Sunday, October 28, 2012

THREE: Halloween

Orange and Black.
Candy corn.
Popcorn balls.
Chocolate coins.
Fun sized sweets.
The smell of rubber, duct tape, plastic and sugar.
Adults smelling of perfume and sweat beneath heavy costumes.
Things that flash and glow.
Pumpkin shaped everything.
Cheesy music.
Skeletons, black cats, witches, ghosts and monsters.

The excitement and smell of crisp air, musty leaves and lobotomized pumpkins.
The way you feel when you put on the make-up, mask, hood or hat that transforms you into... someTHING or someONE else.

The mystery and fun of ghouls, goblins, witches, cutesies, scaries and unidentifiable children and adults in costumes roaming the streets.

When I was a kid, Halloween was my FAVORITE holiday. It's the day and night where the whole world plays pretend and has to activate imagination.

The world seemed magical on Halloween: the past could come alive, ghosts could walk the earth and come back, midnight truly was the witching hour on this day more than any other.

It was exactly a week before my birthday, so it was sort of.... the beginning of fun in fall.

As an adult, I dress up and decorate and still LOVE Halloween, but the disappointment that occasionally happened as a kid feels magnified when I go through the effort of Halloweening the house and no trick-or-treaters come to my door.

When I was a kid, I can remember a few Halloweens where I had costume disasters, adventures cancelled due to weather conditions, and plain' ole differences in celebration.

Vermont kids don't really trick or treat unless they live 'in-town,' because you'd need a car to get from one house to the other, and it's REALLY, REALLY cold in October, so you have to wear a coat over your costume; which is no fun at all.

Also, nothing is worse than people not knowing what your costume is.

"What are you supposed to be Sweetie?"

"I'm a zombie football player from Beetlejuice. Duh."

"Oh... well, that's nice."

Or the year that I was Ariel from The Little Mermaid.... and I couldn't walk in my costume --- UGH.

A few years ago I dressed up as Rogue from The X-Men for a Halloween party. I had no posse of Wolverine, Storm, etc.

No one knew who I was.


The year before last, I bought lots of candy, decorated the house and gate, dressed up and waited patiently by the door, exited for it to ring and to see all the kiddies dressed up and looking cute.

No one came.
Not a single kiddo.

We called J's (and soon to be my) nieces and nephews over and gave them practically a bag of candy each. J juggled for them and they had to pick what they wanted out of his pattern in the air.

Last year, J and I dressed up as Waldo and Wanda (we looked GOOD) and waited again with candy. Again, no kids showed.

I learned that people here take their kids to the MALL to gather candy.

Let me just say that I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with that practice.

Part of the fun of Halloween is visiting your neighborhood and then driving to family's houses to continue the candy collecting (or in some cases-- VERMONT--- driving into town to walk the main  neighborhood streets).

You meet your school friends and your neighbors. You sing-song "TRiCK or TrEat!" at each doorbell knock or ring. You see that elderly neighbor who demands that you perform a dance, poem or talent to receive your sweet. You get EXERCISE and EARN your candy so that when you get home you're tired.

THAT is part of Halloween.

Not wandering around a climate controlled mall where you just grab candy and stare at people.

Also, about the whole x-ray the candy thing....

Sheesh, if you're going to houses of folks you know (a.k.a. your neighbors, friends and family) then you shouldn't have to throw away the homemade candy apples, popcorn-balls or seven-layer bars because there's no danger.

Also, last I knew, most kids go out with an older relative or an adult--- SAFETY.

I think that it's outside the neighborhood say, at a mall.... *ahem* where it would be MUCH easier for a stranger to contaminate candy.

Anyway, ranting aside, I still love Halloween and I'm still dressing up this year.

Even if NO ONE comes to my door I will have candy ready, because that's the spirit of excitement.

The history of Halloween may be about the dead walking the earth, but until I'm a ghost I can provide candy.

If no one shows up, I'll just read Edgar Allen Poe aloud and watch a cutesy spooky (not horror) movie-- like Hocus Pocus, The Boogie Man or The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Then I'll read some more poetry and tell a ghost story or two.

Oh, and when J and I have kids, they won't be going to the mall.
They'll be hiking around to family and friends earning their sugar old-school-style.


TWO: Love


It snowed Thursday and Friday last week.

The days were delightfully gray and cold; wet and sloppy and most definitely weather for jackets, hats and scarves.

Thursday morning I attended a memorial service for J's father, who passed away three years ago this Halloween.

I was honored to be included and reminded of how short life truly is... at any moment it could be taken away.

I am of the opinion that this does not mean that one should live in fear of death or heart failure or freak bus accidents, but rather that you should tell the ones you love that they matter immensely every chance you get.

I make a practice of telling my friends that I love and care about them too.
The snow coated everything in the hush of heavy white; the muddy drive leading into the cemetery was a dull brownish gray; mixing to a tan where the snow had melted and then covered again.

We were the last car to arrive.

Everyone was standing around the plaque of the gravesite. Sitting in a line of green wood and canvas chairs in front of the astro-turf pedestal upon which a folded up American flag, a small leather book and a reddish metal canister were displayed. 

