Halloween: Past and Present

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Long gone are the days when my friends and I would gleefully skip/run through our small Minnesota town on a chilly Halloween evening, unencumbered by parents, fueled by sugar with the promise of  more to come.

Also gone are the days in which Hubs and I would guide our spawn in choosing the perfect costumes at our local Goodwill store and hide all the candy we bought perhaps much too early (in my defense, as the chief candy buyer in the household, I didn’t want to wait too late and end up having the lame choice between those awful peanut butter kiss taffy things or a bag of apples). I was simply not willing to tarnish my reputation as the bestest chocolate giver-outer of our neighborhood. 

Now my reality is I have a 3 year old grandson in Wisconsin who, depending on the day, either wishes to be a “Doctor Fish” or have 5 different Halloween costumes. I sincerely wish my daughter the best of luck with this.

Times, as they say, have changed. Now parents escort their youngins from house to house in their neighborhoods though the especially smart ones take their costumed kiddos to the “better” neighborhoods to ensure the highest quality and quantity of candy possible. But as merely a middle aged, empty nester observer, it appears to me that a large chunk of parents these days choose instead to cart their kids to the nearest mall, church, or grocery store not on Halloween, but the Saturday before because it is simpler. More convenient. 

I must say that I think that’s a little sad. Don’t you?

I do get it though. Times are different now. Thanks to the inundation of horrifying news stories about unimaginable harm being inflicted upon children these days, we are all more skeptical about engaging with strangers. On top of that, parents of little ones are often working their tails off to pay the bills while simultaneously doing their best to ensure their kids are not only safe but also participating in activities that will give them the most well rounded childhood experiences possible.

That said, it is completely understandable that creating the perfect Halloween experience for one’s offspring is not necessarily at the top of present day parents priority lists. But it is still a bit of a bummer, isn’t it?

So in honor of those good ‘ol days when we knew and trusted our neighbors enough to  enter their homes and accept their sugary offerings on that one magical night of the year, and our moms had time and energy (because we were all playing outside after school instead of being shuttled to and fro-to dance lessons, piano practice, soccer games and the like) to make our Halloween costumes, I present to you pictures from Halloween’s past.

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Pic on left is with my parents when I was 2,  pic on right at 3 in my homemade witch costume. Thanks Mom!
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Spawn-circa 2003?
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Spawn-circa 2005?

Time is my Frenemy

Time.

Full disclosure: I’ve become really good at wasting it.  Like getting myself sucked into what others are doing or trying to sell on Facebook. Like watching too much t.v. I seem to be battling time every day on some level, which stresses me out. There’s just so darn much I want to do with my time that I end up sabotaging myself with my own indecisiveness.

In the scheme of things, however, time is kind of on my side, as the Rolling Stones tell me. As anyone who has been following my blog knows, I continue to be a free agent. As in, not participating in paid employment of any kind.

I truly have nothing to legitimately complain about here. 

That said, I am 50.  While I generally don’t feel my age, physically, but especially mentally, there it is. I am most certainly not a spring chicken. However, if I live to be 80, I’ve still lived more than half of my life at this point in time.  On the up side (and you know I’m all about the up side), I’ve got 30 hopefully healthy more years to go. I can still have big plans. A new career, even. I could go to clown college. I could become a professional bartender. I could become a teacher. Life, aka the universe,  will no doubt intervene to provide me with unexpected curveballs. Because the universe excels at this. I like to believe that when this happens,  I will adjust my sails, conquer the obstacles, and re-negotiate the steps I’m taking to get to wherever it is I am going.

The below image could very well fall into the category of  “When we make plans, God laughs”. So be it. I’m going to latch onto it nonetheless, because it is, ultimately, a positive affirmation that serves as a reminder to me that I am indeed in charge of my life, and my daily schedule. It’s all about making thoughtful, responsible, and wise choices every single day about what I spend my time on. Essentially, making friends with time. And being willing and able to use whatever self-piloting skills I have developed in this life to get through the turbulence.

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Morphing into a Coloradoan

While half of my heart resides in my birth state of Minnesota and the other half resides in my adopted state of Wisconsin, I’m starting to feel more than a teensy bit “Coloradoan”. Hubs and I have now lived here more than a year, so it should come as no surprise that I’m feeling this way.

One of my impressions of those native to this state is that they look upon those of us non-natives with skepticism. Even sometimes with scorn. I get this as there has been a huge influx of transplants from other states moving to Colorado in recent years. The natives no doubt feel possessive of their beautiful, natural environment here. And they don’t want “posers” coming in to wreak havoc on their territory.

