Spooktacular Events

I think it was Holy Hub, who is ever the pragmatic and dare I add a reluctant if late blooming partyer ~ and his third muttering that we would have been better off to book a pool party, order a pizza there and call it a day rather than continue on with this spooktacular howler set for Holy Daughter's 9th birthday party tonight ~ that clued me in.

I would like to be one of those Moms that sets out cake and ice cream, has a civilized gift opening, and succumbs to the wild excess of a pin the tail on the donkey game for good measure, but I'm beginning to realize, that probably ain't gonna happen on my watch.

And I'm OK with that. Not everyone in this house is, but I will go to my grave defending that excess and Halloween actually share the same etymological root derivative.

Speaking of graves and roots and nonesuch, the party today is a graveyard one. Holy Daughter wanted to go a bit goth and creepy this year. So we put out strict orders that no one was to come dressed as a cute puppy, pretty princess or kitschy cartoon character. We switched the dining and family room furniture around - thankfully there wasn't much in the family room to begin with, and have set this room, which shares space with the kitchen, up as a haunted dining room with some Frankenstein costume-clad tall candlestick holders looking on. And I'm happy to report that once lights get turned off and candles lit, the room will be quite creepy and most kooky, mysterious and spooky, maybe even altogether ooky, just like the Schmidty family.

My little Vampiress wants to watch one of the scarier episodes of Goosebumps with her 8 friends in the dark downstairs and then after dinner, we're going to send the bravest of ghouls out to the backyard, where we'll have a Boneyard Cemetery set up, to collect bones for prizes.

All of which has entailed hours of planning and set-up for a 3-hour tour. A 3-hour tour.

I know. I totally get it. But I think it's about taking a stance upon familiar soil. Do I want to stand for lame parties and even lamer treat bags? Never in good conscience could I do so and be able to look myself in the hair eyeball of the morning mirror again. Nor could I stand way over there, at that blowout party extraganza place, which even now in my mind's eye, resembles more of a tailgate bash than the annual celebration of a child's birth. My kids have been to parties like that. Where every child in the Western Hemisphere was invited and where stacks of presents were presented and left unopened.

We've never permitted more than 8 or 9 friends and even that seems excessive, especially given the fact that both kids only have one or two friends they truly count as their closest companions.

So yeah, I kinda get my place in the mix - I like to think I stand on that middle ground soil. But after another equally anal PTA Mom and I planned Holy Daughter's year-end class carnival picnic last year and people were oohing and ahhing over all the little details that this other Mom and I thought nothing of (truth be told, we thought a lot of it was kinda lame given our limited time and budget), I realized that maybe I am a breed apart when it comes to event details. Color coordinating and decor and little chutzkahs have always mattered to me. Even back in the days when we were planning our first annual Christmas open house I can recall getting hung up on matching napkins to plates. It's a genetic flaw, I'm sure - I now know I come by it honestly - my birth family are party throwers extraordinaire. And I know that some of it has come from being so often thrust into the role of event planner in my career this past decade.

But I also get that life is long on fear, droll duty and disaster - especially of late - and rather short on fun. I'm channelling a little of that medieval carpe diem spirit which I know rhymes with evil, but it doesn't take a degree from a Freudian college to figure out that fun, feast, and frivolity are perfectly natural human responses to doom, gloom, and tomb.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much and perhaps that's true. But it's my soapbox so I get to hog the mic and defend, on behalf of anal home birthday party planners everywhere, our right to party plan.

A month ago, as all 5 of you faithful readers out there will recall, I went off on what I like to think of as a bit of a midlife coming of age rite. It felt, looked and acted a whole lot like a native naming ceremony might - I figuratively went out to the wilderness to figure out my role in this large tribe called earth and then owing to my already near-elder stature, I named myself. We worked a lot with figuring out our stances and lesser known but equally impactful defining moments in life, as a way to get clear on what we stood for and showed up as important to us. Early on in this process, it became clear to me that commemorating rites of passage was important to me. Everything from the sacred - milestone birthdays and events - to the profane - hitting my wild thing musical button everytime I accomplished some menial task - has meaning for me.

And so it is that I got tested not even a month later. And that's cool. I can't lie and say I don't feel uncomfortable with being mocked and held at gunpoint at trial for my excessive ways. That's not fun. But it's who I am and I finally own that now. I'm the one that gets the red carpet rolled out at party stores. They see me coming and their response is positively Pavlovian. So be it. It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it.

