Halloween Costumes, 2012 Edition

Halloween – an inspired, weird, creative holiday.  Maybe even a bit creepy.  Full of costumes and, if you’re lucky, chocolate.  Perfect for people like me!

When it comes to Halloween, costumes are the “big deal” to me.  This year, the plan was to debut as a comic book character.  The costume needed to be something I could make mostly from materials I already had and would be decent enough to wear to a church party.  After a little research, the folks at New World Comics guided me to a lesser character – Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl.  My short hair, build from aerial dance, and flighty personality made the costume feel like a natural fit.  Now, if our current home had not been on the market and had I not already packed my camera in some forgotten corner during the tail construction, I would have taken photos.  Sorry folks.  I’ll try to do better on this in the future.  The tail’s frame is plastic canvas buttressed with open-cell foam; it is attached to the waist belt for easy removal and travel.  The bodysuit is stretch velour in brown that fastens at the shoulders.  Since the party included a meal, I opted not to wear gloves.  I also had the pleasure of contributing minor effort to the building of Thor and Hawkeye costumes, though the vision behind and most of the pieces composing these costumes lay with the wearers.  Still, I’ve included some photos below of the finished pieces, and I’d be happy to answer any questions about construction you may have.  Hope you enjoy!



Dear Mr. Keillor….

I grew up listening to NPR on the radio while riding many hours in my Dad’s blue truck – going to the hardware store, or camping, or to visit family, or road trips, or just trips you have to make on this journey we’re all on together. This experience fostered many interests that I have carried into adulthood, including a love of music by George Winston (a pianist), a dedication to CarTalk, and a deep respect of Mr. Garrison Keillor. Mr. Keillor has written and performed a live radio program known as the Prairie Home Companion, set in the fictional but relate-able Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. Although I have only visited Minnesota a handful of times and cannot claim residency, I am predisposed to love rhubarb and I was reared Lutheran, both themes of the program. My Lutheranism was influenced by the culture of northern Midwest America as well — I was once in a church play that had a song chorus of “Uf da! Ya, sure, you betcha!” — thus, I find the stories deeply humorous and touching. I love Garrison’s serene, wise delivery; the clever sound effects; the anecdotes; the inside jokes. I think that it is Garrison’s influence, as much if not more than any grades or awards or positive emotions that result from my writing, that has inspired me to work on Writing as a vocation. It is not my intent to ever enter radio — I certainly don’t have the voice for it, nor do I wish to develop a finesse in speaking — but I am grateful nonetheless. And I am learning more about this influential brilliant man I admire.

To that end, I am writing these letters in tribute. I doubt he will ever read these, and frankly, I’d probably be embarrassed if he did… Maybe because of the ingrained Lutheran sense of shame and self-consciousness, I suppose, or the high standards I have for myself as a college-educated person beginning a pursuit that he’s been an expert in for many years. But I am writing.

