Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween/Samhain 2008





Happy Halloween / Blessed Samhain
From Tori, Kelly and Kero

The Troll-Tear

THE TROLL-TEAR
Author Unknown

The night was very dark, with a Full Moon hanging in the cloud-filled sky above. The air was crisp with the feel of late Autumn and the doorway between the worlds was wide open. Carved pumpkins sat on the porches of the houses in the little town, and the laughter of children dressed in costumes could be heard from the streets.

It was a sad time for Beth as she climbed the hill behind her house. In her arms was her cat and friend Smoky, carefully wrapped in his favorite blanket. A little grave was already dug on the hill, waiting, for Smoky had died that day.

"Do you want me to go with you?" Beth's father had asked.

"I dug his grave beside MacDougal's at the top of the hill." Beth clearly remembered when their dog MacDougal had died after being hit by a car.

"No, I want to go by myself," she answered.
Beth stopped at the top of the hill and knelt beside the little grave. She carefully laid Smoky's blanket-wrapped form in the earth and covered it with dirt, laying several large rocks on the top. Then she cried and cried.

"Oh, Smoky, I miss you so much?" Beth looked up ar the Moon, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Why did you die?"

"It was his time to rejoin the Mother," said a deep, gentle voice in the darkness.

"Who said that?" Beth looked around but saw no one.

"Dying is part of the cycle of life, you know." One of the boulders on the hill stirred into life.

"Who are you?" The moonlight shone down on the little woman, and Beth could see she was not human.
"I'm a troll-wife," said the creature as she came to sit across from Beth. "This is a sad night for both of us, girl. I, too, came to this hill to bury a friend." The troll-wife wiped a crystal tear from her cheek. "The squirrel was very old. Still it makes me sad."

Beth stared at the troll-wife. The little woman was the color of rock in the moonlight, her hair like long strands of moss, her bright eyes like shining crystals. She wore a dress woven of oak leaves and tree bark.
"The squirrel and I lived together for a long time," the troll-wife said. "We often talked to your cat when he was hunting here on the hill. Smoky and I were friends. I shall miss him, too." The little woman patted Smoky's grave gently, " Sleep well, little friend. when you are rested, we shall talk together again."

"But he's dead," Beth said, her voice choked with tears.

"Child, this is Samhain. Don't you know the ancient secrets of this sacred time of year?' The troll-wife motioned for Beth to come and sit beside her. "It is true that our friends have gone into a world where we can no longer physically touch them, but the Mother has given us other ways of communicating with them. We can do this any time, but the time of Samhain is the easiest."

"I don't understand how this can be done," Beth said, "or why Samhain makes it easier."

"At this time of year," the troll-wife answered, "the walls between this world and the world of souls and spirits are very thin. If we are quiet and listen, we can hear our loved ones and they can hear us. We talk, not with spoken words, but with the heart and mind."

"Isn't that just imagination?" Beth looked down at Smoky's grave, tears once more coming into her eyes. "Like my thinking I can feel MacDougal get up on my bed at night like he used to?"

"Sometimes it is, but mostly it is not imagination, only our friends come to see us in their spirit bodies." The troll-wife reached up her hand and patted something Beth couldn't see on her shoulder, "Like my friend the raven. He is here now."

Beth looked hard and saw a thin form of hazy moonlight on the troll-wife's shoulder. "I've seen something like that at the foot of my bed where MacDougal used to sleep." She whispered. "I thought I was dreaming." She jumped as something nudged her arm. When she looked down, nothing was there.

The troll-wife smiled, "Close you eyes and think of MacDougal," she said "He has been waiting a long time for you to see him."

Beth closed her eyes and , at once, the form of her little dog came into her mind. His tail wagged with happiness. She felt a wave of love come from him, and she sent her love back. Then she felt the dog lie down against her leg.

"Can I do this with Smoky?" Beth asked.
"Not yet," the troll-wife answered. "He needs to sleep a while and rest. Then he will come to you. This gives Smoky time to adjust to his new world, and you time to grieve for him. It is not wrong to grieve, but we must not grieve forever."

"I never thought of it that way," Beth said. "It's kind of like they moved away, and we can only talk to them on the phone."

"It is this way with all creatures, not just animals." The troll-wife stood up and held out a hand to Beth. "Will you join me, human girl? Although I buried my friend squirrel this night, I still must dance and sing to all my friends and ancestors who have gone on their journey into the other world. For this is a time to honor the ancestors."

Beth joined the troll-wife in the ancient slow troll dances around the top of the little hill in the moonlight. She watched quietly while the troll-wife called out troll-words to the four directions, words Beth couldn't understand. Deep in her heart the girl felt the power of the strange words and knew they were given in honor and love by the little troll-wife.
When the troll-wife was finished with her ritual, she hugged Beth. "Go in peace, human child" she said, "And remember what i have told you about the ancient secret of Samhain."

"I will," Beth answered. "Will I ever see you again?"
"Whenever the Moon is Full, I will be here," the little troll-wife said. "And especially at Samhain."
"I wish I had something to give you." Beth hugged the little woman. "You have taught me so much." She felt the tears come to her eyes again.

"Let us exchange tears for our lost friends." The troll-wife reached up a rough finger and caught a tear as if fell from Beth's eye. The tear glistened on her finger. The troll-wife gently touched her finger to her cloak, and Beth's tear shone there like a diamond in the moonlight.

Beth reached up carefully and caught one of the troll-wife's tears as it slid down her rough cheek. It turned into a real crystal in her hand.

"Remember the secret of Samhain, and remember me," the troll-wife said softly as she disappeared into the darkness. Beth walked back down the hill, the crystal clutched in her hand. Her father was waiting on her on the porch.

"Are you all right?" her father asked as he gave Beth a hug.

"I will be," she answered. She opened her hand under the porch light and saw a perfect, tear-shaped crystal lying there.

"Did you find something?" her father asked.

"A troll-tear," Beth answered, and her father smiled. For he also knew the little troll-wife and the secret of Samhain.

The Raven

By Edgar Allen Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore--
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore--
For the rare and radient maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
Nameless here forevermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door--
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;--This it is and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"--here I opened wide the door;--
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darknes peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before
."Surely," I said, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore--
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;--
'Tis the wind and nothing more!"

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door--
perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door--
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the nightly shore--
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning--little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door--
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke onlyThat one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered--not a feather then he fluttered--
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before--
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore--
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never--nevermore.'"

But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore--
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God has lent thee--by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh, quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!--
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted
On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore--
Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!--
By that heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--
"Get thee back into the tempest and the night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of the lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!--quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor;
Shall be lifted--nevermore!

The Evening Of Samhain

THE EVENING OF SAMHAIN
Author Unknown

'Twas the evening of Samhain, and all through the place
were Pagans preparing the ritual space.
The candles were set in the corners with care,
in hopes that the Watchtowers soon would be there.

