Mirth and Musings Part 16



I am encountering a rise in anticipation as the Eve approaches and I find that anticipation can quickly turn to anxious knots as preparations progress.  Still its not without merit as I liken it to the same apprehension I would feel venturing out into the darkness, drawn towards the smoky lights of flickering jack-o-lanterns, the more ambitious smoke and mirrors of yard haunts, even the rather mundane porch light.  In my day (yes, I am that old) we left the house in our made up costumes, lucky enough when Mom took a hand, and with just a group of friends with hands grasping well worn pillowcases, brown paper bags or the (dare to dream) printed plastic shopping bag, with its colorful Halloween images, take ourselves off into the unknown.  This New Yorker Magazine cover by Abe Birnbaum is a wonderful image of a group of friends heading out along well worn or maybe undiscovered paths on that annual candy rite of passage.  Certainly the prospect of free candy had its merits, but I think it was the absence of adult supervision that really appealed to me.  We could go anywhere – talk to anyone – take part in mazes and haunted garages and plans and plots for short-cuts to far off neighborhoods we only really saw from the school bus windows.  It was a no holds barred aberration of rules, instead of being home before the street lights came on we made our way through the darkness to those elusive flickering lights of yards and doorways, instead of making certain we were dressed appropriately for our destination we chose the rattiest or gaudiest draping we could find to deck ourselves out to fit our idea of “witch” or “ghoul” or “Batman” or “princess” and instead of being told we couldn’t have one more piece of candy, we could gorge as we went along, sure in the knowledge of one more street to plunder before the porches went dark.  Sigh.  So despite the hype of candy checking and actual horror of “trunk o treating” I extend my heartfelt appreciation to those of you still doing it the old fashioned way on both sides of the door.  To you Trick or Treaters and Haunters everywhere making the journey and the destination equally worthwhile.

Mirth and Musings Part 15


I haven’t yet thanked everyone out there who is stopping by to visit – the days (and nights) are quickly passing and our Big Night is advancing and I wanted to reach out a bit and express my gratitude to Countdown to Halloween blogspot for hosting their compendium of Halloween blogs again this year.  It’s a great concept and much appreciated by me not only to be included but to have access to so many interesting and quirky blogs.  Fun to see so many sides to Halloween, the different perspectives and niche interests that expand and expound the experience.  If you are of the same mind, just click the Cryptkeeper button at the right to delve into the deep end yourself.

I am highlighting some of my writing this October, so if you stay awhile I hope you enjoy some of what I have and will be posting and this Mirth and Musings highlights another of my New Yorker covers.  I love the mischief in her eyes, seemingly to catch a peek at some malevolence to be sure.  Perhaps she is waiting to take a hand, or just enjoying the dreadfulness from afar…sure in her ability to provoke and promote misdeeds herself and appreciating others efforts.  In either case, that piercing gaze would unsettle my mettle.  Wonderful.

Mirth and Musings Part 12 – Waxing Nostalgic


Going to age myself a bit here, but couldn’t help it.  While sorting through my TNY  collection this Charles E. Martin cover made me smile wistfully as I remembered something from my childhood; something I couldn’t wait for when school days began in September as Halloween usually prompted the first one of the year.  The classroom party.  The chalkboard covered with the list of necessaries for a decent shindig and Mrs. Gresham or Mr. Argast signing up kids next to each one, invariably the “paper plates and napkins” and “cups” would go to that same kid in the front row whose arm would shoot up the moment the teacher asked.  I don’t know, maybe he was baking challenged.  The rest of us divvied up the cookies, brownies, other varied treats of no name, bottles of pop, etc for the Friday party. I remember classroom games, like heads up seven up and chalkboard hangman.  I remember a parade of students walking around the quad proudly displaying homemade costuming.  Teachers dressed as their alter egos (or true natures) best suggested.  Trick or treating room to room with each classroom decked out along its own theme.  The truncated lessons to make time to just enjoy the holiday undiminished by political correctness.  Madcap and mayhem would eventually ensue in the sugar tide, everyone going home clutching a paper plate with various goodies to enjoy over the weekend shared with family, if they survived the bus ride or walk home that is.

