Trick or Treat

Opal - October birthday for herAccording to history.com, the origins of Halloween are traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which was celebrated on the night of October 31st, before the beginning of their new year on November 1st. They believed that on the night before the new year the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and ghosts returned to earth. It was celebrated with huge bonfires, dressing in costumes and offering sacrifices. As Christianity spread throughout Celtic lands, the church gradually blended with and supplanted older Celtic rites with its own holy days. November 1 became All Souls Day – also called All-hallows – and the night before, formerly Samhain, came to be known as All-hallows Eve. The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

I know lots of people love Halloween but I’ve never been a big fan, even as a child. I liked dressing up in a costume but I didn’t really enjoy going door to door saying “trick or treat” and I didn’t like most of the “treats” that were handed out (never a big fan of junk candy either). I think the last time I went trick or treating I was around eleven and I didn’t wear a costume or carry a goodie bag – I was collecting money for UNICEF, which used to be a common thing to do on Halloween when I was a kid in the 1950’s. My Mom is an excellent seamstress and, aside from making all my clothes when I was a child, she made my Halloween costumes. I don’t remember all of them but one stands out in my memory – she turned me into a fancy colonial lady with a gown that Martha Washington would have been proud of and a “powdered” wig made of cotton balls. That beautiful dress had an encore performance when I was cast as the lead in my third grade class production of “The Laughing Princess”. Apparently I really hammed it up because the teacher told my parents that I had a “future on Broadway”! Alas, another road not taken.

By the time my son was “trick or treating” in the 1980’s I had developed a real dislike for Halloween. For one thing, there were lots of kids in our neighborhood so it cost a small fortune to buy enough bags of candy, which was a challenge for a single parent living paycheck to paycheck. Secondly, it seemed like most of the costumes were not creative or unique anymore and, the later the hour, the worse the costumes became because that’s when the teenage boys came out in scruffy clothes with dirt smeared on their faces. They didn’t even say “trick or treat”! They might as well have said “Give me my free candy”. I can remember saying on more than one occasion “What are you supposed to be?” and being told “A bum” and responding with “Oh, so just like every other day”. When I was a kid there was a sense of excitement and competition about who had the best costume and everybody’s Mom (and sometimes Dad) got involved in helping to create something unique.

One thing I do like about Halloween is the season in which it falls. I have always liked autumn, especially when I lived in New England. I loved taking a ride on country roads, enjoying the beautiful fall colors and stopping at a farm stand for fresh apples and cider. Here in Florida there isn’t much in the way of fall colors but, I manage to find them and I definitely enjoy the cooler temperatures and lower humidity that come with this time of the year. An added bonus is that the cooler weather here is not a harbinger of snow and ice – two things I don’t miss!

Liberty will do anything for a treat!

Liberty will do anything for a treat!

I promise lots of treats and no tricks at Lynda Linke Productions

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Stuff I Like- Part 4

Ocean dreaming 001An October morning at the beach!!

My tolerance for the heat and humidity of the summer months here in NE Florida has decreased over the past few years so I don’t go to the beach as much during those months as I used to but, the spring and fall are delightful. I especially love October and November and, during the years that I had a timeshare in St. Augustine Beach, I always went in late October/early November. The early mornings and nights are cool, the air during the day is warm but, not stifling, the sky is usually clear blue and there is almost always a pleasant breeze. Another bonus is that the beach is quiet in the fall because it is in between family vacation time and the arrival of the “snowbirds” so there are very few people around. I almost feel like the wide open space belongs to me. I live close to the beach, just a 10 minute drive, but my favorite beach is a few miles north of where I live and well worth the few extra minutes it takes to get there. Even the drive is a pleasure – an officially designated scenic highway that winds through a lush hammock, over an inlet, and offers beautiful unobstructed views of the ocean. A rare treat on the East coast.

I was waiting for a day with cooler temperatures and no rain in the forecast so I could put Liberty in the car and head for the beach and that day arrived this week. The timing was perfect because I had been feeling a little bit blue and I knew I needed to take what I call a “happiness action”. We got there and were walking along the shore well before 9 and it was a beautiful morning – I could feel my mood lift. Yes, I practice what I preach! I don’t wait for someone or something to make me happy – I find it for myself.

