Tag Archives: halloween

Boo Boos and Bogeymen

100_4290It’s that time of year again. Halloween.  All Hallows Eve.  A day that lives under many other names too.  It is a day where kids of all ages from young to old dress up as something they are not.  Where age becomes relative to how young or old you feel, and the little goblins run amok from door to door begging for sweet candy bliss.

It is a celebration of both life and death, and of all the worlds that strike the imagination.  It is a celebration of celebrating the imagination.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and it feels like defeat to say that I am just not feeling it.  Apparently I’m not the only one.

Driving home, I could not help but notice that I did not see a single house with Halloween decorations.

100_4325Maybe, like me, it started with the rash of break-ins two years ago.  With the gradual decay of our Halloween decorations from the ravages of time and lack of extra money to replace them over the past years, that climaxed with the theft of the only good one left, and my favorite, my Halloween spirit has been in decline.

Or maybe the town is just tired.  It has been a hard few months.  The bridge that is one of the two main entrances into town has been closed indefinitely with no plans to replace it.  Days before school was set to start the elementary school and only daycare serving the surrounding area caught fire, displacing all the kids for most of the school year while it is repaired.

2009-10-31-53This is not about whining and moaning about our problems.  The kids are resilient and because they are we all will be.

With resilience something grows.  Right?

Maybe.

While my Halloween spirit seems to be missing, I felt a bit giddy anyway.

The day after Halloween in November 1st.  The start of National Novel Writing Month.  A global event where crazy writer geeks pledge to write 50,000 words in a month.  A new novel from scratch, writing mostly from the seat of your pants.

Why am I giddy?

20150809_211733I might have started something magical.

Every year I encourage my girls to embrace their imaginative capabilities.  This year my eleven year old shows an interest.  My eleven year old told her teacher a story about a magical month of mayhem and wild imaginative writing.

She was intrigued.

She asked questions.  She was interested.

Time will see.

We might see some renewed energy in a tired town, a classroom, maybe two, embracing a month of wild abandon and imaginative freedom in that strange phenomenon we call NaNoWriMo.

New writers born and new stories.  It can only be a good thing in a tired place.

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No Trick or Treat?

This past Thursday, I took my youngest daughter trick or treating.

I walked around the neighborhood with our beagle, Charlie, in tow as my daughter skipped, walked, and sprinted from door to door in the hope of filling her bag with candy. (Older sister, being too cool to be seen with mom and baby sister, opted to walk with friends.)

I have to confess that I love this holiday. Admittedly, it’s more about the chocolate I forage for after the kids have gone to bed rather than the costumes and scary movies, but still…

As Abby ran from door to door, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of participants, which seemed, to me at least, a much greater percentage than I’ve noticed in past years. What was so disturbing, however, was the apparent lack of any attempt on the part of the homeowner to hide in their house with the lights out – the universal symbol to children indicating there is no candy at this residence. This year, people seemed to be more blatant in their unwillingness to toss a piece of candy into the bag of the children who ring their doorbell constantly for the two hours allotted by our town.

Though my parents always opted to participate in Halloween and each year purchased the required forty bags of candy that were set aside and labeled for distribution, I knew of a few families in our neighborhood who opted out of this ritual. Those neighbors would follow Non-Participatory Halloween Protocal and come home from work early, park their cars in the garage, keep all the lights off and slink upstairs to a bedroom where they would watch television from behind sealed drapes. Only the slightes hint of the glow from the boob-tube would be visible to the children meandering by. It was obvious these homes were not to be bothered, and that was ok. We knew our bags would be full by the end of the night.

This year, as Abby and I canvassed our neighborhood, I noticed there was none of the “pretend we’re not home so the kids don’t ring the doorbell” charade going on. There were houses with several cars parked in the driveway, yet when the doorbell was rung, no one would answer. To make matters worse, there would be a front porch light on, indicating there was candy to be found inside. At one house, the lights were off, but activity inside could be seen from the front door. Again, cars were parked in the driveway, but this time, the garage door was open! I don’t know about you but if I”m pretending not to be home, my garage door is shut.

At yet another house, my daughter walked up to the well-lit front door, rang it and waited, only to be denied, once again, a piece of candy. As we were heading to the next house, a gentleman came out of the house and began to walk across the lawn to his neighbors, leaving the front door open!

