Saturday, October 11, 2008

Endorphins: Reward for Attending "Boot Camp"

Boot Camp

Three were about twenty of us in all - twenty suckers who'd signed up for the 8 AM "Boot Camp" session at 24 Hour Fitness. On a Saturday. I started having flashbacks to middle school and P.E. class, and had this sudden urge to run - out the door and back to my car. I looked around the room and saw nothing but friendly, smiling faces. None of those snotty Seventh Grade girls to torment me. Deep breaths... Okay. I'm 45; middle school is over. I chose to stay.

So I'm laying on a mat, next to this muscular young man (my personal trainer's husband) who is obviously in great shape - thinking, "This could suck," when I notice he's covered in a sheen of sweat and he's huffing and puffing almost as much as I am. "You know, somehow this helps," I told him.

"Yeah, this is tough! I did it last night, too."

Well, crap. "Dude, you totally ruined the effect, saying this is your second session in less than 24 hours."

"No, really, it's a workout. It's hard for me, too."

I opted out of anything that involved pounding the balls of my feet against the basketball court's wooden floor. But I was able to keep up with most of the rest. Not too bad. I did tae kwon do kicks and stretches while the others did ladders and jumping exercises. Planks and triceps workouts have caught up with me, several hours later - my upper arms and shoulders are beginning to scream, "What the heck did we ever do to you?"

For good measure, I burned another 150 calories walking the treadmill (3.2 mph/incline 10 - mostly).

The subsequent endorphin rush has left me calm, slightly sleepy, and focused. I couldn't care less that I'm in pain. This, kids, is the only "high" you should ever aim for - it's a healthy one.

Here's the bodybugg™ summary for week one:

bb101008

My Favorite Fitness Equipment

No, not the treadmill. Certainly not those stair climbers; I still have fantasies of buying one, only to grab a sledgehammer and beat the crap out of it. Not the weight machines. Not even my new toy, the bodybugg™. Nope, it's my .mp3 player. Loaded with music in the right tempo, it makes any workout go faster and better.

I'm about to change it up, but my current workout playlist includes the following:

  • Jesus Walks (Kanye West)
  • Citizen Soldier (3 Doors Down)
  • Do You Wanna Touch Me(Joan Jett)
  • I Hate Myself for Lovin' You (Joan Jett)
  • The Time Warp (various, from Rocky Horror Picture Show)
  • Hey Mama (Black Eyed Peas)
  • Money (various)
  • Tainted Love (Soft Cell)
  • DotA (Basshunter)
  • Strawberry Gashes (Jack Off Jill)
  • If It Makes You Happy (Sheryl Crow)
  • A Change Will Do You Good(Sheryl Crow)
  • Four Strong Winds (Ian & Sylvia) - Cool Down
  • Un Canadien Errant (Ian & Sylvia) - Cool Down

Voice majors, take note: After an intense workout (with plenty of huffing, puffing, and deep breathing), I'm able to hit notes I haven't hit in twenty-five years. The effect lasts exactly as long as it takes my muscles to cool down and tighten up, or for me to start in with my usual shallow breathing. But if I could belt 'em out like this all the time, I'd roll the car windows down more often.

Oh, I know that someone from 24 Hour Fitness in California is reading this blog (it shows up in the stats) - so pass this along to the higher ups:

STOP MAKING US WATCH FOX NEWS ON TV!!!!

For every bank of three TVs, we have two tuned to ESPN (naturally - it's a SPORTS club) and one tuned to FOX "News." I vote we tune in to CNN, instead. I don't know that any news outlet could be said to be unbiased or strictly fact-based, anymore, but CNN seems a little more balanced than most. Certainly less unhinged than some. I'd settle for the LOCAL news. But Fox? That's just offensive. If the National Enquirer had a TV station...

Utterli...something.

utterli-image
This is not mine (thank goodness) - but is it vandalism or art? Almost makes me want to buy a cheap car and a Sharpie!

