Monday, October 31, 2016

Another Halloween

Halloweenfest is one of our town's biggest street festivals.  Vendors line the closed streets offering all sorts of craft items and foods.  The stores are all decorated.  Music fills the air.  And the laughter of the children is heard everywhere.  It is such a fun time.

Our little town has many hills and there are three streets that are the best for trick or treating. The streets run parallel to one another and have lots of houses in a concentrated area.  Because so many children trick or treat on these three streets, the whole town helps out.  Various stores have boxes for donations of treats or money to purchase them.  These are distributed to the folks living on these three streets and in some cases people volunteer to assist giving out candy if needed.  Most of the children limit their trick-or-treating to this area.  Safe for the kids.  Easy for the parents.  And community participation.  What a great little town.

I'm sure that one reason we celebrate Halloween with such vigor is that our county is Transylvania.  Many cars have stickers of bat silhouettes and proclaim, "Transylvania County.  Bite Me!"

There are so many things for the children to do at Halloweenfest.  The usual face painting, cookie decorating, tractor rides, bouncy houses, etc.  But my favorite by far is the Great Pumpkin Roll.

The event is called the Great Pumpkin Roll
But almost everyone in town calls it the punkin' roll.

Local farmers donate the roundest pumpkins for the roll.
The pumpkins vary in sizes encouraging speculation as to which is better, the small ones or the larger ones.
Everyone has a "scientific" reason one is better than the other.

 This is the top of Jailhouse Hill
(Yes, the hill that no longer has the jail.)
There are bales of hay at the bottom where the street is barricaded.
No, there has never been a pumpkin making it to the bottom of the hill.

 The kids line up and lots of folks cheer them on.
Wave after wave of children participate in the pumpkin roll.

 I especially love watching the children gesture and shouting encouragement to their pumpkins.

When I was a child, we went trick-or-treating at night and on Halloween night.  Most communities now have designated hours the weekend before.  In the daylight.  I know that is how it must be but I'm sorry that children no longer have the scary fun of going out in the dark.

We also had large Halloween Carnivals at school.  I'm not sure if they do that anymore, but I still remember those peeled grape eyeballs, spaghetti brains, and the fortune teller who looked remarkably like my friend's mother.  What a fun time.  Thank goodness our little town still celebrates Halloween.

So today is actually Halloween.  And we are in the 70s here in the mountains.  We may set another record for high temperature this last day of October.  And the heat is expected to continue all week.  Seriously?

Friday, October 28, 2016

We Love Lucy

Our house sits on top of a hill and the backyard slopes down to a little creek below.  It is a cool spot in summer and a fun place for Lucy to explore.  She especially likes it when the Autumn leaves have fallen.  She and Ellie use to chase each other around and around the laurel thicket there.

Like many areas of the mountains, our Autumn color was muted this year with many leaves turning a little yellow and then all brown.  Strong winds have made many trees bare already.

Lucy sniffs her way up the stone path

 Lucy at a forced sit and not at all happy about it.
You might make me sit but I'm not looking at the camera.
And I'm not going to smile.
Yes, we have chairs in the woods and tables and benches made from logs

 It's very dry here and our little creek is barely a trickle

Don't some of your trees have faces?

There seems to be a massive sense of unease throughout our country.  I do hope that will subside after the election.

Many people around our planet are troubled and in pain.  From Nature's wrath and the most evil of our fellow humans.  Bombs are deliberately aimed at schools and hospitals in war-torn areas.  So when we ask for peace, let's be sure to remember all of those who are suffering.

This week's quote is from Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek,
But a means by which we arrive at that goal” 


Always buy your favorite candy to give for Trick or Treat.  So if there is any left over you can eat candy with impunity.  No calories in leftover Halloween candy.  You heard it here first.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Special Birthday

It has been a nice break and a great visit with our daughter.  The weather was perfect the entire time although we would have liked some rain.  It is frighteningly dry here with fallen dry leaves and pine needles.

Today is our daughter's birthday.  Our firstborn and only daughter.  She was born in Indiana where my husband was serving his two-year obligatory stint in the Navy.  Our first three choices (they actually asked for our preferences) were all overseas.  So we were sent to Indiana of course.  We lived on base at the Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD) in Crane, Indiana.  NAD Crane was established in 1941, the Navy taking over 100 square miles spanning four counties in southern Indiana for the purposes of producing, testing, and storage of ordnance.  When we were there, the base had a small number of military personnel so we lived in a lovely two-story house that would previously have been given to a much higher ranking officer.  It was  a lovely place to have our first baby with miles and miles of paved flat private roads that led to the storage bunkers, trails and old homesteads, a very large lake and extensive recreational facilities.  Twenty miles southwest of Bloomington, our gates were often the site of protesters from IU.  (We had much more in common with the students than with the Navy.)

So our first child was born in nearby Bedford.  A real little Hoosier.  She was a beautiful baby and such an easy infant to care for.  Always adaptable to our young parenting skills.  She was a delight and I thought motherhood was very fine indeed.  She was the apple of her grandfather's eye who held her at every opportunity and logged miles in her stroller.  I carried her in a backpack-type carrier in the tiny nearby town of Odon, IN.  The folks stared at the strange method of carrying a baby.  We drove through the Amish communities nearby.  She loved riding in the car.

Yawning as if she were already bored.
The day she came home from the hospital.

She grew into a delightful toddler.  Full of good humor, she never had a single tantrum.  What on earth were those folks talking about those "terrible twos?"  She was a compassionate little thing from early on.  She loved the children's television show "Sesame Street."  But she ran from the room when the Sesame Street baker invariably fell down and dropped his cakes.  She saw nothing humorous about falling down or dropping cakes.

One of her last photographs as an only child.
When she was a little over two years old, her baby brother was born.

We moved to Milwaukee when she was twelve and she lives there still.  But she also loves the North Carolina mountains as much as we do.  She comes to visit several times a year and we spend most days traveling on mountain roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We ramble small rural roads and find all sorts of wonderful sights we might otherwise have missed.  She's a great traveling companion.

She is an accomplished fisherman and she and her fishing buddy fish in Lake Michigan and in rivers and the other lakes all over Wisconsin.  They have even gone on a week-long fishing trip in Canada with a guide and rather spartan living conditions.

She caught her first Steelhead Trout this year.
It is held up by her fishing buddy.  He was as happy about it as she was.

She knows more than I do about birds and she and a friend often go birding all over WI.

Most importantly, my daughter is one of my very dearest and most trusted friends.  We can be together for long stretches of time and still enjoy each other.  We both love the same British comedies and mysteries. And the old Bette Davis and Vincent Price movies.  And many of the same books.  And yet we can share quiet time as well.

Lucy loves for her to visit and sits close by, demanding a lot of petting. At night, before I would put her to bed, Lucy would wander to the sofa to greet our daughter once again.  After our daughter went back to WI, Lucy would stare attentively at the guest room, hoping that she wasn't really gone.

So here's a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our first born. From us and from Lucy: