Why I Hated Halloween

Grinning Halloween lantern vector illustration.I wasn’t the kind of parent who produced daily  science/art/math projects for my children, or thought up of special field trips once a week, or was creative in any way.

In my mind, that meant I didn’t stack up any “good parenting” awards. I hated working on anything “arts & crafty,” which included just about everything except reading a children’s book out loud.

So when school began each year, and the air became crisper, leaner, more aromatic, I began to gnaw my fingernails.

Halloween would arrive sooner than I wanted, and any time was too soon.

Because I hated Halloween.

I just wasn’t good at it.

“What can I be this year? young daughter would ask by mid-October.

And every year, I’d respond the same: “A gypsy?”

Halloween, costume, gypsy costumeI have photos of her when she was 4, and 5, and 6 (and beyond!) wearing one of my old patterned skirts and a worn down shirt, strands of costume necklaces, a bunch of bangles, a neck scarf around her head, and lots of red rouge and lipstick.

Viola! A gypsy girl.

My little boy, however, came home with tales of his friends’ moms making them elaborate ghost costumes, or turning them into Luke Skywalker, or even worse, fashioning cardboard boxes into honest-to-goodness real looking silver rockets.

“No,” I always stated. Sadly, yet defiantly. “Your mom doesn’t do that.”papter bag, Halloween

So most Halloweens, my boy insisted on wearing a paper bag over his head, with holes for the eyes, and a pair of my old cowboy boots.

“I’m a monster,” he’d insist, year after year.

But the year our family splurged for a vacation to Hawaii, I got clever.

Not artsy crafty, but clever.

I came home with children-sized Hawaiian shirts, grass Hula skirts, and plastic leis. When I showed the kids their Halloween costume the third week of October, the expressions were less than enthusiastic, but they appeased me and wore them on the 31st.

Halloween costume

Happy Halloween…?

That was the year my boy’s best friend’s mom sewed her little guy a huge green Tyrannosaurus outfit, the kind that could win a ‘BEST KID’S COSTUME IN THE WORLD’ award. Trexbig

My daughter’s best friend’s mom dressed her little pumpkin in a glittery pink and purple fairy queen outfit with gossamer fairy wings and sparkly silver shoes that lit up when she walked.

My children came home from trick or treating early that year, claiming they were tired, no joyous shouts as they counted their candy treasure.

I suggested they change best friends.

Then I castigated myself for not being a good creative parent.

However …

            Every October

                         I read to my kids

                                    a LOT of terrific Halloween books.

That should count, shouldn’t it?

Halloween books, Halloween


bookworm, reading, booksI lust for well-written, fast-paced, fabulously thought-out novels.

After a long week of work, with early morning risings, daily walks with the dog, constant work challenges (have you made a postcard, on-line, lately?), a week that is lengthened by attending night-time board meetings and teaching writing classes, baking homemade cookies for sick friends, and creating scrumptious dinners for my man (I say with tongue in cheek) — after a week like that, I adore an empty weekend ahead, with no plans but to sit down with a good book.

Even now, with a day left to the week, I pine for the beginning of the long Labor Day weekend, which will bring me to my soft burgundy chair (or sunny deck chair), dog at my feet, sunny gorgeous view of the SF bay (a view I ignore once engrossed), and a tome of fiction on my lap – in hardback, softback, orreading, good books Kindle format.

I hold back the urge to escape until Saturday afternoon, after I’ve taken my long weekend walk, meditated through my yoga class, picked up groceries for the weekend, and begun a load of laundry.

Then, then the need for a good read is as palpable as a strong, urgent, irritating itch.

I brew a cup of chamomile, sling on my soft comfy sweatshirt, plop down on my chair, and sigh with passionate desire to enter a new world.

book magic

Magic Book © Mariia Pazhyna

How about you? Are you a lusty, dreamy, passionate bookworm too?

(In the past month, I’ve chortled over Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, held my breath during the entire 940 pages of Winter of the World, and now, am chewing my nails over The Ophelia Cut. Next up? The Language of Flowers.)

reading time, books, children's books, grandmothering

Oh, and how can I forget the funny saga of The Pirates Next Door, by Jonny Duddle?


Who Am I? Who Are You?

Who Am I?I’m a curly-haired woman who loves fairytale fantasy, long walks along the water, communing silently with babies and animals, and reading for hours in a deep plush chair while sipping Tropical Green tea.

I dislike vapid vain chatter; inconsiderate drivers who turn without blinking; wayward souls who act as if they run the world; grocery carts with broken wheels; men who pinch women’s rears (yes, still!); unanswered e-mails; unplucked eyebrows; arguments; orange vests; and fruit drinks.

My heart soars with the soft, whisper-filled kisses of little ones; a sun salutation on a Hawaiian beach; a spontaneous loud laugh m&m'sfrom a coworker; a handful of M&M’s, particularly the green or blue ones; a sudden embrace from my irreplaceable guy.

The sounds I most enjoy: the swish of pens on paper (and the clack of a laptop) during one of my creative writing classes; the pounding surf on the New Jersey seashore; the beat of a Beatles tune; the bark of Henry, the dog, as he sits in front of his cookie jar,; the beginning melody of The Nutcracker Suite ballet; the soft plop of an omelet-filled plate placed in front of me at a sunny San Francisco corner café; the ‘hello Pammy’ call from my effervescent magnetic mom.