Mobile post sent by HollyJahangiri using Utterlireply-count Replies.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Trick-or-Treat? Trockle's Adventures Continue

The little monster, Trockle, is going trick-or-treating with his buddy, Stephen. He's learned just how important it is not to go trick-or-treating alone! Won't you join them in their quest to eat up all the Brussels sprouts, candy corn, Choco-Tacos, and broccoli on the Internet?

The following bloggers have promised to leave the front porch light on for Trockle from October 5-13, and have assured me they'll have plenty of his favorite treats on hand - Choco-Tacos and Brussels sprouts, for sure! Be sure to bookmark this page so you'll have the tour schedule handy; I hope you'll dress up and come trick-or-treating with us!

October 10:
Elysabeth Eldering @ the Junior Geography Detective Squad - Elysabeth challenges everyone's creativity today! Be sure to drop by and get in on the fun!
http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com/

October 11:
Ron Berry @ The Surreal Writer
http://unwriter1.wordpress.com/

October 12:
Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno
http://suenogrande.blogspot.com/

October 13:
Wrap-up by Holly Jahangiri and Jordan M. Vinyard
http://blog.jahangiri.us

There Will Be Prizes!

Join us and enter to win one of two very special prizes:

Grand Prize: A customized Halloween short story featuring your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend) with Trockle - written by Holly Jahangiri and illustrated by Jordan Vinyard.

Second Prize: A $20 gift certificate to Amazon.com.

To enter, complete the following steps:

(1) Purchase a copy of Trockle directly from 4RV Publishing (http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com/Store) between 12:00 AM October 5 and 11:59 PM October 13, and

(2) Send an email to president@4rvpublishingllc.com with your answer to the question posted at http://jahangiri.us/trockle-promo.html.

You may enter as often as you like, but all completed entries must be received before midnight on October 13!

Winners will be announced at http://blog.jahangiri.us and at http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com.

The winners will be chosen randomly from all correctly completed entries (see "To enter" above) and winners will be notified by email. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Grand Prize winner will need to work directly with the author and illustrator to create a memorable gift for that special child. To include the child's likeness in the illustration, you will need to provide a digital photo upon notification that you have won. Every effort will be made to deliver the prize prior to Halloween, but circumstances beyond our control may prevent that and we do not guarantee that it will arrive by October 31.

Be sure to click here for more special giveaways from Joyce Anthony: coloring sheets and pumpkin-carving stencils--as well as a chance to enter the drawing for a book of Halloween crafts and recipes!!  In addition, she'll include a booklet of pumpkin recipes! 

Where We've Been...

October 5:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors - We didn't realize it at the time, but the Internet Gremlins were green with jealousy over all the attention Trockle was getting. Or maybe they just stole too many of his Brussels sprouts, and that turned them green. Their mischief included soaping everybody's Windows, particularly if they saw Internet Explorer through them. They left graffiti all over poor Joyce's blog, but she gamely fended them off and Trockle had fun visiting with her again. Trockle had so much fun, in fact...
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

October 6:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors - ...that he went back again, and again! Realizing it was his first time EVER to go trick-or-treating, Joyce indulged Trockle's passion for Brussels sprouts and Choco-Tacos and Trockle went home with a big silly grin on his face and a strange gurgling in his tummy, which was a bit rounder than ever. Trockle's Mom even answered questions in the comments!
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

October 7:
Janet @ Janet’s Book Nook - Those Internet Gremlins didn't mess with Janet (possibly, because it was her birthday!). Yes, Ms. Janet of Janet's Book Nook was kind enough to let Trockle come trick-or-treating at her blog on her own birthday! Be sure to read her review of the book while you wish her a happy belated birthday!
http://www.sheneedstoknow.com/booknook

