Saturday, 31 October 2009

Pumpkins and Real Halloween Frights

I have a pumpkin to carve and spooks to scare away tonight so I can’t take too long writing this today. Happy Halloween everyone! I guess because this has always been pretty much a kid’s celebration it always makes me feel like a kid again to celebrate it now. Carving pumpkins and dressing up (which I will not be doing) brings back so many happy memories.

As many of you have already read on Facebook I did get a pumpkin this year and was going to carve it last night but I was just too tired getting back from the hospital for my weekly clinic visit. I have sketched out a scary face—something I never used to do, preferring to go “freestyle” with the knife!—on it and have carved off the top this morning but I think I’ll wait till Robbie gets back so he can watch and experience his first pumpkin carving, jack-o-lantern creation.

Yes, a man can attain the age of 55 and never have carved a pumpkin in his life—at least if he lives here! Contrary to common belief in the US people in Great Britain haven’t celebrated Halloween much until recently and then only in some parts of the country. And if they do, they call it “that American holiday” and rather look down their noses on it and sniff, “well, it’s fun for the children”. Still, lots of people do dress up and go to “fancy dress” (i.e. costume) parties and, naturally the stores have embraced the chance to sell extra candy and paraphernalia.

I just called Robbie on his mobile to verify that he’s never carved a pumpkin. He said he’s carved a turnip before but what they have done in the past is go out “guising”. That’s where the children dress up and go door to door but they must sing a song or tell a joke to get a penny. Another thing they did was 'Dooking fur aiples or nuts' (I got the spelling of that off the internet, it’s phonetic) which is the same as our dunking for apples. Robbie got some peanuts in the shell last week, I wonder if I can convince him to dunk for them (bwaaahhaaa—evil laugh). I asked him how you even carve a turnip and his answer was, “with great difficulty”.

This week was much quieter than last week. My biggest activity was finally being able to go and do a grocery shop in Tesco’s on Monday. There have been two reasons for that, my accident and the fact that until Robbie starts his new job next month, we’ve been keeping a tight rein on our spending. He has been going out to the local co-op and getting things here and there as we need them and we’ve not been doing much of a big “shop” like we used to.

I had been feeling pretty good over the weekend and since Robbie had to go and sign in (still) at the Job Centre on Monday afternoon, I just went with him and we drove to Tesco’s afterwards. The first thing I saw when I got out of the car as he let me off at the door was the pumpkins. It wasn’t as fun as going out to the patch with Ben (and sorry, Linus, I didn’t see the Great Pumpkin because these were all pretty small) but I had fun picking out a good one! I did get other things as well: they had whole chickens on sale which was really the main reason we went there. I’ve wanted to get a chicken to make for us because it can go for so many meals. That, and some hamburger and things to make lasagna, should last us a couple of weeks.

Sorry, I need to go back a couple of days and pick up my narrative where I ended it last time on Saturday. I’m not as organized this time as last week! After I got finished blogging last week I went down and made chicken curry. I think I’d told you I’d experimented and made some before this but the problem with the “throw it together” type of cooking and experimentation is that it’s sometimes hard to duplicate results a second time. This time it was different, slightly, but I still thought it was good. I didn’t use as much chili powder but more curry powder. I also added some yogurt to make it more of a korma-style sauce and cool it down more. It still tasted good but my biggest disaster was with the rice.

I have never been able to cook rice from scratch mainly because I don’t like rice in itself so if I ever have to cook it I’ve always used Minute Rice or boil-in-the-bag types (or leftovers from the Chinese takeout). Since all we had was regular basmati rice I had to cook it according to directions (which were in metric) that I didn’t understand. I got out the good ol’ Betty Crocker cookbook and looked up how to cook rice. Either I read it wrong, it was the wrong kind of rice or I just messed it all up but I ended up burning the rice! So, bless him, Robbie had to go down, in the pouring rain, to “Nice ‘n Spicy” the Indian takeaway down the street and get us some rice and Nan bread. Thus endeth the chicken curry saga... but I will try again, just not with the rice!

I need to break in now and recount how I had a genuine Halloween fright just now as I was writing this. With our computer being upstairs and the noise of the fan and the music I usually have playing when I’m writing (right now it’s Handel’s Water Music) it’s very hard to hear anything from downstairs. Many times Robbie’s come in and yelled or claimed he was making enough noise to wake the dead and I never hear him until he’s behind me in the doorway and scares me unintentionally.

