from crayon box to powering my soul… color defines me

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More In The Studio

My latest studio exercise from the class I’m taking through  http://www.coursera.org is to learn and paint in the style of Jackson Pollock, humorously nicknamed “Jack the Dripper”. His No. 1A created from oil and enamel on canvas in 1948 is shown (at left below). My exploration resulted with this interpretation of his process (at right below):

Jackson Pollock No. 1A, 1948, oil and enamel on canvas

Jackson Pollock Exercise by Carla Bange, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pollock started out inspired by American Indian sand paintings, which can be seen in his impressive The She-Wolf (see it here: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/78719 ). Once he relocated to New York, he focused on his “poured paintings” which are much more recognizable as his work. I learned that he used enamels, like house paint, which probably helped his action paintings which he created by moving around all sides of a huge canvas spread across his barn floor. My efforts, using thinned down acrylic paints, resulted more in drips and drops than flowing strings of paint. I really enjoy watching Ed Harris, the actor. So when he did such an amazing job portraying the artist in Pollock, the movie released in 2000, I was already familiar with the sweeping gestural movements of Pollock’s brushes. I was, however, unaware that he embedded trinkets in his work, such as nails, coins, buttons, and even cigarette buttes in his work Full Fathom Five (see it here: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79070).

Next up was Mark Rothko. Art History 101 and 102 courses were my favorite classes in college. We were required to attend an art show, a play, a musical, and to write critiques. I’m not sure any of us truly knew what we were doing critiquing famous works but I imagine reading our papers was very enlightening, as well as entertaining, to the instructors. Standing in the Sheldon Art Museum on the University of Nebraska – Lincoln campus looking at a Mark Rothko original for the first time stayed with me over 40 years later! At the time, I felt the need to equate the work to something familiar and recognizable. Was it a landscape or a sunset, a field or the sea? Now I understand that abstract art is less about a relating it to something concrete and known and more about relating it to an emotion and feeling.

I used similar colors in the studio exercise I made with acrylic paints on a 24 x 36 inch canvas. When I stood back I realized that I had neglected to try to round the corners of my shaded rectangles which float on a red background. Rothko didn’t let others watch him work, so it is uncertain how many coats of paint he applied or what techniques he used for his smudged edges.

I did try my hand at using oil paints in the Rothko style, but on a much smaller scale. I found the streaking nature of thinned oil paint to be disappointing to work with. The upside is that I can say I tried it!

Look for more from the class as I continue to explore in upcoming blogs…

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It’s Vintage!

When my mom moved back to Omaha to live with my sister and her family, the enormous task of cleaning house ensued, and the constant questioning, “Do you want this? or this? or this?” or “Maybe your sister wants this.” Many of the items brought forward for decision-making including the handmade items I had gifted her with over the past half century. Some I passed on. Some I had long forgotten, had a good laugh over, but still passed on. A couple I had forgotten and kept with a big Cheshire cat grin.  These two are ones I kept, had professionally dry cleaned, chose new mats and frames, and waited.

The results are in and I’ve found a bit of empty wall space to show them off. Made over 40 years ago. The first and only needlepoint canvases I made myself. Long before there were Michael’s Crafts Stores, Lee Wards out of Elgin, IL, was where I worked part-time during senior high school. One of my re-loved projects was from an introductory class which taught us a variety of needlepoint stitches and the other from a holiday DIY kit. If vintage is classified as anything over 25 years, then these two pieces certainly qualify:

 

Learning needlepoint stitches, the cat in blues and purples, Lee Wards Craft Store class, circa 1976

 

Poinsettia stained glass needlepoint kit, circa 1978


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The Never-ending Challenge of Family, Part 1

252StefanJuly64

As it is Memorial Day, and we stop to thank our veterans and those who have selflessly served us and given for us, I can’t help thinking of my younger brother who passed away about a month ago.

This post will be a bit off from my usual subjects of art or food, but don’t let that stop you from reading! I think many of us will admit to having grown up in a dysfunctional family. I know I will! I still remember my Abnormal Psychology class where the first discussion was to try to define normal. Okay, so we learned there is no “normal” and applying that to my childhood there wasn’t much “functional” in our family life.

