Sunday, October 31, 2021

Whatever Autumn Has to Say

Cartoon from Cat Cafe
Sometimes for Halloween, instead of a full moon, you get a waning crescent that does not even appear until 4 a.m., long after the trick - or - treaters have gone to bed.

Here's a poem in celebration of what we used to call "the fingernail moon" (no, not the one on your thumbnail, the one in the sky)!

Dusk in Autumn

The moon is like a scimitar,
A little silver scimitar,
A-drifting down the sky.
And near beside it is a star,
A timid twinkling golden star,
That watches likes an eye.

And thro’ the nursery window-pane
The witches have a fire again,
Just like the ones we make,—
And now I know they’re having tea,
I wish they’d give a cup to me,
With witches’ currant cake.

found in the collection:
Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems (1907)
Thanks to Cathy Lindsay & Halloweenaholic
Late October
Bois de Boulogne

Listen, the damp leaves on the walks are
With a ghost of sound;
Is it a fog or is it a rain dripping
From the low trees to the ground?

If I had gone before, I could have remembered
Lilacs and green after-noons of May;
I chose to wait, I chose to hear from autumn
Whatever she has to say.

found in the collection:
Dark of the Moon (1926)

both poems by Sara Teasdale (1884 - 1933)

~ Previous ~ Crescents ~

Monday, October 25, 2021

If You Build It

Thanks to Halloweenaholic & Cathy Linsday
for sharing this illustration.

If you build it, they will come? Well, not always. Down through the decades, I have tried to make Halloween come to me, with varying degress of success. I was so envious a few years ago when one of my friends had to decline my Halloween invitation because she was expecting "well over 100 trick or treaters, which tends to overwhelm me."

It's true, her neighborhood is The Chosen One! That's how it was when we lived in West Philly -- a constant stream of visitors and all the neighbors out on the sidewalk with their treats! Kids actually rode the trolley to get off at the stop closest to our corner! Some people hated it, but I loved it!

Then we moved to a street where ALL the Halloween action took place a couple of blocks over, so if we wanted to see any Trick or Treaters we had to walk over there. Same here in West Lafayette, where all the fun is a few blocks away and no one comes to our end of the long steep hill -- except for maybe one lonesome child or a couple of Purdue students. Sad!

So for those on the busy fun streets, I know you will be tired but try to enjoy the human drama and spectacle. Take it from me, this holiday is deeply anthropological (see Backe and Parker). It's what makes the world go round! Just ask Silver Ravenwolf:
"Our children carve pumpkins with delightful chatter and adults find solace in a night where they can be whatever they want to be. We have little doubt about the joy this holiday brings to the American people. We will forever love the haunted house, the vampire costume, the harvest moon . . .

"Much of society . . . was centered around [harvest festivals and holidays] . . . These special days carried a sense of excitement that grew through the preparations and reached a crescendo of joy and laughter through family and community functions. In the fall, vegetables were carved, breads were baked, costumes were fussed over, and fires or candles were lit for the dead. Halloween was a time to overeat, tell jokes, gossip with the gang, drink too much, do a little fortunetelling and, finally, to have a wonderful time scaring...everyone with...tales of the mysterious and unexplained."
(33, 38)
Come one, come all!

Friday the 13th!

Friday, October 22, 2021

Just Beware!

Signs can be so much fun! When I saw the above retro metal sign on a nearby neighborhood fence, it gave me such a laugh that I had to order some for Halloween. Thankfully, amazon did not let us down. Despite the compromising infiltration of so many ghosts and goblins into the supply chain, we were able to acquire as many as we wanted.

We kept one for ourselves and shared a few others with friends and relatives. In keeping with our troubled times, the cautionary message is somewhat menacing, in manner of Kafka, yet somewhat absurd in manner of Flann O'Brien, not to mention, eerily existential. I offered to get my kids one, but they said “No, we have the spider!” I guess it sends the same message!

Last year, part of the seasonal decor.

Now, a year - round feature!

And while we're on the topic of wariness,
how about this very old shot gun shell
that I found in my grandmother's jewelry box?

"Dangerous High Explosives!"
Here's what Gerry found under the old paint
when he refinished the little doll table that
my grandfather made for me 60 years ago!
Such an unexpected legacy from my grandparents . . .
Just Beware!

A Vintage Aluminum Boo!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

October Light, Day & Night

Mosaic Path, 2018
by Erin Hanson, (American, b. 1981)
Linocut Moonlight Motif
by Robert Gillmor (British, b. 1936)

Thanks to my friend Nikki
~ who has an artistic eye for natural beauty ~
for sharing these stunning evocations of the season!

Happy Full Hunters Moon

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Channel of Peace

St. Francis ~ Blessing the Animals

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi,
as sung at the funeral of Princess Diana:

"Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there's sadness, ever joy. . . .

Contemporary lyrics & arrangement
by Sebastian Temple

Most excellent sermon for the day
by The Rev. Nancy C. Tiederman

Ellie brought her stuffed frog princess,
whom she has already blessed with numerous kisses!
Lester (front) and Fuqua,
blessed in absentia, via photograph
A little stuffed friend for Ellie!