We all had our robes on (as is habitual)
and had just settled down and were starting our ritual
when out on the porch there arose such a chorus
that we went to the door, and waiting there for us
were children in costumes of various kinds
with visions of choc-o-late bright in their minds.

In all of our workings, we'd almost forgot,
but we had purchased candy (we'd purchased a LOT),
And so, as they flocked from all over the street,
they all got some chocolate or something else sweet.

We didn't think twice of delaying our rite,
Kids just don't have this much fun every night.
For hours they came, with the time-honored schtick
of giving a choice: a treat... or a trick!
As is proper, the parents were there for the games,
Watching the children and calling their names.

"On Vader, On Leia,
On Dexter and DeeDee,
On Xena, on Buffy,
Casper and Tweety!
To the block of apartmentson the neighboring road;
You'll get so much candy,you'll have to be TOWED!"

The volume of children eventually dropped,
and as it grew darker, it finally stopped.
But as we prepared to return to our rite,
One child more stepped out of the night.

She couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen.
Her hair was deep red, and her robe, forest green
with a simple gold cord tying off at the waist.
She'd a staff in her hand and a smile on her face.

No make-up, nor mask, or accompanying kitsch,
so we asked who she was; she replied "I'm a witch.
And no, I don't fly through the sky on my broom;
I only use that thing for cleaning my room.
My magical powers aren't really that neat,
but I won't threaten tricks; I'll just ask for a treat."

We found it refreshing, so we gave incense cones,
A candle, a crystal, a few other stones,
And the rest of the candy (which might fill a van).
She turned to her father (a man dressed as Pan)
and laughed, "Yes, I know, Dad, it's past time for bed,"
and started to leave, but she first turned and said
"I'm sorry for further delaying your rite.
Blessed Samhain to all, and a magical night."

Halloween jokes & riddles (LBE... AE&D)

Some of these aren't all that funny, but I thought I'd post them anyway. Enjoy!

***~***

Riddles

Q. What is a mummy's favourite type of music?
A. Rap music.

Q. Where do baby ghosts go when their mom goes to work? A. A scare centre!
Q. What is a skeleton's favourite instrument?
A. The trombone.

Q. Where do movie stars go on Halloween?
A. MaliBOO!

Q. Why didn't Dracula have any friends?
A. He was a pain in the neck!

Q. What does a bird say at Halloween?
A. "Twick or tweet."

Q. What does a panda ghost eat?
A. Bam-BOO!

Q. What do you call a skeleton that lies on its grave?
A. Lazy bones!

Q. What did one casket say to the other casket?
A. "Is that you coffin?" (coughing)

Q. Who did Dracula bring to the prom?
A. His ghoul friend.

Q. What is Dracula's favourite fruit?
A. A nectarine.

Q. What did the mummy ghost say to the noisy young ghost who kept interrupting?
A. "Spook when you're spooken to."

Q. What kind of mail does a superstar vampire get?
A. Fang mail.

Q. What is the problem with two twin witches?
A. You never know which witch is which!

Q. Where did the ghosts go for vacation?
A. Mali-BOO.

Q. What pants do ghosts wear?
A. BOO jeans.

Q. What do you call a witch who likes the beach but is scared of the water?
A. A chicken sand witch.

Q. What does a ghost call his mom and dad?
A. His transparents.

Q. What did the skeleton order with his drink?
A. A mop.

Q. Who won the zombie war?
A. Nobody, it was dead even.

Q. Where did the ghost go on vacation?
A. The BOO-hamas!

Q. Why did Dracula go to the library?
A. He wanted a good book to sink his teeth into!

Q. What kind of TV do you find inside a haunted house?
A. A wide scream TV.

Q. What did the witch say when she fell in the moat?
A. "My eels are killing me!"

Q. What do you call candy corn?
A. Pumpkin poop!

Q. What do you get when you cross a vampire with a mummy?
A. A gift wrapped bat!

Q. What school subject is a witch good at?
A. Spelling.

Q. What did the ghosts eat for dinner?
A. Spook-etti!

Q. What did the pumpkin need for its boo boo?
A. A pumpkin patch.

Q. Why is it hard for a ghost to tell a lie?
A. Because you can see right through him.

Q. What do you call a witch at the beach?
A. A sand-witch.

Q. Why couldn't the skeleton cross the road?
A. Because he didn't have the guts.

Q. Why did the skeleton go scuba diving?
A. Because he wanted to get some muscles!

Q. Why did the vampire give up acting?
A. Because he couldn't find a part he could sink his teeth into.

Q. Why was the skeleton scared to cross the road?
A. Because there was a dog on the other side.

Q. What do skeletons say before they start to eat?
A. Bone appetite.

Q. What do ghosts serve for dessert?
A. I scream.

Q. What monster wears the most clothes?
A. A werewolf!

Q. How do you make a witch itch?
A. Take away her W.

Q. What did the ghost teacher say to her class?
A. "Watch the board and I'll go through it again."

Q. Why didn't the skeleton want to go to the dance?
A. Because he had no body to go with.

Q. Why did the skeleton stand in the corner during his prom?
A. Because he had no body to dance with!

Q. What is a witch's favourite food?
A. Goulash.

Q. Why was the little ghost crying?
A. Because he wanted his mummy.

Q. What did the jack-o'-lantern say to the other jack-o'-lantern when they were on their way to a Halloween party?
A. "Let's get glowing."

