Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Haunting!

Well, dear readers, we hope you've enjoyed reading our series of spooky posts as much as we've enjoyed composing them. Hope you have the most deliciously frightening and sugary sweet Halloween ever! Don't be too naughty...

~ P & L

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hopes for Halloween Costumes

Ever since visiting Venice a couple of years ago, I've wanted to dress up in Carnival costumes for Halloween. (I know this is not the most flattering picture of me. We had already taken a picture with these folks, but they held me ransom until I gave them a few more euros, and I was a little startled by their grip. Stingy performance-types!).

My Carnival dress-up hasn't happened yet, and, alas, this is not my year either. P has to work on All Hallow's Eve until 8 PM, and if you want to be in the Greenwich Village Parade (which I most certainly would, if I pulled together a fabulous Carnival guise), you have to be there around 7 PM. C'est la vie. There's always next year, right?

Why Carnival, you may ask? Well, I will be the first to acknowledge that I completely and totally romanticize almost everything, but especially places I've visited. Venice was such a spectacular, velvety mix of warm, sparkly windows, their light dancing on the gently lapping water and plush, sooty shadows, corridors that disappear into murky darkness. While we were there, I loved imagining a Carnival of 18th-century splendor spilling through the streets: the excitement of sauntering through the threadlike alleys unchaperoned and unseen; for one night, free from all social mores.

Okay, so I warned you: definitely romanticized. But still, Carnival really was a time when people got to be someone they weren't, if only for a moment -- a desire that clearly continues to drive the somewhat unseemly desire of adults to dress completely inappropriately one night a year.

This is another thing I love about Carnival costumes. The costumes are seductive and compelling for what they don't reveal, rather than for all they do. When I troll the streets of NYC on Halloween, I am always embarrassed for the women who dress up as a whored-out version of a sexist stereotype (sexy nurse! sexy french maid! sexy joan jetson! sexy schoolgirl! I think you know what I'm talkin' about, right?) trying to be noticed. I much prefer the wondering what is under the costume to shielding my eyes against all that should have been.

So, I'll continue to plan and imagine my brilliant Carnevale di Venezia costume, hoping that next year, I'll disappear into billows of fabric, rustle down shadowy side streets, and wait for P to discover who is really under the mask.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Childhood Scare.

So, my brothers and I would fall asleep to this tape my Gramma gave us. We later (much later) found it and would act out the poems for each others enjoyment.

Well some of the poems would cause you to pull the covers up to your chin and wait this one out. And for some reason this one would get me real nervous at night alone in my bed. I think because there was a possibility that I could go away, chasing a dream and then never come back. And no one would ever know what happened to me.

And that terrified me.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Fearsome Ballads for an Eerie Eve

Several years ago, a couple of my good friends started circulating an October mix tape (though it was a CD) to get everyone in the Autumnal mood. I've since co-opted much of the list and augmented it, and it has become a favorite of ours. Each October, P and I play the list while we decorate, carve pumpkins, and generally participate in Halloween revelry. Hope you enjoy.

1. This is Halloween – Danny Elfman
How else would you begin an October / Halloween list?

2. Hell – Squirrel Nut Zippers
"This is a place where eternally
Fire is applied to the body
Teeth are extruded and bones are ground
Then baked into cakes which are passed around." 'nuff said.

3. Dracula – Gorillaz
There's got to be a good Dracula song on this list, right? And this one's sung by a cartoon.

4. Werewolf In London – Warren Zevon
I adore this song. It's not at all surprising that werewolves hang out at Trader Vic's.

5. Thriller – Michael Jackson
Really, must I comment?

6. (Ghost) Riders In The Sky – Johnny Cash
Classic. Damned to chase red-eyed cows through the sky, these cowboys now warn others to mind their ways.

7. Grim Grinning Ghosts – Barenaked Ladies
A Disney classic, revamped by those guys who sang the Chinese-Chicken song a few years ago.

8. Ghost of Stephen Foster – Squirrel Nut Zippers
Squirrel Nut Zippers have some very macabre thoughts. I love it.

9. Virgin State of Mind – K's Choice
Spooky... I mean, why does she have a chair in her head?

10. Free Until They Cut Me Down – Iron and Wine
Lynching is definitely scary.

11. One More Murder – Better Than Ezra
A town where no one notices that another murder has taken place, because they're used to it.

12. Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joni Mitchell
The birth of the antichrist, apocalypse...

13. A Widow's Toast – Neko Case
Case's voice is always unnerving; here it's downright frightening.

14. Transylvanian Concubine – Rasputina
Vampiric ladies of the night wander through gothic chords: "you know what flows there like wine."