November 12, 2012

Dear Mr. Keillor,

Nice red shoes. My purple tennis shoes wore out last year, and I haven’t been able to find a new pair that fits as well or as comfortably. Numerous purple shoes are available across the span of the worldwide web, but I need to try them on, to feel whether or not they are really up to the challenge of daily life, before I commit to spending money on them. There’s some hesitance in committing to a certain style and product; I have a strong expectation of continuity. Unfortunately, the manufacturer who made my last pair didn’t survive the rough economy — apparently there isn’t a huge market for purple tennis shoes — and change is inevitable. I ended up purchasing a pair of a recommended comfortable brand from a local bargain outlet out of desperation. They are dull brown with white; a sporty look. Although this is perfectly practical, I feel like I’ve given something up in myself for this, some part of my image. My mother taught me the adage “the shoes make the man.” I’m a fairly creative person. I’ve always worn interesting shoes. I felt that if I couldn’t make them match everything, go for bold. When I was just starting my conventional career, I was notorious at the workplace for my interesting, bright shoes. I’m certain, of all people, you would understand.
I watched a documentary about you recently that I found at my local library. Yep, I’m guess I’m a groupie. A groupie, but not a stalker — I missed when you were at Full Circle Bookstore doing book signings. My husband bought one of the signed “American Poems” books for me, and that’s how I knew you’d been by. He knows you’re one of the writers I admire. Anyway, I figured checking out the documentary was the next best thing to getting direct advice, and you probably wouldn’t have had time to talk even if I had met you in person.
In the film, you gave advice about needing to experience diversity and see different lifestyles. I didn’t travel much as a child; I was very sheltered, we weren’t well-off, and my mother had some kind of fears and mistrust against the outside world and how they judged us. I thought I was a weirdo, but the strange effect of thinking thus has been that it granted me strength in uniqueness. Perhaps it’s also what makes the world so interesting to me; it’s something I saw myself as an outsider to, something I could observe and write about. Life always offers newness in some form, even if it’s, well, old. I’m not a parent, but this newness is one of the factors that draws me to the idea of becoming a parent. I don’t know how to juggle that and a career and travel…. So far I’ve been to Italy on a violin tour, California for a costuming convention, New York for a wedding, Florida for vacation, Texas for an ultimate Christmas shopping trip, Kansas for family, Minnesota for hope, Missouri for work, Arkansas for Eureka Springs, Louisiana to experience New Orleans, Key West and the Caribbean to get away, New Mexico for backpacking. I am hoping to see Boston and more of the east coast with a close friend of mine who recently moved away, a dear friend who loves dogs more than anyone I’ve ever met and lets them lick her face but hates the thought of humans kissing. I am drawn to the music of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. My college colleagues are mainly in Japan now, and one of my last coworkers made a film in Sierra Leone. Europe and Ireland are on my bucket list, if I can manage.
It’s amazing how connected we are as humanity. It makes shoes seem like they don’t matter as much; they are a small thing when you look at the big picture: some people live without them, some keep them tucked away by the front door, others spend hundreds of dollars on pairs that make their feet ache. Some insist that only a few kinds can be considered “professional.”
I’m still glad yours are red.

A. P.

Coming soon…

Things I hope to publish soon:

Article on the myth of The Apple
First Letter to Garrison
Short story #1 from Going Out to Pasture
Halloween costumes 2012
Guthrie History – the Territorial Jail
The Move
What I learned in one day about Alpacas – cancelled due to weather and scheduling conflicts  😦

Even though the weather has generally been great, I’ve been disappointingly too busy to get out in it or to focus on writing…Something to do with a need to return to full-time employment and moving (even though it’s a fairly local move). I’m excited about the changes, but I will be happy when life is back to a schedule!

Halloween is coming!

Halloween – my favorite holiday.

This is apparently somewhat unusual, as I am a Christian and apparently many strong, traditional Christians still tiptoe around Halloween as a day promoting evil and ungodly pursuits.  I’m hoping to contribute to the movement of Halloween on a less spooky, less evil, more cute and mischevious kind of day filled with fun, imagination, and of course, candy.  And now for a history lesson….

Halloween’s origins are mostly tied up with the Celtic celebration of Samhain.  It was a festival celebrating the end of the lively growing season and the beginning of winter, a season of rest and, you guessed it, death.  It was a day to tell fortunes, predict survival through the winter, make sacrifices for safety, dress up for protection against mischievous forces and possession, and remember those who passed on and wish them safely onward to the “spirit world.”  A central feature of the festival was a large bonfire. The jack-o-lantern, a common symbol of Halloween today, may have come from this bonfire tradition – hollowed out gourds and turnips were allegedly used to carry home bright coals from the Samhain bonfire and light homes.  However, a second story (also from Ireland) attributes the Jack-o-lantern to a tale of a man named Jack who tricked the devil into agreeing not to take his soul to hell. Since Jack was not allowed in heaven upon death, he was left to roam the earth carrying a piece of hellfire in a hollow vegetable as a light.  A related Christianized holiday – All Hallows Day/All Saints Day, a day to honor the deceased and saints recognized and unrecognized – was added to the calendar each Nov. 1 by Pope Gregory III, making the night before officially “All Hallows Eve” – from whence the name Halloween is derived.  Another Halloween tradition, trick-or-treating, may have begun due to a practice in medieval ages called “souling.” During “souling,” the poor begged door to door for food in exchange for song or performance and a commitment to pray for the approached household’s dead in order to help the souls reach heaven. Witches also became accepted – or shall I say recognized, for accused “witches” suffered greatly – during the medieval period.  Recognition of Halloween reached the U.S. in the mid-19th century when the potato famine drove many Irish to America, but trick-or-treating and many of the traditions we now practice didn’t gain national attention until around 1947, when Jack and Jill magazine published related information.  Festivals in other countries around the globe similar to Halloween include Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos, and time of observance of lost family members for Czechoslovakia and much of present-day Europe.