That said, and at the risk of coming off like a “poser”, I do believe that there are a number of  pieces of evidence that indicate I have indeed begun morphing into a Coloradoan.

Let’s start with Exhibit A:

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Check out the upper middle on plant on left side-a small, ripening tomato!

To prevent certain death from the frost that will undoubtedly come at some point this fall, Hubs aka the garden whisperer recently brought our pepper, basil, and tomato plants inside. I am simply delighted by this. I love the aroma of the basil, and seeing these plants thriving next to our big picture window in our small dining area. Hubs commented yesterday that he noticed a dude walking outside this window, who couldn’t help but peer in when noticing this foliage. Likely he assumed, at first glance anyway, that we were growing marijuana in our home. To be crystal clear, these are not marijuana plants. But it does amuse me that they could be, since growing them in your home is indeed legal in Colorado. 

Exhibit 2:

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Check out my snazzy hiking tennies! Hubs and I shelled out bigger bucks than we probably ever collectively have, on shoes anyway, when we purchased new hiking shoes at REI this summer. Because we are quasi Coloradoans now, we were compelled to invest in proper footwear to go hiking on one of the many dedicated open space paths or in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is just over an hour away from home.

Exhibit C1:

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Enjoying a sampler at O’Dells (?) in Fort Collins

As aspiring Coloradoans, Hubs and I have embraced the craft beer culture here. We have become, as my blogger friend CJ, has recently pointed out, “beer snobs”. I prefer to be considered a “beer nerd”, mind you, like our favorite beer pub owner and operator, Dave, refers to himself. It has a legitimacy to it, like we’re scientists or something, right? Thing is, there is a special type of camaraderie that happens when one visits one of the many brew pubs and gets to talking with the owner, bartender, and/or other customers  “beer nerds” about the complexity of the hops or the balance between hops and malt of whatever brew is being sampled amongst us. Plus, visiting these folks at these watering holes provides us with much information about things to do and places to see here in this beautiful, special, state.

And to further exemplify our status as “beer nerds” we have thrice brewed own our beer at home. First batch was the best, the second notsomuch, and the third was…something. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Let me leave you with just one special thing about Colorado. Denver 9News’ The Next with Kyle Clark highlights the most Colorado thing seen on a given day. It is always fun to see what they come up with. Below is a good example. Enjoy!

The Most Colorado Thing We Saw Today

Monday Music Musings: Covers

I’m not generally much of a fan of song re-makes, aka covers. I prefer originality in my musical artists. It often appears to me that an artist is simply trying to make a buck the easiest way possible when they churn out their version of a classic song. It frequently feels disingenuous to me.

But, that said, I believe firmly that there are always exceptions to every rule. 

I could provide examples of truly terrible renditions of original songs but that would be negative and pointless. Instead, I’m going to highlight a few covers that IMHO are so well done that they might even surpass the original version. 

I also have proposals for original songs that I believe should be re-imagined by new artists. But first things first:

Killing me Softly-Originally sung by Roberta Flack with such vulnerability it brings tears to my eyes. The Fugees had quite a different, but very cool take on it:

Fugees killing it

Sweet Child ‘O Mine-Originally performed by Guns ‘n Roses. A classic rock and roll song from my younger days with one of the best guitar openings ever thanks to Slash. There’s a newer version that caught my attention while I was watching the movie “Captain Fantastic” (quirky, unconventional movie about a unique but lovable family which I highly recommend). This version is very stripped down and all about the harmony. And it’s freaking beautiful. Check it out:

Guitar Man-This song was originally performed by the 70’s mellow rock band, Bread. Growing up, I always loved it. I loved the melody and the story it told. Last year, I heard a much different, but quite brilliant version of this song by CAKE, a band of which I am especially fond. No one sounds like this band, no matter what the song is. Noone.

Guitar Man by CAKE

Sara Smile-To me, this has always been an absolutely gorgeous song, originally performed by the great pop duo, Hall and Oates. Hubs is a huge fan of the music of Joan Osborne (from “What if God was One of Us” fame). She crafted it into a sultry, soulful serenade yet didn’t stray far at all from the original version, for which I give her much credit.

Sara Smile by Joan Osborne

Sunny-Originally performed by Bobby Hebb back in 1966. It’s a sweet, simple, jazzy pop confection that stands the test of time. However, the version by Bryan Adams, which I first discovered watching Scandal (that scene with Olivia and Jake on a beach far away from their normally scandalous lives), elevates it to a new level thanks to the gravelly vocals of Mr. Adams. Btw, Shonda Rhimes and her crew are geniuses when it comes to choosing the right songs for the right scenes, especially in Scandal. 

