Things that go bump in the night . . .

Old Halloween from History dot com 

 Halloween Past Revisited from

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties . . . ~ Scottish Saying

Goblins and gremlins and ghosties and ghouls . . . oh my. Happy All Hallow’s Eve everyone. Or to be more precise, Happy Samhain.

Samhain (pronounced sow-in), is an ancient Celtic festival. The Celts lived between 2000 to 2700 years ago, predominantly in the area that is now Ireland and the United Kingdom; although at one time, their tribes were spread through Western Europe from France (Gaul) to the Danube to Rome. The Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, which marked the end of the summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter. Unlike their portrayals in movies as a primitive barbaric society, in reality, the Celts were organized into three groups: the royal clans, who led the various tribes, the warrior aristocracy, and the common people.

Ancient Celtic religion was the mainstay of every aspect of everyday life. Their religion, which worshipped nature and all things in nature, was polytheistic, recognizing many levels of supernatural beings and divinities, female as well as male. The Celts believed that the course of nature was controlled by the will of their gods.

Solstice bonfire Montana
Solstice Bonfire, Montana

Druids, who served as Celtic scholars and priests, underwent rigorous training, sometimes lasting as long as 20 years. Druids passed on their knowledge of traditional lore about nature, the seasons, astronomy, and death. Along with the Druids, Celts venerated their Bards—singers who passed on history through the oral tradition—and their Vates, who were the soothsayers.

The Celts were a superstitious people, and they believed that on the night of October 31 the ghosts of the dead returned to wander the earth. These ancient people celebrated Samhain with huge bonfires where the people gathered to burn crops and make sacrifices to the gods. The Celts wore costumes, usually representing animals; these costumes, which were made from animal skins and bones, were used to hide the faces of the living from the dead who had returned. In addition, the clan’s priests, or Druids, would make predictions about the future. The flames from the dying bonfires were used to light the hearth fires, which would burn for the duration of the long winters.

“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen/the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween.” ~ 19th century Halloween postcard

Eventually, the Celtic tradition of Samhain was blended with Roman traditions after the spread of the Roman Empire overran the once powerful Celts. The Roman day of the dead, Feralia, fell in October, and the Romans celebrated the feast of Pomona in October. Pomona was the goddess of the fruit and trees, and her symbol was the apple. By 800 AD, Christianity had overtaken most of Europe, and November 1 was designated as All Saints’ Day (Alholomesse), the day to honor saints and martyrs. This day replaced the Celtic festival of the dead. October 31 became All Hallow’s Eve.

House Decorated for Halloween Ehow
Halloween Decorations Run Amok

The modern idea of asking for treats may originate from the Christian tradition of All Soul’s Day (November 2), on which beggars would receive pastries called Soul Cakes from the more well-to-do citizenry. In return, the poor would offer to say a blessing for the wealthy family’s departed members.

History is a bit vague as to when the idea of costumes and Trick or Treats first came to the U.S., with most historians pointing to the influx of immigrants in the second half of the 19th century as the time during which the traditions of Halloween first began to infiltrate society. But the mass-marketing bonanza known today as Halloween is a relatively new advent: Orange lights, huge inflatable pumpkins in the yard—Halloween has become big business, with estimates that Americans spend $7 billion on the holidays, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

Personally, I like the idea of celebrating fall and the harvest, but then again, I am no longer a kid getting sacks full of candy.

“My candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open . . .” ~ Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

While Corey and I were out today picking up a few groceries we saw all kinds of bizarre costumes, but not that many children. Purple fishnets, pink hair. Ah, the rich pageantry that is Wal Mart on a Saturday . . .

I remember when the kids were younger, and we would carve a pumpkin for Halloween. I only did the carving myself  one year as I don’t particularly like to put my hands in squishy pumpkin guts. Besides, kids love to put their hands into squishy pumpkin guts. It’s part of the fun. What is not fun is carving the pumpkin, putting it out on the porch, and having some jerk come by and throw the creation into the street, which happened more than once. Some trick that was.

Jack-o-lanterns in Keene NH by Tim Somero
Jack-o-Lanterns in Keene, NH, by Tim Somero

I once worked with a graphic designer who would carve the most incredible Jack O Lanterns at Halloween. I know that he won a few local competitions for his carving. I love to see the really artistic pumpkins, the ones with complete scenes or recognizable faces.

