Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Memories

Halloween is so different as an adult.  Now it means hayrides, and decorating my desk at work.  But I remember a different time, when Halloween was exciting, It was a time to dress up as my favorite comic book character, or that superhero from Saturday morning TV.  I'd start bugging my mom about getting or making me a costume as soon as October began.  I would get my brother & sister into the act too, asking and asking and asking.  Then the day would come.  We'd go to Woolworth's or Kreskes, and search the aisles for those magical boxed costumes.  The plastic face masks were in the front of the package, and for all the world they seemed real to me.  I truly believed that if I put on that Wonder Woman costume, that I WAS Wonder Woman.  Bring on the invisible plane!  Of course, in reality, wearing those plastic one-size-fit-all (not) costumes, and that plastic face mask, all over winter coats and jeans, actually made for bulky looking superheros! 

Put I'd happily put it on, and trying to breathe through the tiny holes, and ignoring how the elastic pinched my hair, and head out to trick or treat.  My dad always took us three self, and my younger sister & brother.  We would clutch our plastic orange pumpkins, and head down our street in the near dark.  I could see my breath misting up as I breathed through my mask.  My brother was dressed as a clown, and my sister as Snow White, but with her mask on top of her head.  With my dad trailing behind, keeping step with my brother, my sister & I would run up to the next house that had a porch light on, and sing out, "Trick or Treat!  Trick or Treat!"...and the door would open, and reaching through the open top half of a screen door, the kind woman would drop candy into our pumpkins.  We always said 'thank you', as we were taught, even if it was something we didn't like.  Then on to the next house. 

I loved the house that gave actual full sized candy bars!  And though we knew he only gave out shiny apples, we always went to the old man's old house around the corner.  Then we'd wait until my dad & brother caught up with us, and away we went again.

My all time favorite costume was the Catwoman costume my mother sewed for me.  In reality, it was just a one piece black outfit, with a tail sewn on, and cat ears, but I felt like Catwoman in it (Julie Newmar, not Eartha Kitt).  Though time and time again, I had to explain to kind candy-giver-outers that I wasn't not a cat, but indeed Catwoman, it didn't dissuade that feeling.  Though there was this really nice woman who said 'what a nice kitty', then proceeded to hand me the biggest candy bar I'd ever seen.  I said "meow" and walked on.

When our pumpkins were full, and my siblings too tired or excited to continue, we'd head home, where my mother was dutifully giving out candy.  We would sit on the floor, and spill out our spoils.  Then the annual ritual began.  My father and mother sorting out our candy.  The chocolate went into a bowl to go in the fridge, and the other candy into a bowl for the table.  We shared all our candy...after my parents had checked it all to be sure it was safe.  Then we would get to have some, right then and there.  It was a very happy ending for an exciting childhood time.

Hmm...wonder if there'll be any candy at the hayride tonight?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Love Affair

I have a love affair with reading. I was reading a book on writing today (Page after Page, by Heather Sellers), and it directed me to look at my daily life, and what I spent the bulk of my non-employment time doing--this activity is what I find important, what I love. For me, it's reading. I read daily, no matter how busy I am. Like a smoker, who finds five minutes several times a day to puff away, I sneak in wee pockets of time in which to read.

I read during lunch, while waiting to pick up my daughter, in the waiting room, while waiting for water to boil, during commercials, in the bathroom sometimes... constantly. Even if I have only five minutes, it's worth it to me. My reading soul is very hungry, and needs constant feeding.

To provide for this need, I have books everywhere. There are some of my favorite paperbacks in my headboard, on both end tables, in the car, on the table, next to my computer. I have three bookcases, and all are pretty much full.

I am a regular at the local library. I go online, request books from other libraries and thus can just walk into the library, show my card, and walk out with books in under 5 minutes. I was very excited when my brother introduced me to Melcat (where I got the two Heather Sellers books-ones I need to buy someday!). My favorite hangout spot is Barnes & Noble. There, whilst sipping a green tea latte or hot carmel smoothie, I carefully read...

