The Ghostly Trio

The Ghostly Trio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Tis All Hallow’s

Try and scare me
if you will

A boo will do it

Published in: on October 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm  Comments (16)  
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As Expected: The Halloween Column

  By now, you know the ritual–this is my weekly newspaper column:

                One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
              One need not be a house;
              The brain has corridors surpassing
              Material place. ~  Emily Dickinson


Haunted House

Haunted House (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

  There is a rhythm to life. Expectations that must be met. If you are a columnist and it is the last week in golden October then you just naturally turn to the subject of Halloween. And you remember your love/hate relationship with the celebration of the dark night of the soul, or as I prefer to think of it—the night of endless chocolate, chewy caramels, and remembrances of homemade popcorn balls and chocolate chip cookies packaged prettily in cellophane.

        Again, against my better judgement, I bought one of those boxes of chocolate bars that I am particularly fond of—a combo of Reese’s peanut butter cups, mini O’Henry chocolate bars, and Hershey’s milk chocolate bars with peanuts. I have now pretty well emptied the box, having shared only a few of the treats with my husband (lest you think I am mean, he is diabetic after all-don’t want to kill the guy!) so I have had to purchase more candy. I was careful this time to buy candy that does not speak to my sweet tooth but will still pass muster with the few kids destined to show up at my house on Thursday night.


English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...

 Candy corn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The number of trick or treaters have dwindled over the years—as my sons grew older, so did their friends, and no one seems to be replacing that crew at my door—something that is both a relief and disappointment. I remember fondly the days of excitement leading up to the grand day of chocolate and all things sweet—the costumes and smeary grease paint, the adventure of walking out the door knowing we would come home with a bounty of cavity causing booty, my sneaky swiping of my favourite chocolate bars from my sons’ cache bagged unceremoniously in pillow cases. Ah—the good old days!

        Halloween has become big business. So much so that it seems to rival Christmas in our affections. I guess the ‘shadow’ side of life needs to be given its moment in the sun, and this weekend The National Post took the whole Halloween, death, and dying thing for a spin—making death the cornerstone of many of their articles, opinion pieces, and columns. I read a bit of it and was left feeling overexposed to the subject and a little bit creeped out. Do I really want to know that Marilyn Monroe’s last meal consisted of stuffed mushrooms, meatballs and Dom Perignon, or that Cleopatra noshed on figs before meeting her demise?

        One section of the paper was devoted to “The Look of Death”, touting black as the new black; another section was called “13 Spectral Street” contemplating the scariest address in town; a third section shouted “How We Die Now” and elucidated on “the new ways we deal with death.” And, not to be left out, the financial section headline was “Death and Money.” Usually the National Post is my favourite weekend paper, but not so this weekend. I lightly perused its pages, alighting carefully on articles that were not too gruesome, but in truth, skipped most of its content. Even Rex Murphy, who I find eloquently toothsome in his descriptions, was a disappointment with his wish at the end of his column that everyone have a “happy, grey, grim Halloween”. Death, a topic possibly ripe for Halloween was overdone in this edition. The paper is now in the recycle pile—none of it saved for further study or rereading.

        I am a fan of the Halloween that produces fairies and Cinderellas, dinosaurs and robots. Not for me the monsters, or skeletons, and if the ghost is Casper, then I am okay with that. The macabre does not fascinate me; death does not beguile me; tombstones are not the delight of my décor. Inexplicably I do have a soft spot in my heart for witches and wizards, probably as a result of being brought up on the television program “Bewitched” with enchanting Samantha and her charming nose twitch (something I practiced a lot as a kid to no avail.)

        So, in opposition to Rex’s desire that you have a grim Halloween, I wish you as many trick or treaters at your door as you desire, chocolate dreams, and caramel apple wishes.

Published in: on October 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm  Comments (35)  
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Harbinger of Change

My weekly newspaper column:


Autumn (Photo credit: blmiers2)


  “Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

 Autumn. Fall. A new season is upon us. It is a magical time of year and envelopes the end of summer with two seemingly opposed celebrations: Thanksgiving and Halloween. But I am getting ahead of myself here—there will be time for both of these festivities—juxtaposed as they are in the coming month.

