Sunday, December 25, 2011

Elf in a ATree

and not on the shelf.   

One cold day while I was in school, my mother made her trip to our local 5 & 10. 
If you are much younger than I am, you might not know what a 5&10 is.  A 5&10 is yesteryears answer to today's dollar store, in which the items inside the store cost between 5 cents and 10 cents.  By the time I cam along in the 1960's, there were items that cost dollars and not just cents, but the majority of items cost less than a dollar and in my experience, were of good quality if not of excellent quality.   So on this cold day during the Advent season, my mom found an elf that looked similar to this little guy pictured, except that he was all in green and sat on a gold star.  A little gold cord loop let you hang him from something as a decoration.  My mom decided to hang him from our home's diningroom chandelier over the table. We all thought he was awfully cute, but mom didn't lead any of us to think that this little elf would be monitoring our activities and reporting them to Santa.  No, that was the job of the little elves that Santa dropped by our house in the dead of night.  None of us knew the night or the time the elves would be dropped off, so we better be good, because the elves were  watching and reporting to Santa!!                                                                                                                           
The facts were, we knew the difference between real elves which no one could see, and a plastic elf from the dime store!     
As time went on, I was able to find copies of my mom's elf at yard sales and I put them on my Christmas tree or around the house, but I never told my kids that the elves were real and making notes

of their behavior to report to Santa.  My kids knew these were just Christmas decorations that Mom

has as a kid, and really liked.  They knew, like my sibling and I knew years earlier, that the real elves were tiny and quick and were rarely if ever seen; just may-be their shadows would be glimpsed now and then.  The elves would be dropped off by Santa Clause on the first night of Advent, and would be making notes on my children's behaviors to be given to Santa on Christmas Eve, when they would be picked up and bought home to the North Pole.  I'm a bit more, okay, a lot more theatrical than my mother, so my kids would hear me occassionally shriek "STOP!! Oh my gosh, Matt! You almost stomped on that elf! Will you please be carefull!" and for a little while, my children would walk slowly, on tip toe, watching for elves.  They also would neatly fold Kleenex to make comfortable elf pillows and spread Kleenex over cotton balls to make comfortable elf beds.

Which is why I don't get today's children's craze of Elf on a Shelf.  I read up on the antics of this elf, and he does things like draw mustaches on photgraphs using markers (!), makes snow angels in flour he spills, leaves mini-marshmallows in a big mess on the floor after a fight at night when everyone is in bed.  What gives?
Our elves watched our family for behavior that would lead to a reduction on Christmas gifts, or even no Christmas gifts and a gifting of coal.  Today's elf watches the kids for bad behavior and then indulges in it at night himself?
Nope, I don't get it.
By the way, there is a very good Christmas Elf book that you might want to hunt down.  It is called "Santa Clause" and it is all about the Elves and Santa Clause working at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas.  It is written in rhyming prose, and came out in either the late 1960's, early seventies.  The illustrations are imaginative and charming.  Start looking for it now so that you are ready next Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Comments I don't want to see!

I love to get comments on my blog! If you want to comment, whether you agree or disagree with what I've written, please feel free to comment.

The comments I don't want to see our comments that are obviously spam. I get comments that praise me for my blog post, but don't refer to anything I've written. I get comments that contain HTML for their site. Sometimes they're selling a product, sometimes it's for a service and other times it is just plain porn.

Which is why it doesn't show up on my blog. I've been at this for too long to just let any comment, unmoderated on my blog.

There's been a swarm of spam to my blog in the last few months, which is why I am commenting now.

And while I'm at it let me remind you that when you do comment, please be polite! If you need to use cuss words, your post will either have them removed or not be published at all. You can think might post are stupid, whiny, prejudiced, or just plain boring and that is fine.

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog!

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Giving Till it Doesn't Hurt, Part 2

In my last post, I discussed how to collect money for Holiday giving without an OUCH! factor.

Today I want to discuss another idea of how to give without there being an OUCH! factor. Today's idea is PURGE!

If you are like me, you probably have cleaned the house to supply material for the Churches White Elephant Sale, the Book Drive, and your own yard sale. Believe it or not, there probably is EVEN MORE that you can purge. You will be absolutely surprised at how many things work their way into your house without even realizing it!

The Criteria here is the things have to be new, and LOOK new. Impossible you say? Not so, I say.

First, look among the families toiletries. Often times we are given butters, creams, colognes, oils, shampoos, powders, soaps and bath bombs that we haven't used in the sixth months since we've been given the gift and probably won't ever use. They aren't part of our routine. These items would be great to give to a church or community group that assembles gift baskets for the less fortunate at Christmas.

How about looking on book shelves? You'll probably find books that were given to you or your children that you either once had an interest in and don't now, or never had an interest in and never will. As long as the cover isn't scuffed, the pages aren't bent or dirty, it would make a great thing to give for an organization to use as a gift or in it's Holiday Gift Shop for clients. You can do the same thing with DVD's. I was surprised at how many dvds we had that had never been opened.

Now look in your closets. I have found a still packaged, holiday table cloth in the size of a table that I no longer own, some stocking stuffers that I couldn't find after I bought them that are now no longer age appropriate for my family, floating candles and some still in the plastic card games. They might not be the "it" gift of the season, but they would still make nice gifts.

Lastly, look in your pantry. Remember the soup that sounded so delicious, but you couldn't finish the first bowl? It might not be your taste, but it might be someone elses. For example, I love Manhattan Clam Chowder, but I detest the New England Clam Chowder that my husband bought home. It was too much trouble to bring the one can back to the store. That can of soup got donated. The can of fried onions that I was going to use in a string bean casserole that my husband informed me he detested and I decided not to make. Donated. A can of salmon? Nice gift from a offspring I won't mention, but not trying it. Ditto the smoked sardines. The point here is that these foods are not my taste, but they might be someone elses taste. As long as the items are not near or past their due dates.

My dear cousin Bernadette, God rest her soul, did this, but in a different way. She would make up a grocery bag or two for the Holiday Community Kitchen. Bern would put in the essential things like peanut butter, but she'd also put in fun things like chocolate syrup and hot cocoa mix and a big bag of marshmallows. In this vein, another fun thing to put in would be all the ingredients to make a home made pumpkin pie. Things don't always have to be utilitarian or practical, in other words.

