October Reflections

It’s November, and time to remember.

It’s time to remember the days of early autumn and all the happenings of October.  These happenings pretty much left me exhausted by the first weekend of November.  On that weekend, I was too tired to do much of anything.  I slept, rested and reflected on an October well spent.

My “October” stretched beyond the numerical boundaries of 1-31.  A friend once told me that for him, the 1960’s began with the assassination of President John F Kennedy (November 22, 1963) and ended with the resignation of President Ricahrd M Nixon (August 8, 1974).  He defined the “60”s not by the decade but by the chain of social and cultural events that coincided in and around these years.  Likewise, My October is not restricted to the days that fall within the calendar month that begins with the letter “O.”  My October began in late September at an art house movie theater and ended in early November at an attic lounge of live entertainment.  These two “bookend” events, along with the many things that occurred in between, fit together in one common category – the commemoration of autumn.  Within this commemoration, I had my own personal harvest, not of farm produce but of the “crops” related to my craft; writings, books, a revamped blog.  I also took great pleasure in celebrating the month-long season of Halloween, while joyfully taking part in other several other autumn customs.  The best part was that I was able to celebrate autumn with my family, friends and loved ones.  And with you, the readers of this blog!  I love you all!

Any goal worth achieving takes planning and preparation.  I made it a goal to have a productive and eventful fall, and I set this goal all the way back in June!  I came up with contests and offered one of my paperback books as a prize. I had new and exciting ideas about how to redesign my website.  I made charts and timelines.  I took pictures that would be used in the blog. I set sale dates for my books.  Things were going to happen. And of course, I would have fun! That was important.  (You can see a post about my October plans here: )

Beginning in August, I started to watch horror movies. These included movies that were new to me and movies that I had not seen in a long time. I did this in anticipation of a list I was going to compile – a list of my Top 50 Horror films.  I looked forward to sharing this list with everybody.

sept-24This brings me to Sept 24, 2016, a fine Saturday evening that began my “October.”  I had not yet seen the classic horror film “Phantasm.”  However, it was unavailable at all the sites where I rent movies (iTunes, Amazon, etc.)  This was because it was in the process of being digitally remastered for the first time.  The Music Box Theater in Chicago would be showing this remastered version. Not only had I not seen Phantasm, but I had never been to this famous art house theater. It was a win-win situation.  So on that Saturday, I arrived early.  I went to a bar that was a couple blocks away.  When it was time, I left the bar and walked down a dark street toward the theater while taking in some of “nature’s greenery” (ahhhh!).  I saw the film, it was good, and oh what a great night!

The following weekend (Sept 29, Sept 30, Oct 1, and Oct 2) was blog time.  I took off work that Thursday and Friday, allowing myself a 4-day weekend to upgrade and redesign my website. It was challenging but fun.  I even learned how to incorporate an image map into my blog. An image map allows you to map-out clickable areas on an image that will lead to links of your choosing.   You can see the results of my labors here (scroll to the image of the house and cemetery at the bottom of the page) and here .

In order to advertise my redesigned website, I featured a ghost hunting contest. I hid several cartoonish ghosts across my blog. Whoever was to find the most ghosts would win a copy of my book “The House Sitter” . Contestants would have to the end of the month to find these ghosts.

My nose wasn’t at the grindstone all weekend long, mind you. On Sunday Oct 2, my wife and I went to Sonny Acres Fall Festival.  There we bought our pumpkins, went through a haunted barn, took a haunted hayride, and had cider, doughnuts, and ears of corn.  Yummy!

As October kept rolling along, I listed my favorite horror films on my personal facebook page post by post. Meanwhile, I hosted another contest, one for of my Haunted House Facebook page. I would show a picture of a haunted house and the contestant was to name the movie that featured this house.  Like with the Ghost Hunt, the winner was to receive an autographed copy of my book “The House Sitter.”

The second weekend of October was mostly dedicated to “taking down the summer”.  I  like summer, but all things must come to an end. Away went the patio furniture, the outside summer lights, and other yard décor.  One of these years, I will have an assortment of autumn and Halloween yard decorations to replace those that get put away for the summer. Cornstalks, grave stones, zombies, oh my!  They were selling corn stalks at Sonny Acres.  But we didn’t buy any L.   But we put our pumpkins outside! That’s something!

oct-15On October 15 (Saturday), my wife and two of our friends went to a German bar/restaurant (Edelweiss) and watched The Cubs win a play-off game. I call this event OCubstoberfest!  I danced to the music performed by a live ompah band, drank Weiss beer, ate German food, and cheered on the Cubbies!

Sometime during the month, we bought Halloween toys for our nephews.  They live in Seattle and my wife was going to go visit them at the end of the month.  One such “toy” was a “Spooky House” book, with flaps that unveil ghosts, spiders and other creepy things!  I decided to read this book to my nephews – in a video – and upload it to my blog. I hoped the kids would like it.

The weekend of Oct 21, 22 and 23 was a biggie.  That Friday, my wife and I attended my niece’s wedding.  It was a lovely, autumnal, outdoor wedding.  Cider and kettle corn were some of the treats. There was squash soup as an appetizer. And a tasty meatloaf dinner. Of course, there were drinks and dancing!  All this at an enchanting bed and breakfast house in the southern suburbs of Chicago! There was even a bonfire.  No autumn is complete without a fire.

The day following the wedding wasn’t for rest.  No siree Bob! To the Haunted House at Saint Pascal’s we did go, and then it was off to a Halloween/Birthday/CubsEnterTheWorld Series party! The night was scary, the night was wild – the night was filled with victory!

oct-31 Then along came Halloween Weekend!  My wife was in Seattle. She sent me pictures of our little nephew enjoying the video of me reading The Spooky House Book. He loved it and I was so happy!  Saturday Night I watched Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein on Svengoolie.
On Halloween night, Monday, after dishing out candy to trick or treaters, I watched the movie that made it to the #1 spot on my Top 50 Horror Film list – “Halloween” by John Carpenter.

On the days following Halloween, I had my contest winners. I sent a book to a fan who won the haunted house contest. Then I met an old classmate after work. He was the winner of the Ghost Hunt contest. I gave him the book. It was a nice reunion. Then the Cubs went and won The World Series. Holy Cow!  The following evening I attended a performance at Mary’s Attic in Chicago.  “Skooby Don’t!”  My nephew had the role of Fred, the leader of the Skooby gang!.  A very interesting play it was.

So on the weekend that just passed (nov 5 and 6), I rested.  I believe I earned this rest.  I had planned for an active October and my wishes came true. True, autumn marches onto until the end of December, but my favorite part of the fall season has come to a close. It’s a short time and it comes and goes so quickly! Thus, planning is required in order get the most out of these fleeting days.  Many people pre-plan their summers, me included.  So why not pre-plan your autumn?  Autumn is just as good as summer, maybe even better!  Plan it and good things will happen. Plant it, grow it, harvest it, and then enjoy it as it comes to fruition.

And then there is the stuff that just happens. Not everything can be planned. Enjoy those unplanned moments as well. But sometimes you have to push the ball to get things rolling. And the rolling ball will tread across uncharted grounds.  But this is part of the fun. Just shout “Wheeeeee!!!!” as the rolling ball unearths wonderful surprises!

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