My younger brother was diagnosed with juvenile-onset (Type I) diabetes when he was 10. I remember that it was at the holidays because they let him come home for Christmas morning with the promise that he not eat anything while there. Well the story goes that, during his hospital stay, the doctor and our mom were talking outside my brother’s hospital room and my brother overheard their conversation. The doctor supposedly told mom that my brother would most likely not live past 30; now remember, this was the early 70’s. The story my brother tells is that he decided to enjoy his life while he was here and he used this to substantiate not taking care of himself, not eating right (he would drink a Big Gulp of Pepsi – no, not diet – most mornings), not exercising, drinking and doing drugs… a cautionary tale, for certain, when one has access to syringes for insulin use, they can also easily double for drug use.

This past decade showed the results of his lack of care, and lack of accountability for his health and his situation. He was on dialysis, then he was blessed with a kidney transplant, then if his MediCal had been in effect he could have had a double transplant and received a new pancreas (wow! what a difference that would’ve made).  Then he had one leg amputated below the knee and about 6 months later the other leg, too. He was wheelchair bound and unwilling to help himself in any recognizable way. Due to neuropathy, his hands became useless curled-in claws; he was for awhile able to use a spoon to feed himself, but mostly needed round-the-clock care.

Throughout this time, he was to put it as politely as possible: a curmudgeon. No one, and I mean, no one wanted to be around him. He was a victim and he made sure everyone was as miserable as he was. In many respects, he because the junior version of our father. He was also in a lot of pain as he had wounds that were not healing and spent the majority of these past couple of years in the hospital. The care facility had, with this last trip to the hospital, informed us that he was no longer welcome there and could not return.

Growing up, I found myself being a die-hard optimist. Whenever I would get into a pity party, I would think about how lucky I was; I wasn’t, for example, in a wheelchair, blind, deaf or suffering from any other inability to care for myself and others. There were times I wanted to shake my brother and yell at him Cher’s famous movie line, “Snap out of it!” I still recall the Christmas Eve dinner out at a local Chinese buffet with mom and my brother when I repeated the infamous Dr. Phil line to him, “And how’s that working for you?” Surprisingly, that stopped his whining in it’s tracks (at least for the remainder of the meal)…. on an aside, he later starting attending NA, which help him build friendships and gave his life some purpose.

He was the type of person who had always been bailed out by someone and never took responsibility for his own life or actions. I had loaned him money, given him advice, and even gotten a lawyer acquaintance to take on a case to defend him when I later learned he was guilty and had lied to me! My parents, too, had gotten him out of every conceivable situation he could get himself into, giving him money or letting him move back in with them for the last several years.

And he was cantankerous, obnoxious, and had reverted back to a child in many ways; throwing temper trantrums from his wheelchair like he was a 4-year-old. In the end, he managed to push everyone away from him. My sister, who lives in Omaha, was the one to tell me he was back in the hospital and not doing well. I was his only living relative in the San Diego area. So, guilt, I guess, made me and my son drive to the hospital to see him the night they decided to take him off life support.

I’d spoken to the nurse caring for him and she knew we were on our way. His heart was not going to keep him going much longer and they were discussing a move to hospice. It was a Sunday night and hospital visiting hours were ending at 8:00 p.m. however she said we could come and stay as long as we wanted. When we arrived one of the nurses asked when I had last seen my brother. This took me back and with a lump in my throat I said that it had been about 2 years. The breathing apparatus was horrible, keeping his jaw propped wide open so that he could breathe. I know that he recognized my voice, although I still wonder if the fact that as I age I sound more like our mother and maybe he mistook me for her. I know that he recognized my son’s crazy afro curls. But, he could not speak.

He could express pain, which he was in a lot of with wounds on his leg stumps which weren’t healing. He was being given morphine, which we knew gave him hallucinations, making him think people were going to throw him out of where he was living or that he was being kept against his will, etc. But at this point, I don’t know how much he knew about what was going on with him. We talked to him and went with him as they changed floors for the continuous care making him as comfortable as possible.

Seeing my brother this way broke my heart. It’s hard to be angry with someone you love when they are this helpless. Also, the fact that he could not talk back, made him easier to be around (wry smile here while wiping tears off my face). I had so many emotions coursing through me all I did on the drive home was cry. I took the next day off and stayed in bed grieving. Tuesday night after work I wanted to see him again. They had decided he would not make the transition to hospice and were keeping him in the hospital.

I kept thinking I would not want to die alone and knew that none of his friends had gone to see him. I have to admit the shock when seeing him. He was wearing a green hospital gown that I can only describe as “fresh” green. It wasn’t a pale, washed-out hospital gown but a cheery color against the stark white sheets and pillowcase. He was asleep, unconscious, unresponsive, and heavily medicated. As I sat on the hospital bed with him, his breathing would stop for what seemed like long periods of time and my eyes would widen wondering if he was gone, but then he’d gasp and start breathing again.

