4 NOVEMBER 2015: nearly naked


The World Series is over with the Kansas City Royals taking their first World Series Championship in 30 years. They almost did it last year, so this year must have been very satisfying for the fans. It was a good series, though I’d have liked at least one more game.


Halloween passed into memory. We had our usual number of trick-or-treaters, which is to say — none. We are too far off the beaten path. It’s dark here in the woods. Little ghosties and goblins — or whatever they are pretending to be these days — don’t want to be genuinely scared. They want to play at scariness, not be really terrified.


It’s still warm. Cold at night, but  warming up to cozy during the day. These are my favorite days, with crispy nights and golden afternoons.

I hope it goes on for a long time.


I’ve included Garry’s pictures too, so if you want to know who took which pictures, you can tell from the signature.


Should you decide to accept this challenge, you can use a picture from this or any post of mine  — or any other picture you like. Write something about the picture or make something up, using a photograph — any photo — as a jumping off point.

This is the easiest prompt in the world.


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.


28 octoBER 2015: AT HOME WITH DOGS

With Halloween a couple of days away and the foliage finally at peak — two weeks behind schedule — the weather is beginning to cool down.


The fuchsia are gone, interred with the memories of summer so recently passed. Chrysanthemums stand in their place on the deck.


The World Series is being played out, Kansas City Royals facing down the New York Mets. For lots of reasons, this is a great match-up, but we had wistfully hoped the Cubs would finally get a shot at the Big One. Maybe next year.


Life has begun to move inside. Pictures are taken from doorways and windows and the view from my picture window is a bit mind-boggling. I think you’d have to see it with your own eyes to believe it … but just for the record, a few pictures seem to be in order.



Bob Mielke has settled in. With three photographers and who knows how many cameras in this house, I figure little will go undocumented.


Bonnie is off to the groomer today … and when she gets home, we will get several hours of her being clean and smelling good before she can roll in dirt until she smells like a proper Scottie.


And at least one more of Bishop, who seems to have a genuine love for having his picture taken …


Garry got serious about our downtown graveyard. I’m saving the rest of his great photos for Halloween. Boo!


When we next meet, Halloween will have passed, so may the spooks, goblins, vampires, ghosts, and other denizens of the dark and dubious places of the earth be kind to you on All Hallows Eve. Don’t let the zombies bite!

Should you decide to accept this challenge, you can use a picture from this or any post of mine  — or any other picture you like. Write something about the picture or make something up, using a photograph — any photo — as a jumping off point.

This is the easiest prompt in the world.


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

Trick or Trick – It’s Halloween, and you just ran out of candy.

We live off the beaten path. Trick-or-treaters don’t come this way. Our street has too few houses to make it worth the effort — and the road is dark. We don’t even bother to buy candy for the holiday anymore.

When local kids, our kids, want to do “Trick of Treat,” they go into town where there is light, sidewalks, and Halloween decorations.


In the name of saving electricity, there are no streetlights in this part of town. We aren’t really in town, except technically. City water pipes don’t come here. We have a fire house nearby in which some trucks live, but no firemen.


Not that we have full-time firefighters. We have a fire chief who doubles as the chief of our tiny police department. It’s a quiet town. As in most small towns, volunteers carry the load.


We haven’t had a serious fire in quite a while and hopefully, won’t. Now that we’ve had some rain, the danger of fire has dropped. Good.

Because Halloween is here — and we want all our little ghouls, ghosts, goblins, superheros and fairy princesses to be safe.




From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
– Traditional Scottish Prayer

I’ve never met a ghoul, and I have questions about long-legged beasties, but I can speak from personal experience about things that go bump in the night. Long ago in a house far away, we had our own ghosts, or at least “night bumpers.”

Brick House HadleyI cannot claim to have seen a ghost, but I lived in a house where we could hear them. It was 1965 when we bought our tidy little brick house. It had been built in 1932. Most of the house was on the ground floor — kitchen, dining room, living room, two bedrooms and the bath. The upper floor had an unfinished attic and a big bedroom. It was a small house. Solid, a short walking distance from the college where my husband worked and where I was finishing my B.A.

The ambiance of the house from the moment we walked into it was cozy. Friendly. It welcomed everyone, made them feel at home. The house had been built by a couple who had lived there for more than 30 years. They had raised children their children and eventually died in that house.

They were not murdered or anything sordid. They merely grew old and passed on in the house they loved. We loved it too.

The house was a bit neglected. Not falling down, but in need of paint and some modernization. Cosmetic fixes. Paint. Floors needed refinishing. The boiler needed updating.

For the first few months, we lived on the ground floor, but we planned to move to the big upstairs bedroom. It was spacious and had windows full of light. We decided to fix it up, give it a coat of paint and redo the floors before settling upstairs.

Shortly after we moved in, our ghosts began to walk. It was startling the first time we heard it. Loud. Clear. Heavy footsteps, like the soles of hard leather shoes or boots. Plus the sharper noise of heels. It turned out everyone — anyone — could hear it. The noise started every night around eight and continued off and on until midnight.

We called the walkers “The Old Man” and “The Old Woman.” They wore different shoes. Her shoes had that sharp sound — high heels on hardwood. His shoes were clunkier, maybe work boots. Both of them had died in the house, so they were prime candidates for ghosthood, especially since no one else had lived in the house until us.

Initially, we heard them upstairs and on the stairway. After we painted the stairs, the footsteps retreated to the upper floor. Once we began painting the bedroom, we heard them for a while longer, but only in the attic. Then, one day, our ghosts were gone. They never came back.

Were they watching to see if we cared for their home? Were we all hallucinating? Maybe the couple who had lived there were watching. Making sure we did right by their house.

I suppose we passed muster and they felt it was okay to leave.

Life is full of stuff that can’t be explained rationally and we didn’t try. But I’ll bet anyone who was in our house during the months our ghosts walked never doubted what they heard.


Trick or Trick