October 8:
Kimberly @ All About Kimberly - the Internet Gremlins were back in full force, and they brought friends! I saw Trockle go up to Kimberly's blog and knock; I heard him call out "Trick or Treat!" Then a thick, alphabet-soupy fog rolled in, and Trockle disappeared! I couldn't find Kimberly or her daughter, Cameron, either! They'd been abducted by the Gremlins! Noooooo! They put out the call to Stephen (who, under the circumstances, won't get detention for skipping study hall) to help them fight off the wicked Gremlins and they made it safely home. Always go trick-or-treating with a buddy - never alone! Watch for those Gremlins - even little monsters have to be extra careful! Go read the lovely Cameron's interview of Trockle's Mom, Gurgelda. Gurgelda is still in shock that this young reader wanted to interview her instead of her little one, and secretly she's just pleased as punch to share Trockle's spotlight for a minute.
http://www.allaboutkimberly.com

October 9:
Jen (Pantheistic Mom) @ My Terrene Reality - Internet Gremlins don't mess with Auntie Jen, either! (Maybe because she's a clever woman and left plenty of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Choco-Tacos, and candy corn out for everyone - in fact, I think there's even some left for YOU!) Jen is one of Stephen's aunties (and of course, an adopted auntie to Trockle). She has been one of my best friends for over a decade, and we have yet to meet face-to-face! Don't miss Jen's insightful review of the children's book, Trockle.
http://terrenereality.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Buggs, Gremlins, and Trockle!

Day 6 with the bodybugg™

Well on my way to forming good habits, this is the fourth day in a row that I have gone to the gym and burned off at least 330 calories during lunch or after work. Tonight, I spoke with one of the membership counselors and told him - now that I realize Apex and bodybugg are part of 24 Hour Fitness - that the user interface is clunky, unattractive, and can't hold a candle to Sparkpeople when it comes to setting up a fitness program, tracking exercise, or tracking food and nutrition intake. I pointed out a couple of strange "features" (surely not bugs on the bugg!?). For $99/year, I want something more. I wouldn't mind paying a monthly fee if the device itself were free, or if there was a free version of the software - preferably something that would run locally, on my PC - that did nothing more than download the data from the bodybugg. That's all I want it for, after all.

Disturbing thought: "I see you're wearing the bodybugg. How do you like it?"

"It's great!"

"It's like having your own personal trainer, 24/7. We can access your logs from here, see how you're doing, suggest improvements to your program..."

"24/7, huh? Oh my..."

I understand, now, why they say "Don't sleep in it." @#$%!

"So you can't see me, no, not at all.
In another dimension, with
voyeuristic intention,
Well secluded, I see all."

Time Warp lyrics (Rocky Horror Picture Show)

Sparkpeople.com Bodybugg Team October Challenge:

1. N/A
2. N/A (Started Oct. 3 @ ~2:00 PM)
3. Burned: 2300 Consumed: 1675 Deficit:  625 Steps:  4614
4. Burned: 2362 Consumed: ???? Deficit:  ??? Steps:  4207
5. Burned: 3059 Consumed: 2100 Deficit:  959 Steps: 11717
6. Burned: 2701 Consumed: 3406 Deficit: -705 Steps:  8524
7. Burned: 2932 Consumed: 1278 Deficit: 1654 Steps:  8933

I've signed up for Boot Camp on Saturday at 8:00 AM. I told the trainer that I have a fear of medicine balls, ever since my daughter threw an eight-pounder on my chest while playing "personal trainer" to me years ago. Eight pounds is a small bowling ball, for crying out loud. The trainer promised to go easy on me.

Trockle's Big Adventure

Trockle, Kimberly, and Cameron were abducted by Internet gremlins earlier today, interrupting Cameron's insightful interview with Trockle's mom, but with a little help from Stephen - whose mother decided she couldn't ground him for skipping school to protect his friends from those nasty, naughty creatures - they escaped! Let this be a reminder to the kids, though: Always go trick-or-treating with a parent or a buddy, never alone.

Trockle's Trick-or-Treat Tour continues tomorrow with Jen (Pantheistic Mom) @ My Terrene Reality. Jen is one of Stephen's aunties (and of course, an adopted auntie to Trockle). She has been one of my best friends for over a decade, and we have yet to meet face-to-face!

