Saturday, October 31, 2009

Inspiration Avenue's Weekly Challenge

I was thinking that the colors in this spooky piece were just a little too cheery to be called "ghostly", so I was going to do a different entry for the weekly challenge at Inspiration Avenue.  But I just flat ran out of time!  Too many real little ghosts and ghouls at my door on Halloween night.  I'm hoping the fearful little clown is "ghostly" enough! 
And I wonder what he is looking at?

Eulogy for Five-and-a-Half Trees

There's something different about fall this year. Last fall I gave the OK for (to me) the unthinkable: I caved and agreed to have 5 huge poplar trees removed from our backyard. It's so sad to me to cut down a tree. I love trees. But these trees were a very unfortunate choice for a small city yard. They were planted about 15 years ago by the previous owner, who obviously also loved trees. She apparently just didn't realize the scope of these particular trees. Originally there were 6 trees; one died of natural causes about 5 years ago. And to make myself feel better about being a tree-murderer, I remind myself this species of tree is not long-lived: they were reaching the end of their existence. So it was more like euthanasia.

Every August the leaves would begin falling off these trees at an alarming rate. We would literally be knee-deep in leaves if we didn't rake feverishly from August through October. Mr. Magpie was in a bad mood for 3 months, and Magpie Jr. would do more complaining than raking until I dismissed him to save my own sanity (bad parenting, I know). We would spend an afternoon raking, and the next morning it looked like we had never been there.

Those trees were a thorn in our collective sides (to put it nicely), but the day the tree guys came was bittersweet. I remembered the sweet shade in the hot summer months that they gave us. I knew the climate of the backyard would be forever changed: all the shade-loving perennials I had planted over the years would now be stressed (and they were, this summer). The patio would now be in need of at least an umbrella to alleviate the heat (and it was, but I never got around to buying one). One thing I missed that I never thought of til it happened, was the sound of the breeze sifting through the treetops. The backyard was silent this summer.

Before I begin to weep at the thought of my favorite squirrels, who lost their homes, and the perplexed birds who found new places to roost, I will shift my thoughts back to the leaves, or lack thereof. And the neighbors on either side of us, who eyed those trees warily during wind storms. Even though our yard is fenced, those same neighbors raked their share of our leaves, not once complaining (at least not to our faces!). Since I do like both sets of neighbors, I can take comfort in their new leaf-free state.

We had a few estimates (okay more than a few) on the cost of removing these trees. Another reason for weeping, but never mind. Every one of the (very knowledgeable and experienced) tree guys shook their heads and tsked-tsked, implying that they were the wrong trees in the wrong place. So, I miss those trees, but realize it was all for the best. When I talk about planting new, more appropriate trees, Mr. Magpie turns white as a sheet and refuses to talk about it. Well, maybe someday when I find the perfect tree.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Theme for Inspiration Avenue's 
Weekly Challenge:

This week it was my turn to choose the theme for the weekly challenge at Inspiration Avenue. It's the season for all things spooky, so I chose the word "ghostly".  Since Saturday is the most bewitching night of the year, Halloween, start thinking creepy, shadowy, eerie thoughts and come up with a perfectly supernatural masterpiece!

This one should be lots of fun ~  anything goes really, because after all, who has actually seen what a ghost looks like! Oh, you have? Well, by all means, share with us!

Whether you create jewelry, mixed media, paintings, photography, collage, ceramics, needlecraft, or more, put a ghostly twist on it. So, Happy Haunting, and let's see how creative you can be.

Come join us at  Inspiration Avenue. The challenges are lots of fun, and there is a monthly giveaway! Everyone who enters the challenge will be eligible to win!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Inspiration Avenue's Weekly Challenge
Well, another week has gone by and it's time for posting my entry in Inspiration Avenue's weekly challenge.  Since my last post was last week's challenge, you would think that is all I have done all week! The theme was "travel", and my mind has been a blank whenever I tried to think about it; and I have come up with this at rather the last minute. Maybe because I don't travel nearly enough! Or maybe because I am a procrastinator. It's a little 'busy', but I hope if I ever get to Paris that is 
what I will be: busy! This is a digital collage; the traveling girl was drawn by me, the rest are (mostly) vintage photos.

