Saturday, October 30, 2010


Halloween postcard

Happy Halloween, y’all! I adore Halloween – the decorating, the trick or treaters, carving pumpkins, making kids costumes (The Child, I am proud to say, never wore a store bought costume) making goody bags for the young uns – everything, in fact, but putting on a costume myself. There I draw the line – Mr. Kim feels the same way, thank goodness. Occasionally we are invited to a party where a costume is de rigueur and for those occasions we own two headbands, one with cat ears attached for me and another with Shrek ear/horn/thingies for him.

But I do love to see the littles dressed up and wish that we got more visitors than we do. I used to love to make homemade goodies for the nieces and nephews and young friends when they came by. I even used to make pizza in order to tempt them to stay longer! (I’m shameless). Alas, the youngest of them is now 13 and no longer trick or treaters. The outlandish get ups that The Child wears for Halloween parties nowadays don’t much need my help, though I did recently spend over an hour wrapping her in miles of caution tape

I miss the trappings of a child filled Halloween muchly and still do goody bags of something homemade. This year I tried Bakerella’s ( cake pops:

NOT a resounding success. In fact, a giant PITA. Almost nothing worked for me the way that it does for her. The candy melts were too thick and goopy – the coating was uneven and lumpy. The food color pens wouldn’t write on the candy coating (and my piping skills? Not. I finally gave up pumpkins and just dipped them in Halloween sprinkles). There was WAY too much frosting in the cake crumb/frosting mixture. My balls fell off my sticks. They don’t taste all that great (but I really didn’t expect them to). Yada yada yada. BUT, I kinda like making them. I think that the kids will love them and the girls at my office liked them a lot. I think that I can improve my technique and I already have a ton of ideas for different ones. She does mini cupcakes the same way and they are adorable. I’m thinking of trying them with scratch cake and using real chocolate, white chocolate and royal icing for coating them. I’ve been getting some advice from the candy queens at eGullet, so I’ll be trying again.

Would you like a Halloween tour through this crazy person’s house?

There are Lilliputian skeletons in the trees:


I have most of the decorations from when The Child was little laminated (yes, LAMINATED):

I love these jaunty fellows.

Looking into the dining room:

With all my crap on the table. There is ALWAYS a mess somewhere in my house!

My newest treat for myself:

A Dorothy cake stand. Now how could I resist that? It’s not exactly Halloween-y, but it is costume-y and besides, I couldn’t bear to hide it away in the Oz room (yes, this geek has an Oz room).

The mantle:

Lord, it’s tacky. But I love it.

The gourd family:

Aren’t they wonderfully weird? I love anything quirky and vintage looking, but all three of these came from…..CRACKER BARREL! I actually find lots of cool vintage-y looking things there.

The piano:

This picture is actually from last year (bicycle guy moved over to the ladies this year). But I wanted to show the metallic pumpkin head folks – they are a Cracker Barrel purchase, too.

I like papier-mâché figures:

And this little sweetums:

She is my favorite, with her winsome skeleton smile, her big red bow and her punkin slippers. She even has spider web hair and a spider ponytail:

The tree:

Yes, we have a Halloween tree (as well as a Valentine’s tree and at least two Christmas trees on any given year).

There is a Warner Bros./Oz set of ornaments, with Bugs as Dorothy:

Sylvester as the Scarecrow:

Tweety as the Tin Man:

And Taz as the Lion:

There is a “Nightmare Before Christmas” set, too, with the strangely lovely Sally:

We love that movie – in fact, we love almost anything by Burton.


I am basically a monkey and like anything shiny and sparkly. Plus, it reminded me of the Wicked Witch of Oz!

Love this goofy fellow, with his poor eye hanging by a thread:

We found this on our New Orleans trip at Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo:

This year, I even have an orange Halloween cat:

So, yes, I am nuts. It's silly and immature and wasteful. But I love all of it. Opening our decorations for each holiday is like opening a gift and a treasured memory all in one. Sometimes I get rushed and stressed and run out of time and it all becomes less fun. But it's still worth doing. I wish we could still make popcorn balls and candy apples (I did those one year with the tiny lady apples - very cute) to give out. I wish for hordes of little goblins and princesses on Halloween night. I wish for a really good, scary Halloween movie to send chills up my spine (no gore or torture, please). I want to cuddle on the couch with Mr. Kim and The Child and a giant bowl of warm caramel corn and watch mummies and vampires (not sparkly teenage ones, either) and werewolves. Mr. Price, where are you???

Anyway – leave your porch lights on tomorrow night – you never know what you’ll see –something charming for certain. Don’t worry about too much candy – eat what you like tomorrow and take the rest to work or an old folk’s home on Monday (you should see how quickly those seniors can clean out a candy dish at the office – worse than a pack of toddlers). We aren’t carving the pumpkins until tomorrow night, so I’ll try to post our artistic efforts then!

Happy Halloween, my friends!

Sing that to the tune of “Kidnap Santy Claws” from “Nightmare Before Christmas” – it fits perfectly!