October 10:
Elysabeth Eldering @ the Junior Geography Detective Squad
http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com/

October 11:
Ron Berry @ The Surreal Writer
http://unwriter1.wordpress.com/

October 12:
Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno (another one of Stephen's and Trockle's "aunties")
http://suenogrande.blogspot.com/

October 13:
Wrap-up by Holly Jahangiri and Jordan M. Vinyard
http://blog.jahangiri.us

Trockle vs. The Internet Gremlins

Y'all wanted a sequel? Well, apparently, Trockle has been abducted by gremlins! They learned about a cute little under-the-bed monster who was going trick-or-treating for the very first time, and they started dishing out their tricks when he visited Joyce Anthony's blog. The nasty gremlins soaped everyone's Windows (Internet Explorer) and wrote graffiti all over her lovely blue walls.

They cut Janet some slack yesterday. Or maybe the good fairies were looking after her, since it was her birthday.

Trockle was on his way over to Kimberly's blog early this morning when a huge, alphabet-soupy fog rolled in. I lost sight of him for just a minute, and then heard a strange cackling laugh that immediately made me think of Gruntilda Winkybunion:



Now I can't even find Kimberly's blog! I am afraid that she and Trockle were abducted by Internet gremlins!



I see a trail of Brussels sprouts and candy corn...

Have you seen Trockle or Kimberly? Anywhere? Where's Cameron?? She was supposed to be interviewing Trockle today! I know she wouldn't just vanish - I talked to her mother late last night and early this morning! Will you help me find them?

Trockle's mother is just frantic.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday, Monday

Bugged!

Working out at the gym during lunch time is a great way to relax and focus the rest of the afternoon. My coworker, K, and I plan to do this every day. We need to get faster and more efficient at it; however, we managed to work out and eat lunch in just over an hour. Deodorant is our friend; there's no time for a real shower. It helps to wear a headband or hairband to keep hair dry, and to bring a plastic bag to throw damp workout clothes and washcloth into.

I've been wearing the bodybugg™ almost non-stop since Friday afternoon. The Web interface and weight management tools at www.bodybugg.com are not impressive; if it weren't for the fact that it's the only way to get the data from the device into some readable form, I wouldn't dream of paying $99/year for it when SparkPeople is free. But the only reason I bought the bodybugg is to find out how many calories I actually burn, and when. And for that, it's excellent. Here's a sample:

bb100608

Why is that trainer dude staring at me and grinning? He should be giving me a little frowny face. I went 886 calories over budget!! That's over what I burned - not over my target (a much lower figure). I went into weight gain territory! I offset all the hard work from yesterday and today - just because I had no self-discipline at Cici's Pizza at 9:00 tonight, fifteen minutes after my son's Scout meeting ended. I was tired, okay? And they made us a special pizza - Chicken Classico for me, and pepperoni with anchovies for William. I can't resist anchovies... Well, yeah, of course I can. I just wasn't in the mood to resist.

Never mind - you can see I worked out at lunch. The other blips are driving, changing clothes, and walking up stairs. Apparently, typing is overrated as a form of "exercise." Ranks right up there with sleeping and breathing.

I still prefer logging my calories consumed over at SparkPeople:

Join me at: SparkPeople.com

The tools are more robust; the database of foods (including brand name and restaurant items, custom items entered by other members, and recipes from SparkRecipes) is more complete; the tools to enter your own nutrition info from labels of foods not already in the database are convenient, quick, and easy to use, and there are countless other features: blogs, journal, calendar with reminders, forums and teams for member-to-member support and encouragement - bodybugg is no substitute for that. I wish I could import my SparkPeople food log to my bodybugg account once a day to save having to enter it in two places.

