I know you think you are helping people by trying to get everyone to close on holidays, but it isn’t necessarily the right thing. It might be the right thing for you … but what about me? What about the people next door? Are they just like you? Same holidays? Same available choices? Same kind of family? Same religion?


When you promote a work ban on holidays, consider that many folks don’t have families. These are people who are grateful to be working. Moreover, there are many individuals and families who count on the extra money they can earn by working holidays.


Not everyone is equally enthusiastic or sentimental about traditional celebrations. There are plenty of people for whom Christmas,Thanksgiving, or Columbus Day are non-starters. They have their reasons and they are entitled to them.


Not everyone has someplace to go and a warm, fuzzy family to share with. It’s wonderful to be grateful for what we have. It’s also good to be mindful that not everyone is equally or similarly blessed … and not everyone celebrates the same holidays.


And. Even those who celebrate the same holidays do not necessarily celebrate them the same way you do or on the same dates.


dark cemetary

“VAMPIRES DON’T DO TAKE OUT.” Which is how they knew the blood bank robbery wasn’t really the work of vampires.

I heard it on Hawaii Five O. Not the old one with Jack Lord. The reboot on CBS. Great title for a Halloween post, isn’t it?

We run out of candy every year because we don’t buy candy. AT all. We live so far from anything kids won’t come down our long, dark street … and especially not our long, dark driveway where the trees lean in from both sides.


It’s dark and lonely … a perfect Halloween path for the brave of heart. The kids want well-lit suburban houses. Scary should not be really scary. So they go into town where the street light make everything cheery and every household has pounds of candy. “Boo” they say, and that’s plenty scary enough.

We used to give out 20 pounds of candy every year when we lived in Boston, but out here? No one comes. Even with the lights on.

So, happy Halloween. Have some wine with that candy, why don’t you?


A Halloween Special
Photography by Garry Armstrong
Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)


TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream ! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o’erhead !

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


My top 10 Halloween Songs, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Halloween music is becoming popular in the same way as Christmas music.  You don’t think so?  Listen up.  It’s all around and has been playing all week.  Sirius XM radio has a temporary station dedicated to Halloween music, almost like they do for Christmas music.  Just for howls, you can listen in on Halloween for a night of creepy and scary sounds.  It’s a little something to traumatize the little ones.


So with the emphasis on the ghoulish this week, it seems only right that I give you again my top ten favorite Halloween songs.  When I thought of this list I soon had 20 titles, so I stopped looking and started trimming it down.  Some of the titles sounded good, but the music was a disappointment.  For example, I hunted down the theme song to the old television series, Thriller, but the music was more of a 50’s jazz sound and not scary at all.

A few were fun songs and while they were popular, they didn’t make the cut.  Ghostbusters immediately came to mind.  It is a slick melody, but not necessarily fitting of a fright night.  Little Shop of Horrors was a fun play and the title tune is catchy, but also not scary or fun in a traditional Halloween way.  Rocky Horror Picture Show gave us Time Warp.  That may make a lot of lists, but not mine.  Sweeny Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, has some gruesome moments, but which song would make the grade here?  A Little Priest?

Counting down from number 10, I offer the first 5 (last five?) on the list as musical themes to frighten the little trick or treaters.  Perhaps you would like to have these playing through a speaker on your front porch to encourage little ones to make the frightful climb to your front door.  Who knows what might be lurking just inside?

10. Halloween movie theme
9. Jaws movie theme
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street movie theme
7. Exorcist movie theme
6. Psycho movie theme

These five should provide plenty of creepy music for you.  If that doesn’t do it, add in one of my all-time favorite television themes.

5. The Twilight Zone theme song

We can lighten the theme up for a moment “with a spooky little girl like you.”

4. Spooky, Classics IV

The classic theme song from The Addams Family goes on my list.  It is not “mysterious and spooky,” but it is a lot of fun.  Go ahead, sing along.  You know you want to.

3. The Addams Family theme song

If it is Halloween, then we need some Werewolves.  This famous pop song was recorded in 1978 and the studio recording featured Mick Fleetwood and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac on drums and bass.

2. Werewolves of London, Warren Zevon

There is no doubt what will be number one.  It is the all-time classic that everyone knows.  Despite the fact that radio stations overplay it every year at this time, its appeal never wears out.  It was released in 1962 with Bobby Pickett performing the song with his Boris Karloff imitation.  The week before Halloween it went to number 1 on the charts.  Fittingly, it has been dragged out every year since.

1. Monster Mash, Bobby Pickett

Monster Mash, Bobby Pickett and Leonard L. Capizzi, Garpax (US); Decca (UK) labels, 1962


I just noticed I’ve published 4014 posts. Here, on Serendipity. I must have passed 4,000 posts last week. I didn’t notice. I was busy.