Q. What do you get when you cross a mummy with a vampire bat?
A. A flying Band-Aid.

Q. Why do witches fly around on broomsticks?
A. Because vacuum cleaners are too heavy!

Q. What do you do when you see a ghost?
A. Run away of course!

Q. Where does a vampire keep his money?
A. In a blood bank.

Q. What do you call a vampire 200 miles from a blood bank?
A. A cab.

Q. Why don't skeletons play music in church?
A. They have no organs.

Q. What kind of dog does a vampire have?
A. A bloodhound.


Q. What do you get when you cross a ghost, a dog and a rooster?
A. A cocka-oodle-boo!

Q. What did one ghost say to the other ghost?
A. "Long time no see."

Q. What did the werewolf eat after he'd had his teeth cleaned?
A. The dentist.

Q. Why do skeletons hate winter?
A. The cold goes right through them.

Q. What do you call a mummy eating in bed?
A. A crummy mummy.

Q. Where do you go when a ghost is chasing you?
A. To the living room!

Q. What is a skeleton's favourite drink?
A. Milk, it's white and good for your bones.

Q. When do vampires like horse racing?
A. When it's neck and neck!

Q. What do you get when you cross a ghost and a goblin?
A. I don't know, but it doesn't sound good to me!

Q. What do you call a fat vampire slayer?
A. Puffy!

Q. Why did the Cyclops close his school?
A. Because he only had one pupil.

Q. Why didn't the ghost go boo?
A. Because it had no guts.

Q. What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?
A. Frostbite.

Q. What do you call two witches who share a broom?
A. Broom mates.

Q. What do you call two witches that live together?
A. Broom mates.

Q. What do you call a nervous witch?
A. A twitch.

Q. What do you call ghosts that ring doorbells?
A. Dead ringers.

Q. What does a ghost keep in its stable?
A. Nightmares.

Q. How do ghosts like their eggs?
A. Terror-fried.

Q. How was Frankenstien's birth?
A. Shocking.

Q. Why can't you tell a skeleton a secret?
A. Because it goes in one ear and out the other.

Q. What do you call a dead person in the closet?
A. The 1966 hide-and-go-seek champion.

Q. What kind of streets do zombies live on?
A. Dead-ends.

Q. Why don't mummies take vacations?
A. They're afraid they'll relax and unwind.

Q. What kind of candy won't a ghost touch?
A. Life Savers.

Q. What happens when a ghost haunts a theatre?
A. The actors get stage fright.

Q. What song do vampires hate?
A. "You are my sunshine!"

Q. What did the little ghost say to his mom?
A. "I've got a boo boo."

Q. What is a ghost's favourite ride?
A. A roller-ghoster.

Q. What do witches call for in a hotel room?
A. Broom service.

Q. What do you get if you cross a skeleton with a famous detective?
A. Sherlock Bones!

Q. What do you call an overweight pumpkin?
A. A plumpkin!

Q. How do you make a skeleton laugh?
A. Tickle its funnybone!

Q. What is worse than being a three hundred pound witch?
A. Being her broom.

Q. What do vampires never order at a cafe?
A. A STAKE sandwich!

Q. What did one ghost say to the other?
A. "Do you believe in people?!"

Q. What do vampires sing on New Year's Eve?
A. Auld Fang Syne!

Q. Where do ghosts get their mail?
A. At the ghost office.

Q. What do skeletons say at the front door?
A. "Crick or creak!"

Q. What kind of girl does a mummy take on a date?
A. Any old girl he can dig up.

Q. Why was the big hairy , two-headed monster top of the class in school?
A. Because two heads are better than one.

Q. Frankenstein and Dracula had a match. Who won?
A. Frankenstein, because Dracula sucks!

Q. What do you get when you cross a moose and a ghost?
A. A cariboo!

Q. Why doesn't a witch wear a flat hat?
A. Because there's no point in it!

***~***

Knock, Knock Jokes


Knock, knock
Who's there?
Wolves say
Wolves say who?
Wolves say Happy HOWL-oween!

______

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Boo!
Boo who?
No, no, don't cry! I was just kidding.

______

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Ivana
Ivana who?
Ivana suck your blood.

______

Knock, knock
Who's there?
Frank
Frank who?
Frankenstein!

***~***

Jokes


Monster: It is a very hot day today!
Witch: So, can I make you a lemonade?
Monster: Yes!
Witch: Poof! You're lemonade!

______

Patty came up to a boy with a sheet over his head on Halloween and asked, "Are you a ghost?"
The boy replied, "No, of course not! I'm an unmade bed!"

______

A skeleton walks in to a bar. He goes to the bartender and says, "I'm going to need a beer and a mop."


___

A guy named Billie Bob Joe goes to a costume dress party nakid with a nakid girl on his back.
Harold, answering the door: What are you supposed to be?
Billie Bob Joe: A turtle.
Harold: What do you mean?
Billie Bob Joe: The girl on my back is Michelle.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkins and bears

Originally we hadn't made any plans for Samhain/Halloween because we thought I'd probably be in hospital. But since I wasn't and had mentioned wanting to get a pumpkin and wanting to make pumpkin pie Kelly got me a pumpkin yesterday. So my Mam came down to do some baking. I'll let her tell you about that though since she intends doing a blog about that part.

I will tell you though that the stuff she made was VERY tasty. :)

And, if you're wondering why we didn't do the baking tomorrow... It's because we've got other stuff planned for tomorrow evening. But I'll tell you about that either tomorrow night or over the weekend.

***~***

What I want to post about is the photos. We made sure the batteries for my camera were charged so we could get some photos of the pumpkin. The ones we did of just the pumpkin never came out (we're going to try again tomorrow when we have it lit for the kiddies). But here are the rest of the pics...

Firstly... Mam and I with the pumpkin...



And Kero with the pumpkin...

This is the first time Kero's ever met a pumpkin. He's almost 4 & 1/2 years old, but this is the first time in his life we've bothered with one. He seems to like it. I'm really glad we didn't have it lit when we let him see it though, because he seems to think it's a ball.

I hope it's OK for dogs to eat pumpkins, because he bit a tiny bit off and ate it.

Anyway, like I said, we're going to try again with photos of the pumpkin itself tomorrow evening.

***~***

While we had the camera out we thought we'd grab a photo of Kero with the new teddy we got him the other day. I know Christmas is just around the corner, but with me in and out of hospital and such Kero seemed a bit out of sorts. So we thought a pressie would cheer him up.

He seems to like his new bear. At any rate he's playing with it a lot.

***~***

That's all for now... Enjoy whatever's left of your day. :)

Tori

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween/Samhain (LBE)

In the old Celtic calendar Halloween - or more correctly Samhain - was actually the beginning of the New Year, and the preparation for the coming hardship of winter. All the animals that were not breeding stock were slaughtered, and their meat salted and stored for the dark months. As one of the most important celebrations of the year, a great feast was held, and bonfires were lit throughout the countryside.

The festival was also a time when fertility played an important factor in the future well-being of a community. Animals were mated, and good breeding stock selected. This fertility aspect is reflected in legends passed down from the Celts. In Irish mythology the god Dhaghda made love to the Morrigan on Samhain eve, while she straddled the river Unius, in a symbolic union of the god of light and the goddess of death as the year turns towards darkness. Cu Chulainn also had Halloween relations, and Halloween was the date when Aengus found his otherworld maiden in the guise of a swan.

There may have been a more sinister side to the festival in Celtic times, and Caesar mentions human sacrifices during the four festivals of the year. Although Roman propaganda accounts can now be seen as biased, there is no smoke without fire, and evidence suggests ritual human sacrifice was practiced in the past. There is a tradition of the death of the sacrificial king at Samhain, and some of the darker customs of Halloween may disguise older practices. In some parts of Scotland, white stones marked to represent those present were thrown into the halloween fire, these had to be retrieved later, or evil was supposed to befall the person who could not find their stone. At Calander in Scotland, stones were placed in the ashes of the fire and left until morning. If they were displaced it spelt certain doom for the owner of the stone. Fraser in his book The Golden Bough, mentions the choosing of a sacrificial victim by the means of specially baked cakes, and in some regions small cakes were traditionally baked at Halloween; in England they were known as Soul cakes, eaten by all family members; and in Ireland they were known as barm brack cakes, which often contained lucky and unlucky objects of a divinatory nature.

The festival was also associated with the dead, and with remembering the ancestors. It was customary in some areas to leave an empty chair and a platter of foods for the invisible guests, so that they would not be offended. The witching hour was seen as the time when the departed returned, and silence was often kept for a short time in their honour - as the chimes of midnight rang out.

