Halloween or Hallowon’t

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Halloween during a pandemic. Well, at least everyone’s already wearing masks, right? My kids are in high school, so it’s less of an issue for us. They’re planning on going to friends’ houses and celebrating with a party instead of traditional trick or treating. They’ve already been hanging out with these friends since summer, so it’s equally safe as doing homework together.

On my neighborhood Facebook group, there have been some questions about neighborhood plans as well as some suggestions. One neighbor wants to do treat bags on a table at the end of the driveway, and limit trick or treating to certain hours – from five until eight. I thought that seemed reasonable.

Another thought was of a scavenger hunt with houses providing clues to their kids to find candy. The parents would do all the work and the neighbors who participated would volunteer so the kids weren’t randomly going to people’s houses who had no idea what was going on. I thought this was a great idea.

We usually have a bucket of toys and comic books in addition to candy, so the kids can choose which treat they prefer. They toys are the kind you get from McDonald’s Happy Meals or similar small items. Some are packaged, but some are gently used. We’ve decided to suspend this practice until next year (hopefully). I know our items are safe, but why put the parents in the position of having to say no to a toy if they have (legitimate) concerns.

I also thought that instead of having the kids reach into our candy bowl and choose their preference, we would have more of the same candies and hand it out ourselves. Two candies per child. We can wear gloves and put it right into their basket or bag.

I know some doctors and experts have talked about avoiding family during the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are closer than we think they are. We haven’t decided our holiday plans, but I also think that Halloween is a different circumstance. I don’t mean it’s more important than our traditional family holidays, but in some ways it kind of is. It’s fun. It’s dressing up. It’s candy. And it can be done in a responsible and socially distant way. Kids can come to the door one or two at a time. The candy givers can wear masks and gloves. There’s no hugging, shaking hands, sitting around a table talking and eating.

To be honest, it really sounds a lot easier.

Maybe we can have a Halloween inspired Thanksgiving. Drive thru. Go to Grandma’s house and she’ll give everyone a Tupperware filled with a portioned out turkey dinner. Same with Christmas; just add presents to the drive thru lane.

I don’t know. I’m still working on that one. In the meantime, let’s enjoy Halloween as best as we can. Teach our kids that we need to make some changes this year to keep everyone safe, and we can do that and still have fun. I’m planning on dressing up as a postal carrier if I can find my parents’ old work shirts.

We’ll find out in one week.

What are your plans for Halloween? Do you have any suggestions for making it fun and safe for kids in this unusual year?

Supernatural Lists: Geography

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The Winchester Brothers travel back and forth across the country in Baby, their 1967 Chevy Impala. I never much paid attention to some of the place names until in one episode Dean mentioned that he was going to Buffalo, New York because his Dad’s old storage locker was broken into. He was in Queens, New York, and said he’d be there in two hours.

I stared at my screen.

I’ve lived in New York my whole life, including spending my elementary years in Queens, and I’ve been to Buffalo. It is not a two hour drive, I don’t care how fast you’re going.

It’s almost 400 miles! That’s six hours and fifteen minutes IF, and that’s a big if, you’re going the speed limit, don’t stop off in any small towns where the speed limit is lowered drastically, don’t need to get gas, and there is no traffic.

Oh, and four hundred miles in a 1967 Chevy? You will definitely need to get gas. At least twice!

Here is a list of fifteen places the Winchesters visited during the series. I’ve included the episode when they first went there. Some places like Kansas, South Dakota, and Fall River, Massachusetts they’ve been to multiple times over the years.

Note: The notation: 1.1 is Season 1, Episode 1.

