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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Weatherbug tells me this morning’s chilly temperatures are right on cue for October. But Thursday, it was a warm and sunny 71˙. When I decided to go freelance over a decade ago, one of the reasons was to not only shed my wretched cross-state commute, but also to have the freedom to make my own schedule. And despite my annoying and persistent feeling that I should be at my desk from 9-5 for my clients, Thursday was just too wonderful to stay inside.

And so I walked. One of the interesting things about my little town is that it’s in a valley and doesn’t always have the same weather as the surrounding towns. Or the same seasonal appearances. Just now some trees are turning bronze, some shrubs, yellow. But for the most part, it’s very green in my little part of the world.

Beyond the few scattered leaves on the ground, and some dried weeds, you might think we were in early September. If you were to walk straight in what is almost a path in the photo above, you would come right up on the Delaware River. When I drove out of town last Monday, I was surprised to find that not only had the leaves turned color, but many of the trees were already bare.

Not here. As houses begin to be dressed for Halloween, we are still on dense green lawns surrounded by still-green shrubbery. Our little town has always made a big deal of Halloween. There’s been a parade down the main drag with floats and a couple bands, vendors, food stands, and kids galore in costumes vying for prizes. Needless to say, that will not be happening this year.

But residents are not giving up on the Halloween spirit, even if there aren’t quite as many decorated houses as I’ve seen before. And we neighbors are talking, reading online, about what we can do to make trick-or-treating safe for the kids … and for us. It won’t be the same as having little princesses and Frankensteins running up to our doors yelling “Trick or Treat!” but we are in different times.

This house always goes all out for the holidays. I mean ALL the holidays. This is the kind of decorated house that gets the little ones all excited. I am so glad these people have done what they always do. It keeps some sense of normalcy in our lives.

How wonderful is it that this is “normal” for my town! But what I couldn’t help but notice is how few people there were walking about. I’m sure there were more on the Main Street where the stores are, a walk of just a few blocks further. (It’s a pretty small town.) And where all the scarecrows are. I wanted to keep walking and take pictures of them, too, but I was doing my best to keep in mind that I still had work on my desk.

My walk takes me past this very old garage, which you may recall seeing in some earlier post. I am strongly drawn to this building, though I cannot say why. As often as I walk past it with a camera, today my phone, I will photograph it.

Maybe it’s the doors. The texture, the tone, their slightly ajar position. Or just the very old stone and cement the garage is built from. My town was established in the mid 1700’s, and went through several name changes, the first being when the mill on the river burned down in 1769. The town officially became a borough in 1911, its incorporation confirmed by the state in 1925. The population in 1920 was 656; today, it’s 1,233. 

This is the mill as I know it today. I’ve heard rumors over the years that a special committee formed to preserve it had plans for it becoming condos or an arts center. As long as I’ve been here, it looks like this. The stonework tells me the little garage, may have been built at the same time.

I returned to my work, renewed by the sunshine and fresh air. We need these simple things, and it’s important to remember to give them to ourselves. I have had a hard time writing, blogging, doing creative work, especially these last few weeks. I am deeply unsettled and fear for the future of my country. I feel compelled to keep reading the latest news stories, yet know I need to stop. I am reminded to move my focus away from what I cannot control. I’m trying. I know you’re trying. We all are.

So if a walk through town, taking pictures of my neighborhood Halloween decorations and what is our striving for normalcy amid so much confusion helps, then I’ll take it. Stay safe. Stay positive.

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I live in a small town bordered on one side by the Delaware River and surrounded by beautiful countryside. The advantages of a small town are many, especially at Halloween where we welcome a goodly amount of always well-costumed trick-or-treaters, (even the parents dress up.) I took my camera out with me on a walk the other day and snapped a few of the houses. Here’s your digression for the day …

Who doesn’t love a skeleton on a swing?

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These people have a small front yard, but there are always creepy things to look for, hands coming out of the ground, and such. The next 3 photos are of that house.

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hallo16-headlessaxetroll2

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Some places are very busy with more than any kid could possibly grasp while running from house to house, yet still suitably scary in the dark …

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Others are more low key. Note the skeleton Dachshund by the stairs.

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The shriveled pumpkin is a nice subtle touch …

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And my favorite, and their only Halloween decoration. Why is this so attractive to me? Because it inspires a story. Who is she? (Or is it a he?) Why is she haunting their garden? Does she stay there all the time? I’m hoping the people have put a soft white LED light beneath her to help her glow eerily, but I haven’t been by after dark yet.

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Happy Halloween!

 

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Halloween FrenchieThe last couple days have had me on the road, and driving through the beautiful countryside always puts a smile on my face. The trees are still turning and are simply on fire in the brilliant sunshine we’ve seen lately. There seems to be more bright yellow this year. I cannot help but be grateful every time I travel the backroads out this way.

And then there’s Halloween. In my town, the trick or treaters come knocking between 6 and 8; we usually expect about 125 – 150 kids. People often drive into town here because it’s so easy to go up and down the blocks in this little area and everyone’s light is on. One year I was chatting with some teenagers who I found came from a town in PA, a good distance over the river. When I asked them why they came so far, they told me because everyone here was so nice and they felt so safe. Awww … have some more chocolate.

