Carving Out Halloween

Halloween, it’s nearly here.  For me Halloween, though enjoyable (mostly for the candy and occasional small party), hasn’t been my number one holiday.  I know people who live for this little snippet of time in the year and I love how they love it.  I envy their enthusiasm for it.  I wish I could share it.  I think I’m just lazy.

Corn mazes (I finally went through one two years ago — made fun by the fact that we made it a game and had teams competing to see who could finish first — mine didn’t), costume parties, candy corn, leaves falling, spooky houses, apple bobbing, rascal ghosts and goblins, and carved pumpkins.  My enjoyment of this particular holiday nowadays mostly consists of taking photos of the cute grand sons in their costumes and maybe going along to watch the trick or treating.  Some years we leave our porch light on, like last year, so we can open the door multiple times and give out loads of candy to the nicely dressed munchkins, and some years we just leave the light off and hunker in.  Our one Halloween decoration is a plastic pumpkin that is lit from within.  We put it in the window and plug it in, then we take it back downstairs to the storage room.  I know, I know — bah humbug.

When I was a kid Mom made our costumes.  We were ghosts, Batman and Robin, and other regular stuff for kids of our generation.  A favorite of mine was the year I wanted to be a Lucerne carton of milk.  Yes, a carton of milk.  Mom somehow made that happen.  A box, some shoulder straps, and a nice paint job — I was milk.  Quirky.  It goes along with my personality I guess.  When I was older, in college, I went to a party as the unknown guest.  This was a play on the unknown comic, who was popular during that time.  He used to wear a paper bag over his head when he did his shtick.  I made a huge paper bag out of other paper bags and put it over my head.  I had eye holes.  The bag went to my waist.  I remember it being hot in there.  I hardly knew anyone at the party (big parties aren’t my thing, they make me kind of uncomfortable), and after being asked a few times “who is in there?” I took the thing off, went outside, and smoked cigarettes.  Then I left.  Once, when I was a kid, I think it was the year I was the milk, I went to a kid’s party.  At some point during this party some girl hit me in the leg with a caramel apple.  My pajamas got all sticky and gross.  I ended up leaving.  I guess parties and me really don’t mix.  I can’t recall one I’ve been to, of a large size anyway, that was fun for me.  Smallish gatherings with several friends or family, or both, no problem.  Big parties with loads of people I don’t know — torture for me.  Maybe it was the apple incident that threw me over the party edge.  I’ll never know.

But enough of my insecurities and  foibles, back to Halloween, the day of scares and dares and tricks and treats.  There is a thing I loved, and love, about Halloween, other than it being in the fall, which rocks for me (I love fall), and that thing is my mom’s carved pumpkins.  My mom — so creative.  She has loads of creative talent, way more than she realizes.  That woman can draw, play music, sew, fix most things around the house, and she can carve, or sculpt if you will.  I always looked forward to what she would do and was always so proud of her creations.  She didn’t think much of them, you know, just something she did, but man were they cool.  We have loads of photos of them, year after year, and not one was the same.  She used to do one or more every year and take them to my step-dad’s office or other places.  She usually did at least one for us at the house as well.  Those pumpkins had loads of personality.  That’s what made them so great.  Each was a definite character unto itself.  They were amazing.

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She doesn’t always carve them anymore, but when she does they are as spectacular as ever.  I always bragged about them, and still do I must admit.  My idea of carving is a very crude triangle-eyed, triangle-nose, jagged mouth sort of creation.  Not very inventive or attractive.  But Mom’s pumpkins — Wow.  While mine appear to be some sort of freakish trick, Mom’s pumpkins were, and are, always a definite treat of the season.

Giving Thanks

Wow…  Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  Can’t believe it.  Sometimes these things sneak up on us.  Not that we aren’t prepared, we are.  It’s just that I can’t believe it’s already that time of year.  We have entered the holiday season.  And again I’ll say… wow.

Now that I’m getting over my shock at the time of year it is, I want to give some thanks, as has become my tradition here at the think tank every year.  I am thankful for so many things….

First, as always, I’m thankful for my honey.  I just spent a couple of weeks away from her and let me tell you, I’m no good without her.  I mean this in a metaphorical sense people so don’t go making assumptions about my lack of self esteem… my self esteem is in tact.  It’s just that I don’t like being without her.  As I explained to my Mom and my brother, Karen is my home.  A house is a structure that, if done correctly, reflects who we are, feels cozy to that end, and shelters us from the elements.  A home, on the other hand, is where our heart lives.  Mine lives with Karen.  Hers with me.  We are simpatico in this.  Which makes it all the more real and heartfelt.  My home is with her, no matter where we live, and I am beyond thankful for that.  I’m blessed to have met her, lucky to have snagged her, and honored and humbled by the fact that she continues to love me, and love me more every day.  I can’t begin to express what this means to me, and really I don’t think there are words to describe it.  She is my breath, my light, my warmth, my love.  She is my split apart, and I am hers.  I whisper, thank you thank you thank you, out to the universe every day for her.

Mom and Kev… We are, and have been for a long long time, the three amigos.  Having spent time with you these least three weeks (one here and two there), I appreciate you even more, if that’s even possible.  There is a magic that happens when we are all in the same room.  I’m so lucky to be a part of that.  So lucky to have you… I feel love and gratitude for you every day.

Mary, Martin, and our little man… Thank you.  Thank you for allowing me into your lives, into your family.  As I’ve said before, I never had my own children, but nevertheless I consider you mine.  I feel a part of a family, with children, and grandchildren, that I would never have without you and your acceptance and love of me.  I love you guys and am so very grateful for you every day.

