Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where the Wild Things are on Halloween!

A man's first Halloween costume is an important thing.

It might just set the tone for the rest of his future costumes and might even hint at bit of his personality. So since Donovan is unable to choose his outfit for this special evening his mother Amber thought long and hard about what costume to bestow upon her son...

she thought and thought, toiled and troubled... and look what she did!

No pumpkin or cat will this lad be.. nor a race car driver or even a vampire.
Instead... he is a wild thing.
Stand back.... be careful!

In his Grandma's mind.. and I am sure in his mother's mind as well...
he is King of the Wild Things...

No not Don King... but King Donovan!


Let the wild rumpus start!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pick your poison

Ahhh yesssssss. 'Tis the season and our thoughts turn to pumpkins, witches, spiderwebs, ghosts, spooks, and monsters. It certainly makes sense in our macabre state of mind at this time in October that there have been numerous horror movie trailers and horror movies of the week being played on television.

You know the ones... Scream 1, 2 and 3... Poltergeist... Nightmare on Elm Street.. Saw 99... Halloween 172

No thanks.

I am not a fan of horror flicks even though I admit that I have seen a couple. I would argue though that the films of which I speak are not simply horror movies but instead they dance on the line between the "horror" and "suspense" genre. (I don't know if having your eyes covered during half the movie counts as actually "watching" a movie though.) But as I said, I will admit to having seen a couple.

Heck, I'll even admit to enjoying one of them...

But come on... gimme a break!
What a story that was!

Shh... quiet.. think about it now... and listen to your memories. Can't you just hear the tires of the little boy's big wheel going round and round on the carpet down the endless empty hallways? I remember it clearly and thinking about it now I can hear the little bump sounds the wheels made when he rode over the strips joining the carpet as he went around the corners... and what exactly was he going to see around the corner!?!?!

Don't wanna think about it right now.

As I was saying, I personally prefer a good spooky suspense type movie/story that makes you sit on the edge of your seat. I know it's just a matter of preference though, because there are (obviously) tons of people who love horror flicks. Some folks LOVE movies with blood splashing, knives flailing, and chainsaws roaring... the more blood the better. People running and hiding INSIDE the actual house where the raving lunatic killer is located instead of running away from the danger. Nope. I'll pass.

YOU go ahead and stay to see what is behind that blood covered door...
I am outa here!

I prefer the story... the suspense... resorting to gore is just too easy. That is not 'scary'... that is just revulsion. There is truly an art to 'the startle' or 'the scare' in word or on film.

Ever try to write a scary story or tell a frightening tale? Your audience is always trying to guess the outcome, what is around the next corner... I guess it's hard not to. Human nature I suppose. I even know quite a few people who read the last chapter of a book, or even just the last page before they ever start reading the first page! Or now with the internet try to look up spoilers regarding the story line and/or outcome of a movie before they go see it! Now what's the fun in that!?

But the peeking around the corner, reading ahead in the book, opening the present early is just people try to avoid the surprise... even though the surprise is exactly what they want... and if you think about it... they didn't really avoid the surprise they just found out about it early and usually out of context. Kinda funny huh?

It does not matter though. Folks just want that little burst of adrenaline. Just a little adrenaline is intoxicating isn't it? Just go ask someone in law enforcement, a bank robber, or an X-game athlete.

A little harmless scare is fine for me. I will pass on the nightmares that a movie like the Excorsist would give me thank you very much. If I am going to watch or read something scary to get in the mood this time of year it would most likely be one of the classic yet unreal type stories. I don't care for the realistic daily news type of tales. I was a probation officer for too long reading police reports, looking at crime scene photos trying to come up with a way to explain what actually happened to a judge. The real stuff wears on you. So, I will pass on the 'real life' scary stuff. Beleive me there is a big difference between the fantasy and the realistic.

For example.. this guy is great fun:

That character may be very loosely based on a real person... and even more so on that person and a combination of old mythological stories. However, he has been providing many years of frightening fun... because he is unreal.

