"I not only have my secrets, I am my secrets. And you are yours. Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other enough to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it means to be human." Frederick Buechner, American Writer and Theologian

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Memories - The World Has Changed

When I was 17 (n 1957) Halloween Legends fascinated me, and I wrote a story that all these years later became my contribution to this October's WEP (Write-Edit-Publish) challenge sponsored by several talented writers and bloggers, including my good friend and author Denise Covey. I published it on my WordPress blog that I’m not longer using, so probably many of you won’t have read it.
Plus I've deleted the introductory details and added these new ones ...

The World Has Changed

It was a different world when I was a trick or treater in the late 1940s and 1950s. I’ve wished there were digital cameras then so I’d have pictures of that time in the late 1940s and 1950s when my sister and I went trick or treating. But but there’s a treasure trove of vintage pictures on the Internet.

This one from Wikipedia of two children trick or treating in Arkansas USA is pretty much the way I remember the Halloweens of my youth. And also this brief excerpt from Wikipedia that describes those days: 

"Trick-or-treating typically happens between 5:30pm and 9:30pm on October 31. Although some municipalities choose other dates. Homeowners wishing to participate in it sometimes decorate their private entrances with artificial with artificial spider webs, plastic skeletons and jack-o-lanterns. Some rather reluctant homeowners would simply leave the candy in bowls on the porch [I don't recall anyone doing this].

"Others might be more participative and would even ask an effort from the children in order to provide them with candy."

I remember one man grandfatherly insisting that my sister and I and our friends recite something before he'd give us the candy we wanted. I also remember how safe the world was then, or so it seemed in my childhood in Salt Lake City, Utah. No fear of razor blades in candy. No fear of anything as my siblings and friends and I strolled happily in our masked costumes, knocking on doors that opened on people we knew. 
Some Things I Remember, Some I've Forgotten
I do remember that I was a junior in high school when I composed my Halloween story in longhand then laboriously copied onto a sheet of paper I rolled into my mother's Underwood typewriter. It was published in 1957 in my high school's creative writing magazine, one of only a few stories that's survived time and my many moves back and forth across the United States.
I have no recollection of where I got the information for the story. Maybe from the public library, my only source of books in the 1950s. And maybe I had a better imagination then than I have now for fantasy. But as I typed the story into this post I remembered hearing stories in my youth of Halloweeners tipping over outhouses, and even some incidents of cows appearing on rural porches. 

My Story - The Legend of Hallowe'en Eve

Published in This.
One of the Few Things I've Saved.
All was quiet on the Heaven front. The Saints, in angelic form for the next day, were peaceful and content. They'd had a busy year, what with answering prayers and all, and they all felt they deserved a day of celebration - All Saints Day, the Earth People called it.
The Saints were in rare form, but down below, things were coming to a boiling point. Hell's inhabitants were annoyed at the heavenly state of affairs. What was all this fuss anyway over a bunch of Saints? The devils, they argued hotly, should have a day, too. But no Earthling would ever think of anything as brain-taxing as that.

A light suddenly broke through the fiery darkness which, in this sphere, was most unusual. Lucifer had just come up with a hell-shattering idea. Gathering his fellow inmates around him, a plan was whispered and discussed. Immediately the sphere was bustling with activity.
A firepot in one corner contained a very potent, special brew. Suddenly, amid screams and squeals, witches and ghastly ghosts emerged. Green-eyed black cats roamed among blood-red devils. Chaos filled the sphere, delighting the inhabitants. Hell had broken loose, and there was no stopping them now, The Saints, hearing and realizing for the first time what the commotion was about, were dismayed. Worried wrinkles marred their heavenly countenances.
The night was young as the weird creatures started out. The sky was clear and the air crisp; it was a perfect night for haunting. Below was the city, lit by millions of lifeless fireflies. All was peaceful, but not for long. Through the cold, clean air flew witches, broomsticks intact, accompanied by black cats, white, ghastly ghosts, and mischievous devils hanging onto their pitchforks and emitting screams and shrills of cunning and delight.
Descending on the quiet town like a sudden storm, they proceeded to frighten the Earthlings, leaving behind them a trail of broken glass and soaped windows, overturned outhouses, and stuffed-up chimney tops. They even went so far as to move a bewildered cow from its pasture to the porch of the house. The more the Earth People protested, and screamed, the louder their devilish laughter laughter rang through the air.
Finally, exhausted from their travels, they reluctantly picked up their tails and broomsticks and returned once more to their place of abode.
"We'll have to do this again next year," they told each other as they collapsed onto their fiery beds of unrest.
Thus, the first Halloween was firmly established. The devils were thoroughly satisfied with their cunning, and the Saints were relieved to note that the earth was once more restored to sanity with the devils' departure, at least until next year. And after such a hectic night, surely tomorrow, they thought, would have to be a peaceful day.