Trockle's Trick-or-Treat Tour Continues

October 7:
Janet @ Janet’s Book Nook
http://www.sheneedstoknow.com/booknook

October 8:
Kimberly @ All About Kimberly
http://www.allaboutkimberly.com

October 9:
Jen (Pantheistic Mom) @ My Terrene Reality
http://terrenereality.blogspot.com

October 10:
Elysabeth Eldering @ the Junior Geography Detective Squad
http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com/

October 11:
Ron Berry @ The Surreal Writer
http://unwriter1.wordpress.com/

October 12:
Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno
http://suenogrande.blogspot.com/

October 13:
Wrap-up by Holly Jahangiri and Jordan M. Vinyard
http://blog.jahangiri.us

If You Missed a Stop...

October 5 & 6:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

Leave the Light On! Trockle's Trick-or-Treating!

Knock, Knock...

These are the blogs he'll be visiting this week:

Today, October 6 :
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/
(NOTE: Tripod is experiencing "technical difficulties" and, in turn, making it difficult or impossible for visitors running Internet Explorer to access this blog, or any other hosted by Tripod. Try viewing the site with Firefox, if you can - Firefox was working fine, yesterday. If you still have problems, please leave a comment here and let me know!)

October 7:
Janet @ Janet’s Book Nook
http://www.sheneedstoknow.com/booknook

October 8:
Kimberly @ All About Kimberly
http://www.allaboutkimberly.com

October 9:
Jen (Pantheistic Mom) @ My Terrene Reality
http://terrenereality.blogspot.com

October 10:
Elysabeth Eldering @ the Junior Geography Detective Squad
http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com/

October 11:
Ron Berry @ The Surreal Writer
http://unwriter1.wordpress.com/

October 12:
Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno
http://suenogrande.blogspot.com/

October 13:
Wrap-up by Holly Jahangiri and Jordan M. Vinyard
http://blog.jahangiri.us

There Will Be Prizes!

Join us and enter to win one of two very special prizes:

Grand Prize: A customized Halloween short story featuring your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend) with Trockle - written by Holly Jahangiri and illustrated by Jordan Vinyard.

Second Prize: A $20 gift certificate to Amazon.com.

To enter, complete the following steps:

(1) Purchase a copy of Trockle directly from 4RV Publishing (http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com/Store) between 12:00 AM October 5 and 11:59 PM October 13, and

(2) Send an email to president@4rvpublishingllc.com with your answer to the question posted at http://jahangiri.us/trockle-promo.html.

You may enter as often as you like, but all completed entries must be received before midnight on October 13!

Winners will be announced at http://blog.jahangiri.us and at http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com.

The winners will be chosen randomly from all correctly completed entries (see "To enter" above) and winners will be notified by email. IMPORTANT NOTE: The Grand Prize winner will need to work directly with the author and illustrator to create a memorable gift for that special child. To include the child's likeness in the illustration, you will need to provide a digital photo upon notification that you have won. Every effort will be made to deliver the prize prior to Halloween, but circumstances beyond our control may prevent that and we do not guarantee that it will arrive by October 31.

If You Missed a Stop...

October 5:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tag! You're It! and Other Childish--er, Childhood Games

Here are the rules: One person is "It" - that'd be me. The rest of y'all - RUN!! If I tag you (as in, reach out through the monitor and grab you by the arm, or visit your blog and say "You're IT!" or somehow suck you in and get you to read this post), you're IT! YOU, in turn, must answer the questions below, then go tag as many people as you can. You can repost these rules, or point to this blog entry for explanations. If you're feeling super-creative this morning, you can even post your answer in video form, on YouTube! Or in audio form! Phone it in to Utterli.com! Or...oh, just play, okay? Then come back here and post a link to your reply. That's important - post a link here so we can all see what you did when it was your turn to be "It." I mean, you could just take your marbles and go home, like the kid who says, "This is stupid. I don't wanna BE 'It' again. I'm going home. What a bunch o' losers." But then good luck finding anyone to go trick-or-treating with at the end of the month.