In the North of Scotland, Halloween was when the blue-faced hag of winter, the Cailleach Bheur was reborn with the coming of the winter snows. She was then the guardian of winter until the return of Summer on Beltane. She exists in many folk tales and may be a denuded form of a widely worshipped goddess. It was also customary to dedicate the last sheaf of corn from the harvest to her. This was moulded into a feminine shape and named the Carlin or the Cailleach.

With many of the rural communities entrenched in the old ways, the church decreed that November the 1st should be known as All Saints' Day (this happened in 835AD), and All Souls' Day was moved to the 2nd of November. Thus the 31st of October became All Saints' Eve, or all Hallows' Eve, with older customs and beliefs surviving until the present day.

The tradition of a bonfire celebration lasted longer in some rural areas than in others. At Fortingall in Perthshire, a fire was held on a Bronze Age burial mound until the early part of the 20th century. The local community danced around the fire while it was in full blaze, and then returned home for traditional Halloween games. This took place on the 11th of November, the time of Halloween (Samhain) in the old calendar.

Today the customs of Halloween are reflections on the deeper meaning of the festival to our ancestors. In the modern world, the changing of the seasons are not as important to our livelihood as it would have been hundreds of years ago, and the festival has become heavily commercialised. However, Halloween is great fun for thousands of children and will hopefully continue to be enjoyed, despite some calls from church leaders to have it banned.

Some Halloween customs:

In parts of Scotland it was customary to throw a silver coin through the front door of the house on the morning of November the 1st. The coin had to remain hidden where it had fallen to bring luck in money matters concerning the house.

The Halloween pumpkin originates from the custom of using lanterns to ward off the evil spirits, which were thought to wander through the thin veil into our world.

In some areas it was customary to throw a stone with a personal mark on it into the ashes of the fire. These had to be retrieved to ensure luck for the coming year.

If a young woman wanted to get a glimpse of her future husband, all she had to do was sit looking at her reflection in a mirror by candlelight at midnight, with an apple in her hand. Hopefully she would see the image of her future husband looking back at her from the mirror.

Hazelnuts were also used in husband divination, to denote a future love each of the nuts would be given the name of a possible lover and placed in front of the fire, the hopeful young lady would then recite "If you love me, pop and fly; and if you hate me burn and die." The first nut to pop would be the girls' likely suitor.

Another method of providing clues to a future spouse was to throw a fully peeled apple skin over the shoulder. This would then spell out the initial of her future lover.

Apples were also used in one of the better-known traditions that of Apple Bobbing. This game consisted of a large barrel of water in which a number of apples were floated, each participant then had to attempt to grab an apple using only their teeth, which inevitably led to a soaking. In another version, an apple and a lighted candle were placed on either end of a stick balanced in the middle and suspended from the ceiling by a piece of string. This was then spun, and those playing the game had to attempt to bite the apple without getting burned - a rather more painful fate than a good soaking!

The night was also a time for prophetic dreaming, again often to discover future husbands. This link with ongoing fertility may date back to when the festival was also a time for cattle to be mated for spring births.

As a time of change it was also a time of throwing out all the old associations that have passed their usage. On a personal level these were written down on a piece of paper and burned in an act of cleansing.

Some Halloween hauntings:

Halloween has always thought to be a good time to see the denizens of the spirit world, which is why few people ventured out of doors after dusk in more superstitious times. There are many hauntings that have a Halloween significance, some of these are listed below:

Spynie Palace, Morayshire
At Spynie Palace near Elgin -now a ruin - the bishop was thought to be a practitioner of black magic, and it was at Halloween when the local witches were said to fly to St David's Tower filling the air with unearthly music and light.

Minsden Chapel, Hertfordshire
At Minsden Chapel in Hertfordshire the ghost of a monk is said to walk through the ruined arch, heralded by the peel of a bell.

Newton Castle, Perthshire
The apparition of the Green Lady of Newton Castle is said to be most likely to appear at Halloween, her gravestone is also meant to turn around three times.

Armboth House and Thirlmere Lake, Cumbria
Armboth House was haunted following the drowning of the household's daughter on Halloween, the night before her wedding day. The house now lies submerged beneath Thirlmere resevoir, but it is said that the sound of bells can still be heard, and a ghostly dog is said to swim in Thirlmere Lake (where she was murdered).

Cliviger Gorge, Lancashire
A ghostly huntsman and his hound are said to appear.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Poem: The Robin And Jack Frost

The weather's been quite nasty here lately... Rain, hail, strong winds, etc... And this morning we woke to our first proper frost. And when I let Kero out for a pee and discovered the frost I also realised that there was a little Robin singing happily either on top of the shed or somewhere else nearby (it's hard to tell with birds where they are because they throw their voices so well). Anyway it prompted me to write this:

***~***

The Robin And Jack Frost

Jack Frost ran his frozen fingers gently over the ground
Covering everything with glittering frost without making a sound
A playful smile played across his blue lips
As he stroked everything in sight with his finger tips
And the little Robin on the roof of the shed
Cleared his little throat, and said
“You’re early this year, the Winter’s not here.”
Jack Frost looked up, and with a nasty sneer
He told the Robin to, “Go away,
I’m having fun… Just let me play!”
So all the Robin could do was sit, and sing
He sang a song of the coming of Spring
As though to remind dear Jack
That despite his efforts the warmth would be back
Jack Frost scowled and turned his head
Away from the Robin, then he said
“Spring will come in the end,
But first comes Winter, my little friend.
And if I choose to come now instead
To freeze the Autumn flowers in their bed
There’s nothing you can do to stop me
For Mother Nature knows, you see!
When I come to play my ice game
It’s because she called me here by name.
So sing your song of Spring and heat,
Meanwhile I’ll turn this rain to sleet.”
And with an icy laugh and a happy bound
Jack Frost sprang up from the glistening ground
Then, with almost no effort at all,
He sprang on top of the garden wall
He somehow leaped on a passing cloud
(From which his playful laughter was loud)
Gently he caressed it’s misty form
Turning the rain in to a hail storm
The Robin flew off to find a dry place
Where – he hoped – Jack wouldn’t show his face
But deep down he knew that Jack would soon follow
(He’d heard about Jack from his friend… The Swallow)
He knew that Winter was on it’s way
Which meant that Jack was free to play
“It’s just a shame,” the Robin sighed,
“That while he’s out we’re stuck inside.
Why Mother Nature set him free
This early is beyond me!”

Doggy love triangle (AE&D)

I went to post this earlier, but wasn't feeling 100% so decided to have a nap first. I just closed the browser, which usually either puts the post in draft or - since I hadn't actually started typing - completely ignores the fact you started a post. So this post actually says it was published a good 6 hours later than it was. I could go in to the post options and change it... But I can't be bothered to fiddle with it. LOL!

***~***

Eleri and Faye from upstairs inherited a little dog when Eleri's Dad died (not even going to attempt spelling of the breed name). She's a cute little thing and her name is Mia. Anyway...