A basket full of paper cups, lids and a thermos coffee pot was propped on a chair in the second row. 

We walked up to the group; steaming cups in their hands from which wafted the smell of artificial hazelnut or caramel coffee. 

Each person standing had a somewhat different look on their face: awkward, complacent, antsy, relaxed, cold, staid but cheerful, smiling simply and still.

Music was blaring muzzily out of J's step-mom's (B's) pocket: her phone set to Pandora mobile I suppose.... she began speaking. 

"Thank you all for coming. It's been three years and it's finally time..." she stated somewhat cheerfully, but warmly.

Her pocket renewed it's loud blaring and then switched to some sort of commercial.

"I'm not sure if you all know this, but T prayed each and every morning. He prayed for you kids..."

-------'Are you prepared for...' some actor's voice interrupted her, blabbing on scratchily about life-insurance... she continued on.

"So I would like to read from my list of..."

-----------'Be prepared today!' the commercial ended with buzzing chimes which faded into a Christian Rock song...

I noticed that at one end of the circle, G, E, H and J had begun to link arms; H grinning at me sweetly across the circle.  I shuffled closer to L and linked her arm; she slipped hers into C's. Halfway through the speech, he linked his into J's.

Suddenly, the gathering was put on the spot. 

"Now, let's everybody say something nice you remember about T," B commanded.

Little by little, each member began to speak... at some point, E stepped over and grabbed B's blaring cell-phone and shut it off.

"I remember how we'd be in the car with him, and he was really a quiet guy otherwise, but when we were driving and someone almost had and accident or made a mistake or whatever, he would yell 'CRASH!' really loudly and it always scared me and made me giggle at the same time..."

"He never did that with us in the car," J began, "but I remember when I totaled the truck---"

"Yes, are there any of his kids here who didn't wreck one of his cars?" 

"He was always calm and caring about it. He cared more about people being safe than the vehicle---"

"Yes, he would say, 'Cars can be replaced; people can't."

"He paid for my school in New York--"

"Yeah! He was always supportive. For example, when I wanted to go live in Paris, he was all for it. He was the parent whom you went to when you wanted the other parent to agree with you.."

"I only met him once, but my first impression of him was the same as what you all call him all the time--- teddybear. Tall and round and bearded and warm." I said. 

Everyone rambled on for a while remembering T.

Apples and peanut butter.
Orange slices.
The Beatles.
Working on electronics and computer parts with him.
Building bookshelves.
Cinnamon coffee.
E-mails about selling cookies.
Being supportive.

Some slight disagreements flowed briefly in and out of the conversation. A suggestion to sing was accepted and then refused. Finally the remembrance was over-- I brought my end of the arm links around and linked with J's step-mom so we could have a circle hug.

We all trudged back to our cars. 

"H and J, do you have class?" B asked.

"Yeah, but I'm thinking I'll skip it today," J responded.

"Mine's not until later," H said.

"Let's all go to breakfast at the diner," I said.

"Great!" beamed B.

We piled into our cars and headed out; J and I stopping for H to leave her car at our house so we could carpool to the diner-- which had less than desirable parking options.


That morning we remembered, we ate, we laughed, we reminisced and caught up. A family with sets of blood relations and mostly step or half relations, but all one family. 

People who had come together to remember a man who touched their lives. 
A man who loved greatly and was loved by many.
He is missed, and he will be missed forever.

So, take the time and tell the people you love about the way they've touched you.

There's no time like the present. 

ONE: Today is a Triplentry Day.... Yes, I just made up that word. ;-)


The air was crisp and pink this morning as I stepped outside. Sidewalks were littered with tiny gold-yellow leaves; like a frozen runner along the cement.

Through the haze of the sunrise, I could make out the shadowy and darkened outlines of the trees; backlit against the pastel-coral colored sky.

Breathing in it smelled like... fresh pumpkins.

 Indeed, with my eyes closed, I could've sworn that the earthy, sweet, dusty and clean aroma was emanating from jack-o-lanterns that lined every doorstep in my imagination.

Then a small gust of wind blew my hair from my face and pricked my cheeks.

Fall will soon be over, and the snows shall return.

I decided to call my mum on this walk because she and Dad had just returned from a trip overseas.

We talked pleasantly about museums, cousins, opera, old friends, food, wine and music.

I was reminded how lucky I am to have such parents and people in my life.

My mum also reminded me to vote: which I've already done (mail-in ballot) but not put in the post.

So: Go for walks, revel in delightful people and VOTE!


Triplentry (Yes, Triple + Entry = Triplentry) Prologues:


It snowed Thursday and Friday last week.

The days were delightfully gray and cold; wet and sloppy and most definitely weather for jackets, hats and scarves.

Thursday morning I attended a memorial service for J's father, who passed away three years ago this Halloween.

I was honored to be included and reminded of how short life truly is... at any moment it could be taken away.

I am of the opinion that this does not mean that one should live in fear of death or heart failure or freak bus accidents; but rather that you should tell the ones you love every chance you get, that they matter immensely.



How do YOU celebrate Halloween, and what does it mean to you?