1) What were your favorite games to play when you were a kid? Do you remember the rules? Share them here (bored kids grounded from video games will thank you):

Hide-and-Seek. I count to 100 as fast as I possibly can while you hide. If I find you before Mom yells "Dinnertime!" or I give up or get bored with the game and yell "Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!" then you count while I hide. If I can't find you, then you just hide until tomorrow, and maybe I'll try again. Oh, and if you're under age five and put your hands over your eyes, like this, I can't see you. Good hiding place. Under the bed is good, too. There are no monsters under the bed.

2) Did you go trick-or-treating when you were a kid? What was your favorite costume ever?

Yes! One year I wore a traditional costume from the Canary Islands that my grandparents had brought back from a trip. Another year, I dressed up as a Spanish lady all covered in lace, and wore a shawl made of real Spanish lace - I felt very elegant.

3) How old is "too old" to go trick-or-treating?

When you're taller than the average homeowner and might appear threatening, rather than merely scary. At that point, you drag your child, grandchild, baby brother, niece, nephew, or neighbor kids with you and take 10% of their candy haul as "payment for bodyguard services." Or you get a job at one of the local "haunted houses." Or you do the reverse trick-or-treat thing, where you open the door to the little monsters in the neighborhood and yell, "Boo!" before handing out treats. You're never too old to have fun, though!

4) Do you remember any silly or gross songs or rhymes from your childhood (like, "Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts")? Share them with us!

"Heigh ho, heigh ho, my brother bit my toe
That dirty rat! I bit him back!
Heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho!

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to school we go
The water tastes like iodine, the teacher looks like Frankenstein
Heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho, heigh ho!

5) What is your favorite Halloween memory?

I already shared mine here. A close second would involve me on the back porch, trying to conduct a "séance" over a Jack-o-Lantern, while my dad and grandfather ran around in the back yard, covered in sheets (one of which, as I recall, was floral) trying to scare me into thinking I really had summoned ghosts!

6) What goodies do you hope to find in your treat bag this Halloween?

My kids didn't like chocolate when they were little. I felt like Fagin, going through their treat bags, cajoling them into giving it up to me. This year? I hope to find glow-in-the-dark toys, chocolate, and lollipops. My daughter (who is now twenty, stands 6'3", and still loves Halloween) says it's "Totally unfair how the cute little kids just rake it in." The neighbors on our street have known her since she was in 5th grade, so they take pity on her and throw a few treats in her bag.

 

Okay, YOUR TURN!! You're IT!


Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

Janet @ Janet’s Book Nook
http://www.sheneedstoknow.com/booknook

Kimberly @ All About Kimberly
http://www.allaboutkimberly.com

Jen (Pantheistic Mom) @ My Terrene Reality
http://terrenereality.blogspot.com

Elysabeth Eldering @ the Junior Geography Detective Squad
http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com/

Ron Berry @ The Unwriter
http://unwriter1.wordpress.com/

Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno
http://suenogrande.blogspot.com/

 

And YOU - yes, YOU - if you're reading this, consider yourself TAGGED!

The Witch

One Halloween, my friends and I dressed up and met on the road to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. It was a small, close-knit village; my mom had grown up there, too, and many of my friends were children of her school friends. None of us could make a move without it getting back to our parents, so we were all pretty well behaved. And the neighborhood was safe; we were allowed to roam, mostly unsupervised, for several blocks at night, ringing doorbells and begging for candy, provided we only went to houses that had their porch lights on.

Just around the corner from my house, there was an older wooden home set back from the road, almost within reach of the railroad tracks. I'd never been there before, on Halloween, but the light was on so I started up the sidewalk. My best friend, Mary, and her sister, Val, stopped me.

"You can't go there!"

"Why not?"

"Because that woman's a witch. She hates kids. She's got a gun, and she'll shoot you. And she's got a guard dog. He's mean. He'll eat you."

I thought this was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard, but they were quite serious, judging by their wide eyes and pale faces. They tugged at my sleeve and tried to drag me away from the house. "The light's on," I said.

