From the Black Cat

Dear Inferior Beings,

You probably think Halloween is all about tricks and treats, goblins and ghosts, witches and jack-o’-lanterns. Wrong! Wrong, I tell you!

We black cats rule on October 31, and don’t you forget it.

Now, make sure you leave me a tuna flavored treat and no one’ll get scratched.

Meow, people.

Witches

I’ve known some witches in my time

Not the cloistered crones of legends; although, they, too exist

Cackling over crackling cauldrons

Working at wickedness for fun and profit

No, those I’ve encountered don’t give a newt’s eye for sinister stews.

They are the progeny of those who could not be burned, who steadfastly refused to drown.

Is it any wonder, then, that men fear witches?

Happy Halloween, people.

Monsters Inc, Alachua

Based on predictions that tropical storm Nestor would bring buckets of rain and high winds to the Tallahassee area on Saturday, Studly’s golf course closed for the day. I envisioned a lazy afternoon of watching college football while snuggling on the sofa with him and the cats. Studly, on the other hand, envisioned driving to Gainesville, FL, to look at, and perhaps purchase a motorcycle. At least he invited me along for the ride.

When we left Tallahassee the skies were threatening.

The winds hadn’t begun blowing yet, but I certainly questioned Studly’s sanity in his decision to travel so far from Doright Manor and into the belly of a storm.

“Relax,” he told me. “It’s not going to hit until this afternoon.”

As it happened, he was right. What’s that old saying about even a broken clock having the correct time twice a day? I think that applies here.

Gainesville is about a two and a half hour drive south and East from our home, and thanks to gps we easily found the place where the motorcycle was being stored. Within a few minutes the bike was loaded into the back of our pickup truck, and we were headed home.

We were both ready for some lunch, and while Gainesville has hundreds of restaurants we opted to drive north to Alachua. I’d never been there, but Studly promised that the little town had a terrific Main Street with several good cafes. He was right again! I’m going to have to start reconsidering that broken clock analogy.

We ate at Conestogas Restaurant where everything seems to be fried, and vegan options were practically nonexistent.

I had a baked potato stuffed with bell peppers and grilled onions, along with a salad, while Studly enjoyed a chicken fried steak with gravy. Obviously he wasn’t concerned about the lack of vegan fare.

After lunch we walked along the street, and inspected the town’s Halloween decorations. It didn’t take us long to discern this year’s theme:

On nearly every corner we encountered characters from Monsters, Inc. If there’s a contest for best design, I vote for the one directly above. The door clinched it for me. Studly, who’s never seen Monsters, Inc., wondered aloud why the door was part of the display.

“The door doesn’t seem all that scary to me,” he observed.

Of course I had to fill him in on the importance of collecting screams and the implications of having a human child follow one of the monsters back through a door.

Still he asked, “Couldn’t they at least have painted the door orange and black and put spiderwebs or something on it instead of flowers? That would be scary.”

“But that’s not how the door looked in the movie,” I said.

“Their mistake.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m conversing with a tall toddler.

There were a few non-Monster, Inc. themed decorations, as well:

Perhaps those in charge of decorating these storefronts had never seen Monsters, Inc. either.

After our walk we continued the drive home, encountering heavy rain just as we neared Tallahassee. We’ve needed the moisture, so tropical storm Nestor did our area a favor. Studly and I spent the evening watching college football and snuggling, so I got what I wanted out of the day, as well. That’s a win-win, right?

Peace, people.

Nary a Trick-or-Treater

This is either our fifth or sixth Halloween at Doright Manor. Every year I buy candy. Every year I leave the porch lights and walk way lights on. Still not a single trick-or-treater has graced our door in all the time we’ve lived here. I can’t imagine why.

Nice home:

Friendly neighbors:

Upscale neighborhood:

Studly:

And me:

What’s not to love? C’mon over. It’ll be our pleasure to entrail-tain you.

Pieces, people.

Gutsy Potion

Don’t be skittish, dear

Brewing potions takes some guts

Among other things

“The Witches Brew” by Adrian Higgins

(“The Witches Brew” by Adrian Higgins)

Tongue of toad, fileted

Eyes of newt, plucked one by one

Rattle of snake, sliced

“Witch’s Brew” by Angus McBride

(“Witch’s Brew” by Angus McBride)

Stir in spider eggs

Black widow for best results

Simmer, chant, enjoy.

When We Know Better

Many years ago, when I was in my mid-20’s I dressed as Aunt Jemima for a Halloween party. I donned a red gingham dress and crisp white apron, tied a kerchief around my head and sallied forth for an evening of revelry.

Oh, and as much as I’d love to forget this part, I also painted my face and arms black. Yes, I went to a party wearing black face.

I had no idea what a horrible stereotype I was perpetuating. I didn’t know the history of white actors portraying black characters as lazy and bumbling. No one at the party found my costume offensive, but then again, they were all white, just like me. We didn’t know any better; although, we probably should have. Ignorance really was no excuse.

Fast forward a few years to a conversation with an African American colleague. Halloween was approaching and the school kids we taught were giggling on the playground about their planned costumes. I told my friend that I’d once dressed as Aunt Jemima, thinking she’d find it funny. She did not find it remotely funny. This wonderful woman who I admired so much quickly and firmly set me straight. If we hadn’t ended the interaction with a hug I’d have worried that our friendship was over.

I called her that night and thanked her for enlightening me. She said, “Now that you know better, make sure you do better.”

I’ve never forgotten that, and have done my level best since then to do better in all things. I don’t always succeed, I know. I was raised with many tired, racist tropes that I didn’t even recognize as such until they were brought to my attention.

When NBC talk show host, Megyn Kelly claimed on her morning show this week that she didn’t think wearing black face was racist, I thought, “Honey, you’re about to know better. Now, will you do better? We shall see.

Peace, people.

A Certainty

One thing I know for sure: Doright Manor won’t win the “Curb Appeal” award this week.

Debris from our recent water heater failure along with branches that littered the yard after Hurricane Irma have rendered the front of our property an unsightly mess. I’ve called the trash removal service three times now. The neighbors are beginning to circle the house with pitchforks. I’m beginning to wonder if we can hang black crepe paper on the mess and pretend we’ve decorated for Halloween.

Meanwhile, across the street, all is well.

I hope you all have a wonderful, debris-free weekend.

Peace, people.

Beauties and Beasties

Three hags around a cauldron hot,
Two tall, one short, all steeped in rot

“Sisters, dear,” the short witch rasped,
“Please join me in my evil chant.”

And so the wicked three clasped hands
Enpowered by their fevered rant:

Warted toads and skinny skinks,
Strangled pigs and hair of lynx,

Essence of offal, rattlesnake’s tongue,
Sweat of warthog, elephant’s dung.

Lizard’s lips, slime of slug,
C’mon girls let’s chug a lug.

Feverishly they consumed the potion
A night of devilment set in motion

Quickly worked the magic brew
Hags became beauties right on cue

Summoned they a carriage grand
And ventured out upon the land

In search of men unvirtuous,
The shallow and oblivious

Easy prey for witches three
On Halloween, the hags were free

Tortured men with promised kisses
Allowed them to fulfill their wishes

But every man seduced in turn
Soon felt his skin begin to burn

Venomous kisses raised seeping blisters
The mark of conquest from evil sisters

And when All Hallows Eve was o’er
Three witches laughed at settled scores