My family and friends… I tear up thinking about all of you, near and far.  For one person to be blessed with such an outstanding group of people in my life… I am so humbled.  You bring the zest, the encouragement, the support, the fun, and more love than I thought possible.  I’m amazed every day by the depth and quality of the people in my life.  Not only the sheer numbers of you, but by the people you are.  Each and every one of you is a stellar human.  I mean this.  Family to friends, each of you brings something so uniquely you to my life.  I treasure that.  I treasure how individual you are, how loving you are, how fun you are, how many smiles and laughs you’ve given me over the years, and I feel so fortunate to have all of that with you.  I am blessed beyond measure for knowing you, for having you in my life, and for continuing to get to spend time with you when I can.    No matter the distance it seems we always manage to pick up where we left off, be that a year ago or yesterday, and I am honored by that, by your presence in my life.  I feel you with me every day and I’m so very thankful for you.

The pups… I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but they are so important to me and every day I’m so loved by them, and grateful to them for their little selves in my life.  They are my home as well, and I am so lucky to have them.  They love without condition, without pretense, without judgement or agenda.  They’re always excited to see me, even if I’ve only been outside for a moment, and they are always completely genuine.  I love them more than I can measure, and am so very thankful for them.  They bring a joy to my life, our lives, that can’t be measured.

I always say the only thing in life that truly matters are the people we love and who love us.  I mean this.  Everything else is set dressing, though nature, in all it’s glory, is a wonder and something I’m also grateful for every day.   To that end I’d like to include the following poem by e.e. cummings.  He’s my favorite poet, and I’m humbled by and grateful for his words, words that have helped, at times, me to get through periods of struggle.  Words that have at times helped me to better explain the world to myself.  This is one of my favorites of his… and it pretty much sums up the rest of it, the rest of what I’m grateful for…

i thank You God for most this amazing

by e. e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing

day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Christmas 2011, Two Days That Will Live in Infamy

or not….

We had such a great two days over at the kid’s house.  A really lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Pierogi making and toy building and a walk and elf set up on Christmas Eve.  Such a nice day.  Karen makes a mean pierogi… or several of them.  So good.  A new Christmas Eve tradition is born.  From now on every Christmas Eve we will be clamoring for pierogi.  Yum.  After a walk, and food, and after the young gent went to bed we all went into elf mode.  Building toys and setting out his wagon and enormous zebra, later named Zeus.  The kids put together his easel.  All while Christmas music played.

Christmas day Karen and I opened our gifts to each other, and the gifts from Mom for the pups (they loved them… or, more accurately, Weston took to both of them and Riley hasn’t seen much of either since… LOL) while enjoying a quick cup of coffee.  We had to get it all done and then get dressed and head over to the kid’s house so we’d be there before the little guy was up and able to look at the tree.  We didn’t make it before he was up, but he hadn’t looked at the tree yet.  When that little man wakes up he thinks of only one thing… food.  He loves him some oatmeal and applesauce!

So he looked at the tree and the gifts and was overwhelmed.  In a good way.  We all opened, he opened some of his, and we enjoyed some cinnamon rolls. Then Martin made us lunch (pizza) using his new bread maker.  He makes some mean pizza dough and we made some yummy pizzas.  Then a walk (the young man rode in his new wagon part of the way and pushed it part of the way and cared less about it part of the way).  The walk was followed by more present opening for him, he got an unusually high number of presents… go figure.  It was fun.

After a full day Sebastian had a little dinner, played a little more, and then went up for his bath and bed.  Meanwhile the turkey was cooked (it had been started earlier in the day) and Karen and I set about getting the rest of the stuff ready.  The kids came back down and the table was set, the food laid out, the wine uncorked, and there we were… turkey dinner for the four of us with most of the trimmings.  A quiet really nice dinner.  We followed that up with a rousing game of Mad Gab, a game we’d gotten for them for Christmas.  It was totally fun.  At one point Mary and I were laughing so hard we were crying.  Good fun!

It was a beautiful Christmas this year.  Relaxed, fun, totally great.  As Mary said… it’s why we all moved to the same place.  So we could enjoy stuff like this while still getting to sleep in our own beds at night.  The best of both worlds.

Mother Knows

Karen and I always talk about how we believe the people in our lives are it.  Nothing, material and otherwise, compares.  Riches mean nothing without having people you love and who love you.  It’s the only thing that’s important.  Period.  The end.

If you think about the most important events in your life, they always involve the people you love.  Traveling to new places is best when shared because you aren’t just seeing something, you’re experiencing it with someone.  Buying things, though perhaps providing a brief level of happiness and excitement, a sort of rush, ends up just being stuff you own.  Stuff you have around you.  But events, dinners, days in the park, watching a movie and digging into the shared bowl of popcorn, walking, playing games, chatting over coffee… all these things involve people.  When I look on my life to this point there’s not one thing I have that I couldn’t live without… not one.  But the people… that’s a different animal, pun intended, all together.  The only things I ache for are more time with people I love.  More time.  The only thing I’m greedy about is time… and wanting more of it.

I was looking for quotes today as I always try to put one inside the Christmas cards we send, and I came upon this little gem from Mother Teresa

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.    ~ Mother Teresa

It seems, not too surprisingly, that Mother knows what it’s all about…  Here’s to peace…

Herbed Roast

 

Herbed Roast, originally uploaded by Tokenhippygirl.

Mom and Don made a very darn tasty roast themselves. So good. I took another picture of the plate after all but one piece was gone, but didn’t want to make all you non meat eaters out there hurl after seeing it. Us meat eaters, no problem. Yum.