"So?"

"Well, wouldn't the light be OFF if she didn't want us to come to the door?"

"She'll shoot you with her gun. She'll sic her dog on you."

I pulled free and marched right up to the front door. Val hung back, on the road, ready to run for help. Mary timidly joined me. I rang the bell.

The door opened, and the woman who answered it peered out at us through Coke-bottle glasses that made her eyes seem three times larger than normal. "Hello," she said. She looked like somebody's grandma.

"Trick or treat!" I said.

"Oh, do come in. You're the first trick-or-treaters I've had all night. I was afraid no one was coming!" Her dog, a tiny little bundle of energy and enthusiasm, pressed his nose to the door and wagged his tail. "I'm Mrs. Morgan. And you are…?" She opened the door and we introduced ourselves. We stepped into a well-lighted foyer, where card tables were covered with little cups full of apple cider and plastic bags filled with homemade cookies. There were enough treats, there, for all the neighborhood kids.

Mary and I looked at each other. How could we tell this sweet old lady that the other children wouldn't be coming? That the word on the street was, she was a mean old hag who liked to shoot kids and feed their bones to her dog? I bent down to pet the vicious mutt. He licked my hand.

We couldn't do it. We drank some cider, took a bag or two of cookies, and told Mrs. Morgan we had to go - but that we'd be back.

After knocking some sense into Val and goading her into walking up to Mrs. Morgan's house for cookies, herself, the three of us made the rounds and told everyone that they'd better go to the "witch's house" or be branded chickens and idiots for life. We showed them the cookies they'd be missing if they didn't. We told them all about the nice old lady and her yappy little furball "guard dog." I think we made her night.

Mary and I became frequent visitors at Mrs. Morgan's house after that, bringing her flowers from our gardens: bright yellow branches of forsythia, fragrant purple lilacs, red and pink tulips, and the occasional sticky, ant-covered peony bouquet. She always seemed delighted to see us, and spent hours telling us about herself, her family, her dog, and the history of the little town we were growing up in. She had an old-fashioned crank telephone and lots of antiques. Her house was one of the original resort homes back around the turn of the century, when the whole village was a resort and amusement park.

I finally confessed to my mom that I had befriended the woman everyone had said was a witch, despite worrying a little that my mom would be mad I'd spent so much time talking to a "stranger." She laughed, and told me she knew Mrs. Morgan - who, Mom said, seemed old back when she was a kid. The kids had called Mrs. Morgan a witch back then, too, and Mom was glad I'd discovered the truth for myself.


 

Stephen and Trockle discover the truth about each other and overcome their bedtime fears as the "monster under the bed" and the "big, scary boy over the bed" realize how much they have in common, despite their differences.

The little monster is just as excited as he can be at the thought of his first time trick-or-treating. He crawled under the bed to dream of Brussels sprouts, Choco-Tacos, candy corn, and sour gummy witches flying on peppermint broomsticks! His first stop, tomorrow, will be at the online home of Joyce Anthony:

 

October 5:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

October 6:
Joyce Anthony @ Books and Authors
http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog/

NaNoNuts

Because I am one...

And because I know it's going to come up, sooner or later, between now and November: http://jahangiri.us/files/storiesms.zip - that is the infamous manuscript template / Word-to-WritingML converter / help file file. Download and enjoy; just note that it is provided as-is, with absolutely no warranty and no guarantees except this: It will not turn you into a Pulitzer-worthy writer. It MAY help you prepare a somewhat submission-worthy manuscript, provided you apply the styles correctly and proofread your work really, really carefully in December. I will not be providing tech support or pointers on how to use Word templates; I will not be enhancing the macros (mainly because the programmer who helped me create this thing years ago has moved on and no longer has the time to support it). Feel free to modify it for your own personal use, but if you feel compelled to change Courier New to Old Gothic Heavy Metal, please take my name off the thing before you send it to a real publisher.