As with all things, the history of Jack O Lanterns comes from a folktale about some guy named Stingy Jack who kept making deals with the devil and then breaking them. As a result, he wasn’t allowed into heaven, nor did the devil want him. Poor old Jack had to roam the earth with a burning coal to light his way. The coal was inserted into a carved out turnip.

In Ireland, people made their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes. These lanterns were placed into windows and near doors to frighten away wandering evil spirits, like Jack. Americans use pumpkins for their lanterns; the pumpkin is a fruit native to America.

Anyway, it’s past 9 p.m., and all little goblins have been taken home to sort through their various treats, completely unaware that they just participated in an ancient ritual.

Music from Halloween, the original. This music still scares the hell out of me . . .

More later. Peace.

Boylan Heights NC community pumpkins

Community Jack-o-Lanterns, Boylan Heights, Raleigh, NC


“Nulla dies sine linea.” (Never a day without a line) ~ Horace

 Waterman Fairy Ad 

Vintage Advertisement for Waterman’s Fountain Pen


“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up on rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.” ~ Author Unknown

Not a whole lot going on at the homestead.

Corey went to an open house for MSC (Military Sealift Command) today, only to find out that they haven’t had any available deck positions for over a year. He said that the place was packed and that most of those in attendance had no experience at all. I know that it is quite discouraging for him to go to these things only to find out that there are no jobs. Besides, why are they having an open house if they don’t have any positions. Does this make sense?

watermans new leaf penWe haven’t heard anything else from the shipyard, and as I said, that process could take months. Vane Brothers hasn’t gotten back to him either, although the man with whom Corey has been in contact did say that he was passing Corey’s detailed work experience on to the General Manager. I don’t even know if that means anything any more. It used to be that when you heard something like that from an employer, it was a very good sign, but not these days in this economy.

I think that I’ve finally gotten things straightened out with my retirement account. I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to take anything more out of my account, but I will probably have to continue to make withdrawals for the time being. With a 24 percent tax penalty each time, that’s a hefty loss right off the top for any withdrawal that I make, but we really don’t have any other choices left.

When I spoke to the representative with whom I have been in continuing contact, he told me that Denver had just been hit with a huge snowstorm, so the TIAA-CREF offices may be closing early. He didn’t seem very amused when I told him that it was 75 degrees here. Oh well. Glad that I don’t live in Denver. I’m not ready for snowstorms, not that we ever really get them in this area any more.

“You can’t write a personal column without going to some very deep place inside yourself, even if it’s only for four hours. It’s almost like psychotherapy, except you’re doing it on your own.” ~ Jennifer Allen, essayist 

Mark Twain pen adJust spending my time rereading some old books by Ann Rule. These aren’t as interesting as the ones that I read over the weekend, but they are better than nothing.

Other than that, I really don’t have a whole lot to say. I need to finish some paperwork for Virginia Social Services to see if I qualify for Medicaid. If I do, then some of my back balances with my doctors may be taken care of, which would be one load off my mind. With any luck, I may get some help with prescriptions as well, which would be really great since my prescription coverage is still screwed up, and we are having to pay full price for my prescriptions. As a result, I am not taking all of my meds, which I am sure is affecting the whole headache scenario.

It’s just a never-ending cycle.

Yesterday, Eamonn asked if he could borrow a few dollars. I had to laugh. I told him that I have precisely 12 cents to my name. I’m not sure what he is doing with the money that he is earning, but at least we don’t have to pay for his gas. He said something about waiting until next year to start school. I hope that it was just a passing comment, because I know from experience with Alexis that the longer he waits to begin, the greater are the chances that he won’t start at all. That would really be a shame.

Alexis kept saying that she would start one day, but that day has never come. All of her friends who went to college have already graduated and gotten jobs. I know that college isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s a shame when someone is definitely smart enough to go to college, and they don’t, but it has to be her decision.

“Some writers in the throes of writer’s block think their muses have died, but I don’t think that happens often; I think what happens is that the writers themselves sow the edges of their clearing with poison bait to keep their muses away, often without knowing they are doing it.” ~ Stephen King

advertisement-for-a-fountain-pen-featuring-a-silhouette-of-a-woman-sitting-under-a-tree-writingAnyway, it’s a chilly fall day with no sunshine, one of those kinds of days that make staying inside a good option. I’m really hoping that we can do something about the heat this winter, but I’m not going to allow myself to get starry-eyed with belief in wild scenarios. Heat. Wild scenario. My, I’ve come a long way.

