“From ghosties and ghoulies and long leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Lord protect us.” An old Scottish prayer.
Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve is my favorite holiday. There are bunches of legends concerning the origin of the celebration. One of the most popular is the Druid feast of Samhain (Pronounce it anyway that suits you. It is an old Celtic word, therefore unpronounceable.) Anyway it is supposed to be a combination of harvest festival, a ridiculing of the powers of death, a prelude to All Saint’s Day and an excuse to have a big drunken brawl where nobody knows you because you are wearing a mask. I am going with the last one.
Back in the day when I was a kid and the Druids still roamed wild and free we made up our own costumes. As you can well imagine mom’s linen closet got raided. The end result there were many of the aforementioned ‘ghosties’ wandering the streets in what suspiciously looked like a modified pillow case. If you were on a sports team the uniform would be brought out and “Lone Ranger” type mask, a black rag with eye holes cut in, would complete the outfit. If your mom was handy with a needle she might whip up a Snow White or Cinderella outfit for the girls. But by and large costumes were improvised.
Even the dogs got costumes. I remember one year when Snert the Wonder Dog dressed up like the devil complete with a red cloak and horns. There was no sense in not bringing the pups along because most of them would break out of the house and go trick or treating on their own.
The kids and their pets traveled in packs. It was not unusual for ten or so kids hit some poor, unsuspecting soul’s porch at the same time. Then the chorus of “Trick or Treat” “Happy Halloween” or “Woof” would be heard and the open bags would be thrust out in anticipation. The pooches did not have bags and just ate the treat right there, wrapper and all. There were some sick doggies the next day.
Now the holiday has spread to many countries. Not because the Druids have been busy proselyting their original tree hugging religion, but for the most common and crass reason. People can make a pile of money from it.
I was in a Wally World the other day and there were aisles upon aisles of everything you could imagine to satisfy your spookifying needs. Costumes galore. ‘Spider Man’ is very popular this year. Plastic pumpkins, witch’s hats of every color in the rainbow, plastic skeletons and all manner of decorations. There was even President Obama masks. Now that was very frightening. If you want to get a rise out of folks wear that to the next meeting of the local Republican Party.
This year I intend to scare the daylights out of everybody. I am dressing up like an IRS agent.© 2014, Jim McGowan
I have a neat little cottage I share with the Kilkenny Brothers here in Harmony County. I try to keep it reasonably tidy and grudgingly do the housework as it becomes necessary. The boys do not help and look upon their primary function is shedding which they do with remarkable skill. That takes care of the inside. My biggest challenge is the outside.
As most folks know plants grow. If they are left to their own devices they grow at an alarming rate. This puts a lie to the folks who appear in the media who insist that anything that grows must be tended to like they were helpless infants. I found that they do just fine without anyone’s interference. Therein lies my problem.
My cottage is surrounded by green things most of which I could not identify if my life depended upon it. This is kind of embarrassing since I went to Auburn whose charter makes it an agricultural college, among other things. I can identify the lawn. It is made up of weeds, dandelions and an odd blade or two of grass. This portion is managed by my grandson who, with the use of bribes and cajoling on my part, does the occasional mow job. The remaining 95% is trees and bushes, really big bushes. If you stand in certain places you would not know there is a house on the property.
Well there comes a point when even I realized that some yard work needed to be done. I reached this conclusion with the assistance of my irate neighbors and some unveiled threats by the Harmony County Department Public Works. They used the ‘F’ word, ‘Fines’.
With such encouragement I finally got up off my tidy indoor butt, dusted the cat hairs off and went outside and did an inspection. Yikes! I can up with a list of 12 must do things to get the great outdoors under control. A few things became apparent.
There was no way my measly collection or rarely used and rusted gardening tools were sufficient to get the job done. Since the use of C4 or other high explosives is seriously frowned upon by County Officials it was clear I was going to need such items as chainsaws, stump grinders and back hoes. It was clearly time to call in the “pros from Dover”. So to insure that all things were equal I printed up a ‘to do’ list for each of them.
The first guy came by and we did a walk around. The most I got out of him was a series of grunts and a vague promise to, “Get back to you.” The next fellow took one look at the list and laughed. The last weed eater seemed more interested in the job and sent me a bid.
I was the one in the pix on the front page of the “Weekly Blister” who had fainted on his front porch grasping a sheet of paper.
Plan B calls for many large herbivores. © 2014, Jim McGowan
Well I am sure that you will be pleased to know that our sagacious Uncle Seamus has gotten time off for good behavior. Consequently, he has agreed to provide us with his wise advice.
Dear Uncle Seamus; I have been reading in the papers and watching the news on TV about Ebola fever. What measures can I take to prevent catching it? Thanks, Scared To Death.
Dear STD; There are two things that you can do to avoid Ebola fever. The first is to live in one of those huge plastic bubbles like the one that John Travolta did in the movie, “The Boy In the Plastic Bubble” and you might want to cancel any plans to travel to West Africa. You should also avoid licking anyone that has the disease.
Dear Uncle Seamus; I have a very difficult time falling to sleep at night. I have tried pills, counting sheep, listening to the sounds of the sea (Not really the sea, I live too far inland. I just let the toilet run.) But, no luck. Do you have any advice? Thanks, Sleepless in Harmony County.
Dear SIHC; I too occasionally have that problem. Sometimes I just ply myself an excessive amount of personality altering adult beverages. Failing that resort to a less expensive remedy and just pound my head against the wall. The drawback is that you can wake up in some of the most unexpected places. Here is a radical idea. Get your lazy butt off the couch and go for a walk. If you live in a bad neighborhood then you will be going for a run.
Dear Uncle Seamus; I am concerned about the issues surrounding gay marriage. I worry that if I get invited to a same sex marriage I’ll not know what to buy the couple. Any suggestions? Gay Gift Giver.
Dear g3; You are treading on some pretty shaky politically correct ground. The traditional gifts e.g. pop-up toaster, blender, wine cork remover, etc. all carry some stereotypical connotations. I would stick with a gift card or you can invite the newlyweds over for dinner. Plus, you might get some interior decorating tips as a bonus.
Dear Uncle Seamus; I am appalled at what is going on and not going on in politics these days. The whole country seems to be going down the tube at an ever increasing rate. Is there anything we citizens can do to improve our situation? Appalled Senior Citizen.
Dear ASC; Really! How could you say such things? Everyone knows that our elected officials work tirelessly for our good. Just because they occasionally need some financial support from mega corporations, get most of their information from lobbyists, go on all expense paid three-month vacations to exotic locations and have yet to pick up a check in any restaurant does not mean they are not looking out for us. The above message was paid for by The Committee to Re-elect Everybody. So shut up and vote like you are told.© 2014, Jim McGowan