            We still have a few days left of September where two seasons meet—one fades away as another takes the reigns. The changing of seasons reminds us of the passage of time. I try not to wish away time anymore which I suppose comes from knowing I have fewer years ahead of me than behind. There is certain wisdom in this, but also a determination that the best is yet to come. Not because wonderful things have not happened in the past, but that is the past, it is the present that should be paid attention to, paving a way toward a future, uncertain though it may be.

            I have been patient to this point, not bringing out too much of my fall décor until it was officially fall, but now all bets are off. Never mind that I have had my fall wreath on the front door for several weeks, or have changed up some of the candles to fall plums and pumpkin, or have an ornamental pumpkin sitting on my coffee table. And yes, just last week I gathered a few pinecones from beneath a tree at the park and have them nestled in a wooden box. Unbridled,  I will bring out my collection of pumpkins, my silk autumn leaves (okay they are not silk but suffice to say they are not plastic), and the rest of the flotsam and jetsam of autumn I keep boxed up waiting for this glorious time of year. {I often reflect how now I use the words glorious and lovely and other words of gush that at one time I would not have gone near with a ten foot pole—dare I say that entering the early (early—did I stress early?) fall of my life I am less reserved, more liable to effusiveness? }



Fall PEEC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I find that I am not the only one enamoured with the fall. In a way, I find others loving my favourite season a bit intrusive, making it no longer mine. But over the years I have learned to share, and in that sharing learned to appreciate it even more. I remember as a student, walking along the sidewalk to school, shuffling along in the leaves that had fallen; and looking around to see that no one was watching, then kicking them up, creating a mini-furor of colour. There is nothing better than walking through fallen leaves in the fall, the sound of the crisp crush under footfall.

            I will share a few quotes I found that speak to me of autumn, that share my fervour for the season that precedes winter. Perhaps my favourite is this one from nature loving author and journalist, Hal Borland: “Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and colour and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.”       

            Writer George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) declared, “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” Lavish in her ardour for fall, I can quote the dear lady freely and feel that I will never attain her ebullience (in other words using “lovely” and “glorious” will still in no way put me in the same poetically lyrical class as this great writer).

            Rebel philosopher, Albert Camus said that “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is in flower.” And Samuel Butler declared something in the same vein saying, “Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruit.” Elizabeth Lawrence is a lady after my own heart—she believes that “Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.” I can only imagine the patience this would take if one took her advice literally.

            I hope you have enjoyed our autumn journey, and if you were not a fan before—perhaps I have persuaded you at least a little to join me in the celebration of this new loveliest and glorious of seasons. (yes, my tongue is wedged firmly in cheek here).

~ Scary? ~

This is a film my son  made for a film competition at  college for Halloween.  He won the competition. As his proud mother I am sharing it with you. I really had to talk him into letting me put this on my blog, but he finally acquiesced.

The judging for the competition was not over until after Halloween, hence you are seeing it in November. November can be scary too.

This is the same son that I posted a picture of a couple of days ago when he was six. He is now 21. I thought it was funny. If you do not think it is funny, do not tell me. Any accolades will be gladly accepted.

Without further ado–I present the next Spielberg, or George Clooney, or Godzilla–you decide:

Published in: on November 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm  Comments (30)  
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~ Grave Concerns ~

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario.

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know that many of you have never been to a municipal council meeting in your lives. Well, truly you have not lived until you have attended one. As I am a “municipal reporter” (sounds so official doesn’t it?) I have attended hundreds of these meetings over the years. They tend to run 3 1/2 to 4 hours now, as they have been cut from three meetings a month to two in my town of Kingsville.

Admittedly, a lot of the things I report on are rather mundane, but not particularly mundane to those affected by the story–be it about drains, sewers, a new subdivision, business development, or neighbours really mad at other neighbours for building a fence that blocks their view of the lake.

This being Halloween week got the best of me and I just could not stop myself from trying to zip up a news story about weeds in the local cemetery–and it was published on the front page of the Kingsville Reporter! Without further ado, here is me having a little fun with the story:

Weeds (TV series)

Weeds (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)NO, NOT THIS KIND OF WEED!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Council Wants Weeds Controlled at Greenhill

Weed control at Greenhill Cemetery is a topic of grave concern to Kingsville Council and a report presented by the Manager of Public Works…at the October 22nd meeting did not provide them with a satisfactory solution.”

Now if you did not catch it–I said that the topic at the cemetery was of “grave concern”. Truly, I am easily amused.

Have you ever written something you knew was silly in an otherwise sombre story?

~ 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.

~ 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?

~ 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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