My Queen of Halloween Daughter

Stephanie Best Chantilly High School Graduate 1986
This is my "little" daughter Stephanie Best Kulla, as she's known on Facebook. She's Megan in my memoir as she and her oldest sister didn't want me to use their real names. Now she wouldn't mind. She even helped me promote the book back in 2011 through Valon Salon where she's one of the "best" hairdressers (pardon the pun).

I'm in the process of posting a page here about her. She was in the accident in 1986 with her sister Jen, suffering a crushed pelvis. It took her a year to get working full time again at the hair cuttery.

Halloween has always been her favorite holiday. She and her husband have decorated their townhouse inside and out, every season for the past 15 years. One recent year it was written up in the local Centreville, Virginia USA newspaper.

A few happy photos from her Facebook page October 2016

The Good Witch 
Stephanie Best Kulla
Happy Day!

The Icing on the Cake

Can't end this topic without posting these photographs that tug at my heart: my two youngest grandchildren almost 2000 miles away from us. They had to move from Virginia to Albuquerque, New Mexico a year and a half ago. These pictures my daughter-in-law posted last Halloween. Hope she'll post some this year.

Love you, Connor and Gavin!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Love to Hold Books in My Hand

View from My Front Door
this Cool Autumn Morning
To my blogging friends ... I love the sleek look of Wordpress, but I have finally given it up to Blogger. Mainly because I want to keep in touch with some dear friends from the days when I took up blogging to promote my upcoming memoir (you were wonderful!) who are still with Blogger.

Some of you have published your own books since I began blogging and have gone to WordPress, but I know that a few of you find commenting on WordPress intimidating.

It intimidates me too. And I have only managed to learn the basics of WP. Have struggled to comment on the free template. And there's disqus and Gravatar etc. etc. etc. It all boggles my brain!

Blogger has changed somewhat also, but I think I've mostly got it. And some things, such as Permalinks, that I learned through my struggle with WordPress now help me with the upgraded Blogger. All in all, it's been a mind-expanding journey.

As For Books

At the beginning of the ebook revolution, when I was so fortunate to get published, I loved the ebook, and still like to read fiction on my iPad. But for non-fiction I want the old-fashioned paperback or hardcover so I can more easily underline and browse the book. I like that I can often find them through a used bookseller, which is the way I, unfortunately, usually have to go. And in the last quarter of my earth life, feeling "time's winged chariot hurrying near," I have a burning desire to read the many hardcover/paperback books I have in my traditional bookshelf - such as this one that just arrived in today's mail (oriented toward Mormons as Nephi is a character in the Book of Mormon).

And this one I bought a few weeks ago that won the National Jewish Book Award (Alter also wrote The Art of Biblical Poetry which I also have because I love poetry). I love the feel of both books in my hand.

You can probably see where this is going ... Heavy reading for my aging brain in the next 5-10 years! 

But my past reading of scholarly and religious books - when I wasn't a full-time caregiver and had more energy - is paying off. On a good day when I've slept well, my mind seems quickened, and I get really excited that I'm actually absorbing a fair amount of the content.

What about you
re Blogger versus WordPress?
re eBooks versus Hardcover/Paperback?