A few days after we'd first met Mia, Kero met her. It was love at first sniff.

Unfortunately for Kero, Daisy was close enough to see what was going on. And Kero and Daisy have had a thing going on for months now (we're all very pleased that Kero's neutered or we'd have pups to deal with, since Kero doesn't seem to realise he's neutered).

I'm going to do this as a dialogue because it'll be more fun for me to write, and - hopefully - more fun for you to read too. :)

Mia: Hi! Hi! Hi!
Kero: Hey baby! How you doin'?

Kero and Mia do the usual doggy greeting.

Enter Daisy.

Daisy: What was that Kero?
Kero: Hi beautiful!
Daisy: Cut the crap... I heard what you said. I thought you were mine!
Kero: I am... You know I love you...

Kero sniffs Daisy all over and gives her a quick little kiss.

Mia: Typical males! All bark!
Kero: No baby... I think you're beautiful too!
Daisy: Excuse me?

Kero alternates from one to the other sniffing and kissing.

Kero: You see ladies? There's plenty of me to go around!

Daisy and Mia are called indoors and reluctantly go.

Kero strutts proudly around the yard, obviously pleased with himself for snagging both girls.

***~***

I guess all males are alike... Human or dog, neutered or not... LOL!

Tori

Niece's birthday

Today is our niece (Kelly's sister's daughter)'s birthday. I doubt she reads my blog, but I wanted to make sure she got a "Happy Birthday" on here anyway. So...

Happy Birthday, Tamara... From your Uncle Kelly, Auntie Tori, and - of course - Kero the Westie! :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

What the specialist said

Saw my specialist today.

He's agreed with me that enough is enough. I believe his words were, "We tried and it's just not working, so let's just take the implant out and draw a line under the whole bad experience!"

He can't fit me in until next week though. So for now he's sent me home with antibiotics, eye patches and pain killers. So, I'm going in hospital a week on Wednesday (Nov 5th) to have the op the Thursday (Nov 6th). I can't go in before because - with him being away - his lists are already cramned full until then.

He'd really hoped to keep the implant in because it helps to give a better cosmetic result when the artificial eye goes in, but it seems like my eye socket really doesn't want that implant. And we all agree that I've gone through enough and it's time to just admit defeat and take the implant out.

Anyway, I'm tired so I'm going to let this do for now. Enjoy whatever's left of your day. :)

Tori

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poem: Autumn

Just something I wrote the other day and wanted to share...

***~***

Autumn

The wind is as cold as an ice cube
Fresh from the freezer's ice tray
The sun pokes its head through the clouds
Trying to chase the rain away
And all the while the leaves are changing
And falling to the ground
Humans and animals scamper over them
Making a small crunching sound

The smell of apples and pumpkins
Fill the chilly air
As excited little girls and boys
Pick the Halloween costumes they'll wear

Soon the day for trick-or-treating
Will finally be here
Bringing with it quite a mixture of feelings
From happiness to fear
For some just think that Halloween
Is a chance for a little fun
While others hold fast to the old ways
And rituals are done

Autumn is a season that
Brings everyone such pleasure
For Autumn is full of sights and smells
That everyone can treasure

Pumpkin (LBE & FD)

Pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It is a common name of or can refer to cultivars of any one of the following species: Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata.

Description
The word pumpkin originates from the word “pepon” which is Greek for “large melon.” The French adapted this word to “pompon,” which the English changed to “pompion” and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, “pumpkin.” [2] The origin of pumpkins is not known, although pumpkins are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were found in Mexico. [3][4] Pumpkins are a squash-like fruit that range in size (less than 1 pound to over 1000 pounds), shape, color, and appearance (smooth or ribbed). [5]
Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. In general, pumpkins have stems which are firmer, more rigid, pricklier, have a +/- 5 degree angle, and are squarer in shape than squash stems which are generally softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit. [6] [7]
Pumpkins generally weigh 9–18 lbs (4–8 kg) with the largest (of the species C. maxima) capable of reaching a weight of over 75 lbs (34 kg).[8] The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate through oblong. The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed.[8] Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow,[7] some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray.[9]

Pumpkins are monoecious, having both male and female flowers, the latter distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. These bright and colorful flowers have extremely short life spans, and may only open for as short a time as one day. The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein, and both alpha- and beta- carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.[citation needed]

Taxonomy

Pumpkin is the fruit of the species Cucurbita pepo or Cucurbita mixta . It can refer to a specific variety of the species Cucurbita maxima or Cucurbita moschata, which are all of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae. [1]

Distribution and Habitation
Pumpkins are grown all around the world for a variety of reasons ranging from agricultural purposes (animal feed) to commercial and ornamental sales. [10] Out of the seven continents only Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins, the biggest international producers of pumpkins include the United States, Mexico, India, and China. [11][12] The pumpkin capital of the world is Morton, IL. [13] The traditional American pumpkin is the Connecticut Field variety. [14]
Although native to the Western hemisphere, pumpkins are cultivated in North America, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and some other countries.[citation needed] The pumpkin is the state fruit of New Hampshire.

Ecology

Cultivation in the US
Main article: Pumpkin cultivation

Pumpkin Field
As one of the most popular crops in the United States, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year. [15] The top pumpkin producing states in the U.S. include Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. [16] Pumpkins are a warm weather crop that are usually planted in early July. The specific conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require that soil temperatures 3 inches deep are at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and soil that holds water well. Pumpkin crops may suffer if there is a lack of water or due to cold temperatures (in this case, below 65 degrees; frost can be detrimental), and sandy soil or soil with poor water filtration. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy and even if many ;leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can very quickly re-grow secondary vines to replace what was removed.[17]
Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; honeybees play a significant role in fertilization. [18]Pumpkins have historically been pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined, probably due to pesticide sensitivity, and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is recommended by the United States of America (US) Department of Agriculture. If there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners often have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development. An opportunistic fungus is also sometimes blamed for abortions.

