Thursday, October 31, 2013

Which Halloween Witch?

A favorite character each Halloween is the witch. She has changed through the years of trick or treat.

Victorian era Halloween witches were depicted with whimsy. They displayed the traditional black cat and hat but were usually kind faced and sometimes lovely young women.

After the Wizard of Oz books came out, the Halloween witch became ugly like the Wicked Witch of the West. Halloween also changed from a fun harvest festival to a scary night.

Even though the Baum books had many more good witches and magical people, the wicked witches of the East and West made such an impression that the image endured.

When MGM made the film Wizard of Oz, the technicolor green faced witch took center stage. The Halloween witch became even more ominous.

By the 1960s most witches were ugly old scary hags with green faces. They were to be feared. Parents used the Halloween hag to scary their children through October until the threat of Santa withholding gifts became the seasonal option.

Thank goodness for the Harry Potter series that brought the fun back to magical people and creatures. The witches came in every shape and size. Students and professors alike practiced magic and in the end evil was defeated and the magical people lived happily ever after... or at least were able to trick or treat without a green face.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Autumn Colours

Brilliant green leaves of summer filled with chlorophyll that uses the sun and nutrients from the tree through the warm months. As the earth turns and the days grow shorter the fluid in the leaves becomes restricted by the cooling temperatures and the chlorophyll decreases.

Modern landscaping in the city leans toward evergreen because the autumn leaves do fall to the ground creating a mess. Rural and natural areas have the space needed for trees that drop their leaves. The cycle replenishes the soil providing nutrients necessary for the Spring. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lizards in the yard

I screamed. I admit it. The lizard running out from under the flower pot not only made me jump but I screamed.

It moved like a snake. We lived in a snake zone for seven years. There were snakes in the front & back yards. The dogs were always hunting them. But this wasn't a snake, it just moved like one.

As a tomboy, my friends Frank and his brother Ed and I would run the hills hunting western fence lizards. Back then, we called them blue belly lizards. Granted we did catch twice as many tails as lizards but by the end of the summer, that lizard hunting summer, the three of us were more than proficient with catching those quick buggers.

So I screamed, I startled myself and the lizard. I realized it was just a lizard, I laughed. I laughed and grabbed a broom to chase the quick bugger away from my front door and back into the garden where he belongs. A lizard pet is one thing I'd done as a kid, a lizard in my house wasn't going to happen today.

The visitor was an alligator lizard. It moved in an undulating way. These creature from ancient times adapt to the environment. The lizard fact sheets state that alligator lizards are found in urban areas under pot and in gardens. They eat insects in large quantity which is why I'd like him to stay but over in the yard, please.

Interested in learning more about California lizards? Visit:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The President and the Assassin

Scott Miller delves into the late 19th century to bring the issues of the era into perspective for the modern reader. Many of the issues that plagued America a hundred years ago are still alive and well today.

Economy: The economy had taken a hit around the world. Exchange of goods was a predominate issue as the industrial revolution created more stuff than one country could consume, the search for new markets around the world became increasingly important.

Politics: Political competition between the democrats and republicans reached a feverish pitch with political corruption that viewed most 'problems' from the elite stance leaving the working people with disdain and/or distrust of the government.

Immigration: New immigrants replaced American workers at lower and lower rates until the profits skyrocketed.

War: American military learned to organize through the Civil War and Indian War years. The US government prompted by business took the war around the world to grab ports in advantageous locations in relation the markets that seemed the largest and most ready for excess American goods, namely, China.

Radicals: Philosophical radicals such as Emma Goldman were outspoken providing fuel to the fire of discontent within the radical outsiders.

The book was an informative read of a period which is often skipped in history class but the decisions made in that era still effect much of US world politics today.

Friday, October 4, 2013


The greatest perspective I gained on my childhood happened just after my children were grown. Reflections of the ways in which decisions were made in the best interest of each child, based on the needs of the individual, with thoughts to the whole of the family and working with the resources available, I realized that raising children is the most important job... ever.

The juxtaposition of my childhood family with my family made clear that the thoughts and efforts expended in daily routine, consistency, honesty and love were and are well rewarded. All the basic issues were handled, well, basically differently.

Rather than requiring children to stay in their beds, my little ones were able to move to the most comfortable and safe places they wished to sleep. There were a few times when I woke to a little one staring into my face; startling then, funny memories now.

Rather than requiring meals to be as served and finished in its entirety with the guilt trip about starving people in Africa, my little ones learned to love a variety of foods. Healthful offerings of fruits, vegetables, nuts and crackers were always within reach, in addition to healthful meals. In all the years of preparing meals for my family there have been few disasters that found their way to the trash. With a variety of foods available throughout the day, my kids have grown to be healthy individuals.

Rather than setting an adversarial relationship with punitive measures regularly dispensed, my kids learned to regulate themselves by practicing compassion toward their siblings and themselves.  Recently, my daughter reminded me that rarely did I refuse their requests for goodies at the check out or scold them for bad behavior. Instead, when they wanted something extra at the grocery check out, I'd ask them if they had been good so that the extra was a deserved treat. Not only did this instill a sense of good measures within but it also provided an opportunity for confessions should they have a guilty burden that they needed to share and remedy.

Many cultural norms did not supply the type of training that creates good habits for a young person. Because there is no do over with kids, I worked hard to find the best options for every situation that arose. Often the answers were to unlearn bad messaging from my childhood past, and learn a new and loving way to approach the little people who are now not little at all.

The transitional period to mother with grown children has given me more time to appreciate the unique people I've been privileged to know. Surprisingly as I thought all the old stuff was gone because I did not repeat the destructive patterns with my children, it has come to the surface again. This time I'm not sure why other than to give me perspective to see how far I've come from a sad place to a place of contentment, at least with one aspect of my life anyway.