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Posts Tagged ‘halloween’

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There’s a blogger I enjoy reading although his posts are often sad. He is Bereaved Single Dad. Subtitle: “A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his partner and becoming a single parent.”

He lives in an isolated English village where his main goal is to make a happy life for his son, whom he describes as being on the autism spectrum. It’s a challenge partly because there is a lack of empathy at the local school and very few special needs services. The other issue is that Bereaved really doesn’t do anything to take care of himself, which to my way of thinking is bound to affect his son’s happiness.

But the two of them do seem to have some wonderful times together, and lately I’ve been enjoying a series of posts on their plans for a fun Halloween. Here is the post called “Halloween 3.”

“This Halloween has to make our son happy. Failure is not an option. Best way to achieve that simple goal was to let him choose what spooky activities we will fill our time with. At the start of the week he came up with his list. …

” * Halloween Costume. Dad I think we should try and go for a Freddie look. We don’t buy a costume, we see what we can rustle up. …

” * Watching as many Scooby Doo DVDs as we can find. Finish off with his three favourites. Boo Brothers, Kiss and Witches Ghost.

” *Watch a Hammer Horror movie. These are atmospheric but relatively tame these days.

” * Have a Lego building competition. This year it’s who can make the best haunted castle.

” * Make a spooky music playlist.

” * Make up a Halloween story. Dad, this year I think it’s a couple of kids stuck in a scary computer game. …

” * Any TV has to be spooky-related like Ghostbusters.

” * Monster knockout competition to decide the greatest ever horror character.

” * Apple Bobbing

” * Late night reading in the garden of Hound of the Baskervilles.

” * All dog walks have to be after dark.

” * Build a garden monster out of what we can find lying around. Then leave it for nature (or the dog) to dispose. …

” * Eat the cookie/biscuit game. Put a cookie on your forehead and then without using your hands try to somehow get the cookie into your mouth and it’s the first person to eat the cookie wins.

” * Jelly Bean roulette. We have stocked up on some new flavours. Cat food, Snail, Earthworm, Earwax, Squid.

” * Make Pumpkin Chilli Soup. Even I can manage that.”

You can read this devoted dad’s blog here.

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Boo!

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Boo!

Is that a ghost emerging from the earth beneath the sidewalk or a piece of sycamore bark? Is that the Grim Reaper scratching around inside the wall of your bedroom or a squirrel? Is that a witch tapping at the kitchen window or a tree branch?

Is that an invading army at the border with tanks and surface-to-air missiles or ragtag neighbors praying for compassion?

It’s OK on Halloween to imagine dangers that don’t exist, but how about on the next day, All Saints Day, we go back to being logical.

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We join John’s family or Suzanne’s family for Halloween on alternate years. This year, we were scheduled to hang out in John’s neighborhood, where a park at the end of the street bubbles over with festivity and John serves as the master of ceremonies for the costume fashion show.

Leading up to that event, I took pictures of the fun ways Halloween lovers decorated this year — noting, for example, the proliferation of giant spiders on houses and some upside-down zombies in an otherwise innocent-looking yard.

Suzanne’s family cut Jack O’Lantern designs using templates from the Internet. I’m posting the cute owl, but they also carved a crocodile, an octopus, and a cat.

the costume parade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo: Evensi

My husband and I alternate between our two sets of grandchildren on Halloween. Last year we got a kick out of seeing John perform the role of MC for the costume fashion show at the park on his street. Although we won’t be there this year, I’m glad I got to see my oldest grandson in this year’s Yoda costume and his sister as a mermaid. Her puzzlement about the way the bottom of her costume was cut led to explanations of mermaid anatomy and collaboration on mermaid drawings.

This year we join the Providence grandkids (one gentleman fire chief, one lady construction worker) for the gathering at Brown Street Park and the annual parade through blocked-off Providence streets.