OUCH! factor for these ideas? Mostly zilch!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giving Till It Doesn't Hurt, part 1

It's Advent, and you want to do something in order to prepare for Christmas. That's a commendable thought. So have you thought about what you want to do?

How about giving to charity?

I can hear you groan, shift your feet and even react a bit cynically. In the economy, who has money to give to anyone, no matter how needy? We're all familiar with the saying, "Give till it hurts!!" but may-be we hurt already. Or may-be we just finished hurting and we don't want to hurt at all.

I bet you've never heard this saying before, but how about giving till it doesn't hurt? I've been brainstorming some ideas about this, and I'd like to share it with you.

Before we begin though, let me ask you, when you do the giving, are you planning on trying to take a deduction on your taxes for your Christmas time giving? Because if you are, it is really, really, did I emphasize really enough? important that you keep good records of your giving. Keep receipts, and if you aren't given a receipt, you are going to have to insist on one that includes the name of the charity, the date and exactly what you have donated. Which makes this whole endeavor sound more like Scrooge than Santa, but what can you do?

So, how do you give without it hurting? First, promise yourself that no matter who gung ho! you are about this endeavor to begin with, you will not let it turn into an obsession and become a crusading super man or woman. That only leads to disappointment if you don't reach a certain goal, and then to disappointment.

My first no-pain idea is to wrap an empty coffee can with Christmas wrapping paper and put a slit in the flexible plastic top. If you have kids, they could decorate the can and make it look like a gift, or put words like "Donate" or "give" or "change" on a simply wrapped can. If the can is pleasing enough to the eye, then you can leave it in the family living space where it is noticeable and not easy to lose or forget about as the season goes on.

Now, what goes into the can, besides money that is? Well how about coupons that are for food pantry essentials like pasta, baby formula, disposable diapers, soups, meals in a can etc? Make sure the coupons don't expire until the very end of December at the soonest, January would be better. Now start saving for buying the items on the coupons.

So, where does that money come from? Well I have a few ideas on that also.

My first thought is, every bit of change in pockets, under seat cushions, in the car, on dresser tops etc goes into the can. You might be surprised at how much change you find this way, and the OUCH! factor is zero.

Okay, so you want to add more money to the can than loose change provided? How about the deposit money from returnable bottles and cans? May-be you and your family don't drink soft drinks enough to make this very lucrative, but a simple request made to neighbors or co workers by way of a cute note asking for a weeks worth of bottles and cans might bring in a few more dollars, without bothering anyone with a long term commitment. Another idea is to go on family walks and pick up bottles and cans along the road. How about knocking on the doors of people who have recycling bins in front of their houses and asking if you can take their returnables, of course never leaving a mess in your wake.

A last idea is to ask a area restaurant to save you their returnable bottles and cans for one weekend, which you will promptly pick up on Monday.

More ideas next time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hail and Blest

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment In which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, [here mention your request] through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

Sunday was the first day of the Season of Advent. My daughter went into my closet and got out the cranberry red, flat glass dish that serves as my Advent wreath these days. I also have three dark red candles in glass that represent the three purple candles of the Advent wreath and one white candle in glass the represents both the rose or pink candle for the last week of Advent and the White candle that is supposed only to be lit starting Christmas Eve, representing the pure Christ Child.

I would prefer my old Advent Wreath that needed to be decorated every year and held the correct colored candles, but as life has gone on, I've learned that things are not always perfect and you make do with what you have. After all, it's more important to actually observe Advent than to worry too much about wreaths and colored candles, within reason of course.

Today is the feast of St. Andrew and today we begin the Novena of Christmas Anticipation. The prayer begins "Hail and blest be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem in the piercing cold." And there in lies the crux of the meaning of all these day of Advent and the day that crowns it all, Christmas, the day that Jesus, the Christ, the anointed, was born.

This season is about preparing our souls, our inner being, for the most magnificent moment in human history - the moment when the Almighty God deigned to join His creation in it's human form. The moment when God chose to join humans in feeling the comfort of a mother's embrace, the joys of friendship, the camaraderie of being part of a family but also in feeling the bite of hunger and cold, tiredness and the stabbing pain of betrayal. Can we ever fully comprehend, completely?

Just like any human endeavor, you have to put in the time and effort to get the reward. Christmas is no different. If you don't avail yourself of the time of preparation that Advent gives us, Christmas will be no more to you than one joyful day of hopefully being with family and friends and giving or receiving presents. It will be a time of Jolly Fat Men dressed in red ringing a bell, snowmen when there isn't even snow on the ground, lights on houses and carols, old and new that are awful, trite and so overplayed that I guess most people don't even here the words that are being sung by sometime in December, considering that the carols get played on radio stations earlier and earlier each year. This year, I started hearing them just after Halloween was over.

Which is a shame, because without Advent, the world stops celebrating Christmas shortly after the 25th of December, which is when the Christmas Season actually does begin. And what a wonderful season it is!

Retailers assume that the Christmas Season starts at the beginning of November and so the real Christmas season doesn't have commercial constantly trying to get you to buy, buy, buy! The Advent Wreath has all it candles lit, and it burns cheerily. Family is no longer bound to the secular "Christmas Season", so getting days off to spend with family is easier and less stressful. Singing songs to the "New Born King" makes more sense after Christmas Day than for 32 days before He is even born.

You must have heard the song by now, "We need a little Christmas! Right this very minute!" but I disagree. We need a LOT of Advent, for the next 25 days.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011


As I am laying here in bed with my husband snoozing beside me, all I can think of is his workbench in the garage. His workspace is not what you would call perfectly clean. There are greasy things there, tubes of adhesives, and there is sawdust. There are cans of paint with so much paint dried on the label that you don't have to guess at the color of the paint on the inside.

You know what you won't see? You won't see screws, washers, nails or tools. These things are all put away in drawers or cans or chests. The cans have crude, but clearly written labels on them. Want a washer? It's in that can. Want a ratchet? The ratchet and sockets are in that chest. I'm not really sure what is in the drawers, but I'm pretty sure that Nate knows what is in them.

And that is the way that Nate is. In fact, after having four sons, I'm pretty sure that is the way most men, and some lucky women are. They have drawers that they put events and emotions in when they are done with them.