It is my observation that many of these practices did not recognize the day as evil or creepy, but as a time of change, a time to honor loved ones and to prepare and protect oneself from the coming dark, cold months, and perhaps a time when mischief seemed more likely.  At any rate, I’ll be carving pumpkins, dressing up, drinking cider, and eating pumpkin while the season is ripe for it.  I hope your Halloween is fun, however you spend it!


Arts Weekend

On silks at Chickasha Rock Island Arts Festival

Despite the rain this weekend, a lot of it ended up dedicated to the arts. On Saturday a group of us was supposed to perform on aerial fabric at the Rock Island Arts Festival in Chickasha, but due to rain, I got to help my husband tend the tent for Twisted Root Gallery at the Plaza District arts festival in Oklahoma City instead. It was lots of fun, though I never before knew how much some artists love to drink when the rain and the sales are down! The booth looked amazing despite some flooding issues, and I’m still kicking myself for not taking pictures. Sorry folks.

Sunday was even more exciting. The weather was virtually perfect for silks; morning drizzle left temperatures cool and winds low, which meant we were a go! Jimmy Johnson and Royal Lantz of Johnson’s Wrecker and Crane made sure we had a safe place to hook our rigging. The crowds weren’t fabulous, but I really enjoyed hanging out.

Photo: on silks at Chickasha’s Rock Island Arts Festival, Sept. 2012
Thanks, Jimmy J. and Royal L., for use of your crane. I feel safe knowing I have great support!

But the tag said…

I promised myself when I started a blog that I wasn’t going to use it as a gripe tool.  Here, on my second significant post, I am breaking that promise.

Here’s why — I keep running into false advertising when it comes to lettuce.

Now, I’m not a complete health nut — I have soft spots for cheese sticks and chocolate — but eating well keeps me in better shape and better mood, things that are important to good marriage and good aerial fabric abilities.  To this end, and to the end of “I’m usually closer to broke than rich,” I don’t eat out a whole lot, and when I do (which has been more frequent lately as we prepare to sell our house), I look for healthy options like salad.  I enjoy a good, crunchy, fresh salad.  When I was in school, I ate salad from the salad bar almost every day.  And I felt sick most afternoons, which fed some now-latent hypochondriac tendencies.  When I got to high school and started tracking my diet for a “life skills” class, I drew a link between consuming iceberg lettuce (the commonly served and readily available whitish head lettuce) and feeling icky.  So, I removed the offender from my diet and felt better.
When I tell people I can’t eat “regular” lettuce, I am often given sharp looks of disbelief.  “But nothing’s in it,” they say.  “It’s all water.” Well, drinking water doesn’t give me stomach pains that make me double over and groan.  Water doesn’t usually make me refuse to go out in case I can’t find a bathroom within five minutes notice.  But, ah, the strange powers of iceberg lettuce!  One professional offered that perhaps the lettuce wasn’t the problem at all. Maybe it was something in the water of the lettuce.  Apparently, lettuces are well known for pesticide absorption, especially the watery varieties.  In any instance, if I eat it, I pay.

So now, what’s an iceberg-lettuce fearing salad-nomming woman to do when eating out?  Look for key words. Beautiful descriptive safety nets like “spinach” and “Romaine” and “Caesar.”  But lately, these words are apparently only for marketing, and don’t really have to represent the majority of the product.  In the last week, on two occasions, I have ordered products with these titles only to be unable to eat it for the large quantity of iceberg lettuce present.  At a local diner, I paid $4.50 for a Caesar side salad to find it ENTIRELY made of iceberg.  Making an inquiry didn’t help. “If you don’t like lettuce, why did you order a salad?” Hrm. I thought Romaine is part of what made a Caesar salad “Caesar.”  Apparently it’s the dressing that does it.  At least now I know. And I love how folks chalk it up to personal taste.  I don’t like radishes, but they don’t mess up my digestion. Not the same thing.  But Okay. I’ve learned.  Caesar is no longer code for “safe eating.” Next day. Skip the diner. Taco Bueno it is. They have new customizable bowls on their menu, with a “romaine mix” base for the salad-style bowl. My boss is on a low-carb diet and sends me out to get lunch for the office.  I eagerly ordered. Salad bowls for us all!  An hour later, back at the office, I have finally finished picking all of the iceberg lettuce out of my bowl.  I could count the strips of romaine lettuce in the bowl on one hand, and none of them were large. I asked my coworkers – did anyone else notice romaine lettuce – the dark leafy kind – in their salad? Nope.  It’s got me worried.  What’s next?  Angora sweaters (now made with 5% angora), down comforters (now with 20% down), vegan low-sodium egg rolls (because the carrots inside are low sodium and vegan!).