But why it’s so much fun? Everyone dresses up – kids and parents, too – even the occasional dog; they are all dolled up for a night of fun. Parents remind the little ones to say “trick or treat” and “thank you” and to “take only one.” Kids of all ages are so polite and no teenager ever walks off without a thank you.

It’s almost a visit back in time when I was a kid going up and down the street, trolling for candy. For this simple little patch of time – just like driving the backroads – I am truly grateful.

Have a safe and happy Halloween.

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Before 150+ little trick or treaters come scurrying through our neighborhood and knocking at our doors, here’s something I had to share.

FairyTiara2Our local, (county), newspaper is to be commended for their coverage of all the goings-on in our towns, much of which is positive. Yeah, there’s a bit of the usual murder and mayhem, but they can’t hold a candle in that department to every other newspaper around. In the positive vein, they always feature a Kids’ Page in which they ask local schoolchildren a question and feature their answers.

This week, the question was the kids’ most creative costume for Halloween, and if this one doesn’t take all — written by Julia, a 3rd grader, (that’s 8 years old):

“WOW. You look great. My favorite Halloween costume was a fairy. It was blue and had sparkly fairy wings. I wore it when I was little and I wore it for a lot of great Halloweens. I got a boatload of candy. That was a great time of my life.”

What more could I possibly say after that?

except … Happy Halloween!

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A little Halloween levity in the neighborhood … Happy Halloween!

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Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so I have one more chance to post a photo of something that caught my eye when I was out walking. Much like political signs left way too long and all over the place like so much litter after an election, there are always some people that have their holiday decorations out far beyond the holiday. In this case, I’m glad they were still there, because driving by didn’t give me the opportunity to read them. So this is the last I’ll have to say about Halloween!

Although Party City and other stores have a pretty big selection of tombstones at Halloween, I find that people who make them themselves are far more clever. These were all pretty funny, but the one that made me stop and laugh was the one in the center. Nice and simple – Trespasser.

In case you can’t read the others – Noah Moore – I told you I was sick; Here lies an atheist – all dressed up with nowhere to go; and Dr. Gonzo – too weird to live, too rare to die.

Note the broken pumpkin .. which brings us to our next seasonal item … pie. Hello, Thanksgiving!

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scarecrowOK, let me warn you right off the bat – this is not the parade in Greenwich Village or anything. Nothing like it. Just a very small town parade held each year with prizes for various age groups, cider and doughnuts for everybody, and people getting together. Almost all kids in the parade, but the whole town participates.  I’m just posting a few  pictures because I thought they were kind of cool, and it’s fun to see people getting involved with the costumes, especially the little ones.

This scarecrow is a little hard to see with the busy background behind him, but what was funny was his face kept moving around all the time in some bizarre way. Turns out, his hands are behind the burlap of his face and the arms aren’t arms. He made the costume all on his own. (His Grandma next to me swore it.)

This age group, below, had a pretty good assortment of creative costumes in it – they were 6-8 year olds, I think. But I was just fascinated at how effective the plain `ol ghost was, and he or she was my definite favorite.

Lineup-ghost

 

Then we had some younger kids whose moms and dads were very creative in putting together costumes that were definitely not from Party City or Wal-Mart. These two – Little Bo Peep and a cowboy with chaps and that long coat they wear, (uh – forgot what they call that) – were real cute.

BoPeep-CowboyAnd then … what put a smile on my face was a really clever homemade costume … on a dog. (Well, yeah – of course that made me smile!) Her owners also had a head piece they’d made of the same fabric as the inside of the banana, but said the Doxie didn’t like it on very much so left it off. Wow! People that really care about their pet!

Dachshund

This costume and the presence of about 10 other non-costumed dogs prompted me to ask the master of ceremonies to consider including dogs in costume next year, and he thought it was a great idea and announced it immediately. (Now why do I think I’m somehow going to get roped into helping form guidelines as to pets in costume and how old a kid has to be to have a dog on a leash, etc.?)

Anyway. I started thinking if there was a children’s book story somewhere in all of this. If there is …. for me …. it’s going to be about that ghost or the Dachshund! Maybe both ….

 

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Zombie Delight

The Epicurean Z

You ask what makes my culinary bell ring?
I’ll tell you, dear friends, it’s only one thing.

ZombieFingersSmallFingers!

With garlic and butter in a delicate sauté,
Or toss with linguine and a sauce de Mornay.

Cut thin and layered for a scalloped delight,
Or simmer in red sauce … it’s Italian tonight!

Chopped and toasted gives salads a crunch,
Or slice thin on rye for a delectable lunch.

Breaded and deep-fried, tartar sauce on the side,
With brainslaw, you’ll think you went to heaven and died!

Thumbs work best in a rich brown stew,
Or slather with honey on the barbecue.

Now when baking, you’ll want to remove all the nails,
Smooth texture’s a must or the recipe fails.

Chop and add raisins, for a great autumn pie,
Puree as ganache for a torte layers high.

Arrange young fingers with a tart lemon mousse,
Or serve them with custard for a fab Charlotte Russe.

(Well, where did you think they got the idea of ladyfingers from?)

Studded in ice cream with a fudge sauce that’s hot,
Can fingers be more flexible? I really think not!

They’re suited for dinners, or occasions quite grand,
But if in a rush, eat `em right off the hand!

Ready to cook? To scramble or bake?
Pick up Zombie Gourmet – turn to page forty-eight.

© Jeanne Balsam, 2009

HappyHalloween

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