Teenage angst? Top drawer on the left, the one with the lock on it.

Family drama? Okay depends, if it is off spring or wife drama it's in the top right drawer, the one with a lock on it. If it is drama from any other family member, it's in the chest under the work bench, with the padlock on it.

Financial worries? It goes in the third draw down on the left.

Work problems? Second draw from the bottom on the right hand side.

On and on. Every drama, every worry, every anger has it's place in these mental chests. They get dealt with, they get put away in the right drawer and sometimes they never see the light of day again.

And with all these issues dealt with and neatly put away, Nate slumbers peacefully away ...... while I sit here, my blood pressure slightly raised, issues tumbling around my brain, keeping me awake.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Page From My Daybook, November

Today is - . rainy and drizzly. It was so dark out that my day slipped away. I was surprised when I looked at the clock and it was already 2 PM

I am thinking about - all my family that have left this world in Novembers passed; both my grandfathers, my great grandmother and one of my favorite Aunts. I am astounded to think that both my grandfather, and his mother, which is my great grandmother, died on the same day, 80 years apart! On that day a niece and nephew were born. It is just coincidence, but sometimes it feels like a message with a secret!

I am thank full - I am thank full that I was able to take a trip to Long Island this week and visit my parents and my oldest sons. I am thankful that we were all able to get together, despite schedules. I am grateful that my father was able to make us his delicious pineapple upside down cake. I am concerned because he looks so much smaller and thinner than when I saw him a year ago.

I am looking forward to - spring! I have had it with the cold, and it isn't even winter yet! I am looking forward to trying my hand at growing a pumpkin again. And trying to grow tomatoes and peppers. Maybe the summer of 2012 we will be left alone, and I can be burdened with "too many zucchini" like everyone else!

I dream of - the day when everyone in my family is settled into a career that they love that provides a living wage and benefits. Including me!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Halloween Story Part Five

"Aren't you creeped out to be home alone on Halloween night? Especially when Reagan acted that weird way before?" Erin asked anxiously.

"No, I wasn't, until you just bought it up." Ria said heatedly. Then she was instantly sorry. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you."

"It's okay, I understand. Sorry if I creeped you out even more than you were?"

"You didn't." Ria lied. She'd actually had been fine before calling Erin, now the house felt ominously quiet.

"Should I ask my parents if I can stay with you at your house until your parents come home?"

Ria gave herself a mental shake. "No really, I'm fine. I need to find Reagan and see how he's doing. Poor kitty!"

"You sure you don't want to stay on the phone until your parents come home?" At Ria's 'no,' Erin continued "Okay, but if you need me, call and I'll be there in minutes!"

Ria could just imagine her friend running down the road in her costume. She chuckled. "Okay Erin. You know you really are a great friend!"

Before looking for Reagan, Ria took off her costume pieces and put them back into the trunk. She didn't bother to take off her face paint before laying on her stomach and looking under her parents bed for Reagan. He wasn't there.

Ria went into the kitchen pantry and got out a can of cat food. Usually just opening the pantry door was sound enough to drive Reagan into the kitchen, rubbing against her leg, the wall and the kitchen chair legs purring, but not tonight.

"Reagan! Here kitty!" she called. Still Reagan didn't come.

Ria ignored the more quietly working, manual can opener for the noisy, electric can opener. As expected, the electric can opener whined and whirred and clunked as it laboriously opened the can of cat food. Usually Reagan would have been driven insane by now. Tonight he remained a no show.

Could Reagan still be freaked out by what he had heard earlier? Ria began to look for him in his favorite hiding places. It was only after she finished checking the last place, on top of the water heater, that Ria noticed the window curtain caught in the back door. She was sure she hadn't left the house with the curtain caught in the back door.

Did her brother come into the house before getting his car and leaving? Had Reagan gotten out?

Quickly Ria checked the usual message centers in the house for a note from her brother saying that Reagan had gotten out. There was none but it was the only answer because she had checked the whole house for Reagan and not found him.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

We're worried about 72 days

So it's official, Kim Kardashian's marriage is over after 72 days. Not only is it a personal tragedy, apparently it is a tragedy to all the fans that watch, that invest themselves, into the Kardashian reality show.
C'mon people, get a life!!!!
You know what divorces worry me? The divorce of a couple that has been married 30 or more years. It's pretty easy to figure why a 72 day marriage didn't work out, but why did a marriage of 35 years break up?
Was it because the marriage only stayed together for the sake of the children, even when they became young adults?
Was it because of the selfishness of one or both spouses going through a mid-life crisis?
Or did the marriage breaking up have a message or advice that those of us in intact marriages could learn from?
The breaking up of long term marriages is what gets my attention.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Halloween Story, Part 8

The other riders began to arrive and the thundering of oncoming horses began to lessen. From her hiding place, Ria couldn't be sure of how many horses were there. Twenty? Fifty? Were there more? She couldn't be sure. The black horse was still plowing through the woods seeking her. Every so often, the rider would call out in frustration "I know you're here!"

The group parted and from their midst emerged a rider who must be their leader. His horse was as large as any of the others, but the saddle was of a much better quality. It's suppleness shone in the increasing moonlight. He had two lamp carrying riders on either side of him.

"Balfour! What are you doing?"

Balfour immediately stopped his search. "I smelled a human, my lord." There was the sound of muffled laughing from the group.

"Of course you smelled human, you half wit! There's a housing development on the other side of this median!" the leader thundered. "Get out of those woods and get into your position!"

The leader addressed the other riders. "Did you recapture that black cat?"

"No my lord." the other three riders answered almost shamefully.

"No matter, we're sure to come across another one along our ride." He turned to one of his lantern bearers. "Give the signal to assemble. We have far to ride before the moon is at it's height."

The lantern bearer pulled a goat's horn from his tunic and blew. The sound was nothing like a horn and yet indescribable. It made Ria shiver. The original four riders assembled into a column of two, and began riding forward. The other horsemen began riding behind them, also in columns of two, except for the leader who was still flanked by his lantern bearers.

The procession seemed to take hours to pass. Ria didn't stir until the sound of the last horse hoof had faded away. Then she cautiously got up, slowly, still listening, in case one of the riders had stayed behind without her realizing. Ria turned on her flashlight and scanned the woods, looking for the black cat. It was nowhere to be seen.