A random thought: you know those peanut butter kisses that appear in the stores around Halloween:

We buy bags and bags as soon as they begin to appear. All three of us adore them and they are getting harder and harder to find (though you can usually count on Dollar Tree to have a full shelf). Anyway, in a bag of say, forty, you will inevitably get 35 orange ones and 5 black ones. Why is this? Is black wax paper ridiculously more expensive than orange? Because if they made the same number of each, and they were just badly mixed by the factory the law of averages suggests that you’d get more black in one bag and more orange in another. But it is NEVER like that. The orange vastly outnumbers the black in every bag. Believe me, we buy a lot of these things and I check the bags. (I told you I was nuts).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet

The internet sometimes bugs me. Like when my family is mesmerized or I receive an email which content should have been ‘Snoped’ before being sent to everyone in the known world. And, honestly, I think Facebook is silly – seriously, who cares if I’m baking banana bread RIGHT NOW or if I’m sleepy or on my way to work. It just seems terribly self-absorbed and teenager-y. I forget to go to it for days on end and when I do, I’m lost because I haven’t kept up and have to go back days to figure out what someone is referring to. But I honestly can’t hate the internet anymore, because I’ve made so many friends there. And, because of email I’ve been able to maintain very old friendships and family links that I’m sure wouldn’t have been nurtured nearly as well without it.

I blush to remember when I used to call The Child's online pals her "imaginary friends". I thought that someone that she hadn't met in person was as good as fiction. I believed that there was no way that it could be a true, real friendship. I know better now.

I know the gifts of my online friends. Both tangible and intangible. Some come here and some I just 'run into' at other websites. A few special 'shout outs' (I am SO old and uncool):

Rachel at Lawn Tea has to be mentioned first. She was my first online friend. I wrote about our online meeting and our face to face meeting in my "The List" post on July 21st. She cheers me up, makes me laugh, reminds me of what is really important and shares her days with me. An amazing gift. She shares in a very practical way, too. An accomplished cook (I know from personal experience) and former caterer, she is unstinting with supplying recipes and information about cooking, serving, etc. Her recipes do take a little deciphering and an understanding of 'Southernisms'. Not just everyone knows precisely how much a "good sized clop of mayo" or a "glug of Lea & Perrins" is. When I get a craving for chicken salad, the one I make now is Rachel's incomparable concoction. In fact, I made it this weekend:

It is a wonderful mixture of chicken, fruit, egg, mayo, pecans, celery and a fantastic secret ingredient. If you want to try it (and you DO), the recipe is here: . Her 'Paminna' cheese is superlative. Her son's 'Piggies' are a wonder of pork and sweetness. Every single thing that I had at Rachel's was delicious. But the real gift of Rachel is her generous spirit and whole hearted hospitality - at home and at 'Lawn Tea'.

Maggie at Cheap and Cheerful is a wonderful, wry and fascinating writer and one of the smartest (and most self-deprecating) people I've known. Sometimes I wonder if there is anything she doesn't know about. She's also a gifted seamstress and makes the most beautiful, imaginative aprons. She is tentatively starting to sell them, so go to her website to see some samples. They make fabulous gifts. I've given two away as wedding gifts and tucked three more away as Christmas gifts (shhhhh!). The wonderful thing is how she doesn't have a million identical aprons in stock to ship out at a moment's notice. Most of her pieces are two sided - two different fabrics. I gave her a little description of the people that I wanted to give them to and she found amazing, apt fabrics. She also did a lovely thing and sent me two aprons as gifts. The first to come was a two sided one for Mr. Kim and me:

(There are the feet in 3rd position again. Momma will be so proud!)

Flowers and camo! Adorable. And I wear it ALL THE TIME. The other one is very different - both in design and fabric:

Getting a ‘just because’ gift is a wonderful and special thing. It reminds you that someone, somewhere is thinking about you – that you are NEVER forgotten by real friends.

The gentleman known here as ‘Anonymous’ is a friend from a website that I frequent. He always remembers my culinary difficulties and will send me advice from his own experiments, articles, etc. I can’t tell you how nice it is to know that when he reads an article on what causes flat cookies (my most common bugaboo), he thinks “Kim was complaining about just this thing” and zips me a message.

Not to mention what I am given here. Folks come here and give me the gift of their attention and respond with support and kindness and an appreciation of what I'm trying to communicate. They put up with awkward wording, foolishness and my overuse of the word “wonderful”, just like ‘REAL’ friends do.

Some of my “friends” (and here’s a weird thing) don’t even know I exist. I am often what’s called a ‘lurker’ (almost as creepy a word as ‘stalker’) at lots of internet forums. One of my favorite places on the internet is the Table Talk forums at It's so wonderful to spend time with smart, literate, funny folks (my peeps, I fondly and conceitedly believe) when my days are spent at a dull job where I’m just marking time.

If I am awake at some ungodly hour, I can get online and go to sites and blogs and see what my friends are thinking and saying and cooking. No, it's not a conversation, but neither were the letters that lonely pioneer women treasured years ago. They got mail very rarely and cherished letters from a friend, a mother or a sister back east – giving them news of loved ones, clippings from newspapers and magazines, recipes, dress patterns, advice. This is really not so different from what I get from my "imaginary friends". And I, too, cherish all I receive.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I want MY chip!!