Mirth and Musings Part 11

A lovely New Yorker cover from my collection. Edna Eicke has captured a wonderful moment.  Everything the night should be, the “ghosts” peering through the gate to judge if the walk is worth the risk.  I think the lighted windows highlighting the porch seal the deal.  I love the importance of the porch, the threshold, the approach to the door.  So much anticipation, exhilaration, consternation.  You get it.  Sometimes with haunters its meant to be a very long walk, even when its a hop, skip and jump to the door from the sidewalk.  Like running the bases through a gauntlet, real or imagined.  With only the thought of reaching the porch, the door, safety always to be found at home, even if for just a moment, someone else’s.  A lovely tradition I think.  Thanksgiving has the turkey shared with family and friends, Christmas gets the tree with thoughtful gifts to be given out amongst nearest and dearest.  On Halloween we invite neighbors and strangers alike to our doors.  We wait upon the knock, the doorbell, we pause and savor the shrieks and hesitant approach of children and adults through the keyhole or from between the blinds.  The magical ‘say “trick or treat!” and enter’ that signals a kindred spirit whereupon we open our doors and distribute rewards for stopping by.  Simply marvelous.


Mirth and Musings Part 10

100th Post! For you all out there thank you! Hope you will all hang in there with me through the months ahead.
Serious withdrawals this week. Its now 320 days until Halloween 2014.
While I don’t plan on posting a running countdown, I can’t help but look around at all the red and green and cast my mind back to just a short while ago when orange and purple and acid green were the colors of the day. To be honest, I still have my orange and black lights up (inside my dining room), along with a few other Halloween decorations I couldn’t bring myself to take down, yet. I’ve a couple of weeks, right? Anyway – as I un-bubblewrap ornaments from years past I pause and reflect just why I try to drag it all out as far as I can, simply the place never feels so cozy than in the Fall and I try to keep that going well into Winter. When it is mostly packed up and the upcoming holidays firmly take over, I still long for and compare subsequent manifestations of my homes decor to those three months in Autumn, the highlight of the year. Time to start planning. Really never too early, I think. Themes and plans and lofty goals. Looking forward.
Here is another lovely New Yorker cover, the intense orange is simply wonderful.

New Yorker Magazine, Kovarsky, 1961

Mirth and Musings Part 9

The holiday season provides ample opportunities for socializing amongst family and friends, coworkers, club members, and others and I look forward to such occasions with heady anticipation.  I’m usually a homebody, so this time of year is nice to step out and experience the excitement and expectations in the wind up to the big day and New Year beyond.  I hum carols to myself as I get ready to attend an event, package goodies to deliver as host gifts, wrap small gifts for friends I won’t see at the end of the month.  There is much that is undergoing change at present and just now it feels the time will slow briefly so that we can savor the season, I hope that you all find a little downtime to do just that.  Between parties, of course.

The New Yorker Magazine, Charles Addams, 1987


Mirth and Musings Part 7

The weather here on the west coast is definitely Fall-like at last, chill temperatures and brisk gusts of wind remind me of why I prefer this time of year.  Time to break out the scarves and mittens, flannels and fuzzy slippers.  Just to make cozying up that much more enjoyable.  The approaching Thanksgiving holiday makes me pause and reflect, as I still see pumpkins decorating porches and sills and tabletops.  We always save one or two from October to enjoy through November – a bright orange reminder – it’s interesting how the pumpkin, the idea of it, transitions from the herald of giving treats to the herald of giving thanks.  Many of us will close the holiday with that slice of spicy sweetness.  It’s a fitting way to bookend Autumn. Enjoy this New Yorker cover from 1973, a house simply celebrating the season.

New Yorker Magazine, Stevenson, 1973


Mirth and Musings Part 6

13 days past Halloween and I’ve decided it all went way too fast.  The outside decor has been removed and the interiors are nearly back to pre-Halloween state.  Though not entirely as there are some aspects of the interiors that I liked too much to take down.  I maintain the house never looks so well than it does in October.  In any case the neighborhoods have begun to transition towards the next holiday season and soon Thanksgiving will be here. The color palette is still where I like it to be, greens and oranges well represented and Fall weather steady even for the West Coast. Everywhere I look I still keep an eye out for those hidden Halloween touches still peeking out from behind other decor, always so exciting when spotted. Holdovers and clearance tables. Or just avid conspirators like myself determined to keep it going as long as possible. I often look to collections around the house to inspire me – like my New Yorker Magazine covers. I’ll highlight others in coming weeks, but here is the first I framed and its still my favorite. She is obviously getting ready for a big night out.  It keeps me smiling and looking forward.

Artist Abe Birnbaum, 1967