Hawaiian beach, solitude, happiness, loveLife is worthwhile because of soft classical music on a cold Sunday morning; two-hour conversations with a long-time friend; a tall diffident son who stares deeply into my eyes and says, ‘Love you, Mom’; a 2-year-old grandchild who sits quietly, attentively on my lap while listening to Good Night Moon; a foggy afternoon writing stories about people I’ve never met; a man who runs out to buy my special Earl Gray tea latte, non-fat milk with foam at 6:15 in the morning; a beautiful daughter who wears her heart on every sleeve and her love in her morning glory eyes.

That’s who I am.

Who are you?


appreciation, blog, readers, writers, daughters, babysittingWhat does it mean, to be appreciated, or to appreciate something? Dictionary definition says:


1. gratitude; thankful recognition:

2. the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value.

3. clear perception or recognition, especially of aesthetic quality: a course in art appreciation.

4. an increase or rise in the value of property, goods, etc.

5. critical notice; evaluation; opinion, as of a situation, person, etc.

      I like the #5 definition best, and it reminds me of the time I babysat for my daughter – her 1-year-old and 1-month old babies – for 8 hours, yet she picked them up after a long day kind of grumpy and well, non-appreciative, in my mind.
     So, being exhausted after the day, and feeling a bit weepy, I told her straight out as we strapped the kiddies in her car: I DON’T THINK YOU APPRECIATE ME!
     And you know what? My daughter stopped in the midst of the babies crying and asking for their bottles and dinner and stared me straight in the eye – her blue intensity gazing into my green regard and said strongly and full of love, “Mom, yes, I do! I do appreciate you!”
     I believed her. And felt loved and appreciated, and I let go of my tiredness and instead appreciated how much I loved and enjoyed these grandbabies, and how much I loved my daughter.
     That was three years ago, and still on every birthday card and Mother’s Day card and Christmas card my daughter sends me, the botton line always, ALWAYS says: I Appreciate You!
     So that’s what I first thought about when a fellow blogger nominated me this week for the “READER APPRECIATION AWARD.” She didn’t know how much this sweet award would mean to me – much more than the one word seems to imply.
     We all love to be appreciated, and I thank you, my readers, for enjoying my posts, for commenting, for smiling when I say something funny (or even when I don’t!), and mostly, for being here, allowing me to enjoy my weekly wighting writing.
     Besides telling you something about myself (see above) to accept this award, I also have the honor of nominating six other blogs. Here they are:
THANK YOU – I appreciate you all!


I am thrilled that I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Wendy Strohm (http://wendystrohm.wordpress.com/), whose blog I discovered through luck. I enjoy her poems daily. Thank you Wendy for this honor!

The rules of the award include that I share  7 things about myself, and then pass the award on to 7 other bloggers and let them know I have awarded them.

1. I live in the San Francisco Bay area (after childhood in southern New Jersey, college in Virginia and Pennsylvania, young adulthood in Delaware, and a 10-year-stint just recently in the Boston area).

2.  I read at least a book a week. Almost all fiction. I roam from literary fiction, mystery, romantic suspense, chick lit, and sci fi/fantasy. Love it all!

3. I walk with my pal Henry (a 10-year-old golden) at least an hour a day on paths and sidewalks along the San Francisco Bay, where I hatch plots and ponder the secrets of the universe.

4. My man and I raised our two children in the Bay area, and now enjoy watching them raise their families in the Berkeley Hills and in Boston.

5. I work at the community Landmarks Society, where we small staff of five  maintain four gorgeous historic sites, including the chapel where my guy and I were married, and then 28 years later, where our daughter was married. One of these days I’ll write about how we ‘live history.’

6. I’m afraid the 7 things about myself are boring. I don’t jump out of airplanes, sail the world, run marathons in Tahiti, nor do I bike races between SF and LA (all experienced by some of my friends!). Instead, I teach creative writing classes, I write, I read, I play with grandbabies, I walk, I love my man, talk to my kids almost daily, and, oh yeah, ponder the secrets of the universe.

7. I have completed my suspense novel, THE RIGHT MAN, and am in the process of deciding to self-publish. The book is fun, fast-paced, and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Now, 7 bloggers who inspire me, in no necessary order:

1. http://wendystrohm.wordpress.com/ (accessible poetry)

2. http://compassionateteachersf.blogspot.com/ (delightful musings on the ‘Zen’ life)

3. http://www.hencam.com/henblog/ (a delightful blog about life in the Little Pond Farm coop)

4. http://telltalesouls.com/blog/ (wonderful insights into writing a mother memoir, as well as great book reviews)

5. http://upwoods.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/shanghai-and-away/ (heartfelt writings about life in Lake Superior)

6. http://www.dailylifestuff.blogspot.com/ (beautiful daily life photos and comments of family and nature)

7. http://www.abbyofftherecord.com/2012/04/18/work-worth-and-figuring-out-what-really-matters/ (fun and honest stories on young motherhood and LIFE)

To my readers, THANK YOU for sharing my muse.

Other awards I’ve received this year:

award, versatile, writing