Brown Street Park has many Friends (changed to “Fiends” for the holiday). It’s in an upscale neighborhood near the university and flourishes because of people who both care about it and know how to raise money. If only all Providence neighborhoods were like that (which I say because behind one place where I volunteer, there’s a filthy campsite where drugs are sold. I am told the city cleaned it up once, but the vacant lot reverted to its current sorry state. How I wish the city would try again and neighbors would feel that they could go in and plant a garden or something!) But I digress.

If you go to the Friends of Brown Street Park website, here, you will find a well-organized group of volunteers soliciting help from other potential volunteers for initiatives such as the Hallloween party and parade, the summer concert series and the Earth Day clean-up.

In poor communities, good things can happen, too, but no outsider can come in and decree what those good things should be. First come efforts to build trust among all neighbors, as suggested here, then come deliberations about what neighbors actually want. I am going to look into getting the city to deal with that no-longer-vacant lot. It’s so disturbing for children who attend nearby activities. All neighborhoods should be safe for children.

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There’s something mysterious about this time of year that brings out more than nostalgia. Halloween’s naughtiness license (to do mischief like moving the neighbors’ swing set from their backyard and putting it in the middle of the driveway) is really a creativity license.

I always looked forward to making the funniest Jack o’ Lantern, or the scariest. And wearing a pink taffeta princess dress (which unfortunately was not visible under all my outer layers on cold Halloweens). And parties (did anyone ever actually catch an apple by bobbing for apples?).

One year at school, the big kids made a Tunnel of Horrors for the younger ones. I was new to that school, and holding on to others as I stumbled up and down stairs in the dark, I had no idea where I was. It was spooky in a fun way — scary faces lit from below by flashlights, ghostlike figures brushing by, skeletons dropping down, haunted wailing, sudden swaths of spider webs … and a witchy voice croaking, “Come closer, Dearie, put your hand in the bowl of eyeballs” (meticulously peeled grapes in water)!

Imagine the creative brainstorming sessions that went into choosing gags that could be pulled off in darkness without breaking anyone’s bones! I was in rapture. I went home that weekend and created a mini version of a Tunnel of Horrors for my younger siblings.

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Usually when I ask adults, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” they laugh, and really I am just joking.

But when I posed that question to a co-worker yesterday, he said, “A cereal killer.” He told me with some enthusiasm that he was going to paste the front panel of a cereal box on a red-splattered T-shirt.

I had to laugh. “Well, good for you, Nick!” I forgot to ask what killer cereal he was going to use. Probably one loaded with sugar.

Although I don’t have a picture of my colleague the Cereal Killer, I can show you a zombie in John’s yard, decorated pumpkins on his steps, an upside-down bat carving at the the restaurant Trade, and a stormy sky that a witch just passed through. (You’ll have to take my word for that.)

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In my part of New England, Daylight Savings is drawing to a close with cold, wet, dark presentiments of the season to come. Seems like a good time to think about the fun we had in October.

Artist Don Eyles floated a pyramid in Fort Point Channel until a storm blew up. Suzanne, my husband, and our middle grandchild visited the sheep and other animals at the Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm.

At work, we had a pumpkin-decorating contest. My team did Miss Piggy, porcine Muppet diva, to use the Wall Street Journal identifier. (Left to right, Elvis, the Monopoly Man, Miss Piggy, Edgar Allan Poe, Chia Pet, and Gonzo.) A Halloween band marched surrounded by babies, kids, and adults in costume all around blocked-off Providence thoroughfares near the Brown Street Park.

More quietly, chrysanthemums soaked up sunshine.

Here is a bit of background on the pyramid, in case you are interested.

“In 1998 Fort Point artist Don Eyles floated his first pyramid in Fort Point Channel, marking the water as a venue for art and opening the doors to years of temporary art installations to come. The installation was a bold move, made independently, and completely self-funded.”