Giant Pumpkins
The largest pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. They were cultivated from the hubbard squash genotype, crossed with kabocha-pumpkin types by enthusiast farmers through intermittent effort since the early 1800s. As such germplasm is commercially provocative, a U.S. legal right was granted for the rounder phenotypes, levying them as constituting a variety, with the appellation "Atlantic Giant." Process ually this phenotype graduated back into the public domain, except now it had the name Atlantic Giant on its record (see USDA PVP # 8500204).
“Weigh-off” competitions for giant pumpkins are a popular festival activity. 460 pounds held the world record for the largest pumpkin until 1981 when Howard Dill(of Nova Scotia) broke the record with a pumpkin near 500 pounds. Dill patented the seeds used to grow this giant pumpkin, deeming them Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds, and drawing growers from around the world. Howard Dill is accredited for all of the giant pumpkins today, most of which are borne from crossing and re-crossing his patented seed with other varieties. [19] By 1994 the Giant Pumpkin crossed the 1000 pound mark. In September 2007, Joe Jutras (of Rhode Island) obtained the title of world’s largest pumpkin with a 1,689 pound, cream colored fruit.[20] He is currently said to be working on producing a giant orange pumpkin, as orange pumpkins tend to be smaller and have thinner shells, but are more desirable in appearance. [21]

Uses

Cooking
Pumpkin, rawNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 10 kcal 60 kJ
Carbohydrates
6.5 g
- Sugars 1.36 g
- Dietary fiber 0.5 g
Fat
0.1 g
- saturated 0.05 g
- monounsaturated 0.01 g
- polyunsaturated 0.01 g
Protein
1.0 g
Vitamin A equiv. 369 μg
41%
- β-carotene 3100 μg
29%
Thiamin (Vit. B1) 0.05 mg
4%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.110 mg
7%
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.6 mg
4%
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.298 mg
6%
Vitamin B6 0.061 mg
5%
Folate (Vit. B9) 16 μg
4%
Vitamin C 9 mg
15%
Vitamin E 1.06 mg
7%
Calcium 21 mg
2%
Iron 0.8 mg
6%
Magnesium 12 mg
3%
Phosphorus 44 mg
6%
Potassium 340 mg
7%
Sodium 1 mg
0%
Zinc 0.32 mg
3%
Percentages are relative to USrecommendations for adults.Source: USDA Nutrient database

Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking, from the fleshy shell, to the seeds, to even the flowers, most parts of the pumpkin are edible. Traditionally, pumpkin is a very popular Halloween and Thanksgiving staple. Although most people use store bought canned pumpkin, home-made pumpkin puree can serve the same purpose. [22]
When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. Often, it is made into various kinds of pie which is a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holiday. Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way as the vegetable marrow/zucchini. Pumpkins can also be eaten mashed or incorporated into soup. In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In South Asian countries like India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices; this dish is called kadu ka halwa. In Australia, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables. In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura. In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. In Italy it can be used, with cheeses, as a savory stuffing for ravioli.[citation needed] And also, pumpkin can be used to flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.

Pumpkin seeds
Main article: Pepita
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are small, flat, green, edible seeds. Most pumpkin seeds are covered by a white husk, although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at most grocery stores, however, roasting pumpkin seeds (usually scooped out of jack-o-lanterns) is a popular Halloween treat. Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits, some of which include a good source of protein, zinc and other vitamins, and are even said to lower cholesterol. [23] One gram of pumpkin seed protein contains as much tryptophan as a full glass of milk.[24]

Pumpkin seed oil
Main article: Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil is a thick, green oil that is produced from roasted pumpkin seeds. When used for cooking or as a salad dressing, pumpkin seed oil is generally mixed with other oils because of its robust flavor. [25] It is used in cooking in central and eastern Europe, and long believed to be a folk remedy for prostate problems, has in fact been shown to combat benign prostatic hyperplasia.[26]

Activities involving pumpkins

Halloween

A pumpkin carved into a Jack-o'-lantern for Halloween.
Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called jack-o'-lanterns for the Halloween season in North America. Throughout Britain and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or swede.[27] But not until 1837 does jack-o'-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern,[28] and the carved lantern does not become associated specifically with Halloween until 1866.[29] Significantly, both occurred not in Britain or Ireland, but in North America. Historian David J. Skal writes,
Although every modern chronicle of the holiday repeats the claim that vegetable lanterns were a time-honored component of Halloween celebrations in the British Isles, none gives any primary documentation. In fact, none of the major nineteenth-century chronicles of British holidays and folk customs make any mention whatsoever of carved lanterns in connection with Halloween. Neither do any of the standard works of the early twentieth century.[30]
In America, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of Halloween.[31]

Chucking
Pumpkin chucking is a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. Catapults, trebuchets, ballistas and air cannons are the most common mechanisms. Some pumpkin chuckers breed and grow special varieties of pumpkin under specialized conditions in order to improve the pumpkin's chances of surviving a throw.

Pumpkin festivals and competitions

Competitive Weight Pumpkins
Pumpkin growers often compete to see whose pumpkins are the most massive. Festivals are often dedicated to the pumpkin and these competitions.
Circleville, Ohio, holds a big festival each year, the Circleville Pumpkin Show. Half Moon Bay, California, holds the annual Pumpkin and Arts Festival, drawing over 250,000 visitors each year and including the World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-Off.[32] Farmers from all over the west compete to determine who can grow the greatest gourd.[33] The winning pumpkin regularly tops the scale at more than 1200 pounds. The world record pumpkin in 2007 was 1689 pounds, grown by Joe Jutras in Topsfield, Massachusetts.[20]
Morton, Illinois, the self-declared pumpkin capital of the world,[34] has held a Pumpkin Festival since 1966. The town, where Nestlé's pumpkin packing plant is located (and where 90% of canned pumpkins eaten in the US are processed) carved and lit pumpkins in one place, a record which the town held for several years before losing it to Boston, Massachusetts in 2006. A large contributor of pumpkins to the festival is local Keene State College which hosts an event called "Pumpkin Lobotomy" on their main quad. Usually held the day before the festival itself, Pumpkin Lobotomy has the air of a large party, with the school providing pumpkins and carving instruments alike (though some students prefer to use their own) and music provided by college radio station, WKNH.

Folklore
There seems to be a connection in folklore and popular culture between pumpkins and the supernatural. Famous examples include:

The story of Cinderella, in which the fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into a carriage, but it later reverts to a pumpkin.
A commonplace motif of people being turned into pumpkins by witches.
The Jack-o-lantern custom discussed above, which connects to Halloween lore about warding off demons.
The legend of the Great Pumpkin in the Peanuts stories.
The short story Pumpkin Juice by R. L. Stine, in which juice from a pumpkin has magical effects.
The Harry Potter witch-school stories, in which pumpkin juice as a favorite drink of the Hogworts pupils is a recurring element.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Pumpkin
Pumpkin Fest
Pumpkin Queens
Pepitas
Vegetable juice