Now, while I don’t think anyone should have to participate in Halloween and spend a week’s salary on candy to be given out to kids you don’t even know, but if you’re not going to participate, at least make it clear to the kids. Hide inside with the lights out!

Or, you can do what one family in my neighborhood did: They taped a sign on their front door that simply said, “Sorry, No candy.”

I’ll be they didn’t have to listen to their doorbell ring all night.

Donna Small is the author of two novels, “Just Between Friends” and “A Ripple in the Water,” both from available from Second Wind Publishing
http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=62&osCsid=8a3c6e3482c64d4219cf11ff342261c2

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Witches Should Never Try to Be Very Good — A Halloween Tale by Pat Bertram

Once upon a time,
Long ago and far away,
Lived the queen of the witches,
Griselda the Gray.
If you think all witches are tall and thin,
You are wrong about that.
Griselda the Gray was short
And extremely fat.
Like everyone else,
Griselda tried to be good.
Griselda never did anything bad
Like normal witches should.
This upset the other witches
Because they had to copy their queen.
They had to be nice
When they wanted to be mean.
So they all got together
And mixed up a brew.
They gave it to Griselda
When they were all through.
The brew was so rotten
Griselda had a fit.
She screamed and yelled
And hollered and bit;
She howled and cackled
And made such a noise
That the other witches were happy
And began to rejoice.
“Griselda is bad
And we are glad.
Griselda is ghastly
So now we can be nasty.
Oh, what a happy, horrible day!
Hurrah for our queen, Griselda the Gray!”

The moral of this story is that witches should
Never try to be very good.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”

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Life, Death and Seasons by S.M. Senden

October has begun.

The leaves begin to color; there is a different feel to the air, as summer’s gentle warmth cools and fades with the leaves.  Winter waits impatiently in the wings to come into her own with a chill in the air bringing the fragrance of snow wafting about me, stinging and teasing my sense of smell.

It is not an easy transition.

The seasons seem to do battle for supremacy of the climate. Tempestuous storms rage across the land, hail and tornados threaten as cold and warm fronts collide. We had a string of storms pass through here last night.  More are predicted and a cold front will win the battle for a day plunging us into a fifty degree day before temperatures return to the seventies for a while longer.

It is a season of riotous, gaudy display.

Mother Nature paints her trees in a glorious riot of color. I recall the many falls in the past as a child, walking to the bus stop in the chilly rain of October through the litter of color on the ground. Once and a while picking up a particularly beautiful leaf washed in red, pink, burgundy, orange and yellow with a hint of green, so as not to forget the former lush glory of that leaf. Though we are no longer allowed to burn leaves, someone somewhere always manages to do so. The air is tinged with the fragrance of memories of my past, I am a child again, with my life before me, and I play in the piles of leaves. Do the leaves on the trees miss their fallen companions of summer?

It is also the season of harvest.

Long ago people would hurry to complete their harvest by the end of October, for after that the Pooka was said to come and ruin the crops.  The frosts of November would kill what remained un-harvested. Halloween marked the end of the Pagan year. The hearth would be swept and cleaned, a new fire kindled with the New Year.  The earth would lie as if asleep through the winter, only to awaken in the spring, new life emerging miraculously through the ground that had looked dead and lifeless through the cold winter.

It is a time of change within the cycles of life.

As I contemplate the change of seasons I think about the seasons and cycles, not just of nature, but of life.  I had my birthday last month, and added another year to the increasing number of years lived. I started another annual rotation toward another birthday, like walking a giant spiral staircase that I can not see where it leads, though I go forward with faith that life continues in its succession of days until they come at last to their end.  I wonder what lies on the other side of the veil.

Today, I think of the span of years I have been here on this planet, the places I have seen, the people I have known, the history I have lived through, and the changes yet to come.  I remember meeting a distant relation once, I was twenty she was in her nineties. She made the comment about how she came into the world with gas light, and she was leaving it with men on the moon. Will the changes in my life be as astounding?

It is a time when we come again full circle from where we began a year ago. It is where we will arrive again after another year passes. My wish for us all is that in the year ahead we all know great happiness, great joy, very little pain or sorrow. Just as we can not live without the season where all things die, we must endure the pains and sorrows of life. For, like the season of winter when the earth seems to be barren and dead, we must experience sorrow, so that, we may appreciate joy even more when it comes to us.