May-be Reagan had had enough of being outside by this time, Ria hoped. For herself, she had had enough of the woods for one night. She made her way to the dirt road and started to walk home, still listening for the sound of horse hooves.

When she was near home, she hear her name being called. "Ria? Ria!" called her younger sister Katie.

"I'm here!" she began to run toward Katie's voice.

"Ria! What were you doing in the woods on Halloween night? I'd never go in the woods on Halloween night!" Katie gave a shudder.

"I was looking for Reagan."

"In the woods? He was in the shredded paper box next to Daddy's desk. It was like he dug himself down into the paper. He's never done that before. I wonder why he did it tonight?"

I'm sure I know. Ria thought, but she only said "Hmmmm......." as they climbed the steps of the back deck and entered their house.

Every entry on this blog, as well as pictures and photos are the property of Mary Bennett, copyright 2010. Violators will be prosecuted. To use any part of this blog elsewhere, please contact me prior for permission. Items used without prior permission for any reason will be prosecuted.
The conclusion of this story may be to mature for younger children. Parents are strongly advised to read these blog posts first before allowing their children to read it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Halloween Story, Part Seven

The moon was supposed to be full that night, but it was still rising as she crossed the thin wooded strip and stood on the dirt road.

"Reagan! Here kitty!" she called in a voice she hated. She could hear her own fear in it.

C'mon girl! she chided herself. Look around. These are the same trees that you've walked past a thousand times! You've sat at the base of these trees and read books.

Still, the woods seemed spooky.

Ria called for Reagan, pointing the flashlight at piles of leaves or among nests of roots as she walked along. She walked along for about thirty minutes before she saw a black cat rubbing itself on the rough bark of a leafless tree. From where Ria stood, she couldn't be sure if the cat was Reagan.

"Reagan?" she called softly. The cat didn't come to her, but it did meow in response. "You've come a long way boy. Why so far tonight of all nights?"

The cat stiffened. Its ears were so tuned into the sound, it seemed to Ria that they vibrated. Ria listened and at first she heard nothing. Then it seemed as though the ground was starting to vibrate. The vibration grew in intensity until it sounded like the thundering of the hooves of many horses.

People occasionally rode horses down the dirt road, although not at night. When that happened, the usual practice was to step slightly off the road for the rider to pass. But this time Ria felt a rising of terror, apparently shared by the cat, because it bolted off the road and into the woods. Ria could hear it's passage as it tore through brambles, making crackling sounds, only slightly ahead of her own frantic flight.

The sound of the oncoming hooves was unbearably loud now, and impulsively, Ria dropped to the ground and wiggled under a pile of leaves and bramble. She was so frightened that her lungs felt like they were burning, and her breath came in loud heaves that she prayed could not be heard over the sound of the horses thundering hooves.

It was only minutes later that the horsemen came in sight. There were six of them. The horses were huge, bigger than any that Ria had ever seen in her life. They seemed more likely to have come out of a nightmare than to be real. The eyes were rimmed with bright red, the eyes themselves were bottomless black pools. Great clouds of steam came out of the snorting nostrils.

The riders had stopped because the lead rider had held up a huge gloved hand signalling them to stop. In the distance, Ria could still hear the thunder of more horses approaching.

"I smell humans." the first rider growled removing his helmet. It was skull shaped with embossing around the brim.

"There are humans living just on the other side of those woods." The rider lifted up in the saddle as if to stretch his legs from a long ride.

"It be a shame if some of them were in the woods now." The first rider replied with a nasty chuckle.

"They won't be. They are busy gathering candy at this time of night. The children are anyway." It was the third rider who spoke. His saddle supported a long pole, from which hung a macabre lantern, a cat skull with a candle inside of it.

"And the mothers are home alone, just on the other side of those woods?" asked the first rider. "Mayhaps we have time for just a little bit of mischief, eh boys?"

They all laughed.

The fourth rider was silent. Ria studied him. He too carried a lantern attached to his saddle, it was a cat's skull, bigger than the first lantern. All the riders were dressed in black leather, but the fourth rider looked darker than the others. Ria imagined it was as dark as a black hole in space would be.

The rider that had removed his helmet slid to the ground from his horse. He was doing some stretches when he suddenly stopped. "I do smell human!" he said ominously.

"I told you, humans...."

"I mean I smell them here!" he interrupted. "Here!" he gestured around the general area. "Not in some neighborhood. Here!"

They all stood still, even the horses stopped their movements.

Ria wondered if they were sniffing the air too, catching her scent. She almost screamed with fright.

The sound of the other horses was getting louder. They were getting closer. Would they all dismount their horses when they arrived, to scour the woods looking for her? They would surely find her if they did.

The rider mounted his horse again, surprisingly quickly for all the armour and the long cloak he wore. He snatched a lantern pole from one of the riders and urged his horse into the woods.

"What are you doing?" one of them called.

"I said I smelled a human!" The horse walked heavily into the woods. Even fallen logs snapped under his mighty step. Ria froze with terror and began to pray that somehow, those mighty hooves would miss her.

Every entry on this blog, as well as pictures and photos are the property of Mary Bennett, copyright 2010. Violators will be prosecuted. To use any part of this blog elsewhere, please contact me prior for permission. Items used without prior permission for any reason will be prosecuted. The conclusion of this story may be to mature for younger children. Parents are strongly advised to read these blog posts first before allowing their children to read it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween Story Part 6

Every entry on this blog, as well as pictures and photos are the property of Mary Bennett, copyright 2010. Violators will be prosecuted. To use any part of this blog elsewhere, please contact me prior for permission. Items used without prior permission for any reason will be prosecuted. The conclusion of this story may be to mature for younger children. Parents are strongly advised to read these blog posts first before allowing their children to read it.

Ria was angry at her brother Thomas for allowing Reagan to get out of the house, especially on a night that was so dangerous for black cats. She grabbed the open can of cat food and a small penlight and left the house.

She checked all the deck furniture before venturing into the back yard. Reagan wasn't in the yard, including his favorite napping spots inside the bird bath or on the wood pile.

Ria checked her neighbor's yard for Reagan before admitting to herself , with a shudder, that the only place left to look for the cat was the woods on the other side of a dirt road near their home.

