Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloweeeeeeen!!!!

Halloween! All Hallow's Eve! Dia De Los Muertos! The day of candy corn, jack-o-lanterns, costumes, ghouls, goblins, fun, and generally SCARY STUFF!

How about spiders? They are very active in the Fall. Big garden spiders spin and spin, creating huge symmetrical webs to trap their prey. Daylight finds them in hiding; evening begins the hunt. And watch out for Black Widows too! They seek dark places, spinning rather desultory webs as their signature death trap.

And how scary is a pumpkin? The inside can be pretty darn to a little one, namely mine. When my son and niece were young we carved some pumpkins for Halloween. Each child was to clean-out his/her own pumpkin before the artistic process would begin. My niece dug in happily; my son protested. Thinking he just wanted to skip to the fun part I encouraged him to persist. Not until I heard him say "Mom, I see little white flies in my pumpkin" and "I'm dizzy" did I realize what was happening. My rough and tumble boy was seeing stars! Blood and guts never phased him, but the mushy innards of a pumpkin were definitely his kryptonite!

Be afraid! Be very afraid!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sentimental Journey

My folks had a road trip to Oregon planned for this Fall. A sentimental journey of sorts to enjoy long overdue visits with relatives and old friends. When my dad broke his ribs in early September, I had some concern about them traveling alone. (Besides, I’ll dig for any excuse to do a road trip;) So with vacation time available from work, I offered to be their chauffeur and travel agent:)

Dallas and Doris (my parents) have been married for 58 years. They were wed on June 25, 1950, a date familiar to US History buffs as the day the Korean War began. My mother had not seen my father for a year when she arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii where he was stationed as a member of the US Navy. They were married with no relatives present, only friends: Mac was Best Man. Lil was Matron of Honor. They, too, were newlyweds (of only four months). Mac was in the Navy. Lil worked at Ship Service.

Ah, the twists and turns of fate. My dad needed to find an apartment before my mom arrived, so Mac mentioned that the one below he and Lil was available. Thus began an enduring friendship of four people, born in different parts of the country within 10 months of one another. An Iowan, Missourian, Idahoan, and Hawaiian became friends and neighbors on Palani Street in Honolulu, Hawaii.

My parents have always remembered and appreciated the kindness of their friends. Mom had no wedding dress for the marriage ceremony, so Lil borrowed one from another friend for her to wear. The couples socialized and celebrated holidays together for the two years they were neighbors. My dad spent an extra year in the Navy because of the war. Mac signed over and became a career man. Our family ultimately settled in Southern California. Their family lived in Washington, Oregon, California, and even Cuba for two years. We kept in communication mostly through letters, lost touch for a number of years, then, with the aid of the internet, began communicating again.

This past weekend I watched four people who hadn’t seen each other in 37 years reminisce without missing a beat. Names, places, and stories from the past were discussed, photos shared, and gaps of time brought up to date. I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing every moment of this event but must say that one particular discussion stood out above all others.

The day prior to our visit was Lil’s 80th birthday, making her the first of the four to reach that milestone. Always beautiful inside and out, sweet too, she still has that sharp little edge that makes her so interesting to talk with.

Lil was born and raised in Honolulu in a neighborhood near Diamond Head. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, she had just turned 13 years old. I felt so privileged to hear about this event from her perspective! A child’s point-of-view, so different from the military strategies of history books:)

She recounted that she remembered seeing the smoke rise from the harbor for days and also mentioned that they feared ground invasion from the Japanese. (Looking back, we know that the attack was only aerial, but if you are experiencing it in real time, how could you be certain?) Everyone was issued gas masks. She noted (as a 13 year old girl would;) that they were UGLY, heavy, and had a huge filter canister on them. Required to tote them everywhere, she gave up carrying a purse, and piled her belongings into the mask. Children are wonderful! She also noted the required blackouts in the days following the attack. Absolutely no light was allowed to leak from the houses at night. Her father was the warden in their neighborhood, too. He patrolled to make certain it was “Lights Out!”

On behalf of Dallas and Doris, I would like to thank Mac, Lil, Sharon, Debbie....and Mollie;) for their hospitality. This was a road trip like no other......

*Note: Photo Number 4 was taken at the Punchbowl Cemetery on Christmas Day 1950.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins!

.....she said in her best British accent. No, not the alternative rock group (formed in Chi-town, BTW). It's October showcase time for the versatile pumpkin!

Our pumpkins got an early start this year. After the seedlings were planted, vines took off across the yard and even up the fence. During the morning hours, bees were ecstatic over the blooms, showing no discrimination between male and female flowers. Soon tiny pumpkins appeared, then grew and grew till harvest time....

My friend Jordi from Missouri (or Missoura, like my mom, a Missouri native, says) loves pumpkins (and gourds too). She occasionally looks to Martha Stewart Magazine for fun ideas, and discovered the Pumpkin Owls this year. They are quite easy to make, especially if you leave out the miniature lights.

Jordi and I both get a giggle out of Martha (often the definition of perfectionism and its negatives). Martha did a televised special many years ago with Julia Child as guest. Watching loosey-goosey Julia frustrate Miss M (almost to the point of homicide) was incredibly entertaining. Someday Jordi and her sister will take over the Martha Stewart empire;) I hope it's hostile....

Choose yer weapon, Martha! Spatulas it is!