Visit Inspiration Avenue's blog to see all the entries past and present, and do join in next week! It's open to anyone who has a blog.  The theme for next week 
will be announced soon. I have chosen next week's theme myself, but won't reveal it just yet!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Inspiration Avenue Weekly Challenge 

Okay, I finally managed to get it together to whip something up for the weekly challenge at Inspiration Avenue! And it was so much fun, I think I'm addicted now. I really loved this photo of the girl reading. I think she was a 1920s Flapper (I can picture her doing the Charleston in a short beaded dress.)  What I loved about it was, except for the stockings and funky shoes, her look is timeless and she could belong to any era at all.  This is a digital collage in, of course, pink.

Visit Inspiration Avenue to see past challenges and stay tuned for next week's theme! The challenge is open to all. You need a blog to post your creation on, but you're not required to be a member to enter!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

— Wiccan Harvest Chant 
Can't leave well enough alone . . .
Note to self: quit messing with blog. Changed some things around yesterday, ended up with almost the exact same thing I had before, and now I have to search out the instructions for removing those pesky gray boxes that are around everything  since they have shown up again! Why oh why didn't I bookmark the instructions? Should have known I'd need them again...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Halloween then, now, and in between

I only clearly remember one Halloween from when I was a kid. But I know we went trick-or-treating every year and our parents would let us go through the neighborhood alone. We were in a large group of kids and this was the 60s, so what's to worry about right? We had plenty of houses to hit right in our own neighborhood. Back to the Halloween in question that I remember: the reason that I remember it was that I stepped in dog doo very early in the festivities, but no way was I missing Halloween. So I just cleaned up the best I could and soldiered on with the group, learning early the meaning of Keep Calm and Carry On. By the way, I was dressed as Peter Pan and my little elf shoes were not doggy-doo-friendly. No photos have turned up of those early Halloweens, my parents were clearly not into Hallmark moments all that much!

By contrast, I have photos of most of my son's Halloweens until he and his friends just used it as an excuse to roam the neighborhood in the dark sans costumes (multiple photos and double prints — this was the 90s, before the dawn of digital cameras). Until he was 4, his dad and I took him to the local mall on Halloween. In California the mall was the place for tiny little trick-or-treaters. After he graduated from that, one of us walked him through the neighborhood. The most frightening Halloween experience ever: at a house in our neighborhood a guy burst up out of a coffin brandishing a (running) chain saw just as we came up the front walk! You'd think it would give you nightmares, but my kid was fearless then and has been ever since. He's never been one to jump at things that go bump (or roar) in the night! The scarier the better!  Starting with the Ninja costume, it has been a hard and fast rule that Halloween costumes MUST be scary. We have had "Scream", a skeleton, a vampire, and many other gory/frightening characters that I have forgotten.  I know that the Scream mask hung around the house for a few years and was used multiple times when the whole point of Halloween was to go marauding through the neighborhood, not what you looked like doing it. It was the ages between 12 and 14 when they really wanted the candy, but were not that into the dress-up part. 

We now live in a friendly old neighborhood where the small kids make the rounds with their parents and bigger kids go out in groups like we used to do. We get close to 100 trick-or-treaters between 6 and 8 p.m. When we close the door and turn off the porch light at 8 o'clock (town rule that saves us — Trick or Treat lasts only 2 hours) we are more exhausted than if we had made the rounds with little ones. Between greeting each little reveler and worrying that the candy might not last til 8, it just tuckers you out!

Anyone have a story to add, scary, funny, anything memorable or best forgotten? Comment if you dare!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Listen! The wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves.
We've had our summer evenings,
now for October eves!
— Humbert Wolfe