See also:
Animals Are People & A Horse Is Human

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Autumnal Watercolors

Early Autumn Watercolor by Julie Windhorst


Readings from John O'Donohue
"Summertime grows into autumn. Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year; seeds sown in the spring, nurtured by the summer, now yield their fruit in autumn. It is harvest, the homecoming of the seeds' long and lonely journey through darkness and silence under the earth's surface. Harvest is one of the great feasts of the year. It was a very important time in Celtic culture. The fertility of the earth yielded its fruitfulness. Correspondingly, when it is autumn in your life, the things that happened in the past, or the experiences that were sown in the clay of your heart, almost unknown to you, now yield their fruit. Autumntime in a person's life can be time of great gathering. It is a time for harvesting the fruits of your experiences. . . .

"Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one."

from Anam Cara:
A Book of Celtic Wisdom
, 166 - 67


"Change arrives in nature when time has ripened. There are no jagged transitions or crude discontinuities. This accounts for the sureness with which one season succeeds another. It is as though they were moving forward in a rhythm set from within a continuum.

"To change is one of the great dreams of every heart – to change the limitations, the sameness, the banality, or the pain....

"At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it?"

from To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings
, 47 - 48

Julie's technique: Tracing the Leaves

Monday, October 4, 2021

Was such still dwelling there?

Here are a couple of favorites that Ellie and I
often stroll past on our autumnal peregrinations:
Situated just a few blocks apart, one always reminds me of the other. Not that I've ever lived in -- or even been inside of -- either place, yet the following poems from Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost capture my curiosity to know what these houses may have witnessed over the past century or so:
Emily Dickinson's Home Poem #440

Years I had been from home,
And now, before the door
I dared not open, lest a face
I never saw before

Stare vacant into mine
And ask my business there.
My business, - just a life I left,
Was such still dwelling there?

I fumbled at my nerve,
I scanned the windows near;
The silence like an ocean rolled,
And broke against my ear.

I laughed a wooden laugh
That I could fear a door,
Who danger and the dead had faced,
But never quaked before.

I fitted to the latch
My hand, with trembling care,
Lest back the awful door should spring,
And leave me standing there.

I moved my fingers off
As cautiously as glass,
And held my ears, and like a thief
Fled gasping from the house


Robert Frost's "Ghost House"

I dwell in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.

O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield
The woods come back to the mowing field;
The orchard tree has grown one copse
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;
The footpath down to the well is healed.

I dwell with a strangely aching heart
In that vanished abode there far apart
On that disused and forgotten road
That has no dust-bath now for the toad.
Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;

The whippoorwill is coming to shout
And hush and cluck and flutter about:
I hear him begin far enough away
Full many a time to say his say
Before he arrives to say it out.

It is under the small, dim, summer star.
I know not who these mute folk are
Who share the unlit place with me—
Those stones out under the low-limbed tree
Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad—
Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—
With none among them that ever sings,
And yet, in view of how many things,
As sweet companions as might be had.


As I mentioned a few days ago, here is the house
that represents my all - time fantasy renovation project:
It turns out, upon closer examination,
that several other houses in the vicinity
share a similar, angular, stately style:

The Falley Double

And these two ~ ABOVE & BELOW ~
that I never fail to admire on the drive
between Lafayette and Indianapolis


These ones also
give me a strangely aching heart.

Friday, October 1, 2021

What a Hotchpotch!

One of my all - time favorite abandoned houses!
"I . . . stared out of the train window.
Like a colossal junkyard, the swamps
and back lots of Connecticut flashed past,
one broken-down fragment
bearing no relation to another.

What a hotchpotch the world was!"

from The Bell Jar ~ by Sylvia Plath
(p 112; beginning of Chapter 10)


That's me: just longing, as does Sylvia Plath,
for a bit more tidyness in this messy world,
and filled with dismay to witness these grand
old houses, so sadly neglected and in need of TLC.
Could we ever make it look like this instead?
Other side . . . hotchpotch . . .
VS Dream House!

As Gerry and I have recently learned in our quest to improve distressed aging houses, it turns out that back in the days when a public sewer system first became available in Lafayette, homeowners could OPT OUT of public safety and cleanliness. If participating in a community health initiative seemed too costly or socialist to them, they could "have their freedoms" to maintain a private sewer line, right in the middle of a city block that was otherwise entirely connected to the city mains! Can you imagine the current state of these 100+ year old private lines? Nasty is an understatement! If only there had been a "sewer mandate" we wouldn't still be dealing with this problem today.

Insult to Injury: Even though we are blessed with outdoor swim weather here in Indiana well into October, there is a chronic shortage of outdoor swimming pools in our area. One of my favorites was recently sold and bulldozed over, and guess what was built in its place? Storage units! Makes me so sad and angry to see the storage of unused crap prioritized over sunshine, clean water, and exercise -- on prime real estate, at a a major intersection in Lafayette. What a hotchpotch!

[A few more favorites in the neighborhood.]

P.S. 2023
Look whose recent use "hodgepodge"
echoes Plath's use -- 60 years ago! -- of "hotchpotch":
"During a recent tour of Xiongan New Area, a city roughly 60 miles south of Beijing, President Xi Jinping told the state-owned news agency Xinhua he opposes street stalls. 'The capital is first and foremost a political center, not a hodgepodge. It cannot run factories in alleys or engage in a street-stall economy,' he said." ~quoted in The Daily Upside