Sunny by Bryan Adams

Proposals for new covers that my songbrain would so love to hear and see:

Imagine a cover of this song being done by, say, the Foo Fighters or Green Day. It would be so very timely given the political unrest in Trump’s America. Perhaps this could be the opening song for a televised fundraising event for the #resist movement? Or sales of this cover could directly go to the #resist movement? Or Planned Parenthood?

A Little Good News, originally performed by Anne Murray. This song is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when it came out in 1983. I would love to see a version of this (perhaps as part of the above mentioned televised fundraising event for the #resist movement?), with Anne Murray, along with Jewel, and the Dixie Chicks. How cool would that be?

 

Guest Post: Sanity

Every day, we arise to news of calamity, death, anger, and threats. Every day is an unending torrent of bad news. How do you stay sane in such an environment? It isn’t easy, but I’d like to offer some ideas.

First, be thankful. For all the tragedy and outrage surrounding us, pay attention to the good stuff. While the Federal Government gets into a pissing war with a U.S. territory and threatens to abandon it, Google and Tesla are finding innovative ways to at least somewhat help out the human condition with solar power units and balloon based cellular relay points. Speaking of that, while we read of the repeal of vast numbers of environmental regulations and accords, solar and wind are now cheaper than coal, almost cheaper than gas, and within the next decade, market dynamics will give us a clean energy economy world wide. New innovations in science are making the world healthier, and we have discoveries every day which move us forward. There are a lot of people out there who don’t live for the almighty dollar as their god, and actually do care about others, this planet, all its species, and improving the world. There are still voices in the wilderness calling us to do right, be kind, and work hard for change.

Second, be grounded. It’s easy to get caught up in the maelstrom of a nation gone mad, where checks and balances break down. It is an emotional, guttural response to see people hurting, and know that while we have the capacity to prevent it, nothing gets done (or even worse, something gets done to make it worse). It’s also easy to feel outnumbered and powerless, and the toll of this stress is affecting everyone. I encourage you to remember and study history. We have been through worse as a country, and each time, we did eventually forge a new path forward. Change happens. You cannot re-bottle a Genie. When the tide of public opinion led to general consensus that LGBTQ people had full rights, it happened over a period of fifteen years, not in one night. That consensus remains. The insane voices on the right may be screeching about religious freedom, but even with a stacked court, the people will not accept a change back to “Make America Gay-hating Again”. As I said, study and know your history; it will show the road we’ve travelled and give you hints at the future.

Third, be statistical. When you feel like evil outnumbers good, and there is no hope, consider this: we have 200 million registered voters in our nation, but only 128 million voted, meaning the real winner on 2016 was apathy, the vast silent center, with 71 million missing votes. These are people who are “not into politics”, or think “it won’t make a difference” or say “I’m too busy”. I would suggest the awful debacle we’ve seen since January may awake some portion of these voters, to the chagrin of Republicans (high voter turnouts always lean center or left). From what I’ve seen, approval ratings for this administration are somewhere around 30 percent now. However, there is a difference between being a person who feels culturally compelled to support their political “faith”, and those who will actually go to the mat for a candidate. I do not know how gerrymandering, voter suppression by the Federal commission, or external influences will change the 2018 vote, but I can reasonably predict that 2018 will have more of the vast silent middle in the polling booths, and a downtrodden Trump base.

Finally, be hopeful. This is the hardest one. Not one of us is guaranteed to be here in 20 minutes, 20 days, or 20 years. That’s not, however, what it’s about. It’s about what you do during that time. You can be hopeful. You can state your case, stick to your morals, and take the hard road to bringing something good into the world. You can dream, and picture a better world, then work to make it happen. You don’t have to change the whole world; you can focus on one thing, take it as your mantra, and stay the course. It won’t be easy, evil will fight you every step of the way, but you won’t be alone. Others are on the same course, maybe not for the same reason, but these people will be part of your community, a community of good. From community springs hope, and that hope, along with our Constitution, will lead us to good again one fine day.

This post was brought to you courtesy of Hubs in case you were all wondering. And I fully concur with his points.

Amusing myself in AARP land

Full disclosure: I am an overthinker. And very likely too hard on myself. I confess this today after coming to the conclusion that writing is actually hard. I had every intention yesterday of publishing a truly epic post, only to find myself completing approximately 70% of a moderately humorous and mostly lame essay.

