denied. But who are we to put a cap on our dark sides? Perhaps we need this day to get it out of our system, to face our fears, and laugh at them. Methinks we take it too seriously. We need to get with the program.

Out of curiosity, I “Googled” why some people do not like Halloween. One of the answers provided was that people who do not enjoy this holiday are lame. The verbatim answer was a little more insulting than that, but that is all I am going to share here. Other reasons given were religion and fear.

I have not always disliked Halloween and cannot really remember when my distaste for it started. Maybe it was the year that some older kids knocked over the jack o’lantern we had outside and almost burned our house down. (I am overstating here—but it did scare me—and we never put a lit jack o’lantern out on the front porch again—live and learn).  Or maybe it was the fact that when I was a kid we lived in the country and after visiting (in the dark with flashlights) the four houses close to us, Halloween was basically over, so it was not much to celebrate. One year though my Dad drove us all over the county – (actually only a few miles from home to houses that were more than a half mile away) and we made out like bandits. That year I liked Halloween.

So, this year, determined to recover from my Grinchy take on Halloween, I am going to make a list of twelve things I like about it as the first step in my recovery:

1. First and foremost, how bad can a festivity be if it features little chocolate bars?

2. I love little kids dressed up as dinosaurs with tails dragging behind them and fairies and Mario and Luigi and whatever else they want to dress up as.

3. I love that all my neighbours turn their front lights on for trick or treaters. It looks so welcoming.

4. I love it when little kids will only take one little chocolate bar when you offer them a bowl of candy and you have to talk them into taking more.

5. I love pumpkins.

Pumpkin Harvest

Pumpkin Harvest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. I love pumpkins.

7. I love pumpkins.

8. I love Linus’s faith in the Great Pumpkin.

9. I love everyone else’s enthusiasm about Halloween.

10. I love pumpkins.

11. I love turning the front light out at eight o’clock figuring all the little kids have finished trick or treating, and the Halloween festivities are over for me for another year.

12. I love how my youngest son embraces the holiday, and starts to plan his costume months in advance.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention that I love pumpkins?

I am far from cured—but if the antidote is those little chocolate bars, I am willing to take a dose or two.  Wishing you all no tricks, just treats.

How about you–are you a diehard fan of Halloween or someone who is trying to embrace it like me?

Pumpkins at Halloween

Pumpkins at Halloween (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published in: on October 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm  Comments (60)  
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