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Just One More Halloween Tale…

As I write these words, I’m sipping a steaming cup of cocoa by a roaring fire while pondering the many questions that you, dear reader, may have concerning the origins of my tale—The Beast of Macon Hollow. It’s a crisp November evening—not long after Halloween, in fact—and the moon is sitting serenely on its throne high above the earth. It was on a night like this that the Beast first slunk from its boggy lair to prey upon the fears of—not Macon Hollow—but another small town. My hometown of Bladenboro.

You’ve never heard of the Beast of Bladenboro? Oh, it’s a true story. You have my word. In fact, I remember it well. Allow me to tell you just one more Halloween tale…

It happened in 1953. Our pets and livestock were being killed. It would happen at night while we were sleeping safely in our beds.  Something would attack! …and we, the puzzled townspeople, would find the mutilated bodies strewn across our property like discarded rag dolls. A dog… a goat… a small calf. As the casualties mounted, so did our fear and paranoia.

No one had any explanation except to blame the mysterious creature that some claim to have seen. A large cat. Black with glowing red eyes. No doubt a vampire beast considering the lack of blood in its victims. The reactions of all of us were not unlike those of Macon Hollow’s citizens. Some of us were scared. Some of us were desperate. And some of us were ready to hunt down and rid ourselves of the pestilence.

But that is where the similarities of the real Beast and those you will find in the pages of my novel end. The creature that terrorized Macon Hollow was much more…unforgiving. And its ambitions were much…grander than merely its next meal. After all, my book is a work of fiction. And our Beast was quite real.

It pains me to say that we never did catch our Beast.  Whatever it may have been. It disappeared back into the swamp with little fervor. But it still remains within the collective memories of those who lived through its brief reign of terror. And it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t get another visit from it one day.

Now, if you’ll— Wait! What’s that? Sounds like scratching on my window. Yes, it’s unmistakable. The ear-rending screech of sharp claws on glass.

Dear reader, pardon the interruption. But it seems that I must tend to this matter at once. Please excuse me while I — Oh, my…that sounds like shattering glass.  Muddy tracks leading into the— No! It can’t be…no…NO! 

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13 Halloween Facts by Nichole Bennett

Even I get into the Halloween spirit!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  It doesn’t matter if you are “in a relationship” or if it’s “complicated.”  There’s no expectation of a perfect recreation of your great-grandmother’s chocolate meringue pie.  You don’t have to stay up hours past your bedtime.

Instead, you get candy, can dress up as someone you aren’t, and are expected to have a good time with friends, or not.  It’s as low-stress as a holiday can get.  Did I mention you get candy?

This year, Halloween falls on Wednesday, so many people celebrated this weekend.  In the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share some Halloween trivia.

  1. Halloween is the second most commercially successful holiday, only behind Christmas.
  2. Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
  3. Pumpkins also come in white, blue and green.
  4. The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night.  According to their “Druid” religion, November 1st was New Years’ on their calendar. The celebration would begin on October 31st ,and last into the following day. The spirits of all who died in the prior year, would rise up and roam the earth on this night.  They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  5. Traditionally, orange and black are the “official” Halloween colors.  Orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.
  6. Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  7. The first Halloween card was made in the early 1920′s. Today, more than 28 million Halloween cards are sent each year and consumers spend about $50 million on Halloween greetings.
  8. In 2007, an estimated 36 million children between 5 and 13 years old went trick-or-treating.  But Halloween isn’t just for kids.  About 50 percent of adults dress up for Halloween, too.
  9. Scarecrows are one of the more popular symbols of Fall and the harvest season. The origin of scarecrows dates back thousands of years, protecting ripening crops from birds, but were made from many different things. Often, scarecrows were men hired to roam fields and scare away birds.
  10. Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween.
  11. Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States, an chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers coming in on top.  (Personally, I’ll take a Reese’s any day!)
  12. About 90 percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ Halloween trick-or-treat bags.
  13. It’s the last day before National Novel Writers Month!

Whether you participate in Halloween or not, or whether you participate in NaNoWriMo or not, enjoy the turning of the seasons and watch out for the ghouls and goblins–today and everyday!