I have a 20′ retractable leash for Liberty that I only use when we go to the beach so she can run in and out of the ocean and chase the sandpipers. The first time I took her to the beach, just a couple of weeks after she came to live with me last April, she was afraid of the ocean. Every time a wave approached she ran the other way! I walked along the shore, where the water is shallow, and gently encouraged her to let the waves wash around her feet. Gradually, she realized the water could only reach as far as she allowed and that began the relationship she has with the ocean to this day – she loves to run in and out of the waves as they rush to the shore but she never lets them wash over her! It brings me great happiness to watch her play – her pure joy is contagious! She met a black Lab, who was also enjoying the ocean, and they ran around and leapt at each other for a few minutes while his owner and I laughed at their antics. She also met a nice little boy and an elderly man who stopped to greet her. Liberty is a social bridge for me and I often speak to people who I wouldn’t have met if I was alone. No wonder I refer to her as my “therapy dog”.

After our walk we enjoyed a drink and some snacks and then Liberty stretched out in the sand and watched the birds running along the shoreline and the people walking by. As I wrote in my journal, I kept pausing to gaze at the ocean and the blue sky and I thanked God over and over for such a beautiful day. All this beauty and happiness cost me nothing but the gas for my car! Makarios 🙂

We don’t make ourselves happy, but we can make choices that lead to happiness. ~Randy Alcorn

Fun in the ocean 10-15-15 beautiful morning at the beach 10-15-15

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This is autumn?

Pumpkin ExpressSometimes I really miss the crispness of autumn in more northerly climes. After 20 years in Florida, I have begun to long for a change. I miss the beautiful fiery colors of the leaves and the wind blowing them wildly across the streets and lawns – although not so much the raking! I remember long Sunday rides on peaceful country roads ablaze with color, stopping at an overlook to see the spectacular view of a valley and a little town far below, the white steeple of a church shining in the sun. We would stop at an orchard store and buy fresh apples – apples that actually smelled like real apples. I could never resist buying a fresh-baked pie or loaf of bread. I remember the special magic of walking hand in hand down a deserted night-time street, my cheeks and nose tingling from the chilly October air, stars hung like diamonds in a dark velvet sky just for us. The leaves rustled and crunched under our feet and we could smell the first wood fires of the season in the air.

I miss snow at Christmas – although not so much the shoveling! I never imagined I would feel this way. I remember taking the garbage out on a cold winter night and stopping to listen to the absolute silence created by the snow. Everything felt muffled, as if wrapped in cotton. I would pull my shirt around me and cross my arms so I could stand for a moment and look up at the stars and the crystal beauty of frost coated branches. Windows from neighboring houses were warm glowing squares in the dark winter night, framing twinkling Christmas trees inside. OK, maybe I don’t want two feet of snow that hangs around for weeks getting more and more dingy but a few inches here and there would be nice, especially combined with those chilly winter nights. When I was young people still used to go around neighborhoods singing Christmas carols – and I don’t mean three off-key kids grubbing for tips, which is what it devolved into over the years – adults, children, families all went around singing those beloved songs together. I remember caroling with my church choir when I was in 7th and 8th grades – some people gave us hot chocolate and cookies. I like to think that somewhere people are still doing this.

So, maybe I’m just getting sentimental in my old age but I don’t think so. For the past few years I’ve been conducting a quiet search for that sweet little town with an old-fashioned main street where the seasons change but the weather isn’t too extreme. Where the summers are warm, the fall is colorful and crisp, the winter is cold enough to kill off the bugs, sometimes it snows a little, and the spring really feels like a rebirth. I know it’s out there somewhere and, when I find it, if I can live comfortably there on my retirement income and my conservative sensibilities don’t feel too out-of-place, I’ll be gone. I’m open to suggestion.

 

Stella is always ready to go somewhere.

Stella is always ready to go somewhere.

 

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The Christmas Carol Singers

 

 

 

 

One of my new Christmas cards available now at Zazzle