When my kids were younger, they understood that they'd be getting at least one book for Christmas, so they might as well give me a list (what is Christmas morning without a book to curl up with and read whilst eating a candy cane?). I confess that one year I even bought myself a book for Christmas! It was from the cats, really.... I'm proud to report that all my children are excellent readers. My daughter took placement tests before beginning college, and tested off the charts in reading comprehension. I was so proud!

I love new books, especially by authors I know. I count down the days until the new Anne or Todd McCaffrey book comes out, and when I purchase it during lunch, it's all I can do to not read it. I kept it in my tote bag, and couldn't help occasionally sneaking a peek, or just patting it lovingly.

I read books concurrently; I always have several books going at the same time. I just finished The Search by Nora Roberts. I am reading both Page After Page and Chapter After Chapter. I'm reading a book by Sara Gilbert, who's title escapes me (no, not Eat, Love, Pray). I am reading a book on organization. And waiting for me to find time for him is A Briefer History of Time. I am listening to a book on cd called One Simple Act. I have two books by Meg Cabot waiting for me at the library right now. And this is normal for me!

I know that next month, as I immerse myself in NaNoWriMo, I'll have less time to read, but still, I'll refresh my mind by the occasional stolen moment to read. For now, I've 13 minutes left on my lunch hour, so I'm off to read some more!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Bucket List

My son, Bob, has his Bucket List posted publicly on his website. He did this a few years ago, and when I saw it, it inspired me to create my own Bucket List.... (what's a bucket list? It's a list of things you want to do before you 'kick the bucket'.) I have a copy of this list in several places, where it'll always be there to remind me of my life goals. I have shown this list to a few close friends, but never posted it publicly. After seeing my son's list recently, and what he's crossed off it, I realized I needed to find the courage to do the same. So, here's my list (including subheadings):

My Bucket List:

1. Publish both Fiction & non-Fiction books (pref one on best seller list).
2. Move to beautiful condo or apartment (I've done this one!)
3. Own VW Bug (old or new)
4. Be financially stable (no debts, able to help family & others)
5. Travel: a. Scotland b. Paris c. Alaskan Inner Passage Cruise
6. Learn Languages: a. Sign b. French c. German d. something interesting
7. Learn to play the piano & harpsichord
8. Learn Tai Chi (half finished this one)
9. Be in shape
10. Make a quilt for each of my kids, parents, & Connie

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Coming soon!

The one event I wait all year for is coming soon. The excitement is building. The participants are all abuzz with thoughts & possibilities. Preparations are beginning. Gatherings are being planned. What is this event? Is it the Superbowl, or perhaps Christmas?'s almost time for.... *gasp* NaNoWriMo!

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. This event is organized and hosted by Chris Baty, author of the companion book, No Plot, No Problem. What is this event? Thousands of writers get together during the month of November, and try to write 50,000 words of an original book. This works out to about 1,667 a day. The emphasis is on quantity, not quality. This is not as crazy as it sounds. I've often heard the quote: "You can't revise a blank page." By giving yourself permission to write badly, just please, turn off that internal editor that nags you to be perfect.

Each day of the event, you write your novel, and post your current total word count on the site, When you get to 50,000 words, you submit your novel to have the word count verified. If you meet this goal, you win. The prize is simply the satisfaction of knowing you wrote an entire book in a month.

Last year I tried this, and only made it halfway there. However, as I'd never made it past Chapter One of a book, I counted this as great. Also, I finally found a local writers group, the Red Hot Writers. With the encouragement, and even nagging of this circle of friends, I know this year, I will be a winner!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Home home home

Every morning, I wake up thinking 'I love my house.' My 'house' in question is actually a pretty, sun-filled bright apartment. I've lived here for just over a month now, and the sparkle, the allure has not faded. I've learned the joys of having someone else handle the repairs. I get to enjoy the near magical autumn color of the falling leaves without a thought to having to rake.