He did not respond to my voice, as far as I could recognize, or my touch. I started to tell him stories of our childhood growing up in Prairie Lane, an Omaha neighborhood. Remember when we used to play Red Rover using the sidewalk in the middle of the front lawn as the dividing line in any yard game? Remember, back before childproof lids, we would mix baking soda and vinegar in empty pill bottles, put them in the middle of the street and then run like mad to get away before they exploded everywhere? Remember when you took my bike and wrecked it, losing your 2 front teeth? Remember when you shot a bottle rocket off from a soda bottle you held in your outstretched hand and it boomeranged back at you, burning you in the stomach? Remember the animals we had, what a menagerie! Remember when I realized what was actually in that foil-wrapped package in the freezer labelled “Snake Food”… well, you said, what did I think you were doing with the mice? Ewwww.

By this time, tears were streaming down my face and I no longer tried to stop them, just let them fall. My brother seemed so child-like laying in the hospital bed and peaceful. All my anger and resentment towards him evaporated; forgiven.

I don’t know whether it was for him or for me, but I sang lullabies to him, the ones mom used to sing to us at bedtime, starting with his favorite: Puff the Magic Dragon. Then, I Gave My Love a Cherry, 14 Angels Guard My Sleep, All the Pretty Little Ponies, and yes, Twinkle Twinkle. I have no idea if he heard, sensed, or even knew I was there, but that was the last time I saw my younger brother alive. His heart stopped the next morning. The hospital never called me as the written directions they had were to let mom know. My sister then sent me a text.

Rest in peace, little bro.


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Handmade is Heartfelt – Part 1, A Good Meal

My son made rouladen (German beef roll-ups) a couple of weeks ago for dinner as part of his Health Class assignment to cook something from a different culture than our own. Previously, we had the opportunity of going out to eat at a restaurant which served food from a different country that we had not yet tried. This was surprisingly a small number of countries as we love to try new tastes and traditions. Our options included: Epthiopian, African, Russian and Argentinan. We went with the Russian and had an amazing meal at Pomegranate in San Diego, CA. The salad sampler gave us the opportunity to try a variety of salads and the lamb in the Chakapuli was so flavorful that I can’t wait to go again! It is a quaint restaurant on El Cajon Blvd and people have written poetry or other inspirational thoughts on the walls with markers. It’s entertaining to read them as you wait for your meal.

Rouladen

Rouladen
Or as we called it as kids “Pickle in the Middle”

Back to tonight’s dinner, we took photos of each step while creating (and obviously, eating) my grandmother’s rouladen dish. Depending upon which area of Germany your family is from, you may put pickles in the middle of the beef roll-up or carrots. Zac’s grandmother on my father’s side, Ernestine Rech Brendel Bange, was the second of eight Rech children living on Bingen am Rhein; we use pickles. However, I think that what may be unique to Oma’s recipe in that we use sweet pickles while most others use dill pickles. As one of the eldest daughters in the family, Erna learned to cook and cook she did. However, my great aunt, Irmgard, the youngest of eight children, did not. Years after my grandmother passed away, I made Sauerbraten for Irma. It brought tears to her eyes and she weepily said it tasted just like her mother’s.  Of course it was, I explained that the receipe was handed down to Oma, then to my mom to cook for our father, and then to me when I was upgraded from salad chef to full dinner cook at the age of 14 as my mother had returned to work full-time.

JeffSmith

Jeff Smith, PBS’s Television Cooking Show and Cookbook Author of numerous Frugal Gourmet Cookbooks including The Frugal Gourmet, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines: China – Greece – Rome, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, and the Whole Family Cookbook

I loved to cook and the variety of dishes my mother had in her recipe file box. I distinctly recall watching what I believe to be the predecessor of The Food Network… cooking shows on PBS. In particular, I rarely missed an episode of The Frugal Gourmet with Jeff Smith. He urged us to get with our grandparents, aunts and uncles and cook – write down their recipes, because when they are gone, their recipes may be lost, so preserve them today. He had so many little tips and tricks that I remember to this day. For example, “hot pan, cold oil, food won’t stick” or soaking anchovies in milk to reduce the salt. Cooking, and I include shortcuts which include using a prepared mix or jarred item in this category, is a distinct handmade activity, a gift for others that comes from the heart.