Same, same with Holy Hub. He takes a stand for quality barbecuing. It's a source of great pride for him as a Weber grill owner. He seldom buys anything but the best cuts of beef or most succulent breeds of salmon. He's also a Webernation member, which is an elite secret society of grill snobs who make it their business to evangelize grill owners of inferior brands as to the Truth of barbecue salvation. No word of a lie - he even has the marketing materials - buttons, stickers, brochures - to prove it.

So we all have our thing, our quirks, our ideosyncracies. For my sister-in-law, it's compulsively folding plastic bags into little triangles whereas for me, it's the tiny details on a party table.

To each their own, this above all, to thine own self be true, and all that crap.

On that note, I have a party that needs tiny details on the table. Pictures at 11.


Canada Votes

I have my priorities wrong, apparently. I hopped over to CBC.ca to check out the winning anthem for Hockey Night in Canada and inadvertently clicked on the Canada Votes tab.

The Hockey Night in Canada theme song is THE voting concern in the nation, is it not? Apparently there's this other little matter of a federal election happening on Tuesday. PM Stephen Harper is worried - plagued as he's been this past while by Afghanistan expenditure disclosures, plagiarism issues and the usual dissent in the east ~ so who knows how that will all go. And let's face it - it's always a crap shoot. Canada's disproportionate election process is equally as snafu as the American electoral college. The election is almost always decided before polls have even closed in the west.

Anyways, of the real vote - Hockey Night in Canada - I'm tickled that my shortlisted favourite won. This will be his claim to fame - or in hockey language, he shoots, he scores!

Have a listen.



It's been one of those weeks. The best of times, the worst of times. Not getting much done but not beating myself up too terribly about it either.

It's already Thursday as the crow flies - speaking of which, I had a crow almost fly right into my windshield this morning heading the wrong way. Aren't I supposed to be chasing him? Very ominous. I'm watching my back.

We had a crow fly right into an open window of our living room back in 1988. That was creepy because it wasn't like it was all that easy to just all of a sudden be flying along the north end of Halifax harbour like that and then suddenly, end up as a crash-landed wingnut on our floor. He must have already been nose diving. I remember wondering at the time if it was some kind of foreboding sign about our upcoming nuptials later that summer. I made sure no pictures were accidentally or even purposely knocked over and soon forgot about it.

I like when Monarch butterflies appear on my shoulder, for they signal rebirth, change and metamorphosis. But crows are just all around bad news. There's an old dittie about crows that goes like this - one is for bad news, two is for mirth, three is a wedding, four for a birth, five is for riches, six is a thief, seven a journey, eight is for grief, nine is a secret, ten is for sorrow, eleven is love, and twelve is joy on the morrow.

I saw one but I'll keep my eyes out for more - I'll take mirth or weddings any day over bad news.

And then just a few minutes ago, I heard the distinct sound of someone's voice ring out to me from upstairs. I'm home alone but I wondered if perhaps I might have left the garage and house doors open such that a neighbor was poking her head in. I went upstairs but the doors were locked and there was no one there. OK, very creepy.

I heard the song Psycho Killer on the radio earlier this morning. Which reminds me, I'm completely digging this heated leather seat and satellite retro radio thing in my mornings now. It so makes the commute to the old neighborhood almost worth it. But anyhoo, welcome to my brain. It's a pinball machine at times. So I heard this song and I thought to myself, yes, that's kinda like my anthem lately. Psycho Killer.

You know that fine line between genius and insanity? As Oscar Levant quipped, I think I've erased it. I vacillate between wanting to kill something and create something each and every day lately. I'm never quite sure which way the pendulum will swing.

Seriously though, I do have this kind of Frankensteinian energy but nowhere to direct it. I've been like the madwoman in the attic, feverishly concocting creativity modules for our weekly Artist's Way class. It's been very enlightening. I can't wait for our week on Abundance. I'm going to resurrect that old game, Masterpiece - do you remember that game? Even though I knew nothing of art history, I loved that game. Except I always ended up with forgeries, which really sucked wind.

I'm going to have the participants create a work of art of their choosing the week prior to class, and then unbeknownst to them, I'm going to auction the works off to the highest bidder in the group - whoever is feeling the most generous with her Monopoly money. Everyone will assign their own arbitrary value on the back of their artwork prior to class and then we'll debrief after the game and deconstruct the process. What was liberating and conversely, what felt uncomfortable? Did we bid on our own work? Why or why not?