Their street was the last block built before the building developer had run out of money to build any more houses. Behind Ria's house was woods. On the other side of her neighbor's house was the developers supply road. The road was barely wide enough for a truck to drive on. It was dirt and had sand and ruts in areas. It ran in the woods from the oldest part of the housing development to the abandoned part of the housing development for a few miles.

During the day, the woods were a friendly place for the neighborhood children to play. There were tree forts in some of the trees, and in some of the natural clearings the neighborhood children had picnics. The woods were a quiet place to do nothing more than walk and think about the day.

Even on moonlit nights, the sandy road was peaceful to walk on, and not threatening in anyway.

But on Halloween night? Ria's imagination ran wild, and she did not want to go into the woods at all.

Never the less, tonight she would have to because Reagan was most likely in the woods. Who knew what could happen to him if she didn't.

The last Snippet of the Development

This is the last snippet of Chapter 9, the Development, a book that I am writing. I hope as you have read, you have started to feel the misgivng that Theresa had turn to fear. Please leave a comment, I'd love to know your thoughts! Would it be too much to ask you to share these latest blog posts with your friends?

By the way, are your kids going Trick or Treating this year? I bet now, you'll be going with them!! Bwahahaha!!!!

It was after ten, and Teresa Meyer felt like she had been a good sport for long enough. Mia was definitely taking advantage of her good will now. Whether it embarrassed her daughter or not, she was going to call her cell phone and demand her daughter come home right now! And if it mortified her in front of her friends, good! May-be it would inspire her to use some common sense next time around!
Teresa pushed the send button, and almost immediately Mia's phone went to voice mail.
"Hey! This is Mia, I'll call you right back!" Beep!
Teresa tried again, with the same result.
She didn't understand why her daughter's phone was turned off. May-be she had it set to vibrate so her friends wouldn't know when her mother called? It was so easy to embarrass a teenager.
Teresa made herself a cup of tea, carried it to the livingroom and turned the television to the local news, while she waited for Mia to return her call.
Mia never did. It was now after 10:30. She would do the capital sin of all capital sins in a teenagers life, call Mia's friend's parents.
She called the Adam's home first. What she heard made Teresa's heart jackhammer in her chest, the kids were cold, and had come home a little after nine.
Teresa asked to speak to Steve directly. She knew that Steve had been the pirate trick or treater.
"Steve, she's not here." She said after picking up the phone. "You didn't come here after Trick or Treating, so how do you know that Mia came home?" She was trying to remain calm, not to break down in tears.
Oh God! If only she had listened to her feelings and braved the teenage scorn that Mia would have heaped on her!
"Well the girls got cold, so we broke into groups and headed for home."
"What groups Steve?"
Steve thought for a minute. "Well, I went home with Sarah Rockney, she was the witch and my little sister Selena, she was the washer woman. For some reason, my sister Samantha didn't want to go Trick or Treating this year. Then my friend Bobby Morgan, he was the baseball player and his sister Dawn, she was the waitress went home. The girl in the baby doll outfit was Lilly Hogan, and she lived right next to the last house we Trick or Treated at, so she went home alone."
"What about Mia, in the pink princess costume, did you let her walk home alone?" Teresa fought the panic in her voice that made her voice rise into a shriek. She had to keep calm so that Steve wouldn't freak. He had to think coolly, rationally.
"Oh yeah, she went home with the kid in the screaming ghost costume."
Teresa almost lost her breath. There hadn't been a kid in a ghost costume when Mia had joined her friends. She tried to calm herself. May-be someone had joined the kids while they were Trick or Treating?
"Steve, who was the kid in the ghost costume? I didn't see him when you all came to pick up Mia."
Steve thought for a minute. Teresa wanted to scream in frustration at the long pause but silently counted to ten to keep her patience instead.
"I don't know who it was." He finally said. "He joined us while we were Trick or Treating."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Development, Snippet 3

Please leave me a comment! I'd love to know how you like this!

"Yes. Be careful. No candy before I check it. I mean it!!"
"What's with your mom tonight?" Teresa heard one of the boys ask. Steve Adams, she recognized the voice,
"I don't know." Mia mumbled. "She's doing the mom thing. She's probably reading a true crime book or something."

They'd done a ton of Trick or Treating, and the girls in their short dresses were getting cold.
"We'll do this last road, and then head for home." Steve Adams announced. He could have continued trick or treating, but without the others, it wouldn't have been much fun.
"My house is that way." The washerwoman said. "After this house, I'm going home."
The witch agreed. "I'm cold and I have enough candy." Sarah Rockney said. "I'll go with you."
A few of the other Trick or Treaters announced that they had enough candy, and were going home also.
After they had rang the doorbell of the last house, the teens broke into separate groups and headed home.
The pink princess left with the black figure with the screaming ghost mask.

A Halloween Story Part Four

Tina looked as though she was ready to cry. Ria handed her a bit of cloth from her costume to wipe her mouth.
She still looked sick. "I think I better go home." she stammered. "Go ahead and Trick or Treat without me."
"Oh no, I'm walking you home." Ria said quickly and Erin agreed.
"We really have enough candy already. My mom steals candy from my bag, so she'll actually thank you." She laughed and Ria joined her because it was true; parents and older brothers always took candy from the Trick or Treat bags.
Tina gave a half smile. "I don't want to ruin the night on you. Go on with out me. I can make it home by myself."
Her friends didn't leave her side the whole walk home. After making sure that Tina was safely home, they decided to walk to Erin's house together and ask Dave to drive Ria home, but he wasn't home.
"Look, it's not far from your house to mine. I'll walk home as fast as I can, and then I'll call you to let you know that I made it home."Ria decided.
"I don't know........." Erin argued.
"I'll be fine!" Ria said as she headed out the door. "Really, I'll call you in a few minutes!"
Ria saw her brother Tommy's tail lights disappearing down the street just as she was getting home.
'It figured!' Ria thought as she took off her necklace to get to the house key she always wore around her neck.
Once inside she hurried to the phone and called Erin. "Home just fine!"
"Are your parents home?"
Ria listened for a minute and didn't hear a single sound. "Nope, home alone."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Development, Halloween Snippet

I hope you enjoyed yesterday snippet. Here is today's. Let me know how you like it!

Safety from what? Teresa again wondered to herself. Then she gave herself a mental shake and told herself not to be silly.