  1. Lawrence, Kansas [Pilot, 1.1]
  2. Lebanon, Kansas [As Time Goes By, 8.12]
  3. Buffalo, New York [Bad Day at Black Rock, 3.3]
  4. Lily Dale, New York [The Mentalists, 7.7]
  5. Ankeny, Iowa [Hook Man, 1.7]
  6. Sioux Falls, South Dakota [Devil’s Trap, 1.22] *
  7. Las Vegas, Nevada [Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!, 7.8]
  8. Vancouver, BC, Canada [The French Mistake, 6.15]
  9. Grants Pass, Oregon [Mommy Dearest, 6.19]
  10. Hollywood, California [Hollywood Babylon, 2.18]
  11. Cicero, Indiana [The Kids Are Alright [3/2]
  12. Sturbridge, Massachusetts [Malleus Maleficarum, 3.9]
  13. Monument, Colorado [Jus in Bello, 3.12]
  14. Fall River, Massachusetts [Mamma Mia, 12.2] *
  15. Windom, Minnesota [Jump the Shark, 4.19] *

* A couple of fun things:

Sioux Falls, South Dakota is where Bobby Singer lives. It’s like a home base for the Winchesters. The sheriff is Jody Mills, who becomes a close friend of Bobby and the boys.

Fall River is also where the Lizzie Borden House and Museum is, and Sam and Dean go there in a later episode.

Windom is where Sam and Dean meet their up until then unknown half-brother, Adam Milligan.

Which was your favorite place that the Winchesters traveled to?

Election Connection: 2 Weeks: Voter Suppression and Russian Disinformation

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This link will take you to the story of Corey Brotherton’s father who was turned away for not being registered to vote. Except he was registered to vote.

Know your rights and know where to get the correct information in order to exercise your right to vote.

Corey went to I Will Vote and was able to show the poll workers that his father was indeed eligible to vote. His is one of many stories of voter suppression.

I’m sure you’ve seen the long lines during early voting, especially in minority neighborhoods. Please stay in line. Bring water, food, a chair.

Another resource to keep with you or on your phone is Georgetown Law’s information sheets – one for each state – on what to do if confronted with unauthorized militia groups at the polling places.

ACLU’s information is also good to keep in your phone.

This is the election protection hotline if you are having trouble voting: 1-866-OUR VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

This week has been full of Russian disinformation and DNI Ratcliffe and Sen. Ron Johnson have been at the top of the list encouraging this sort of thing. I know it’s frustrating. I know it’s demoralizing. Try to ignore it. Pay attention to reliable news sources and ignore the Trump Administration’s sidetracking their voter suppression efforts with their screaming about the Biden family. Russia is very much at play in our election, as they were in 2016.

Ignore the polls. Make a plan to vote, and vote as early as you can.

14 days. (See the new countdown on my sidebar.) We can do this. Together.

Finding the Joy

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Several months ago, April to be precise, I was given a series of reflection questions related to the losses I’ve had since the March 17th lockdown. I may have mentioned this in my original post, In the Midst of Loss about that retreat session and over the course of the month following that first hour I would bring up the subject to myself and think about those losses, the reasons for them, as well as trying to name my feelings about them, and then question how to say goodbye to what’s been lost. It is obviously much harder to say goodbye to a loved one who has died during this pandemic; that loss is astronomically deeper and more upsetting than the loss of work or routine or our regular habits, although the loss of work is catastrophic in its own way and those of us struggling with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and others will feel that some of our losses are also catastrophic. How do we accept the losses we are experiencing and move forward even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, a pandemic that will continue to be with us for many more months to come, if not at least another year or more? What strategies can be adopted and adapted to move on; to create a new ordinary for our lives?

There were two additional, important and hard to answer questions broached during that session. The first was do we really want back what we’ve lost? All of it? Are there some things that we have lost that we kind of want to stay lost? The second was to ask ourselves what was good about this time.

While we’ve all had losses, we’ve also had gains. There were good things that were perhaps only seen in retrospect. How do we find joy in the confusion and chaos of today?

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Supernatural Lists: Catch-Phrases and Pithy Sayings

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This is the second of seven in a series of Supernatural list posts celebrating the conclusion of their record-breaking series run of fifteen seasons.

I’m sure our house isn’t very different from other families. We have our own idiosyncrasies and short hand for expressing ourselves. For me, my go-to for commentary is almost always one of three places: Seinfeld, Supernatural, and Hamilton. Even my kids, who have never seen Seinfeld, are familiar with several of the pop culture vernacular: yada, yada, yada, not that there’s anything wrong with that, Newman, TWIIIIIX. Low talkers, close talkers, anti-dentites, big salads, baby eating dingoes, as well as why we don’t lick envelopes.