As it is, the vet that we took Tillie to for her first seizure is getting pretty nasty about the amount owed. They’ve slapped on so many fees that we now owe over twice as much as we owed in the beginning. Try to imagine your highest vet’s bill—now double it. That’s what we’re talking about.

I would really like to start something with Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), a non-profit service that helps people to consolidate and pay off their bills, but we don’t have the extra monthly income to even start something like that. CCCS is not like a lot of debt-consolidation companies. They are recognized by the Better Business Bureau, and they charge a minimal monthly fee for their services. However, once you start the program, it is very important that you make the monthly payment that has been negotiated with your creditors on your behalf; otherwise, the process is all for naught. Right now, it is too premature to agree to any kind of payment plan with anyone.

I’ve been reading the news, and the number of people who are having to file for bankruptcy is increasing each month. That is really something that I just do not want to do. It seems like total surrender, and I don’t want to consider that as an option. I know that there are a lot of irresponsible people who file for bankruptcy as a way to wipe the slate clean, and then they begin to accumulate debt all over again. But there are just as many people out there who are filing for bankruptcy because they just don’t have any other way out.

It’s sad really. A recent report in USA Today cited that the number of bankruptcies is up 22 percent over last year. By the end of the year, estimates are that 1.45 million consumers will have to file, with job loss being listed as the primary reason for filing. For 2009, Virginia ranks 23rd overall for bankruptcies filed. Nevada, Tennessee, and Georgia rank first through third, in that order.

The economy continues to be scary, and the job situation continues to be depressing. Not just for us but for millions of people.

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” ~ Joseph Heller 

Parker Duofold PenOther than those little tidbits, I don’t have much to say, which in itself is disheartening. I had really hoped to be back to my daily blogging by now, but there are some days in which I just have absolutely nothing to say. I sit down to write and just stare at the screen. Then I open a game like Mah Jong or Spider Solitaire and play that for a bit.

It’s underwhelming, at best. I mean, how long can I continue to write about my dogs, the economy, the money situation? I’m getting bored with what I write, so it’s only logical that people would find my posts boring to read. Hence, I don’t post.

I mean, I have been reading some really outlandish stuff on the political front, but even that isn’t motivating me to post. Maybe it’s just seasonal, or the continuing ache in my head, or the fact that it’s not even November, and I’m cold. But whatever it is, I hope that is passes soon, because I enjoy writing, just not when I continuously repeat myself.

I’ll finish with a very descriptive quote that I found; it’s by Stephen King, whose writing I don’t always like, but I do like an awful lot of what King has to say about the writing process:

There is indeed a half-wild beast that lives in the thickets of each writer’s imagination. It gorges on a half-cooked stew of suppositions, superstitions and half-finished stories. It’s drawn by the stink of the image-making stills writers paint in their heads. The place one calls one’s study or writing room is really no more than a clearing in the woods where one trains the beast (insofar as it can be trained) to come. One doesn’t call it; that doesn’t work. One just goes there and picks up the handiest writing implement (or turns it on) and then waits. It usually comes, drawn by the entrancing odor of hopeful ideas. Some days it only comes as far as the edge of the clearing, relieves itself and disappears again. Other days it darts across to the waiting writer, bites him and then turns tail. ~ From “The Writing Life” (October 2006)

Today is one of those “as far as the edge of the clearing” days. Video of Anna Nalick’s “Wreck of the Day” with images from “Law & Order Criminal Intent,” one of the best shows ever.

More later, with any luck. Peace.

“Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~ Angela Monet

Romeo and Juliet Frank Dicksee 1884

“Romeo and Juliet,” by Frank Dicksee (1884)


” . . . Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love . . . the clarity of hatred . . . and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace . . . but we would be hollow . . . Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.” ~ Joss Whedon

Headache tonight. Huge, painful, eye-closing, face-grimacing migraine. No post, just music. This song by Fisher was our wedding song. I still think that it’s one of the most beautiful songs ever.

More later. Peace.



I Will Love You by Fisher

From the album: True North, Released 11.14.2000
Interscope Records/

‘Til my body is dust
’til my soul is no more
I will love you, love you
‘Til the sun starts to cry
and the moon turns to rust
I will love you, love you

But I need to know – will you stay for all
time…forever and a day
Then I’ll give my heart ’til the end of all
time…forever and a day

(short instrumental)

‘Til the storms fill my eyes
and we touch the last time
I will love you, love you
I will love you, love you…