“ ‘Consider the history that has passed along the cobbled streets of Boston — all the men and women, famous or unremembered, who have walked and rode here … always with granite cobblestones beneath their feet and wheels. I have long dreamed of making this history tangible, by constructing a great pyramid from the cobblestones uprooted by the City’s recent development.’ ”

More on the Pyramid and other Fort Point projects at tumblr, here.

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Back in the days when we had more trick-or-treaters coming to our door, I used to play a series of Halloween-ish records nice and loud, like “Night on Bald Mountain,” the original “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” (with Robert Donat), and jazz trio Lambert Hendricks & Ross singing “Halloween spooks outside my window/Halloween spooks behind the tree./I wish that the children could see,/But I can’t find them for the life of me,/And there’re Halloween Spooks outside my window pane/Whoooo.”

Nowadays, families take their kids to housing developments where lots of children live. Last year no one knocked on our door. Fortunately, we’ve been able to join John’s two Halloween spooks at their neighborhood park’s festivities near Boston. And this year we’re hanging out with our middle grandchild, a Pirate, in Providence.

Here are a couple local photos that have been getting me in the mood.

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More pictures of the season, including a Pumpkin Fest in Concord and a Halloween party in the neighborhood where my older grandson and his sister live.

Today there must have been 40 costumed kids, from infants to 10-year-olds, rolling down the hill, posing for pictures, and eating hotdogs in the playground. After the parade, everyone went down the street to knock on doors looking for treats. (Meran’s treat for my husband and me was homemade potato and leek soup and some very yummy bread.)

John wore his scary fangs and asked a little Yoda if he was tasty to eat.

“This is what I look like,” he explained to friends, “after a week of being up all night with two kids who have fevers.”

light-on-leavesAh, yes. All part of the season!

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About a week ago, I noticed that a homeowner in town had placed sweet little pumpkins on her fence posts, about 20 pumpkins in all.

Something must have gone wrong soon after, because today her pumpkins all have anti-theft messages on them. Cute, if somewhat contrary to the original festive spirit.

The first one below says, “No — stop! Think of the Guilt! What would your grandmother think?”

The second one says. “Help me! Lost pumpkin. Please return to Sudbury Road.”

Will the messages shame the target audience?

It reminds me of volunteering in seventh grade to paint approved pictures on shop windows at Halloween. The idea was to co-opt the kids who soaped windows on Mischief Night. Alas, I don’t think any of them volunteered to do the approved paintings.

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Nicholas Kristof ‏of the NY Times just tweeted: “Sandy has left our neighborhood perfect for Halloween: darkened houses, spooky streets, fallen trees. Just no kids out.”

My sister, a doctor, lives in New York City. She writes: “It’s like there are two cities, one north of 34th St, the other south of 34th St. The ‘south’ city has no traffic lights, no electricity, every block is patrolled by police cars day and night, stores and schools are closed, people are climbing up 10 to 25 floors to get to their apartments because the elevators don’t work, cars that were parked on the street have floated away, etc.

“The ‘north’ city, where we are, is pretty much normal but with traffic jams because everyone is using cars to get around due to the lack of subways. … Many patients cancelled. One walked here today, from 49th to 102 St.”

Meanwhile, Halloween. Suzanne and Erik are taking their dragon-costumed baby around their old Harlem neighborhood.

Erik’s mother and sister and kids had to give up the idea of taking Amtrak to visit their old haunts in New Jersey, as Amtrak Northeast Corridor service  is cancelled post-hurricane. Still, they came all the way from Sweden to trick or treat with old friends in Princeton, so they rented a car and are knocking on doors right now.

My husband and I went to our two-year-old grandson’s neighborhood park, where all the little kids dress up and there are hot dogs and delightful festivities of all sorts. One event is a “fashion parade.” Each costumed kid emerges from a little tent, is announced to the adoring, camera-clicking adults, and walks down a runway.

My grandson had a fireman costume to go with his spiffy fireman rain boots.