Time slips by. Years slip by, but the last couple of months have been dizzying.

Fallen leaves on the deck

I will continue to be way too busy during the few couple months. I have been posting less … and there will be even fewer posts coming up.

72-Canal-River Bend_053

I’ve got my big project that eats hours of my time … and I am dreading the holidays. I haven’t shopped and don’t have time to even think about shopping, much less creative blogging.

72-Window Dressing_02

I wish I could magic a few more hours in my day, but hard as I try, the spell eludes me. There isn’t enough time in my life to get it all done. In the name of not turning what should be fun into stress, I hereby say: I will do my best. I will do what I can, when I can.


If it doesn’t get done, oh well. If anyone knows that spell and would please send it to me?


I thought retirement meant I was going to have a lot of time on my hands. What happened?


For a woman who is essentially religiously neutral, firmly clinging to my position of “no opinion” like a limpet on a wet rock with the tide coming in — I really love church music. I cannot help myself. Play me some Christmas carols and I am singing (croaking?) along with heartfelt enthusiasm.

Blame my elementary school teachers, not to mention all those little Christian girls with whom I grew up.

rhyming HallelujahMy parents neglected to mention I was Jewish. They failed to mention religion at all for the first 8 years of my life. I knew we didn’t have a Christmas tree. I knew my mother didn’t eat ham or bacon, but the rest of us ate it and my father cooked it.

I wanted Christmas and felt deprived every year when my friends had millions of presents and a big tree and we had Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, two electrified plastic statues in our front window — the family’s nod to the holidays.

No menorah. No synagogue. No indication of any kind of holiday in progress except for our two plastic friends.

I didn’t know what a Jew was. I knew what a Catholic was because several friends went to St. Gerard’s, the nearby Catholic school. I knew what nuns and priests were. I could say the rosary, because Mary taught me.

I knew what Lutheran was, because Carol got time off every Wednesday afternoon to go for religious instruction. I had heard about Sunday School. And Mass. And services.

One day, at school, they showed a series of films designed to teach us to not be anti-Semites or racists.

It was a strip film with sound. Joe was on a trapeze trying to do a flying somersault. The catcher, clearly Jewish because he had a big star of David on his chest, was the catcher. But Joe, a blatant anti-Semite, wouldn’t take Joe’s hands and fell to the floor. Splat.

“Don’t be a shmo, Joe.

Be in the know, Joe.

Be in the know, and you won’t fall on your face.”

Then we got a lecture on being nice to Jews. I went home and asked my parents, “What’s a Jew?”

Mom turned to Dad and said these immortal words, “Albert, we have to do something about this.”

Shortly thereafter, my peaceful Sunday mornings were interrupted by boring classes at the nearby synagogue. I would come home pumped up on bible stories which my mother, the atheist, would promptly debunk. It wasn’t long before I was allowed to stop attending. It was clearly not “my thing.” If they’d let me out on Wednesday afternoon at 1 pm like the Christian kids, I’d have gone with more enthusiasm, just to get off from school early.

That being said, my enthusiasm for church music remains unabated. I love hymns, the organ, choirs. The blending of voices tugs at my heartstrings. I sang my heart out in the glee clubs of childhood and the All-City Chorus (Mozart’s Requiem — I was an alto) in High School. And of course, in college I was a music major.

It made my mother more than a little nervous as I wandered around the house singing the Mass in Latin. I did explain to her that the history of Western music is church music. From plainsong, to Hayden, Bach, Mozart and all the others who have followed.

Organized religion is the primary consumer of choral music. I am by no means the only person who can be lured into church by a choir.

little church 33

If Sunday morning services were all music without the rest of the yada, yada, I’d be there. From gospel to the local children’s choir, it’s all beautiful to me.

I suppose finally discovering I was of Jewish origin should have grounded me somehow, but it didn’t. Not really. It set me on a much longer path that I am still walking. Forever the seeker, I have learned it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.



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So you want red?

The last time my face was really red, I had a terrible sunburn. I’m not much of a blusher. Lacking a hugely embarrassing story to brighten your day, here is red of the world.

In flower, cars, trucks and the leaves of autumn. Barns and carousels, bricks, cranberries, and peppers. Red, redder, scarlet. Bricks and bright fabric. Red, my favorite color that isn’t black. Back “in the day” (whatever that means), my favorite “semi-dressup” was a black outfit with a red blazer.

I haven’t worn a blazer in years, but I think I still have a dozen of them in my closet. No wonder I can’t find my tee shirts!