Back to my son’s assignment… Rouladen uses the liquid from the pickle jar and water in the sauce that cooks the beef. We needed more liquid than anticipated, as I often save the liquid from previous jars for just this purpose, so we had leftover sweet pickles (gherkins). I coarsely chopped these and the remaining 1/2 onion, put them in the food processor and decided to make pickle relish. Browsing the Internet for a recipe, I found only a few variations that start from an already pickled cucumber, so I created my own recipe. Here it is:

  • Sweet pickles (gherkins), chopped fine… about 8-10 made about 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped pickle
  • Onions, chopped fine… about 1/2 a large onion
  • Fire roasted red pepper, chopped fine… one large jarred pepper, drained and chopped
  • Stone ground mustard, about 2 teaspoons
  • Celery salt, pepper, and turmeric… not as much as if you were going to pickle a cucumber so start with 1/2 teaspoon each and taste, adjusting as seasoning requires
  • Apple cider vinegar, about 2 Tablespoons, and agave syrup, about 1 Tablespoon
  • Water… not to cover but to cover at least two-thirds of the ingredients in the saucepan, probably about 1/2 – 3/4 cup

Place ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan; bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool and then store in a jar in the refrigerator. Bring on the hot dogs, deviled eggs, mega sandwiches, etc.

It being the holiday season, my hope is that you share a handmade meal or food gift with others and be very thankful to those who do the same with you in return.  Look for my next part of Handmade is Heartfelt, when I talk about gifts we make for others.

Here are the step by step photos of Zac’s meal with the recipe to follow:

Rouladen Recipe

Thinly sliced round steak, rump roast, breakfast steak, or meat for carne asada, sliced large enough to roll

sliced bacon             onion slices              salt      pepper         sweet pickles and juice       oil    toothpicks

Lay breakfast steaks on flat surface and salt and pepper. Form rouladen by placing a slice of bacon on top of each steak, trimming if too long. Place a couple of onion slices on top of each bacon piece. Place one sweet pickle on top of the onion and roll everything up. Secure with toothpicks. Brown in oil on all sides. Remove from pan and drain oil. Return to pan and cover with half of the pickle juice and additional water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook 45-60 minutes depending on thickness of steaks, adding more juice if necessary.

Recipe from Erna Bange


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Suzette, the Survivor Dress Form

This past weekend, the third weekend of every October, I participated in the annual 24-hour Survivor Crop event in Vista, CA, a community in San Diego’s North County. Survivor Crop is a fundraiser organized  by Camille and Jon Akin (owners of EverAfter Scrapbooks) to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. There were 100 participants this year, fewer than years prior most likely due to the economic climate. But, we raised $76,200, more than any other year, this being the 12th year of Survivor Crop, and my 10th year participating.  Cropping is cutting and editing photos to focus on the most important part of the picture. We scrapbook, make cards, and do a variety of crafts… sewing, painting, my friend Yvonne was even crocheting an amazing purple cowl scarf for me!

“We survive 24 hours so others can survive.” While we have fun creating our island theme, decorations, costumes, etc. we are also very serious about our fundraising and the cause. Our island has two survivors as participants. My mother was diagnosed with ductal breast cancer at age 80, seven years ago. She, too, is a survivor. All of us participate for someone specific or simply for everyone. We want to find a cure for breast cancer.

We also have Survivor Crop sponsors who provide meals, make-and-take projects, contest prizes, participation thank-you gifts, chair massages, and much more! Prima Marketing provided each “island” with a dress form and paper, stickers and flowers to decorate our “survivor.” Of course, being the creative soul that I am – with a strong desire to stand out – I suggested we paint our dress form black for contrast. We created a paper bustier, complete with rhinestone belt, flowers on the hip and shoulder, and a tulle skirt. She seems oh so French, so we named her Suzette. Suzette, the Survivor. A pink ribbon on top, a ribbon and a string of jewels along the bustline, and a butterfly finish her with panache.  Here, meet Suzette:

Suzette, the Survivor

Each “island” created their own beautiful dress forms. See them here:

Duct tape continues to be a big hit with many, for example in the gold bustier above. The few men hanging around our event were asked to judge and they selected the green butterfly dress form as the winner. We also alter the t-shirts we receive at the event and have our own little Project Runway show. There are contests for page layouts and altered bras. I create an altered bra every year. Last year my “Ultimate i-pad(ded)” bra won 2nd place. I covered a black bra with i-pad icons and a large pink flower in the cleavage. We tend to be a bit irreverent with our creations, altering ideas and materials, but it’s all in good fun and for a good cause. This year the creations included:

Scrabble - the Winner

Scrabble – the Winner

My last attempt this year… if you would like to help, pick a breast cancer non-profit organization and make a donation this month – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Think Pink!