Supernatural is one of those wonderful shows where the actors love to go to work. It’s evident, and after fifteen completed seasons, they often harken back to previous seasons and episodes and call out fanon, continuity, plot holes, and just plain call back fun. For fans who love the meta, and I am one of them, it is a laugh, a private moment between actor and fan, an inside joke; a fourth wall broken. My sister just binged and completed the series, and she’ll make a comment to me, and I’ll smile because I know something she doesn’t, mainly because I’m on tumblr and read many of the convention accounts, and participate with the Supernatural family and on social media.

Here are a few of those out-of-context quotes that might or might not make sense to you, but for the SPN family, trust me, they are hilarious. They are not in any particular order, and I’m sure I’ve left out a few, but come on, it’s been fifteen seasons. (Warning for some language.)

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GISH Recap

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GISH is The Greatest Scavenger Hunt started and organized (if you could use that word to describe it) by Supernatural actor, Misha Collins. It is in its tenth year, and this will be my eighth participating. This year was a little different due to the pandemic, and Collins, his GISHGnomes, and the players really stepped up to provide food and water to those in need while also giving us a well-deserved respite from home isolation.

There were three GISH hunts held this year (and one more still coming up for Halloween); two mini hunts, one in April and one in May and our regular week long hunt in August. The mini hunts were unusual in that they were about twenty-four hours long and they were meant to be done while on home quarantine.

They were a break from the daily pandemic news, and let us take a breath and do more than fret and worry about what was happening. They included a kids’ menu with items especially for our stuck at home kids to do, either with us or on their own.

The big hunt in August was similar to past hunts but most items were meant to be done at home or on social media. No in-person gatherings according to local laws. There were also several tributes to John Lewis who had recently died, inspirational items, and items that were civic minded like protesting, prison reform, and voting including our rights and registration drives.

The registration monies went to No Kid Hungry, which you can still donate to individually.

I can only give you my August totals. I was not great about keeping track of the mini-hunts for points. I contributed to a total of fifteen items, seven of which were individual, the other eight being team items for a total of 214 individual points and 480 team points totalling 694 points.

I have to be honest, but I enjoyed these hunts more than I’ve enjoyed some of the previous years. I like the civic mindedness, the social justice aspects, the caring for neighbors, random acts of kindness and compassion.

I would encourage people who are curious to join the Halloween H(a)unt. Each registration donates money to UNICEF providing clean water for a person in need for six months. Registration ends on October 23rd, and the H(a)unt will go live Oct. 30 – Nov. 1.

The captions on the following photos will explain the items. For the spring mini-hunt, I have them listed as April/May although they may have been done for either:

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Friday Food. October.

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Burgers and Pie. (c)2020

In celebration of the return of Supernatural’s final season, we had Dean’s favorites for dinner last Thursday. We picked up an apple pie (Dean’s favorite next to cherry), whipped cream, and burgers at our local Red Robin. We’re still deciding on the final episode’s feast.

In the photo: Red Robin sign, Fries, Diet Coke, Bacon Cheeseburger, Apple pie, Supernatural pins, apple pie and whipped cream, SpnFamILY t-shirt (with flannel, of course!)

Supernatural Lists: Music

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This is the first in a seven part series appearing here on Thursdays. Unavoidable happenings kept this part from publishing last week. The second part will publish tomorrow or over the weekend so it can coincide with the final seven episodes of Supernatural.

Music has been an integral part of Supernatural since the very beginning. When younger brother Sam complained about Dean’s musical choice, he was reminded of the number one rule of road trip music:

Driver picks the music,

Shotgun shuts his cakehole.

And so for fifteen years, we traveled across the country (and twice in foreign lands) with the brothers, listening to their radio or cassette tapes (until finally updating to the 21st century and iPods) while engrossing ourselves in the classic rock of our own childhoods. Their musical tastes also updated (a little) to some modern classics as the boys grew older, and there was even a fun musical episode complete with soundtrack.

