With goblins, ghoulies, and ghosties skulking along the edge of consciousness. and with every horror movie that refuses to die — Psycho, Vertigo, Rebecca — being pulled from its grave, it must be Halloween.
While more sensitive little ones delight in dressing up as princesses or pirates, blood is dripping and body parts are piling up for the vampires, zombies, and other unspeakable creatures of the night who seek to displace chainsaw-wielding psychopaths as the epitome of evil terror.
Apparently, there’s gold in them thar dismemberments. From neighborhood haunted houses to Universal Studios’ famous Halloween Horror Nights, everyone is trying to take a bite out of the consumer. Since we love to be entertained, and we love to be scared when we know it doesn’t count, the witches’ brew of Dia De Los Muertos skeletons, decorated graves, black cats, and whacked-out pumpkins makes Halloween our perfect holiday. All those sugar highs are lagniappe.
She hangs in my kitchen, this nameless woman who holds a chicken in her lap. She watches me as I move between stove and sink, and I return the favor. Over time, I’ve come to imagine I know a thing or two about her. The directness of her gaze tells me she isn’t afraid of being seen. She’s a busy lady – her apron tells me that, and her distinctly practical hair. She didn’t mean to be posing this morning, but someone came along and she cooperated, no doubt happy for a moment’s rest. Surprised by her inactivity and suddenly wary, the dog presses protectively against her, but they’ve spent his lifetime together and her hand is enough to calm his fears.
Around her portrait, bits and scraps of ephemera hint at the realities of her life. A letterhead from A.E. Want & Company, one of Ft. Worth’s premiere wholesale grocers at the turn of the last century, provides elegance to a simple invoice. The invoice is dated September 14, 1921, nine years after the company gained a certain noteriety by suing the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad over a carload of frostbitten Minnesota potatoes. The potatoes, valued at $155.87, were judged defective, and the railroad ordered to pay. Continue reading
When reminders about the end of daylight savings time began to crop up last month, the usual congenial grumping began. Some people wished it never would end. Others expressed hope the practice would be abolished. Arguments broke out at dinner tables and over fences: is the practice left over from a more agricultural society? Does it really save energy? Should it be standardized across the country? Does it help or hurt school children?
At least for now, Daylight Savings time is gone, but the transition back to Standard time always amuses me. I have one friend who takes the reminder to set clocks back one hour at 2 a.m. so literally she sets an alarm to wake her at 1:45. She doesn’t want to be late in meeting her civic obligation. She’s done it for years, and for years I’ve given her a bit of a hard time about it. She says she does it because that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be done, and if everyone would get up in the middle of the night and set their clocks as they’re told, we wouldn’t have so many people being late for Church or missing television programs on Sunday.
I’ve never dared tell her about my approach to the end of daylight savings time. If she knew, she’d be scandalized, and probably would be knocking at my door at 2:05 to get me moving. She’d have to, because the fact is I’ve never risen in the middle of the night to change clock settings. I don’t even reset them before I go to bed, as my mother does, or adjust everything, one by one, as I move toward the first early sunset the day after the change.
The way I see it, that hour we “gain” as we “fall back” is pure gift. It’s a little chunk of time, just lying there at the edge of my life, and it’s mine to do with as I please. Every year, I save my hour of re-claimed time until I need it, or decide what to do with it. While everyone else is running around resetting clocks, I’m sitting back with my feet up and a smile on my face, secure in the knowledge of that hour safely tucked into my pocket. When I decide I need that extra hour, I reset the clocks, and am back in synch with everyone else.