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I’d Love to Wear Costumes for a Living

Since Halloween is just around the corner and costume warehouses have popped up again just for the season to get us all in the Spirit, I’ve been thinking about whether it’s just easier to dust off and re-purpose an old costume. I love to dress up. I danced ballet, tap, toe and jazz for years growing up and loved the costumes we got to wear at each year-end recital… i also loved being raised up from below the stage in front of the row of floor lights with 20+ other girls, arms entwined behind each others’ backs, one knee bent, ready to high kick our way into the finale! Give me a top hat and some tap shoes and I’m in heaven!

But I love the costumes. Sequins, fishnet tights, tulle, tutus, tails, whatever it was I loved it. Over the years, I remember Cindy and I were chickens once, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, belly dancers, French jazz dancers, oh so many costumes… and mom spray painting our shoes to match! I still think back to how my friends sat through two acts of a very long (often boring) recital and wonder why they did it… maybe it was the pineapple parfaits at DQ afterwards? 🙂

But, I digress, my topic here is that I’d love to wear costumes for a living… within some parameters, that is.

For example, I would not want to be a costumed hot dog walking the streets handing our coupons for Harvey’s or some such. I imagine the costume is hot and uncomfortable and people forget that you are human, just trying to do your job… I doubt anyone leads you around by hand as they do with Chuck E at Chuck E Cheese.

And some uniforms really rank right up there with  have the standard red and yellow colors in their theme, which supposedly encourages hunger thoughts. I also would hate to be a mascot or Santa – there’s something pervy about those jobs that I’d have them included in the Dirty Jobs TV show for another reason altogether!

No, I think I’d love to be an actor (or play one on TV). Or work in a costume store and get to wear a new costume everyday! Or better still, work in costumes for a live stage show, like in Vegas. Now, that would be cool, although I imagine they are sewing and repairing as much as creating, but what fun would it be to make costumes for a show?

But back to being an actor, or better yet a comedian from the old variety shows. Like Laugh In, the Carol Burnett Show, or my favorite: I Love Lucy. Wouldn’t you love to be so funny that you had your own show, people laughed at everything you did or said, and you got to wear a new costume each week? Well, that was Lucy and Ethel, and Ricky and Fred for that matter, but mostly the ladies.

Here’s Lucy in some memorable costumes:

Not only was she funny, Lucy was beautiful… I often think she tried to hide her beauty behind the jokes… and she was pragmatic and smart. Read some of her wise words:

  • “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than the things I haven’t done.”
  • “I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”
  • “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself first to get anything done in this life.”
  • “It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.”

And here are some of her wise cracks:

  • “If you want to find trouble, find yourself a redhead.”
  • “Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.”

I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, My Three Sons … oh, those were the days! These days we have vampires and reality TV… hmm…. ’nuff said here, too.


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Candy Corn is Weird but Not Yet the Next Jelly Belly

Candy corn is weird, especially when you think about what it is you’re eating… it really is made with wax, right? Regardless, I love it. I’m not even sure if I like the taste as much as the memories of Halloween evoked when I see or eat it. It’s a bit like wax candy from the “old days.” Were we supposed to chew the wax? swallow it? throw it out? If throw it out, why didn’t we see tons of miniature wax soda bottles, with the tops bitten off and the sugary liquid sucked out, littering the  grass lawns and streets? Of course, I could just be rationalizing why I was one of those kids who chewed it up!

The Internet tells us that candy corn has been around since the 1880’s and is made from sugar, corn syrup (a.k.a. more sugar grams), wax – ta! da! it does have edible wax – and artificial coloring and binding agents (hummm, wonder if that translates to seaweed?). Some recipes have marshmallow creme and/or honey in them. Candy pumpkins were created in the 1950s and candy corn variations have been created for holidays other than Halloween, starting with “Indian corn” which substituted chocolate for the yellow layer. Then there are “reindeer corn,” red and green for Christmas, “cupid corn,” red and pink, for Valentine’s Day, and “bunny corn” with pastel colored layers.