I think there will be some interesting stuff come up around the issues of worth and self-worth, vis-a-vis our creations. I already know what I'm making. I'm going to nab this glass head from Pier 1 Imports, tart the face up a bit, maybe glue some earrings and hair on and maybe affix a brain inside and I dunno - we'll see.
But anyways, I am a walking, talking creativity bibliography lately. In fact, if you're looking for a book on creativity and you live in my area, don't bother checking the local library: I have them all. Who knew there were so many books on the topic? Who knew? I have another blog, Quinndskmo, where one fine day I hope to get around to posting the myriad creativity and writing bibliographies I've been amassing.

October is always a bit of a creative and festive month in the Schmidthaus. Canadian Thanksgiving is sneaking up way too early this month - we've invited our neighbors over for a feast Sunday afternoon. They lost their middle-aged son just this past spring so it's been a tough year for them. He died of a sudden heart attack. They were very close - he would come over for dinner like clockwork once a week. The kids really like them - Holy Daughter is forever running treats over to their dog and visiting and just generally annoying them with her presence.

And then we head into birthday party planning for Holy Daughter. She wants to have a spooky Halloween party - no princesses and cute fairies - it's all ghosts, goblins and ghouls. As it turns out, she's mostly inviting boys. We'll set up a cemetery in the backyard (perfect solution for our dirt pit of a yard) and send the kids on a bone hunt. And we'll do an indoor scavenger hunt. One year, I vow not to go overboard. But not this year.

And then there's Halloween itself. Holy Son wants to fly below the radar this year - 7th grade now, so he's cool, right? I may see if I can talk him into doing Mr. Candyman again - make it an annual tradition - except this time, we'll get him a bona fide, stylin' suit. He unloaded about 10 lbs. of candy off his suit jacket last year...and met most of the girls in his school as a result.

But Holy Daughter is going for the gusty - she has to top last year's costume, when she dressed as a potted flower. This year, she wants to dress as Snoopy, the Red Baron. We have the aviator gear and scarf but we need to figure out the Snoopy head. Go big or stay home - that's my Halloween motto. Case in point, check out my camel costume - my best Halloween costume ever - courtesy of my Birth Mom and Grandma Ring Around the Rosie. I totally had it going on that year. Holy Hub dressed as an Arab sheik (pre-9/11 when you could still be politically incorrect), and other friends of ours dressed as a harem girl and an Indian swami. Suffice to say, we garnered a lot of attention.

Can't wait 'til I'm old enough to start going out for Halloween again. I miss the Halloween hooplah.


Wassup & Other Nonsuch

We've been knocking back OJ, frying bacon, cooking eggs and griddlin' waffles in honor of the OJ sentencing - 13 years to the day he was acquitted for the murder of Nicole.

Talk about karmic payback. I still can't see a white SUV and not think of him.

Anyhoo, that was SO breakfast. Lunch this weekend was an overdose of church meetings sandwiched between soccer games and Nutcracker rehearsals. I'm now teaching in Holy Son's middle school class, where we romp through world religions at nanosecond speed. Owing to the auspicious occasion of the Jewish high holy days right now, we're on Judaism.

And dinner is of the hamburger variety - school bbq Friday night, and then the kids and I had a burger last night at A&W - I love Teen burgers but A&W has not been available in Washington State until just recently, I presume. This particular A&W is situated in a precarious area near the Sam's Club - some weirdo walked into the A and dub and he started cussing and yelling up a storm - Holy Hub noted to the kids that that's what happens when you do drugs. Umm, yup, pretty much. We saw quite a few homeless men wandering the streets with their shopping carts as well.

We were there, as I noted, to check out the Sam's Club. I was so curious about Sam's Club, I made everyone stop what they were doing yesterday afternoon so we could go check it out. I had no idea it was Costco. Why didn't someone tell me that? Jeesh. So of course, owing to its look and act and smell like Costco-ness, we spent way too much money on stuff we probably don't need.

But it was the post-dinner kick-back that was most energizing. Hockey season is back - which means the snow should be flying soon somewhere - let it not be here! - and CBC Sports was busy hyping the new Hockey Night in Canada anthem.

They're down to 5 finalists - we listened to them all - not bad, the lot of them - but there was one clear winner in my mind. Have a listen and see if you can guess my pick.

Don't you hate those games ~ Guess what I'm thinking, come on, you know you want to? Like you care. Or maybe you do. Or maybe you don't. Some do, some don't, some will, some won't, I might. Vote for my pick, that is.