I often have elderly patients tell me, with all due gravity, that the government (the current government, that is - you know, the commie, Muslim sympathetic one) is planning to put microchips in all of us to 'keep tabs' on us. (Of all of the symptoms of old age that I don't want, paranoia is high on the list). While I have no interest in having a reverse GPS in my head, I'd be up for a Google chip.

I seriously heart Google. I cannot tell you how many times I 'Google' a word, a person, a map when I am at the computer. Google images gives me some of the wonderful pictures that I post on here. Google finds the thesaurus for me so that I don't use the word "wonderful" twenty times in one paragraph. It helps me nail down facts and dates so that I don't look like a big dummy (or at least not as big of a dummy). At work, I Google medications that neither my patient nor I can spell and if I get close, Google will say, "did you mean amlodipine?" (I forgive the snarky tone in gratitude). Some book I was reading mentioned the Blue Grotto on Capri. I Googled pictures and was rewarded with views of unearthly beauty. Google makes my writing better, decisions easier, reading more fulfilling and simply makes my life better.

Alas, Google is only available when I'm online. Just riding in the car or walking down the street I am still liable to say something idiotic. Or, I'm so afraid of sounding idiotic that I just keep my mouth shut. As a young person I was quite the wit - I was the past mistress of the quick comeback. But that was when my mind was agile. Now it is torpid (!), not to mention as distractable as a two year old. The words that I want to use are just zipping around my head like no-see-ums. I hesitate to make arguments, because the supporting data is just not accessible. I told Mr. Kim the other day (during one of my regular laments about my sad lack of brain power) that I wanted to be the kind of person who remembered what they read, who understood and could make references to classical literature and put things in historical context. I'll be reading something and the author will refer to 1066 country. Well, I know they mean English history. But then I'm lost...I mean WILDLY lost - the Magna Carta? the Norman invasion? D Day (just kidding)? And since I AM so distractable, if I have to start up the computer and look it up, half the time I forget what I'm looking for...and get lost in the fascination that is Google (when I think of myself as Homeric, I'm not referring to that Greek fella). When I finally DO pick up the book again and get to the same spot, it all starts over again. It's very discouraging.

So I'm thinking that if I had a Google implant, it could basically function as my brain. And as long as it worked as fast as our new computer at home and NOT as slowly as the moribund (me, not one at work, I would be smart and culturally astute and the quips would just FLOW! I would find the GoogleKim much more interesting and I'm sure that everyone else would welcome conversations with me that did not include such words(?) as "thingy", "y'know" and "I just had it". Now, I realize that you can use most any search engine for all of these riches, but Google is the one that I prefer. It is also the only one that sounds reasonable used as a verb: 'to Google' sounds just fine. 'To Bing' just sounds peculiar to me.

So I'm ready for my chip anytime. I hope Anthem covers it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Annual Halloween Kerfuffle

Mr. Kim brought home two additions to our Halloween menagerie the other day. A little black cat:

And this fellow:

I am looking forward to getting out the Halloween decorations and festooning the house with silly and spooky stuff. Then I noticed on the calendar that Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. I cringed when I saw that. Because the No Fun-damentalists, who hate Halloween anyway, really flip out when it lands on Sunday.

I have never really understood the objection to Halloween. I know that some aspects of the celebrations have pagan origins, but the day itself is a vigil for All Saint's Day, just as Christmas Eve is a vigil for Christmas day. Many of the celebrations of Christmas are pagan in origin, too, but the fundies don't seem to want to get rid of that. As a matter of fact they bemoan the commercialization of Christmas - reminding us to keep it a 'Holy-Day'. Yet just 2 months before Christmas they insist just the opposite. As Christians, we now all know that our liturgical calendar is full of instances where our celebrations are pasted over former pagan feasts and festivals. If one insists on focusing on the roots of one holiday, logically you have to afford all religious holidays the same scrutiny. Of course, logic isn't always a strong point with some of these folks. I realize that not all Christian denominations celebrate All Saint's Day (Anglicans do and I'm an Episcopalian - RC Lite), but surely in the spirit of ecumenism they could at least acknowledge that it is a legitimate Christian observance.

And since All Saint's Day (or All Hallows) honors all those who died in a state of grace and are in heaven with God, the skeletons and 'death' trappings are, after all, more appropriate to the day than are the Bunny to Easter or stockings to Christmas.

There is a fascinating discussion over on the Table Talk boards at about this very subject and I found this, by poster Cathy Georges both apt and funny:
"Does fear and loathing of "pre-Christian" holidays strike anyone else as part of a pattern for these folks? They also have "Christian" aerobics classes, "Christian" heavy metal and "Christian" karate out here. Someone should point out that if you want, as a sect, to renounce the world, you can't keep having theme parks and biker rallies. Seems like trying to have your piety and eat it, too."

And by the way, even if one truly believes that Halloween is pagan and
witchy and all that? This fellow:

still doesn't have anything to do with those things. Judeo-Christian tradition claims him. He's ours folks.