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Lisa W. Foderaro writes in today‘s NY Times (here) about several elaborate carved-pumpkin events in and around New York City. Her article caught my eye because yesterday Suzanne and Erik took their baby dragon and Erik’s mother, sister, niece, nephews (in costume), yours truly and my husband to something pretty dramatic along those lines. In Providence.

As I was reading Foderaro and feeling competitive with New York, this bit in the story jumped out:

“Two carvers, Ray Villafane and Andy Bergholtz, who developed a national following on the Food Network’s ‘Halloween Wars’ show, were at the [New York Botanical] Garden in mid-October, using six-inch rinds of Atlantic Giant pumpkins to sculpture the zombie, whose organs and intestines poke through his cracked ribs. Their assistants were busy harvesting chunks of pumpkin with handsaws and, for the zombie’s jeans, steaming pumpkin rinds.

“Mr. Villafane, a commercial sculptor who has made a year-round business out of carving pumpkins, said … his one disappointment this year was that the official ‘all-time biggest pumpkin,’ the first to weigh more than a ton, did not make it to the Bronx, as was planned. The 2,009-pound specimen, grown by Ron Wallace in Coventry, R.I., ran into trouble.

“ ‘It sprang a leak and rotted on the way,’ Mr. Villafane said. ‘We wanted to carve the world-record holder, so that was sad.’ ”

Well, excu-use me! A Rhode Island monster pumpkin should have gone to the Roger Williams Zoo’s Spectacular, which was way better than anything the Times described. I’m afraid that Mr. Villafone tempted fate. Clearly a curse struck that giant pumpkin when it crossed the border.

The Roger Williams Zoo Spectacular lasts the whole month of October, involves 25 carvers carving 25,000 pumpkins (replaced as they decay), and many fun themes (with piped-in music). We wandered from “Star Wars” to Beatles to “Gone with the Wind” to “The Wizard of Oz” and on and on. I was as amazed as the relatives visiting  from Sweden.

The idea of 25 people carving pumpkins for a month is in itself amazing to ponder. How much do pumpkin carvers get paid? What work do they have during the other 11 months? Are any from Rhode Island School of Design?

The Spectacular would have been a bit scary for the youngest among us, I think, but he was jet-lagged and zonked out in the stroller. A buffet before the walk around the lake was super and got us in early, in front of incredibly long lines. Read more about it all here.

Photograph by Suzanne, Luna & Stella

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The Boston Globe has been covering the arrival and treatment of injured Libyan fighters.

In the first installment, the Spaulding Hospital president expressed concern about making the wounded men comfortable in a new culture — especially as they were going to have to pass through Salem at Halloween. Salem, you know, is full of witches in October, and witches aren’t the half of it.

As Billy Baker wrote of the injured on October 30, “They took off from a desert and landed in a numbing rain with snow in the forecast. And then, if that weren’t strange enough, they were taken to Salem. On Halloween weekend.

“For the 22 Libyan fighters airlifted to Logan International Airport yesterday, the first of the injured to arrive in the United States for medical treatment after the overthrow of Moammar Khadafy’s government less than two weeks ago, it was a day of great joy and great culture shock.

“The injured men, who ranged in age from 17 to 46, were whisked away in ambulances shortly after landing …

“The men are here for treatment at the Spaulding Hospital North Shore facility in Salem, which has been preparing for their arrival by training staff in the customs and religious practices of the patients. A prayer room was being designed with the help of an imam; doctors and nurses will wear name tags in Arabic; and a team of translators trained in medical terms has been brought in to explain the medications and therapies.” Read more.

In a November 10 follow-up, the fighters praised their warm reception. “Lying in bed, the 37-year-old Naser said he is grateful for the opportunity to receive medical attention in the United States, and was surprised by the warm reception he has received.

“ ‘It has been a kind and very sincere welcome,’ said Naser. “It has changed completely my vision of America.’ ”

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Halloween Before and After

Before.

After.

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