References
^ a b Integrated Taxonomic Information System
^ The Pumpkin Patch. 2007. Halloween Online. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.pumpkin-patch.com/>.
^ The Pumpkin Patch. 2007. Halloween Online. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.pumpkin-patch.com/>.
^ "Pumpkin." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2004. Credo Reference. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.credoreference.com/entry/4294972>.
^ Michael, Orsolek D., George L. Greaser, and Jayson K. Harper. "Pumpkin Production." Agricultural Alternatives (2000). Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://agalternatives.psu.edu/crops/pumpkin/pumpkin.pdf>.
^ cucurbitaceae. (1995). In Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia (8th ed.). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
^ a b pumpkin. (1992). In The Encyclopedia Americana International Edition. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated.
^ a b pumpkin. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 28, 2007, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.search.eb.com/eb/article-9061895.
^ Pumpkin Nook: Color Me Pumpkin.
^ Wolford, Ron, and Drusilla Banks. Pumpkins and More. 2008. University of Illinois Extension. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/pumpkins>.
^ The Pumpkin Patch. 2007. Halloween Online. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.pumpkin-patch.com/>.
^ "Pumpkin Seeds." World's Healthiest Foods. 2008. The George Mateljan Foundation. 11 Feb. 2008 <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=food&spicedbid=82#healthbenefits>.
^ The Pumpkin Patch. 2007. Halloween Online. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.pumpkin-patch.com/>.
^ The Pumpkin Patch. 2007. Halloween Online. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.pumpkin-patch.com/>.
^ Michael, Orsolek D., George L. Greaser, and Jayson K. Harper. "Pumpkin Production." Agricultural Alternatives (2000). Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://agalternatives.psu.edu/crops/pumpkin/pumpkin.pdf>.
^ Wolford, Ron, and Drusilla Banks. Pumpkins and More. 2008. University of Illinois Extension. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/pumpkins>.
^ Michael, Orsolek D., George L. Greaser, and Jayson K. Harper. "Pumpkin Production." Agricultural Alternatives (2000). Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://agalternatives.psu.edu/crops/pumpkin/pumpkin.pdf>.
^ Michael, Orsolek D., George L. Greaser, and Jayson K. Harper. "Pumpkin Production." Agricultural Alternatives (2000). Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. 19 Feb. 2008 <http://agalternatives.psu.edu/crops/pumpkin/pumpkin.pdf>.
^ Raver, Anne. "In the Pumpkin Patch, an Orange Thumb." New York Times 18 Oct. 2007, sec. F: 6.
^ a b Joe Jutras' 2007 world record pumpkin
^ Raver, Anne. "In the Pumpkin Patch, an Orange Thumb." New York Times 18 Oct. 2007, sec. F: 6.
^ Roberts, Tammy. "The Many Uses of Pumpkin." Food & Fitness 7 Aug. 2006. 10 Feb. 2008 <http://www.missourifamilies.org/features/nutritionarticles/nut107.htm>.
^ "Pumpkin Seeds." World's Healthiest Foods. 2008. The George Mateljan Foundation. 11 Feb. 2008 <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=food&spicedbid=82#healthbenefits>.
^ "New Study Demonstrates Treatment of Anxiety Disorders using Pumpkin Seed"
^ Tyler Herbst, Sharon. The New Food Lover's Companion. 3rd ed. Barron_ 2001. Pumpkin Seed Oil. 14 Feb. 2008 <http://www.credoreference.coom/entry/5068383>.
^ World's Healthiest Foods
^ They continue to be popular choices today as carved lanterns in Scotland and Northern Ireland, although the British purchased a million pumpkins for Halloween in 2004. "Pumpkins Passions", BBC, 31 October 2005. Retrieved on 19 October 2006. "Turnip battles with pumpkin for Hallowe'en", BBC, 28 October 2005. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
^ Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Great Carbuncle," in Twice-Told Tales, 1837:
Hide it [the great carbuncle] under thy cloak, say'st thou? Why, it will gleam through the holes, and make thee look like a jack-o'-lantern!
^ Daily News (Kingston, Ontario), November 1, 1866:
The old time custom of keeping up Hallowe'en was not forgotten last night by the youngsters of the city. They had their maskings and their merry-makings, and perambulated the streets after dark in a way which was no doubt amusing to themselves. There was a great sacrifice of pumpkins from which to make transparent heads and face, lighted up by the unfailing two inches of tallow candle. Agnes Carr Sage, "Halloween Sports and Customs," Harper's Young People, October 27, 1885, p. 828:
It is an ancient Scottish custom to light great bonfires on Halloween, and carry blazing fagots about on long poles; but in place of this American boys delight in the funny grinning jack-o'-lanterns made of huge yellow pumpkins with a candle inside.
^ Skal, David J. (2002). Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween. New York: Bloomsbury, 32. ISBN 1-58234-230-X. The earliest reference to associate carved vegetable lanterns with Halloween in Britain is Ruth Edna Kelley, The Book of Hallowe'en (1919), Chapter 8, which mentions turnip lanterns in Scotland.
^ As late as 1900, an article on Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o'-lantern as part of the festivities which encourages kids and families to join together to make their own jack-o-lanterns. "The Day We Celebrate: Thanksgiving Treated Gastronomically and Socially," The New York Times, Nov. 24, 1895, p. 27. "Odd Ornaments for Table," The New York Times, Oct. 21, 1900, p. 12.
^ [1]History of Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival
^ [2]Gargantuan Gourd Weigh-Off
^ Morton Pumpkin Festival
Pumpkin seeds on The worlds Healthiest Foods, The George Mateljan Foundation.
Illinois Leads Nation in Pumpkin Production, Illinois Department of Agriculture.
The Largest Pumpkin Ever, bigpumpkins.com.
Keene Pumpkin Festival, list of world records.

External links
Squash Display at Missouri Botanical Garden - Pics of 150 varieties from The Great Pumpkin Patch, Arthur, IL
Pumpkin Varieties - backyardgardener.com, site focused on North-Eastern U.S.
April 2004 – In season describes several varieties available in Australia.
Pumpkins - Lots and lots of Varieties! - American pumpkin varieties, arranged by species.
Pumpkin Recipes - Recipe suggestions for pumpkins.
Pumpkin Carving

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fluffy socks

Yes, the days are flying by. Way to quickly in my opinion. The weather's already turning cold and frosty. I'm already needing my fluffy socks. And this time in 9 weeks Christmas will be over. Where has the year gone?

Speaking of my fluffy socks, I got some new ones. Actually, my Mam got them for me. They have little characters stitched on the sides of them so I can match them properly. I still had my snowmen ones like that, but my Santa ones had ended up in the bin due to the Santas falling off and the big holes in the heels. If it wasn't for the holes I'd have just had Mam reatatch the Santas. Anyway, I have four new pairs. One with penguins on, one with cows on, and two different bear ones. One has panda bears and the other has polar bears (the difference is in the noses... the panda's nose is flat, the polar bear's nose sticks out). And the best part is... They're lovely and warm on the toes. :)

Anyway, my Mam's here so I'm going to let this do for now. :)

Tori

Friday, October 24, 2008

Birthdays

Today there are two birthdays I would like to mention.

The first is the birthday of one of my oldest friend's. I don't mean oldest age wise, I mean oldest as in one of the friends I've known longest. Anyway, her name is Louise. So... "Happy Birthday, Louise!" :)

The second birthday I want to mention is that of one of my newest friends... Barb (CelticSpirit). Today is her birthday too. So... "Happy Birthday, Barb!" :)

Hope you both have a fantastic birthday! *HUGS* :)

Tori

It seems I've been tagged

Since I wasn't having much luck with sleeping, I decided to take the time to catch up on everyone's blog posts. While doing this I discovered that Ausgrl had tagged me with the Four Things Meme that's going around. So - despite the fact I'm almost a week late spotting it - I decided to play along.