There are minor drawbacks. My kitchen is the size of a galley. No more than three very friendly people can be in it at a time. I have to learn to use an electric stove. The only other drawback is having to do laundry downstairs, and pay for it. But thus far, I have only once had to wait to use the washer. And think of all the exercise I'm getting going up and down the basement stairs....

But my living room is bigger, as is my bedroom. I've a closet that is remarkable. It holds my clothes, a few stored items, and is half filled with my crafts & overflow books (never enough bookcases!). And I have already met many neighbors as I take walks in the complex, or simply sit on my wooden deck, which we often call the porch. My sons treat it as a porch too...then often jump the rail, and knock on the window wall! Such energy. And Cat does it too...

And now I have a 3 minute commute to church (that includes walking out of the building, driving there, and walking into church!), and my drive to work is cut in half.

*sigh* I know I'm going on and on and on... but it is such a relief to be rid of so many of the worries that plagued my life before moving here. I thank God for arranging this move when He did, instead of next spring, as I had planned. And I thank all the friends who helped me move, and/or listened to me make lists, or simply stress.

I realized what this place feels feels like living in a dorm at college was like. Friendly people, no repair worries, and church is close by.

I look forward to having friends over for tea soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My obsession

I've gotten teased about it. I was once challenged to do without it for an entire weekend. My obsession with them has gotten more elaborate. My sister has give me preprinted versions as gifts.

What am I obsessed with? Lists. Typed up on the computer & printed off. Hand written on pretty paper. Scribbled on the sides of my church bulletin. Written on the nifty preprinted ones I've received as gifts.

I think I learned the habit from my father. On the weekend, I'd watch as my father would carefully write out a To Do list on the back of a used envelope (I learned my frugality from him too). Then I'd watch as he crossed off each task as he completed it. Wow.

I make weekly to do lists, with errands & daily tasks listed. At the top are three goals for the week, then a quote (lately all Walt Disney favorite: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."), then the days of the week...with an adjective (today is Tranquil Tuesday)..then the task lists. That's my current format. It may change next week.

When a big event, or a trip is coming up, I make a list for that. My Christmas list is multi paged, full of separate headings (Cookies to bake; presents to make; cards to send; and so on). Then there is my 2 week menu plan and grocery list... and just above this computer screen is a list on a bulletin board titled 'Things to do after move'.

This may truly seem like an obsession, but it makes me happy. There is a satisfying feeling when you cross off or check off a completed task. Ah..... And when I write down something on a list, like 'remember to call my sister', then that thought can stop bouncing around my mind, interfering with my daily work.

I did try to make it a whole weekend without a list, when a friend of my daughter challenged me to do so. It was a wasted weekend. I mostly just sat and read books. Without a list to motivate me, I was useless.

So I'll continue to make my lists, and enjoy checking them off. If people laugh, or don't understand, I'll just pity them, and add 'pray for __' to my list.

Now off to check 'Post on my blog' from my Tuesday task list! Ah......

Saturday, October 9, 2010 favorite time of year

Fall is in the air. As a kid I didn't understand that phrase, but now I do. There is a certain crispness to the morning air. The leaves turning golden & red, falling before your eyes, and crunching under your feet. It's just cold enough to require a light jacket as you walk in the early morning, with the rays slowly warming you.

Despite the knowledge that winter is soon approaching, I still love autumn. It's beautiful, crisp, rich scented, and full of fun activities. I love the taste of an apple just picked from the tree. Or sometimes, eaten right on the tree and left to hang there as only a core. (someone close to me used to do that). Hayrides through a field, as the sun goes down.... and cider & roasted marshmallows by a bonfire afterwards. These are some of my fondest memories.

