I've always loved Halloween. Always. Even when I was a little girl, and my parents made me wear my winter coat and a cowbell over my costume, I loved it.

I even loved the cowbell.
For my very first year of Trick-or-treating, my Dad fashioned bunny costumes for us, complete with tin-foil ears (as shown).  We used my mother's eyebrow pencil to draw on whiskers and rouged our cheeks with lipstick. He seems bothered by this effort now. Thinks he did a bad job. He's become an advocate of the "store-bought" costume.

But I loved my bunny ears. I don't remember feeling that I was missing anything.
Regardless of the friendships I forged at school, Trick-or-treating was always a neighbourhood activity. I tended to troll for candy with a small pack of boys from my street, like Peter (seen above, in the early 1980s, dressed in a sort of Hobo-clown costume that put our bunny ears to shame).

As we got older, he (and the other boy I palled around with -- Dennis) would run ahead, trying to hit as many houses as possible, while I was left struggling with my costume or adjusting my mask and calling, "wait up!" But I didn't care. I still loved every part of it.

Halloween was magical. More exciting than Christmas.

I "made" my costume every year, sometimes using my allowance to buy components from the drug store. My parents didn't have the time (or inclination) to help us out with this sort of thing, so the resulting costumes were often strange, but I think we were lucky. Halloween was about having fun, being creative, and learning self-reliance. It wasn't a fashion show.

This is not to say I didn't wish for the perfect store-bought costume. I did. And at school, when I compared my odd efforts to those of the girls who'd dressed as cheerleaders, punk rockers and princesses, I was embarrassed. But a little embarrassment can be good for you, don't you think? In retrospect, I'm glad I was who I was, and glad that my parents generally left me to my own devices. (And that my mother let me do what I wanted with her scarves and old maternity clothes.)
Sometimes I wonder what it would have felt like to have been a "princess" for a day. I wonder if it would have been as wonderful as I imagined? To head off to school with confidence, feeling that no one could possibly make fun of me in my perfect, store-bought costume? That might have been nice. And I understand parents who'd want to give their kids that kind of peace of mind. School is a battlefield. And kids who conform are generally safest in the wild world of institutionalized education.

This year, Nathan went as Jim Henson and I went (in keeping with tradition) as ... something odd. And it was kind of scary and kind of funny. In other words, everything Halloween should be. But as usual, I felt a bit anxious about my costume. Was it too weird?
Was I too weird?

And then I remembered... I'm grown up. There's no such thing.

Happy Halloween, everyone.
I've been really spoiled for holidays in recent years. Before Nate, I hadn't been on a proper vacation in ages. Not a good one, anyway. And now we've been to three tropical destinations in three years: Cuba, the Bahamas, and now Cuba again. We like the same sort of stuff - beaches, reading, surf, more reading. It's kind of perfect.

Anyway, we just returned from a week in Cayo Largo, which is an island off the southern coast of Cuba.
The weather was lovely for the first few days, rainy for the rest, but with the rain storms came some HUGE surf, and we both took advantage of the 6 to 8 foot waves. At one point, we were out swimming in a serious storm and even though we're strong swimmers, between the blinding rain and the undertow, I actually felt a little frightened, so we decided to get out, but man, it was awesome.

Speaking of awesome, the wildlife on Cayo Largo is great. We saw lots of stuff just in the immediate vicinity of the hotel: four different types of crabs (including weird, huge, white ones that only came out at night), big iguanas, snakes, fish that would swim right up to you in the water, geckos and lizards, neat sea birds, turtles, and even an alligator (all up close). Neato.

The best thing we did was probably horseback riding. (Always fun for me, plus it was nice to be better than Nate at something athletic. Heh.) Alas, I didn't take any pictures that day. But here are some of the snaps I did take:
Anyway, as usual, I'm bummed to be home and back at work, but that's normal. Ultimately, I'm very very lucky to get to do any of this stuff, and I try to keep that in mind.

Got any holidays planned? Where should we go next? It'll be awhile before we can get away again, but it's always fun to dream.

P.S. There were mosquitoes at night, but the new bug cream we bought worked better than anything I've ever used before. It was Watkins lotion, which you can get at MEC. Way better than Off, etc. While wearing it, I didn't get one bite, and I usually get tonnes. Highly recommend it.
Oh, hai! It's Thanksgiving!
I hope that the carcass was juicy, the loaf of soy interesting, and all other sundries delicious. Here's hoping you enjoy(ed) the holiday, not matter what you ate, wherever you are.

The picture doesn't mean anything. I just thought it was funny.
Hey friends.

It's not my regular day to blog, but I felt like it and decided to go for it, despite the schedule.

Look at me. I'm a rule breakin' rebel lady.


On Monday, I wrote about being a child kleptomaniac. (That's an exaggeration, but I did write about my childhood thefts.) And thinking about that got me thinking about something else: the book I always WANTED to steal from the school library, but never did: A Woggle of Witches by Adrienne Adams.
I was crazy about this book. Really crazy. I borrowed it from the school library (and then from the public library, to maximize my enjoyment) every October for approximately 10 years. And in high school, I wanted to continue the tradition, but was too paranoid/embarrassed about being seen with it at the checkout counter.

Stupid teenage brain.

I just loved this book. Loved it beyond all reason. (I mean, it's basically a picture book. On the surface, there's nothing especially special about it.) But then... there are the illustrations. Gorgeous, painterly and sort of home-spun at the same time.

And the prose! The story opens with the following:

"In a dark, dense forest the witches live,
sleeping safely in the branches of tall trees..."

I mean, come on. That's good stuff, right there.
Originally published in 1971, I think A Woggle of Witches was reissued in the mid 1980s. It's out of print now, of course, but if you have a kid (and even if you don't) I highly recommend you try to get your hands on a used copy for your personal library.

I can't think of a single children's book that better captures the creepy wonderfulness that is Halloween.

I almost wish I'd stolen it when I had the chance.

(Just kidding. I'll just find a used copy online.)

Happy haunting, y'all. I just love this time of year.
The other day, I was cleaning out a storage cabinet when I came across a book: The Make Your Own Creepy Spooky Horrors Book.

And seeing  it again, after quite a long time,  I remembered something I'd forgotten:

I STOLE this book from the school library when I was eight years old.

Yep. I admit it. I was a sticky-fingered little thief.

There were so many things I wanted, and so few that seemed within my reach. So on occasion, I pinched stuff.

Bad, I know. But I was a little kid. I've forgiven myself.

The thefts I remember are as follows:
  • The Make Your Own Creepy Spooky Horrors Book (shown)
  • Ed Emberly's Big Purple Drawing Book
  • A 10 cent Freezie from the local corner store (blue)
  • At least one (but probably more) of those weird little flocked craft bears that were all the rage in the early 1980s.
I was obsessed with those bears. I don't know why.

Little kids are strange creatures, aren't they?

I wanted this stuff, sure, but stealing it was about something more than want.

I think I felt that I was unfairly treated much of the time. Under-valued and less loved. And I stole because I thought that having stuff would make up for that. And I decided it was okay for me to steal -- little things in particular -- because I deserved them. I wasn't being given what I thought I was owed, so I was allowed to take. Simple.

Of course,  I always felt horribly guilty, hid my thefts away and never got to enjoy any of them.

I didn't even eat that freezie. :(

Sometimes I wish I could meet my little self. It's kind of sad that I wanted those little bears and books and assorted other meaningless junk so very very much. Poor kid.