***~***

Top four wishes.

For the people I care about to be happy and healthy
For the people on this planet to learn not to be so greedy and selfish
To finally heal from this op and move on with my life
To be a mother

Four places I want to travel.

Scotland
Ireland
Africa
The moon

Four Careers I want to try.

Journalist
Nursery school teacher
Vetenary nurse
Pet photographer

Four things I want God to say at the gates of heaven AKA Four things I want to do whilst in Summerland

I'm not sure how to answer this one. To be honest, I don't think I can at the moment. So I'm going to have to pass on this question. Sorry.

I tag anyone who hasn't done this already and wants to give it a go. :)

***~***

Enjoy your day. :)

Tori

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blood and gunk (AE&D... PTMI)

So... I went to see a doctor. It was one of my specialist's assistants. My specialist isn't back until Monday, which is when I'm meant to see him. Anyway, the doctor we saw really didn't know what to do. He was worried though, I could tell. And my suspicions were confirmed when he said that if he was sure my specialist was back in the country he'd have called him to see if he could come in and see me. Talk about confidence building... NOT!


Anyway, it seems that the flap of flesh taken from my eyelid to cover the implant has decided that it doesn't belong where they put it and receeded back up to where it thinks it should be. Leaving the implant exposed. And without my specialist all that can be done is for me to be kept on antibiotic tablets and drops to try and make sure that the blood and gunk pouring from my eye doesn't turn in to a nasty infection or something. Oh, and I've still got to wear a patch too... Obviously!

The thing is that judging by how I'm feeling at the moment we suspect it's already turned in to an infection. Especially since the gunk is - according to Kelly and Mam - yellow-ish in colour. Doesn't yellow gunk usually mean an infection is at least starting up? Hopefully the antibiotics will keep it from getting bad while I wait for Monday to arrive.

That's all I can really tell you for now. I'm home until Monday anyway, but I don't know if I'll get to the blogs. For one thing I don't know if I'll have the time, for another I'm not feeling 100% at the moment. After Monday... *Shrugs*... I don't know. I know I'll be back in hospital soon. Maybe for at least part of next week. The question is which part?

And - if I didn't have enough to deal with at the moment with my eye - I cut my lip yesterday (Wednesday).

I was playing with Kero and he went to reach up to give me the toy as I bent down to pick it up. The result was that he ended up headbutting me in the chin, causing me to bite down hard on my own lip. Those kinds of cuts don't half bleed!

So, right now I'm a bloody mess... Literally!

Hope you're in better shape than I am! ;)

Tori

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Computers, eyes and Ipods

This is just going to be a quick post. I don't really have the time to do a long one. Besides, I'm tired and want/need to go curl up in my nice, warm bed.

As my Mam (Karen) told you in the comments of my last post, we've had a few computer issues. Mostly centred around graphics card issues on Kelly's computer and the one of my Dad's that's here, and my laptop deciding that it's going to turn Jaws off when it feels like it, and that it really doesn't want to be used to connect to the internet... At least, not without a fight. So, we decided to put the laptop aside for me to use for things that don't need internet access (e.g. my writing) and a spare PC my Dad has that's good enough for me, but not really for him because it doesn't have the required memory or graphics or something to play the games he plays has been set up with Jaws on it for me to use. Thing is that because of other stuff going on it's taken until today for Dad to be able to sort the machine for me.

***~***

I was "meant to" see one of my specialist's assistants on Monday, but when we phoned on Friday we were told no appointment had been made for me. We finally got one for tomorrow morning though.

I'm packing a hospital bag before we go "just in case"... With how sore my eye is there's a chance the doctor may want me pulled in to hospital to go on the antibiotic drip or something. I hope not, but I figure we should be prepared.

There's also the possibility that my specialist is now back from his holiday and that it's him I'm seeing. In which case he may want me in for another op or something. We shall have to see what happens.

***~***

Since it looks like I'm probably going back in hospital my Mam and Dad let me have my birthday present from them early. It's a blue Ipod Shuffle. I've been using it to listen to the Kim Harrison audio books I mentioned in one of my posts last week. And I'm enjoying both the player and the story. :)

***~***

I've got a few scheduled posts set up so you have stuff to read if I can't get on here until next month. Most of them will be published on Samhain/Halloween... I think I have about half a dozen scheduled for that day.

And I'll get to your blog posts when I can.

***~***

Hope you and your family are all well.

Tori

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Medical mutterings

I was going to post this tomorrow, but decided to do it today instead.

***~***

My Nan's not well. She keeps getting really dizzy and things. It seems to be something to do with some lumps she has on her head. She's had them for as long as I can remember, but they never caused any issues so she left them alone. That seems to have changed now though.

She went to the doctor and he's refering her to one of the nearby hospitals to have the lumps removed (and I assume tested and such too).

Will let you know how things go for her when she goes in.

***~***

I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had a blood test to check my iron level so the doctor could decide if I should continue with my iron tablets or not? Well, it's taken me until today to find out what they want me to do.

The results were there, but all they'd tell me was that "the results are satisfactory," Which doesn't tell me anything. I mean, does that mean my iron level is high enough so I don't need the tablets any more? Or does that mean that it's not as low as it could be but it's not too bad and they want me to carry on with the tablets?

I eventually managed to make them understand that "satisfactory" isn't a good enough answer, so they made me an appointment to see the nurse.

The appointment was for 11:00 am. And - after an hour of waiting - I went in, asked the nurse what "Satisfactory" was meant to mean, got my answer and went home. So,, Mam and I sat in the waiting room of the doctors' surgery for an hour to spend maybe 30 seconds in with the nurse. Even the nurse didn't understand why I wasn't just put on the "call back list" for the nurse to give me a quick ring instead of me coming in just for something like that.

Anyway...

Apparently "satisfactory" means that my iron level is above average so they want me to stop taking the iron tablets. Which is exactly what I knew they'd say.

Yep, I went all the way there just to be told that. *Sigh*

***~***

If our suspicions are correct then the "third time lucky" or "third time's the charm" thing hasn't worked out with my eye. The stitching appears to have come undone... AGAIN!

What does this mean? Well, it means that - when my specialist comes back from his holiday - I'm probably going back in to hospital. This time, however, I'm telling him to take the implant out. I've had enough. Sod the cosmetic result!

We're phoning his secretary tomorrow (Friday) to ask what we should do in the meantime. Especially since my antibiotic tablets have run out. I'm meant to be seeing one of my specialist's assistants on Monday though, so she might just tell us to hang in until then.

*Sigh*

***~***

The worst part is that I got a letter the other day from the person who's meant to be sorting out my artificial eye. It was for October 30th, but I can't have the artificial eye sorted if the socket hasn't settled, and it can't settle when it's still being operated in.

So I called her up and explained.

She told me to call her back when I think I'm ready and she'll make me an appointment as soon after that as she can. We both agreed that until we know what exactly is going on with the eye there's no point trying to make another appointment that I might have to cancel anyway.

Tori