I had originally picked out fifteen songs, but I just couldn’t stop, so I went to twenty-five. You can find all the songs wherever you get your music: Amazon, Pandora, Spotify.

Except for the first and the last, they are in no particular order. I did not place them by season or my favorites.

  1. Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas
  2. Space Oddity – David Bowie
  3. We Gotta Get Out of This Place – The Animals
  4. Renegade – Styx
  5. Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
  6. Back in Black – AC/DC
  7. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  8. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  9. Cold as Ice – Foreigner
  10. Hey Man Nice Shot – Filter
  11. I Shall Not Be Moved – Johnny Cash
  12. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
  13. Cross Road Blues – Robert Johnson
  14. Rock and Roll Never Forgets – Bob Seger
  15. Heat of the Moment – Asia
  16. Wanted Dead or Alive – Bon Jovi
  17. House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  18. Can’t Find My Way Home – Blind Faith
  19. Black Water – The Doobie Brothers
  20. O Death – Jen Titus (not on Spotify)
  21. A Well Respected Man – The Kinks
  22. World’s Collide – Louden Swain (not on Spotify)
  23. Simple Man – Lynard Skynard
  24. No One Like You – The Scorpions
  25. Fare Thee Well – Rob Benedict (not on Spotify)

I’ve curated this list (minus the three that weren’t available) for you to listen to on Spotify.

Signs of the Pandemic

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When our state went into lockdown, school was moved online and we converted to remote learning; church was cancelled, little by little restaurants closed, libraries closed, museums closed, playgrounds closed.

We stayed home for the most part.

We did go to the grocery store and to Target for our household supplies. We did this about once a week. My husband would go out between grocery shopping trips to get milk, which we always seemed to run out of. We began to buy two gallons at a time.

We also went for drives, sometimes grabbing lunch through a drive thru and parking in the park or near the river and ate our lunch. At least we were out of the house for a couple of hours.

I began to notice some things on our drives and our trips to the supermarket: Signs.

Here, there,  everywhere signs were popping up.

Signs for delivery, signs for take-out, signs for curbside pick-up, signs for new hours, signs for limits on purchasing necessities as toilet paper and soap ran out in our houses and on store shelves. Food and dry goods also. Everyone was home and everyone needed more of what they used while no one was leaving the house for work or school.

The signs popped up like dandelions in spring.

I said to my husband: I know one business that’s doing better during the lockdown. Sign makers.

They were literally everywhere.

As the rules changed and we adapted, more signs were brought out. One way and wrong way signs in the aisles. Limited capacity signs. Xs crossed in six feet spaces for shoppers to stand in and wait for their turn to enter the store. or to check out with their purchases.

Soon, there were mask signs, social distancing signs, and after awhile, all of the signs temporary closed signs were replaced with We’re Open signs. Single entrances and separate exits. We deliver signs were joined  by Dining Room Now Open and Dine In – Limited Capacity.

I began to document all the signs I came across. The photos below are only a small sampling of what I found. Once I started this project, I discovered signs in the strangest places and for the strangest things, and I drove my family a little batty pulling out my cell phone and taking photos of the signs everywhere.

Let me know if I’ve missed any.

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Election Connection: 3 Weeks: Know Your Ballot and FLIP THE SENATE

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Part of your voting plan is knowing who’s on the ballot. Some states will also have referendums and it is important to know what you are voting for. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some of the wording is intentionally confusing. You think you want to vote yes, but the opposite is what you want. Read the ballot.

Vote Save America has ballots for every state. Look at your ballot, check the boxes after reading and informing yourself of the issues and candidates, and then you can either print out or email the practice ballot to bring with you to the polls.

IMPORTANT:

THIS IS NOT A LEGAL BALLOT. DOING THIS ALONE WILL NOT COUNT AS A VOTE.

You still MUST go to a polling place and vote. This is only to help you be informed.

In addition to the presidential election, if we want to get anything done we need to flip the Senate BLUE. You can help by donating to the Get Mitch Fund.

You can also donate to Gary Peters who is running in Michigan and has a very good chance of winning his Senate seat with our help.

We can do this!

Together.