However, one of the inspirations for that character was this guy:

Vlad Dracul... perhaps better known as Vlad the Impaler. Now, he was real... and truly terrifying. See what I mean? Not so much fun anymore is it? Now, if you don't know much about this Vlad the Impaler guy, and you don't like REAL horror stories... then don't look him up. Trust me on this one.

I will stick with the mostly imaginary tales.
Some favorite scary stories:
Edgar Allen Poe's The Black Cat, The Tell-Tale Heart,
The Cask of Amontillado...

Some scary movies:
Just about anything directed by Alfred Hitchcock... all day long.
The Rear Window, Vertigo, The Birds, Rebecca,

and THE classic scary ass movie...

Some others are Frankenstein, Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein.

Some of my favorite monsters?
Cookie, Animal, Godzilla, Wild things, Bride of Frankenstein, Nazgul / Ringwraiths.

My not so favorite monsters?
That's easy

Either way, it is Halloween time!

Have a fun and safe Halloween! Choose your frights carefully.

Remember... don't be afraid. It's all in your imagination.

Isn't that right... Norman?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Not so little... to me anyway.

So my folks are on a trip to Washington DC and surrounding Virginia sites. My Mom called the other afternoon from her cell phone while she and my Dad were sitting on George Washington’s porch at Mount Vernon looking out over the Potomac River.

On my youngest sister’s advice, my parents took a boat cruise up the Potomac to Mount Vernon. Turned out to be a great way to visit.

This business of naming of one's house is kinda cool. Wonder what we could come up with for our house here. Like Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier it should be something sufficiently gracious sounding.
Let's see some translations... I will make it easy.
Just translate "Lake Thirteen House":

Irish = Loch déag teach
Italian = Lago di tredici
French = Manoir du lac treize
Finnish = Järvelle yksikymmentäkolme

Umm... The Italian one is kind of cool... but nah.

Anyway, my parents are having a great time in D.C. Mom said they are getting around just fine on the metro system

and they have visited a zillion museums, memorials, cemeteries etc. I know they planned to go to the White House but I have not heard that story yet and if the got to meet 'the Man' himself.

This morning (Monday) they were going to drive up to Charlottesville, Virginia to 'Monticello' Thomas Jefferson’s home.

Monticello is a little over 100 miles from where they are staying so it is not exactly a hop skip and a jump for them to go there… but if you are close and especially if you are not sure you will be going back any time soon… it is a must.

The visit to Monticello of course was at my urging as I absolutely loved it. I am a big TJ fan though so I might have been a bit biased. I sure hope they enjoy their time there as much as I did.
... did you know he was fluent in five languages and could read seven? Did you know he could play the violin? See what happens with no t.v., internet, and Wii?

Speaking of Monticello I have a souvenir story of sorts. Along with handfuls of postcards, the souvenir that I treated myself to was a terracotta pot looking coffee cup with Jefferson’s quote about being devoted to the garden on it.

I know, I know ...

I go to Monticello and I get a coffee cup?

Well, it was a cheap souvenir and during all those years when it was just myself and my daughter IF we got to travel somewhere I got into the habit of trying to get a very inexpensive souvenir while on our visit. For example, for years I have been getting my daughter squashed pennies:

You have probably seen those touristy machines you put a penny and two quarters in? The penny is squashed by some archaic looking clockwork type machinery while you hand crank it and it imprints a picture onto the penny.

Fifty cents for a smashed penny from the Space Needle, or from Kit Carsons’ house, Bond Falls, or the grand canyon, etc. It's quite a deal!

Now that my daughter is older and has been out of my nest for quite some time, it has kind of become a joke between my daughter and I because I continue to get the pennies for her. In fact I have one in my purse right now from the Kit Carson house in New Mexico that I need to send to her. She just chuckles and rolls her eyes a bit when I hand them to her. When she returns to her home she probably tosses them into some drawer or box that is chock full of these squashed copper discs.

Someday she will show her son this treasure trove and tell him how his goofy granny kept paying 50 cents to smash pennies. Could have just set it on a train track for free! Of course, you get no travel themed imprint when a train smashes a penny and heck whats the point of that!