15. Bury My Lovely – October Project
Definitely new-agey, but there's no better mood music for a sepia-toned fall.

16. Bad Moon Rising – Thea Gilmore
A low-key take on the apocalyptic tune from Credence Clearwater Revival.

17. Superstar – Sonic Youth
Echoing and ghostly, this song makes Karen Carpenter even spookier.

18. O Death – Ralph Stanley
The bluegrass great begs Death to pass him by.

19. Temptation Waits – Garbage
Another vampire song. Come to think of it, I think Shirley Manson may actually be a vampire.

20. Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush
Blog readers know of my deep, abiding love for Kate. This is probably my favorite song of hers, where she gives the ghost Cathy a voice, begging Heathcliff to let her in his window.

21. Dirty Knife – Neko Case
Another Neko song to close out the list; haunting, lilting, lovely.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Walk and A Fall.

This past weekend we had the great privilege of visiting our good friends in the small enclave of SLEEPY HOLLOW!!!

You die-hards may remember a similar trip with other dear friends last year. Well that was more of a Spooky Graveyard Trip, while this one was more like this:

There was afternoon shopping at a Church Harvest Fair, Lindsay picked up some Chekhov, and I found a book of Hitchcock's Scary Stories for Young Adults...So, you know, same-same.

Then we Lunched at a tea room that was described to us as 'More Roosters and Sunflowers than Saucers and Finger Sandwiches.' But it was delicious and delightful, both in meal and in company.

Then we walked.

At first I thought the walk was headed somewhere, and there were sights seen and destinations arrived at. But in the end, we just walked, and the walk became the event.

There certainly is such a thing as a "quaint village feel" that needs to be felt now and then. And Sleepy Hollow has such a strong feeling that it quite literally pulled our friends right from their home up the street to their new home up the state.

And we were lucky for it.

A moment on the train over looking the Hudson River.

A walk to and around Swan Lake.

The soft crispness in the air that fills the lives of those who live in forests.

A perfect day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October Sweet: Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies & White Chocolate Hot Cocoa

Ideal for curling up with a ragged copy of Poe and listening to the murmurous wind tickle through the skeletal branches, this combo is frighteningly sweet and oh-so-scrumptious: a slightly spicy cake-like cookie studded with semi-sweetened chocolate, paired with a ghostly potion for your autumn enjoyment.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c. pumpkin
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 c. chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Dissolve baking soda in milk; set aside. In large bowl add pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg; stir. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda mixture. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Spoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 12 minutes or until done.

White Chocolate Hot Cocoa

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 ounces milk
2 ounces cream
3 pieces star anise

Place the chopped chocolate and vanilla in a mixing bowl. In a saucepan heat together milk, cream and star anise until boiling. Pour over chocolate and whisk well to melt. Strain into mugs to remove star anise.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Gloaming" - a Superbly Spooky Tale by P

There are those whose breath aches for the crack of treaded leaves, the race of whipped wind 'round a broken tomb stone, the shallow gasp of black night as it settles on your chest.

She was one of them.

She sat waiting at her window. Watching for the first dead leaf to fall at the foot of the aching maple tree that covered the front face of her house. She could match the tangles of bark and branches of the tree with the iced lines of the ancient glass in the windows of her dying home. She loved to watch. Families would walk by unaware of her stare through yellowed lace curtains. They would give sweatered smiles and hold mitted hands and call for their young to keep clear of the street. She would smile too; though her skin bagged and pulled hard toward the floor making it impossible for her lips to turn up at the ends, she would smile. She would smile while she waited.

Once. Once, her face had been smooth and beautiful, the color of promise. Once, her eyes had been compared to unseen tropical seas, now they lie in wait, hollow and grey, the pupil set far in from the color, creating a space.


Once. She hated the word. The sharp hiss, following the slack jawed ‘Un’, clawed the roof of her mouth as it slid out. She no longer thought, ‘Once.’ She only ever thought, ‘Next’.

Perhaps, if those boys had not come that first year. Perhaps if they would have just passed on to make their mischief at other, less foreboding, manors. But they hadn’t. They came here, and she knew why. She was old. The house terrifying. The season called for it and she had her role to play. So, she invited them in and locked the door. She spent time sifting through the boys, finding the worst among them, the biggest liar, the bravest fool. She separated him from the pack. She sent the other boys off without him knowing. And he was left. And she was right.
He fought hard at first and she was sure he would overtake her; after all, he was a growing boy and she a crooked old woman, but he did not believe it would happen, he couldn’t believe. She had that on her side, she believed. She could see the whole thing as it was happening, as if from above. The swirling, and pulling, and crying out. The candlestick.

It had been her mother’s. Deep black marble with swipes of grey. It was brought back from Venice when she was a girl. It stood, always, center of the mantle to receive its accolades. It was cold to the touch, but not that first night. That night it burned her hands as she held it. She had worried that the heavy of it would put her off her balance, but she was buoyed by the weightlessness of it as it lifted over her head.

