Jack-O-Lantern Update

Here’s one more photo, after we returned from the Halloween festivities in Hinesburg center. Right before we planned to head out, it started to rain, hard. It dumped. The heavens opened up. It poured. Cats and dogs. By the time we got out of the car, however, it was mostly just damp. We tricked and treated (well, only treats, really), popped into the fire station for the celebration there, and then went home to get my daughter to bed. Turns out she had a fever of 103 degrees. I guess we got one trick after all.

Sorta Spooky, Sorta Funny

Pumpkin Carving

We finally got out the spoons and knives and carved our pumpkins. As my son said, “We put in a candle and we have Jack-O-Lanterns!” The process, illustrated:


Pumpkins Ready to be Carved

Ready for the Knife

Scooping Out Pumpkin

Removing Innards

Pumpkin Guts


Pumpkins Drawn Upon for Carving


Pumpkin Carving

Artist at Work


Really Scary, Scary, and Not So Scary--Waiting for Dark



Halloween Parade

Shelburne hosts a halloween parade every year. There is a lot of candy involved. While other parades (4th of July, Memorial Day, and the like) have discouraged candy tossing (in the name of safety! Children apparently, run into moving vehicles in pursuit of sugared confections), this parade seems to require everyone in it to toss the sweet stuff. My daughter wasn’t feeling well so it was just the boy (with the tractor costume recycled for a third year) and I. He hauled in the loot, despite his inability to bend over with ease, and willingly shared with his sister. Good kid, he.

As with most parades, the ambulance started things off

As with most parades, the ambulance started things off

There were clowns on carts...

There were clowns on carts...

and a paddy wagon of sorts...

and a paddy wagon of sorts...

and this witch cowboy themed float.

and this witch cowboy themed float.

Looks like a stacked deck

Looks like a stacked deck

And get this, after they all pass by, tossing candy all the way, they turn around and come back to toss more. Like I said, lots of candy.

And get this, after they all pass by, tossing candy all the way, they turn around and come back to toss more. Like I said, lots of candy.

Sharp Pencils

Crank This Puppy Up

Crank This Puppy Up

We all have our quirks.  Some people are particular about how the toilet paper roll hangs.  Some people have to load the dishwasher just the right way.  Some people never use their turn signal.  I like sharp pencils.

I know a lot of people don’t even use pencils.  They yse pens, if they write things by hand at all.  It’s not like people tend to keep journals these days, or write letters.  Even the words I am writing now are not being written by hand, unless you count typing on a keyboard.  Pencils seem so elementary school.  But I love them.  If I start a grocery list, I reach for a pencil first.  Crossword puzzles?  Gotta be in pencil.

The thing is, I like sharp pencils.  A dull pencil is like a dull knife.  Sure, it can get the job done, but it isn’t fun and it isn’t easy.  A dull pencil makes for work.  A sharp pencil makes for pleasure.  A fine graphite tip scratching across paper–that is simply a joy.  And those mechanical jobbers won’t do.  A newly sharpened wooden pencil is a fine and incomparable thing.

I got a pencil sharpener from my grandmother a few years ago.  She moved out and so cleaned out and gave me one.  It hangs on the wall and has a hand crank.  It is one of the most used tools in our house.  I use it almost every day, in fact.  I attached it to a post next to our desk downstairs.  A few pencils sit in a bin above it.  When my pencils start to wear too much, I crank it and start writing again.

One thing of which I am not a fan is an electric pencil sharpener.  That seems like a waste of energy.  That seems like it was designed for sloth.  You can’t even wrap a couple of fingers around a little knob and make a few turns?  You need electricity to sharpen a pencil?  How lazy can you be?  I guess if you have to sharpen hundreds of pencils (SAT test administrator?) it would come in handy.  But otherwise, come on people.

We have been trying to weed through all of the random crap in our basement lately.  We have boxes with art supplies, kitchen supplies, office supplies, all of which are half unpacked.  I keep wondering how one couple could have gathered so many damn writing utensils?  We have hundreds of pens and hundreds of pencils.  I kid you not.  I have to keep changing the system for how we will store them to accommodate more.  We have a whole bin of pencils on the kitchen counter, tucked behind the telephone.  My sharpener has been busy.

This doesn’t count, of course, the pencils that my daughter brings home.  Apparently someone at the National Education Association convention recently announced that all teachers will be condemned as half-ass slackers if they do not provide dozens of pencils for each pupil to bring home each month.  And the National Halloween Federation must have passed a ruling that since candy is bad for you, the safe and smart alternative is to hand out pencils.  As a parent this isn’t all that bad–hey, less candy to rot my kid’s teeth.  But if I were a kid I’d be pissed–A pencil?  Do that again next year and I’ll poke your eye out.

In summary:

  • I like to write with pencils
  • I have scores of pencils, some of which are older than Thriller
  • I like sharp pencils
  • Electric pencil sharpeners are for lazy people
  • I sharpen my pencils with a tool that is older than Michael Jackson himself
  • I support, although I do not necessarily agree with, the idea that pencils are better than candy, even if they are sharp
  • If you happen to need a pencil when you stop by, and I’m not home, you can find them behind the telephone
  • Satellite television is the biggest ripoff ever

OK that last one has nothing to do with pencils.  Got a problem with that?  Write me a letter.  In pencil.

Halloween and Movies

We went to a friend’s house for dinner tonight.  It was a good time, some mellow hanging out and a meal together.  Then we headed out for some trick or treating, one stop at a house along the way and then to the neighborhood in town.  The town threw a party and half of us went to that.  The kids hauled in some good loot.

I took my son to the video store.  It is going out of business, so all the films are for sale.  We picked up a few.  He got to show off his tractor costume which was, as at every stop, a hit.  He picked out a few Thomas the Tank Engine videos and that made him happy as a kid on Halloween.

We have a pile of candy now, right on the floor with the children sorting through it.  I just polished off a peanut butter cup.  Tasty.  We tossed a couple of random gelatin type jobbers.  They look fun but were probably made in China and who needs more lead?  We will still have plenty for many days.

Happy Halloween.  No costumed children visiting this house with its long long driveway, even if we do leave the light on.  In fact, we left a bowl of the sweet stuff on the deck with the porch light on while we were out.  No takers.  All the more for us, right?  It’s just what we need.


We have way too much candy around here. We got some to hand out for Halloween, of course, most of which we are simply just eating ourselves. And we got some for the party we had this weekend, most of which we still have and are just eating ourselves. And we got some from the Halloween parade, which…

The parade was a grand affair for the children, with floats and firetrucks and costumes and, of course, candy. Parades have become a forum for tossing candy to children so that they can learn how to run out into the street, but this parade tops them all. Halloween is all about candy, so every person on every float tosses candy, and they they have someone walking the curb to hand it out as well.

We walked away from the parade with two pretty good sized bags full of dented chocolate bars and shattered lollipops (all that tossing takes its toll). Right now we have three bowls with candy in them, as well as a large Tupperware bin of stuff we weeded out to give away. It is a good thing that last one has a cover or we would be digging into it as well.

I have had a few pieces today. I was working in a high school and I forgot a fork and couldn’t go get one for a while, so I ate the candy I had in the meantime. It didn’t sit like that tofu pot pie I made last night would have sat. But it was pretty tasty in the moment I ate it. That is the problem, of course. It is tasty for a bit and then gone, and then I want that tastiness back. In fact, those bowls are calling right now…