Anyway, we laugh about it, but both of us know the point of these ‘gifts’ was not so much the actual imprinted penny… the point was that if we were there together, I wanted to get her something to trigger her memory of our time there. If she was not with me when I got the penny, I wanted her to know I was thinking of her while I was there. The item itself was not really so important. It could have been a smashed penny, a postcard, a bookmark. What was important was the memories surrounding the souvenir.

After all, that's the point and the importance of souvenirs is it not?
I thought so.
.. until recently.

So... back to my coffee cup. I have been dragging that admittedly goofy looking coffee cup around since I bought it. Every morning since I got it I used it for my coffee whether we were traveling in the camper or at home. Well… you can probably guess what happened. On our way back from California somewhere in godforsaken-utah-nohumans-dirt-rock-notrees-sand-Mars-land I hopped out of the camper and felt the side of my ChuckTaylors catch something. I watched as my cup flew in slow motion out the door, bouncing off of the step on the side of the truck, only to shatter on impact with the pavement.

I started balling.
Honest I did.

David was truly at a loss. All I could say through the sniffling and crying was “my Thomas Jefferson cup broke!” David probably thought I had lost my mind… but he said he was very sorry that it broke. (...and cautiously watched me out of the corner of his eye for an hour or so to make sure I did not flip out again.) I used a cruddy old plastic cup for my coffee the rest of the way home. Well yesterday, when I was talking to my mom on the phone about their upcoming plans for Monticello, David overheard and got all excited and tapped my leg and told me that I should have her get me another cup from the gift shop and send it out to us and he would reimburse her. I just smiled, shook my head, and finished the conversation with my Mom. I can not tell you how much his offer meant to me and I told him so when I got off the phone.

You see, about 5 minutes after my cup had originally broken I came to my senses. Well maybe more like 10 minutes later. You see I realized I did not need a cup… or anything else really… to remember every single minute of that day. Also, upon reflection, my favorite memory of that day had nothing to do with Thomas Jefferson, or Monticello, or any damned coffee cup. My favorite memory was the fact that David sat with Cosmo and Delta out in the camper for hours in the parking lot at Monticello so that I could go inside. That memory became even much more precious because here we were a few weeks later and he was still thinking about my cup breaking and remembering how upset I was. He was going to try to get me another cup thinking that would make me happy. Its the little things that matter... truly.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Forgotten Trees and Winter cuts in

Winter is making her appearance and
there is nothing anyone can do to prevent her arrival.

She is tapping Autumn on the shoulder saying...

"Thank you my dear. I WILL be cutting in now."

Autumn's dance this year was short and sweet.
Now she has to find her shoes and her handbag and make her way home.

David and I are also hoping to skip out of here as soon as possible
so that we can start on our next adventure in
*? *

before Winter makes it hard to get around.

As I am writing I have some lentil soup in a pot upstairs for lunch and I can hear the stove popping behind me. Yes… that would be the wood stove. The weather has definitely taken a turn and it has been a struggle getting the temperature to break a high of 50 degrees the last few days. As for the low here is what my little weather widget told me a couple mornings ago:


That's ok. Really it is.

None... I repeat none of the plants I put into the ground came up this spring / summer as it never got quite warm enough at night, and never got quite enough water during the day. Bad gardening year up here apparently. However, even with the cold and the onset of winter, I have to say I think that autumn may be my favorite season.

The colors have changed and leaves are starting to fall. Every where you turn you are surrounded by tones of rusts, yellows, greens, browns, and reds.

A fallen leaf is nothing more
than a summer’s wave good bye

It looks like a fiesta and in many parts of the world this is the time to relax and enjoy the past year's toil. The spring and summer long nurturing of crops is finally over; it is time to bring in the food, and settle in for the long wait through winter until spring. There is lots of partying going on this time of year and the vibrant mixed colors of the surrounding landscape just seems to lend a lovely décor to the partying attitude.

(I bet she dances that little deer right into the freezer!)