I jazzed up one other post that I had in my draft folder as well, but it didn’t meet my standards of publishability. Yes, I may have just made up a new word. 

Of course, I just had to google the word publishability and of course it is a legit word. No matter.  I have also come to the conclusion this week that the most beneficial thing I can do to harness whatever creative writing abilities I possess, is something. As in, don’t just plop your arse down in front of the computer and force yourself to write something, anything, just so you can give yourself a high five that you continued your blog for yet another day. As it turns out, writing doesn’t work that way.

So I actually did some stuff this morning. Not a lot of stuff, mind you. But stuff, nonetheless.

I checked off one of my to-do list items. I wrote a check and filled out a form to claim my new, free duffel bag from AARP. Which means I am now officially a member of the Advanced Age Restless Party. Take that, those of you under 50! Ha!

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Oh, the irony of this sarcastic comment!

All I had to do was put a stamp on it and then send it on it’s merry way. I recalled recently locating a book of stamps I purchased at the post office in one of the zippered pouches of my trusty black Baggallini purse. I also recall thinking to myself let’s put those here where they will be handy when I need them. 

The only problem is the “here” is nowhere to be found. And of course since I’m thisclose to being a member of  the exclusive AARP club, I cannot recall for the life of me where precisely that “here” is. I’ve searched high and low-in other purses, in my small filing cabinet next to the computer desk. No stamps to be found. Not. A. One.

Those darn stamps are bound to turn up somewhere at some point in time, right? The most likely scenario, however, is that the moment I arrive home from purchasing a new book of stamps they will magically appear. Just like that belt I forgot I bought after buying the exact same one at Target last week.

So after this kerfuffle, I decided to do something else. Something challenging but entirely irrelevant and self-serving. Something to divert my attention from the reality that I have indeed lodged myself firmly into AARP land. As I said in a very recent post, one of my life goals is to be able to successfully sing all the lyrics to R.E.M.’s “It’s The End Of The World” song. I found the lyrics on Google Play, then put this song on play on my tablet.

All I can say is that I was all kinds of happy when I got to the main chorus of “It’s the end of the world as we know it” (times 3) then “and I feel fine”. The rest of the lyrics were akin to rapidly repeating an old timey tongue twister like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”. But nonetheless it was highly amusing.

I guess the lesson here for me, today, despite my geriatric tendencies, though one could also conclude the lesson is that I have entirely too much time on my hands, is that I’m still young at heart. Like a 14 year old geeking out at those “amazing” music videos on MTV trapped in an occasionally audibly creaking, slightly overweight, stretch-marked, 50 year old body. And that’s okay with me, because acceptance leads to freedom.

 

Random Ramblings

Just a few, unrelated and utterly irrelevant thoughts I have had recently….

I’m kind of a sucker for those sites that post decadent dessert recipes on Facebook. It infuriates me, however, when “Easy” is in the title, however. Thing is, if I’m going to make and then of course consume said dessert, it is not in my belly fat’s best interest for it to be “easy” to make. The recipe should include ingredients you have to work for, like a specific kind of berry only found on the top of the Rocky Mountains. Or honey that has to be tapped from a specific maple tree located deep in the forest. Or corn meal that you have to grind yourself.

I might want to grow my hair out and see how long it can get. This notion was inspired by seeing Megan Mullally’s beautiful hair while watching Summer of 69, the big hearted and smartly hilarious comedy show she and her husband Nick Offerman created. Also, she played the ukulele during the show so now I want to do that too.

I love Pinterest but recognize that it can be a black hole. Or like the kettle corn I can’t seem to get enough of, despite feeling sick to my stomach and hyped up at the same time. Or like when my cousin and I, as kids,  would spend hours upon hours gazing through the JC Penney Christmas catalog with calculators in hand, pretend shopping for things we wanted to buy.

Hubs recently shared that he had to “drain the lizard”. As in, he had to pee. Use the lavatory (wasn’t that weird how the bathrooms in school were called this back in the day? Such a weird, unused word today). Hubs told me this was one of his favorite euphemisms. I prefer when he tells me (seriously, even in public) that he has to “go potty”. Weird, right? But I find it endearing. It reminds me that he was once the daddy to our no longer little spawn, and our charming 3 year old grandson. The daddy and “Papa” who said/says “make sure to go potty before you get in the car” and “do you need me to take you to go potty now?”

One goal I have in life is to be able to sing through the entirety of  R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World”. While undoubtedly frenetically paced, this is a classic song, amiright?And once I’ve accomplished that goal, I should easily be able to get work as an auctioneer. Maybe I could add that to the list of possibilities for my job search.