Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween's SUPER, thanks for asking...

The hordes of urbancentrists might not believe it, but it is possible to have a First Real Halloween at age 26. The handing-out of candy - or, as explained previously, plastic nasties and raisins - the adorable costumed kids, the smiles and polite "Thank you"s and "Happy Halloween"s, even the glittery teens... it's all something you read about or watch on TV as a child in rural WV. I guess it's like the Rose Bowl or something. When there are four families on your 1-mile dirt road, you don't exactly beat the gravel for candy. And yes, this means that there's not much point in dressing up (except for the time I was Robin Hood at the fourth grade class pageant, but who's counting). Whoever thought it was a suburban holiday, but there you have it.

Which means that when I came home to find my lovely wife dressed as a superheroine, I was only too glad to hear that she'd gotten an extra red cape...

We hate to be Those Cat People, really, but our red cloth napkins just fit the occasion so well. Every super-pair needs a pet sidekick, right?


Of course, it didn't occur to me until later that when Khymi sees these pictures, she will jump for joy at our unwitting compliance with her plans for us to be Unit and Polar-Boy. Ah well. Whatever works for her.

In other news, Maria found us a real, working piano for $5 on CraigsList. Can't beat it!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Healthy Halloween?

Note: Non-registered users can now post comments. Sorry that we didn't notice and change the settings earlier. Anyone who's not a spammer is welcome!

As I was writing my long novel of a comment on Mama Monster's Halloween post, I began thinking a better place to write about Halloween would be here. She pretty much nailed my sentiments about costumes. Although Khymi won't be here for Halloween (she's making a "butterfly-moth" costume at her mom's house), I'm going to put together a Halloween costume for myself (because I am a kid at heart, or actually, still a kid from many people's perspectives). I am going to be a superhero. Hopefully this will serve to entertain the hordes of trick-or-treaters that will descend upon our doorstep. But I still need something to give them...

Every time I go to a chain drugstore or grocery store these days, I see big discounts on those huge bags of fun-size candy bars. I feel a little conflicted about buying them without a second thought. Don't get me wrong: I actually love junk candy on an individual basis. Three Musketeers, Milky Way, Mounds bars, Butterfinger, Reese's peanut butter cups...bring it on. But my buying habits have changed a lot, if gradually, in the past few years. I don't drink soda anymore, not even in a restaurant or sandwich shop where I could at least justify it by saying, "it's just this once." I hardly ever buy anything at the grocery store that contains corn syrup as a sweetener. It's difficult sometimes, because it's usually that stuff that's the cheapest (see: corn subsidies). So I'm having trouble just casting all that aside to buy bulk packs of mostly corn syrup. I don't look down upon friends and family who do buy them for trick-or-treaters, but when it comes to my own decisions, I'm a little more hesitant.

Half of me is saying, "Lighten up! It's a treat! It's just once a year!" But then I remember that the kids in my neighborhood will definitely be getting their fair share of junk candy--from all the neighbors. I won't be making that huge of a difference if I try for an alternative, but I'll feel better. So what will we give out instead?

Jacob immediately thought of one of his favorite snacks: apples. Oh, you wonderful rural boy. Unfortunately, although giving out apples would be great, and would probably do no harm at all, urban legends about razor blades and poison have pretty much ruined this possibility for urban/suburban trick-or-treaters. Parents won't trust anything edible unless it's got a factory-sealed wrapper. Wasteful, but pretty much necessary. Fair enough.

Kids seem to like those individually-wrapped fruit leathers from places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Our local co-op carries them, too. Great! Nothing but fruit, no added sweeteners, kids like them. Problem is, although 40 or 50 cents each is an easy price to pay for one or a few, buying 100 will cost you upwards of $50, and you can't get a bulk discount. I'm determined about this, but I'm also not made of money. If I had oodles of disposable income, this might be an option worth investing in. But as it is...

Okay, so what about non-edible treats? I remember getting nickels and pennies from some neighbors when I was a kid. Somehow I can't see myself doing that, though. It's sort of like the impersonal aspect of getting money for your birthday, except that usually, you can actually buy something you like with birthday money. Not so much with the pennies.

So then I started looking into the plastic nasties. Cheap plastic toys. I felt kind of weird about that, too. Something mostly useless that a kid will play with for two days and then it'll end up in a landfill. Damn you, conscience! You ruin all the fun.

So here is what I decided on for this year: Halloween bookmarks. They are plastic nasties, but they conceivably have years of use in them, provided that the kids read, which I hope they do! Plus they have the bonus feature of a little traceable Halloween design. They appeal to both younger and older kids. It's the kind of thing I would have liked (and actually kept and used) when I was a kid. Hopefully that'll be true for the kids in my neighborhood. And at four dollars a gross, the price was right.

I have loftier hopes for next year, if I can get my act together. We'll see. Any other suggestions for trick-or-treat alternatives?

P.S. Soon after I posted this, Jacob happened to send me a link to this blog article on the Washington Post website today. Take a look.


Monday, October 15, 2007

use it up

If you're still up to your ears in this summer's zucchini, try making this soup. Great with crusty bread on a chilly evening.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Is it fall yet?

It seems like every time I post I am still waiting. Tomorrow, they say. I guess we'll see.

I'll tell you how I know it's fall. The church where I grew up goes to Catoctin. I've been going there every year since I was a toddler, with the exception of only a couple times. When I was a kid our annual retreat was one of the highlights of my year: running around in the woods with other kids, sleeping in sleeping bags, helping the grown-ups make all the meals. Last weekend, we got to bring Khymi, and I don't know which of us was more excited. Khymi was mostly excited to hang out with her Dad's-house BFF, Big Girl Monster of Each Inch.

Last year it was almost unbearably cold. This year it was hot enough for shorts.

But there are always crunchy fall leaves...

There's always Cunningham Falls, and a snack from Pryor's Orchard...

There's always hot cocoa with marshmallows....

And there is always the company of a friend on the swings...