Speaking of parties, David is on a group email address list for one of his friends... we will lovingly call him Napa Valley Matt. Well, Napa Valley Matt sent us an invitation for an Oktoberfest party in St. Helena. Folks are to bring their dancing boots, a flashlight, and you are assigned a dish depending on the initial in your name. Oh yes and since it is an Oktoberfest there will be beer and since it is in the wine country... well, there will be wine. It sounded like great fun and if we happened to be in the wine country in the next couple of weeks we would definitely join in. And for those of you who don’t know… in case you are feeling bad for those California folks and their year round sunshine? There still are visible seasons and the wine country is as beautiful in the fall as it is the rest of the year.

Halloween time back home is fun as well. While I have never gotten my act together in time to go, an old work buddy and his wife have a Halloween party each year and I love hearing and seeing the photos of the costumes people wear each year. I am sure they will have another this year for which I bet they are plotting and planning right now. I can not wait until November to find out the details!

However, along with the celebrations Autumn is also a time of year that makes people contemplative and maybe even a bit blue.

I suppose it is the odd contrast of the joy of harvest and the melancholy of the year coming to an end. Maybe our response is a reflection of what is happening in nature. The riot of color that we see and enjoy in the leaves and plants... is actually occurring because the leaves are dying. A cycle is coming to a close. Happiness, relaxation, contemplation, ...death. Some pretty heavy emotions. That is probably the reason we have several universally themed type holidays coming up in the next month or so...

Man oh man I just love Halloween!

Roman goddess of Fruit Trees

The Forgotten Trees

Good grief. Pomona must love the U.P. because everywhere you go when driving around the countryside there are apple trees.

Apples everywhere growing wild.

When you come across a single apple tree standing alone in the middle of the forest it quite possibly might be a bird turd tree. (technical landscaping term) However, others you can tell were once part of someone’s homestead as there are several trees are still growing in a row. David and I have been driving around in the middle of nowhere and we have seen hidden amongst the maples and pines small abandoned orchards with numerous trees.

The one thing in common this time of year here is that these forgotten trees whether one or fifty is that they are absolutely bent nearly double with apples. Apples that are turning just as fiery red and yellow as the maples that are slowly over-taking them.

As you may or may not know, apples have quite a history... from the story of the Garden of the Hesperides, the Isle of Avalon (probably from the Celtic word abal: apple), the Norse myth that apples provide eternal youth, the Judgment of Paris, Atalanta's race, Hercules' 11th trial, and then of course there were these two characters.

Sometimes the apple's history was good, sometimes not so good...
It sure got Paris into a whole lot of trouble.

Either way this fruit has been around a long time, and I can see why. These forgotten trees are survivors. The house belonging to the person who planted the trees may have long since disappeared back into the earth. Any remaining barns, wagons, horses, or even automobiles might also be found buried somewhere under these tree's boughs. To be honest, not only has the sower of the seed probably long since returned to the earth as well… it might be a good bet that so has his or her descendants. Yet the apple trees continue to grow and give fruit. They thrive even when there is no one left to pick them. No one that is but the birds, deer, squirrels, and bears.

So, in honor of the resilient apple... and the buckets of apples filling the pantries of all our neighbors... I have included my mother's apple cake recipe below.

Very tasty, very easy, great for home and potluck alike.

The rules are follow the recipe once, then adapt as you like in future bakings. ::wink::
I don't quite use the whole amount of sugar but I eyeball it anyway
so you are going to have to figure it out for you

Apple cake
First batch mix in this order stirring with a fork:
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 cups rough chopped Granny Smith apples
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup oil
Second batch mix in a separate bowl:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.

Add the dry mix from the bowl into the apple mix and stir well. This will be thick and it might seem like there are too many apples and not enough batter… that is just the right consistency. Pour into 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan spreading with spatula. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. This recipe easily doubled to put into a 9 x 13 pan. (Granny Smith apples are the bright green tart apples.... I know I know ! That is not a granny smith in the picture. I just had used them all so did not have one to photo.)

I am rich today with autumn's gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field

With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,
Golden apples heavy on the trees
Rivaling those of Hesperides,
Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread
Over all like butter on warm bread;
And the harvest moon will this night unfold

The streams running full of molten gold.

Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!
- Gladys Harp


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin