Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat Pre-Teen Style

Happy Halloween to you all! What is it about Halloween? Why is it that this time of year we get such happiness from trying to scare ourselves on purpose. It has to tap into the same type of rush you get from riding roller coasters and jumping out of airplanes. But that's not what I'm talking about today. Today it's about the boy and girl.

When you are big bad junior high students you have to take your first good hard look at this trick or treat situation. This is the first year where people just might raise an eyebrow at you when you show up at their door. And then at the end of the night you find yourself with a bag of Dum-Dums from the "Big Kid Bowl" that every house has tucked away just for the kids they think are too old.

There was a dance at school, a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn't a Halloween dance. You could wear a costume if you wanted to, but most didn't. Today you could wear a costume to school if you wanted to. But what stressful situation! Do you wear a costume and find yourself alone dressed like a zombie in a sea of kids who are too cool for this nonsense? Or do you not wear a costume but then everyone else does? It's enough to make your head explode! The girl took some costume pieces along to change into after gym if enough of her friends decided to dress up. The boy passed on the whole thing.

Tonight is trick or treat and I know they are not going to pass by the opportunity to go get all the loot they can. But we didn't go costume shopping. The plan is to just put something together, whatever they can find, tonight and then go out. A bit lame I think, but it's been their choice. Up until yesterday I wasn't even certain that they were going out trick or treating. They haven't even carved their pumpkins yet. The man and I did.
Here's the man's creepy zombie hand. It looks way cool lit up!

Here's my little kitty pumpkin (are you surprised?) hanging out with skeleton dude.

Eventual all kids find out about the big Santa lie, but they still get Christmas. But with Halloween, when you outgrow it, it's really over for awhile. You go into a Halloween limbo; too old to be cute, too young to go to keggers. Oh, yes, that's when Halloween comes back, when your all grown up and Halloween parties take on a whole new dimension. My grandparents were huge Halloween people and my grandma made the two of them elaborate costumes every year and they always won the contest at those swinging parties. You should see the pictures! Maybe I'll try to dig a few up...

Happy Haunting!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Campout

This past weekend was the big one. I organized and pulled off my first multi troop camp out at Camp T. We had 11 troops and 141 people out there on Saturday and the weather was awful. It is cold and drizzly and muddy all day. Completely miserable. But despite that, everyone have a terrific time. It was a Halloween themed camp out. The girls in my troop were the aides and worked all the stations and kept the fun going. Here's the shirts that we made for ourselves. They took orange shirts and cut out the face then wore black underneath.

We had a cook in the camp kitchen making all the meals so we didn't have to worry about that. The day consisted of lunch, pumpkin painting, baked apple making, archery, two crafts, an all over camp treasure hunt, dinner, a haunted hayride and a Halloween dance party with glo-sticks and tattoos. They spent the night, had breakfast and cleared out. Everyone was exhausted. I'm still sore today. Here's what my van looks like with 150 pumpkins in it.
Some of the painted pumpkins...

And keeping the songs going while waiting for dinner.

My girls did such an amazing job! This was their first time being aides at an event and they kept their smiles.

And Weaver, we had cupcakes with birthday candles in them and sang Happy Birthday to Juliette. Her birthday is on Halloween and was born 147 years ago. We almost had enough people there!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Dark Funk

I haven't blogged in a while, but not from lack of ideas. Unfortunatly everytime I sit down here the first thing I do is check my email. Usually the traffic of my inbox in close to nil everyday. (Unless my sisters and I are trying to schedule a night out!) But lately, the emails are lining up like orphans with their empty bowls. It's so sad. And by the time I'm done putting out fires and drying tears I just can't stand sittting here anymore. So, just now, I have fought back all impluses and started to write to you, my loyal three readers, without checking on how the masses are drowning without me.

Today I want to tell you about my least favorite piece of clothing. No, not bras. I feel bras have a very important place in society which becomes abundantly clear whenever you see someone deciding that today is her day to be free. No, this piece of clothing will probably be shocked at my scorn since it is adored the world around. Simply, it is the black t-shirt.

What? How can this be? This a staple in any wardrobe, no? It's like declaring I don't like socks! Well, I do like socks, very much, but black t-shirts are a complete puzzle to me.

Here's how I see it: If it warm enough to wear short sleeves, then it is too warm to wear black. Simple as that. And if it's so cold that you have to wear a sweater or jacket over your black t-shirt, then it might as well be any color. The Man feels the same way about black t-shirts by the way. We once took an overly long t-shirt shopping trip trying to find cool shirts for him to wear to Vermont. We found cool shirt after cool shirt, but everyone that we liked was black making it unwearable, therefore un-buyable. We didn't buy one shirt all day. They made cast t-shirts for "Joseph" over the summer. But they printed them on black shirts so I didn't get one and my own name was on the back! That's how much I don't like black t-shirts.

Here's the only time you can wear black t-shirts:

  1. If you a bouncer in a dark bar.
  2. If you are a vampire in New Orleans.

That's about it. Otherwise I see you for what you are: You are either looking cool and to prove it your arms are blue with frostbite OR you are looking cool but you are a giant sweaty mess underneath. Either way, it's not for me. Is it that I am not cool? Perhaps, but I'm willing to carry that stigma for my own comfort.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


How often do you look at your roof? I can say that my roof, being way up there, doesn't get much of my attention. But earlier this summer, while lounging in the backyard my eyes traveled up to that big plain and found this..
Oh My! Now I'm not a masonry expert, but I was pretty sure that wasn't what chimneys look like. Here's another view. Can you see the brick in the gutter? In this shot it just looks like another leaf, but believe me it's a brick. On the roof.