I love to bake apple pies, and watch friends eat slices hot from the oven, sometimes with cold real vanilla ice cream on the side. Right at the end of fall is my favorite holiday...Thanksgiving. It's a time to spend the day before baking...pies (apple & pumpkin), yeast rolls, and cornbread for the best part...cornbread stuffing, just like my mother taught me to make. Then comes the big day. Family gathers from all over, to sit around my table, and spend an hour eating, recalling memories, talking... and listening to my father tell stories. *sigh*

Lately it has been rather warm for October. I went to the gas station today without a jacket on, it was so warm. But the scent of fall is in the air. Apples are ripening. There's a hayride planned for the end of the month with my church friends. I've seen Halloween decorations going up (need to dig mine out of the basement). I've seen a few bare trees already, making interesting silhouettes against the sky, and a lot of colorful leaves. Fall is here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Traveling Socks

Ok, I know I gone on and on about my love of tea, and reading and Magical Saturday Mornings (and they are!). But today, I just have to vent about something annoying. Something that quietly and secretly drives me nuts....


That oh so necessary piece of clothing necessary to keep your shoes fresh and your feet from sticking to the inner soles. Socks. As a kid I hated them because all I had were knee socks, and they never ever ever stayed up to my knees. They invariably ended up in an ungainly wad at my ankles. Then I'd have to stop, yank them up again, and just sigh as I felt them creep on downward again.

Then I as a young adult I got a clue, and switched to wearing bobby socks, or so called 'scrunch' socks. They worked beautifully. No trouble. Until lately.

Being a professional, I decided to purchase professional looking socks. They are made of thin material, and called trouser socks. Kind of like bobby socks, but fancier looking.

Fancy. Right. They are supremely annoying. Much like the knee socks, these socks seem to have a singular lifelong goal. To see if they can end up in a wad around my toes. I yank them up, begin to walk, and slowly they edge their way down again, this time diving into my shoes! Over and over again, I pull them up, to no avail.

Finally, last night at the Women's Bible Study, as I kept leaning over to sneak my socks back up (and I was sitting!), it occurred to me: buy new socks. So today, I did. Forget the professional ones. Wonder if Goodwill will take them? I got me nice soft scrunchy bobby socks.

Here's hoping they too won't end up bunched up in the toe of my shoes.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

On to my new life

About two years ago, I decided that I was ready to move. The home I lived in, okay, the mobile home I lived in, was getting to be too big for just my daughter & I. I was tired of living in the boondocks (I saw corn fields and llamas on my way to work every day), and I was getting overwhelmed by the cost of constant repairs. A three bedroom home was just too big for me.

Now, don't get me wrong, as my best friend Connie always says. This place was perfect for me back when I had three active elementary school kids who littered the living room floor with Lego's and Barbie doll shoes. (have you ever stepped on a Lego at 3am? *shudder*) When they became teenagers, it was still just right. I had a huge fridge filled with koolaide and apples, and two cookie jars I kept filled with homemade cookies, all available for the constant stream of their teenage friends that were always over.

But all that changed as they grew up. The boys moved out and got their own places. They still came home to visit, but more often it was just a call to request delivery of baked goods. (esp banana bread). The place started to echo with just my daughter Cat & I.

So, I started looking at my options, and after a bit of encouragement (okay, nagging) from a good friend of mine, I started checking out apartments. No repair bills. No paying the kid to mow a lawn. No more shoveling. Woo hoo!

So one day, Cat & I took a tour of this apartment complex. We were amazed at how bright the place was, and how spacious it seemed, despite being smaller than our old place. And we noticed other differences.

"Look, Mom. They have closet doors! And they work!"
"Look, Cat... towel racks! They have actual towel racks!"
"Mom... is that a *gasp* dishwasher?" (Cat, is that a tear in your eye?)
"Oh, wow... look Cat! They have....(dramatic pause)... toilet paper holders! We don't have to use a paint can to hold the roll anymore!" (seriously, we did)

A month later, and after a rainy day of moving...(we moved everything Over the deck rail, through the window the rain!)... we are here. I am still amazed at the beauty of this place. I enjoy taking almost daily walks. I love sitting on my deck/porch. I have met more neighbors here in just a couple of weeks than I met in the old place in years. I am very happy with my new life here.

And I really don't miss using a paint can for a toilet paper holder.