"Does this dress look right?" Mia asked, tugging down on the pink gossamer skirt. She was dressed like a fairytale princess, all in pink, even down to her ballet style slippers.
Mia did look like a princess. The way she looked reminded Teresa of her daughter when she was younger, so much younger, when she had enjoyed dressing up and Trick or Treating was done with her friends, parents, and before it got dark.
Teresa missed those days.
"You look absolutely beautiful, but I'm really worried about how thin that outfit is. It's getting cold. Bring a jacket with you and a pair of sweat pants."
"Moooom!" Mia whined. "That will totally ruin the look!"
It would too.
"Fine, but next year, I want your costume to be the Wookie from Star Wars! Promise me you'll come straight home if you get cold?"
"Promise!" Mia replied with a smile and mother and daughter hugged.
The doorbell rang. When the door opened, they saw Mia's friends; a pirate complete with black eye patch and a stuffed parrot on his shoulder, a baby doll in a too short dress - she'd be cold this night too Teresa noted, a baseball player with a bat, his treat bag hanging off of it, a waitress - in a dress that was too short also, a washerwoman, and a good, old fashioned, green skinned, hooked nose witch.
Since most of the girls wore short skirted costumes, Teresa was sure that the girls would be cold and Mia would be home early. They all would be. Then Teresa could start to breath normally again.
Before Mia left, Teresa checked to make sure that the girl had her cell phone, on speed dial to her own cell phone, and that Mia was one of the group that had a flashlight with her.
"Now can I goooo?" Mia asked in that suffering voice that teenage girls have perfected.

A Halloween Story, Part Three

Reagan's antics were quickly forgotten. Dave dropped Ria and his sister at their friend Tina's house and left.

The girls were stunned by Tina's outfit. She was an ice princess. Her costume had not been put together at home from bits and pieces, but had been professionally made. Her ice blue dress had an overlay by a light tulle that was studded with glass crystals and drops. Her beautiful blonde hair was up swept, and cascaded in curls along the nape of her neck. Her face was made up by a professional hand, probably her mother who was a cosmetologist, and even though her lips were an icy blue, and her eyelashes apparently had ice crystals on them, she looked completely natural.

Erin's red clown lips formed a perfect "o" at the sight of their beautiful friend. "Wow!"

Ria finally found her voice. "You look like you should be going to a party, not Trick or Treating."

"You are stunning! I bet you'd win a prize." Erin agreed.

Tina's face grew red under her white makeup. "Uh, thanks. C'mon, lets go!"

After getting Tina's curfew and saying goodbye to Tina's mother, the three girls left the house.

The neighborhood sidewalks had groups of costumed children. Adults had joined together with friends and guided virtual herds of children from house to house.

The sky was getting darker as the moon was slowly rising. The street lights were coming and Ria noticed that most of the little children were no longer Trick or Treating.

Pools of light came from the un-curtained windows of houses. More and more lit Jack O'Lanterns appeared on the porches of houses.

The girls met up with another group of friends from school and they all began to Trick or Treat together.

"Did you hear about Mrs. Robinson's cat?" Ria heard a scarecrow say.

"Isn't that your neighbor's black cat?" a gypsy asked the scarecrow.

"Oh, that's unique, a black cat story on Halloween. Boooooooo!" a boy dressed like a fedora wearing gangster said sarcastically.

"What about Mrs. Robinson's cat?" prompted a clown that wasn't Erin.

"He's missing. He's been missing since last night. Mrs Robinson has posters up at the supermarket, and she even offered to pay me to look around the neighborhood."

"Did you do it?" asked the fedora wearing gangster.

"I did it for free before I bought my little brother Trick or Treating. I didn't catch even a glimpse of him." the scarecrow replied.

"If I had any colored cat, I wouldn't let it outside anytime near Halloween." opined a girl dressed like a bag of jelly beans. Some of the children agreed and Ria was glad that Reagan was safely underneath her parents bed.

Tina was walking more slowly, and she waited on the sidewalk while the other children Trick or Treated. The second time she did this, Ria and Erin waited with her.

"What's up?" asked Erin. "You look kind of like you are in pain."

"Are your shoes hurting you?"

"No, but I'm starting to feel sick."

"Do you want to go home?" Ria asked.

"I think I'm ..... gonna toss my cookies." Tina said, and then she did.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A snippet from The Development

I am still working on my book, "The Development." I thought for Halloween, I'd share some snippets from it.

Chapter 9

Teresa Meyer had never felt this way before. She didn't want her fourteen year old daughter to go Trick or Treating with her friends this year. She had a nagging feeling, an awful feeling that something terrible was going to happen. Not necessarily to her daughter, per se, but ….
She felt irrational because she had nothing to base her fears on, just feelings and yet she was ready to forbid Mia from going Trick or Treating.
"Mia, finish your supper!" Teresa called. Mia would hurry to the kitchen and snatch a little food from her plate, and then go back to the bathroom or her bedroom to perfect the costume she was wearing this year.
Was she being a smart mom, or a paranoid one?
Paranoid, she decided. After all, it wasn't like her daughter was collecting candy in a strange neighborhood, or even alone. She'd be with a large group of neighborhood friends, just like every year.
And Mia had a cell phone for safety. How Mia loved her cell phone! It was pink and she had hand embellished it with rhinestones and acrylic paint. It was an original creation. Unique, just like Mia.

Scary Mondays - A Halloween Story 2

Erin and her brother Dave came soon after. Erin wore a home made clown costume and lots of face paint. Ria could hardly recognize her. Her brother Dave was dressed, as he described it "like a big brother."

"I'll only be a minute!" Ria told them. "I just have to find Reagan and close him in one of the bedrooms." She began to look for him in all of his favorite places; on the living room windowsill, on her parent's bed, even in the pantry next to his cat treats. He was no where to be found. Erin and her brother joined the search.

They finally found him on the floor behind the drapes. Erin was petting him when all of a sudden, Reagan looked toward the back door, pulled back his ears and yowled so loudly that it scared them all.

"Yikes!" Erin looked scared herself. "What bought that on?"
"I don't know, but I'm going to go check out your back porch." Tom told them as he headed for the kitchen door.
"I'm going to go put Reagan on my parent's bed and close the door." Ria said. "He loves their bed."