Blessings!
Nichole

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Beware the Weredog by J J Dare

Along with countless others, I love a good scare and this time of the year is perfect for terror and thrills. Halloween is right around the corner. Ghosts, goblins and zombies reign over the land. Witches, warlocks and evil fairies lurk around sharp corners. That bump-in-the-night sound makes your heart beat faster. The skittering across the floor in a dark room gets the blood pumping. What is that shadow outside flitting across the top of the window?

Why do we love to be scared? It’s a rhetorical question because the answer for one person is probably different for another. For myself, I like the rush of the initial terror followed by a reasonable explanation for the scare. That bump-in-the-night was a cat jumping on a chair that lightly hit the wall. The skittering noise was the dog’s nails clicking on the tile floow when she trotted down the hallway. The shadow was a low-flying owl, circling the window as the two animals took turns taunting him from their inside safety.

It’s a full moon every night for Weredog

Blame the inside animals. That’s what I did the other night. While I like the scares while I’m awake, I’m not so crazy about being abruptly ripped from a deep sleep by noises at night. I don’t like lying in bed for minutes that seem like hours, waiting for that thing under my bed to slowly crawl out and grab me. I don’t dare step onto the floor else I’ll be pulled into the under-the-bed void of my childhood.

As sanity and focus slowly descend, we can laugh at ourselves for our fright. A carryover from childhood, I occasionally have a dream of the purple monster rising in my bedroom window. The fright it gave me at six years old is remarkably the same at my current older age. As it slowly rises up, the malevolence it emanated decades ago is just as strong today. In my nightmares, I know it’s no good but I’m as powerless to stop it now as I was in my single-digit years.

The stories I create in my mind from the scary things happening at night become the roux for some of my written works. While I don’t always keep the story line tight with the dream, I can trace a few of my stories and books to their chilly beginnings from the bumps-in-the-night I experience.

I like to be scared. I love scary movies, thrillers, zombies, flying monkeys, and the like. Shadowy things at night give me delicious chills. The supernatural is delightful – as long as I can explain it away, rationally, in the light of day.

Have a chilly, scary, rationally-explained Halloween!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

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Stories to Scare the Young by Claire Collins

Claire Collins is the author of Fate and Destiny and Images of Betrayal.

His ears strained to pick up any strange noises in the surrounding forest. An owl called out asking who he was, but he didn’t respond. Each step brought him closer to the sounds he heard a few moments ago.

His father saw one when he was young, and enjoyed reliving the story as the young ones grew older. He believed his father, but he also wanted to learn about the legend himself. Part of him believed it was just a tale to scare the young, but part of him thought the lore might be true.

He crept forward, cautious not to disturb anything in the woods by his movement. If they were out there, he didn’t want to alert them to his presence. Dad said if they see him, they would eat him. He thought that if he saw them, the fright would scare him so bad that if they wanted to eat him, he wouldn’t be able to put up a fight anyway.

A flickering campfire, circled in by rocks glittered through the trees ahead of him. The air smelled strange, a bitter and musky scent wafted through the air from the fire. He crouched behind a tree, waiting. Watching.

A shriek of laughter split the air and he wanted to turn and flee, but his feet wouldn’t move. Two creatures ran up the hill towards the fire, their grotesque features displayed by the flickers of the flames.

Afraid, he spread his wings and took flight, anxious to get away as fast as possible. His father wasn’t just telling stories. He could barely breathe as his heart threatened to break free as he made his escape, flying into the air over the heads of the creatures,

It was true. Humans were real.

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In Life by J J Dare

Life is what you make it. Mine stays busy. I have a perpetual to-do list growling at me, except for those times I hide it under a couch cushion. I’m involved in my daughters’ lives on a daily basis (by their choice, most of the time). I still write when the muse makes her infrequent visits, I constantly battle housework apathy and I’m nursing three of my four cats through upper respiratory infections.

Fall has finally arrived in the South. It’s the most anticipated two weeks out of the year for many of us. My expectations are running high this week. The cool weather is a refreshing change from our normal humid heat and if the temperature drops low enough, the mosquitoes die off for a while.

October is the month for a horror-movie-a-day. My Yankee daughter and I pledged to watch an appropriately scary movie each day in honor of Halloween. I’ve unearthed some classic favorites along with some campy fun ones. In December, we plan to do the same thing with a holiday-movie-a-day.