An image search revealed even more flavors of candy corn. While they are not yet the next jelly belly, they even have a jelly belly cotton candy flavor and other products have mimicked the candy candy corn scheme and flavors… And last but not least there is a bevy of recipes using candy corn as an ingredient – even adult beverages!

Another nostalgic candy is tootsie rolls created about the same time, 1896, as a chewy alternative to more expensive, difficult to transport without melting, traditional chocolates.  It was the first “penny candy” that was individually wrapped. Tootsie pops, a lollipop with a tootsie roll center, were created in 1931 as a low-cost Depression Era candy. Tootsie rolls were distributed as soldiers’ field rations during WWII due to their hardiness in a variety of environmental conditions. Candy corn and tootsie rolls, in all their varieties, have been staples for Halloween candy giving for many years.

But lest we forget, it’s not all about “treats” but there are those few who spoil things for the rest of us by playing “tricks” on others while professing “No harm was intended.” What started apparently as a hoax, now called urban legends, were rumors of razor blades in caramel apples and poisoned candies distributed to Halloween trick-or-treaters. Newspaper columnists Ann Landers and Dear Abby even weighed in on the issue in the 1980s by advising that children not eat candy given to them by strangers… hence “stranger danger,” and de-bunking of the entire idea of going house to house entreating strangers for candy.

The media and mass group think permeated and the collective fear of endangering our children by allowing them to trick-or-treat the neighborhood resulted in “safe” trick-or-treating at local malls. What a ridiculously silly idea this was! Let’s set the kids up in long, long lines and have them go from one store to another getting one tootsie roll, they were now flavored, per store. You might as well take a hint from the Easter Bunny and buy a bag of assorted candy, pretending to be the Great Pumpkin and hide candy throughout the house for the kids instead of even leaving home!

My favorite Halloween tradition failure, though,  was changing the date kids would go trick-or-treating. I am serious. In the mid 1990s we lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, and October 31st fell on a Saturday. The then-mayor decided that Saturday night was not a safe night for kids to be out trick-or-treating so “attempted”  to convince the citizens of that fair city to change the trick or treating night to Sunday instead. This was the year we also tried trick-or-treating the  mall, which was a huge failure… you really can’t trick-or-treat with bright store lights (it’s why we wait for it to become nighttime before venturing out). And going around and around in one direction, not seeing any other kids and their costumes than those directly in front of or behind you, was so boring… even the parents couldn’t stand the monotony! Luckily for us, our 3 boys, all dressed like Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles, looked just like most of the other young boys dressed in the same KMart packaged costume, so after only about 20 minutes we bailed out and they didn’t miss much!

This is about the same time that one of my favorite Halloween movies, Hocus Pocus, came out in theaters and it was soon added to our infamous VHS recorded video collection; and yes, I still own a DVD/VHS player but I don’t recall the last time we put a tape in it!

Hocus Pocus the Movie, 1993

Hocus Pocus the Movie, 1993

What a great movie, what a great cast, any other Hocus Pocus fans out there? Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy star as the looney witches… wearing the very best witch costumes (the movie actually won a Saturn award for Best Costumes! A Saturn award? you ask. Yes, Saturn awards honor sci fi, fantasy and horror in film, TV, and vid.) In 1693, three witch sisters are bashed until Halloween night 1993, when little trick-or-treaters accidentally release them from the curse holding them spellbound. The witches start combing the streets looking for children to use in their youth-preserving potion.  Seeking help from their parents, siblings, the youngest played by a lovely little Thora Birch, head to the Halloween Dance at Town Hall. The witches follow and cast a spell on the adults during the song “I Put a Spell on You,” causing them to dance until they die. And, in good Disney tradition, the kids save the day incinerating the witches – What fun!.  Get yourself a bowl of popcorn, some soda and some “vintage” candy, turn off the  lights, cuddle up with your kids or friends or whomever is  handy and enjoy!

Being nostalgic about Halloween, I recognize that trick-or-treating will never again be the adventure it was when we were kids: pillow cases for treat bags to haul our candy burdens around in, haunted houses set up in neighbors’ garages with foods to touch and creep you out, such as spaghetti as worms, jello molds with fruit as squishy brains, peeled grapes as eyeballs, dry ice in a cauldron of liquid to portray witches brew, et.al. and costumes we pulled together or made instead of bought at Costume Warehouses for $$$$. Ah… I love Halloween and I miss the days of creativity and imagination.