The whole time Ria carried the cat, he licked his lips nervously. "There, there, kitty." Ria tried to soothe. "It's alright." But as soon as she put him gently on her parent's bed, Reagan slunk off and hid under the bed. Ria had never seen Reagan act like that before and she half wondered if she should not go Trick or Treating with her friends and stay home wi th the frightened cat.
She got down on her hands and knees and lifted the bedspread. Reagan looked like a giant poofball, his eyes large, round black circles with the smallest outline of green.
"Rrrrrrrooooooooowwwwwwrrrrrrr!," he half growled, half howled.
Ria decided it would probably be better to leave Reagan alone and allow him to calm down in a quiet house.

Please check out more Scary Mondays at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are costumes racist?

My daughter hasn't decided what she's going to be for Halloween this year. We are unusual, because unlike the recent trend, we don't buy a "finished" Halloween costume. In other words, my kids don't pick up a box at WalMart, with all the pieces to be Lady Gaga in it.
Not that we never did that. Way back in the 80's, when my kids were young, we bought the Care Bear, Voltron etc costumes. But we stopped after a while, and I began to pick up what I called "pieces" at yard sales. An apron here, a moth eaten stole there, a scarf, a hat, and long zippered, robe-y things.
Now my daughter has a trunk of pieces that spans over 20 years for her to pick through. And even when she has finished her Trick or Treating stage, I will probably continue to add to the trunk. You just never know when a bank manager might need a boa and a fedora, or a librarian might need a few strands of long beads!
So my daughter might be a gardener, a dancer, an old woman etc. A student group is complaining about different pre-packaged costumes, as an example, geisha and another costume that has as components a long mustache, a poncho and a sombrero as being racist. Is it?
I remember as a kid in school, studying continents and then being assigned one of the countries on that continent. On due day, many of my fellow students would dress in their assigned countries ethnic clothing while reading their report on the country. Were we being racist back then?
Are some people just too politically correct, or do some of us need to learn to be more sensitive?

Scary Mondays - A Halloween Story

It was the 31st of October, so it was Halloween. But everybody knew that Halloween didn't officially start until after school was out, and after it started getting dark.
Ria was happy, this year her parents had finally agreed that 12 was old enough for her to Trick or Treat until 8:30. This year, she would Trick or Treat by the light of the full Harvest Moon with her best friends Erin and Tina. Ria's mother insisted on the buddy system any time she went anywhere.
When Ria got off the school bus that afternoon, she scanned the yard for Reagan, her cat, before she dropped her books inside her bedroom. Reagan was a completely black cat, and some people had some sick ideas of what to do with black furred animals on Halloween. Reagan had been kept inside the house for the last few days, just in case. He was going stir crazy and was trying harder and harder to escape to the freedom of the outdoors.
Their yard sided a wooded building lot on one side and on the other side was a narrow dirt road that led to a housing development that had gone bankrupt before any houses could be built. Reagan loved the woods. He would climb the trees and keep their yard free of squirrels, which Reagan considered Public Enemy Number One.
As Ria walked down the hall to her bedroom, her sister Katie said "Reagan is sleeping in the living room window. Mom says before we go Trick or Treating to make sure that Reagan is closed in a bedroom so there's no chance of him getting out."
Ria dropped off her books and then opened a can of cat food for Reagan. It stunk to high heavens, but Reagan didn't seem to mind. He came running from the living room to the kitchen as if he hadn't eaten in months instead of just hours.
When it came to eating, Reagan was finicky at all!
Ria called her mother to let her know that she was home. Then she and Katie went into their parent's bedroom to start getting their costumes ready. Their parents had a footlocker in their bedroom that had belonged to their mother since she was a teenager. Inside the trunk was pieces of every costume her mother had ever worn from the time she was a teenager until now. Even now, their mother shopped the after Halloween sales picking up more costume pieces and props.
The girls never had an actual, bought costume. Instead they had choices of one piece "cat suits" that they could accessorize with almost anything imaginable; ropes of plastic beads, cat ears, clown hair, a bald wig, a wig of long black hair, pompoms, grass skirts, pirate hooks, grass skirts and more. All they needed was imagination, and Ria and Katie had that in abundance!
After they decided on what they were going to wear that night, Ria popped a microwave dinner into the microwave oven. The family usually ate dinner together, but tonight they wouldn't. Their older brother Tom was still at football practice, and their parents wouldn't be home until just after they left to go Trick or Treating.
Reagan sat on the floor next to Ria as the girls ate their supper. Reagan was a polite cat. He wouldn't jump onto the table, or pull on their clothes as they ate. He just sat quietly, looking at them with friendly eyes that seemed to say "Won't you share?"
Suddenly, Reagan's ears pricked forward. His pupils grew so wide, that his eyes looked black instead of green.
"What is it Reagan?" Ria asked when she noticed him. "He must have heard something, look at his tail!"
"It looks like a bottle washing brush!" Katie laughed. "I wonder if Tommy is home?"
They waited a minute, but Tommy didn't come in the house.
"Tommy?" Ria called.
No answer.
Reagan's tail de-poofed and they finished their dinner. Then they hurried back into their parent's bedroom to put their costumes on.
Soon after, their was a knock on the door. Reagan jumped and landed with his claws out. He hissed at the door.
"Silly cat!" Katie scolded. "It's only my friend Suzy! You know Suzy." She let Suzy and her mother into the house. "I'm almost ready, I just have to get my Treats bag."
"Reagan looks scary." Suzy observed.
"I think it's more like Reagan is scared, but of what, I have no idea." Ria replied.
"I'll be bringing Katie back at about 8." Suzy's mom stated. "Will there be someone here?"
"Oh yes, my parents should be home by 5:30 at the latest."
"Will you be going Trick or Treating too?" Suzy's mom asked.
"Yes, I'm going with my friend Erin, and then we're going to be picking up my friend Tina."
"Good, I'm glad that you won't be out alone."
"Nope! My mom insists on the buddy system too."

Suzy's mom was satisfied, and they left.

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Today, Nate and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. I feel reflective.

In 32 years of marriage we:

had 6 kids and fostered one for 5 years

lived in 3 states

bought 3 homes, including one in the Hamptons, and one we bought outright

had innumerable cats, a dog, two bunnies, a snake and a few tankfuls of fish

traveled to Canada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Niagara, Amish Country, the Poconos, and a Renaissance Faire.

owned a van furnished for travel, numerous cars, 3 mini-vans, trucks, and a extended cab truck

we've raised chickens for eggs

Nate and Matt found a haunted house on property we owned.