Even if I know he’s downstairs I don’t always hear him come upstairs. One time, I was watching some old TV shows on YouTube and he came in and scared me and I jumped up, screamed—not in a high pitched shriek but a low, guttural sort of battle cry—and I crouched with my hands in a sort of claw-like configuration. I don’t know who was more scared at that, me or him (I think him!). It was purely instinctive—I have NO idea I could make that noise or do what I did but I’m kind of glad that maybe if I was ever attacked I would react as fight, since there’s NO way I could “flight”... Then again, it’s not something you ever want to happen to you for any reason.

Still, I say this to sort of set the stage for what just happened. I was here typing and listening to my music and I heard what I thought was the back door closing. Our back door fits quite tightly so when you close it it’s rather a loud slam. That is usually the only thing I can hear when Robbie comes in. It’s a beautiful sunny day today which is a change from our last week of mostly grey, windy and rainy days. Wasn’t it Stephen King that once said a story is more frightening on a sunny day? Well, someone did anyway.

After hearing the sound of the door I waited a while for Robbie to come upstairs. I knew it was too soon for him to be home from his usual Saturday “auntie outing” where he takes his auntie to get her pension and do her shopping but he sometimes leaves her at the Co-op chatting to her friends and runs home for something and then goes back and picks her up. When he didn’t appear after a while I just thought, well, he’s in the kitchen looking at what I did with the pumpkin so I called down on the phone. We have an intercom feature on our phones so that we can call the other phones in the house. No one answered, no, actually, the phone never rang at first. You can usually hear the phone downstairs ring along with the sound in your ear. I tried it again, no ring. The third time it rang but no answer.

Next I rang Robbie’s mobile. I knew he had it turned on because, as I said earlier I had just called him on it. When he answered I asked, “Where are you?” even though I could hear people talking in the background and I knew immediately he wasn’t in the house. He started to explain that his auntie wanted to get some lunch in a cafĂ©, etc. and I broke in and just said, “So you’re not in the house. I heard the door downstairs shut so I better go check it out,” and hung up on him. I was trying to not scare myself but I confess my heart was beating a little faster by this time.

No matter how many times I told myself it was nothing, the ride down the stairs in my chair seemed to take forever and gave my imagination lots of time to come up with multiple scenarios. I had purposefully made a lot of noise and walked heavily to the stairs and to my chair so anyone there for nefarious purposes would know someone was in the house but what if they appeared, menacingly, at the bottom of the stairs while I was hanging, rather helplessly, in my chair coming down? What if they saw the three knives I left on the counter in the kitchen next to the pumpkin and armed themselves?

I began to think coming downstairs was a bad idea and when my chair got to the bottom and made it’s annoying beeping noises I wanted it to be quiet but it never is. In proper movie-style fashion I peeked behind the door to see if anyone was hiding behind it before I went from the hall to the living room. I couldn’t see from there into the kitchen so I stepped into the living room and saw no one there, and no one in the kitchen. As I was right there next to the phone it rang. It was Robbie calling to check and see if I was allright and I was happy to tell him I was and that whatever I had heard it wasn’t a burglar, rapist or anyone else coming in the house. No one was in the house but me...or were they?

I think that’s enough for this week. I apologize to the Orrs and hope you know I wasn’t making light of what Steve’s parents just went through. My prayers are with you and I thank God and all my guardian angels that I didn’t just have a similar experience.

Like I said, this is a time that makes me feel like a kid again, and it’s always fun to have that little shiver go down your back, although being really scared is not fun at all and not funny. I’ll have to tell you all about the one (and only) time I went to a “haunted house” and ended up scaring the Frankenstein...but that’s a Halloween memory for another time. I hope everyone has a fun and safe time and makes more fun/scary memories!


  1. Wow, sounds like you had quite the Halloween! I'm quite impressed by your bravery to go and check downstairs for the source of that noise, I honestly think I probably would have tried to lock myself in my room or something, but then again, I'm pretty wimpy when I'm scared, haha. Kudos to you, Mrs. Janet! :D

  2. Well, Kailee, that would have been the sensible thing to do except for two things: #1 I'm stupid and #2 There's no lock on our bedroom door. LOL