There are days I wish I could clone myself or sprout a few extra arms. The creator was onto the right thing when octopuses were designed.

The to-do list contains a lot of carryovers from previous lists. There are twenty-seven listed things . . . so far. Just a few of these are:

  1. Clean out the back closet (portions of four different households reside there. Yes, it’s a big closet, but it’s bulging and spilling over into the rest of the house),
  2. File (the bane of my bookkeeping existence. My excuse is classic: these papers aren’t going anywhere),
  3. Light bulb in living room (it seems minor, but it’s a major task since I have high vaulted ceilings and the only way to reach the light is to stack two chairs on top of each other and balance on them like a high-wire act. Some have suggested I get a ladder, but it’s an adrenaline rush to perch precariously and not fall),
  4. Fix leaky refrigerator (growing up with tales of poverty in my mother’s early life and living on the edge myself taught me how to pinch a penny until it screams).

I expect November to be crushingly hectic. I usually celebrate Thanksgiving two or three times during the month. This tradition started long ago with my late partner because of his love for roasted turkey and my fattening cooking.

In addition, I’m signing up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I did it last year and have another completed book under my belt that I need to do something about. When my busy niece told me she was thinking about joining the NaNo bandwagon, I told her to call me Aunt Crazy because I’m jumping off the cliff, too.

I don’t have to put everything on paper. My life reads like a book. There are some chapters that are painfully sad, some that are hilarious, some are mortifyingly embarrassing and some that I would give anything and everything to redo. The edits of my life are long and when I have time to think about the hurricane of my past, I sit in the calm eye of my personal storm and cry.

Tears are a good, yet, temporary release for the grief of life edits I cannot fix. Busy helps, too, but life isn’t all about action – sometimes, life can be about doing nothing and enjoying it. It’s a lesson my late partner tried to teach me and one I’m trying to learn.

How does your real life translate to your writing or reading habits? Do the different stages of your existence influence your writing? Have you ever read a book and sensed that the author had slipped inside your head and written about you?

~

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and about thirty works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch.

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Pumpkins, etc.

Pumpkins!  It’s that time of year again. 

I’ve been carving them since I was little. In those days, the Mom’s job was to fuss about everything, especially stuff like learning to use knives. The Dad usually was the one who showed you how to do these things, in a typically early 20th Century guy way. I always appreciated his attention, though. Instead of lots of cautions and dire warnings, I was simply told to hold the knife this wayNOT LIKE THAT!  After a final admonition to “pay attention”  to the moment when pumpkin gutting would make the handle slippery, I was left on my own. (Remember, this was the ’50’s.)  Out on the porch steps in a gloomy, chilly upstate New York afternoon, with our curious mutt looking on, I remember gripping the pumpkin between  denim clad knees, as the only way to hold it still.

 These days getting the kids ready to pumpkin carve can resemble the planning of an expedition to the North Pole. You must use ‘specially scary store-bought patterns, and you certainly must employ one-use carving knives, bought from the Halloween displays in the local big box. Of course, cutting pumpkins is still big fun, and gives expression to the desire to create something charmingly gruesome—my particular favorite being the one in which the pumpkin appears to be vomiting its own guts. Artistry and/or marketing aside, as a child, the test of getting acquainted with my own hands and that lethally sharp old meat knife, and to experience a large squashes’ slimy, sticky insides up close and personal while taking deep breaths of that acid-sweet vegetable fragrance, couldn’t be beat.

I don’t have any grandkids handy to have this kind of fun with, but sometimes I still get a knife out and attack one of my autumn pumpkins. I always buy them, even this year, when we had so many squirrels that I couldn’t display them on our porch. As soon as I tried, some fat,overfed Tree Rat or other would nibble away a patch of orange skin. For the last 4 weeks, my beautiful, carefully chosen pumpkins–now somewhat scarred–have been on display only for me and my husband, sitting in the fireplace.

By the way, B0B, our large tiger cat, doesn’t seem as inclined to chase such dangerous prey as squirrels now that he has a reliable, comfortable crash pad. He did bring me three tails this summer—he lays his trophies, like scalps, out on the porch—but that was nowhere near sufficient to stem the tide. If we were a little farther out in the country, I swear we’d be regularly eating Brunswick stew.

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