Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween and Fall Thoughts

     Happy Halloween, or Happy Samhain, whichever it may be for you!

     While I am not so fond of the end of summer and the coming of cold weather, I have always liked Halloween.  It is and always has been my favorite holiday, as it sparks my creativity, and I can let my imagination run wild to create whatever quirky ideas may come forth.  I'm not into the Hollywood version of guts and gore, but I do enjoy the creation of  spooky and mildly to moderately scary scenes.  I was for a few years, involved in the production of a Haunted Theater back in the day. 

    We members of the  Pacifica Spindrift Players  had decided that "everyone and his brother" does a haunted house theme...but we...well, we are a theater group, and we have a perfectly good what else to do  but created a haunted theater?!  I was involved for the first three years of this production, prior to moving from the area.  It ranked among the most fun things I've done in my life. (While I've provided a link to that group, sadly, it does not seem that the haunted theater is being done anymore.)

      Carving pumpkins, painting my Halloween ceramics, helping my daughter decorate her house for Halloween  (no kids on our street), all are things that occupy my thoughts at this time of year.  Baking?  Eh...not so much.   I did more than my share back when my kids were young, and cooking is not one of my favorite things to do.   That said, I do have a good stock of holiday recipes upon which I can rely when the budget gets too tight to shop for gifts...definitely the case this season!

     Holiday cards...I'm going to 'mail' all my holiday greetings via e-mail this year.  That will be both budget-friendly and eco-friendly,  saving both postage and paper!  Only a few people who either do not have internet access, or whose e-mail addresses I do not have, will be sent paper greetings through the Postal Service.

    Gift wrapping this year?   Use up any leftovers of purchased wrap I already have.  When that runs out, I'll go to plain white tissue paper, and/or recycled brown paper bags.  Gift tags?  Handmade from holiday cards received in prior years. 

    Although I am a California native, my parents were New Englanders.  They also lived through the Great Depression of 1929.   Hence, I was raised with the frugal Yankee values of, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."  This was instilled in me from childhood, and explains why, when I was home sick from school one day, I shed oceans of tears over the 'terrible waste of food,' when my mom had gone to the store for cough medicine for me, and a few small grocery items. 

     Mom did not drive, and the little store was only a block away.  However, it was pouring rain that day, and by the time she got a few doors from home on her return, the paper sack had become so waterlogged that it broke.  All the groceries fell out onto the sidewalk.  The bottle of orange juice smashed, as did the bottle of cough syrup.  Mom scooped up as much as she could, and ran to put it on our front steps, which were sheltered from the weather.  Then she ran back, and got as much of the rest as she could.  As it happened, the loaf of bread ended up on the step below the broken bottle of cough syrup.  Given that the medicine was inside a box, the broken glass was contained, but the liquid seeped out of the box, and dripped down onto the bread.  You must realize this was before bread was packed in plastic bags--the packaging was cellophane--easily torn, and not liquid-tight by any means.

     Now, I don't know how many of you are familiar with the cough syrup that was branded as "Pertussin";  that's what she had purchased.  If you don't know what it is, the smell is something on the order of turkey stuffing, as it has a good deal of the herb thyme as part of the ingredients.  There sat the loaf of bread, soaking up 'eau du thyme,'  while my 10-year-old self wailed from the top of the stairs about the waste, the terrible waste. 

     Mother, needless to say, was annoyed on a number of levels.  She salvaged what she could, grabbed a broom to sweep the broken orange juice bottle from in front of the neighbor's house, and prepared to return to the store to replace what had been lost.  (I think maybe she waited for a break in the weather...that part of the story is less strong in my memory.)

    That was a bit of a long-way-around of stating that I am no stranger to 'green' and 'eco-friendly' habits.  It's always been just something I do.  Only nowadays, it seems to have evolved into a fad and a buzz-word.  That concerns me, as fads are all too often passing fancies that do not stay around.  With many fads, that is just as well.  But when it comes to responsible husbandry of this rock on which we all live, a 'passing fancy' is not okay.

    Cheers and may you all have a bountiful, wonderful and safe holiday season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winter Is A-Cumin' In....

   The first signs of cold weather are here.  While we have mostly either evergreen trees, or those that loose their leaves without first turning color, there are other signs that the season is turning.  For one thing, we've had our first big rainstorm, and then this week, two days in a row of howling winds, with gusts strong enough to do serious damage to trees, and even to the landmark San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

   Cooler weather, however, severely impacts the ceramics business.  For one thing, the ceramic clay itself is much slower to 'set up' in the molds, and when it has set up and the excess dumped out, it takes much longer for the piece to become solid enough to remove from the molds.

  On the painting end, the paint is much slower to dry, and glaze, especially, takes 'forever' to dry in cool weather.  I've had to resort to turning on the space heater in my studio today, and I hate doing that, because they make the electric meter spin like a doggoned helicopter!

    The pumpkins have been out in the stores for a week or two now;  Halloween costumes, too.  Another sign of Fall is the ripening of the pomegranates on our tree.  Now, I am 'sure' there is something useful to do with pomegranates besides eating them.  (Funny, don't you think, how things you loved as a kid don't seem so appealing to your adult self?)  I used to love pomegranates.  Now, not so much. 

  Perhaps something to do with getting sick on the undiluted juice that was just sicky-sweet?    So much for attempting juice-making with them.  I think maybe they used to also be used as dye for yarn or fabric, but since I neither spin yarn nor do weaving, that option is out. 

   A whole treefull of beautiful red fruits, threatened with the green waste bin.  No, no!  My Yankee-bred conscience won't allow that!  Think!   Aha!  Solution:  pick them, and donate to the after-school program at the karate school.  Problem solved!  (And they were very grateful!)

   My thoughts turn belatedly to crafting Fall decor for Halloween and Thanksgiving.   Something inside me just refuses to experience or prepare for a season months ahead of time...doing that finds me burned out by the time the actual holiday arrives. 

  I get disgusted beyond polite words at seeing Christmas items out on display in the stores already!  It is just not right!  Let Halloween and Thanksgiving have their fair share of time on the calendar, please.  October is for Halloween; November is for Thanksgiving.  I do not care to see Christmas displays prior to December 1st.  (Okay, okay, the day after Thanksgiving if you must!)  Who's with me?

    And now, I must return to my studio to finish that stubborn slow-drying glaze!  Cheerio!

My Friend, Christine B.

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