Thus began my education into chimneys. I heard a lot of this: "Oh no, we don't do rebuilds. Used to. Don't anymore." The guys that did come out would give a whistle about the steepness of my roof and quote off some ridiculously high estimate. Not good. But then we found a guy not afraid of the roof, who seemed to know what he was doing and was reasonably priced. Here's he is (or maybe one of his crew) up there working hard yesterday.

There's guys were really terrific. They tore down the old chimney, built a new one, swept out the chimney and then put a liner down it to prevent this from happening again for a long time. They were done and gone in five hours. My only complaint was that not once during the afternoon did the crew burst into song and dance up there with brushes in their hands and sooty faces. A tad bit disappointing I must say.

One thing was for sure, it was a crazy noisy project. Marco stayed outside and kept on eye on the whole operation. The chimney guy was worried that all the noise would make him a nervous wreck. But during the noisiest part of the day, the part where my old chimney was being dropped brick by brick into the back of their truck, I went to check on the dog. Passed out cold on the back porch! What a guy! The cats on the other hand were basket cases. Poor Jack had the worst time. After it was all over we went searching for the cats. We found the girls quick enough, but not Jack. We searched and searched in all his usual haunts and then in just any place we could think he might have jammed himself. Eventually he came out on his own and we all so relieved to see him we dove after him. That sent him scurrying away faster than I've ever seen him move. We found him again squeezed behind all the board games in the basement. We coaxed him out, but he was still skittish for the rest of the night, jumping a mile at any little noise. Poor, poor little guy!

Anyway here's the new chimney with its shiny little hat. Now, we should probably do something about those gutters..

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bonfire Night

Here's the boy, the girl and "that other girl who's always around" at the big annual bonfire last night. This is as as close to the fire as they could stand, but still it was super hot. Every other year it's been nice and cool for this event, but this October it has been unseasonably and uncomfortably warm. The mosquitoes were awful and everyone was just reeking of bug spray.

But despite that, it was an excellent time. There was a ton of food and we all ate until we regretted. The kids took walkie-talkies and ran around in the dark woods searching for each other. They said the walkie-talkies made the whole night for them. And they were my idea, thank you very much! A big thanks to the Bartlebaughs for another memorable night!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lessons with Zombies

Today was my first day back to work! I've officially been on "green" to go back to work since last Monday, but I just haven't gotten any calls. In desperation, I emailed my boss last night and begged for work. And it worked. Not that I really love my job, barely even like it, but staying home alone with just my thoughts and these animals is starting to damage me mentally.

This year I will be referring to my students as zombies. When when I say zombies, I don't mean these kind of zombies....

No, no, not the shuffling moaning type. I mean more like the "28 Days Later" type of zombie. These guys...
Zombies who are super crazy, run inhumanly fast and never, ever tire out. The extra scary type of zombie.

The parallels between fast scary zombies and schoolchildren and pretty amazing:

  • They both can run really fast. And the kids can run their mouths even faster.
  • They both often have something unidentifiable and disgusting on their faces and hands.
  • Neither children nor zombies are very picky about what they eat or where it was just before they ate it.
  • You can't ignore a zombie when it's in the room. Same with kids.
  • Neither group knows how to speak a distinct language; it's mostly mumblings, whining and drool.
  • They are both predictable only in the fact that you never know what they are going to do next, but it's a guarantee that you're not going to like it.
  • They never quit or tire out.

I think I've made my point. My zombies today were of a very little version, kindergarten sized. Still they were full-fledged zombies. I only had the half a day which was a quarter of a day too long!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Orderly Ringing Out

My grandmother has been cleaning out her attic and giving me bits and pieces to sell for her on Ebay. Being laid up here, the timing was good for all this, so I took on the challenge. One of things she gave me was a big shoebox full of stamps that she bought off some friend years and years ago and they originally belonged to that friend's brother. Anyway, she bought the box, stuck it in the attic where it's sat for who knows how long and now it's here. It's a mess, truly. I don't even know where to begin. Most all of the stamps attached to a little corner of the envelope they rode on and cancelled. They are from all over the world. They look pretty old. And that's as far as I've gotten with them. Whenever I think I'll go through them, the task overwhelms me and I quit before I begin.

But one slip of paper in the box was really neat. It was a quarter sheet of paper that The Man found mixed in with everything else. This brother, the collector of all these stamps, must have worked in a plant near the end of WWII and received this notice. I like to imagine the kind of person who wrote this a meticulous person who liked all the i's dotted and t's crossed. I've typed it out in it's entirely. We've been watching a lot of that new Ken Burns movie, so the timing on this pretty good. Enjoy.

It must be evident to all of us that sometime in the near future the word will come that European hostilities have ceased.

The news may come at any time, day or night and to save confusion it seems logical to advise what action we will take regarding plant operations.

When the news is received, whether by day or night, it will be signaled to our employees by the code for "V" - Victory. The whistle or other signaling device designation starting and stopping time will sound three blasts of one minute each with a fifteen-second interval between each blast, followed by a long blast of five minutes.

Operations will be suspended and employees , other than those needed for plant protection and shutting down furnaces or other activities involved in suspending operations, will be released until the beginning of the first shift on the second day (not including Sunday) following V-Day. For example-

If word should come at any time between 12:01 a.m. and 12:00 midnight on Tuesday, we would resume operations on Thursday a the beginning of the day shift.
If word were received at any time Friday, the plant would resume work Monday a the beginning of the day shift.

If the word were received on Saturday, the plant would resume work Tuesday a the beginning of the day shift.

We trust that, regardless of the excitement that will naturally be universal, orderly ringing out and departure will be maintained.

What a different war this was. Every aspect of everyone's lives was wrapped up in the war; how you shopped, where you went and how you worked. No one ever forgot for one moment during their day to day lives that there was a war going and our boys were dying over there. Our nation was at war and every member of our nation was an active part of the effort. How very, very different from our war today...