She knew where to put the body. She had always known. The cellar had been bolted off long ago, after they had running water brought to the house. The only access now was an old dumb-waiter that would spill the mess into the dark beneath. The smell. What of the smell? The smell would be covered by the cats. She had known that when the first stray coiled its tail around her drooping stocking. The smell, like the blood rush would fade.

Some get away.

She knew that, too. There must be a broken board down there, and she may not have hit them hard enough, or in the right spot. She could hear them shuffling around down there, banging into things in the dark or breaking glass, then quiet. That’s why she chooses the liars. What could they say? In the end, it’s just a boy who missed his curfew and is now babbling some fantastic story about the old lady at the end of the street. Even if they were filthy and bloody, no one had ever questioned her. No one had ever walked past the maple tree and knocked at the door and asked where the town sons had gone. And as long as no one asked, she would continue… to wait.

For they would be back, a new batch, braver than the last, hopped up on wild tales told year after year about the house on the hill and the children who never come back.

And so she waited for the first dead leaf to fall.

The end.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Last Autumnal Chance...

Come on, one more chance! Put on your commenting hat and tell us why you like fall -- Patrick has to close tonight, so we won't draw until tomorrow (Friday, Oct 17). Win a box of autumn splendor, straight from us! You know you want it...

Friday, October 10, 2008

'Beware the Autumn People'

Lindsay and I are in constant conversation about which season we love the most. Granted, there are a moments where we talk about Bills or Babies, but mostly we're draped about the house, discussing whether the weather of endless evenings in summer is better than bustling brisk of Christmas, or if it can compare with the first sweet breath of fresh dirt in Spring, which rivals the crisp burnt reminder of Autumns past.

Pretty much, Lindsay loves Summer first for its chlorine-filled memories and sand-filled futures, then Fall for its new school year ('cause she's smart) and the fashion that comes with ('cause she's pretty).

I have to say that, year after year, I am thoroughly convinced by whichever pageant is presenting itself at the moment. So this year...Today...I am fully for Fall.

{Our Dog on Our Porch}

{The Plants* on the Porch}

{Syd in a Patch of Pumpkins}

{Patch in a Patch of Pumpkins...and Linds}

Our dear friends Suzie and Syd called us up and wanted to head upstate and see the country, so we did and it was a Autumn Wonderland. We picked up some fall sundries and enjoyed good company. It was golden and hazy, but it was covering a dark truth. After all, the turning of fall is only ever about one thing:

"Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death! You dream with your eyes open. God, if you had the strength to rouse up, you'd slaughter your half-dreams with buckshot! But no, you lie pinned to a deep well-bottom that's burned dry. The moon rolls by to look at you down there, with its idiot face. It's a long way back to sunset, a far way to dawn, so you summon all the fool things of your life, the stupid lovely things done with people known so very well who are now so very dead -- And wasn't it true, had he read somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3 A.M. than at any other time ... ?"

Deep in the back of your throat it waits for its annual subsiding. The one night when creaking gates bang open and shatter on dead rock walls giving way to shadowy characters with wicked motives.

"Mr. Dark nodded, pleased. "What's your name, boy?"

Don't tell him! thought Will, and stopped.
Why not? he wondered, why?

Jim's lips hardly twitched.
"Simon," he said.

He smiled to show it was a lie.

Mr. Dark smiled to show he knew it."

There are those whose breath aches for the crack of treaded leaves, the race of whipped wind 'round a broken tomb stone, the shallow gasp of black night as it settles on your chest.

"…Beware the autumn people...For some, autumn
comes early, stays late, through life, where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring or revivifying summer.
For these beings, fall is the only normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond.
Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No, the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks through their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars.
They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks.
Such are the autumn people. Beware of them."

We are they. The Autumn People. So then, are you, our closest and finest friends. And to solidify our kinship...

a gift:

As you very probably know, the quotes above are from this, the finest fall book ever penned. I love to read this book every fall. It has the perfect mix of Summer Ending, Growing Up, a Haunting Pandemonium Shadow Show, and Trains...

"Those trains and their grieving sounds were lost forever between stations, not remembering where they had been, not guessing where they might go, exhaling their last pale breaths over the horizon, gone. So it was with all trains, ever."

We invite you to join our Harvest tradition and curl up in this book. Don't have a copy? We'll give you this one. You know the drill: post a comment about your very favorite part of this season and, on Thursday the 16th, we'll draw a winner and send you a box of fall, New England Style.

Well, go on...

{I took every picture used in this post, even the book one... I know, right?!}

{Oh wait...not the one I'm in, Suzie took that.}

{Better Stacy?}

*That green thing is called a Goose Gourd; at least, that's what the Lady on the Farm said.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hooray! Internet re-connect

Oh, man, folks, who knew how addicted we are to the internet? We have now survived 1 1/2 weeks without a functioning connection and it was terribly unpleasant. But, we're back, so keep checking in here, because we're preparing another desperate stunt to reestablish readership. You never know what we'll offer this time...