Kage Baker loved Halloween. It may have been her favourite holiday; at least, a one-day holiday. Christmas would have come in at a close second, but it is both a one-day holiday and an entire holiday season. Of course, you can build Halloween gradually through the entirety of October, if you are so inclined. And Kage always was. To be honest, so was I; so we added to the deco as the month on, and by October 31st we were a veritable temple of Halloween,
Gore was not in it; Kage actually thought that was a bit vulgar. Our Halloween was more classical – orange lights, a Pumpkin-headed Jack riding a stag in the yard, and numerous pumpkins both real and false. On the night itself, all the yard lights were lit and Jack O’Lanterns lit up the porch: but the house itself was illuminated only by candles and whatever Jack O’Lanterns Kage decided were either too good or too bad to be exposed to the public. They made great living room lamps.
Then we’d sit and eat popcorn by candlelight, handing out candy to the rare Trick or Treaters we got in the Hollywood Hills and watching classic horror movies.
Here at Kimberly’s house, we do pretty much the same thing. In fact, we’ve been watching scary movies all month. The yard was decorated with lights and a glow-in-the-dark scarecrow thingie. But tonight, we have turned it all off, and are sitting peaceably in the dark. We are not giving out candy this year, as Kimberly feels it is still a bit too dangerous – there’s still Covid out there, several flavours of it, though we are all vaxed: but there is also monkey pox, and plain old influenza out in full force. And I have what is politely referred to as a “compromised” immune system. So we’ll have to eat the candy ourselves …
I realize it has been an absurd amount of time since I last posted, Dear Readers, and I apologize. You can chalk it up largely to my apparently cursed immune system. While I have improved vastly over the last two years, I am still ridiculously fragile – prone to sudden fits of exhaustion, still coughing like a consumptive walrus, diving as deeply as I can into reading, because I don’t have the strength to write …
But it IS Halloween! We can hear the shrieks and giggles of little kids out in the street, which is a lovely sound. The night is cool and damp and scented with the dry perfume of changing leaves. Our black cat, Edward, is posted by an open window, watching for night-squirrels and other cat enemies; our orange cat. Ashby, is hiding in Kimberly’s bedroom. She doesn’t approve of visitors or noise.
Tonight is also the beginning of National Write A Novel In A Month, affectionately abbreviated to NaNoWriMo by us fanatics who do it every year. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days, intended as the seed and heart of a novel, written in a month. I wrote most of the second Ladies of Nell Gwynne novel in one of these exercises. My traditional start to it is to begin at midnight on Halloween, by which time it is November 1st; I’ll have a bowl of Tootsie Rolls at hand and the start of that subtle twitching which accompanies serious Intent To Write.
And we’ll see where it goes after that.
But I will try to maintain contact with the real world, and not fade out again. These last few years, I have spent altogether too many Halloween nights in the ER. waiting to find out what is wrong with me now. In fact, I’ve spent the last several days waiting for the latest results of blood tests to see if I had to go back into the hospital – but today, the answers finally came in. I am clear! I do not have some weird blood infection! I can stay home and relax!
It’s a great relief; for the last week, I’ve been living in fear of staphylococcus infections showing up. But no, this year I am staying home. And I decided it was way past time to renew my voice in the world, just to prove I am still real. Also, in the Celtic calendar, tonight is when the New Year starts; perfect for beginnings and/or renewals.
So Happy Halloween, Dear Readers, and a blessed Samhain to you all; also, Happy New Year’s, as you can really never have too many renewals going on in your life.
I’ll be back. I promise.