So now I’m thinking. Maybe the companies meant these as a label for the flavor or seasoning used.  Now, if I order “garlic breadsticks,” I admit that I do not expect the main ingredient to be garlic. Who knew? Romaine.  A new flavor, now kicking up salads, appearing on menus nationwide. I think I’m going to have to stick to chocolate.

The Itchymunchy and The Barfalot

Owning pets is an adventure, and I wouldn’t trade it in for an easier lifestyle.

Still, there are days that, due to the relationships and quirks of our fuzzy friends, restful sleep is more difficult to achieve.  Sometimes, the little monsters within them come out.

Last night witnessed such a time.

Ever since the cat came into power in our home, the small dog has gone to great lengths to avoid her.  Apparently, before we busted him out of the doggy halfway house a couple years ago, he had experienced the wrath and fury of feline.  The cat uses this to her advantage.

Although she is generally sweet and savvy, she is not above cornering said dog and inflicting abuses on his plume of a tail.  Yesterday, this was her chosen greeting for him, and for the first time in history he was bold enough to return a warning growl.  Such an exchange calls for one thing – separation, flight to shelter.  And what could be safer for a small dog than the rug by the bed?  For the sake of peace, he was closed in; the cat annexed herself to the dog’s usual spot in the living room to glory in victory.  Bedtime – 11:30 p.m.

And then the Fun began.

Now, the poor small dog has mild skin allergies.  He has been to the vet for them, he’s on a special expensive diet, and we regularly medicate, but somehow, some days he manages to remain itchy. Not the kind of itchy where he scratches holes in himself.  Just itchy enough to feel a need to chew and scratch at irregular intervals. It is worse when we’re nearing the end of the month and the flea treatment is wearing off (as it is now). Especially at night.  His routine is just loud and often enough to keep the average human Wide Awake. This is why he generally sleeps in the living room.  But storms and a cat attack create too much of a security breach to separate with the humans for sleeping.

Scritch…Scritch scritch scritch scritch jingle.  Jingle Jingle Scritch Jingle Jingle.  Munch munch munch munch Sigh.  Shift weight.  Sniff human.  Repeat.

At one-thirty in the morning, the dog finally settles into a snooze.  My body finally gives in and drops off to sleep.  I dream of digging tunnels and wood splintering.  I’d resort to earplugs, but sometimes my alarm clock on high volume isn’t enough to rouse me.

3:08 a.m. rolls in.

Ku-huhh…..huahhhh…Hwahhhh….Gurk!  Hwuahhhhvvvv!  Hwak!  Hwuk!  HWAK!  Smeck.

The cat is barfing in the living room.  She is on a special diet, too.  When we adopted her, she stopped eating for about a week.  The vet diagnosed her with a stomach blockage, surgery was prescribed, and nothing was found.  New diagnosis – extreme food sensitivities.  She tries to thwart our attempts at controlling her intake as much as possible, likely going back to her days as a dumpster cat with a need to maintain street cred.  For our home, this means No more potted plants indoors. No leaving anything out on cabinets or counters, No spilled spices or dropped food, No deviant cereal flakes, No saving veggie scraps for compost in a bin, No flakes of cardboard, No kleenex, etc.  No sneaking the cat scraps or treats.  Most of it availeth not.

I drag my feet over the side of the bed, feel fur and decide that waking the dog is not worth instant cleanup.  The living room is sealed hardwood anyway. Mental note — resolve to clean floor first thing in the morning.  The actual morning.  Normal human awake time. I was lucky to fall back into deep sleep after this interruption, without disturbing the itchymunchy.

Morning — 6:00 a.m.

My husband awakes me with a shriek from the living room.  I was sleeping so soundly, he had managed to slip out of bed and make it to the kitchen without disturbing me.  However, his deepest slumber had occurred at the time of the cat upchuck.  He missed the whole soundtrack.  No memo.  Just a tremendous moment of cat puke, cold and squishy between his toes, prompting him to ask me why we own a cat.

Because moments like this last forever in memory.  Good morning, dear.