Nate has had many operations

Nate has been licensed and certified for driving commercial trucks and tractor trailers as well as running a wastewater treatment plant and potable water

I have had a column in a newspaper, sold photo's I took, my artwork and jewelry I made.

We've had children grow to adult, and move out of our home

We've endured through serious illness and it's after effects

We grew a huge pumpkin for Halloween this year

I can only wonder what the next years will hold!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's Up With Clowns?

Clown's were a big part of my life growing up.
They were hobo's, and traveled by trains that they hopped onto. They were kind to all kids but especially to run aways. Runaways that found the hobo clown camps next to the train tracks not only got to share a meal of hotdog's cooked over a fire, but also got quarters pulled out of their ears - and quarters were worth a lot back then, before they were walked home and seen safely inside. Only then would the hobo clown return to his camp.
I loved it when the circus came to the city. To the best of my knowledge, the circus never came to my town. The television would have the most wonderful commercials. They would start with strong strains of music, and on would come the elephants, trapeze artists, and the clowns. Clowns that smiled and waved. Clowns that wore squirty water flowers in their lapels.
One year my mother and grandfather bought us to see the Ringling Brothers circus at Madison Square Garden. It was huge and hard to really see the many act going on in the three rings. Later in life, I preferred Cole Brother's Circus because they played in a smaller arena and so the acts were easier to see.
And then there was Ronald from McDonald's. Another cool clown
that took kids for rides on his flying hamburger or on trips through McDonald's Land. McDonald's Land was a pretty cool place! It had things like hamburger patches and shakes falls and neat, muppet type critters that liked french fries.
But my favorite clown was Bozo! He was another clown that just loved kids! He never talked down to kids, he honestly would scoot down on his heels in order to talk face to face with kids.
Bozo had a show that was part cartoon, featuring Bozo and his child friend Butch, dressed like a Ring Master. The show also featured Bozo clowning around, and one lucky kid each show was picked to be Ring Master that day. What a lucky kid! Boy or girl, it didn't matter, and they received piles and piles of gifts!
And then the climate changed. Why? Was it because of all the recessions of the 1970's? Was it the disillusionment of the Kennedy assassinations, Watergate and the Vietnam War? I don't
know, but suddenly, the kid loving clowns were no longer kid loving, trustable or even funny. We were inundated with movies like "Killer Clowns," "It" and many others. I can't tell you how many people I've met who think that clowns are creepy!
Why? Is it because the makeup of clowns obscures their emotions? Or is because the makeup obscures the very identity of the clown?
And then there was POGO the Clown
Pogo was a clown that serial killer John Wayne Gacy invented after he joined the Moose Club. A group within the Moose Club invented their own clown persona's, name, make-up, and costume. Then they would appear for free at charity events, visit children in hospitals and do other charitable things. You'll notice that Pogo's makeup isn't rounded like Ronald McDonald's, Bozo's, or the circus clowns did. It was as if Pogo didn't care if he scared children. Contrary to some reports though, Gacy never used Pogo to capture children. Pogo was a scary clown, but at least he wasn't a killer clown.
God Bless all the circus clowns that remain friendly and entertaining through these times we live in!
I still like clowns, but I do admit, I do keep my eye on them these days.
And that is sad.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Remembering Green Stamps

Recently on my friend Gena's blog, , she was blogging about our tv houses. There were plenty of votes, but was it really surprising that so many of us picked the Brady Bunch House?
One of my favorite episodes was "54 40 or Fight." The time was the late 1960's, early 1970's and the Bradys are sad to find out that their trading stamp redemption center is about to close. The girls have been saving the stamps, but the boys didn't know. And of course, the boys have been saving the stamps, but the girls didn't know. Now with the redemption center closing, the Brady's need to redeem the those stamps, pronto!
The boys want a rowboat, the girls want a sewing machine. Neither group has enough stamps on their own to get what they really want, and neither side wants to compromise. The answer to this dilemna, build a card house. Who ever knocks the house down loses the stamps.

Thanks to Tiger the dog, the girls won and head to the redemption center for their new sewing machine, but come home with a portable color tv that they can all enjoy.

As I've said many times, I really miss the customer loyalty programs like S and H Green Stamps and Plaid Stamps.
I remember going grocery shopping with my parents and them being handed a few pages of stamps after paying for their groceries. To my eyes, it looked like a bonanza and that we could get whatever we wanted from the premium catalog right away.
My mother took it in stride, and when we got home, she would put the stamps into the bread drawer that every 1960's kitchen used to have.
Every so often, Mom would take a night after us kids were in bed, and sit at the kitchen table with her sponge top water bottle and put stamps into the books. Once, around Christmas, when our family had grown to seven, Mom even allowed me to put the precious stamps into the stamp book. What a show of confidence!!! I was nervous doing it, wondering if I really was capable, but still so proud.
And the premiums were top of the line! Mom used the stamps to buy my first, and only, doll house and I suspect many other Christmas gifts. I know that appliances like electric hair curlers, dryers and toasters were all offered, as well as pretty dishes and serving pieces.
Today I found out that S and H Greenstamps have grown along with the times. They are available for online shopping and called Green Points now. I had trouble with the site, but if you purchase over the web often, it might be worth checking out.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Summers Over

Summer is over. I feel cheated. Just as my garden was ripening and looking like I was going to have a nice bounty of vegetables, Hurricane Irene blew in. We didn't get a whole lot of rain, but we did get a great amount of twisting winds. It snapped my egg plant, it tore out my cucumbers and zucchini plants, and just generally beat on my tomatoes. So my summer bounty was mostly tomatoes.

We thought the Russian Black tomatoes were neat to have in our garden, but the taste was really nothing to write home about. The heritage pinks were good, but the best tomatoes were the paste tomatoes we got for free!

I planted six pumpkin seeds this year. Out of that, I got one small, perfect orange pumpkin that was rotting away on the bottom, numerous false starts that rotted away on the vine, and one 50 pound pumpkin that has so far survived.

Now if it doesn't rot or get stolen until after Halloween .......


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